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A Newsletter from the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics at South Texas College of Law/Houston

Service Matters Spring 2016

In This Issue

Clinic Highlights

Celebrating National Pro Bono Week New Immigration Clinic Community Connections Staff Listing Clinic Offerings

Client Perspectives: “We thank you so very much for the wonderful service you provided for us! We left your office simply amazed and thankful for the abundant envelopes full of legal papers. We’re so at peace now at having our wishes legally recorded. We followed your suggestions and went straight to the courthouse. We can’t thank you enough.” – Clients in the Winter Intersession Estate Planning Clinic

Clinic Spotlight:

Academic Externships Give Students Real-World Experience, Job Opportunities

The Academic Externship Program offers a faculty-guided learning experience for students who work as interns in a variety of state, national, and international placements, serving disadvantaged clients, nonprofit agencies, courts, and government agencies.

course load. As a result, interns must develop crucial skills in time management and career building – both of which are essential to becoming practice-ready graduates.

Many South Texas interns go on to be hired at their placements after graduation. Jorey Herrscher ‘12 was an intern at The Externship Program gives the Harris County Attorney’s students the opportunity to Office, a position he secured work in the field, then share after meeting a representative their experiences with one at the Law School’s public another during a weekly interest recruiting event. seminar. Under this model, Now he serves as an assistant students are introduced to county attorney in the same practical topics and issues office, and he attributes the beyond their internship Externship Program with practice areas. Elizabeth helping him make a smooth Dennis, director of academic Jorey Herrscher transition from student to internships, says internships professional. also give students a layer of exposure they don’t receive in “I think [the Externship the classroom or the clinic. Program] is the best way that South Texas prepares “Working in the field helps its students to be lawyers,” students identify the demands Herrscher said. “Internships of the profession and the are where you actually do needs of the community,” the work of an attorney. You Dennis said. “They can try interact with real clients and on different roles to see what respond to actual situations on fits and what doesn’t fit their Leslie Schweinle Ginzel the spot.” interests and desired future practice.” Leslie Schweinle Ginzel ‘08 spent her third Students are responsible for finding their own year at South Texas as an intern at Beacon placements with the guidance of the clinics’ Law, the only legal aid program in Texas faculty and career services staff. Most students that specifically focuses on the needs of pursue two to three credit hours, or 120-180 the homeless. She spent much of that time working hours, per semester — a significant processing intakes at local shelters and time commitment in addition to the average Continued on page 8…


CLINIC HIGHLIGHTS Veterans Clinic

Students expanded the Veterans Clinic’s range of legal service offerings to include working alongside faculty to appeal a denial of benefits to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In addition to providing direct representation to service members and their families, clinic staff and students also conducted outreach activities in the community and within the law school.

In-house, the clinic celebrated Veterans Day with a panel discussion between South Texas faculty, external clinic partners in the legal services community, and clinic teaching fellows and staff.

National Veterans Awareness Week

Asylum/Human Trafficking Clinic

Clinic students interviewed clients and witnesses, visited area detention centers, investigated factual claims of persecution, researched country conditions, drafted witness statements and pleadings, and appeared in court as their clients’ advocates.

Actual Innocence Clinic

During National Veterans Awareness Week, the team met with former service members at Goodwill, where they conducted intake for potential clients and offered advice and counsel on a series of civil legal issues.

Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Law Clinic

During the fall term, students worked on a complex active case developing a case theory and arguments for a clinic client challenging his murder conviction on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. Some students also conducted a post-conviction “materiality review” for a writ claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. In what is becoming a clinic tradition, students also investigated expert witness qualification standards in a range of forensic science practice disciplines.

Mediation Clinic

The student/certified mediators in the Fall 2015 Mediation Clinics maintained a successful resolution rate of more than 90% as they assisted parties in over 50 disputes. Their work as third-party neutrals took place in area Justice of the Peace courts and with EEOC complaints. In addition to their work in the field, clinic students also assisted with ADR competition teams throughout the semester, giving them both an opportunity to hone their skills.

Trademark Clinic

Spring Clinic students researched availability, prepared and electronically filed 7 applications with United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Clinic’s clients are frequently small entrepreneurs and start up business, as well as nonprofits. Fall 2015 was the seventh semester of the clinic’s operation. More than 75 applications have been filed, with a current success rate of more than 90 percent.

Patent Clinic

During the clinic’s third semester of operation, students prepared design applications for filing and met with three additional inventors to assist them in developing their concepts. The Clinic continued its relationship with the USPTO Repository at Rice University’s Fondren Library, which both refers clients to the clinic and makes presentations to the students on topics such as how to conduct a classification-based patent search for prior art.

