Good Friday is a county holiday in Harris County. In observance of the holiday, county offices, including the Harris County Law Library, will be closed on Friday, April 19. Find more information about countywide holidays on the Harris County website.
National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) publishes a series of legal treatises designed to address and explain consumer law issues. Their target audience are those who have limited income and limited access to justice. The treatises cover areas of consumer concerns, such as debtor rights, mortgages and foreclosures, credit and banking, deception and warranties, and consumer litigation. As part of its consumer credit and sales legal practice series, NCLC has published Mortgage Servicing and Loan Modifications. Originally part of NCLC’s Foreclosures and Mortgage Servicing*, this book has expanded coverage of the business of mortgage servicing as well as mortgage loss mitigation alternatives for borrowers who are having difficulty making their payments. The treatise begins with an introduction to the mortgage market and the entities involved in the mortgage process, including mortgage servicers, before moving on to a discussion of common mortgage servicing problems and servicing requirements and claims under federal and state law. The next section of the treatise focuses upon loss mitigation and loan modifications. In this section, the reader will find a discussion of loss mitigation options for various types of loans and the result of failing to handle such loss mitigation properly. Lastly, the authors address considerations attendant to litigating mortgage servicing claims.
Another new treatise from NCLC is Home Foreclosures, and it features a lot of the same material originally found in Foreclosures and Mortgage Servicing but with more in-depth discussion. From analyzing and defending a foreclosure case to handling issues arising from a foreclosure sale, the authors provide readers with practical information regarding this challenging and stressful process. The authors address the foreclosure of traditional homes as well as manufactured homes and condominiums as well as foreclosures involving Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, government-insured loans and mortgages, and reverse mortgages. Foreclosures comprise an area that is a target for deceptive practices, and in this regard, the authors include an explanation of foreclosure rescue and loan modification scams, steps to fight these scams, and legal theories that can be used to attack such scams. In the appendices, you can find pertinent state and federal statutes.
Visit the Law Library to have a look at these and other volumes in our NCLC collection. These resources can also be accessed via the NCLC databases available on our Law Library research computers.
The Harris County Law Library is excited to announce a significant investment in new and improved technology — a 70 inch, wall-mounted digital monitor — for our Legal Tech Lab, the home of the Law Library’s Legal Tech Institute Hands-On Legal Tech Training program.
The Lab is fully integrated into the Law Library's research space and provides the perfect setting for participants to learn the tech skills they need to get legal work done at the Law Library and downtown courthouse complex. With seating for nine, the Lab also provides opportunity for participants and instructors to interact closely, ensuring individualized attention. Now, with last week’s installation of an impressive and much improved display screen, the Legal Tech Lab is even better equipped to offer legal tech training to attorneys, self-represented litigants, and members of the general public.
Consult our 2019 Course Catalog to find out which classes might interest you. Then, register online for the course of your choice, or drop in any Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm at the Harris County Law Library Legal Tech Lab. Texas attorneys will earn one free hour of CLE credit for each hour of class attended.
We were pleased to welcome Dr. Jesús F. de la Teja, author, professor, and CEO of the Texas State Historical Association, and David A. Furlow, Executive Editor of the Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, at the Harris County Law Library on Friday to mark the donation of two new volumes to the law library’s special collection - The Law of Coahuila and Texas, or La Ley de Coahuila y Texas.
Photo from left: Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Dr. Magdalena de la Teja, Dr. Jesús F. de la Teja, David A. Furlow, Law Library Director Mariann Sears, Law Library Deputy Director Joseph D. Lawson
Actas del Congreso Constituyente de Coahuila y Texas de 1824 a 1827
Dr. de la Teja signed the donated two-volume work entitled Actas del Congreso Constituyente de Coahuila y Texas de 1824 a 1827: Primera Constitución bilingüe, or Acts of the Constituent Congress of Coahuila and Texas, 1824–1827 : Mexico’s Only Bilingual Constitution, which he coauthored with Judge Manuel González Oropeza, former magistrate for the Federal Electoral Commission of Mexico. The work provides the text of the document and analysis of the pivotal role it played in the transition of Coahuila and Texas from joined states of Mexico to states separated by an international border. Given the content of the work, Dr. de la Teja’s inscription is apt:
For the Harris County Law Library,
With great appreciation for your efforts to preserve and promote ties with our sister republic,
/s/Jesús F. de la Teja
The Law of Coahuila and Texas, an historical resource collection
La Ley de Coahuila y Texas, una colección de recursos históricos
The two-volume set is now a part of the Law Library’s collection of materials focused on the legal history of Southeast Texas and Northeast Mexico from Spanish colonization to statehood. It includes historical volumes of texts containing some of the region’s earliest laws to modern analysis that provide context and finding aids for modern researchers. Marking the end of the collection’s chronological scope is a reproduction of Captain William Emory’s survey of the U.S.-Mexico border issued in 1859. The three-volume set contains firsthand accounts of surveyors and illustrations of the region’s topography, flora, and fauna.
