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Pro Bono Day (Updated)

Event Date(s) / Time: Thursday, October 27, 2022 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Details:

This event has been postponed. 


 


 


Location: Zoom
Updated by: Sara Aguillard


Thursday, October 27, 2022 10:01:43 AM

Houston Holiday Party (Updated)

Event Date(s) / Time: Thursday, December 15, 2022 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Details:

Join the South Texas College of Law Alumni Association for Annual Holiday Party


Holiday Party STD


Location: Lott Hall
Updated by: Kristin Smyth


Thursday, October 27, 2022 8:54:01 AM


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Organization Blog
STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: TAYLORE WILLIAMS, 3L, RECEIVES COMMENDATION FOR PRO BONO SERVICE

 

South Texas College of Law Houston received notice that Taylore Williams, a law student in her final semester, was commended by the Texas Access to Justice Commission for “her outstanding contributions to the provision of legal services to the poor.”

Williams was nominated by the law school as STCL Houston’s 2022 representative for the TAJC Law Student Pro Bono Award. The TAJC executive director, in her letter to the school, noted that she was “personally very impressed with Taylore’s work.”

Law school is Williams’ second career. Prior to law school, she worked as a scientist and regulatory affairs manager in cell and gene therapy at Lonza Biologics. She chose to attend STCL Houston was because she wanted to close the socioeconomic equity gap in the biopharmaceutical field. As she notes, the only way for scientists to discover new and unique solutions to medical diseases is by diversity of thought.

“Diverse groups of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds are needed to solve these complex problems,” Williams said. “However, lower socioeconomic populations are generally excluded from being able to engage in scientific research.” Her goal as an attorney is to help start-ups navigate the fundraising, corporate, legal, and regulatory landscape to ensure society has the best medicine science can create.

While in law school, Williams has been actively and passionately involved in the Actual Innocence Clinic within STCL

Houston’s Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics. This clinic is close to her heart. While working in Maryland, she volunteered as a track and field coach, and one of her athletes was wrongly convicted of a murder he did not commit.

“I felt helpless in that situation, and I never wanted another person to feel that way, so I enrolled in the Actual Innocence Clinic with Dean Burnett,” Williams said.

Her background in science was rare and valuable in the Actual Innocence Clinic. It allowed her to discover alternative ways science can be used to make sure the wrong person is not wrongfully incarcerated. She provided roughly 120 hours of pro bono work with the Actual Innocence Clinic.

“One of the problems we encountered in the clinic is sifting through all the mail we get from people who are incarcerated and think they have a claim,” Williams recalled. As part of her service, she worked on a machine-learning text analytics tool that would be able to sift through the mail and help determine potential claims vs. non-claims. After graduation, she wants to complete the tool so that the team at South Texas can spend more time helping clients and less time doing non-value-added work.

Outside of school, the majority of Taylore’ legal pro bono work is in the realm of government affairs as a lobbyist. She has had the opportunity to meet with legislators on the state and federal level to lobby for programs that benefit all levels of society. In the past year, she was able to go to Capitol Hill to meet with several senators on behalf of patient groups to lobby for the passing of two bills to benefit ultra-rare disease patients.

Williams went to Virginia Tech, and the school motto there is UT PROSIM, which is Latin for “that I may serve.”

“That is what pro bono means to me… being a servant to the most vulnerable people in society,” she said. “I think the kind of student you are is the kind of lawyer you will be. So even as a student, I have committed myself to serving others. I believe that we, as future leaders, have a responsibility to create pathways of accessibility for the next generation.”

At STCL Houston, Williams has been actively involved in the Black Law Students Association, serving on the BLSA board for two years. She has helped BLSA raise more than $9,000 for scholarships. With BLSA, she also has focused on helping students dealing with food insecurity and food instability, helping them understand how they can apply for SNAP benefits without feeling shame or guilt.

After law school, Williams plans to join Wilson Sonsini in the corporate and biotech transactional practice groups. With the skills she learns in the transactional practice group, she wants to help impoverished and underrepresented groups start tech companies. She also plans to continue working with the Actual Innocence Clinic because it is “very dear to my heart.”

Catherine Greene Burnett,  South Texas associate dean for experiential education, professor of law, and director of the Actual Innocence Clinic, said, “Taylore exemplifies the passion and commitment that are hallmarks of the STCL Houston student.”

 

Friday, November 11, 2022 9:02:00 AM

STCL HOUSTON NOMINATES THREE FOR THE 2022 AALS PRO BONO HONOR ROLL

South Texas College of Law Houston submitted three individuals dedicated to pro bono legal service for the inaugural Pro Bono Honor Roll, hosted by the Pro Bono and Access to Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

The AALS invited each law school dean to name one faculty member, one staff member, and one student for the special recognition.