In fall 2015, South Texas established the state’s first chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Program. The fall clinic enrolled nine students who worked in four teams to teach constitutional law and advocacy skills to high school students at Houston’s Yes Prep Academy, a group of public charter schools that prepares low-income students for college success. Working with full-time and adjunct faculty, clinic students developed lesson plans, explored a variety of teaching techniques, and assessed student performance throughout the semester. This yearlong program will culminate with an intensive moot court experience in the spring.

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Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

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CLINIC HIGHLIGHTS Veterans Clinic

Students expanded the Veterans Clinic’s range of legal service offerings to include working alongside faculty to appeal a denial of benefits to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. In addition to providing direct representation to service members and their families, clinic staff and students also conducted outreach activities in the community and within the law school.

In-house, the clinic celebrated Veterans Day with a panel discussion between South Texas faculty, external clinic partners in the legal services community, and clinic teaching fellows and staff.

National Veterans Awareness Week

Asylum/Human Trafficking Clinic

Clinic students interviewed clients and witnesses, visited area detention centers, investigated factual claims of persecution, researched country conditions, drafted witness statements and pleadings, and appeared in court as their clients’ advocates.

Actual Innocence Clinic

During National Veterans Awareness Week, the team met with former service members at Goodwill, where they conducted intake for potential clients and offered advice and counsel on a series of civil legal issues.

Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Law Clinic

During the fall term, students worked on a complex active case developing a case theory and arguments for a clinic client challenging his murder conviction on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. Some students also conducted a post-conviction “materiality review” for a writ claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. In what is becoming a clinic tradition, students also investigated expert witness qualification standards in a range of forensic science practice disciplines.

Mediation Clinic

The student/certified mediators in the Fall 2015 Mediation Clinics maintained a successful resolution rate of more than 90% as they assisted parties in over 50 disputes. Their work as third-party neutrals took place in area Justice of the Peace courts and with EEOC complaints. In addition to their work in the field, clinic students also assisted with ADR competition teams throughout the semester, giving them both an opportunity to hone their skills.

Trademark Clinic

Spring Clinic students researched availability, prepared and electronically filed 7 applications with United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Clinic’s clients are frequently small entrepreneurs and start up business, as well as nonprofits. Fall 2015 was the seventh semester of the clinic’s operation. More than 75 applications have been filed, with a current success rate of more than 90 percent.

Patent Clinic

During the clinic’s third semester of operation, students prepared design applications for filing and met with three additional inventors to assist them in developing their concepts. The Clinic continued its relationship with the USPTO Repository at Rice University’s Fondren Library, which both refers clients to the clinic and makes presentations to the students on topics such as how to conduct a classification-based patent search for prior art.

In fall 2015, South Texas established the state’s first chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Program. The fall clinic enrolled nine students who worked in four teams to teach constitutional law and advocacy skills to high school students at Houston’s Yes Prep Academy, a group of public charter schools that prepares low-income students for college success. Working with full-time and adjunct faculty, clinic students developed lesson plans, explored a variety of teaching techniques, and assessed student performance throughout the semester. This yearlong program will culminate with an intensive moot court experience in the spring.

2

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

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C E L E B R AT I N G N AT I O N A L P R O B O N O W E E K One Voice Texas volunteers share personal experiences to help South Texas students better serve youth in foster care In commemoration of National Pro Bono Month in October, South Texas hosted an access-to-justice panel by One Voice Texas, a health and human services collaborative in the Greater Houston area that works to meet the needs of all Texans. The topic of discussion was how attorneys and other legal representatives can aid youth who have or will age out of the foster care system. The discussion was moderated by Katherine Barillas, director of child welfare policy at One Voice Texas, and the panel was composed of three contributors: Steven Shaw and JD John, alumni of the Texas and Oklahoma foster care systems, respectively; and Chris Valdez, a court-appointed special advocate in Houston. John and Shaw, both of whom aged out of foster care without being adopted, had very different experiences in the child welfare system. They agree that these differences are largely attributed to the work of the caseworkers and legal advocates in each of their cases. Shaw said his experience is similar to many children in foster care. High turnover rates meant that he and his nine siblings had dozens of caseworkers throughout their lives; he lost count at 125. “The caseworkers immediately separated me and my siblings,” Shaw said. “I never met the attorneys on my case or directly spoke to a judge. And I definitely wasn’t made aware of my rights as an equal stakeholder in my care as a teenager.”

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For John, while his life as a youth in foster care often was unpredictable, consistency from his attorney and the two caseworkers he had throughout his experience gave him some solid ground on which to stand. “My caseworker scheduled what she called ‘Jimmy Time,’” John said. “For one hour every Friday, we had a phone date to discuss anything and everything that I was experiencing at my current placement. If things were good, I could just say they were good and hang up. But I always knew I had that outlet.” John’s attorney and caseworker also made the sometimes ten-hour roundtrip to pick him up for court hearings, and made a point to explain frankly the details of his case – something Shaw wishes he’d had. “Honesty is what these young people need from lawyers, caseworkers and judges,” Shaw said. “Give the child a realistic understanding of their situation so they aren’t blindsided.” John said this transparency was the most valuable key to helping him make the transition of aging out of foster care. “My lawyer and caseworker sat me down and said, ‘statistically, it’s not likely you’re going to be adopted because you’re male, you’re gay, and you’re over 14. So, we’re going to start now in preparing you to be an adult’.”

