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Texas Bar Journal Must-Reads for February

Originally published by Eric Quitugua.


Check out our highlights from the February issue of the Texas Bar Journal. 

Slicker Than a Boiled Onion
What Texas lawyers need to know about data privacy, the GDPR, and the CCPA.
By Kathryne “Kate” M. Morris

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Eric Quitugua
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Scams continue to target Texas attorneys

Originally published by Joanna Herzik.

Update 2/5/20: We received reports from two more attorneys who received the same scam as the one we reported on January 27, with slight variations in the emails they received. The emails were also from Compass Upstream Services, LLC out of Austin, TX, soliciting help in drafting an equipment lease agreement but were were from a vice president Ryan Johnson. One attorney called the telephone number from the email and website, and no one answered. The call went to an automated voicemail that had a strange sounding ring. There were two different email addresses, a comcast.com email address and a compassupstreamservices.com email address, used for Ryan Johnson in the emails that another attorney received.

Update 1/27/20: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a person named James Marshall, who claimed to be with a company called Compass Upstream Services LLC, based out of Texas. In his email, the scammer stated that his company was going to lease drilling equipment to another Texas company, at the rate of $65,000 per day, and he wanted to know if the attorney could write the lease agreement. In the scammer’s email, he said he needed an attorney in “your state,” which the attorney assumes means Texas.

The attorney was suspicious of the email and found no record of the scammer’s LLC being registered in Texas. The attorney checked the ICANN database for the scammer’s domain name. As of Saturday, the scammer’s domain name and website did not exist, but they do exist as of today. The attorney inspected the scammer’s website, www.compassupstreamservices.com, and found that it looks like an exact copy of the website of another oil company, www.marriottdrilling.com.

Update 11/14/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a Japanese company named Kuraray Co. Ltd, which appears to be a real company. The email used a fake email address, and stated that the Japanese company had a claim against a Grand Prairie company for unpaid invoices and wanted to hire the attorney. The attorney ignored the email but eventually received a fake settlement check that appeared to come from the Grand Prairie company, but the check was mailed from Canada. The attorney was invited to deposit the check and take out the attorney’s fee, even though the attorney never negotiated or requested the fee. The attorney took the check to their bank, and the bank spotted several problems with the check and confirmed it was fake, as did the real Grand Prairie company.

Update 9/18/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a scammer using the name of a law firm from Texas but with an email using a domain address from Australia: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The email states that the attorney is being sued by the scammer’s client, must download a link to find out the details of the “immense psychological suffering” the attorney caused with their words, and that the scammer and the client will see the attorney in court.

Update 9/3/2019: A Texas attorney today reported that someone falsely claiming to represent the State Bar of Texas called her to request payment of bar fees. The call came from the number 888-270-4815, which is not associated with the State Bar. Fortunately, the attorney realized she was being targeted by a scam and reported it to the bar. Legitimate messages regarding State Bar of Texas fees will come via mail or email from the State Bar Membership Department. Attorneys can contact the Membership Department at 800-204-2222 (ext. 1383) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to verify whether a communication is from the State Bar.

Update 6/27/2019: We received reports of two more scams. An attorney reported two scams he has received via email. In the first one and the one he receives most often, he receives an email from “Alexis Berger.” The email generally contains the following information: “I am seriously in need of your legal assistance. i lent my brother-in-law some money and has refused to pay back i checked your profile and find your firm capable of assisting me in my legal issue. Here is my email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mr Alexis Berger.”  The email address usually varies by the numbers at the end of the scammer’s name and is always at gmail.com. This scam has also been reported by numerous attorneys in the United States and Canada. The second email the attorney received is an email from “Shin Okura” with Tokai Electronics, a Japanese company, apparently looking to bring a claim against a local Houston company for unpaid invoices. Invoices and documents were also provided which looked very suspicious and altered. This scam has also been reported by law firms in Canada.

Update 6/24/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was contacted by a scammer who requested to retain the attorney’s representation for a dog bite case. The scammer claimed they were bit by a dog, that the dog’s owner had agreed to pay a settlement for medical expenses, and that the dog owner had not yet paid. The attorney was also contacted by the person claiming to be the dog owner, who was part of the scam. The dog owner claimed to want to pay the settlement to the scammer through the attorney and out of court. The scammer also used photos from a news story in the UK that they claimed showed the dog bite. This same scam has been reported in other states, with the scammer using different cities where the dog bite incident occurred.

Update 5/31/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was recently made aware that an unknown individual going by the name Simon Grant has stolen the attorney’s name, bar number, and publicly available contact information. The scammer contacts victims by email and is using the attorney’s information to defraud individuals by claiming to be the attorney or be employed by the attorney. The scammer also created a false website which has since been taken down.

Update 3/13/19: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received an email inquiry for a new case through the attorney’s firm website. The scammer requested to retain the firm for help in getting repayment for a loan. A copy of the supposed loan agreement was sent to the firm. The address used for the loan borrower is local to the firm’s location. The address the scammer listed as their own is located in Hong Kong. The scammer used the name Mr. Zhang Chang. A similar scam by someone with that name was previously reported by two Ontario law firms.

Update 1/30/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney recently received an email that is part of an ongoing scam directed to attorneys in which the scammer is attempting to get the attorney to wire real funds after receiving fraudulent payments (bad checks or fake credit cards). The text of the email is as follows:

Hello,

I am in need of your legal assistance regarding a breach of loan agreement I provided a friend of mine in the amount of $750,000. He needed this loan to complete an ongoing project he was handling last year. He now resides in your jurisdiction and the loan was for 24 months with interest accrued at the rate of 7.5%. The capital and interest were supposed to be paid May last year but he has only paid $50,000 which was in October.

Please let me know if this falls within the scope of your practice, so that I can provide you with the loan documents and any further information you need to know.

Thanks,

Scott Steinberg.

Update 1/25/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas law firm received an inquiry through their website asking if they could draw up a contract for the sale of used construction heavy equipment. The firm responded asking for more details, and the “seller” in Florida sent a detailed appraisal and photograph of the equipment, complete with serial number and a signed letter of intent from a buyer in Texas. The “seller”, “buyer,” and “broker” information all checked out online in Florida, and the “buyer” information also checked out on the Texas Secretary of State website. All were legitimate businesses involved in that type of transaction.

