Local Heroes Time to Step Up for Equal Access to Justice From Adversity to Service: Houston Attorneys Find Ways to Turn Grief into Good 2nd Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards 25th John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run Raises Nearly $65,000 for The Center Law Week Celebrates 21st Century Challenges
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contents Volume 47 Number 6
10 Local Heroes to Step Up for Equal 18 Time Access to Justice By Glenn A. Ballard, Jr.
Adversity to Service: 20 From Houston Attorneys Find Ways to Turn Grief into Good
& Giuliani Hosts 26 Bracewell Minute Mentoring Program
By Carrin F. Patman and Catherine Ozdogan
Harris County 30 2nd Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards John J. Eikenburg Law Week 32 25th Fun Run Raises Nearly $65,000 for The Center
Week Celebrates 21st 36 Law Century Challenges
The Houston Lawyer
The Houston Lawyer (ISSN 0439-660X) is published bimonthly by The Houston Bar Association, 1300 First City Tower, 1001 Fannin St., Houston, TX 77002-6715. Periodical postage paid at Houston, Texas. Subscription rate: $12 for members. $25.00 non-members. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Houston Lawyer, 1300 First City Tower, 1001 Fannin, Houston, TX 77002. Telephone: 713-759-1133. All editorial inquiries should be addressed to The Houston Lawyer at the above address. All advertising inquiries should be addressed to: Quantum/SUR, 12818 Willow Centre Dr., Ste. B, Houston, TX 77066, 281-955-2449, www.thehoustonlawyer.com, e-mail: email@example.com Views expressed in The Houston Lawyer are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the Houston Bar Association. Publishing of an advertisement does not imply endorsement of any product or service offered. For article REPRINTS, please contact Wright’s Reprints: 1-877-652-5295. ©The Houston Bar Association, 2010. All rights reserved.
contents Volume 47 Number 6
departments Message 6 President’s By Barrett H. Reasoner the Editor 8 From By Ann D. Zeigler Reviews 40 Media Commercial Fraud Manual Reviewed by Ann Zeigler
The Lawyer’s Guide to Finding Success in Any Job Market Reviewed by Nicole Sain
Fame 101: Powerful Personal Branding & Publicity For Amazing Success Reviewed by N. Jill Yaziji
Black Water Rising Reviewed by Judy L. Ney Trends 42 Legal U.S. Supreme Court Rejects
Most “Constructive” Claims Under the PMPA By David M. Rodi
On Credit Card Cons Beware By N. Jill Yaziji in Professionalism: 44 ATheProfileHonorable Frank B. Rynd
Judge, 309th District Court
45 Off the Record
Lawyer by Day, Singer & Flautist on Weekends
Elaine McAnelly By Ann D. Zeigler
The Houston Lawyer
Cover Photo: This Law Day poster was created by Aylin Gonzalez, a 7th grader at Woodland Acres Middle School. The poster won first place in the 4th-8th grade category in the HBA Law Day Poster Contest and first place in the 6th-8th grade category in the State Bar of Texas Law Day Poster Contest.
46 At the Bar 46 Placement Service 48 Litigation MarketPlace
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By Barrett H. Reasoner Gibbs & Bruns LLP
The More Things Change...
The Houston Lawyer
his is the last column I have the honor to write in The Houston Lawyer and by the time you read this, I will have handed the reins over to my successor, Mark Kelly. As a result, this is obviously a time of great change in my life. My partners understandably expect a renewed focus on my law practice. My family quite rightly expects fewer absences from their activities. My partners and family have been extremely supportive of my efforts this year, and for that I will forever be grateful. I understand and welcome the changes they expect after a wonderful, but exhausting, year. As I look at the changes going on in the profession more generally, however, the feeling is more one of uncertainty and trepidation. Jobs for new lawyers are harder to come by than they have ever been. Moreover, the nature of the practice is changing dramatically, and one can only speculate about how things will look twenty years from now. Beyond the practice of law, at the national and global levels, we are undoubtedly living in what the old Chinese curse would refer to as “interesting times.” Disasters (both natural and man made), financial crises, and increasingly uncivil political dialogue from both ends of the spectrum leave you wondering where the world is headed. One thing I can say with certainty amid all of this is that the Houston Bar Association (HBA) will continue to be there to help with many of the problems and challenges facing our profession and our soci-
summer. Similarly, our Consumer Task ety. I am not naïve enough to believe that Force added a needed dimension in these our bar is the cure all for any of these istimes to our existing legal advice clinics. sues; no single organization can be. What The group added specialists in bankruptI do know is that, for 140 years, this bar cy, consumer law, real estate, and tax to has been there, helping those less fortuour base of volunteers and partnered with nate and upholding the standards of our non-profit credit counseling organizaprofession. Great institutions have two tions. The result was that approximately critical things: a structure and culture 120 people received advice and counsel that sustains them as different officers on consumer-related issues at our clinics, come and go and a strong volunteer base. and the plan going forward is to incorpoWe obviously have Kay Sim as our corrate these services at some of our clinics nerstone, but through the work of Kay on a regular basis. My and others, we also hope is that both prohave that critical “One thing I can say grams will continue structure and culture. to enrich the bar’s More importantly, we with certainty amid already extraordinary have you. I have been array of services in amazed this year