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Posted on: Jul 1, 2020

The Houston Bar Association joins other Texas bars in support of a letter from the 10 Texas law school deans calling for changes to the 2020 testing processes for licensing lawyers, in light of COVID-19.

Click here to read the letter from HBA President Bill Kroger, Austin Bar Association President Kennon Wooten, Dallas Bar Association Robert L. Tobey, and San Antonio Bar Association President Tom Crosley.

Click here to read the letter from Texas law school deans.

Posted on: Jun 23, 2020

Head shot of Anne ChandlerHouston Volunteer Lawyers has named Anne Chandler as the new Executive Director, effective June 22.

Previously serving as Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center’s Houston Office, Chandler brings strategic vision and leadership to her new role overseeing the nonprofit organization’s mission to provide free civil legal services to low-income people in Harris County and promote volunteerism among lawyers.

Chandler has a long history of working with volunteers, supporting legal clinics, managing grants and advocating for regional, state and federal policies that provide justice and safety to immigrant survivors of violence.

“Anne brings years of leadership and accomplishment to HVL at a time when Houston needs—more than ever—the services offered by HVL,” Bill Kroger, Houston Bar Association’s President, said.

Her diverse background also includes serving as a clinical professor for the University of Houston Law Center, Director of Immigration Legal Services for YMCA International Services, and an adjunct professor for the University of Houston Law Center and Thurgood Marshall School of Law. She was also an associate attorney at Locke Lord LLP.

“We couldn’t have found a person better suited to lead HVL in its mission, especially given the challenges our community faces today,” Chris Popov, HVL board chair, said. “We feel very fortunate that Anne was available during our search.”

Chandler served on numerous Boards and Committees, including the Executive Committee of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, Board of Trustees of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council, and the City of Houston’s Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking.

“I am very excited to be joining the Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ team at this time,” Chandler said. “HVL is in an ideal position to provide low-income Houstonians with a free attorney so that our community is able to remain resilient and strong as we face challenges posed by this economic downturn, systemic racial injustices, and COVID-19.”

Houston Volunteer Lawyers Logo

Posted on: Jun 22, 2020

By Heath DeJean

Group photo of attendees at HBA LGBTQ Committee inaugural happy hourIn the summer of 2019, the Houston Bar Association announced the creation of the LGBTQ+ Committee, the first of its kind in Houston, as part of HBA president Benny Agosto’s promotion of diversity and inclusion as cornerstones of the 2019–2020 bar year. Working in cooperation with the Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston, the LGBTQ+ Committee seeks to improve and enrich the practice of law in Houston and surrounding areas by providing resources and support to LGBTQ+ attorneys, law students, and allies.

The Committee kicked off the bar year with an inaugural happy hour in October to formally introduce the Committee, provide networking opportunities, and discuss the Committee’s plans for the year. More than 100 guests including judges and elected officials were in attendance. Building on its successful happy hour, the Committee hosted an event with students at Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and received significant support from its students to revive the school’s OUTlaw organization that had gone inactive in recent years.

While the initial networking events and happy hours were a success and helped to get the word out, the LGBTQ+ Committee’s goals lie well beyond social events.  In the beginning of 2020, the Committee kicked off its Coaching Circles program designed to foster community among LGBTQ+ attorneys and their allies. By forming small groups composed of practitioners with different levels of experience, the program creates a safe space to discuss LGBTQ+-specific issues in a small-group setting. The initial launch was a speed networking event that provided an opportunity for those interested in participating to meet. The attendees also heard from Rosa Maria Villagomez of Mountaintop Consulting, who gave a presentation on personal branding and building an elevator speech. The next step of the Coaching Circles program will be a match event in which participants will have an opportunity to meet their fellow small-group members.

Beyond programming catered to the legal community, the LGBTQ+ Committee also provides opportunities to connect through collaboration with other area LGBTQ+ organizations. An idea three years in the making, on March 11, the Committee, in partnership with the HBA CLE Committee, HBA Gender Fairness Committee, and the Montrose Center, organized a free legal symposium for staff of local LGBTQ+ organizations. During the day-long symposium, top legal minds and activists presented to over 120 attendees in the areas of renter’s rights, employment, hate crimes, and immigration law, as well as other topics of particular importance to the LGBTQ+ community. The symposium also included a presentation from former Houston Mayor and President & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Annise Parker.

At less than a year old, the HBA LGBTQ+ Committee has already found success in leading positive change in the community. However, this is only the beginning, and the Committee has plans for even more in the future. For more information, or to stay informed on the Committee’s upcoming events and programming, visit hba.org/lgbtq.

About the author: Heath DeJean is a founding member of the HBA LGBTQ+ Committee and serves as a member of the editorial board of The Houston Lawyer. He is a corporate associate at Thompson & Knight LLP.