The “seller” signed the engagement letter and sent a paper check from New York that looked legitimate and appeared to be issued by the “buyer.” The firm deposited the check into their trust account. Later that week, the “seller” asked them to wire part of the funds for an inspection of the equipment. Because the check hadn’t cleared the firm’s bank and the wire was to a location in Asia, the firm didn’t send the money, and they inspected further.

The firm called the “seller” who answered using the name of the legitimate Florida businessman. He provided a number during that call that went to a recorded voicemail matching the “broker” details. They called a phone number from the broker’s website, and the real broker answered and said they were the second firm that week to call him (the other was from Delaware), that a scammer had ripped off his letterhead and information, and that he was not involved in any transaction like they described. The firm also contacted the “buyer” using an independent number they found, and the local person who answered said that he ran a legitimate business but was not buying any equipment and knew nothing of the transaction.

The firm contacted their bank, and the bank president contacted the issuing check bank. The issuing check bank was a real bank, but the check and account number with that bank were phony.

Update 11/15/2017: We have received a report of another scam. A person in Australia was contacted by a scammer using a Texas attorney’s information. The person who was contacted was scammed previously and lost money, and he believes it is the same scammers who are contacting him again. In the emails, the scammers say they can recover the person’s money for him from a company, Norton Pearce Associates, that has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Update 9/13/17: We have received a report of another scam. A person in New York received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, who lives in Texas. She was told that he was in jail and needed bail money. They told her to call (877) 386-6064 for the Bradford Law Firm and ask for attorney Allen Roberts. The phone number has been disconnected, and the Texas attorney Allen Roberts is deceased.

Update 7/13/17: We received a report from an attorney who was contacted through their firm Facebook page and by e-mail by someone who claims that the attorney represents them in a lawsuit in Kenya. The person is not a client of the firm, and they have no record of any previous communication with the person.

Update 6/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys. An attorney received a scam email seeking representation to draft a purchase and sales agreement for a boat sale. The scammer sent the email using another attorney’s name in the email address. View the scam email attachment.

Update 5/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys.

A lawyer received a call from someone purporting to be from the State Bar of Texas. The caller, who identified the date the lawyer was admitted to practice law in Texas, offered the attorney a half-year free membership and listed associated benefits. After the attorney refused and ended the conversation, the caller attempted to contact another lawyer in his office but was stopped by the receptionist.

The State Bar of Texas Membership Department does not call attorneys with special offers for membership dues.

Update 5/4/17: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

A law firm received emails from a person asking to hire the firm to collect payment for goods provided to a third party. The firm also received an email from the third party. Both emails were fake. The firm also received a check as a retainer, and upon verification with the Canadian bank listed on the check, confirmed it was fake. View the scam emails and fraudulent check.

Another law firm received several scam emails within a few days of each other from different senders from locations in Europe, the Netherlands, Africa, and the United States. The emails were requests for various legal services including help with a real estate loan default, seeking assistance with an investment, and drafting a purchase and sales agreement for a drilling rig. The firm also received a fake out of office reply email from a sender they did not contact.

Update 4/17/17: We received a report of another scam in which a law firm’s accounting department received an email purporting to be from the president of the firm, instructing them to pay a statement for $19,500 for professional service. When accounting requested more information, the president responded that the email was not from him. The address it appeared to come from was This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update 4/11/2017: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

An attorney received a phishing email. He tried to open an email which appeared to be from a referring attorney sending documents via DocuSign. Over 20 people on his contact list also received the email. The hackers sent out thousands of fake emails to his contacts which appeared to be coming from him. The hackers also responded to inquiries from his contacts questioning if the phishing email was legitimate.

Another attorney received a fraudulent check. He received a $400,000 check that cleared his bank and was told it was part of a $1,000,000 deal. He also received a second payment. He received instructions to deduct his fee and wire the remaining funds to Kenya. He called his bank to verify the check. The check had a name and address on it that appeared to belong to an oil company but was that of a U.S. insurance company.

Update 3/9/2017: We have received a report of a phishing scam targeting Texas attorneys. The scammer stated they were seeking legal counsel. View a copy of the scam email.

Update: 2/23/17: We have received reports of another scam email targeting Texas attorneys. Some attorneys have received emails that appear to be coming from another attorney. It appears that the scammer was able to access attorneys’ email address books for the purpose of forwarding the e-mail from one attorney to another giving the appearance that it is a referral. It is apparently a scam enlisting attorneys to prepare legal documents upon receiving a cashier’s check deposited in trust accounts with an overpayment of legal fees being returned to the scammer from the attorney’s trust account. The initial payment is fraudulent.

Law firms in Canada and the UK have received similar e-mails.

The scam emails are coming from the following accounts with the name Tijmen Smit: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update: 9/23/16: A San Antonio lawyer has notified the State Bar of Texas that he received a fraudulent check as part of an attempted scam. View the fraudulent check and scam letter.

Update 2/26/16: We received a report about another fraudulent check scam targeting attorneys.

Update 2/3/16: We received a report of a new scam targeting clients of attorneys. Scammers are “spoofing” phone numbers of attorneys and calling clients to get money. Read the full story.

Update 10/23/15: The State Bar of Texas has been alerted to a potential email scam involving a debt collection. On October 20, a Fort Sam Houston attorney received an email from a sender who claimed that she had lent a sum of money to a borrower, and that the borrower had not yet repaid the loan in full and had since moved to Texas. The sender claimed she was seeking legal assistance in the matter and requested information about the attorney’s fees. The message also included a copy of two checks (here and here) and an alleged loan agreement promissory note.

Update 10/8/15: We received a recent report of a scam targeting attorneys. An attorney was contacted by a company and received a bogus check. Read the details on this fraudulent check scam.

Update 2/26/15. We have received a report of a scam from an attorney who received a request for assistance. She spoke on the phone to the proposed client, who asked that a buyer send the firm a 15 percent deposit from a purchase price to use as a retainer, that the firm bill their fees against it, and return the remainder to the client. Upon further searching, the attorney uncovered a scam.

Update 6/4/14. We received a report this week about a sophisticated scam involving collection with a fraudulent certified check that has affected at least three Texas attorneys. Read the details here

10/18/13. We received a report today that the name of a San Antonio law firm is being used in a debt collection scam, where scammers apparently obtained files from a payday loan company. The scammers are calling people all over the country, saying they are with the law firm, and threatening the people with arrest if they do not immediately pay their debts. Law enforcement and the Secret Service in San Antonio are investigating the matter.

