Two recent law graduates in Houston have joined a national trend by launching a new nonprofit law firm to serve low- and middle-income clients.
Access Justice Houston, founded by 2017 University of Houston Law Center graduates MacKenzie Dunham and Doug Evans, has become the fourth Texas-based nonprofit firm—along with DiFilippo Holistic Law Center in Austin, Legal Access Texas in Dallas, and Greater Waco Legal Services in Waco—that are targeting modest-means clients in an effort to close the justice gap. The other Texas-based nonprofit firms were launched by veteran lawyers; Dunham and Evans are the first recent law graduates to take the plunge.
PDF: New Nonprofit Firm the First Founded by Baby Lawyers _ Texas Lawyer
In the past few years, some of the country’s most elite law reviews have elected students of color as editors-in-chief, a signal that yearslong diversity efforts might finally be paying off.
Historically speaking, law reviews have struggled to represent students of color and women equally among their editors—jobs that can open doors to prestigious judicial clerkships and Big Law employment. It’s been even harder for underrepresented students to win the coveted editor-in-chief role, as statistically, leadership posts at law reviews have overrepresented white male law students.
Are the times changing?
PDF: At Elite Law Reviews, Diversity Efforts May Be Paying Off _ National Law Journal
Say the word “flextime” and most people think of reduced hours for working mothers. But a small, yet growing number of male lawyers are using lighter job schedules to strike the right work-life balance.
More law firms in recent years have incorporated flextime policies—especially reduced-hour schedules—to help with attorney retention. And women, more than men, have used the policies to balance their jobs with raising kids.
But more widespread adoption by male attorneys of the benefit is expected to lift all boats—helping women lawyers juggle demands and attracting millennial attorneys less interested in working a constant grind.
PDF: Move Over Moms, Male Lawyers Are Using Flextime Too _ Law.com
Texas legal educators are striving to recruit racially and ethnically diverse law students, but there’s one law school that’s excelling hand-over-fist compared to the others.
With 91 percent of its current students hailing from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds, Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law takes the top spot when it comes to a diverse student body.
Texas Lawyer analyzed demographic data from the 10 Texas law schools and ranked them based on the percentage of minority students. Schools submit data annually to the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which is responsible for accrediting law schools.
PDF: One Texas Law School Is Doing the Heavy Lifting When It Comes to Diversity Efforts _ Texas Lawyer
One of Texas’s public law schools has reeled during the past year under the stress of a censure from the nation’s law school accreditor, exacerbated by personality clashes between leaders of the law school and central university.
A series of bad publicity has unveiled problems within Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. The first problem became public in July 2017, when the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which accredits law schools, issued censures against the school for violation of an anti-discrimination accreditation standard, as well as multiple academic standards. Another round of negative press hit in October 2017, when TSU President Austin Lane abruptly canceled a law student organization’s event, which drew rowdy, disruptive protesters. The fiasco—participants said the university violated their free speech—was quickly followed by the resignation of interim law school dean James Douglas.
Documents obtained through a Texas Public Information Act Request reveal details pertaining to personality clashes and power struggles between Lane and Douglas. Interviews with Douglas and former dean Dannye Holley provide more insight about what happened behind the scenes, before and after the ABA’s censures.
PDF: Open Records Reveal Personality Clashes, Power Struggle at Thurgood Marshall _ Texas Lawyer
Although it might go against a lawyer’s natural propensities toward risk aversion, some practitioners have started accepting payments in digital currencies amid the bitcoin boom.
“I’ve known for a long time that my opportunity to expand in certain areas has been affected by not taking it,” said Carol Van Cleef, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who for 10 years has represented cryptocurrency clients with regulatory compliance.
As far back as 2013, a handful of big law firms that represented the earliest cryptocurrency entrepreneurs started accepting bitcoin payments. Today, big and small firms alike, as well as solo practitioners, have followed their lead and have accepted cryptocurrency’s risks in order to meet clients’ needs and get paid.
Part of the horror of what happened to Suzanne Wooten is the realization that if the justice system failed so miserably for her, it could happen to anyone.
Wooten lived a nightmare: Winning an election by a landslide to unseat an incumbent judge, only to be allegedly targeted by political rivals, wrongfully convicted of nine felonies, cast down from her district court bench and stripped of her license to practice law.
Finally after six years living the bad dream, Wooten this year found complete redemption in May when a court acquitted her of all charges, declared her actually innocent, and she got back her law license in June.
Some things, Wooten will never get back. She used to believe if she paid her taxes, followed the speed limit, refused to drink and drive, or followed election campaign laws, she would be safe and wouldn’t get in legal trouble.
“The biggest horror is taking away from me and my family the sense of security we have,” Wooten said. “When something like this happens to you, my sense of being safe even just walking down the street—it’s gone, it’s destroyed.”
Wrongful conviction stories always loom large in the public consciousness because of the deep-seated need to believe that the justice system will get it right—convict the guilty, exonerate the innocent. When things go terribly wrong, people struggle to find some reason, so that they won’t have to believe that a wrongful conviction could happen to them, too.
How did the system fail Suzanne Wooten?
PDF: How the Justice System Severely Failed One of its Own _ Texas Lawyer