to all of this is that the the future. see the many areas in Houston Bar Association I look back with which Houston lawgreat appreciation for yers give their time will continue to be the opportunity to and money to help have served as Presithose less fortunate, there to help with many dent of the HBA. That often with little or no service only increased fanfare. I have also of the problems and my respect for the inbeen delighted to see stitution and its dedihow many lawyers challenges facing cated volunteers. We and judges make efour profession and have an organization forts large and small to be very proud of, to make our profesour society.” and one that is more sion better. needed than ever. This year, I am Mark Kelly will be an outstanding leader proud to say that the bar achieved a great as we move forward in these challenging deal. Thanks to the efforts of many, our times. The HBA’s good works have been partnership with Communities in Schools going on for 140 years and, with your has achieved extraordinary momentum. help, the organization is well positioned We are on pace to place in the range of to continue them many years into the sixty students from at risk schools in future. Houston in legal internship positions this
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thehoustonlawyer.com THE HOUSTON
from the editor
By Ann D. Zeigler Third Coast Consultants
Mark A. Correro Attorney at Law
John S. Gray Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP
Robert W. Painter The Painter Law Firm
The Houston Lawyer
Don Rogers Harris County District Attorney’s Office
Tamara Stiner Toomer Attorney at Law
Building on Editorial Boards Past
ou may have noticed that another perI have had plenty of opportunities to tell Fred under fectly good bar year is wrapping up. This my breath how right he was. We don’t lead people who is the moment when hard-working HBA are already leaders. We point out the goal, and perhaps members briefly come up for air and look make a few observations about suggested paths before around. So, what have we actually acour troops stop listening and start doing. Go for it! complished by all this running around— As I was walking around the HBA’s offices the other practice section CLE lunches, service committee planevening during my Legaline shift, I had another opporning meetings and activities, fund raising for another tunity to look at the HBA membership’s group photos Habitat home, rolling up from years past, when the our sleeves for the blood group was small enough drive. Is it just me, or are for everyone to fit in the the rest of you running into same photo. I see the styles yourselves in the hallways, in hair, beards, and coltoo? Tell yourself that belars come and go. But I see ing active in the HBA is the same determination to good training (so that in get done what needs to be your next life you’ll be a done, and to do it in the train—or not). The 2009-2010 Editorial Board of The Houston Lawyer: first row, from left, best possible way. Really, this organized Judy L. Ney, Hannah Sibiski, Al Harrison, Editor in Chief Ann Zeigler, Jill You know the expresform of giving back to Yaziji and Keri Brown. Back row, from left, Mark Trachtenberg, Associate sion about accomplishing Editor John Gray, Angela Dixon, Carolyn Benton Aiman, Associate Editor our community through Tamara Stiner Toomer, Associate Editor Don Rogers. Not pictured: Associate new goals by standing on bar service is more impor- Editor Mark Correro, Associate Editor Robert Painter, Shawn Bates, Patrice the shoulders of giants. If Childress, Nelson S. Ebaugh, Don D. Ford III, Dori Kornfeld Goldman, Misty tant than we individually Hataway-Coné, Catherine Le, Farrah Martinez, Robert Keith Morris III, you are over six feet tall, would think. Each activ- Linhuyen T. Pham, Nicole Sain, Mark Schuck, William R. Stukenberg. you have no idea what that ity by each of us may not seem important or signifimeans to those of us who are under five feet tall. But it cant, viewed in isolation. But we aren’t isolated. We are also means that I didn’t get here all by myself. The magamembers of a community. I would like to take this final zine you are holding is shiny, up-to-the-minute, and full opportunity as editor of The Houston Lawyer to look of great ideas about improving us as practitioners and back a little (okay, a lot) further than the traditional as humans. It is the product of a year’s worth of work by editorial farewell. my departing board. It is also the product of many years First off, my thanks to Carolyn Aiman, guest ediof work by many other dedicated editorial boards. tor of this special volunteerism issue. Her hard work So, I leave you with my thanks for the opportunimakes my point for me. In this year, I have not only ty to serve the Houston legal community as editor of worked with many wonderful editorial board members The Houston Lawyer. And I salute all my predecessors, and authors, I have had moments to think about this some of whom you know, some of whom you rememgroup, this magazine, and this organization as a living ber, some of whom you may have heard of, some of organism. Last spring I received the traditional Red Pen whom have vanished into the back stacks of the Great of Office from my dear friend and mentor, my predecesLaw Library. They have all contributed greatly to what sor Fred Simpson. As I hand the Pen on to John Gray, this magazine and this organization have become, and I pass on to him Fred’s advice about this position: this I honor all of them. isn’t a leadership position, it’s a cat-herding experience. My thanks to them and to you. It’s been fun. thehoustonlawyer.com
BOARD OF DIRECTORS President
Barrett H. Reasoner
M. Carter Crow
T. Mark Kelly
First Vice President
David A. Chaumette
Travis J. Sales
Second Vice President
Brent A. Benoit
Benny Agosto, Jr. Laura Gibson
Todd M. Frankfort Warren W. Harris.
