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Posted on: Sep 21, 2020

Statement by HBA/HBF/HBA Gender Fairness Committee on the Passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Share Your Reflections and Recollections

A head shot of Justice GinsburgWe honor the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was one of the finest lawyers of our times — as a leading scholar, lawyer, and jurist. She accomplished as much as any person of her era to advocate for and expand the legal rights of millions of Americans, especially in the areas of employment and education.

Justice Ginsburg's impact spans generations. She began her legal career at a time when few women were admitted to law school or worked at law firms. She blazed multiple trails through those challenges — in academia, as an advocate in court, and ultimately with her appointments to the D.C. Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. There, she authored many landmark decisions. Her relationship with Justice Antonin Scalia showed Americans the meaning and importance of true friendship, especially when friends hold profoundly different views.

As a loving wife, mother, and grandmother to her family throughout the course of her remarkable professional career, she was a pioneer of “work life balance” as a means towards gender equality. She was a role model for everyone, regardless of gender, who strives for success in both work and family. Her life teaches us how a good life is lived.

We welcome your reflections and recollections on Justice Ginsburg. Please email Tara Shockley at taras@hba.org and we will post thoughts on the HBA website, as well as share on social media.

May her legacy as a fierce champion of justice and fairness for all inspire us always.

Houston Bar Association
Bill Kroger, President

Houston Bar Foundation
Susan L. Bickley, Chair

HBA Gender Fairness Committee


For me, Justice Ginsburg represented what women are capable of when given a chance. I know we say, “strong women - may we know them, raise them, and be them,” but let’s:

  • Value them
  • Reward them
  • Honor them
  • Hire them
  • Promote them to executive positions
  • Make them partners at law firms
  • Listen to them
  • Elect them to offices
  • Not interrupt them while speaking
  • Take them seriously
  • Not question their abilities
  • Appoint them to offices and to the SCOTUS

—Marissa Marquez, 2019-2020 HBA Gender Fairness Committee Co-chair

 

I met RBG in late 1996/early 1997. I was in Washington DC to see my mother who was living there at that time. And, to attend a small St Mary’s University Law School reception honoring RBG. The Dean from the law school was in attendance. Some of my former law professors were in attendance. Law school donors were in attendance. There were maybe 50 people at the reception. It was a very special occasion, and the reception was formal. The food for the reception was intentionally San Antonio style - queso, chips, fajitas, guacamole. Mom was my +1 for the reception. To my horror, she double-dipped the queso. She got back into me loudly when I scolded her under my breath. I turned bright red. That was Mom. Later, standing close to RBG - she was so very tiny — I noticed she seemed aloof, and totally uninterested in questions she was being asked by her admirers .. about the law, the court, court decisions. She turned ever so slightly in my general direction and I made my move. I couldn’t think of an intelligent question. So, I simply asked how she was doing after being mugged while out walking in D.C. To my astonishment, she spun around, faced me directly and started to tell me all about her mugging. She didn’t want to talk about her work. She wanted to talk that night about life. When she stopped, I stood there frozen. I froze. The crowd quickly engulfed her again and she was gone. But in that moment, it was just me & RBG. Mom never ever stopped double-dipping queso.

—Teresa J. Waldrop, Law Offices of Teresa J. Waldrop, P.C.

 

Photo of Justice Ginsburg memorial in front of SCOTUSPhoto of a dog in a lace collar in front of the Justice Ginsburg memorial
Flowers and messages in chalk for Justice Ginsburg
A memorial for Justice Ginsburg in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building. Photos by Beth Malks, Sarah Malks, and Margaret Wohler, courtesy of Susan Bickley.

Posted on: Sep 15, 2020

Election Day is November 3. Here is how you can get involved.

Law Day 2020 Theme logoStep 1: Register to vote by October 5.

Step 2: Volunteer as a deputy voter registrar to help others vote.

In observation of this year's theme - Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy - the HBA Law Week Committee would like to encourage all HBA members not only to register to vote, but also to volunteer as a deputy voter registrar to help our fellow Houstonians register to vote.

Eligibility requirements to serve as a deputy voter registrar and details about upcoming training sessions are available from the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office at hctax.net/voter/deputy.

HBA Law Week Committee logoStep 3: Register for the HBA Election Law CLE Webinar.

