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State Bar of Texas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2009

Contact: Kim Davey, kdavey@texasbar.com, 800.204.2222 x 1713 or 512.427.1713

Houston Individuals and Organizations Honored by State Bar of Texas

DALLAS – Presentation of awards honoring exceptional service to the public and the legal profession will be a highlight of the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, to be held June 25-26 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

The following Houston area individuals and organizations are among those being honored:

Debbie Bullion of Sugar Land, Outstanding Third-Year Director and a Presidential Citation for outstanding leadership through the regular session of the 81st Texas Legislature, and for her commitment to the State Bar of Texas and its ideals.

HBA Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, Pro Bono Award, presented by the State Bar Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee. HVLP's mission is to provide pro bono legal services to indigent and low-income people in Harris County and to promote volunteerism within the legal community. The organization is being honored for a Crisis Response Team for Hurricane Ike; "A Day of Giving" project that involved 10 simultaneous legal advice clinics in diverse locations throughout Harris County; expansion of services to Houston-area veterans through the HBA's Veterans' Legal Initiative; enhanced collaboration with other area legal service providers, such as Houston's Catholic Charities, Texas C-Bar and the Southeast Texas Legal Clinic; and increased outreach to Houston's Asian community through its monthly Will and Legal Clinics.

Wendy Miller, Judge Sam Williams Leadership Award. Miller is being honored for her leadership through the Houston Young Lawyers Association and the creation of projects including "Big For a Day" to benefit Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Houston, serving at-risk children with one or more incarcerated parent, law-related education programs for Houston youth, and citizenship workshops to assist hundreds of immigrants annually. She volunteers to represent unaccompanied minors seeking immigration through the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation project, and represents children in difficult custody cases through AdvoCourt for Kids.

Travis J. Sales, Presidents' Award, presented by the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors and past presidents for outstanding contributions to the legal profession. Sales is being honored for exemplary leadership in the provision of legal services and other relief to those affected by Hurricane Ike, and for establishing new programs to provide legal services to veterans that will serve as models for current and future efforts throughout the state.

Vinson & Elkins LLP Veterans' Initiative, W. Frank Newton Award. V&E has assisted veterans with matters ranging from improper denial of benefits and efforts to take unfair financial advantage of deployed personnel, to defending military men and women in custody battles, evictions, and even in military proceedings. To ensure that its legal services for this project are going to those who have the strongest and most urgent needs, V&E has partnered with the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other groups.

The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) will honor the following:

Kirsten Barron Cohoon, TYLA President's Award of Merit for serving as Executive Committee advisor to "Vote America! Honor the Fight, Exercise Your Right" and the Law Focused Education Committee. Cohoon also served as TYLA vice president.

Geoff Gannaway, TYLA President's Award of Merit for revising the Tenants' Rights Handbook, one of the most requested State Bar of Texas public service publications.

Connie Pfeiffer, TYLA President's Award of Merit for her work on the "Vote America!" project, and for serving as co-chair of the State Moot Court Committee.

Professor Joseph A. Vail, TYLA Outstanding Mentor Award, presented posthumously. Vail founded the University of Houston Law Center's Immigration Law Clinic in 1999. He served as an immigration judge, ran a solo immigration law practice, provided legal assistance to immigrant advocacy groups, and was a volunteer with AmeriCorps VISTA. He is a former recipient of the State Bar of Texas Pro Bono Award, the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award, and the National Immigration Project Carol King Award.

Additional awards to be presented include:

Micaela Natalie Alfaro, University of Houston Law Center, Intellectual Property Law Section's Women & Minority Scholarship Award.

James E. Brill, Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer, presented by the Texas Bar Foundation. This award recognizes attorneys whose practice spans 50 years or more, and who adhere to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and service to the public.

David Dow, Civil Rights Award, presented by the Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section for superior contributions in defending Texans' civil rights and civil liberties. Dow, director of the Texas Innocence Network and law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, has provided appellate representation to more than 100 Texans on death row.

Edward K. Fein, Intellectual Property Law Section Chair's Award. Fein is Intellectual Property Counsel of the Johnson Space Center and is being honored for his many contributions to the IP Law Section and the Bar.

Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer, presented by the Texas Bar Foundation. This award recognizes attorneys whose practice spans 50 years or more, and who adhere to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and service to the public.

Judge Steve Kirkland, Judge Norman W. Black Award, presented by the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identification Issues Section. LaTasha Mabry, University of Houston Law Center, Intellectual Property Law Section's Women & Minority Scholarship Award.

Judge Robert "Bob" Richter of Missouri City, Michael L. O'Neal Outstanding Jurist Gavel Award, presented by the Municipal Judges Section.

Sue Sere, Impact Award in Poverty Law.

Jacques Tabanou of Sugar Land, Inventor of the Year, presented posthumously by the Intellectual Property Law Section.

The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system.

Media Note: Photos are available on request for most award winners.

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