Alistair B. Dawson Jennifer A. Hasley
DIRECTORS (2009-2011) Hon. David O. Fraga Daniella D. Landers
editorial staff Editor in Chief
Ann D. Zeigler Associate Editors
Mark A. Correro Robert W. Painter Tamara D. Stiner
John S. Gray Don W. Rogers
Carolyn Benton Aiman Keri D. Brown Angela L. Dixon Don D. Ford III Al Harrison Catherine Anh Thi Le Robert K. Morris III Linhuyen T. Pham Mark Schuck Fred A. Simpson Mark R. Trachtenberg
Shawn M. Bates Patrice B. Childress Nelson S. Ebaugh Dori Kornfeld Goldman Misty Hataway-Coné Farrah Martinez Judy L. Ney Nicole Sain Hannah Sibiski William R. Stukenberg Nejd Jill Yaziji
HBA office staff Continuing Legal Education Coordinator
Ashley G. Steininger Administrative Assistant
Karen D. Ramsey
Membership and Technology Services Director
Ronald Riojas Membership Assistant
Director of Education
Community Education Coordinator
Melissa Lang Receptionist/Resource Secretary
Tara Shockley Communications Assistant/ Web Designer
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Local Heroes Each year, Houston Bar Association members donate over 45,000 volunteer hours to HBA programs alone. They also volunteer for countless other programs and community services. With the demands of billable hours, trials and research at the office, along with family responsibilities at home, how and why do they do it? The answers are as diverse as the HBA membership itself. The HBA members profiled here are representative of the committed, caring volunteers who are part of the HBA culture of commitment. They improve the profession, and they improve our communities.
Cultivating Values, Self-Esteem Through Special Olympics and Girl Scouts
By Don Rogers
enise Bradley is an assistant district attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. She started working at the DA’s office as an intern while attending South Texas College of Law, and became a prosecutor in 1987 after obtaining her law degree. Since becoming a prosecutor, she has been assigned to various trial-level divisions, including the Major Offenders Division and the Gangs and Narcotics Division, and has tried over 100 felony cases, including 12 death penalty cases, numerous serial offender cases, and many other high profile cases. She has served as a District Court Chief Prosecutor, Chief of the Misdemeanor Division, Chief of Felony Division C, and was recently chosen to be the first Chief of the newly-formed Capital Trial Division. On a professional level, Denise volunteers on a weekly basis to work in the Harris County STAR Court program, short for “Success Through Addiction Recovery,” which works closely with drug addicts who are on community supervision for non-violent felonies. It provides them with drug treatment, transitional housing, and career counseling in an effort to keep them from returning to jail. While attending college, Denise be-
came involved with Special Olympics, a charitable organization sponsoring yearround sports training and competition for children and adults challenged with intellectual disabilities, with the goal of improving the quality of their lives. After becoming a Houston Bar Association member several years ago, she volunteered to serve on and became active with the HBA Special Olympics Committee, which coordinates and recruits volunteers to support many of the Texas Special Olympics’ 22 sports activities. She now spends a substantial amount of her time serving as a volunteer coordinator for the committee and, in that capacity, serves as a volunteer for the Special Olympics sports events with which the committee is involved, as well as recruiting and overseeing other volunteers from the Houston area to work as escorts, timers, scorekeepers, and cheerleaders at those events. Concerning her volunteer work with Special Olympics, Denise said, “I am constantly amazed by the things that Special Olympics athletes overcome to be successful competitors. I have the utmost respect for them, and the hard work and dedication they give to their respective sports. I am proud that the majority of volunteers I have recruited work at the DA’s office, and I honestly believe that, in light of the tragic situations we encounter every day as prosecutors, doing something as rewarding as Special Olympics benefits the volunteers as much as it does the athletes.” Denise, who is married to Robert Bradley, a Houston police officer, and has two daughters, also spends a considerable amount of her time as a volunteer with Girl Scouts of America. She currently serves as Troop Leader of the San Jacinto Council’s Troop 18041, which includes her daughter Marron and 27 other fifth graders attending Duchesne Academy. Her scout troop participates in assorted activities, such as camping, canoeing, sailing, and service projects, which are
designed to cultivate values, social conscience, and self-esteem in young girls. She also currently serves as Cookie Manager for 18 Girl Scout troops within the Tall Pines Service Unit. As to her volunteer activities with Girl Scouts, Denise says, “I was lucky enough to participate in scouting as a child and am happy that I have the opportunity to participate with my daughters. My fifth grade troop represents everything that Girl Scouts is about. The girls are resourceful and responsible. I have had the opportunity to see these girls develop into leaders and volunteers. I look at the girls in my troop and can’t wait to see the amazing things they will accomplish as strong and self-assured young women.” Don Rogers is an assistant district attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
Francis Chin and Sameera Mahendru
Bashing Trash and Beautifying Houston, One Park at a Time
By Hannah Sibiski
his year marked the twelfth annual Trash Bash, a park delittering and improvement project organized and run by Lawyers Against Waste, an HBA committee, in partnership with the City of Houston. Trash Bash commemo-