9/17/13

Texas attorneys should be extra-vigilant regarding potential scams involving fraudulent checks or wire transfers. These scams are increasing in sophistication, sometimes involving innocent third parties who seek legal services at the request of a scam artist.

The bottom line is this: Never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected.

Scam scenarios include:

a request for help in collecting a divorce settlement from an ex-spouse unsolicited email requests for legal help collecting money or judgments, sometimes apparently coming from actual professionals whose identities have been stolen a real estate transaction for an overseas client (whose identity was stolen by a scam artist) involving an innocent third-party realtor impersonation of law firms by scam artists who issue bogus checks and attempt to charge a fee for the checks to clear a bogus check received by a law firm, purportedly for payment regarding representation of an inmate impersonation of a lawyer and law firm by a scammer “collecting debts” under the attorney’s name

Again, be vigilant and do not disburse funds from your accounts until underlying funds have cleared your bank (and not simply been made “available”).

Cases involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area. Internet fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If a scam has targeted you or your firm, please leave a comment below describing the scenario or tactics the scammer used.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Joanna Herzik
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Can A Flip of The Coin Be a Part of Mandatory Pre-Suit Insurance Dispute Mediation Process?

Originally published by Chip Merlin.

A number of public adjusters and contractors have inquired whether I’ve seen recent forms that require the selection of a mediator by the flip of a coin. I was going over a policy sent from a mid-west public adjuster yesterday and came across the following negotiation and mediation condition in the loss settlement portion of… Continue Reading

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Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Chip Merlin
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Lateral Partners and Associates: What Do You Know About Your Potential New Firm?

Originally published by Cordell Parvin.

Someone asked me recently, why should a lateral partner or associate use a recruiter? It’s a good question. I can answer by sharing a story with you and simply say that I have only placed lawyers in firms I know well from having coached lawyers and interacted with the firm leaders.

When I was at the top of my game, two large international firms heavily recruited me. Both firms offered me substantially more money than I had made the year before.

Business people in a seminar

I didn’t have a recruiter helping me so I had to learn as much as I could about each of the firms. It took hours, and days and a couple of months for me to get beyond the substantial increase in my compensation that both firms offered and learn what it would be like being a partner in each firm.

One of the two firms was considered one of the fastest growing firms in the world. They had previously started a Dallas office, but it wasn’t much (and still isn’t much.) They offered me big time money, but over the time they recruited me I learned that they were ditching as many partners as they were hiring. I might have been the flavor of the month when they hired me, but if I didn’t; meet their unstated expectations, I would be gone as quickly as I had been hired.

The second firm had a substantial Dallas office. Their managing partner described the firm as being like a large air craft carrier that turns very slowly in the water. The firm seemed less entrepreneurial than the first firm, and my then current firm. They seemed more focused on building teams. Some of that appealed to me. But, then I discovered there were several older partners who had retired on the job and were still being compensated as if they were top producers.

Even though my initial compensation with either firm would have been substantially greater than what I was earning, neither firm was the right firm for me. I urge you to learn more about any potential firm you might join before you make a move. A top notch recruiter can discern whether the potential firm is the right one for you.

 

The post Lateral Partners and Associates: What Do You Know About Your Potential New Firm? appeared first on Cordell Parvin Blog.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Cordell Parvin
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Keep calm….and make things up!

Originally published by Academic Support.

If you are taking the February Bar Exam, you have about 2 weeks or so left to study. Don’t panic. There is no possible way to know ALL of the law, so don’t start cramming and trying to figure out …

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Academic Support
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Texas Crime Labs Will Start THC Testing for Marijuana Enforcement

Originally published by Broden & Mickelsen LLP.

Police in Texas have struggled since last year to arrest people for the possession of marijuana following the state legislature’s legalization of hemp.

The process may become easier after March when new testing equipment will allow police to make the distinction between legal hemp and unlawful marijuana.

Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey, who is a regional director of the Texas Police Chiefs Association, said the Texas Department of Public Safety will soon be able to test oil and plant-based products to detect tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis plants that gives users the feeling of being high. 

Texas DPS has partnered with Sam Houston State University in Huntsville on crime lab testing equipment that detects the level of THC in products, Harvey said. He told the TV station WFAA about the new testing procedure.

The equipment will allow police to find out more quickly if a substance is marijuana or hemp. The Texas legislature passed House Bill 1325, the Hemp Farming Act, in 2019. The legislation legalized hemp products in Texas. Legal hemp contains 0.3% or less of THC. Concentrations above 0.3% are considered illegal marijuana.

WFAA reported that even when the Texas Department of Public Safety begins testing for THC in March, police will still have a dilemma.

Harvey pointed out that police don’t have a roadside field test for 0.3% THC.  Officers use the standard of probable cause to determine the likelihood that a person is carrying marijuana as opposed to hemp. They follow through with arrests. However, the cases cannot be brought to trial until lab results determine whether the subject of the arrest was carrying hemp or marijuana.

House Bill 1325 resulted in a huge fall in marijuana arrests in Texas. High profile police errors also made headlines. Recently, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper arrested a trucker. He was accused of hauling more than a ton of marijuana near Amarillo. Aneudy Gonzalez was jailed for nearly a month on federal charges, and police seized the plant material. However, the authorities later released the driver from jail. His case was dismissed and the cargo is expected to be returned.  Lab tests found he was transporting hemp as opposed to marijuana.

The state’s policy is not to interfere with interstate commerce of hemp. Police are not able to seize cannabis or arrest anyone without probable cause that the substance is cannabis as opposed to hemp.

Texas officials are still drawing up regulations for hemp transportation and farming. Some cities are considering backtracking on low-level marijuana enforcement. The Austin City Council will vote on a proposal later this month. If approved, the measure would effectively end arrests and fines by city police for the possession of personal amounts of cannabis, The Texas Tribune reported.

It remains to be seen how soon the Texas Department of Public Safety will be able to bring in new testing equipment. Whatever the timetable, marijuana enforcement is in a state of flux. It’s important to talk to an experienced Texas drug defense attorney to defend your rights. Please call our Dallas-based team at (214) 720-9552.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Broden & Mickelsen LLP
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Breach of Fiduciary Duty in Real Estate Transactions

Originally published by Cris Feldman.

