TCWLA Holiday Party
This year the TCWLA holiday party promises to be the best ever. The party will be Wednesday, December 6 from 5:30-7:30 pm at IF+D, an interior design and gift store on Colorado just north of Second Street, part of the exciting, revitalized Second Street District shopping area. There will be delicious appetizers and desserts, and plenty of wine— a wine expert will even be on hand to give us a guided wine tasting. Even when the party is over, the shops of the Second Street District will still be open for our members to get a jump on their holiday shopping.
FROM THE PRESIDENT
￼I can’t believe it’s already December! As I write this, the cold weather has finally come to town and it feels like an actual winter here in Austin. This is good weather for curling up with some hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, and a good book. It is also a great time to gather together, make new friends and toast the season at our annual Holiday Party for TCWLA members. Whether or not the cooler temperatures stick around, we hope to see you at the Holiday
Party on December 6th. This party is in lieu of a membership meeting in December, so the next time we’ll see each other in an actual membership meeting is January 17th. See the front page of the newsletter for details about the Holiday Party and please do not hesitate to join us, even if you haven’t made it to any other meetings this year! Don’t miss out on this fun, free gathering for members.
Please take a couple of minutes today and renew your membership for 2007! Send it in now and mark it off of your
new year’s to-do list! Forms are in this newsletter for renewals or new memberships, so feel free to forward this to your friends and coworkers and encourage them to join us. Our $40 dues are quite the bargain given the access to hours and hours of free CLEs alone, not to mention the free special events and opportunities to network, mentor and volunteer. Happy Holidays!
Color of Justice Program 2006
Board Member Elizabeth Branch, Justice Bea Ann Smith and Judge Elisabeth Earle are glad to report that the Color of Justice Program was a huge success. This is the third Color of Justice program presented in Austin with the collaboration of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) and the University of Texas School of Law’s Women’s Law Caucus. It was a half-day event held on November 13, 2006, at the Eidman Courtroom at the University of Texas School of Law.
The Color of Justice program brought together a distinguished panel of minority judges, lawyers and law students who shared their experiences and the reasons why they chose careers in the law to a selected group of approximately 30 minority high school students from Austin’s LBJ High School. The program focused on career preparation, panel discussions with judges and lawyers sharing personal and professional insights, and small group discussions during a box luncheon. Another highlight to the program was when Laura Pena, a second year student at the UT’s School of Law, received the Access to Justice Scholarship given by the NAWJ. This $1,000 scholarship was presented to a student who demonstrated a sustained and passionate commitment to promote access in the justice system, and who overcame significant obstacles. The scholarship was formally presented by Judge Earle, District Director of NAWJ in Texas.
Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association would like to extend a huge thank you to the following panelist who so graciously took the time and effort to share their diverse and truly uplifting experiences, making the program a success!
The first panel entitled The Color of Justice – Judges Making a Difference, included the following panelists: • Judge Brenda Kennedy, Travis County Criminal District Court
• Judge Orlinda Naranjo, Travis County Court at Law and Judge-Elect of Travis County Civil District Court
• Judge Lora Livingston, Travis County Civil District Court
• Judge-Elect Eric Shepperd, Travis County Civil Court at Law
• Velva Price, Moderator, Attorney, Law Office of Hubert Bell, Jr. and TCWLA Board Member
The second panel entitled Law as a Career—Preparing the Way, included the following panelists: • Tracy McCormack, Professor, Director of Trial Advocacy, University of Texas School of Law
• Ciara Williams, Student, University of Texas School of Law
• Gavin Villareal, Baker Botts, LLP
• Steve Foster, Cantey Hanger, LLP
• Jana Ortega, Law Office of Jana Ortega
• Portia Bosse, Moderator, Attorney, Texas State Teachers’ Association and Past President TCWLA
We would also like to thank the following sponsors: Vinson & Elkins, LLP and Strasburger & Price, LLP.
The Panel, from left to right, is Judge Orlinda Naranjo, Judge Brenda Kennedy, Velva Price, Judge Eric Sheppard, and Judge Lora Livingston
November Luncheon Recap:
The Travis County Women Lawyers Association launched its newest project, Lawyers for Women Fighting Breast Cancer, at the November program luncheon. Portia
Bosse, TCWLA Past President, gave a brief presentation describing the purpose of the project as an initiative inpartnershipwithVolunteerLegalServicesof
Central Texas and the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law at the University of Texas School of Law which will provide free legal services to low-income women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Judge Susan Whitman and Attorney Holly Gillman presented a program, Estate Planning for Clients with Serious Illnesses, for attorneys attending and volunteering for this project.
Judge Whitman and Ms.Gillman walked the participants through the steps of writing and then probating a will with application to future clients of the project. Clients will be identified with the help of existing and future grantees of the Austin Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
The Travis County Women Lawyers Association will continue to promote this initiative to lawyers in the Travis County area including its membership and recruit attorney volunteers for this project. Volunteer Legal Services will provide support to the project and the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law will recruit students to work with volunteer attorneys on these pro bono cases.
If you are interested in volunteering for this project, please go to www.tcwla.org for additional information and sign up sheet or contact Portia Bosseat email@example.com or at 476-5355.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AYLA-TCWLA-VLS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROJECT
Would you like to make a lasting difference and help someone in need start building a new life? AYLA and the Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association is parterning with Volunteer Legal Services for the fourth year of the Domestic Violence Project. Volunteers are needed to handle 2 domestic violence divorce cases on an emergency basis over 2007. “Emergency basis” means a case that needs a response within two weeks, and VLS will attempt to work around your schedule as requested. Participants will be trained by VLS domestic violence experts, and will be given a list of family law mentors that they can call with questions. We need at least 10 volunteer attorneys for this project. Please contact Laurie Higginbotham at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating.