rates Earth Day and Law Day by offering Houston area attorneys and their families an opportunity to come help make Houston greener. Trash Bash Co-Chairs, Sameera Kapasi Mahendru from the City of Houston and Francis Chin from Waste Management, had fun cleaning and clearing and enjoyed seeing the large turnout of colleagues and their families come to help make Houston a better place. Sameera is a long-time volunteer on the committee; Francis is new to the Lawyers Against Waste Committee, but has been active on other HBA committees. Both feel the Trash Bash is a project close to their interests and their hearts. This year was a record-breaker in both bashing and beautification. Over 180 volunteers arrived at Mason Park at eight o’clock Saturday morning, May 8, 2010. For the next four hours, those volunteers cleared trash and brush from this 104acre park located near the confluence of Brays Bayou and Buffalo Bayou. While about 90 volunteers picked up litter, the other half cleared a large section of overgrown vegetation, shrubs, and trees. Thanks to the hard work of Sameera, Francis and other committee members, there were 45 door prizes awarded to lucky volunteers, ranging from a cooking lesson with Monica Pope to a happy hour at the Social. The volunteers were rewarded by more than snacks and prizes. They helped improve and protect one of Houston’s most important green spaces. Mason Park offers Houstonians recreation, relaxation, conservation, and flood protection. In addition to tennis courts, an ADA-compliant playground, a bike trial, a swimming pool, and a community center, the park also hosts three and a half acres of wetland environment that has been developed to clean pollutants from storm water before the water enters the bayou, to create an environment for animal and plant life, and to help prevent flooding and protect Houston homes and busithehoustonlawyer.com
nesses. With the help of Sameera, Francis and the Lawyers Against Waste Trash Bash volunteers, Mason Park continues to serve Houstonians. Hannah Sibiski is a senior associate at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. and a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
Justice Kem Thompson Frost
The Gift of Giving Unconditionally
By Jill Yaziji
or a justice with impeccable credentials, top-notch firm background, and ten-year-plus tenure on the 14th Court of Appeals, Justice Kem Frost sounds the opposite of a legal wonk when talking about the impact of volunteer work on her life. Volunteer work has rendered “[me] transformed, tenderized … by forming relationships with those who have been called ‘the least of these,’” she said. When she is not delivering opinions for the 14th Court of Appeals (she authored 158 civil and criminal opinions during the 2008-2009 court term, making her the most prolific justice on that Court), being a wife of an equally-committed professional, and a mother of four school-aged sons, she is volunteering her time in and around the City of Houston. Justice Frost manages to find time to serve on the board of the local American Inns of Court, co-chair the Law Week Committee of the HBA, advise school boards and her church, and give public talks to school kids—to the tune of more than 1,000 young students this year— to mention only a few of her volunteer
activities. As co-chair of the Law Week Committee this year, she organized the first team poster competition for special needs students, giving them the opportunity to compete in the Poster Contest in a new category. Along with co-chair Warren Harris, she also helped organize a poster workshop for Hispanic youth in Houston’s East End, in conjunction with the Hispanic Bar Association and Mexican-American Bar Association of Houston. She and other judges and attorneys spent three hours talking to students, who ranged from kindergarten through eighth grade, about Law Day and helping them create entries to the poster contest, along with providing all the materials. Where do the time and energy come from, given all of her personal and professional duties? Quite simply, from the belief that volunteerism is not only an extension of her professional background, but also a projection of her passion and obligation to give back. Volunteer work is not about personal empowerment or financial gain, but personal growth is certainly a powerful byproduct of it: “Follow your heart in choosing a volunteer activity,” she said, because that will give you the opportunity to excel.” Such is her zest for life and for giving to others that she believes volunteering is the fruit of her faith, an expression of something bigger than herself, grown out of a commitment to help a wide sector of our society that is in need for help. Justice Frost readily admits that juggling personal, professional, and volunteer commitments is a challenge. Her advice to those who want to volunteer is to choose carefully, stick to regularly scheduled times, and commit one season at a time. A quick view of the hundreds of thankyou cards she received from school kids she talked to about our laws and justice system is testimony that her volunteer spirit touched them at a profound level. N. Jill Yaziji is the principal of The Yaziji Law Firm and a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
LegalLine: A Life Line for Those with Legal Questions
By Nicole Sain
itch Reid is an attorney at Andrews Kurth LLP, doing commercial litigation, including life, health and disability insurance litigation, and business torts. Despite the demands of his busy practice, Mitch finds time to volunteer with both LegalLine and the Special Olympics. As a lawyer at a firm that is committed to volunteering and service, Mitch started out as an HBA LegalLine volunteer, manning the phones frequently. His interest in and commitment to LegalLine led Mitch to seek an appointment as a co-chair for the HBA LegalLine Committee, a position in which he has served for the past five years. He also serves as Andrews Kurth’s firm representative for the program. As an HBA co-chair and firm representative, Mitch works to ensure that there will be enough volunteers to staff the phone lines on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Mitch looks to his colleagues, lawyers at other firms, and attorneys at legal departments of corporations to serve the community by answering the LegalLine calls. He also offers them the chance to donate their time to the Special Olympics by staffing the fall and spring events on behalf of the HBA Special Olympics Committee. When working the LegalLine phones, Mitch and the other volunteers spend time answering simple questions for people that cannot afford to pay an attorney for consultation, or directing the caller to the appropriate resources when their question is one that cannot be answered simply. The questions are wide in range,