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

The panelists shared some of their advice for future lawyers representing cases similar to theirs, much of which was based on the need for clear and consistent communication. Other advice included: • Let your client know your time together is important and that you are listening. They need to feel heard. • Make an effort to develop a relationship with the child. Let him or her know you can be trusted and relied upon. • Use your access to the court to advocate on your client’s behalf and encourage judges to listen to the child’s feedback. • Be creative in developing opportunities for your client to communicate directly with the judge. For example, have the child write a letter that is sealed until the judge opens it or arrange a video conference. • Meet with youth outside of the home, in a comfortable environment such as a museum or pizza parlor. This gives the child a sense of confidentiality and helps them let their guard down. • Consider when it is or isn’t appropriate for a child to be present in the courtroom, depending on the nature of the discussions scheduled to take place.

October 25-31, 2015

South Texas students, staff share how they “Make Justice Happen” In honor of Pro Bono Week, the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics invited students and staff to share the ways in which they are making justice happen through their work in the Houston community.

Valdez, who works as a court-appointed advocate for bilingual youth, has witnessed firsthand the difference a well-informed attorney can make in child welfare cases.

“As an advocate, the attorney is my greatest ally,” he said. “They are the ones who can get things done because they can steer the discourse in the courtroom.”

5


C E L E B R AT I N G N AT I O N A L P R O B O N O W E E K One Voice Texas volunteers share personal experiences to help South Texas students better serve youth in foster care In commemoration of National Pro Bono Month in October, South Texas hosted an access-to-justice panel by One Voice Texas, a health and human services collaborative in the Greater Houston area that works to meet the needs of all Texans. The topic of discussion was how attorneys and other legal representatives can aid youth who have or will age out of the foster care system. The discussion was moderated by Katherine Barillas, director of child welfare policy at One Voice Texas, and the panel was composed of three contributors: Steven Shaw and JD John, alumni of the Texas and Oklahoma foster care systems, respectively; and Chris Valdez, a court-appointed special advocate in Houston. John and Shaw, both of whom aged out of foster care without being adopted, had very different experiences in the child welfare system. They agree that these differences are largely attributed to the work of the caseworkers and legal advocates in each of their cases. Shaw said his experience is similar to many children in foster care. High turnover rates meant that he and his nine siblings had dozens of caseworkers throughout their lives; he lost count at 125. “The caseworkers immediately separated me and my siblings,” Shaw said. “I never met the attorneys on my case or directly spoke to a judge. And I definitely wasn’t made aware of my rights as an equal stakeholder in my care as a teenager.”

4

For John, while his life as a youth in foster care often was unpredictable, consistency from his attorney and the two caseworkers he had throughout his experience gave him some solid ground on which to stand. “My caseworker scheduled what she called ‘Jimmy Time,’” John said. “For one hour every Friday, we had a phone date to discuss anything and everything that I was experiencing at my current placement. If things were good, I could just say they were good and hang up. But I always knew I had that outlet.” John’s attorney and caseworker also made the sometimes ten-hour roundtrip to pick him up for court hearings, and made a point to explain frankly the details of his case – something Shaw wishes he’d had. “Honesty is what these young people need from lawyers, caseworkers and judges,” Shaw said. “Give the child a realistic understanding of their situation so they aren’t blindsided.” John said this transparency was the most valuable key to helping him make the transition of aging out of foster care. “My lawyer and caseworker sat me down and said, ‘statistically, it’s not likely you’re going to be adopted because you’re male, you’re gay, and you’re over 14. So, we’re going to start now in preparing you to be an adult’.”

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

The panelists shared some of their advice for future lawyers representing cases similar to theirs, much of which was based on the need for clear and consistent communication. Other advice included: • Let your client know your time together is important and that you are listening. They need to feel heard. • Make an effort to develop a relationship with the child. Let him or her know you can be trusted and relied upon. • Use your access to the court to advocate on your client’s behalf and encourage judges to listen to the child’s feedback. • Be creative in developing opportunities for your client to communicate directly with the judge. For example, have the child write a letter that is sealed until the judge opens it or arrange a video conference. • Meet with youth outside of the home, in a comfortable environment such as a museum or pizza parlor. This gives the child a sense of confidentiality and helps them let their guard down. • Consider when it is or isn’t appropriate for a child to be present in the courtroom, depending on the nature of the discussions scheduled to take place.

