Happy Veterans Day. On this chilly, rainy morning in Dallas, I write this column from the cushy comfort of my home office: fairy lights and a fall-scented candle providing magical warm lighting, my favorite sweatshirt on, and my dog sleeping at my fuzzy L.L. Bean slipper-clad feet.
My mind immediately goes to my World War II Navy veteran grandfather, my Vietnam War Air Force veteran uncle, my Army JAG husband, The Lawbook’s own Vietnam War Army veteran, senior editor Allen Pusey, and all the other veterans out there who have made countless sacrifices so I can sit on my butt all day writing from the comfort of my climate-controlled home.
To all the veterans out there reading this: The Texas Lawbook thanks you for your service — truly, madly, deeply.
To all the non-veterans out there reading this: I encourage you to do something today to pay your respects to veterans. It could be a small gesture showing appreciation to a veteran in your life (or a stranger who served), or a grand monetary donation to one of the thousands of nonprofits out there that benefit veterans, or it could be dedicating just one hour of your time and legal expertise to a veteran pro bono clinic (below are some upcoming ones).
As for me? Tomorrow morning, I will be lacing up my trail runners for the Rockledge Rumble 15K in Grapevine. I’m still deciding if it’s worth foregoing my weekly Friday night pizza binge for. (Do I want to try for a PR? Do I just say “screw it” and eat as much pizza as I want?)
Whichever route my existential debate of the day takes me, I recognize that it is one of extreme privilege, for a potential pizza sacrifice is nothing compared to all the sacrifices our veterans have made for country. And if I do eat pizza, to my running coach’s dismay, I will be happy with tomorrow’s outcome regardless, because a portion of the proceeds go to the Warrior Expeditions, a nonprofit that supports combat veterans transitioning to civilian life through long-distance outdoor expeditions.
Houstonians (or “Houstonistas,” as our founder Mark Curriden likes to call ya’ll): Check out the first item below if you’re also into running and want to support veterans this weekend.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
The Heavily Vet-Oriented Charitable Happenings
— On Nov. 12, the Houston Bar Association Military & Veterans Committees are hosting the first annual Fire Team Relay, which begins at 8 a.m. at Rice Stadium. Teams will participate in a four-event relay, including a 1.5-mile run, a 3-mile bike ride, an obstacle course and a one-mile weighted run. Before each leg, participants will eat an appetizer portion of food provided by local veteran-owned businesses. If relays are not your jam, consider sponsoring or donating instead. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Combined Arms nonprofit. So far, more than $31,000 has been raised. The donation goal is $50,000.
To sponsor/donate: https://runsignup.com/Race/Donate/TX/Houston/HBAFireTeam
Sponsors so far: Jonny Havens, Douglas & Sarah Foshee, Knox Nunnally, Pierce Skrabanek, Abraham Watkins, Baker Botts, Benjamin Roberts Law, Doyle Dennis, Jim Adler & Associates, J.P. Morgan Private Bank, The Lanier Law Firm, Marc Whitehead & Associates, White & Case, Brooks Ballard, Mindy and Joshua Davidson, Haun Mean, Aaron Heckaman, Daniel D. Horowitz, III, Morros & Sheppard, Denny & Christine Ng, Jon Spiers, and Veteran Law Students Association at South Texas College of Law
— The Texas Access to Justice Foundation proclaimed Nov. 6-12 Texas Veterans Legal Aid Week — seven days of civil legal services provided to Texas veterans by legal aid programs, local bar associations, law schools and pro bono private lawyers across the state. In 2022, TAJF provided grant funding to 13 nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal services to veterans. Various virtual and in-person clinics have occurred across the state this week already (full list here), but below are the upcoming events that remain. Don’t forget: There’s also a statewide hotline that veterans can call: 1-800-622-2520, option 2
What: Home Loans with Community Partner, Homes for Heroes – Q&A session With Whom: DeeDee Wyms for Homes for Heroes When: Friday, Nov. 11, 3 – 4 p.m.
For more information: 713-652-0077
What: Houston Volunteer Lawyers Veterans Clinic
When: Friday, Nov. 11, 1 – 4 p.m.
