No Summer Program

Dallas firm Winstead has canceled its 2009 summer associate program, firm spokeswoman Shannon Tipton confirmed on March 12. News of the firm’s decision to slash its summer program came a week after TexParte blog reported the firm had laid off some lawyers for economic reasons. Tipton declines to say when the law students were notified that they won’t have a job this summer or to say how many were supposed to clerk at the firm. She confirms the students were offered a stipend but says she cannot say if the $5,000 figure reported on the Above the Law blog is correct. In the summer of 2008, 28 2Ls worked at Winstead during the summer, and the firm made offers to 16 of them for the fall of 2009, for a 69 percent acceptance rate. [See "BigTex Firms' Acceptance Rates Consistent in '08," Texas Lawyer, Dec. 15, 2008, page 1.] Tipton says firm Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Denis Braham , a shareholder in Houston, declines comment on the cancellation of the summer program or the layoffs.

Documentary Debut

What do you aspire to do with your law degree? Make a documentary featuring your law school? Well, maybe not exactly. But Clark Lyda , a 1985 University of Texas School of Law graduate, film director and nonpracticing member of the State Bar of Texas, has relied heavily on his alma mater for his recent movie, “The Least of These.” The first screening of his documentary will be March 16 at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin. The documentary features the UT School of Law Immigration Clinic and UT School of Law professor Barbara Hines . It focuses on what Hines, the clinic’s students, the American Civil Liberties Union , and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae lawyers did to expose conditions and seek changes for immigrant detainees being held at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas. In August 2007, Hines and the other lawyers representing detained children reached a settlement with the federal government to improve the conditions at Hutto, according to Hines; that settlement agreement expires August 2009. Hines says no plans are being made to renegotiate; rather, “we are focusing on legislative advocacy.” With the new administration in the White House, Hines says, she hopes that improvements will be made for immigrant detainees’ conditions as a matter of policy. She says her role in the filmmaking was simply as an interviewee. She appears throughout the movie and was interviewed three times. She also traveled with the film crew to Canada to meet with a former detainee. As far as the law-grad-turned-filmmaker is concerned, his new vocation works. “It’s been a really rewarding experience,” Lyda says about his movie.

The Tipping Point

Call us clairvoyant, but when we called Len Wade to ask why he stepped down from the 141st District Court bench in Tarrant County in mid-February and officially joined Kelly Hart & Hallman as a partner this week, we had a good guess why. Unlike other major urban counties in Texas that are undergoing demographic shifts that are changing them from Republican red to Democratic blue (see Dallas and Harris counties), Tarrant County is not one of them. Wade, a Republican, had a safe seat that he could have kept as long as he wanted. He had been on the bench for more than six years. So did he have a child who was either in or headed to college? That’s often the tipping point for judges who leave the bench and their $125,000 salaries behind. Sure enough. “I have one son in college and two more that will be there relatively soon,” Wade says. “And we just felt like as a family we needed to make the change.” The judiciary’s loss is Kelly Hart’s gain. Wade will join the firm’s litigation and appellate practice groups and will also provide mediation and arbitration services.