Partner in Charge, Houston Office
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan
Rachel Clingman has two good reasons for the volunteer work she has done on behalf of underserved children in Houston: her own children. Motherhood, she says, “changes your view of the world forever.”
In 2006, she co-founded the law advisory board for the Children at Risk Public Policy and Law Center, a Houston nonprofit dedicated to helping the city’s underserved children through legal and policy research and advocacy.
“There are lots of agencies that benefit children, but not many have a legal component that can file litigation or compel disclosure,” says Clingman. For example, the board could give legal advice to school boards, compel production of drop-out rates from a specific school or lend a hand to another nonprofit organization that lacked its own legal resources.
The law advisory board’s first official goal was to get one bill passed in the Texas Legislature to benefit children, Clingman says, but it ended up doing better than that, drafting and supporting seven successful bills.
Another notable aspect of the board is its annual legislative training program for its lawyer-volunteers, she says, which helps teach them the steps behind drafting and promoting legislation — skills Clingman says the average lawyer doesn’t always have.
Clingman, a 1992 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, also is involved in efforts to increase diversity within her field, the energy and environmental sector, through the Women’s Energy Network in Houston. Clingman is especially proud of the group’s Young Women Energized program, which she helped launch in 2004 while she was serving as president of the network. The annual event brings together high school juniors and seniors drawn from a variety of community sectors, including foster care and group homes, and introduces them to career opportunities in the energy industry and to successful women in the field.
No doubt the young women would be inspired by meeting Clingman: In addition to her complex litigation practice and impressive client list, she’s the partner in charge of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan’s 30-lawyer Houston office and is the youngest member of the firm’s executive committee.
Clingman also worked pro bono to gain the release of client Salim Muhood Adem, a Sudanese citizen and Guantanamo Bay detainee. Among other things, Clingman and Houston lawyer Murray Fogler filed a habeas petition and prepared a written submission on Adem’s behalf to an Administrative Review Board. The board determined Adem was not a security risk to the United States and designated him eligible for transfer to his home country. On Dec. 12, 2007, Adem was placed on a cargo plane and flown back to Sudan.
“Dust does not settle on her,” says firm partner Steven Roberts. “She has come very far, very quickly. And she’s not resting.”