Hannah Kiddoo, Lindsay Stafford Mader, and Patricia Busa McConnico 2014-01-23 11:12:05
They pave the way for others. They lead. And they guide. According to Merriam-Webster Online, a trailblazer is “a person who makes, does, or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular.” As we celebrate 75 years of the State Bar of Texas, we are reminded of the many professionals who dedicated their lives to the rule of law. And we are amazed at the sheer number of lawyers—living and deceased—who forged a path through the unknown for others to follow. There are too many innovators and visionaries to include here—the full list would exceed the pages of this magazine—so we took on the challenge of narrowing it down. Here’s to 20 notable firsts. LISA M. TATUM When Lisa M. Tatum took the oath as president of the State Bar of Texas in 2013, she became the first African-American to hold that office. The historic achievement has served as an inspiration throughout her term, from discussing her leadership with community organizations to launching the educational initiative I was the first. Vote for Me! in classrooms throughout the state. Raised in San Antonio by two teachers, Tatum always understood the importance of education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Smith College before receiving her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law in California, where she was inducted as a national member of the Order of Barristers. Tatum then returned to Texas and served as assistant criminal district attorney in Bexar County. After a switch to private practice and time with various firms, she founded the Tatum Law Practice in San Antonio, where she focuses on corporate, education, employment, and public finance law and serves as outside and general counsel to corporate clients and individuals. Tatum says she didn’t realize her career path would lead her to the State Bar presidency and notes that she went into the race after much prayer and conversation with various mentors, not even considering that a win would be historic. It wasn’t until after the election—when congratulatory calls and emails from around the world reached her desk—that the significance hit her. “We’ve come a long way with a lot of things, but for this to still be something that is a first is kind of remarkable,” said Tatum. Tatum has tried to use her presidency as an opportunity to effect positive change and connect with other attorneys, encouraging them to be involved in State Bar activities. “I want to be able to make those appearances and let them know that I am not extraordinary. You make those goals; you strive to get to where it is that you want to be.” Harriet Miers Although many remember Texas lawyer Harriet Miers for her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by President George W. Bush in 2005, she has had a number of accomplishments within the Lone Star State. Miers, a commercial litigator, became the first woman president of the Dallas Bar Association in 1985. Seven years later, in 1992, she was the first woman elected to be president of the State Bar of Texas, and in 1996 she became one of the first women to lead a major Texas law firm as president of Locke Purnell Rain Harrell in Houston, now Locke Lord, where she currently is partner. Nandita Berry Nandita Berry recently became the 109th Texas Secretary of State, making her the first Indian-American to fill the post. Citing her arrival in Texas from India with nothing but $200, Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed Berry to the role, says she personifies what is possible with hard work and dedication. Berry earned bachelor’s degrees from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, India, and the University of Houston before obtaining her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. She was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1995. Most recently, Berry was senior counsel to Locke Lord in Houston. Richard Pena San Antonio native Richard Pena decided to become a lawyer because he feels that all people are entitled to legal representation. Pena’s quest for justice for everyone led him to Austin, where he graduated with a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975. A frequent lecturer on workers’ compensation, Pena, along with the attorneys in the Law Offices of Richard Pena, strive to bring resolution to personal injury conflicts. His enthusiasm for the law motivated Pena to take on new challenges and roles. In 1998, he was elected to serve as the first Hispanic president of the State Bar. “It was a great honor to represent the lawyers of Texas,” said Pena. “It was heartwarming to know that other minority lawyers would walk through the door that had been opened.” Pena has served as the president of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the American Bar Association Board of Governors, president of the Travis County Bar Association, chair of the Texas Bar Foundation, and a member of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. As a former chair of the Advisory Board of the People to People Ambassador Programs, and now as the special assistant for legal program travel at Academic Travel Abroad, Pena has clocked countless hours touring the globe with legal professionals to learn about other cultures while educating others about ours. Adelfa Callejo Adelfa Callejo was the first Latina to graduate from Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1961, the first Latina to practice law in Dallas, and one of the first Latinas nationwide to receive a law degree. Callejo has gone on to represent the disadvantaged as an acclaimed civil rights lawyer. Among her numerous accomplishments, she served as regional president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, director of the State Bar of Texas, and founder and past president of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas. Barbara Jordan Renowned throughout Texas and the country, Barbara Jordan went to Boston University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1959. After spending several years teaching and practicing law, she was elected to the Texas Senate in 1967, becoming our state’s first female African-American senator. In 1973, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first woman from Texas and the first African-American woman from a southern state to serve in the U.S. Congress. Three years later, she was the first woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Barbara Aldave Chemistry major Barbara Aldave graduated with distinction from Stanford University in 1960, and six years later, she earned a J.D. from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. After a stint practicing in Eugene, Oregon, Aldave returned to the world of academia and took a job at the University of Oregon School of Law. And