State Bar of Texas
June 8, 2010

Contact: Kim Davey,, 800.204.2222 x 1713 or 512.427.1713

Houston Individuals and Organizations Honored by State Bar of Texas

FORT WORTH – 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 10-11 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

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

Wafa Abdin of Catholic Charities, J. Chrys Dougherty Legal Services Award, presented by the State Bar Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee. This award honors an outstanding legal services staff attorney and is named for J. Chrys Dougherty, who helped build a strong working partnership between the State Bar of Texas and legal services providers. As legal director, Abdin's vision and leadership has not only allowed the Cabrini Center to grow and serve more clients, it has also saved lives and impacted countless families seeking assistance in matters regarding immigration. Under her tenure, the Center's funding has increased from an annual budget of $450,000 to over $1 million, which has allowed the Cabrini Center to expand its services to representing all of the detained unaccompanied minors housed in the Greater Houston area, vulnerable populations of asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking and domestic violence, and family based immigration. Last year, the Cabrini Center provided outreach presentations to over 8,892 immigrants. Abdin is an exceptional advocate and trailblazer in the immigration community in the Houston area.

Marathon Oil Joe Simmons Legal Pro Bono Program, W. Frank Newton Award, presented by the State Bar Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee. This award honors pro bono attorney groups and is named for W. Frank Newton, former dean of Texas Tech University School of Law and long time pro bono advocate. The Marathon Law Organization established the company-wide Joe Simmons Legal Pro Bono Program, named after Joe Simmons, a passionate supporter of pro bono legal services for the poor. The purpose is to provide legal services to the indigent, elderly and other individuals and nonprofit organizations. The program promotes opportunities, recruits and trains lawyers to serve pro bono, staffs legal clinics and distributes cases referred by the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program. The program has provided Will-A-Thons, represented children through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases and, working with Texas C-Bar, also recruits attorneys to serve as general counsel for United Way agencies. In 2009, the second year of the program, 77 percent of Marathon attorneys and 65 percent of the staff worked more than 1,100 pro bono hours.

Jeffrey A. Stocks, Frank J. Scurlock Award, presented by the State Bar Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee. This award honors an individual attorney who has provided outstanding pro bono work, and is named for the late Frank J. Scurlock, the first chair of the Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee. Stocks is honored for his pro bono work assisting child victims of abuse, abandonment, neglect and persecution through asylum and special immigrant juvenile visas. During the last three years, Stocks has handled cases for at least nine minors, each of which required 160-240 hours of legal work. He appears at every court hearing, and makes it a priority to communicate with each child to ensure that they are informed, participate in decisions, and feel secure that they have an attorney who is actively advocating for them, and serving as a mentor.

Lillian Hardwick, Certificate of Merit, presented by the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors and past presidents for outstanding contributions to the legal profession. Nominated by the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Committee, Hardwick labored unceasingly to complete the drafting of new rules and comments for the Texas Supreme Court, and is honored for her leadership, insights and expertise.

Erin O'Driscoll, the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) President's Award. As a co-chair of the Family Law-Seniors and Children's Rights Committee, O'Driscoll coordinated and conducted several rollouts of "Healing the Wounds" at women's shelters around Houston and assisted in developing "Loves Me, Loves Me Not: A Handbook on Teen Dating Violence." As a member of the Community Education and Consumer Affairs Committee, she coordinated with Urban Business Initiative and North Pasadena Community Outreach to prepare a presentation on small business issues, supplementing her efforts on TYLA's new publication, "Small Business Toolkit." She revised and updated TYLA's "Legal Guide for Cancer Patients" and participated in a number of events in Houston where the Guide was featured, including one at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She was a member of the Cyber Crimes Committee that produced the award-winning project, "R U Safe? Protecting Yourself in Cyberspace" and organized several rollouts for Houston-area schools. O'Driscoll also serves as a director for the Houston Young Lawyers Association (HYLA) and as a Trustee for the Houston Young Lawyers Foundation Board.

Celina Lopez, TYLA President's Award of Merit, presented by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Hon. P. Keith Ellison, Samuel Pessarra Outstanding Jurist Award, presented by the Texas Bar Foundation. This award honors an active Federal or State Judge who exhibits an exceptionally outstanding reputation for competency, efficiency and integrity.

Paul N. Gold, Dan Rugeley Price Award, presented by the Texas Bar Foundation. This award honors an attorney who serves the profession as a volunteer and legal scholar while also actively practicing law, and who exhibits dedication to service to the public and to the Bar.

John J. "Mike" McKetta III, Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award, presented by the Texas Bar Foundation.

Blake Tartt, Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer Award, 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.

Dr. Jennifer West and Dr. Naomi Halas of Rice University, Texas Outstanding Inventor of the Year, presented by the Intellectual Property Law Section to recognize an inventor whose inventions have made a significant impact on the Texas economy.

Hon. Lester G. Rorick of Pasadena, Michael L. O'Neal Outstanding Jurist Gavel Award, presented by the Municipal Judges Section.

Annette M. Lamoreaux, Impact Award, presented by the Poverty Law Section. This award honors Texas attorneys or poverty law professionals for significant legal relief which had a broad impact on the lives of poor people in Texas by protecting, promoting, expanding, or vindicating their legal rights.

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.