The Law Week Committee and Harris County Attorney's Office are partnering to bring you a special webinar on Thursday, October 1, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Special Assistant County Attorney Douglas Ray (Office of Vince Ryan, Harris County Attorney) will provide an overview of legal issues that affect voters in Harris County. Topics will include voter registration, voters’ rights at the polls, and issues affecting early voting and voting by mail.

Free to everyone. Accredited for 1 hour MCLE, including .25 hour ethics. Click here to RSVP.

Step 4: Become a poll worker to help ensure a safe, fair election for all.

The HBA is asking members to help alleviate the poll worker shortage in Harris County. Between early voting October 13 - 30 and Election Day on November 3, the county needs a workforce of 8,000 to 12,000. Lawyers and law students have the analytical skills and attention to detail that make us good candidates.

Click here for the poll worker application. On the application question that asks how you heard about the need for poll workers, please check “Other” and write in the Houston Bar Association, so we will be able to identify our members who are assisting with this important work.

Poll workers are paid for their time. Learn more about poll worker opportunities in this video with HBA President Bill Kroger, HYLA President Krisina Zuñiga, and Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins.

Posted on: Sep 10, 2020

The 2020 Judicial Preference Poll is now open to all current HBA members who have a valid email address on file with the HBA. Emails giving access to the poll went out on the morning of Thursday, September 10. The Judicial Preference Poll gives HBA members the opportunity to indicate the candidate they would choose in contested judicial races, from Texas Supreme Court to Justice of the Peace Courts, as well as some administrative races. It is not necessary to have firsthand experience before a judge or with a judicial candidate to participate in the poll. 

Voting is online only and must be accessed by an email from BallotBoxOnline.com that is secure and unique to each member. Please make sure your system will allow the following:

Subject: 2020 HBA Judicial Preference Poll Ballot
Sender Address: noreply@ballotboxonline.com
Sender name: Houston Bar Association BallotBox

Reminder emails will go out periodically to members who have not yet participated, until the poll closes at 4:00 p.m. on September 30.

"Every HBA member should participate in the poll," said Collin Cox, chair of the HBA Judicial Polls Committee. "Doing so helps connect our judges to our lawyers, provides needed feedback on our judicial system, and informs the choices we make in our democracy."​ 

Members of the 2020-2021 Judicial Polls Committee are LaVerne Chang, Cindy Dinh, Alicia Fortson, Hon. Dan Hinde, RaChell Hunt, Christina Connor Huston, George B. Murr, Weston O'Black, Denise Oncken, Cody Rutowski, Donna Thomisee and Collin Cox, chair.

Posted on: Aug 21, 2020

Visit thehoustonlawyer.com to read the July-August 2020 issue of the HBA's bimonthly magazine, The Houston Lawyer, an issue that focuses on COVID-19 in the legal profession.

Be sure to visit The Houston Lawyer committee webpage for the "COVID-19 Roundtable Discussion."

Physical copies of the magazine have been sent to HBA members. If you are not a member and would like a subscription to the magazine, email Carly Wood at carlyw@hba.org.

 

Behind the Lines: The Houston Lawyer Podcast

Check out the latest episode of The Houston Lawyer's official podcast here! Download or stream via Buzzsprout.

HBA members: click here to log in and listen to this podcast for CLE credit.

 

 

 

Posted on: Aug 3, 2020

As the moratorium on evictions under the CARES Act has expired, we would like you to know what the Houston Bar Association is doing to help those in our community who are in danger of losing their homes.

Our Houston Volunteer Lawyers is part of a collaboration including Lone Star Legal Aid, South Texas College of Law, the University of Houston Law Center and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law that is coordinating efforts to provide legal advice and representation to low-income people facing eviction. In August, the group will kick off a pilot project with the Justice Courts from Precinct 2 and Precinct 7. In its eviction notices, the courts will include a phone number for the Harris County Pilot Eviction Project, where people can have their case reviewed by one of the legal service providers.

The Dispute Resolution Center also will assist with evictions in cases appropriate for mediation, and the Houston Lawyer Referral Service is available as a resource for those seeking to hire an attorney.