October 25-31, 2015

South Texas students, staff share how they “Make Justice Happen” In honor of Pro Bono Week, the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics invited students and staff to share the ways in which they are making justice happen through their work in the Houston community.

Valdez, who works as a court-appointed advocate for bilingual youth, has witnessed firsthand the difference a well-informed attorney can make in child welfare cases.

“As an advocate, the attorney is my greatest ally,” he said. “They are the ones who can get things done because they can steer the discourse in the courtroom.”

5


S O U T H T E X A S L A U N C H E S G E N E R A L I M M I G R AT I O N C L I N I C Meet the Immigration Clinic Staff

In fall 2015, the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics established a new Immigration Clinic, thanks in part to a grant of nearly $200,000 from the Houston Endowment. The clinic focuses on helping immigrants with basic benefits such as naturalization and green cards as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). South Texas already is home to the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, which handles more complex immigration issues. “This really is a win, win, win,” Associate Dean Catherine Burnett said. “First, this new clinic responds to a tremendous demand in the Houston area. It also will give our students who are interested in immigration law the valuable tools they need to begin their own practices after they graduate. Finally, the clinic will provide other students with important volunteer opportunities, which we believe is critically important to the law school experience.”

During the clinic’s inaugural semester, students worked on 15 direct representation cases. They also engaged in community education about naturalization and deferredaction childhood arrivals by participating in workshops throughout the Greater Houston

area. Workshop partners included United We Dream, Catholic Charities, Neighborhood Centers, and Boat People SOS. The clinic sponsored three brown bag lunches for students interested in immigration law, with presentations by law school alumni and area practitioners.

Kristin Zipple-Shedd Kristin returns to both teaching and direct client representation with her work in the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic. Prior to joining our Immigration Initiative, Kristin helped establish the Houston office of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a nonprofit child advocacy organization housed on the law school’s ninth floor. During her tenure with the Young Center, Kristin brought together key stakeholders from the federal government, civil legal service providers, and child welfare organizations. She also recruited and trained volunteer Child Advocates and submitted briefs on issues that impact unaccompanied children to a wide array of critical decision makers. Kristin holds a J.D. and a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago. For six years, she served as supervising attorney in Catholic Charities’ Crime Victims Program, representing noncitizen clients — both adults and children who were victims of domestic violence and human trafficking — in seeking immigration relief. Kristin is proficient in written and verbal Spanish. Aimee Maldonado, Staff Attorney A decade after her graduation from South Texas, Aimee returns to the law school as a staff attorney for the Immigration Initiative, bringing with her a wealth of practice experience and passion for immigration law. Aimee earned an undergraduate degree in international business and marketing from Baylor University. As a law student, Aimee actively lobbied for

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Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

an onsite immigration clinic to supplement intern placements. She has worked in both private firm and public interest settings, including five years as a solo practitioner; her work always has been centered on immigration. Most recently, Aimee was a supervising attorney for Catholic Charities in its Unaccompanied Minors Program, where she led a staff of attorneys, legal caseworkers and law clerks and also conducted trainings for pro bono attorneys. Aimee is active in local bar associations and community initiatives, and often invites her contacts to speak to students who are interested in immigration law. She is fluent in Spanish. On a personal note, Aimee is an avid traveler and a fountain of information about local eateries. Karen Baker, Clinical Fellow Karen joins the Clinics as a fellow in the Immigration Initiative, where she conducts research and directly represents clients in both state and federal courts. Karen has long had an interest in immigration. After earning a degree in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt, she spent 13 months in rural Guatemala, where she served as a program director for a community development nonprofit organization called Manna Project International. Karen then earned her J.D. from the University of Texas, where she was editor-in-chief of the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy. Following law school graduation, Karen obtained a master’s degree in Public Health from Harvard, where her primary research centered on the mental health implications of the experiences of unaccompanied immigrant children. Karen has advanced Spanish language ability. She is an avid marathon runner and a former competitive swimmer.

Burt Johnson, Intake Specialist Burt brings Spanish language proficiency and years of language training to his role as intake specialist for the Immigration Initiatives. He often is the first point of contact for potential clients in the Immigration Clinic and the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, and his work requires him to gather detailed client information through both in-person and phone interviews. Burt has worked around the world, teaching language skills in countries as far-flung as Korea, Thailand, Spain, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. His work experience includes training international students, members of the military, and business executives representing multinational conglomerates and private companies. His undergraduate degree in English is from the University of California, Irvine. In his spare time Burt enjoys a range of water sports, including scuba diving and surfing. Natalie Romero, Paralegal A Houston native, Natalie traces her interest in immigration issues to her family’s flight from civil war in El Salvador in the 1980’s. Spanish was Natalie’s first language and she particularly enjoys working directly with clients and the community when she can use her language skills. Natalie is a 2014 graduate of St. Thomas University with a political science major. She joined the clinic team following an internship with Kids in Need of Defense. In her free time, Natalie likes to spend time with her younger sisters, go to concerts, and indulge in epic movies.