including family law, landlord tenant and property issues, basic consumer complaints and probate issues. Any legal situation that an individual might be faced with is fair game. Mitch’s volunteer work comes with a great perspective; he feels lucky to be where he is in life and realizes that not everyone is as fortunate as he is, and thus likes to give back. This is especially true for LegalLine, where the help being given must be supplied by a licensed attorney since not everyone is qualified to serve in this capacity. Mitch enjoys being able to use his education and knowledge to help the Houston community and inspires other attorneys to put their talent to similar use. “Nothing feels better than helping someone when they are in need – people should feel fortunate to have made it through law school and be a licensed attorney. To have that ability to help someone in a specific area is a great feeling, and a great service to the community.” Nicole Sain is a partner at OSTROM/Sain, LLP, a boutique focusing on probate litigation and estate planning. She is a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
Scholarship and obtained her law degree from South Texas College of Law in 1996. Belinda became a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 1997, and for several years was assigned to the Environmental Crimes Division, where she prosecuted a number of environmental criminal cases and cases arising from cruel treatment of animals. In 2009, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos created a new Animal
Cruelty Section in the Special Prosecutions Bureau, and chose Belinda to be that sections’ first chief prosecutor, a position she currently holds. In her capacity as chief of that section, Belinda is responsible for the prosecution of all animal cruelty cases in Harris County, and supervision of all the DA’s office personnel assigned to the section. She also works closely with law enforcement agencies and other organizations, including Crime Stoppers,
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Combining a Passion for Pets in Her Personal and Professional Lives
By Don Rogers
elinda Smith, an assistant district attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, has a life-long passion for animal welfare. After obtaining degrees in psychology and geology from the University of Houston, she was awarded the Dean’s Diversity
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the Houston Humane Society, the Houston SPCA, Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP), the City of Houston’s Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control (BARC), and the Harris County animal shelter (PHES), to deter animal cruelty and prosecute those responsible for it. Belinda is a frequent speaker on the subject of animal abuse and cruelty at programs, seminars, or classes sponsored by various institutions, including the Texas A & M University College of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Texas Law School, the University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law, and assorted elementary schools, as well as at conferences or seminars sponsored by law enforcement agencies and other groups concerned with problems associated with animal welfare and abuse. She has appeared on several television episodes about animal cruelty broadcast on Animal Planet. Belinda volunteers some of her personal time and generously contributes some of her money each year to the
Houston Humane Society, a non-profit animal shelter dedicated to eliminating cruelty, abuse, and the overpopulation of animals. She and District Attorney Pat Lykos were honorees at the Humane Society’s 2009 annual gala, “The Fur Ball,” for their work in the area of animal cruelty and abuse. In addition, Belinda volunteered for and is currently chair of the HBA Animal Law Section, which was created in 2007 after she and two other HBA members suggested its formation to address legal issues in the emerging field of animal law. The Animal Law Section educates the legal community about issues affecting animals and their welfare through continuing legal education presentations, networking opportunities, and distribution of materials concerning laws, regulations, and court decisions dealing with animals. Past CLE programs sponsored by the section have included topics such as equine law, animal cruelty prosecution, and animals in entertainment.
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The Animal Law Section hosts an annual holiday party at which someone who has made a significant contribution to the animal welfare community is honored. It also sponsors or participates in activities such as (1) “Paw and Order SDU,” short for Special Dog Unit, which provides therapy dogs to visit with adults and children who are victims of domestic violence at the offices of the district attorney’s Family Criminal Law Division and at the Children’s Assessment Center; and (2) the Annual Crime Stoppers Anti-Dog Fighting Campaign, which raises awareness and educates the public on certain aspects of animal cruelty. Belinda says she feels fortunate to be chief of the DA’s Animal Cruelty Section and able to volunteer her time as chair of the HBA Animal Law Section, saying, “Now, with the support of District Attorney Pat Lykos, I have my dream job and I am able to promote animal welfare issues through my involvement in the HBA Animal Law Section. Volunteering with the HBA Animal Law Section is a natural extension of my duties with the DA’s office. As a prosecutor, I have a unique opportunity to promote animal welfare issues through the Animal Law Section. Sometimes my roles as Chief of the DA’s Animal Cruelty Section and Chair of the HBA Animal Law Section overlap, but the end result is twice as good because both animals and ultimately our community benefit from the programs.” Belinda, who is married and has two children, is also a member of and currently serves as Chair of the HBA Environmental Law Section, which offers monthly CLE presentations on subjects relevant to environmental laws and regulation, conservation, and law enforcement. Don Rogers is an assistant district attorney with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
Connie Simmons Taylor Helping Women Become Dressed for Success
By Keri D. Brown
Connie Simmons Taylor, left.
“It’s an awesome feeling to know that I’ve helped change someone’s life.”
onating a business suit may be a routine task for many, seen as an easy way to clear out the closet to make room for a new wardrobe. But Connie Simmons Taylor knows that a donated suit often means the difference between having a job (and food to put on the table) or continuing to struggle to get by.