Digesto Constitucional Mexicano: Historia Constitucional de la Nacion - De Aguascalientes a Zacatecas: 1824-2017
On behalf of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, Mr. Furlow also donated the scholarly treatise entitled Digesto Constitucional Mexicano: Historia Constitucional de la Nacion - De Aguascalientes a Zacatecas: 1824-2017. This work, written by Judge Manuel González Oropeza, provides extensive insight into the historical evolution of constitutional law in an area of Mexico not previously covered by the Law Library’s collection. We appreciate the donation and are thrilled to make these resources available to all at the Harris County Law Library.
Harris County Law Library Deputy Director, Joe Lawson, recently appeared on The Geek in Review podcast to talk with hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer about the kinds of services and resources the library provides on a daily basis to the residents of Harris County, most of whom are self-represented litigants.
As discussed in the podcast, “Lawson believes that there is a duty of the law library to help train lawyers, not to just be more efficient in their personal practices, but to help them have more capacity to help assist pro se litigants. Lawson’s calculation is that a 3% increase in capacity, through advancements in technology usage, could help eliminate a majority of the pro se issues in the county.”
Tune in to hear Joe share his thoughts on how the Harris County Law Library and our Hand-On Legal Tech programs in particular can help train lawyers to assist the burgeoning number of pro se litigants who are filing suit in this, the third largest county in the United States. .
Today is National Let’s Laugh Day, 24 hours dedicated to jokes, laughter, and all things funny. In honor of this silly day, which happens to fall on Tech Tuesday, we at the Harris County Law Library are turning our attention to legal humor with a tech focus. Instead of highlighting a new development or trend in technology, however, we’re calling for a moratorium on tech (just for today) with a reminder to remember a simpler time when artistry, craft, community, and tradition still mattered. Reclaim this heritage, slow your pace, and embrace your inner Luddite. Claim your title as an “artisanal lawyer” as the authors of the following articles have done.
How to Practice Artisanal Law (Big Legal Brain)
I Am an Artisanal Attorney (McSweeney’s)
In Which the Artisanal Lawyer Dismisses Google (BitterLawyer)
For further laughs, try the following, two analyses of laughter at the United States Supreme Court.
Taking Laughter Seriously at the Supreme Court (Tonja Jacobi, Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law & Matthew Sag, Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law) (2019)
Laugh Track (Jay D. Wexler, Boston University School of Law) (2005)
Happy National Let’s Laugh Day 2019!
Happy Pi Day from the Harris County Law Library.
Quick tip: shelving reporters in order of Pi makes them harder to find... we'll have them back in order by tomorrow!
On February 26, 2019, the Texas Supreme Court took an important step in the advancement of legal ethics in Texas by amending Paragraph 8 of the comment to Rule 1.01 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule, which addresses the duty of all Texas attorneys to be competent and conscientious in providing effective legal representation, now requires that practitioners also be aware of “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”
By adopting this amendment, Texas has joined 35 other states who also require a duty of technology competence for lawyers. The significance of this new development cannot be overstated. By order of the Texas Supreme Court, attorneys must become aware of, if not proficient in, using technology to best serve their clients.
If you are a Texas lawyer who needs to brush up on your tech skills and learn more about recent developments in legal tech, the Harris County Law Library can help! Our Legal Tech Institute offers a variety of learning opportunities including our popular Hands-on Legal Tech Training courses every Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm in the Law Library’s Legal Tech Lab. We also provide access to free online CLE courses via our On-Demand Learning Opportunities page.
To find out more about what the Harris County Law Library offers through our Legal Tech Institute, visit the LTI page on our website. With so many free learning opportunities at your disposal, it will be easy (and fun!) to comply with the new Texas Supreme Court requirement.
March is women’s history month and the Harris County Law Library marks this important commemoration with an exhibit celebrating the contributions of Camille Elizabeth Stanford Openshaw. Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Openshaw was the first woman to serve on the Law Library’s oversight board and helped shepherd the institution through the Great Depression. All who benefit from access to legal information at the Law Library today can thank Ms. Openshaw for doing her part to ensure access to the Law Library for all.
To learn more about Ms. Openshaw, please visit the Harris County Law Library’s downtown location, where an exhibit honoring her accomplishments will be on display throughout the month of March. An accompanying digital exhibit can be viewed on the library’s website.
Are you looking for a career change? Perhaps, you are interested in lending your expertise to a company by working as an independent contractor or consultant. You wouldn’t be alone. A good percentage of the U.S. population is self-employed, meaning that they are working as independent contractors, consultants, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. The question then becomes: where do you begin? A good starting place is Nolo’s Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Gig Workers of All Types, the newest book to join the Law Library’s Self-Help Collection.
Working for Yourself includes necessary current legal and tax basics to assist you on your road to becoming your own boss. Topics include:
choosing the type of business entity;
obtaining business licenses, employer identification numbers, and sales tax permits;
insuring your business;
pricing services and getting paid;
paying taxes and keeping track of expenses; and
preparing written client agreements.
You can also find updates and changes made to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that are beneficial to those who are self-employed. In other words, Working for Yourself has the pertinent information you need to get yourself started on the road to self-employment.
Other books by Nolo in the Law Library’s collection that you might find to be of interest include: Legal Forms for Starting and Running a Small Business and the Small Business Start-Up Kit.