Houston law graduates Ieshia Champs and Shartory Brown have inspired many people with their stories surviving childhood homelessness and teenage pregnancy and then succeeding in law school while raising multiple kids.
Texas Lawyer spoke with Brown and emailed Champs for advice for other law students about juggling a strict schedule, coping with overwhelming demands, and tapping into their inner strength and resiliency. Here are their answers, edited for clarity and brevity.
Two Houston law graduates who defied tough odds to succeed in law school have inspired people across the country.
Other law students can learn about resilience and the power of priorities through the stories of May graduates Ieshia Champs of Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law and Shartory Brown of South Texas College of Law Houston.
Both Brown and Champs were homeless at times during their childhoods and became teenage mothers. Tragedies and heartache could have derailed their lives—yet they persevered through college and law school, all while raising multiple children. The two women share so much in common that they became good friends while interning together at the Harris County Attorney’s Office in the spring of 2018.
In the midst of a hurricane season capable of producing half a dozen or so hurricanes, having a disaster recovery plan is tantamount for firms operating on the East Coast and gulf—whether you’re a solo lawyer or a big law firm.
As Houston still recovers from Hurricane Harvey, several panels at the State Bar of Texas annual meeting in Houston tackled the steps that lawyers and firms need to take to prepare and recover from disasters, of any variety.
Daniel Henry was studying to become an engineer, but something wasn’t right.
Studying for his undergraduate engineering courses at the University of Houston was boring—a real chore—and he couldn’t see himself in the field for the rest of his life. Then an African-American studies course made him realize his true passion was fighting for justice and helping the black community.
That question lead him to enroll in an innovative, intense diversity program at the University of Houston Law Center, unprecedented among Texas law schools and rare among nationwide law schools, which has won national accolades from diversity advocates.
“I just went to learn about the legal field, and I came out knowing [and] fighting for justice as an attorney was my purpose,” Henry said.
PDF: prelaw pipeline program
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
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