Clinical Faculty

Civil Practice | Consumer Law | Criminal Defense | Entrepreneurship & Community Development | Immigration | Mediation

Civil Practice Clinic
JANET HEPPARD

Janet Heppard
Director, Clinical Legal Education Program
Director, Civil Practice Clinic
Associate Professor of Clinical Practice
jheppard@central.uh.edu

J.D./M.B.A., University of Houston
B.A., Wright State University

Janet Heppard is the Law Center Clinic Director, Director of the Civil Practice Clinic, and Associate Clinical Professor working with Professor McManus in the Civil Practice Clinic. She received her undergraduate degree in Geology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and worked as a geophysicist for 8 years before returning to the University of Houston where she earned a joint JD/MBA degree. 

Professor Heppard began working in the Civil Clinic in 1995 and became the Law Center Clinic Director in 2008. She received the Longevity of Exemplary Service to the Houston Bar Association Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program from the Houston Bar Foundation, an Award of Merit from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for her work on Hague Convention Cases, and the Lonestar Legal Aid "Most Litigated Pro Bono Cases" Award in 2015. In addition to her work in the clinic, Professor Heppard has also taught doctrinal courses in Domestic Violence and Immigration and Family Law. Professor Heppard has also been a speaker on issues in family law, guardianship, and law practice at local, state, and national conferences.

Diane M. McManus
Clinical Supervising Attorney, Civil Practice Clinic
dmmcmanu@central.uh.edu

J.D., University of Houston
M.A., Michigan State University
B.A., University of Maine

Diane McManus is a Clinical Supervising Attorney in the Civil Practice Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center. She received a B.A. in Comparative Literature the University of Maine, a M.A. in English Language Literature from Michigan State University and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center.

Prior to joining the Law Center, Professor McManus was a staff attorney and manager with Lone Star Legal Aid (formerly Gulf Coast Legal Foundation) where she arranged for staff attorneys to do intakes at over 6 shelters in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties to better serve victims of domestic violence. She served as the Chair of the Statewide Family Law Task Force for Legal Aid attorneys, served on the Board of AVDA and United Against Human Trafficking. Professor McManus has been a speaker on family and probate issues at local and state conferences.

Professor McManus has a passion for horses and is a regular attendee at the Annual Symposium on Equine Law held in Lexington, Kentucky.

Consumer Law Clinic

Richard McElvaney
Director, Consumer Law Clinic
Director, Center for Consumer Law
Associate Clinical Professor
RMcElvaney@central.uh.edu

J.D., University of Houston
B.S., The Pennsylvania State University

Richard McElvaney, Associate Clinical Professor, is the director of the Consumer Law Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center and the Program Director of the Center for Consumer Law. A practicing legal aid attorney for 20 years at Gulf Coast Legal Foundation and Lone Star Legal Aid in the areas of housing, consumer, and bankruptcy law, he is licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Texas, the U.S. District Court - Southern District of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeal – Fifth Circuit, and the United State Supreme Court, and board certified in Consumer and Commercial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

In addition, Professor McElvaney has served as Chair of the State Bar of Texas – Consumer & Commercial Law Section and is the co-author of O'Connor's Property Code Plus. He received the Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity – Hickman Chapter Outstanding Alumnus in 2004 and the Order of the Barons' Professor of the Year Award in 2009. He is a U.S. Navy veteran. Courses he teaches include the Consumer Law Clinic, Landlord and Tenant, Law Practice Strategies, Poverty Law Practices, and Texas Procedure.

Ryan Marquez

Ryan Marquez
Staff Attorney, Center for Consumer Law and
Texas Consumer Complaint Center
Staff Attorney, Consumer Dispute Resolution Course
RMMarqu2@central.uh.edu

Ryan Marquez is the Staff Attorney for the Center for Consumer Law and the Texas Consumer Complaint Center.  He assists in overseeing the Consumer Dispute Resolution Course at the University of Houston Law Center. He received his B.B.A. in Accounting cum laude from the C. T.  Bauer College of Business in 2004 and his J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in 2009.

In 2015, he founded the Law Office of Ryan Marquez where he represents clients with various civil matters, from inception to trial and appeals.  He gives presentations to inform laypersons of their rights in regard to landlord/tenant law. From 2010 to 2015, he worked for Lone Star Legal Aid, a nonprofit law firm known as the fourth largest free legal aid provider in the United States.  While at Lone Star Legal Aid, he worked for the Disaster Relief Unit and Housing and Consumer Unit.  There, he gained a wide variety of experience with consumer issues including debt collection, contractor disputes, foreclosures, title disputes, and a specialty in landlord/tenant cases.
Criminal Defense Clinic
Erik M Locascio

Erik M Locascio
Adjunct Clinical Professor – Criminal Practice Clinic

J.D., University of Houston Law Center
B.A., University of Texas

Originally from California, Erik Locascio moved to the Houston area in 1997, where he attended Clements High School in Sugar Land. After graduating, he attended The University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in English. Erik then began law school at the University of Houston Law Center, eventually graduating in May of 2011.