Posted on: Jun 18, 2020

The Rev. Jack Yates and members of the community in an early celebration of Juneteenth in Emancipation Park.By June 19, 1865, the Civil War was over. Lincoln had been assassinated. Texas had surrendered to Union troops weeks before. A Union General, from army headquarters in Galveston, in a building on the Strand, issued General Order No. 3. It proclaimed “in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

Few words in American history have thundered more loudly across time and our land. Thunderbolts of freedom reached thousands of enslaved Americans who were now free to leave the plantations that had been their prisons.

They were called “freedmen.” Many traveled along the old San Felipe Road, or across other paths and roads, to resettle in Houston, at a place called “Freedmen’s Town.” The freedmen built new lives for their families. Many found work as blacksmiths, barbers, cobblers, and tailors, among other crafts. One of them, Jack Yates, became a preacher. The freedmen built a new church, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first of its kind in the city. They also endured countless acts of discrimination and abuse.

They knew what freedom meant — for them and for their descendants. On June 19 of 1866, the first anniversary of Emancipation Day (as it was known then), the Houston freedmen, showing unimaginable powers of forgiveness and love, gave a banquet and invited all of their former owners as guests of honor.

Remember the freedmen.

Annual celebrations of this day continued. In 1872, this same community founded the oldest park in Texas, called Emancipation Park, so that there would be a special place to remember Juneteenth. Every year, the community celebrated that special day. Over time, Juneteenth became a state holiday, a national celebration.

Remember the freedmen.

The struggle for freedom, equality, and economic opportunity continues to this day. We have work to do — to heal hurt, bridge economic and social chasms, make justice a reality for all, to lift all communities, raise all children. With our future labors in mind, let us pause today to celebrate that special day, Juneteenth.

And remember the freedmen.

Bill Kroger
President, Houston Bar Association

Photo caption: The Rev. Jack Yates and members of the community in an early celebration of Juneteenth in Emancipation Park. Photo: Houston Metropolitan Research Center.

Posted on: May 31, 2020

The Houston Bar Association has launched its monthly online Houston Bar Bulletin to serve members with timely, interactive communication about events and activities, CLE, sections, networking, professional development, volunteer opportunities, and other member benefits.

You will receive an email each month giving you a direct link to the newsletter. The Houston Bar Bulletin also will be posted on the homepage of the HBA website, and you can read the newsletter on your desktop or mobile devices.

Click here or below to read the June 2020 issue.

 

 

You will be able to print the Houston Bar Bulletin on your office or home printer, if you prefer a paper copy.

To zoom in on a page in the electronic reader, click on the magnifying glass icon in the toolbar above the page, or double-click anywhere on the page and use the + and – buttons in the bottom left corner to adjust zoom.

Members will still receive the e-Bulletin every Monday; the CLE Update every Wednesday; the bimonthly print magazine, The Houston Lawyer; and special emails highlighting upcoming events or important information. The monthly online Houston Bar Bulletin will join that lineup to give you more in-depth information on HBA activities for the coming month, as well as photos and recaps of events.

If you have questions about the Houston Bar Bulletin, please contact Associate Executive Director Tara Shockley, taras@hba.org, or Web Manager Carly Wood, carlyw@hba.org, or call (713) 759-1133. The deadline to submit information for next month’s Bulletin is Monday, June 22.

Posted on: May 18, 2020

In response to the community need for legal information and resources, the Houston Bar Association (HBA) is unveiling a new, virtual LegalLine process to replace its semimonthly call-in program. Members of the public with legal questions can sign up online to have a lawyer call back with advice and additional resources to help resolve their legal issues. 

For free legal advice over the phone, please click here or visit hba.org to select an available time slot, then click the “Submit and Sign Up” button to complete the registration process. Sign-ups close the day before each LegalLine date and limited slots are available.

LegalLine Dates in 2020:

  • July 1
  • July 15
  • August 5
  • August 19
  • September 2
  • September 16
  • October 7
  • October 21
  • November 4
  • November 18
  • December 2

The HBA serves the community by making legal resources available and easily accessible. This new LegalLine intake sign-up makes it easy for participants to get the information they need while HBA staff and local attorneys continue to work remotely due to the new coronavirus.

For more information, please call (713) 759-1133 or visit HBA.org.

Posted on: May 16, 2020

To the family and friends of George Floyd, and to all members of the Houston Bar Association:

On behalf of the Houston Bar Association, I write to express our sincere condolences for the loss of Houstonian George Floyd. His recent death in Minneapolis while in police custody was tragic and senseless. We join the demand for a full investigation and for those responsible to be appropriately brought to justice.

This tragedy underscores the alarming prevalence of similar incidents across our country — unnecessary deaths at the hands of law enforcement or because of intolerance and hate. We support all Houstonians expressing grief and outrage for the needless deaths of George Floyd and others. We encourage everyone to come together as Houstonians and be there for each other, as we have done in other tragedies and crises affecting our city.

The Houston Bar Association, with nearly 11,000 lawyers, wants to lead and listen. We are fully committed to a criminal justice system that is just and fair, with support and trust from our diverse citizenry and law enforcement officials. We believe that all lawyers, as licensed officers of the court, have a responsibility to be engaged in the critically important issues confronting their communities, particularly those that involve the rule of law.