HVL is recruiting volunteers to handle eviction cases and will provide training and mentoring. If you are one of the attorneys who has already volunteered to help, thank you. If you would like to volunteer, please email evictionvolunteer@hvlp.org.

We have gathered resources for the public and attorneys on our new Evictions webpage, hba.org/evictions. Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues and anyone you know who could benefit from these services, and please share the link on your social media.

Posted on: Aug 2, 2020

The Houston Bar Association has launched its monthly online Houston Bar Bulletin to serve members with timely, interactive communication about events and activities, CLE, sections, networking, professional development, volunteer opportunities, and other member benefits.

You will receive an email each month giving you a direct link to the newsletter. The Houston Bar Bulletin also will be posted on the homepage of the HBA website, and you can read the newsletter on your desktop or mobile devices.

Click here or below to read the September 2020 issue.

 

 

You will be able to print the Houston Bar Bulletin on your office or home printer, if you prefer a paper copy.

To zoom in on a page in the electronic reader, click on the magnifying glass icon in the toolbar above the page, or double-click anywhere on the page and use the + and – buttons in the bottom left corner to adjust zoom.

Members will still receive the e-Bulletin every Monday; the CLE Update every Wednesday; the bimonthly print magazine, The Houston Lawyer; and special emails highlighting upcoming events or important information. The monthly online Houston Bar Bulletin will join that lineup to give you more in-depth information on HBA activities for the coming month, as well as photos and recaps of events.

If you have questions about the Houston Bar Bulletin, please contact Associate Executive Director Tara Shockley, taras@hba.org, or Web Manager Carly Wood, carlyw@hba.org, or call (713) 759-1133. The deadline to submit information for next month’s Bulletin is Monday, September 21.

Posted on: Jul 27, 2020

On May 26, 2020, The Houston Lawyer held a Roundtable Discussion via GoToMeeting to address issues the Houston legal community has faced relating to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as issues that we will continue to face in the coming year. HBA President Bill Kroger, who is a partner at Baker Botts LLP and whose practice focuses on energy law, moderated the discussion. A condensed version of the transcript of the Roundtable Discussion will be printed in the July/August issue of The Houston Lawyer.

Download the full transcript: Word Document | PDF

 

The roundtable discussion participants on GoToMeeting

 

This roundtable features:

Bill Kroger headshotBill Kroger (moderator) - Bill Kroger is president of the Houston Bar Association during the 2020-2021 bar year. He is a partner and the Energy Practice Group litigation chair for Baker Botts L.L.P.

Stephen Barnes headshotStephen A. Barnes, M.D., J.D. - Dr. Steve Barnes is the founding partner of Barnes & Associates. His practice focuses on health care law and representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits including catastrophic neurological and birth injury cases. He is both a board-certified (and re-certified) general surgeon/surgical oncologist and a licensed attorney practicing in Texas, New Mexico, and Montana. Dr. Barnes has lived in Houston since 1997, when he moved to Houston after completing his surgical residency and fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Zenobia Bivens headshotZenobia Bivens - Zenobia Harris Bivens is a member at Frost Brown Todd LLP. Her practice focuses on business litigation and all things related to U.S. government contracts, including white collar criminal defense and compliance. Zenobia serves as an adjunct professor for the University of Houston Law Center Trial Advocacy Program and frequently writes and speaks on the procedural issues that arise in parallel proceedings—cases involving both civil and criminal allegations.

Keri Brown headshotKeri Brown - Keri Brown is a partner at Baker Botts L.L.P., where she specializes in transfer tax controversy and fiduciary litigation. A longtime volunteer and supporter of pro bono, Keri is the firmwide partner-in-charge of Corporate Social Responsibility at Baker Botts, in addition to serving as the Chair-Elect of the board of Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

Judge Andrew Edison headshotHon. Andrew Edison - Judge Andrew Edison is a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Texas – Galveston Division. He earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Prior to taking the bench in 2018, Judge Edison was a highly respected trial lawyer, appearing for the past 25 years in state courts, federal courts and arbitration panels across the country. He lectures frequently at various continuing legal education seminars and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, teaching Remedies and Trial Advocacy.