A fiduciary duty is a legal obligation wherein one party must act in the best interest of another. The obligated party is known as the fiduciary and is entrusted with the care of the other party’s finances or property. When a breach of this trust occurs, it can have serious legal implications. Understanding how this type of breach can occur in the real estate industry is important to protecting one’s assets and finances.

When it comes to real estate, in the event a real estate professional is acting as an “agent,” he or she owes their client a fiduciary duty. Though commonly referred to as real estate agents, it is actually rare for real estate deals to involve real estate professionals acting within the legal definition of an agent.

Most states have enacted laws requiring a specific signed document to give a real estate professional agent status. In Texas, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has specific rules in place governing a real estate broker or salesperson acting as an agent or fiduciary of another. Certain laws – like the Texas Real Estate License Act, the Inspector Act, the Residential Service Company Act, and the Timeshare Act – helped codify and solidify these rules.

Real Estate Breaches of Fiduciary Duty

Even with these laws and regulations in place, a breach of fiduciary duty can still occur. When a real estate professional is granted agent status, their fiduciary duty requires them to be honest and candid with the buyer. The agent will spend a majority of the buying or selling process working independently of the client by negotiating with other parties, coordinating inspections, and reviewing documents. The real estate agent is ultimately required to act as a proxy for the client by making decisions for them and reporting information in an open and honest manner.

A breach occurs when an agent decides to act for his or her own personal benefit instead of in the best interest of their client. Breaches of fiduciary duty in real estate can occur when:

The agent receives secret profits or fees not disclosed to the client The agent fails to inform a seller of other offers on the table after an offer has been accepted The agent fails to advise a buyer of any material defects to the property There is dual representation or facilitating a sale of a property by acting as the real estate agent for both the buyer and seller without their knowledge The agent provides the client’s personal information to the other broker without the client’s permission The agent declines or accepts an offer without the client’s approval

Each breach can have a serious financial impact on the client and can cause irreparable damage, including a client stuck with a house full of defects or a client with their personal details disclosed to unknown people or entities.

In the event a breach occurs, there are several available legal remedies, including:

Rescission

When a real estate agent breaches their fiduciary duty, the client can ask the courts to rescind the contract and restore them to their status prior to entering the agreement. This can involve the return of property to the seller and a refund of the purchaser’s money.

Forfeiture of Commission

A real estate agent is entitled to payment if they breach their fiduciary duty. Because of this, an agent can be required to refund any compensation received.

Damages

A breach of fiduciary duty by a real estate agent can damage their client. If so, the agent must compensate their client for those damages. In the event the agent of a seller of a property failed to present a better offer than what was accepted, the agent would be required to reimburse the seller for the difference between the lower and higher offers.

Houston Breach of Fiduciary Duty Attorneys

Failing to fulfill a fiduciary duty can have serious legal consequences. Any time a fiduciary profits through self-dealing or causes a loss to another party, he or she can be held accountable for their actions. At Feldman & Feldman, our commercial litigation attorneys understand the complexities and nuances of the fiduciary relationship; and we represent clients in pursuing and/or defending against these claims. Contact the attorneys at Feldman & Feldman today to discuss your needs.

The post Breach of Fiduciary Duty in Real Estate Transactions appeared first on Feldman & Feldman.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.

Original author: Cris Feldman
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TYLA Director Spotlight: Matt Manning

Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Matt Manning

Firm: Webb Cason, P.C.

Area of Law You Practice: Personal Injury, Civil Rights, and general problem solving

Position Held in TYLA: District 12 Director

How did you get involved in bar service?

I got involved by joining Corpus Christi Young Lawyers Association and attending 2015-2016 LeadershipSBOT.

What is your favorite TYLA project and why?

My favorite project is the new directors’ project on helping create more veterans courts (see Texas Courts for Texas Veterans: https://tyla.org/resource/texas-courts-for-texas-veterans/). I have worked with the one in my county and have seen lives changed immensely.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress?

Take care of yourself however you must enjoy doing that. Prioritize tasks and don’t waste time on unimportant things. Go on vacation; the work will always be there!

What do you do in your spare time?

I play music (actual instruments); relax at the beach; spend time with my family; read; and do public speaking engagements (among other things).

What are some things most people don’t know about you?

I’ve had beef with Gary Payton since he spurned me—a lowly 7-year-old at the time—when I asked for his autograph at the 1995 NBA All-Star game. I’m still hot 24 years later!

Anything else that you wish to share?

I’m honored to be a part of this incredible organization.

 

Original author: Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA)
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Timely filing deadline extended for July 2020 bar exam

The Texas Board of Law Examiners announced today that due to technical problems with its website, the timely filing deadline for the July 2020 Texas Bar Exam has been extended to 11:59 p.m. February 3. No late fees will be assessed for applications submitted by that time.

Original author: Lowell Brown
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Stories of Recovery: Solving the problem of me

“Lately it occurs to me — What a long strange trip it’s been.” — The Grateful Dead

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on August 22, 2014.

Editor’s note: TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP), text TLAP to 555888, or find more information at tlaphelps.org.

I first started using drugs when I was 12. I always felt like I was different from other people and I couldn’t understand why.

I was frustrated and sad, lonely, depressed, and felt empty inside. I smoked that first joint because I desperately wanted to fit in. When I was high, I felt like I fit in or, better still, I just didn’t care. I was a smorgasbord addict, using any drug that was available. When I used, I didn’t feel so apart from other people and I didn’t feel quite so frustrated and sad. Drugs were my solution. But the problem, which was me, never went away.

I didn’t only use drugs to self-medicate my depression but also when I was happy or wanted to celebrate. Frankly, I would use drugs for any reason and for no reason at all. Sometimes, I had lots of fun but couldn’t remember much detail about it. I was out of control as a teen and caused tremendous pain to my parents. I ran away — twice — at 12 and 13 years of age. I attempted suicide — twice — at 16 and again at 17. I couldn’t understand why bad things always happened to me. I managed to graduate from high school but dropped out of college after only one semester. Partying was more important. My parents and my doctor tried everything they could think of to fix me. Nothing worked.

This pattern of behavior continued over 20 years through two failed marriages and the birth of my daughter, my only child. Finally, I found 12-step recovery at the age of 32. It was becoming difficult to hide my drug use from my daughter and I was afraid I’d die — and she needed me. Also, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I realized that I suffered not only from major depression, but also from the disease of addiction.