Where: Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
2002 Holcombe Blvd, VA Hospital BLDG 108A
Houston, TX 77030
For more information: 713-228-0735
What: Veterans’ Day Event at Copperas Cove Moose Lodge
When: Friday, Nov. 11, 2 – 4 p.m.
Where: Copperas Cove Moose Lodge
2828 S Fm 116 Kempner
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
For more information: 713-652-0077
— This Veterans Day, Baker Botts says it’s proud to honor all of its veterans within the firm and community at large. The firm acknowledged Khizr Khan, the father of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed by a suicide attack in the Iraq War and is now buried in the Arlington Cemetery. Khizr Khan practiced in Baker Botts’ Houston office in the 1980s and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year by President Biden. Khan also spoke at Baker Botts’ annual Memorial Day event earlier this year. Through many efforts and partnerships, Baker Botts works year-round to serve veterans, including:
* Creating “BB Vets” two years ago, an internal affinity group of roughly 40 attorneys and staff across the firm who either served in the military or are military family members. Half of the members — 14 staff members and six lawyers — are veterans based in Texas. The group provides opportunities for professional and personal growth through mentorships, client engagement and community outreach and raises awareness of the issues unique to veterans and military families;
*Providing hundreds of hours of pro bono (mostly done by the firm’s Texas-based lawyers) to The Veterans Consortium, the leading national 501(c)(3) charity providing free legal services to veterans in federal venues. Baker Botts donates all attorney fee awards back to the organization — hundreds of thousands in the last two years alone;
*Providing pro bono counsel to the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, the entity tapped by Congress (and led by two prominent Dallasites, President George W. Bush and retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Ted Skokos) to build the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial on the National Wall in Washington; and
*Providing pro bono counsel to the National Veteran Small Business Coalition, the largest nonprofit trade association in the U.S. representing veteran- and service-disabled, veteran-owned small business in the federal marketplace.
— On Nov. 7, Duane Morris announced that Houston associate Joshua Long received the 16th annual Duane Morris Pro Bono Award for a pro bono case he recently handled on behalf of a Vietnam War veteran. After 11 months in Vietnam, Long’s client was dishonorably discharged after suffering PTSD symptoms so intense that he went absent without leave. Long advocated for the vet before the Army Discharge Review Board, convincing the undersecretaries to upgrade the client’s discharge status to honorable.
— On Nov. 1, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Hispanic Issues Section of the State Bar of Texas raised $46,000 during “LAW”teria, a Día de los Muertos-themed virtual fundraising event. The proceeds will benefit Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid’s new office in Uvalde, which opened earlier this year to meet the increased needs for legal aid in the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School tragedy. The office also provides legal service to veterans, families and victims of abuse.
— The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association recently announced that Epstein Becker Green won its inaugural Law Firm Excellence Award for its significant support in advancing DEI initiatives and identifying, sponsoring and promoting Hispanic attorneys. In particular, the firm played a significant role in creating DHBA’s new summer judicial externship program.
EBG partner Edward Loya, Jr., who also serves on the DHBA board, accepted the award on the firm’s behalf Oct. 22 at the DHBA’s annual “Noche de Luz” black tie gala at the Dallas Museum of Art. After joining the board last year, Loya worked closely with local judges, including U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma Ramirez and Fifth Court of Appeals justices Robbie Partida-Kipness and Dennise Garcia, and various Texas law schools to establish the program. “I saw a need to give diverse law students an opportunity to extern for local judges as a way of creating a diversity pipeline for future judicial law clerks,” Loya said. “As a former federal prosecutor and a partner at EBG, I have benefited greatly from my experience as a judicial extern and as a federal judicial law clerk, so I wanted to create similar opportunities for rising law students who intend to practice in DFW.”
— Legal protection and advocacy agency Disability Rights of Texas has appointed Winston & Strawn of counsel Brandon Duke as chair of its board. Duke, who assumed the role Oct. 1, practices oil and gas litigation and appellate law at Winston. He has been on DRTx’s board since 2018
Editor’s Note: Over the next couple of weeks, The Lawbook is seeking news about charitable contributions lawyers are making during Thanksgiving. That could look like Thanksgiving Day spent delivering meals to low-income families through Meals on Wheels or raising a ton of money for their local Turkey Trot.” Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for your Thanksgiving charitable contribution to be considered in one of the upcoming P.S. columns this November.