After studying for and taking the Texas bar exam, Erik was admitted to practice law in November of 2011. In 2012, Erik accepted a prosecutor position at the Harris County District Attorney's Office, where he handled hundreds of cases, both misdemeanors and felonies, from initial filing to resolution--plea bargain, dismissal, or trial. Erik sat first chair on numerous criminal trials, including DWIs, assaults, thefts, and drug cases. He also is skilled in handling hearings before judges, including suppression hearings, revocation hearings, and punishment hearings.

Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

Christopher Heard
Director, Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic
Clinical Assistant Professor of Legal Practice
cdheard@central.uh.edu

J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
B.A., Vanderbilt University

Christopher Heard is the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor. He received a B.A., magna cum laude, with majors in Economics, Philosophy and Psychology from Vanderbilt University in 2001 and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004.  He is admitted to practice law in Texas and New York.

Prior to joining the Law Center, Professor Heard was Senior Counsel at Bracewell LLP in Houston. During his twelve years of private practice, Professor Heard represented lenders and borrowers in connection with the structuring, negotiation, and documentation of a wide array of commercial lending transactions.  While in practice, Professor Heard co-authored a publication in The Banking Law Journal that discussed defaulting lender provisions in syndicated credit agreements. Professor Heard was recognized as a Thomson Reuters Texas Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Jeffrey King
Adjunct Clinical Professor, Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic
jbking2@central.uh.edu

J.D., University of Texas School of Law
B.A., University of Texas, San Antonio

Jeffrey King is an Adjunct Professor with the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. He received a B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Texas, San Antonio in 1985 and a J.D., with honors, from the University of Texas School of law in 1988. He is admitted to practice law in Texas and Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Law Center, Professor King was Vice President, Public Law, for KBR, Inc., a position he held for eight years. Prior to his time at KBR, he was a Senior Attorney with Apache Corporation for 11 years after spending eight years in private practice with Vinson & Elkins, LLP, and Mayor, Day Caldwell & Keeton, LLP. During his years of practice, Professor King focused on corporate financing matters, both private and public, and corporate governance and compliance matters. In October 2009, Professor King was one of three KBR lawyers to win the Best Team Effort by a Corporate Legal Department from the Houston Business Journal.

Immigration Clinic

Geoffrey Hoffman
Clinical Associate Professor
Director; Immigration Clinic
ghoffman@central.uh.edu

LL.M. Harvard Law School.
J.D. Tulane Law School
A.B. Columbia University

Professor Hoffman specializes in immigration-related federal court litigation, deportation defense, asylum cases, and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. He has served as counsel or co-counsel in more than 50 trial and appellate cases. Professor Hoffman served as co-counsel before the Supreme Court of the United States in the precedent-setting immigration case, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder.

Prior to joining the Clinic, he practiced immigration law at Kurzban Kurzban Weinger & Tetzeli, P.A. in Miami. Previously, Professor Hoffman was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, held the Forrester Fellowship at Tulane Law School and was a Lecturer at the University of Miami. In addition to his practice and teaching experience, Professor Hoffman served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Paul V. Gadola, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for a two-year term 1998-2000. 

Professor Hoffman has also published articles on immigration, international law, international human rights, and racial profiling, including most recently, "Immigration Appellate Litigation Post-Deportation: A Humanitarian Conundrum," 5 HLRe 143 (2015) (co-authored); "A Collision Between Asylum Law and The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction," 5:8 AILA's Inside Immigration (July 2014); and "The War on Terror as a Metaphor for Immigration Regulation," appearing in the University of Iowa's Journal of Gender, Race and Justice, co-authored, 2012.

In 2014, Professor Hoffman received the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award.  In 2015, Professor Hoffman was awarded the University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award (T.E.A.) for clinical faculty, a university-wide award established by the University's Provost.   Also, in 2015, he was awarded the Certificate of Excellence for service to the Law Center and University. In 2016, Professor Hoffman received the Ethel M. Baker Faculty Award. 

The UHLC immigration clinic under Professor Hoffman's leadership was awarded the Pro Bono Hero Award for the Central Region by AILA for 2015.