I worked hard at applying the 12 steps. I finished college. That same year I married my best friend, whom I met in recovery. I started a career in law enforcement (of all things!). Today, I’m no longer lonely. I feel “a part of” rather than “apart from.” Joy is real, lasting, and not chemically induced.

I am learning so much! I know that I am powerless over everything except my own thinking and behavior. I have learned that if I want my sanity and any degree of serenity, I have to surrender and accept a power greater than myself (anti-depressant medication works now!). I have learned to have faith in a loving God of my understanding and to turn over my need for control to that power. I have learned about my disease of “self” and to be accountable for my actions. I now understand that I play a part in nearly everything that happens in my life. I no longer see bad things as happening to me; life just happens. I am learning the value of service and to be grateful. I have made amends to those I have harmed. I know that if I use drugs for any reason, I will use for any reason.

My life has not been magically struck wonderful just because I got clean. More than anything, I’ve had to learn that life is still life. And sometimes life is hard — very hard. My husband and soul mate died just two years after our marriage. I was devastated, but I had my recovery friends at my side to help me through. And besides, I had a daughter to finish raising — and she was devastated, too.

After seven and a half years as a law enforcement officer (and 11 years of recovery), they found out about my drug history, which I had covered up. That career was over. I headed to law school not knowing if I could ever become licensed. This time I was honest about everything. At orientation, the director of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program spoke about their program, as well as the Texas Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. She directed me to a local TLCL group. There, I found true friends and they and other recovery friends would later save my life, and then my law license.

One week before spring break of my first year of law school, my daughter was tragically killed in a car accident. I learned the meaning of “eviscerated.” Many friends and acquaintances rallied around me. I put one foot in front of the other. I went to 12-step meetings almost every day at 6 a.m. before classes and at noon on Fridays. Through it all, I never took a drink or a drug.

Later, after the Board of Law Examiners decided that I was not of fit moral character to practice law in Texas, my lawyer and dear friend, whom I found through TLCL, argued my appeal to the BLE. Several wonderful people traveled to Austin to testify on my behalf at their own expense. I got my law license. I was honest with my new employer who knows about all my … stuff! I am grateful every day.

Nine years later, I attend my local TLCL group regularly. With over 24 years of recovery under my belt, I am happy, joyous, and free (most days!). I don’t pick up a drink or a drug, one day at a time, no matter what. I’ll guess I’ll just keep on truckin’!

Original author: Guest Blogger
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DVAP hosts free legal clinics for Dallas County residents in February

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, an initiative of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, is hosting 7 free legal clinics for county residents who meet financial guidelines. The clinics, which will be held throughout February, will offer legal advice and consultation in civil matters.

Applicants are asked to bring proof of income, identification, and legal papers. For more information, go to dallasvolunteerattorneyprogram.org. For media inquiries, contact DVAP Director Michelle Alden at 214-243-2234.

Clinics begin at 5 p.m. with the exception of the veterans clinic, which begins at 1:30 p.m.

East Dallas (Grace United Methodist Church—4105 Junius St., Dallas 75246)
• Thursdays—February 2 and February 20

South Dallas (Martin Luther King, Jr. Center—2922 MLK Blvd., Dallas 75215)
• Tuesdays—February 4, February 11, and February 25

West Dallas (2828 Fish Trap Rd., Dallas 75212)
• Thursdays—February 13 and February 27

Garland (Salvation Army—451 W. Avenue D, Garland, TX 75040)
• Thursday, February 20

Friendship West Baptist Church (2020 West Wheatland Rd., Dallas, TX 75232)
• Wednesday, February 19

St. Phillip’s Community Center (1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Dallas 75215)
• Tuesday—February 18

Dallas VA Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Center (4500 S. Lancaster Rd., Bldg. 74, Dallas 75216)—1:30 P.M.
• Friday—February 7

To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans website at texasbar.com/veterans.

Original author: Eric Quitugua
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Porter Hedges donation benefits University of Houston Law Center expansion

A contribution from Port Hedges will support the University of Houston Law Center’s newly planned John M. O’Quinn Law Building, slated for construction this summer. The law school’s career services office will also rename to the Porter Hedges LLP Career Services Center.

“Porter Hedges is proud to support the UH Law Center and excited to associate our name with the career services center,” Porter Hedges partner Joshua Wolfshohl said in a press release. “As a Houston-based firm, we have grown with the city over the last four decades and welcome an opportunity to give back to its premier law school. We join the Law Center by investing in the students who will continue to leave their mark in Texas, across the country, and around the world.”

The John M. O’Quinn Law Building is “designed to enhance the educational experience while also serving as a hub to engage and serve the public in one of the nation’s top legal markets,” the school said in a press release.

“I’m delighted that Porter Hedges has made this generous gift to help us to build a superior career services center attractive to both employers and students,” Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes said in a press release. “More importantly, it is an investment in our students, staff, and administration who, along with the broader UH Law community, are working every day to make our school the premier law school in Texas.

For more information about the University of Houston Law Center, go to law.uh.edu.

Original author: Eric Quitugua
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Two proposed ethics opinions open for public comment

The Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas is accepting public comments on two proposed ethics opinions through March 27. 

The first proposed opinion deals with (1) whether a staff lawyer employed by an insurance company to defend its insureds must comply with the company’s guidelines regarding the defense of such cases, and (2) what a lawyer’s obligations are if an insurance company cuts a staff lawyer’s support staff.

The second proposed opinion concerns whether a lawyer representing a defendant in a criminal matter violates the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if, after receiving physical evidence from the client, the lawyer does not reveal the existence of the evidence until trial and refuses to allow the prosecuting attorney to inspect the evidence until the court orders the lawyer to do so.

Go to texasbar.com/pec to read the proposed opinions and provide comments. 

Original author: Lowell Brown
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25 elected to San Antonio Bar Foundation Fellows Program

The San Antonio Bar Foundation Fellows Program was established in 1985 to “serve as patrons of the charitable heart of the legal community,” the SABF said in a press release. Fellows are members of the San Antonio Bar Association who are in good standing with the State Bar of Texas. Each year, the foundation’s Fellows Nomination Committee nominates one-third of one percent of SABA members, who are then confirmed by the SABF Board of Trustees.

There are more than 700 fellows, making up three levels of membership—fellows, life fellows, and sustaining life fellows.

“Together, these elected members make a difference in expanding civics education, filling the gap for access to justice and supporting the pipeline of future leaders in the San Antonio legal family,” the SABF said.