“This is a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the amazing work done by members of the STCL Houston community in the area of pro bono services,” said Associate Dean for Faculty and Professor of Law Ted Field. “Our nominees are committed to using their legal minds to help their community, and we were delighted to submit their names for this honor.”

“Service” is a key part of the STCL Houston mission, and students, staff, and faculty donate hundreds of hours of legal pro bono service each year — including nearly $2 million worth through the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics.

Here are the South Texas individuals named to the AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll.

 

STUDENT: TAYLORE WILLIAMS, 3L Prior to attending South Texas College of Law Houston, Taylore Willliams worked as a scientist and regulatory affairs manager in cell and gene therapy. Her goal as a future attorney is to help start-ups navigate the fundraising, corporate, legal, and regulatory landscape to ensure society has the best medicine science can create. Williams has been actively involved in the Actual Innocence Clinic within the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics, providing roughly 120 pro bono hours. Her background in science allowed her to discover alternative ways science can be used to make sure the wrong person is not wrongfully incarcerated.

 

 

 

 

 

FACULTY: DR. MARK STEINER has a long-standing commitment to pro bono service. He has qualified for membership in the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas for eight consecutive years. He has volunteered at citizenship and immigration events for over 15 years. Since January 2020, Dr. Steiner has participated in 60 discrete pro bono activities, donating 167 hours. During this time, he has volunteered at 37 Houston Volunteer Lawyer Virtual Legal Advice Clinics where he advises individuals on their legal issues and 20 naturalization workshops, where he screens applicants for citizenship eligibility and reviews completed applications.

 

 

 

 

 

STAFF: AIMEE MALDONADO is a staff attorney in the Randy O. Sorrells Legal Clinic’s Trafficking and Asylum group at STCL Houston, Aimee gives of her time to various groups who can use her specialized legal expertise. She trains volunteer attorneys and assists with the guardianship program at Texas Children’s Hospital. She frequently travels to immigrant detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and has been assisting in the screening of Afghan refugees in the Houston area. Aimee has recently presented at the American Immigration Lawyers Association on advanced topics relating to asylum cases.

 

 

Every October since 2009, legal organizations across America have participated in the National Celebration of Pro Bono to draw attention to the need for pro bono participation, and to thank those who give their time year-round. 


Friday, November 11, 2022 8:49:00 AM

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: TARA TAHERI ’11, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF NIGHT COURT 2022

 

Tara Taheri ’11, a native Houstonian and senior privacy associate at Baylor College of Medicine, is executive producer of Night Court 2022, “Justice by the Dozen,” set Aug. 17-20 at the Hobby Center. Part of the proceeds benefit the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics at South Texas College of Law Houston. Go here for tickets, and use the promo code STCL to get $5 off.

In this Q&A, Taheri shares insights about producing Night Court and being a proud second-generation STCL Houston alum.

What is Night Court and how did you get involved?

Night Court is Houston’s all-lawyer theater company that performs an original musical comedy annually at the Hobby Center in downtown Houston. It is a public 501(c)(3) charity that donates its proceeds to Houston-area charities that provide free legal services to people in need here in our community. This includes the Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinics at South Texas.

I became involved with Night Court in 2014. I love the nonprofit’s mission, and I have a passion for singing, dancing, and acting. This show is a fantastic way to blend my interests. In addition, I remembered Dean Helen Jenkins discussing Night Court during law school. I had the honor of performing with her in the show several times!

What keeps you involved in Night Court?

Working together to help people who need free legal services means so much to me. Lawyers in Night Court wear many hats. They build and paint sets for the stage, rehearse songs, learn choreography, and more in just six weeks.

It is emotional to experience the creative role everyone plays while bringing together a successful show that impacts our community. I want to note that Night Court couldn’t exist without the generous support of donors and sponsors. They are pivotal in the organization’s mission. It’s been an honor to share the stage with incredibly gifted and sensational people, and to connect off-stage with noble, passionate charity leaders.

Switching gears a bit, what made you decide to become a lawyer?

I grew up listening to my dad, Dr. Marshall Taheri ’73, tell stories of helping others in his role as an attorney. It really resonated with me and was a driving factor in my decision to attend law school. Advocating for others and for animals is extremely important to me.

Why did you choose South Texas Law?

My dad always spoke highly of South Texas College of Law Houston. It’s a family-like environment and the professors are outstanding. They not only teach the law but really demonstrate preparation and professionalism.

How does it feel for STCL Houston to be such a big part of your family?

It’s tremendous feeling. We all had the great experience of studying at a top-notch school. My sister, Sara Taheri ’11, attended South Texas at the same time. Law school is such a memorable experience, and it was especially memorable that we were here together. We didn’t often study together, but we talked about classes and challenges and professors.

We had the same classes for the first year and then we branched off into our areas of specific interest. Though Sara and I are not twins, people sometimes confused us or wondered which of us was older.

What are family dinners like?

