The Houston Bar Foundation names its new chair and recognizes many more for their pro bono work. Dallas lawyers at one firm advocate for people of color incarcerated by outdated drug laws, while another group of Dallas lawyers gears up for a legal clinic supporting the homeless. The North Texas Chamber of Commerce names new leadership. Sponsorship opportunities are available for an upcoming Dallas Bar Foundation dinner featuring a New York Times bestselling author and benefitting first-generation law students.
Details below in this week’s edition of P.S.
The Latest Charitable Happenings
— On Feb. 16, Bracewell is co-sponsoring a Black History Month event with the University of Houston Law Center and the University of Houston College of Education featuring award-winning author, poet and lawyer Reginald Dwayne Betts, who will give a solo performance at the UH law school. Formerly incarcerated, Betts transformed himself from a 16-year-old sentenced to nine years in prison to a critically acclaimed writer and Yale Law School graduate.
The presentation will be in-person at 6:30 p.m. at the Law Center at 4170 Martin Luther King Blvd. in downtown Houston. Lawyers attending will receive one hour of CLE credit. The event is titled “Felon: An American Washi Tale” and is the Bracewell LLP Distinguished Lecture in Racial and Social Justice.
To register: https://www.law.uh.edu/alumni/rsvp/
For more information on the event: https://law.uh.edu/events/bhm.asp
— Barnes & Thornburg’s Racial and Social Justice Foundation announced this week that it awarded a $50,000 grant to the Buried Alive Project, a Dallas-based organization that strives to free individuals serving sentences that were handed down through outdated federal drug laws. The grant is one of five that will be awarded this year by the foundation. Firm lawyers and staff collectively fund the foundation and have raised $300,000. According to the Buried Alive Project’s website, there were 3,923 people sentenced to life without parole for federal drug offenses between 1988 and 2018 — 80 percent of which were people of color.
“The Buried Alive Project give a voice to individuals who have been affected by outdated laws and deserve a new opportunity,” said Victor Vital, Barnes & Thornburg’s Dallas office managing partner. “The organization’s incredible team fights for change in legislation and through representing individuals’ case by case. We see the effort and attention they bring to every voice and are humbled at the opportunity to support their mission.”
— Monica Karuturi, CenterPoint Energy’s executive vice president and general counsel, became the 2023 chair of the Houston Bar Foundation at the foundation’s annual luncheon Feb. 9. Karuturi succeeds Christian Garza of Enterprise Products. In addition to her HBF work, Karuturi previously served as a commissioner of the Texas Access to Justice Commission and the State Bar of Texas’ Legal Services for the Poor in Civil Matters Committee.
In addition to Karuturi, the foundation’s board includes vice chairs Quentin Smith of Vinson & Elkins and Krisina Zuñiga of Susman Godfrey and treasurer Hillary Holmes of Gibson Dunn. The incoming 2023-2025 directors include Sara Keith of Shell USA, Holly Nini of CITGO Petroleum Corp., Andrew Gratz of LyondellBasell and Christopher Northcutt of Chevron Corp.
At the luncheon, the foundation recognized recipients of the Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards and award winners of the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center.
Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards recipients: LyondellBasell (2023 corporate law department winner), Baker Bottts (2023 large law firm winner), Beck Redden (2023 mid-size firm winner), Diggs & Sadler (2023 small law firm winner), Martin MG Marasigan Law Office (2023 small law firm winner), Jane Ray (2023 individual winner). The 2023 Heart of Pro Bono Award went to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Hillary Holmes and The Pro Bono Squad.
Dispute Resolution Center Awards: Jill Arntz, who won for “longevity of exemplary service to the Dispute Resolution Center, and Brenda Page, who won for “outstanding contribution to the Dispute Resolution Center.”
— On Feb. 24, Bell Nunnally will sponsor a Dallas Volunteer Lawyers Association legal clinic at Austin Street Center, a homeless shelter dedicated to serving women 18 and up and men 45 and up. The clinic follows a 2019 DVAP clinic at the shelter sponsored by Bell Nunnally in which at least a dozen attorneys advised clients on a wide variety of legal issues the homeless population faces, including Social Security, landlord-tenant and marital/family issues.
“Like many issues facing people who are on the edge between homelessness and stable housing, something seemingly small and simple can be the difference between being homeless and being housed,” said Bell Nunnally partner Ben Riemer, who heads the firm’s pro bono efforts.
— On April 27, the Dallas Bar Foundation will host a dinner event, “An Evening with Arthur Brooks,” the New York Times #1 bestselling author of From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the foundation’s Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarships, which provide significant multiyear financial aid to high-achieving, diverse law students at the three law schools in North Texas: SMU Dedman School of Law, Texas A&M University School of Law and UNT Dallas College of Law.
“The goal of the scholarships is to increase the diversity of the legal community in our area from which we all benefit,” Philipp said. “I have always considered the scholarships as creating cycles of success in our community. Many of our scholars are first-generation college graduates.”
For the fifth year in a row, Toyota is serving as the presenting sponsor. Gold level sponsors include:
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
Condon Tobin Sladek Thornton Nerenberg
Haynes and Boone
McBrie & Associates
— Dallas Polsinelli shareholder Stephen Angelette has been named chair-elect of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the law firm announced this week. Angelette, a health care lawyer, will chair the nonprofit in 2024 and also serves as the NDCC’s board chair for its health care committee. The NDCC’s mission is to make Dallas a better place to live, work, raise a family and build a business. In addition to Angelette’s NDCC service, he was recently named a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and serves on the boards of the White Rock YMCA and the Society for Student-Run Free Clinics. He also recently graduated from Leadership Dallas, the Dallas Regional Chamber’s premier leadership development program.