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S O U T H T E X A S L A U N C H E S G E N E R A L I M M I G R AT I O N C L I N I C Meet the Immigration Clinic Staff

In fall 2015, the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics established a new Immigration Clinic, thanks in part to a grant of nearly $200,000 from the Houston Endowment. The clinic focuses on helping immigrants with basic benefits such as naturalization and green cards as well as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). South Texas already is home to the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, which handles more complex immigration issues. “This really is a win, win, win,” Associate Dean Catherine Burnett said. “First, this new clinic responds to a tremendous demand in the Houston area. It also will give our students who are interested in immigration law the valuable tools they need to begin their own practices after they graduate. Finally, the clinic will provide other students with important volunteer opportunities, which we believe is critically important to the law school experience.”

During the clinic’s inaugural semester, students worked on 15 direct representation cases. They also engaged in community education about naturalization and deferredaction childhood arrivals by participating in workshops throughout the Greater Houston

area. Workshop partners included United We Dream, Catholic Charities, Neighborhood Centers, and Boat People SOS. The clinic sponsored three brown bag lunches for students interested in immigration law, with presentations by law school alumni and area practitioners.

Kristin Zipple-Shedd Kristin returns to both teaching and direct client representation with her work in the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic. Prior to joining our Immigration Initiative, Kristin helped establish the Houston office of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a nonprofit child advocacy organization housed on the law school’s ninth floor. During her tenure with the Young Center, Kristin brought together key stakeholders from the federal government, civil legal service providers, and child welfare organizations. She also recruited and trained volunteer Child Advocates and submitted briefs on issues that impact unaccompanied children to a wide array of critical decision makers. Kristin holds a J.D. and a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago. For six years, she served as supervising attorney in Catholic Charities’ Crime Victims Program, representing noncitizen clients — both adults and children who were victims of domestic violence and human trafficking — in seeking immigration relief. Kristin is proficient in written and verbal Spanish. Aimee Maldonado, Staff Attorney A decade after her graduation from South Texas, Aimee returns to the law school as a staff attorney for the Immigration Initiative, bringing with her a wealth of practice experience and passion for immigration law. Aimee earned an undergraduate degree in international business and marketing from Baylor University. As a law student, Aimee actively lobbied for

6

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

an onsite immigration clinic to supplement intern placements. She has worked in both private firm and public interest settings, including five years as a solo practitioner; her work always has been centered on immigration. Most recently, Aimee was a supervising attorney for Catholic Charities in its Unaccompanied Minors Program, where she led a staff of attorneys, legal caseworkers and law clerks and also conducted trainings for pro bono attorneys. Aimee is active in local bar associations and community initiatives, and often invites her contacts to speak to students who are interested in immigration law. She is fluent in Spanish. On a personal note, Aimee is an avid traveler and a fountain of information about local eateries. Karen Baker, Clinical Fellow Karen joins the Clinics as a fellow in the Immigration Initiative, where she conducts research and directly represents clients in both state and federal courts. Karen has long had an interest in immigration. After earning a degree in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt, she spent 13 months in rural Guatemala, where she served as a program director for a community development nonprofit organization called Manna Project International. Karen then earned her J.D. from the University of Texas, where she was editor-in-chief of the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy. Following law school graduation, Karen obtained a master’s degree in Public Health from Harvard, where her primary research centered on the mental health implications of the experiences of unaccompanied immigrant children. Karen has advanced Spanish language ability. She is an avid marathon runner and a former competitive swimmer.

Burt Johnson, Intake Specialist Burt brings Spanish language proficiency and years of language training to his role as intake specialist for the Immigration Initiatives. He often is the first point of contact for potential clients in the Immigration Clinic and the Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic, and his work requires him to gather detailed client information through both in-person and phone interviews. Burt has worked around the world, teaching language skills in countries as far-flung as Korea, Thailand, Spain, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. His work experience includes training international students, members of the military, and business executives representing multinational conglomerates and private companies. His undergraduate degree in English is from the University of California, Irvine. In his spare time Burt enjoys a range of water sports, including scuba diving and surfing. Natalie Romero, Paralegal A Houston native, Natalie traces her interest in immigration issues to her family’s flight from civil war in El Salvador in the 1980’s. Spanish was Natalie’s first language and she particularly enjoys working directly with clients and the community when she can use her language skills. Natalie is a 2014 graduate of St. Thomas University with a political science major. She joined the clinic team following an internship with Kids in Need of Defense. In her free time, Natalie likes to spend time with her younger sisters, go to concerts, and indulge in epic movies.

