Volunteer Legal Services’ CLEs

Upcoming CLEs & Attorney Events 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017 – Disability Rights Texas
Sign-up here

On Tuesday, February 21st at 1:00 pm, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas will be sponsoring a two hour ethics CLE on representing clients with mental illness at Disability Rights Texas, 2222 W. Braker Lane, Austin.  A panel of experts with extensive experience in advocating for and representing persons with mental illness will be addressing  the following issues:

  • Inquiring about mental illness and its symptoms in a respectful and effective way;
  • Strategies for communicating with clients diagnosed with mental illness;
  • Strategies for avoiding conflicts and establishing rapport with these clients;
  • Explaining process and legal issues in an effective way;
  • Keeping cool and staying grounded when dealing with a highly aggressive client;
  • How to deal with clients who are expressing suicidal thoughts and ideation, especially when our organization cannot provide services to them for whatever reason;
  • What is the best approach in deescalating an aggressive client with mental illness without provoking further aggressive behavior; and
  • Local resources that clients could be referred to.

The members of the panel are:

Cindy Gibson

Disability Rights Texas, Institutional Rights and Civil Liberties Team Advocate Supervisor

Cindy has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1985, when she moved from San Antonio to attend the University of Texas. Cindy has spent her career utilizing her experience and insight as a mental health consumer to advocate for improved treatment and civil rights protection for Texans diagnosed or labeled with mental illness.  She was the first executive director of Texas Mental Health Consumers, a statewide mental health advocacy organization rum by and for individuals with mental illness. She also worked for 18 years at Texas MHMR and the Department of State Health Services  in various positions, including Consumer Services and Rights Protection and Special Assistant to the Medical Director. She additionally served for 5 years as the HIPAA Privacy Officer for the Department of State Health Services.


Lisa Snead

Disability Rights Texas, Supervising Attorney

Lisa graduated with a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, cum laude (2006), and from the

UT School of Law, magna cum laude (2009) where she was accepted into the Order of the Coif. In 2009, Lisa received a two year Skadden Foundation Fellowship to begin working with domestic violence survivors with disabilities at DRTx. After her grant ended in 2011, she began working with individuals in the State Supported Living Centers and State Hospitals, working with clients on community integration and investigating rights violations, abuse, and neglect. In 2014, she became an advocate supervisor for the Institutional Rights and Civil Liberties Team, supervising advocates working in the SSLCs and State Hospitals. In addition to her role as Advocate Supervisor, she serves as one of the team attorneys and manages her own active case load.


Beth Mitchell

Disability Rights Texas, Managing Attorney

Beth Mitchell received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1991.  Since that time Ms. Mitchell has been employed with Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), the non-profit federally authorized Protection and Advocacy agency for Texas that protects and advocates on behalf of persons with disabilities.  Beth is responsible for directly managing and supervising DRTx’s Institutional Rights and Civil Liberties issue team.   Initially her work primarily focused on representing individuals with mental illness in obtaining community services and advocating for their rights while in mental health, juvenile justice, and jail/prison facilities through system change, impact litigation, administrative proceedings, policy/rule making, and educating lawmakers during the legislative session. Recently, Beth has been leading DRTX’s efforts to respond to rights violations at Texas State Supported Living Centers.

This event will be a panel discussion. Audience participation is encouraged.
Open to VLS volunteers only, free of charge. RSVP here or contact Diana Villegas via dvillegas@vlsoct.org or 512-640-7739.



Friday, February 24, 2017 – Norton Rose Fulbright

Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas (VLS) will host a Basic Litigation Skills Seminar sponsored by Slack and Davis and Norton Rose Fulbright.  This training offers 3.75 hours of CLE including 1 hour of ethics CLE, and provides attorneys the tools needed to effectively litigate a case.

The training is free to any attorney who agrees to take two general law cases in 2017. The seminar is from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be held at the Norton Rose Fulbright Austin office, 98 San Jacinto Boulevard, Suite 1100, Austin, Texas.

8:30 a.m. Pro Bono Representation and VLS Procedures

Presenter: Priscilla Cortez, Executive Director, VLS

CLE credit: 20 minutes CLE ethics credit (20 minutes of ethics)


8:50 a.m. Getting Started (Case evaluation; pre-litigation investigation; what, where and            when to file; when to send out discovery; and when and how to begin trial     preparation)

                Presenter: Paula Knippa, Slack & Davis, LLP

                CLE credit: 40 minutes (10 minutes of ethics)


9:30 a.m.  How to Survive the Travis County Central Docket System and Live to

Litigate Another Day

                 Presenter: Warren Vavra, Civil Court Administrator for Travis County, Texas

CLE credit: 50 minutes


10:20 a.m. BREAK


10:30 a.m.   Trial Preparation (Witness preparation; trial notebooks; subpoenas; pretrial motions;

introducing evidence at trial; cross-examination; jury charge)

                     Presenter: Mike Davis, Slack & Davis, LLP

                     CLE credit: 60 minutes


11:30 a.m.  View from the Bench

Presenter:  Hon. Eric Shepperd, County Court at Law #2 Travis County

CLE credit:  60 minutes (30 minutes of ethics regarding professional responsibility.)


Street and paid parking only. There is no complimentary parking.

We hope you will be able to attend.  If you have any questions about the seminar or VLS, please call Anna K. Meyers, Seminar Coordinator, at 512-640-7745 or akmeyers@vlsoct.org.

If you would like to take 2 pro bono cases through VLS and attend the Basic Litigation Skills Seminar free of charge, please click here.

To reach the regular sign-up for attorneys ($145) please click here.