gram at the firm told Connie that the As a partner at Baker Botts L.L.P., Conpresident and founder of Dress for Sucnie spends her days as a real estate lawyer. cess Houston, Nancy Levicki, was lookAs a board member and active volunteer ing for an attorney to join their board. for Dress for Success Houston, Connie After visiting the lospends her free time cal Dress for Success changing lives. “Connie became involved store and seeing the Dress for Success in Dress for Success effect that a suit can began in New York in have on a woman 1996, and the Housbecause she wanted to who needs to go on ton affiliate took help the community and had a job interview but root in 1998. Dress literally has nothing for Success now has the ability to give back. appropriate to wear, more than 80 affiliShe remembered being Connie was hooked. ates worldwide, all Connie first served dedicated to improva law student and how on the board of Dress ing women’s lives by important it was to have for Success Houston providing them with from 2002 through professional cloththe perfect suit for the 2008, spending two ing, employment many job interviews.” of those years as programs, and conboard chair. After six tinuing support. years on the board, she moved on to the Connie’s involvement in Dress for Sucorganization’s advisory board for a year cess began in 2002, when she donated a in 2009. couple of suits to the annual Dress for This year, she was reappointed to the Success “Send One Suit” drive at Baker board and serves on the Projects ComBotts. The volunteer heading up the pro-
mittee, where her real estate expertise comes in handy as she considers alternatives for Dress for Success Houston’s future growth. She also spearheads the annual Send One Suit drive at Baker Botts. Connie became involved in Dress for Success because she wanted to help the community and had the ability to give back. She remembered being a law student and how important it was to have the perfect suit for the many job interviews. She felt strongly about advocating for Dress for Success, and her role was a good fit for Baker Botts, with more than 100 women lawyers and numerous other female professionals who needed to do something with those gently-used suits that were no longer needed. As Connie says, serving Dress for Success shows her that “what we do makes a difference. In talking to the Dress for Success clients, I learn how much of a difference having a suit makes. Women will say to me, ‘this organization literally saved my life.’ That’s what matters.” Connie volunteers because she be-
lieves that everyone has something they can give back to their community. “If you don’t volunteer, you cheat yourself as well as the community,” Connie says. “Everyone should experience volunteering at least once, if only for the selfish reason that you feel good for doing it.” In addition to her work for Dress for Success, Connie serves on the advisory board for KIPP Houston, a charter school that develops successful academic skills, intellectual habits, and character qualities in underserved students, and she also serves with the Row House Community Development Corporation (a sister organization to Project Row Houses), an organization that assists low- and moderate-income Houstonians in obtaining housing, develops green space, and preserves historic sites. For more information on Dress for Success Houston’s work, visit www. dressforsuccess.org/houston Keri Brown is an attorney in the Private Clients Services section of Baker Botts
Defending Texans Since 1994 Former Assistant United States Attorney Former Assistant District Attorney Founding Member of the National College of DUI Defense of Counsel Williams Kherkher LLP Law Offices of Ned Barnett
Gulf Freeway Office: 8441 Gulf Freeway, Suite 600 • Houston, Texas 77017 Downtown Office: 440 Louisiana, Suite 800 • Houston, TX 77002
713-222-6767 • www.nedbarnettlaw.com
Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization 16
L.L.P. and a member of The Houston Lawyer editorial board.
Law Week Fun Run a Year-Round Commitment
By Ann D. Zeigler
Mark Wege, third from left.
id you notice the thousand or so runners making their early-morning way from downtown’s Sam Houston Park over to South Shepherd and back on a Saturday morning in late March? That was the 25th Annual John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run, one of the longest tenured running events in Houston, which this year raised nearly $65,000 for The Center, which makes independent lives possible for people with developmental disabilities. Mark Wege, a partner in King & Spalding’s bankruptcy section, has been an active HBA volunteer for many years. His big, continuing commitment is to the Fun Run, which he chaired in 2006. As with other large-scale activities, it isn’t a one-day commitment for Mark and the other Fun Run committee members. The race occurs in late March (the date is set as part of the schedule for HARRA, the Houston area runner’s organization which includes many runners as part of its competitive annual program). But the committee works year-round. In late September the committee begins fundraising in earnest, especially looking for the sponsors whose names and logos will go on the race shirts and brochures. Then in December the committee begins soliciting door prizes, as well as arranging for the T-shirt design and printing and
then in January the organization of the event itself, including numerous volunteer efforts. Mark gives special thanks to Constable Abercia and the Harris County constables who keep the racers safe and block off traffic during the event, to the HARRA organization which sanctions the race and includes many competitive runners, and to the HBA office, which arranges for many of the critical components of the Fun Run including the support of the City of Houston. The last two days before the race are full-time work for much of the race-day crew, getting registration check-in materials ready, issuing the race packets with the electronic strips that runners place on their shoes to monitor their race times. On race day the physical set-up crew begins their day at 5:00 a.m., with the materials from a warehouse on the ship channel, moving the start and finish line structures and other support materials to Sam Houston Park and the race course. Then the numerous race volunteers help the thousand runners, including
Mark’s other HBA volunteer activities not only HBA members but competiinclude participating in several Habitat tive runners as well as many residents of home “builds” and the HBA Consumer The Center who participate in the famTask Force. He is ily walk which folalso a past chair of lows the runners on “Mark gives special thanks the HBA Bankruptcy the course. By 11:00 to Constable Abercia and Section, and inforthey’re ready to take mally assists the misit all back down and the Harris County constables sion of the Houston haul it back to the who keep the racers safe Volunteer Lawyers HARRA warehouse. Program in developAbout a month latand block off traffic during ing mentoring and er, the accounting the event, to the HARRA training opportuniis complete and the ties for lawyers volcommittee finds out organization which sanctions unteering to provide the amount raised for the race and includes many some assistance to The Center. At the HBA’s annual spring competitive runners, and to the consumer debtors in bankruptcy. meeting in May, the HBA office, which arranges Busy? You bet. fund-raising results Loving it? No are announced and for many of the critical doubt. the HBA president components of the Fun Run...” presents the check to The Center. In June, Ann D. Zeigler is a the new committee organizes itself for senior consultant with Third Coast Conthe new bar year, and away Mark goes sultants. She is the editor in chief of The again. Houston Lawyer.
