Houston-area Courts Crippled by Hurricane Harvey

Pummeled by Hurricane Harvey, federal and state courts along the Texas Gulf Coast have closed their doors and suspended all operations, grinding to a near halt one of the busiest jurisdictions in the country.

Link.

PDF: Houston-area Courts Crippled by Hurricane Harvey _ Law

Austin Solo’s License in Jeopardy After Pleading Guilty to Heroin Possession

The Commission for Lawyer Discipline is seeking to take the law license of an Austin solo practitioner who was indicted in a murder-for-hire plot, but instead received deferred adjudication for possessing and intending to deal heroin.

In a petition for compulsory discipline, the commission noted that James N. Walker was indicted in Travis County on May 20, 2016, for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in penalty group 1 in an amount between 4 and 200 grams. It’s a first-degree felony that could bring up to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 18, 2017.

PDF: Austin Solos License in Jeopardy

Some Law Schools Take the Lead in Students’ Well-Being, Report Finds

Published in The National Law Journal on Aug. 17, 2017.

Many law schools across the country run programs to help stressed out or depressed students, some of whom struggle with alcohol or drug problems.

There’s more work to do.

The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being said in a report released earlier this week that law schools must change their cultures so that everyone—professors, administrators and students—takes responsibility for student well-being. The report, issued by a coalition of groups including the American Bar Association and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, stems from a groundbreaking study published last year showing that more than 40 percent of students felt they needed mental-health help and a quarter were at risk for problem drinking.

Some law schools are ahead of the pack, the report notes, and have implemented programs to help students with mental health problems and substance abuse.

PDF: law schools take lead in student wellbeing

How Law Firms Can Help Their Lawyers’ Well-Being

Law firms in Texas need to change to address a crisis in the legal profession.

As a follow-up to a shocking 2016 report showing that one in three lawyers are problem drinkers and one in four have depression, a national task force has made recommendations for law firms, judges, bar associations and law schools to address widespread lawyer well-being issues.

Texas Lawyers Assistance Program director Bree Buchanan served as a co-chairwoman of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, which released the report. Texas Lawyer interviewed Buchanan to learn more about what law firms should do to promote their lawyers’ well-being. Here are her answers, edited for brevity and clarity.

Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 16, 2017.

PDF: How Law Firms Can Help Their Lawyers Well Being _ Texas Lawyer

Federal Judge’s Incentive Gives Women Lawyers More Speaking Roles in Court

In light of a recent study showing female lawyers aren’t getting many speaking roles in the courtroom, one federal judge in Texas noted that she’s indirectly increased opportunities for women attorneys by encouraging firms to send young lawyers to argue at hearings.

While trying to provide courtroom experience to young lawyers in the age of the vanishing jury trial, Chief Judge Barbara Lynn of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas created a voluntary rule in her court about 10 years ago that said if firms sent young attorneys to argue their own briefs and motions at hearings, she would be more likely to grant an oral argument. Even though her main goal was training the lawyers of the future, many of those getting opportunities are women and minorities—something she hoped would happen. Those opportunities have been amplified as 20 to 30 other federal judges have followed Lynn’s lead and created young lawyer rules of their own.

Published on Law.com on August 9, 2017.

PDF: Federal Judge’s Incentive Gives Women Lawyers More Speaking Roles in Court

 

Disciplinary Suit Filed Against Lawyer for Filing Frivolous Legal Mal Case

Mark Womack, a Houston solo practitioner who beat back a legal malpractice case after eight years of litigation, said he’s gratified that the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary lawsuit against the lawyer who represented the plaintiff who sued him.

The Commission for Lawyer Discipline sued Houston solo practitioner Armando Lopez in Harris County District Court, alleging he violated rules that ban a lawyer from bringing a frivolous lawsuit, lying to a court or being dishonest, fraudulent, deceitful or misrepresentative. The original petition said that Lopez represented a plaintiff in an underlying malpractice suit against Womack, who eventually filed the grievance against Lopez.

“It was serious misconduct,” said Womack. “I’m gratified the state bar has made the decision to enforce the rules in this fashion. I think it shows the system works.”

Published on TexasLawyer.com on Aug. 8, 2017.

PDF: Disciplinary Suit Filed Against Lawyer for Filing Frivolous Legal Mal Case _ Texas Lawyer

Don’t Know What Blockchain Is? You Should. This Law Prof Can Help.

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Blockchain. It sounds like a foreign language, clouded in mystery.

But with billions of dollars flowing through cryptocurrency systems, and governments and major companies looking to blockchain technology to reform a wide variety of critical record-keeping systems, law students and lawyers need to get up to speed.

Even with great change brewing, only a smattering of law professors have published research in the area, and even fewer have launched formal classes for law students.

Angela Walch is one of the first law professors who have latched on to the importance of digital currencies and blockchain technology. Starting research in 2012, Walch, who is a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, has made a mark in the cryptocurrency community with research that suggested—despite the decentralized promise of blockchain technology—that actual identifiable people govern the systems, and furthermore, they should owe users a fiduciary duty. Walch’s law school course she started in 2013  was pioneering in teaching students about bitcoin and the blockchain.

This story published on law.com on August 7, 2017.

PDF: Don t Know What Blockchain Is You Should This Law Prof Can Help _ Texas Lawyer