They are interesting! We frequently discuss current legal cases and ask each other for our opinions and thoughts. In addition, Dad enjoys discussing, generally, about some of his past cases. He loves the law. It’s always been his passion.

How did your experience at South Texas shape you as a lawyer?

Since the professors emphasized preparation and presentation, it provided a stellar legal foundation combined with confidence.

What student organizations, if any, were you part of while attending law school?

I was a senior senator, worked as a Lexis Nexis Associate, and served as a member of the Animal Law Society, and Sports and Entertainment Law. Annually, I participated as a student marshal at graduation, dabbled a little in mock trial, and was added to the Garland R. Walker American Inn of Court, where I’m still a member.

Was there a particular law professor who made a big difference in your education or career path?

Although, she wasn’t my professor, Dean Helen Jenkins and I have had a chance to perform together, and she introduced me to Night Court. She’s an amazing professor and friend. In addition, Professor Lisa Dahm was a major influence in introducing me to privacy and security in the healthcare sector. She and Dean Jenkins are still my mentors to this day!

What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? What are your goals?

Privacy and Security are interesting to me, and I hope to continue down this path for many years. Additionally, since being in the role of media chair for Night Court, I’ve become intrigued by media relations and consider dabbling more in that area as well. I studied music as an undergraduate and played in an all-original local band. In addition, I used to sing with the band at church and currently perform in Commissioner Cagle’s Shakespeare in the Shade. Performing is a passion that will always be a part of my life.


Thursday, October 27, 2022 8:51:00 AM

NAACP PRESIDENT PRESENTS INAUGURAL DIVERSITY LECTURE

 

 

Alumnus Derrick Johnson ’97, president and CEO of the NAACP, addressed a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday, Oct. 4 as he delivered the inaugural lecture for The Benny J. Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center at the South Texas College of Law Houston.

Urging members of the legal community to “force the Constitution to live up to its promise,” Johnson spoke passionately about the need to support diversity and strengthen democracy.

“Democracy is messy and none of us has all the answers,” he said. “But we all have a piece of the solution, which means we must work together. It’s our job to make possible what others think is impossible.”

“We are excited to launch our Agosto Lecture Series with an alumnus who is a champion for civil rights and racial justice,” said South Texas Law’s Dean and President Michael F. Barry. “Derrick Johnson’s inaugural lecture today is the first of many conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal community.”

The center, founded with a $3 million donation from alumnus Benny Agosto, Jr. ’95 and his wife, Nichole, will host prominent scholars, thought leaders, and innovators who can foster important conversations — both inside the law school and in the larger legal community.

“Our differences make us stronger,” said Benny J. Agosto, Jr. ’95 in his remarks. “Diversity creates firsts, and to be the ‘first’ is to be free of the restraints of history.” He encouraged those present to “set remarkable goals.”

The Agosto Diversity Lecture series aims to engage STCL Houston students and the legal community on diverse topics, fully embracing the conversations and public policy surrounding diversity and what it
means to be a lawyer in a pluralistic society.

Johnson thanked the Agosto family and praised STCL Houston’s leadership for “creating a space at the
law school that is welcoming and inclusive – and leading important conversations about diversity.”

“We are grateful to the Agosto family for making the center possible and we appreciate Mr. Johnson for launching the center’s Diversity Lecture Series with such an excellent presentation,” said Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Professor of Law Shelby Moore.

 

About the Distinguished Speaker

Derrick Johnson ’97 serves as president and CEO of the NAACP, a position he has held since 2017. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors and as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. A longstanding member and leader of the NAACP, Johnson has helped guide the association through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration.

Under his leadership, the NAACP has undertaken such efforts as the 2018 “Log Out” Facebook Campaign, pressuring Facebook after reports of Russian hackers targeting African Americans; the Jamestown-to-Jamestown Partnership, marking the 400th year enslaved Africans first touched the shores of America; and the 2020 We are Done Dying Campaign, exposing the inequities embedded into the American healthcare system and the country at large.

Born in Detroit, Johnson attended Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He then received his J.D. degree from South Texas College of Law Houston. He completed fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has served as an annual guest lecturer at Harvard Law School and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College.

 

About South Texas College of Law Houston
South Texas College of Law Houston is one of America’s most diverse law schools in America’s most diverse city. In 1923, the YMCA established the law school to offer night classes for working professionals. Today, the ABA-accredited, independent law school in downtown Houston offers both full-time and part-time schedules to earn a J.D. degree. STCL Houston, recognized nationally as an advocacy powerhouse, provides an exceptional legal education featuring renowned faculty and nationally recognized, experienced-based learning. The law school’s 16,000-plus alumni lead and serve with distinction as Texas Supreme Court justices, Fortune 500 CEOs, Tier 1 attorneys, state and national officials, judges, law professors, and more.


Friday, October 14, 2022 1:44:00 PM


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