I have been practicing law for over 25 years. I received my bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Trinity University in San Antonio and my law degree, summa cum laude, from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After serving a year as a briefing attorney to the state’s highest court, I worked as a litigation associate in a small personal injury law firm in Houston.
In 1990, I moved with my family to Austin. Working part-time as a staff attorney at Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) gave me the ability to have lots of time with my children while they were growing up. When my youngest child entered high school, I transitioned to a full-time legal practice at Texas Legal Services Center. Working in a legal aid organization allowed me to hear firsthand the stories of thousands of Texas consumers who are struggling everyday to make ends meet. In 2005, I had the unique opportunity to work with consumers who were plagued by a crime that had received little attention: identity theft. At that time, there were few resources available to identity theft victims and few lawyers with experience helping identity theft victims. While serving as the managing attorney for TLSC’s identity theft project, I learned about the federal and state laws that can be used by victims to recover from the crime and helped develop a victim’s toolkit. I also represented identity theft victims in court. In several instances, I was the first lawyer to appear in a court on behalf of an identity theft victim.
Under my leadership, TLSC expanded its services to crime victims to include helping victims of violent crime understand the criminal justice system, going to court with victims, representing victims who had been sued as a result of the crime, and helping victims locate the resources available to help them recover. I have successfully represented crime victims in both state and appellate courts. TLSC also gave me the opportunity to work with self-represented litigants, that is, people who were turned down for free legal assistance and who were unable to find an attorney that they could afford. TLSC’s self-help resources are accessed through a website, www.TexasLawHelp.org. Under my leadership, we instituted some groundbreaking services for self-represented litigants. We helped install computer stations, called kiosks, in law libraries and courthouses so that people without computers could use www.TexasLawHelp.org. We sent materials and offered training to public libraries and law libraries throughout the state so that more people could find and use the website. And, we hired at trained attorneys to give legal information and answer quick legal questions through a chat service called LiveHelp.
The legal system should be open to everyone; however, maintaining a law practice is very expensive, and those costs get passed along to clients. Individuals and small businesses often find that legal fees are too high for them to afford. My aim is to keep overhead low so that I can pass cost savings along to my clients. Consequently, my service delivery structure is different from traditional law offices in many ways. I have learned to serve clients with minimal need for face-to-face meetings. I offer limited scope services. Having an attorney handle every aspect of an issue is expensive. Many people are capable of handling their legal issues if they have access to legal advice and legal documents. By unbundling and limiting the scope of attorney representation, clients are able to target legal services to their individual needs and pocketbooks.
Licensed since 1986
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|TX||Eligible To Practice In Texas||1986||08/25/2015|
|Award Name||Grantor||Date Granted|
|Advocate of the Year (SALSA Program)||Texas Association Against Sexual Assault||2012|
|Pro Bono Award||Houston Bar Foundation||1990|
|Attorney||Law Office of Paula Pierce||2013 - Present|
|Manager of Hotline Programs||Texas Legal Services Center||2001 - Present|
|Association Name||Position Name||Duration|
|American Inns of Court||Member - Calvert Inn||2014 - Present|
|American Bar Association||Member||N/A|
|Austin Bar Association||Member||N/A|
|State Bar of Texas||Member||N/A|
|South Texas College of Law||Doctor of Jurisprudence/Juris Doctor (J.D.)||N/A||1986|
|Advanced Consumer and Commercial Law||Legislative Update||2013|
|Texas Summit on Elder Exploitation||Resources for Victims of Financial Exploitation||2012|
|Senior Exploitation Conference||Credit Identity Theft||2012|
|Center for Elder Rights Advocacy webinar||Interactive Issues in Hotline Ethics||2012|