so she started a career path that eventually took her to Texas, where, in 1989, she became the first woman hired as dean of a Texas law school. (For about eight months in 1946, Baylor had an acting dean, Margaret Harris Amsler, who helped the school get back on track after World War II.) At St. Mary’s University School of Law, Aldave introduced courses in public interest law and increased minority enrollment. She went on to teach at Boston College Law School and Cornell Law School and serve as director of the Center for Law and Entrepreneurship at the UO School of Law before retiring. Charlye O. Farris Racial inequality was customary in Texas prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was certainly true in 1953, when Charlye O. Farris became the first African-American woman to be licensed to practice law in the Lone Star State. She made history again a year later as a special county judge in Wichita County—the first African-American since Reconstruction to serve as a judge in the South. Farris overcame many obstacles while practicing law, including exclusion from local bar meetings because they were held in a whitesonly hotel. At a 2005 event, Farris addressed a crowd about the discrimination she encountered: “Some jury members did not like the fact that I was a black woman. I had to tell them, ‘You have the right to resent the fact that I am black, or that I am a woman, but you have to try this defendant honestly. Don’t resent them.’” Farris died in 2010. Penny Parker In 1988, a Dallas commercial real estate attorney named Penny Parker became the first woman to receive an American Bar Association Pro Bono Award. The year before, Parker handled 25 pro bono cases, totaling more than 400 hours of volunteer work. GUSTAVO “GUS” GARCIA AND CARLOS CADENA In January of 1954, Gustavo “Gus” Garcia and Carlos Cadena became the first Hispanics to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court with Hernández v. Texas. This also marked the first time that a Mexican-American civil rights issue had reached the nation’s top court. While the 1950s and 1960s in the South were marked by injustices committed against African-Americans, Texas also had a history of discriminating against Hispanics. When Pete Hernández of Edna was charged with murder in 1950, no person of Latin American descent had served on a jury in Jackson County (and dozens of additional Texas counties) for at least 25 years. Garcia, Hernández’s lawyer, raised motions to quash, noting that the jury included no Mexican-Americans despite the presence of such citizens in the surrounding area. The motions eventually were denied, and Hernández was found guilty and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Garcia appealed the decision to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The state of Texas asserted that the 14th Amendment applied only to blacks and whites and that, because Mexican-Americans legally were considered white, all-white juries posed no threat of discrimination. But Garcia argued that members of Hernández’s social class were systematically excluded from jury selection. When the appeal was denied, Garcia joined with Cadena—a successful attorney who taught law at St. Mary’s University and was known for being a diligent and poised theorist. They appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal, and Chief Justice Earl Warren even gave Garcia a rare 16 extra minutes to argue his point. On May 3, 1954, the court announced its unanimous opinion that discrimination by class violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. It granted Hernández a new trial, during which he was found guilty by a jury composed by considering persons of all relevant national origins. Garcia died shortly after, and Cadena, who died in 2001, went on to become the first national president of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the first Hispanic chief justice of the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio. CAROL E. DINKINS Carol E. Dinkins, one of the first women to make partner in a Texas law firm, was appointed in 1984 as the first female U.S. deputy attorney general—the highest-ranking Justice Department position to be held by a woman until Janet Reno became attorney general in 1993. Dinkins grew up in Mathis, the daughter of the small Texas town’s only lawyer. She graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1971 and then joined the Houston office of Vinson & Elkins in 1973. Dinkins told the Texas Bar Journal that the men in the firm, and the partners in particular, treated her equally. “They were very welcoming,” she said. “I think it was more my sense of being different than it was the perception of the people around me. There were many things that were quite noticeable. For example, there were hardly ever other women in meetings.” After seven years of hard work, Dinkins was selected as partner. “I was very intent on making partner, and I thought a lot more about that than about the fact that I was a woman making partner,” said Dinkins. “I knew there would not be any other skirts in the room so I went out and bought a red suit. Because I figured if I was going to stand out, I’d stand out.” In 1980, President Ronald Reagan appointed Dinkins as the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Land and Natural Resources Division. Four years later, she was confirmed as deputy attorney general. “When I was deputy attorney general, there was, I think, only one other deputy cabinet officer who was a woman,” said Dinkins. “It just seemed to me that it was awfully late in the time of the world for there not to have been women in those kinds of positions.” To read Dinkins’s oral history conducted by the American Bar Association, go to americanbar.org/directories/women_trailblazers_project_listing/carol_e_dinkins. Wallace B. Jefferson Not many people can say that they had successfully argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court by the age of 35. In fact, that is an accomplishment earned by less than one percent of the lawyers in the nation. Still, it is only one of the many achievements of Wallace B. Jefferson, the first African-American justice and chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. A descendant of a slave who was owned by a Waco judge before the Civil War, Jefferson graduated with a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1988. While on the court, he advocated for increased access to legal services, ensured that court hearings and records were accessible online, and heralded the era of e-filing. In 2010, Jefferson was elected president of the Conference of Chief Justices and helped shape judicial policy on a national scale. Jefferson retired from the bench in 2013 and returned to appellate law at Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend in Austin. Jimmie