Judge Mike Engelhart headshotHon. Mike Engelhart - Mike Engelhart has been the Judge of the 151st Civil District Court since January 1, 2009 after being elected county-wide in Harris County in November 2008. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2016. A 1995 graduate of The University of Houston Law Center, he was an Associate Editor of the Houston Law Review. Before that, he earned a BA in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Michigan. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial law. 

Justine Fanarof headshotJustine Fanarof - The founding member of Fanarof Law, Justine Fanarof has taught yoga and mindfulness since 2004. She is also a practicing lawyer with a Masters in Public Health. Justine has trained and mentored hundreds of lawyers, paralegals, social workers, teachers, and law enforcement officials. Justine’s experiences as a law student and lawyer brought deep awareness of the tragic reality of the prevalence of drug abuse, depression, and suicide in the legal profession, corporate world, and society at-large. Aligned with the mission and vision of the American Bar Association’s Wellness Pledge, Justine partners with law firms to reduce stress and improve well-being through corporate wellness programs, including her signature, research-based yoga and meditation program Mindful Law Firm™.

Grace Ho headshotGrace Ho - Grace Ho is Senior Counsel at Chevron where she focuses on employment law and investigations. She earned her BA from Rice University, MA from The University of Chicago, and law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Grace has served on the HBA Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as the Secretary of the International Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, and as VP of Membership of the Asian American Bar Association of Houston. She is a Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation.

Wayne Kitchens headshotWayne Kitchens - Wayne Kitchens has been practicing bankruptcy and insolvency law for over 35 years. He has been involved in every phase of commercial workouts, restructurings, liquidations, and reorganizations, representing creditors, debtors, chapter 7 and 11 trustees, and committees. His practice emphasizes asset sales and purchases, preference and fraudulent transfer prosecution and defense, bankruptcy claims litigation, lender representation, and serving entrepreneurs and small to mid-size businesses. He has also served as a bankruptcy examiner and mediator. A 1984 graduate of The University of Houston Law Center, he is also Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Business Bankruptcy Law, and is co-managing partner of the Houston law firm Hughes Watters Askanase, LLP.

Josh Pherigo headshotJoshua Pherigo - Josh Pherigo is Director of Data Analytics at the Greater Houston Partnership, where he monitors Houston’s economic and demographic trends with a focus on digital innovation, trade, and employment. He is a regular contributor to the Partnership’s monthly newsletter: Houston: The Economy at a Glance and is a member of the team that prepares the Partnership’s annual employment forecast. Josh is the 2019 recipient of the Partnership’s President’s Impact Award, recognizing an individual “whose innovation and creativity are moving the organization forward in a significant way.” Prior to joining the Partnership, Josh was associate editor of Americas Oil Markets at S&P Global Platts, where he covered fuel oil and bunkering in the Western Hemisphere. He holds a Master of Science degree in Analytics from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of North Texas. He and his wife Shaina are originally from the Dallas area. Their 1-year-old daughter Bailey is a native Houstonian.

 


 

Further resources

The following resources were cited by or expand on concepts discussed by the Roundtable panelists or the authors of articles featured in the July/August 2020 issue of The Houston Lawyer.

Click here for Judge Engelhart's presentation on the future of the court system.

COVID-19's Impact on the Houston Economy:

COVID-19 and Lawyer Wellbeing:

Litigation During COVID-19:

Employees Navigating the Pandemic:

Estate Planning During COVID-19:

 

Posted on: Jul 25, 2020

In its inaugural year, the Disaster Preparedness Committee will establish, develop, and implement disaster preparedness plans and resources for the Houston Bar Association to address natural and manmade disasters and other catastrophic emergencies affecting the Houston area community. The goal of the Committee is to coordinate HBA volunteers and affiliated organizations, legal service providers, law schools, and representatives of local/state government in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters and their economic repercussions through concerted legal assistance programs and advanced planning.

 

Watch the committee's video series on hurricane season preparation for attorneys!