To that end, the Houston Bar Association will provide significant focus immediately and throughout this bar year to studying our system of justice in Harris County and facilitating meaningful dialogue about issues such as institutional racism, implicit bias and justice reform. We hope that, together, we can identify changes that could reduce the risk that tragedies like the death of George Floyd take place here. By doing so, our actions will honor the memory of Mr. Floyd and help make our city a kinder, safer place for all.

With our profound sorrow and sympathies, and with resolve to do our part to eliminate injustice,

Bill Kroger
President, Houston Bar Association

 

The May-June 2018 issue of The Houston Lawyer featured articles on law enforcement and justice. Please click here to read that issue.

Posted on: May 15, 2020

The Harris County District Courts COVID Response Judicial Task Force recently conducted a poll to learn local attorneys’ opinions on in-person proceedings. The questionnaire closed on May 22 with more than 3,100 responses.

“These responses have provided valuable insight to the COVID Response Judicial Task Force,” said Harris County District Courts Administrative Judge Robert Schaffer. “We are pleased that Harris County attorneys are largely supportive of the measures the judiciary is already considering for resuming in-person proceedings.”

Click here to view infographics compiling the results of the survey, organized by court type.

Posted on: May 13, 2020

Click here for COVID-19-related news and resources.

Posted on: May 13, 2020

Photo of Bill Kroger with trees in the backgroundBill Kroger of Baker Botts L.L.P. took office as 2020-2021 HBA President on May 12, succeeding Benny Agosto Jr. of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner. With nearly 11,000 members, the HBA is the one of the largest metropolitan bar associations in the nation and is celebrating its 150th Anniversary in 2020.

Other new officers are Jennifer A. Hasley of Hasley Scarano, L.L.P., president-elect; David Harrell of Locke Lord LLP, first vice president; Diana Gomez of Chamberlain Hrdlicka, second vice president; Chris Popov of Vinson & Elkins LLP, treasurer; and Daniella D. Landers of Reed Smith LLP, secretary. Directors are Collin Cox of Yetter Coleman LLP; Hon. Erin Lunceford of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP; Pamela Medina of Cadence Bank; Greg Moore of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP; Robert Painter of Painter Law Firm PLLC; Colin Pogge of Gibbs & Bruns LLP; Mitch Reid of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP; and Greg Ulmer of BakerHostetler LLP. Agosto will serve on the board as immediate past president.

Kroger’s goals for the coming bar year include forging strategic partnerships to help Houston recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, providing enhanced HBA services as members meet new challenges in the practice of law, and increasing pro bono service to meet the legal needs of low-income Houstonians struggling with unemployment and other issues related to the pandemic.

Kroger in front of a bookshelf

Kroger has practiced law at Baker Botts during his entire 31-year legal career. As chair of Baker Botts’ Energy Litigation Practice Group for over a decade, Kroger has represented the oil and gas, power, renewable and real estate industries on many significant matters. He was recognized by The National Law Journal as an “Energy Trailblazer” in 2015. The Texas Lawyer selected his practice group as the “Energy Litigation Department of the Year” in both 2016 and 2017. Legal 500 US ranked the group as Tier 1 in Oil & Gas Litigation from 2010 through 2019, and Chambers ranked both Kroger and his Energy Litigation Group as Band 1, National, for oil and gas litigation. 

An active figure in the legal and local Houston community for years, Kroger is the 2020 Recipient of the Karen H. Susman Jurisprudence Award, given annually to an outstanding member of the legal community who exhibits an exceptional commitment to equality, justice, fairness, and community service. In 2017, he was elected by his peers to the American Law Institute. In 2015, Kroger received the Leon Jaworski Award from the HBA Auxiliary for a lifetime of public service. He has served on the boards of Communities in Schools Houston, The Alley Theatre, the Houston Bar Foundation, and the State Bar of Texas, among other organizations.

Bill and Elizabeth KrogerBill, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Caroline Kroger

Kroger earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas. He earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Kroger grew up in Houston, working in his parent’s music company, Parker Music, and attending Memorial High School, where his children also attended. 

Kroger is married to Elizabeth Mata Kroger, a lawyer with Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom’s labor and employment law section. They have three children: Ben (age 25, second year at Southwestern Medical School), Rebecca (age 21, incoming senior at Trinity University), and Caroline (age 18, incoming sophomore at Carnegie Mellon). 

Pictured left: Elizabeth and Bill Kroger. Pictured right: Elizabeth, Caroline, Rebecca and Bill, holding family pets Arwen, Starbuck and Gandalf; Not pictured is son Ben, who is attending Southwestern Medical School.

Read The Texas Lawbook's profile on Bill Kroger, "New HBA Prez Bill Kroger Talks Billy Gibbons, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Yellow Fever and ‘Monumental Challenges,’" online or on PDF.

 

HBA 150th Anniversary Logo
 

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