TCWLA Member Profile: Julia G. Benkoski (Julie)
I think of myself as an “old” lawyer given the average age of the TCWLA membership! A graduate from the U. of Houston College of Law and undergrad honor’s program, I was licensed in ’82. Starting off as an Assistant D.A. in Galveston Cty., I cut my teeth on the realities of crime and the lowly position as a groveling ‘baby’ lawyer. Life eventually lead me to Austin and a hard, long but educational stint with Doug Hearne, jury and bench trials…those days when you carted around boxes of paper!!
A chronic illness began to plague me throughout the 90’s…numerous stays in the local ER’s and OR’s. ICU and the dispensation of Last Rites followed. But thanks to Mayo Clinic, a great doc in Houston, and lots of prayer, I’m now healthy, returned to work initially with the St. Bar in the disciplinary division. And then a couple years ago, I hung out my shingle offering wills, probate and estate planning and my mediation services.
My health and sanity continue to be restored by a big, beautiful fella, Raphael, a Dutch warmblood horse. We ride English, jumping a course of fences. When I was wasting away, my husband of 20 + yrs., Harold, suggested that I learn to ride. BIG MISTAKE!! We’ve sunk a small fortune in the horse world…as well as with my other critters, Dixi, 5 yr. old, boisterous yellow lab, 3 indoor kitties, Avery, Pookie and Mojo.
When not tending to career and home life, I devote a huge amount of time to providing basic living necessities to the poor in Travis County. I’m the president of the St. John Neumann Catholic Church conference of St. Vincent de Paul. Besides facilitating many projects to help the poor, I regularly make home visits where we visit with the poor, provide assistance and let them know that people really do care. I have so many blessings, and I am ever grateful to be a part of this esteemed organization which reaches out to one another and the small, the forgotten in our community.
Meet Your Board Member: Lulu Flores
Practice Area/Employer: I am currently Of Counsel to HendlerLaw, P.C. of Austin, Texas. HendlerLaw represents persons who have suffered injuries due to toxic exposures, in particular the signature cancer caused by asbestos exposure known as mesothelioma. Our firm is hired to represent mesothelioma victims from all over the United States. Additionally, I serve as the public interest arm of the firm and one of my clients has been the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas, who I serve as LegislativeCoordinatorduringlegislativesessions. PriortojoiningHendlerLaw,P.C., I worked in the area of Legislative and Governmental Affairs for 22 years — I was Assistant Director for Intergovernmental Affairs of the Railroad Commission of Texas from 1996-2001 and Assistant Director for the Alternative Fuels Division of the Railroad Commission from 1992-1996. Before working for the Railroad Commission, I was Director for Governmental Affairs for the State Bar of Texas from 1986-1991. During law school (1978-1980) and thereafter from 1982-1986, I was Chief of Staff to the late Representative Irma Rangel, the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas House of Representatives and a champion for higher education .
Education: I grew up in Laredo and attended an all girls school, Ursuline Academy, for 10 years and graduated in 1973 from St. Joseph’s Academy (a former all-boys school turned coed its final year – my senior year! ☺). I graduated summa cum laude from Laredo Junior College in 1975. I then entered The University of Texas at Austin where I received a Bachelor of Arts with High Honors Degree in Government in 1977 and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from UT School of Law in 1980. (I was actually a cheerleader in high school and in junior college, and I was co-captain of my basketball team my senior year in high school – remember half-court basketball??).
Family: I am married to Scott. Hendler, an attorney, and have three cats: Keanu, NaNa and Gracie. I am the youngest of nine children born to Francisco J. and Ernestina S. Flores, both deceased.
My father was an attorney who self-studied and “wrote for the bar” in 1940; he was a practicing lawyer for 40 years. My mom was a school teacher and dress shop manager. Two of my siblings – a brother and a sister — are also lawyers; another of my sisters has her Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard JFK School of Government and a brother who is a Senior Executive with the U.S. EPA. I grew up knowing I wanted to go to law school having played in my dad’s office as a kid and typing warranty deeds for fun while I waited for my dad – his idea of entertainment! My father was one of the original founding members of LULAC. Public service was highly valued in my family and that helped influence my career path.
Loves to Do: I ran for over 30 years and did one marathon in 1986, a few half marathons and too many 10 and 5 Ks to remember — I even won a couple of trophies in my day — now I mostly “jog” occasionally, but still swim, practice Ashtanga yoga and do pilates and weights. You could say I love physical activity — I was even an aerobics instructor at the local YWCA in the mid-eighties (remember high impact aerobics?☺) and I danced Ballet Folklorico with a professional company for 12 years. Besides physical activities, I love to read. I just read Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked) by Gregory McGuire (I liked Wicked better, but it’s still a good read) and PREDATOR by Patricia Cornwell. One of my all time favorites is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Scott and I both love reading mystery and detective novels and trade Daniel Silva and Michael Connelly novels on a regular basis. I recommend these fast reads for trips – they really help with all the traveling we do.
Tidbits: I have run for political office and still am politically active on the local, state and national arena, helping mostly women (and a few good men) get elected to office. I am First Vice President for the National Women’s Political Caucus and have served on the national board for over 12 years. I am also President of the Mexic-Arte Museum Board of Directors and I mentor a first generation Hispanic child now in 9th grade and have worked with her and her sisters for the last 12 years, since her oldest sister, now 22 was 10. I plan the annual Hispanic Bar Kids Holiday Party.