 

Hurricane Season – Lawyers' Insurance Tips

Featuring Jett Hanna, Texas Lawyers' Insurance Exchange

 

Houston Office of Emergency Management's Tips for Preparing for Hurricane Season

Featuring Mitch Reid, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, and Cory Stottlemyer, Houston Office of Emergency Management

 

Disaster Recovery for Lawyers

Featuring Mitch Reid, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, and Jesse Corona, The Corona Law Firm

 

Posted on: Jul 23, 2020

July 23, 2020

To the Members of the Houston Bar Association:

We began our new bar year with the overriding goal to demonstrate by our positive actions the importance of a volunteer bar association, especially during a difficult time with COVID-19 and concerns about our justice system. We have been busy. In two months, the HBA has: 

  • Organized and led more than six blood drive events among our members, obtaining more than 250 donations at a time when blood is desperately needed in Houston;
  • Worked with the Deans of the Texas law schools and the Texas Supreme Court on formulating alternative plans for the fall bar exams for incoming lawyers;
  • After issuing a response to the murder of George Floyd, reset our editions of The Houston Lawyer magazine so that the first two editions are dedicated to COVID-19 response and social justice issues;
  • Made plans for creating an implicit bias training program for Houston lawyers;
  • Worked with the Harris County District Courts on plans to resume grand and petit juries in Harris County;
  • Developed comprehensive resources for lawyers and the public on legal and health issues involving COVID-19; and
  • Formed a COVID-19 Task Force to coordinate and share resources across all of the bar associations, law schools, and other groups in our community.

While we have plenty on our plate right now, we have unfortunately had a new issue arise out of social media posts by State Bar President Larry McDougal and State Bar Director Steve Fischer.  We do not want their wrongful statements to disrupt the important work that we need to do together, but I also don’t want our membership to have any uncertainty as to how its Board views these statements.

The social media statements of President McDougal and Director Fischer are wrong, offensive, and divisive. Their language is especially inappropriate for leaders who have been elected to represent all bar members. The State Bar of Texas should and will review their statements and make appropriate decisions on what measures should be taken. To that end, we have strong State Bar directors from our region, including several former Houston Bar Presidents, who will actively participate in the upcoming State Bar meeting on these issues, and advocate for appropriate sanctions.

It is important for the State Bar of Texas to quickly decide these issues and get on with providing the leadership that the public and legal community has a right to expect. In that regard, the Houston Bar Association stands ready to serve and work with the State Bar of Texas as it moves forward.

Bill Kroger
President, Houston Bar Association

Posted on: Jul 20, 2020

Stephen Susman and Dean Gerald Treece headshots
Stephen D. Susman and Dean T. Gerald Treece

Last week, we lost two giants of the Houston Bar, Stephen D. Susman and Dean T. Gerald Treece. They lived long, impactful lives that improved the wellbeing of those around them. Let us reflect on a few of their accomplishments:

Mr. Susman attended Yale University (1962), then the University of Texas School of Law (1965), where he was Editor in Chief of the Texas Law Review and graduated first in his class. He clerked for the Hon. Hugo Black of the Supreme Court of the United States, and then joined Fulbright & Jaworski, becoming one of its first Jewish partners. In 1980, he founded Susman Godfrey LLP, which remains to this day one of the premier litigation boutiques in the United States. He tried and won many cases, including some of the largest cases in U. S. history. He was passionate about the importance of jury trials, serving as Executive Director of the Civil Jury Project. He was generous, making many substantial donations to the University of Texas, Yale, and other organizations that he cared about. He was also a loving father and husband, with two wonderful children, Stacy and Harry, and two strong marriages to the late Karen Susman and Ellen Spencer Susman.

Dean Treece attended the University of Houston, where he obtained his undergraduate and law degrees. He received a Bronze Star while serving in Vietnam. He joined the faculty of South Texas College of Law in 1977. There, he thrived for four decades as teacher and coach, leading the South Texas College of Law moot court and mock trial competition teams to 133 national championships, more than any other program in the country. He also was a legal analyst for KHOU Channel 11 for three decades. Dean Treece mentored and molded as many outstanding, future young lawyers as any educator of his generation.

With many distractions today, lawyers need to keep their eyes on the ball, focusing on issues of importance to their communities and country. Don’t “live in the land of Oz,” wasting your “time on an unworthy cause” (Bob Dylan, “Key West”). Work to build up those around you, as well as old and new institutions. Address real problems of today and tomorrow. Bring people together, don’t break them apart. For the work ahead, you could find no better role models than the lives of Mr. Susman and Dean Treece.

Godspeed, gentlemen, on your next journeys.

Bill Kroger
President, Houston Bar Association


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