7


COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS Clinic students help lay the groundwork for Assisted Pro Se project

Connecting to the Practicing Bar and Legal Community

Community Partnerships

Clinic faculty and staff are committed to student experiential learning and to best practices in client representation. That dedication is supported through interaction with legal service organizations, bar associations, and attorneys in practice. Involvement in the legal community helps the Clinic team stay current with practice trends, identify legal needs in the community, and expand student opportunities.

The law school served as the venue for community outreach and collaboration, primarily with the public interest nonprofits located on the law school’s campus: Human Rights First, K.I.N.D. (Kids in Need of Defense), and The Young Center. These groups were joined this fall by the ABA’s new expert legal resource center: the Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA). CILA serves both legal service providers and pro bono attorneys who are representing unaccompanied children in immigration-related proceedings in Texas.

During the fall 2015 semester, our staff was active in the following organizations: Fe y Justicia Worker Center Board Member, Elliott Tucker Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council Executive Committee, Kimberly Ashworth Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaboration Executive Committee Members, Catherine Burnett and Vinh Ho

Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters, State Bar of Texas Member, Vinh Ho Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters, State Bar of Texas Chair, Catherine Burnett Tahirih Justice Center Board Member, Elizabeth Dennis

K.I.N.D. Houston Advisory Board Member, Catherine Burnett

The Harris County Law Library Assisted Pro Se project kicked off with training volunteer corporate attorneys and STCL students. Expected to be operational in the spring semester, this project is a collaborative effort with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the Houston Bar Association, and the Harris County Law Library. It is designed to help pro se family law parties with their document preparation.

Clinic staff members also volunteered a week of their time to help mothers and children detained in the South Texas detention facility in Dilley, Texas. Their work included client intake as well as credible fear and reasonable fear preparation.

… continued Clinic Spotlight from page 1

conducting extensive interviews to find out what kinds of legal issues affect Houston’s homeless. She discovered a passion for this specific practice area, signing on for a second semester at the end of her first term. “I loved the work,” Schweinle Ginzel said. “I was too passionate

8

about it to not continue. The work can be exhausting, but the results are thrilling.”

the potential impact it could have on their careers.

Schweinle Ginzel became the organization’s first full-time staff attorney, and is now the program director, supervising operations and staff, including interns. She strives to provide a valuable learning experience to the interns under her charge, recognizing

“Interns learn to research case law, prepare arguments, ask the right questions, and approach the client-attorney relationship as a collaboration,” she said. “Those are skills you just can’t get in the classroom.”

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

9


COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS Clinic students help lay the groundwork for Assisted Pro Se project

Connecting to the Practicing Bar and Legal Community

Community Partnerships

Clinic faculty and staff are committed to student experiential learning and to best practices in client representation. That dedication is supported through interaction with legal service organizations, bar associations, and attorneys in practice. Involvement in the legal community helps the Clinic team stay current with practice trends, identify legal needs in the community, and expand student opportunities.

The law school served as the venue for community outreach and collaboration, primarily with the public interest nonprofits located on the law school’s campus: Human Rights First, K.I.N.D. (Kids in Need of Defense), and The Young Center. These groups were joined this fall by the ABA’s new expert legal resource center: the Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA). CILA serves both legal service providers and pro bono attorneys who are representing unaccompanied children in immigration-related proceedings in Texas.

During the fall 2015 semester, our staff was active in the following organizations: Fe y Justicia Worker Center Board Member, Elliott Tucker Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council Executive Committee, Kimberly Ashworth Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaboration Executive Committee Members, Catherine Burnett and Vinh Ho

Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters, State Bar of Texas Member, Vinh Ho Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters, State Bar of Texas Chair, Catherine Burnett Tahirih Justice Center Board Member, Elizabeth Dennis

K.I.N.D. Houston Advisory Board Member, Catherine Burnett

The Harris County Law Library Assisted Pro Se project kicked off with training volunteer corporate attorneys and STCL students. Expected to be operational in the spring semester, this project is a collaborative effort with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the Houston Bar Association, and the Harris County Law Library. It is designed to help pro se family law parties with their document preparation.

Clinic staff members also volunteered a week of their time to help mothers and children detained in the South Texas detention facility in Dilley, Texas. Their work included client intake as well as credible fear and reasonable fear preparation.

… continued Clinic Spotlight from page 1

conducting extensive interviews to find out what kinds of legal issues affect Houston’s homeless. She discovered a passion for this specific practice area, signing on for a second semester at the end of her first term. “I loved the work,” Schweinle Ginzel said. “I was too passionate

8

about it to not continue. The work can be exhausting, but the results are thrilling.”

the potential impact it could have on their careers.

Schweinle Ginzel became the organization’s first full-time staff attorney, and is now the program director, supervising operations and staff, including interns. She strives to provide a valuable learning experience to the interns under her charge, recognizing

“Interns learn to research case law, prepare arguments, ask the right questions, and approach the client-attorney relationship as a collaboration,” she said. “Those are skills you just can’t get in the classroom.”