Making up the 2020 class of fellows are:

1. Sean Caporaletti, of Drought, Drought & Bobbitt;
2. Steve A. Chiscano, of Gonzalez Chiscano Angulo & Kasson;
3. Matthew S. Compton, of the 4th Court of Appeals;
4. Jason Davis, of Davis & Santos;
5. Jay Dewald, of Jackson Walker;
6. Jay K. Farwell; of Cokinos | Young;
7. Alexander D. Good, of Lindow Stephens Treat;
8. Guillermo M. Hernandez III, of Vidaurri, Lyde, Rodriguez & Haynes;
9. Herbert S. Hill, of Curl Stahl Geis;
10. Shawn P. Hughes, of Broadway Bank;
11. Susan C. Kilgore, of the U.S. Department of the Army;
12. Daniel “Neel” M. Lane Jr., of Norton Rose Fulbright;
13. Grant T. McFarland, of Tinsman & Sciano;
14. Ian McLin, of Langley & Banack;
15. Hon. Michael Mery, of the 37th Civil District Court;
16. Hon. Irene Rios, of the 4th Court of Appeals;
17. J. Patrick Rouse, of Langley & Banack;
18. Danielle N. Rushing, of Dykema;
19. Blake W. Stribling, of Chasnoff Mungia Valkenaar Pepping & Stribling;
20. ileta! A. Sumner;
21. Joshua Sutin, of Chamberlain Hrdlicka White Williams & Autry;
22. Mark Unger, of the Unger Law Firm;
23. Leo Unzeitig, of Chamberlain Hrdlicka White Williams & Autry;
24. Deanna Whitley, of the Whitley Law Firm; and
25. Zachary Zurek, of Jackson Walker.

For more information about the SABR or SABA, visit sabar.org.

Original author: Eric Quitugua
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Scams continue to target Texas attorneys

Update 1/27/20: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a person named James Marshall, who claimed to be with a company called Compass Upstream Services LLC, based out of Texas. In his email, the scammer stated that his company was going to lease drilling equipment to another Texas company, at the rate of $65,000 per day, and he wanted to know if the attorney could write the lease agreement. In the scammer’s email, he said he needed an attorney in “your state,” which the attorney assumes means Texas.

The attorney was suspicious of the email and found no record of the scammer’s LLC being registered in Texas. The attorney checked the ICANN database for the scammer’s domain name. As of Saturday, the scammer’s domain name and website did not exist, but they do exist as of today. The attorney inspected the scammer’s website, www.compassupstreamservices.com, and found that it looks like an exact copy of the website of another oil company, www.marriottdrilling.com.

Update 11/14/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a Japanese company named Kuraray Co. Ltd, which appears to be a real company. The email used a fake email address, and stated that the Japanese company had a claim against a Grand Prairie company for unpaid invoices and wanted to hire the attorney. The attorney ignored the email but eventually received a fake settlement check that appeared to come from the Grand Prairie company, but the check was mailed from Canada. The attorney was invited to deposit the check and take out the attorney’s fee, even though the attorney never negotiated or requested the fee. The attorney took the check to their bank, and the bank spotted several problems with the check and confirmed it was fake, as did the real Grand Prairie company.

Update 9/18/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney received an email from a scammer using the name of a law firm from Texas but with an email using a domain address from Australia: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The email states that the attorney is being sued by the scammer’s client, must download a link to find out the details of the “immense psychological suffering” the attorney caused with their words, and that the scammer and the client will see the attorney in court.

Update 9/3/2019: A Texas attorney today reported that someone falsely claiming to represent the State Bar of Texas called her to request payment of bar fees. The call came from the number 888-270-4815, which is not associated with the State Bar. Fortunately, the attorney realized she was being targeted by a scam and reported it to the bar. Legitimate messages regarding State Bar of Texas fees will come via mail or email from the State Bar Membership Department. Attorneys can contact the Membership Department at 800-204-2222 (ext. 1383) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to verify whether a communication is from the State Bar.

Update 6/27/2019: We received reports of two more scams. An attorney reported two scams he has received via email. In the first one and the one he receives most often, he receives an email from “Alexis Berger.” The email generally contains the following information: “I am seriously in need of your legal assistance. i lent my brother-in-law some money and has refused to pay back i checked your profile and find your firm capable of assisting me in my legal issue. Here is my email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mr Alexis Berger.”  The email address usually varies by the numbers at the end of the scammer’s name and is always at gmail.com. This scam has also been reported by numerous attorneys in the United States and Canada. The second email the attorney received is an email from “Shin Okura” with Tokai Electronics, a Japanese company, apparently looking to bring a claim against a local Houston company for unpaid invoices. Invoices and documents were also provided which looked very suspicious and altered. This scam has also been reported by law firms in Canada.

Update 6/24/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was contacted by a scammer who requested to retain the attorney’s representation for a dog bite case. The scammer claimed they were bit by a dog, that the dog’s owner had agreed to pay a settlement for medical expenses, and that the dog owner had not yet paid. The attorney was also contacted by the person claiming to be the dog owner, who was part of the scam. The dog owner claimed to want to pay the settlement to the scammer through the attorney and out of court. The scammer also used photos from a news story in the UK that they claimed showed the dog bite. This same scam has been reported in other states, with the scammer using different cities where the dog bite incident occurred.

Update 5/31/2019: We received a report of another scam. An attorney was recently made aware that an unknown individual going by the name Simon Grant has stolen the attorney’s name, bar number, and publicly available contact information. The scammer contacts victims by email and is using the attorney’s information to defraud individuals by claiming to be the attorney or be employed by the attorney. The scammer also created a false website which has since been taken down.

Update 3/13/19: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney received an email inquiry for a new case through the attorney’s firm website. The scammer requested to retain the firm for help in getting repayment for a loan. A copy of the supposed loan agreement was sent to the firm. The address used for the loan borrower is local to the firm’s location. The address the scammer listed as their own is located in Hong Kong. The scammer used the name Mr. Zhang Chang. A similar scam by someone with that name was previously reported by two Ontario law firms.