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Step Up For
EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE
By Glenn A. Ballard, Jr.
t’s almost time to step up again for Equal Access to Justice here in Harris County. By working together, we have achieved phenomenal success by doubling the number of pro bono cases handled here in the last five years and by winning national awards in the process. We can now build on this success. As some may recall, I first announced my Equal Access to Justice Program on June 12, 2006 during my year as HBA president. The program was designed to increase the number of cases handled by the Houston Volunteer Lawyers program by increasing the number of cases that Houston law firms would take depending upon their size. We had categories for Solo’s (1-4 attorneys taking 1 case each), Boutiques (5-14 attorneys taking 3 cases each), Small Firms (15-34 attorneys taking 6 cases each), Midsize Firms (35-74 attorneys taking 12 cases each), Intermediate Firms (75-125 attorneys taking 25 cases each) and Large Firms (125 plus attorneys taking 50 cases each). We also established categories for corporations. Forty-five law firms, thirty-five solos and eleven corporations answered the call to become Equal Access to Justice Champions. All of the six largest firms signed on, and I remember Jack Balagia at Exxon Mobil and Cathy Lamboley at Shell leading the way on the corporate side. Prior to initiation of the Equal Access to Justice Program, the HVLP had never topped 1,000 cases handled in a year, but we topped that plateau in the first fiscal year of the program. The pro bono cases handled by HVLP in Harris County have
country. The HBA had never won it before. It was great to receive this kind of recognition for a pro bono program here in Houston. 2005 991 cases handled This June 2010, the Equal Access to Jus2006 1,042 cases handled tice Program will begin its fifth year. All 2007 1,536 cases handled of our Equal Access to Justice Champions 2008 1,756 cases handled 1 2009 2,280 cases handled committed to a five-year term. I hope that everyone will step up again in 2010 and In 2010, the number of cases handled is sign up for another five years. I would projected to top also like to see 2,400. During part icipat ion the course of the in the program Equal Access to grow and exJustice Program, pand so that we the pro bono clican continue the ents served have upward trend in increased from cases handled, 5,840 in 2005 to hours spent and 13,280 in 2009. pro bono clients The volunteer Glenn Ballard, right, and 2008-2009 HBA president, Travis Sales, served by the hours have also accepting the 2008 Harrison Tweed Award from Texas Supreme Court HVLP. Justice Deborah G. Hankinson, chair of the ABA Standing Committee increased from on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. Many thanks 19,241 in 2005 to to all of those 26,586 in 2009. who have helped Again, these are make the dream extraordinary inof Equal Accreases in these cess to Justice a important numreality here in bers, and they Harris County. are the result, As lawyers, the at least in part, most precious of the increased thing we can part icipat ion give is our time, Volunteer attorneys counsel with a client seeking assistance through generated by the the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, which has been able to more and I greatly apEqual Access to than double the cases it handles through the Equal Access Initiative. preciate the time Justice Program. This is due to the hard that so many have devoted to our Equal work and extra effort of our Equal Access Access to Justice effort. Although we freto Justice Champions. Some lawyers and quently advertise the wonderful contrilaw firms have also become Grand Chambutions made by our Equal Access to Juspions by handling twice the number of tice Champions, a list of those champions cases that they committed to take. For is again published on page 29 of this example, Fulbright & Jaworski has been issue. a Grand Champion several times. The Houston Bar Association has also Glenn A. Ballard, Jr is head of the trial been recognized on a national level for section at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP. He the Equal Access to Justice program by served as president of the Houston Bar winning the Harrison Tweed Award, givAssociation in 2006-2007. en by the American Bar Association each 1. The statistics in this article were graciously provided by the year for the best pro bono program in the director of HVLP, David Mandell.
