TEXAS SUPREME COURT CONGRATULATES FIRST TOJI COHORT The 10 members of the first cohort of the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator, or TOJI, received words of support and encouragement from the Texas Supreme Court on June 13, 2017. TOJI is an innovative approach to legal access that helps new lawyers build sustainable practices that serve low-and modest-income Texans. The first cohort started the program on April 3 at offices in Austin. After completing an intensive three-week “boot camp” training session, they began building their individual law practices. “The importance of having the unequivocal support of the Texas Supreme Court cannot be overstated,” said 2016-2017 State Bar President Frank Stevenson, who over the past year made the incubator his presidential initiative, working with the State Bar and other organizations to launch the program. “The court’s support affirms the commitment our State Bar and, more importantly, our TOJI participants have made to provide justice for Texas citizens and opportunity for Texas lawyers.” State Bar of Texas wins national award for diversity program The State Bar of Texas received a national award for one of its signature efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. The Texas Minority Counsel Program received one of three ABA Partnership Awards during an awards ceremony August 11 in New York. The awards honor bar association projects designed to increase the participation and advancement of diverse lawyers. Accepting the award, from left, are 2017 TMCP Steering Committee Co-chair Jesús Castillón, former State Bar of Texas Executive Director Michelle Hunter, State Bar of Texas Office of Minority Affairs Director Caren Cheavens, State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick, 2017 TMCP Steering Committee Co-chair Aparna Dave, and State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Frank Stevenson. Texas attorneys named to Fastcase 50 list of top innovators Three Texas attorneys were included on the annual Fastcase 50 list, which honors top innovators in the legal field. Cameron Vann, senior staff attorney for the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program; Cisselon Nichols Hurd, senior counsel to Shell Oil; and T. Jason Smith, senior director and legal counsel to software company Apttus and secretary of the State Bar of Texas Corporate Counsel Section; received the honor alongside attorneys, professors, and technology entrepreneurs from across the country. 2017 Texas Gavel Awards winners announced The State Bar of Texas honors journalism that deepens the public understanding of the legal system with the Texas Gavel Awards. This year’s winners were recently announced: Patrick Michels in the major metro print category for his Texas Observer article “Who Guards the Guardians?” which focuses on the complex system of guardianship cases across Texas; Natalia E. Contreras and Krista M. Torralva in non-metro print for their work on “Behind Broken Doors,” a Corpus Christi Caller-Times series that explores domestic violence and flaws in the justice system; and Josh Hinkle, David Barer, Brian Collister, Ben Friberg, Joe Ellis, and Chad Cross for “Border Splurge: Texas’ Billion-Dollar Drug War,” a KXAN-TV segment that examined whether $1.6 billion in border spending resulted in the arrest of “high-threat criminals.” Awards will be presented September 14 at the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas 2017 state conference at the Hilton Austin. For more information, go to foift.org. Longtime Texas RioGrande Legal Aid leader to retire Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Executive Director David G. Hall will retire from his position after 42 years at the helm. “It has been my honor and privilege to work alongside colleagues and friends with such inspiring values, compassion, and dedication for justice,” Hall said in a statement to staff announcing his decision. The Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Board of Directors plans to form a hiring committee to conduct a nationwide search for Hall’s successor, who will lead the nonprofit that provides free legal services to Southwest Texas residents who are unable to afford them.
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