Update 1/30/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas attorney recently received an email that is part of an ongoing scam directed to attorneys in which the scammer is attempting to get the attorney to wire real funds after receiving fraudulent payments (bad checks or fake credit cards). The text of the email is as follows:

Hello,

I am in need of your legal assistance regarding a breach of loan agreement I provided a friend of mine in the amount of $750,000. He needed this loan to complete an ongoing project he was handling last year. He now resides in your jurisdiction and the loan was for 24 months with interest accrued at the rate of 7.5%. The capital and interest were supposed to be paid May last year but he has only paid $50,000 which was in October.

Please let me know if this falls within the scope of your practice, so that I can provide you with the loan documents and any further information you need to know.

Thanks,

Scott Steinberg.

Update 1/25/2018: We received a report of another scam. A Texas law firm received an inquiry through their website asking if they could draw up a contract for the sale of used construction heavy equipment. The firm responded asking for more details, and the “seller” in Florida sent a detailed appraisal and photograph of the equipment, complete with serial number and a signed letter of intent from a buyer in Texas. The “seller”, “buyer,” and “broker” information all checked out online in Florida, and the “buyer” information also checked out on the Texas Secretary of State website. All were legitimate businesses involved in that type of transaction.

The “seller” signed the engagement letter and sent a paper check from New York that looked legitimate and appeared to be issued by the “buyer.” The firm deposited the check into their trust account. Later that week, the “seller” asked them to wire part of the funds for an inspection of the equipment. Because the check hadn’t cleared the firm’s bank and the wire was to a location in Asia, the firm didn’t send the money, and they inspected further.

The firm called the “seller” who answered using the name of the legitimate Florida businessman. He provided a number during that call that went to a recorded voicemail matching the “broker” details. They called a phone number from the broker’s website, and the real broker answered and said they were the second firm that week to call him (the other was from Delaware), that a scammer had ripped off his letterhead and information, and that he was not involved in any transaction like they described. The firm also contacted the “buyer” using an independent number they found, and the local person who answered said that he ran a legitimate business but was not buying any equipment and knew nothing of the transaction.

The firm contacted their bank, and the bank president contacted the issuing check bank. The issuing check bank was a real bank, but the check and account number with that bank were phony.

Update 11/15/2017: We have received a report of another scam. A person in Australia was contacted by a scammer using a Texas attorney’s information. The person who was contacted was scammed previously and lost money, and he believes it is the same scammers who are contacting him again. In the emails, the scammers say they can recover the person’s money for him from a company, Norton Pearce Associates, that has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Update 9/13/17: We have received a report of another scam. A person in New York received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, who lives in Texas. She was told that he was in jail and needed bail money. They told her to call (877) 386-6064 for the Bradford Law Firm and ask for attorney Allen Roberts. The phone number has been disconnected, and the Texas attorney Allen Roberts is deceased.

Update 7/13/17: We received a report from an attorney who was contacted through their firm Facebook page and by e-mail by someone who claims that the attorney represents them in a lawsuit in Kenya. The person is not a client of the firm, and they have no record of any previous communication with the person.

Update 6/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys. An attorney received a scam email seeking representation to draft a purchase and sales agreement for a boat sale. The scammer sent the email using another attorney’s name in the email address. View the scam email attachment.

Update 5/26/17: We received a report of another scam targeting Texas attorneys.

A lawyer received a call from someone purporting to be from the State Bar of Texas. The caller, who identified the date the lawyer was admitted to practice law in Texas, offered the attorney a half-year free membership and listed associated benefits. After the attorney refused and ended the conversation, the caller attempted to contact another lawyer in his office but was stopped by the receptionist.

The State Bar of Texas Membership Department does not call attorneys with special offers for membership dues.

Update 5/4/17: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

A law firm received emails from a person asking to hire the firm to collect payment for goods provided to a third party. The firm also received an email from the third party. Both emails were fake. The firm also received a check as a retainer, and upon verification with the Canadian bank listed on the check, confirmed it was fake. View the scam emails and fraudulent check.

Another law firm received several scam emails within a few days of each other from different senders from locations in Europe, the Netherlands, Africa, and the United States. The emails were requests for various legal services including help with a real estate loan default, seeking assistance with an investment, and drafting a purchase and sales agreement for a drilling rig. The firm also received a fake out of office reply email from a sender they did not contact.

Update 4/17/17: We received a report of another scam in which a law firm’s accounting department received an email purporting to be from the president of the firm, instructing them to pay a statement for $19,500 for professional service. When accounting requested more information, the president responded that the email was not from him. The address it appeared to come from was This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update 4/11/2017: We received reports of two more scams targeting Texas attorneys.

An attorney received a phishing email. He tried to open an email which appeared to be from a referring attorney sending documents via DocuSign. Over 20 people on his contact list also received the email. The hackers sent out thousands of fake emails to his contacts which appeared to be coming from him. The hackers also responded to inquiries from his contacts questioning if the phishing email was legitimate.

Another attorney received a fraudulent check. He received a $400,000 check that cleared his bank and was told it was part of a $1,000,000 deal. He also received a second payment. He received instructions to deduct his fee and wire the remaining funds to Kenya. He called his bank to verify the check. The check had a name and address on it that appeared to belong to an oil company but was that of a U.S. insurance company.

Update 3/9/2017: We have received a report of a phishing scam targeting Texas attorneys. The scammer stated they were seeking legal counsel. View a copy of the scam email.

Update: 2/23/17: We have received reports of another scam email targeting Texas attorneys. Some attorneys have received emails that appear to be coming from another attorney. It appears that the scammer was able to access attorneys’ email address books for the purpose of forwarding the e-mail from one attorney to another giving the appearance that it is a referral. It is apparently a scam enlisting attorneys to prepare legal documents upon receiving a cashier’s check deposited in trust accounts with an overpayment of legal fees being returned to the scammer from the attorney’s trust account. The initial payment is fraudulent.

Law firms in Canada and the UK have received similar e-mails.

The scam emails are coming from the following accounts with the name Tijmen Smit: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update: 9/23/16: A San Antonio lawyer has notified the State Bar of Texas that he received a fraudulent check as part of an attempted scam. View the fraudulent check and scam letter.

Update 2/26/16: We received a report about another fraudulent check scam targeting attorneys.

Update 2/3/16: We received a report of a new scam targeting clients of attorneys. Scammers are “spoofing” phone numbers of attorneys and calling clients to get money. Read the full story.