F. Y. Lee In 1957, Jimmie F. Y. Lee became the first person of Chinese descent to be admitted to the Texas Bar. Lee was born in China on Feb. 3, 1914. After immigrating to the United States, he attended Austin public schools and the University of Texas. He earned his LL.B. degree from South Texas College of Law and practiced in Houston until 1995. Lee died Jan. 23, 1997. Sharon Keller In 1978, Sharon Keller earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, and in 1994, the Dallas native made the news for being the first woman elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Keller was named presiding judge of the court in 2000, and was re-elected to that role in 2006. Her term is slated to expire in December 2018. Raúl A. González Jr. Born to migrant farm workers, Raúl A. González Jr. grew up in Weslaco with a strong work ethic, harvesting cabbage, onions, tomatoes, and cotton. After graduating from high school, González earned a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas, taking part in civil rights efforts along the way. He continued his education at the University of Houston Law Center, obtaining his law degree in 1966. González was appointed judge of the 103rd District Court of Texas in 1978 and later named to the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi and Edinburg. In 1984, Gov. Mark White appointed him to the Texas Supreme Court, making him the first Hispanic to sit on the high bench. He served in that role until his retirement in 1998. González is a recipient of the St. Thomas More Society Lifetime Achievement Award and was granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Edward’s University. Today he practices in Austin at the Law Office of Raúl A. González. TOM C. CLARK Dallas native Tom C. Clark became the first Texan to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1949 after the Senate confirmed his appointment by President Harry S. Truman. Upon receiving his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1922, Clark returned to his hometown, where he practiced at his family’s firm and later worked in the district attorney’s office. In 1937, Clark was appointed special assistant in the U.S. Justice Department, and in 1945, Truman appointed him U.S. attorney general, a move that jump-started his trajectory to the highest court in the nation. The justice, who had a penchant for wearing a bow tie, proved to be an advocate of civil rights. Of the unanimous decision in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, Clark said in a 1972 interview: “No, I didn’t think about it, to tell you the truth, one way or the other, whether I was being conservative or not. I just called the case as I saw it, and I rather think that I was trying to be what I’d call a constitutionalist, if you had to have a tag. And that would be that I tried to interpret the Constitution in the light of the necessities of the time.” Clark resigned from the court in 1967, when his son, Ramsey, was appointed U.S. attorney general. During his retirement, Clark tirelessly championed ways to improve federal court administration. In 1968, he was appointed the first director of the Federal Judicial Center. Clark died in 1977 while living in New York. The Tom C. Clark Building in the Capitol complex in Austin and a high school in San Antonio are named in his honor. To read Clark’s entire oral history, go to trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/ clarktc. Henry E. Doyle In September of 1947, a 37-year-old Austinite enrolled at the new Texas State University for Negroes, which held classes in the basement of an old residence on 13th Street near the Capitol. That man, Henry E. Doyle, was the first African-American in Texas to study law at a state-owned school. But that wasn’t the only time Doyle would make history; in 1950, he became the first African-American graduate of a Texas law school, and on Dec. 1, 1978, Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed him to the 1st Court of Appeals in Houston, making Doyle the first African-American to serve on a Texas appellate court. Doyle died in 1985, but his passion for the law lives on through the Henry E. Doyle Moot Court Competition, which is held each spring at the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Rose Spector Rose Spector, an Austin attorney, was the first woman elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1992. Women previously had served on the court, including an all-female court appointed in 1925, as well as Ruby Kless Sondock and Barbara Culver, who were appointed by Gov. Bill Clements in the 1980s. Sondock, however, didn’t seek election the following year and Culver lost her election campaign. Spector, who previously served as a judge for the Bexar County Court at Law and the 131st Judicial District, was the first woman to be elected to the Texas Supreme Court by voters. Five women since Spector have been elected to the court. Eva Guzman Eva Guzman didn’t grow up with many material things—her parents, Mexican immigrants with little formal schooling, didn’t have much money—but she was raised to think and dream big. From an early age, she learned that with hard work, determination, and an education, anyone could do anything. Now, Guzman is living proof—she’s the first Hispanic woman to sit on the Texas Supreme Court. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Guzman in 2009, and she was elected to the high court in 2010 (her term expires in 2016). Guzman earned her J.D. from the South Texas College of Law in 1989, and she practiced family and civil law before she was appointed judge to the Harris County Family Court in 1999 by Gov. George W. Bush. In 2009, the Hispanic National Bar Association named her Latina Judge of the Year, and she has been recognized as one of the “101 Most Influential Latino Leaders” by Latino Leaders magazine. Angus G. Wynne The law runs strong in the Wynne family. In fact, Angus G. Wynne, who served as the first president of the State Bar of Texas from 1939 to 1940, and his father and two brothers were admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court on the same day. Wynne began his law career in his hometown of Wills Point and then opened an office in nearby Longview before moving to Dallas, where he became a successful trial lawyer. Wynne was chairman of the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee, a trustee of the Southwestern Legal Foundation, and chairman of the University of Texas Development Board. He was one of the seven founding incorporators of the University of Texas Law School Foundation. In 1969, Wynne established an endowed professorship at the University of Texas School of Law in memory of his father. His son Angus G. Wynne Jr. established a similar chair after Wynne died in 1974.
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