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

9


O U R FA L L 2 0 1 5 C L I N I C A L T E A M

O U R FA L L 2 0 1 5 C L I N I C S

Teaching Faculty

Public Interest Attorneys

Support Staff

Civil Practice Clinics

Special Focus Clinics

Transactional Clinics

Our full-time clinical faculty members are professors whose sole teaching assignments are in the clinical program. There is one fulltime clinical professor in each major area: civil practice clinics (Family Law Advanced Clinic and Estate Planning Clinic), special focus clinics (Actual Innocence Clinic and Domestic Violence Clinic), and academic externships. • Catherine Burnett • Elizabeth Dennis • Betty Luke

• • • •

Paralegals • Christa Bynam, Civil Practice Clinics • Natalie Romero, Immigration Initiatives • Liz Scallan, Civil Practice Clinics

The law school’s Civil Practice Clinics provide free legal assistance for low-income and disadvantaged populations throughout the Houston metropolitan area. Clinic legal services include direct client representation, legal advice and counsel, outreach and community education, and pro se assistance.

Actual Innocence Clinic: investigating and assisting in preparing post-conviction challenges based on claims of innocence and wrongful conviction, and studying and recommending criminal justice reform.

Patent Clinic: assisting inventors file for patents, as part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Certification Program

Vinh Ho, Managing Attorney, Civil Practice Clinics; Director, Immigration Initiative Kimberly Ashworth, Civil Practice Clinics Aimee Maldonado, Immigration Initiatives Elliott Tucker, Civil Practice Clinics

Tenured Full-time Doctrinal Faculty members also teaching in the clinics: • Phillip Page • Sharon Finegan Clinical Teaching Fellows in the Civil Practice Clinics: • Eric Kwartler • Alec Lawton • Andrew Milne Clinical Adjunct Faculty • Kevin Jones, Patent Clinic • Tim Shen, Trademark Clinic • Hon. Bruce Wettman, Mediation Clinic • Tomer Yoked, Marshall-Brennan Clinic • Kristin Zipple-Shedd, Asylum/Human Trafficking Clinic Immigration Initiative Fellow • Karen Baker, Civil Practice Clinics

Intake Specialists • Burt Johnson, Immigration Initiatives • Lyther Walker, Civil Practice Clinics Program Administrators • Ben Santillan, Clinic Administration, Academic Externships and Pro Bono Honors Program

Clients are represented by teams of faculty, staff attorneys, paralegals, and law students. Students develop their practical lawyering skills, learn about challenges facing poor Texans in obtaining access to justice, and give back to our community. These are the clinics we offered: Estate Planning Clinic: preparing end of life documents — powers of attorney, advance directives, and final wills. Family Law Basic Clinic: representing divorcing couples with no substantial property and no children. Family Law Advanced Clinic: representing divorcing couples with children; modification of custody/ conservatorship/support; original suits affecting parent-child relationship; and amicus appointments. Guardianship Clinic: seeking guardianship and other alternatives for incapacitated adults and special needs minors. Probate Clinic: providing representation for the post-death transfer of property, including small estate affidavits, independent administrations, and dependent administrations; as well as advice and counsel in Tax Court for real property forfeiture proceedings. Veterans Clinic: assisting Veterans with preparing and filing applications for benefits, discharge upgrades, and assisting Veterans and service member families with basic civil legal services.

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Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic: representing vulnerable populations in state and federal jurisdictions, with an emphasis on litigation, investigation, and community awareness. Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Clinic: teaching local high school students the basics of constitutional law and helping them build advocacy skills in preparation for a national moot court competition. Immigration Clinic: representing immigrants in securing basic benefits and pathways to citizenship, such as naturalization, green cards, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Mediation Clinic: serving as third party neutrals to help disputants resolve conflict in a variety of settings, ranging from small claims court suits to employment discrimination claims.

Trademark Clinic: assisting individuals, nonprofits and small businesses in filing trademark applications, as part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Certification Program.

Academic Externships Academic externships offer a faculty-guided learning experience in which students work in the field and study the delivery of justice under the direct supervision of a judge or attorney. Placement opportunities in these externship clinics are local, state, national and international. Public Interest: traditional nonprofit placements, whether for the direct provision of services or study and advocacy efforts Government: state and federal agency placements Judicial: state and federal Chambers, at both trial and appellate levels Criminal: prosecution and defender placements Hospital: general counsel’s office placements International: judicial, public interest, criminal and non-governmental organization placements

11


O U R FA L L 2 0 1 5 C L I N I C A L T E A M

O U R FA L L 2 0 1 5 C L I N I C S

Teaching Faculty

Public Interest Attorneys

Support Staff

Civil Practice Clinics

Special Focus Clinics

Transactional Clinics

Our full-time clinical faculty members are professors whose sole teaching assignments are in the clinical program. There is one fulltime clinical professor in each major area: civil practice clinics (Family Law Advanced Clinic and Estate Planning Clinic), special focus clinics (Actual Innocence Clinic and Domestic Violence Clinic), and academic externships. • Catherine Burnett • Elizabeth Dennis • Betty Luke

• • • •

Paralegals • Christa Bynam, Civil Practice Clinics • Natalie Romero, Immigration Initiatives • Liz Scallan, Civil Practice Clinics

The law school’s Civil Practice Clinics provide free legal assistance for low-income and disadvantaged populations throughout the Houston metropolitan area. Clinic legal services include direct client representation, legal advice and counsel, outreach and community education, and pro se assistance.