 

Josephine Sorgwe
Clinical  Supervising Attorney, Immigration Clinic
jisorgwe@central.uh.edu

J.D., University of Houston
B.A., Texas A&M University

Josephine Sorgwe is a Clinical Supervising Attorney at the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic. Professor Sorgwe completed her undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. After completing her undergraduate studies, she attended the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) where she received her Doctor of Jurisprudence.

At the Immigration Clinic, she supervises law students on pro bono cases involving crime victims, asylum seekers, and more. Professor Sorgwe also provides direct pro bono legal representation to immigrant victims of crime, domestic violence, and human trafficking under a grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. She has spoken at numerous events regarding deferred action for childhood arrivals, crime victims, naturalization, and more. She is also an active member of the community, as she participates in numerous workshops and offers legal advice to community organizers and community members. Professor Sorgwe has always had a passion for people from diverse places and for helping those in need. Thus, she thoroughly enjoys representing each of the clients who walk through the doors of the Immigration Clinic.

Rosemary Vega
Contract Staff Attorney, Immigration Clinic
rvega5@central.uh.edu

J.D., St. Mary's University Law School
B.A., Austin College

Rosemary Vega is a Clinical Supervising Attorney with the UHLC Immigration Clinic.  She was previously in private practice at Law Office of Rosemary Vega, PLLC and was a partner at Tausk & Vega.  She was also the sole staff attorney at YMCA International Services from 2003 to 2005.  Straight out of law school, Professor Vega was also the Judicial Law Clerk for seven (7) Immigration Judges at the Houston Immigration Court through the Department of Justice Honors Program from 2000-2001. 

Professor Vega received her B.A. from Austin College in Sherman, Texas in 1997.  Thereafter, she attended St. Mary's University Law School where she graduated in 2000.  She began her interest in Immigration law through the International Human Rights Clinic at St. Mary's Law school and has been advocating for immigrants since that time. Professor Vega is the current AILA EOIR Liaison for Houston.  She is also active with the Houston Heights Rotary Club and other community organizations.

Cara Wilkins

Cara Wilkins
Clinical Supervising Attorney, Immigration Clinic
clwilkin@central.uh.edu

J.D., Tulane Law School
B.A., University of Notre Dame

Cara Wilkins is a Clinical Supervising Attorney with the UHLC Immigration Law Clinic. She also has her own law practice at Law Office of Cara Wilkins where she primarily handles immigration and employment law matters. Professor Wilkins previously served as Assistant Chief Counsel & Legal Advisor for U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement (DHS ICE).  During her tenure there, Professor Wilkins represented the United States in immigration law and employment law matters.  She represented the United States in immigration matters before the immigration courts in deportation and removal hearings and bond hearings as well as before the Board of Immigration Appeals. Professor Wilkins advised all DHS ICE departments including deportation and removal, citizenship and naturalization, asylum, adjustment of status, and investigations.  In addition, she also served as agency counsel on numerous worksite enforcement I-9 cases enforcing employer compliance with I-9 reporting. While with DHS ICE, Professor Wilkins was selected to serve as an instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) training immigration agents, officers, and ICE management officials on immigration laws.

Professor Wilkins earned her law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana where she did her clinical study with the Tulane Immigration Law Clinic. She received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in Southbend, Indiana. Professor Wilkins enjoys meeting people from diverse backgrounds, studying languages, and serving in the community.

Mediation Clinic

Tasha Willis
Director, Mediation Clinic
Associate Clinical Professor
tlwillis@central.uh.edu

J.D., South Texas College of Law
B.A., University of St. Thomas

Tasha L. Willis is ADR Director, Mediation Clinic Director, and Associate Clinical Professor (B.A. University of St. Thomas, J.D. South Texas College of Law, LL.M. in International Transactional Practice and ADR). Professor Willis specializes in Alternative Dispute Resolution. In 2010, she was appointed to the Board of the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association and currently serves as the secretary to the board. Willis also serves as an Educational Board Member for the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association.

Prior to joining the Clinic, she served for the Honorable Frank G. Evans in the Frank Evan's Center for Conflict Resolution at South Texas College of Law where she developed an international mediation externship program in Guyana, Jamaica and Panama. She has also conducted mediation training courses in China, Guyana, Jamaica and Panama. In addition, she served as an arbitrator for City of Houston Affirmative Action Compliance Program and hosted the American Bar Association Regional Client Counseling, Mediation and Negotiation Competitions. Previously, Prof. Willis was the Executive Director for Resolution Forum, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, which provided pro-bono and sliding scale alternative dispute resolution services, taught basic and advanced alternative dispute resolution training and hosted five Annual Institutes for Responsibility Dispute Resolution. She also served as Law Clerk for the Honorable John A. Coselli, Jr. in the 125th Civil District Court in Houston, Texas for four years.