also increased every year since the program’s first year in 2006, as the following chart reflects:
From Adversity to
Houston Attorneys Find Ways to Turn Grief into Good
Successfully Thinking Pink
Cisselon Nichols Hurd, left, and Lynne Eckels
By Cisselon Nichols Hurd
n October 6, over 500 women will gather at River Oaks Country Club for the 7th Annual Think Pink! Zeta Tau Alpha Breast Cancer Luncheon. It may come as a surprise to some that this event was initially organized by T. Lynne Eckels, a partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon with an active litigation practice. The first luncheon was held in October 2004 with a small group of women in the Tea Room of the Junior League. The luncheon has since blossomed into a sold-out event in the Ballroom of the River Oaks Country Club that has donated more than $140,000 for Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) research. What motivated a successful trial lawyer with a busy schedule to create such an event? Lynne sums it up in just two words, her “personal connection,” and adds that she loves the practice of law, but her practice really didn’t give her the opportunity to give back to the community. This changed in 2003 when a very close friend and sorority sister, Jenee Bobbora, was diagnosed with IBC, an aggressive and deadly form of breast cancer that is fast growing and often mistaken for a rash or an infection. At that time, Lynne had never even heard of this form of cancer, which typically strikes young women in their 20s and 30s and frequently does not show up on mammograms. Lynne and other members of Zeta Tau Alpha wanted desperately to help
likely a direct result of Lynne having a their friend Jenee, who had told them personal connection to IBC and being that she could not find much informaable to convey how devastating the distion about IBC, even on the internet. ease can be. Second, take advantage of Upon learning of the dearth of inforyour employer’s desire to give back to mation regarding IBC, they reached out the community. Like many firms, Shook to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, which Hardy & Bacon encourages its attorneys is home to the largest clinic in the world to get involved in the community, so her dedicated to the disease. However, in proposal was an easy sell. Still, Lynne 2003 the clinic was still in need of an says has been overwhelmed by the strong outside funding source. Through Lynne’s support she has received from the firm. efforts, Zeta Tau Alpha has become a maHaving achieved jor funding source its initial fund-raisfor the IBC Clinic. “Lynne has received ing goal for the exShe co-chaired the tremendous support from amination room, The luncheon in 2004 Think Pink! Founand served as chair her law firm, and she offers dation is in the midst in 2005 and 2006. the following advice for of another campaign By 2005, the lunthat began in 2009. cheon had doubled lawyers who want to get The campaign’s goal in size, and with its is to establish an ensuccess Zeta Tau their employer’s support for dowed IBC FellowAlpha founded the similar volunteer projects. ship for a physician Think Pink! Foundato devote full-time tion, which donated First, have a goal in mind to research for a $50,000 for the Jenee and create a proposal cure and research for Bobbora Examinatreatment options for tion Room at the IBC that you are comfortable the disease. The IBC Clinic. presenting to the firm.” Fellowship will enIn January 2007, courage outstanding Lynne’s personal young men and women to focus on all connection with IBC became even stronaspects of IBC, so Lynne is very excited ger when her sister-in-law, Katherine about these efforts. Howard, was diagnosed with the disease. She is also excited about the tremenThree months’ prior to Katherine’s diagdous support that the Foundation connosis, she had received a negative mamtinues to receive from members of the mogram and only became aware of her community and businesses. Survivors cancer because her chest became red and who attend the luncheon will receive swollen. Although Katherine lost her a beautiful “Think Pink! Scarf” debattle with the disease in 2008, Lynne is signed by Chloe Dao (winner of “Projvery grateful for the care that Katherine ect Runway”). This is the third year received at M. D. Anderson and cannot that survivors will be honored with the say enough about the wonderful staff. scarf and that is one of the things that Lynne has received tremendous supmakes this event so special. For more port from her law firm, and she offers the information about the 2010 Think Pink! following advice for lawyers who want to Luncheon, visit their website, www. get their employer’s support for similar ZTAHouston.org. volunteer projects. First, have a goal in mind and create a proposal that you are comfortable presenting to the firm. She Cisselon Nichols Hurd is senior litigation says Shook Hardy & Bacon has been very counsel at Shell Oil Company in the Litigenerous to the Think Pink! Foundation gation Group where she handles environwith its time, talent and money. This is mental litigation for the Downstream busithehoustonlawyer.com
nesses. Cisselon has been an avid supporter of the Annual Think Pink! Zeta Tau Alpha Breast Cancer Luncheon since losing one of her closest friends, Drenaye L. Houston, to breast cancer four years ago.
Turning Tragedy into Force for Good
The Nicholas Alexander Higgins Memorial Golf Tournament funds education for future cardiologists and research on pediatric heart disease.
By Pauline E. Higgins
t was a summer night in June 1993 that I will never forget. We lost our twelveyear old son, Nicholas Alexander Hig-
gins. And whatâ€™s so special about that? Our family turned our tragedy, the death of our son, into a force for good. When Nicholas died from cardiomyopathy, we grieved endlessly. However, we decided that we could use our experiences from his death to effectively, and indelibly, benefit other children and their families who are experiencing heart disease. Yes, children do die from heart disease, too. On June 27, 1993, at 3:15 a.m., at home alone, I received a phone call informing me that Nicholas had died in his sleep while on summer vacation visiting my family in Toronto, Canada. The cause of Nicholasâ€™ death was cardiomyopathy, a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and does not work as well as it should. There may be multiple causes, including viral infections. Cardiomyopathy is often a silent killer. Nicholas was asymptomatic. Essentially, with this heart condition, the heart literally beats itself to death. The condition usually is not detected until it becomes fatal. Cardiomyopathy has taken the life
of many athletes, such as Hank Gathers and Reginald Lewis of the Boston Celtics. For some unknown reason athletes, and minority athletes in particular, are prone to this disorder. Since golf was a sport that Nicholas loved and played by participating in the cityâ€™s Lone Star Junior Golf Program at Hermann Park, our family and friends created the Nicholas Alexander Higgins Memorial Golf Tournament, benefiting Texas Childrenâ€™s Hospital (â€œTCHâ€?) Pediatric Cardiology. Each year our goal is to raise $100,000. Tournament proceeds primarily support TCHâ€™s pediatric cardiology and charity care for Heart Center patients, research at Texas Childrenâ€™s Hospital, and a summer fellowship program for minority pre-medical students from the Houston area. We, through our loss, are helping to make a difference in the lives of young people and families who seek vital and life-saving care at Texas Childrenâ€™s Hospital. Additionally, our proceeds have benefited Covenant House, providing healthcare for home-
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