Update 10/23/15: The State Bar of Texas has been alerted to a potential email scam involving a debt collection. On October 20, a Fort Sam Houston attorney received an email from a sender who claimed that she had lent a sum of money to a borrower, and that the borrower had not yet repaid the loan in full and had since moved to Texas. The sender claimed she was seeking legal assistance in the matter and requested information about the attorney’s fees. The message also included a copy of two checks (here and here) and an alleged loan agreement promissory note.

Update 10/8/15: We received a recent report of a scam targeting attorneys. An attorney was contacted by a company and received a bogus check. Read the details on this fraudulent check scam.

Update 2/26/15. We have received a report of a scam from an attorney who received a request for assistance. She spoke on the phone to the proposed client, who asked that a buyer send the firm a 15 percent deposit from a purchase price to use as a retainer, that the firm bill their fees against it, and return the remainder to the client. Upon further searching, the attorney uncovered a scam.

Update 6/4/14. We received a report this week about a sophisticated scam involving collection with a fraudulent certified check that has affected at least three Texas attorneys. Read the details here

10/18/13. We received a report today that the name of a San Antonio law firm is being used in a debt collection scam, where scammers apparently obtained files from a payday loan company. The scammers are calling people all over the country, saying they are with the law firm, and threatening the people with arrest if they do not immediately pay their debts. Law enforcement and the Secret Service in San Antonio are investigating the matter.

9/17/13

Texas attorneys should be extra-vigilant regarding potential scams involving fraudulent checks or wire transfers. These scams are increasing in sophistication, sometimes involving innocent third parties who seek legal services at the request of a scam artist.

The bottom line is this: Never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected.

Scam scenarios include:

a request for help in collecting a divorce settlement from an ex-spouse unsolicited email requests for legal help collecting money or judgments, sometimes apparently coming from actual professionals whose identities have been stolen a real estate transaction for an overseas client (whose identity was stolen by a scam artist) involving an innocent third-party realtor impersonation of law firms by scam artists who issue bogus checks and attempt to charge a fee for the checks to clear a bogus check received by a law firm, purportedly for payment regarding representation of an inmate impersonation of a lawyer and law firm by a scammer “collecting debts” under the attorney’s name

Again, be vigilant and do not disburse funds from your accounts until underlying funds have cleared your bank (and not simply been made “available”).

Cases involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area. Internet fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If a scam has targeted you or your firm, please leave a comment below describing the scenario or tactics the scammer used.

Original author: Joanna Herzik
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State Bar committees seek award nominations

The State Bar’s Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters and Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters committees seek nominations for the Pro Bono Excellence and Indigent Defense awards. Recipients should be deserving individuals, groups, and entities that perform exceptional work in the field of legal services to the poor.

Nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 28. Award recipients will be notified in May.

Award nomination forms are available at texasbar.com/probonoawards. For more information about these awards, contact the Legal Access Division at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 800-204-2222, ext. 1855.

Original author: Eric Quitugua
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Sponsored Content: Marketing Yourself as an Attorney

Let’s face it, most people don’t really think about attorneys or the intricacies of the law until they get into legal trouble. Unfortunately, this can cause potential clients to ignore legal marketing or deem it unnecessary to their daily lives. In today’s rapidly changing business climate attorneys have to shift their marketing strategies to make themselves more exciting and relevant on a day-to-day basis.

When it comes to social media, purely legal posts do little to attract attention or connect with the community at large. Instead, attorneys should learn to market themselves and their personal brand, rather than simply their services. This can involve highlighting your own unique persona, and the aspects of your personality or interests that others can find common ground in. Not only does this make your content more exciting, but it makes you more relevant, relatable, and approachable. In turn, when the time comes and your followers need an attorney, their choice in who represents them becomes essentially automatic.

Two of the most compelling ways to market yourself and educate your audience are videography and photography. Both mediums immediately capture attention, and visual-based messaging has a stronger impact on how people think, react, and feel than written words. In today’s world, people are constantly bombarded with information, and those who can get their ideas across in more efficient and engaging ways are the ones who get more back as a result. Video and photo simplify and bolster your messaging, and broaden your potential audience in the process.

Another huge consideration is your website. Having a website with a clean, professional design for you or your firm is obviously paramount, but it doesn’t stop there. For one, your website is a key component when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The more information you have on your site, and the more frequently you update it, the more it will appear in the search engine results of potential clients looking for your services. Another intelligent way of improving your SEO is to create multiple websites, each with marketable URL names specific to the services you offer. For example, if you’re an estate planning attorney named John Smith, consider what people looking for estate planning services search for, and use a name like “www.fightingforgrandmasland.com” rather than simply “www.johnsmith.com.”

Lastly, business-to-business efforts are a crucial component of marketing that many don’t take proper advantage of. Attorneys – practicing in different areas of the law can help each other on cases, and in turn can cooperatively advertise within the parameters of the rules, each other’s services. It’s important to note that business-to-business should not just be attorney-to-attorney though. Think about businesses or groups that are related to the areas of law you practice, and try to create mutually beneficial educational/marketing opportunities. For instance, if you’re a criminal defense attorney, consider sponsoring a pre-existing event at a condominium where you can educate tenants on legal matters. The condominium and tenants will see this as a perk, and in the process you can potentially become “the” known attorney in the building.

Hopefully this information has been useful, and you’ve gained a better understanding of the avenues you can take to upgrade your marketing efforts. That being said, this is a basic overview of a multi-faceted process that requires a lot of thought and effort. If you feel this might be too daunting for you to handle, or you simply want the expertise of a professional team that represents numerous attorneys and has been doing marketing and consulting work for years, please contact VESS Consulting Group at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 512-368-4707. We are proud to be an Austin-based company that supports local businesses at affordable rates, and would love to set up a meeting over coffee or lunch, our treat.

Original author: Guest Blogger
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Secretary Hughs Delivers Remarks At Naturalization Ceremonies

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs yesterday attended and delivered remarks at naturalization ceremonies for new American citizens at the U.S. Courthouse, Southern District of Texas, in Corpus Christi."
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Secretary Hughs Convenes Statewide Agency Roundtable Discussion On 2020 Census

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs today convened a roundtable discussion of state agencies to coordinate efforts with the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) to achieve an accurate count of all Texans in the upcoming 2020 Census."
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Secretary Hughs Joins Cultural And Economic Trade Mission To Japan

"Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs last month joined a cultural and economic trade mission to Japan as part of a delegation hosted by the Japan Foundation and Center for Global Partnership. "
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REPTL Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law, Section of the State Bar of Texas

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