Actual Innocence Clinic: investigating and assisting in preparing post-conviction challenges based on claims of innocence and wrongful conviction, and studying and recommending criminal justice reform.

Patent Clinic: assisting inventors file for patents, as part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Certification Program

Vinh Ho, Managing Attorney, Civil Practice Clinics; Director, Immigration Initiative Kimberly Ashworth, Civil Practice Clinics Aimee Maldonado, Immigration Initiatives Elliott Tucker, Civil Practice Clinics

Tenured Full-time Doctrinal Faculty members also teaching in the clinics: • Phillip Page • Sharon Finegan Clinical Teaching Fellows in the Civil Practice Clinics: • Eric Kwartler • Alec Lawton • Andrew Milne Clinical Adjunct Faculty • Kevin Jones, Patent Clinic • Tim Shen, Trademark Clinic • Hon. Bruce Wettman, Mediation Clinic • Tomer Yoked, Marshall-Brennan Clinic • Kristin Zipple-Shedd, Asylum/Human Trafficking Clinic Immigration Initiative Fellow • Karen Baker, Civil Practice Clinics

Intake Specialists • Burt Johnson, Immigration Initiatives • Lyther Walker, Civil Practice Clinics Program Administrators • Ben Santillan, Clinic Administration, Academic Externships and Pro Bono Honors Program

Clients are represented by teams of faculty, staff attorneys, paralegals, and law students. Students develop their practical lawyering skills, learn about challenges facing poor Texans in obtaining access to justice, and give back to our community. These are the clinics we offered: Estate Planning Clinic: preparing end of life documents — powers of attorney, advance directives, and final wills. Family Law Basic Clinic: representing divorcing couples with no substantial property and no children. Family Law Advanced Clinic: representing divorcing couples with children; modification of custody/ conservatorship/support; original suits affecting parent-child relationship; and amicus appointments. Guardianship Clinic: seeking guardianship and other alternatives for incapacitated adults and special needs minors. Probate Clinic: providing representation for the post-death transfer of property, including small estate affidavits, independent administrations, and dependent administrations; as well as advice and counsel in Tax Court for real property forfeiture proceedings. Veterans Clinic: assisting Veterans with preparing and filing applications for benefits, discharge upgrades, and assisting Veterans and service member families with basic civil legal services.

10

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter at South Texas College of Law/Houston

Asylum and Human Trafficking Clinic: representing vulnerable populations in state and federal jurisdictions, with an emphasis on litigation, investigation, and community awareness. Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Clinic: teaching local high school students the basics of constitutional law and helping them build advocacy skills in preparation for a national moot court competition. Immigration Clinic: representing immigrants in securing basic benefits and pathways to citizenship, such as naturalization, green cards, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Mediation Clinic: serving as third party neutrals to help disputants resolve conflict in a variety of settings, ranging from small claims court suits to employment discrimination claims.

Trademark Clinic: assisting individuals, nonprofits and small businesses in filing trademark applications, as part of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Certification Program.

Academic Externships Academic externships offer a faculty-guided learning experience in which students work in the field and study the delivery of justice under the direct supervision of a judge or attorney. Placement opportunities in these externship clinics are local, state, national and international. Public Interest: traditional nonprofit placements, whether for the direct provision of services or study and advocacy efforts Government: state and federal agency placements Judicial: state and federal Chambers, at both trial and appellate levels Criminal: prosecution and defender placements Hospital: general counsel’s office placements International: judicial, public interest, criminal and non-governmental organization placements

11


South Texas College of Law/Houston 1303 San Jacinto Street

Houston, Texas 77002-7006 www.stcl.edu

Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics Newsletter Trending for Spring/Summer 2016

Look out for our Spring/Summer newsletter for more on these topics:

Veterans Clinic Expands Outreach Harris County Law Library Assisted Pro Se Project Comes Online Immigration Clinic Expands Collaborative Projects for Community Presentations and Workshops DNA Mixture Forensic Science Commission Project Third Annual VITA [Volunteer Income Tax Assistance] Program USPTO campus visit Pro Bono Spring Break Activities

Service Matters Vol. 4 (Spring 2016)