people's Lawyer


Consumer Law Basics, October 23rd, Houston, Texas

The Center for Consumer Law, in cooperation with the Houston Bar Association Consumer & Commercial Law Section, is proud to announce a free Friday afternoon CLE seminar to assist attorneys who develop some basic knowledge of consumer law. The October 23rd Seminar includes experts from across the state who will give an introduction to the many facets of consumer law. Extensive materials will supplement the brief program, providing even more information about the many laws that help you represent consumers. Here is the agenda:

Consumer Law Basics – Know the Law!
Presented by:  The Center for Consumer Law
Friday, October 23, 2009

Dean Richard M. Alderman

David Disiere

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Debt Collection
Manny Newburger

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Suing Builders - After TRCC, RCLA
Mark McQuality

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When Car Dealers Go Bust
Jim Hawkins

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Contractors, Liens & Performance
David Tiede

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Landlord / Tenant
Rick McElvaney

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Collecting Attorneys Fees
Dana Karni

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Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
Dean Richard M. Alderman

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Final Thoughts


Richard M. Alderman earned his B.A. from Tulane University in 1968 and attended Syracuse University Law School, where he was graduated first in his class. After a year practicing poverty law with a legal service office, he attended the University of Virginia Law School and was awarded a Master of Law degree.

Dean Alderman has been a faculty member at the University of Houston Law Center since 1973. He is currently the Associate Dean and holder of the Dwight Olds Chair in Law. He also serves as the director of the Center for Consumer Law. Dean Alderman is a prolific author who has authored 20 books and numerous articles. His most recent publications include Consumer Credit and The Law, Consumer Protection and The Law, Texas Consumer Law: Cases and Materials, and The Lawyers Guide to the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. He also authored the 7th edition of Know Your Rights!, and the 2nd edition of Your Texas Business, for the layperson. Professor Alderman serves as the Editor-in-Chief of "The Journal of Commercial and Consumer Law," the quarterly newsletter of the Consumer Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. In 2007 Dean Alderman was awarded the University of Houston’s Teaching Excellence Award.

In addition to his responsibilities at the Law Center, Dean Alderman appears regularly as the "People's Lawyer" on radio, television and the newspaper. He currently appears on KTRK-TV, Channel 13 and has a syndicated newspaper column, entitled “Know Your Rights.” Professor Alderman has twice received the highest honor given by the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas for his work in educating the public about the law. In 1999 the Mayor and City Council of Houston declared October 16th as Richard Alderman day in recognition of his contribution to the city.

David Disiere is a leading practitioner in the area of complex insurance coverage issues and related litigation with over twenty years experience in the field. He is an Adjunct Professor of Property and Casualty Insurance Law at the University of Houston Law Center and holds an Associate in Claims (AIC) designation from the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. He maintains an active practice developing and shaping Texas insurance jurisprudence involving bad faith, insurance coverage, first and third-party litigation and related issues. In addition to receiving an AV Rating from Martindale- Hubbell, Mr. Disiere was voted a Texas Super Lawyer by Texas Monthly Magazine for 2007 and 2008 and was also recognized in H Texas Magazine as one of Houston’s Top Lawyers in Insurance Coverage and Litigation in 2007 and 2008. Lastly, Mr. Disiere was recognized as one of the leading lawyers in the U.S. in the field of Insurance and Reinsurance – Natural Disasters by The Legal 500 US: Volume III (Litigation) 2007 and was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2009 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the specialty of Insurance Law.

Jim Hawkins earned his J.D. from the University of Texas, where he was the Grand Chancellor and served as the Chief Articles Editor of the Texas Law Review. He has placed articles in the UCLA Law Review, the Harvard Journal on Legislation, the William and Mary Law Review, and the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law.

Professor Hawkins joined the University of Houston Law Center after clerking for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and working with the Houston office of Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP. His research and teaching interests include consumer borrowing, the fringe banking industry, bankruptcy, and secured credit.

Robert B. Johnson is Associate Director of the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center.  Robert attended the University of Texas - Austin where he graduated near the top of his class with a BA in economics, and finished first in the Business Foundations certification / minor program. While at the University of Texas, Robert was inducted as a lifetime member of the nation's highest honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation from the University of Texas - Austin, Robert moved to Houston, TX to attend law school at the University of Houston Law Center. During his second year of law school, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Robert to the Board of Regents, as the first active student to ever serve on the Board and the youngest member in history (at that time). After graduation, Robert accepted a position as Associate Director of the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center. Robert also serves on the Board of Directors of the Houston Bar Association Consumer & Commercial Law Section. Robert has worked with the Center for Consumer Law in multiple positions for over 5 years, both as a law student and as a licensed attorney.

Dana Karni is an attorney in private practice in Houston, Texas with the Karni Law Firm, P.C.   From the time she was licensed in the State of Texas, Ms. Karni has solely practiced in the area of consumer advocacy.  Her primary focus is on consumers’ rights with respect to credit and debt.   Ms. Karni has spoken on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act both at continuing legal education classes and public forums.   Ms. Karni is an adjunct professor at the University of Houston where she teaches Practicing Consumer Law. She is on the board of directors with the Houston Bar Association Commercial and Consumer Law Section and is a member of Ethics Committee for the National Association of Consumer Advocates.  More information is available at

Rick McElvaney, Clinical Associate Professor, is the Program Director of the Center for Consumer Law and supervisor of the Consumer Law Clinic.

He received a B.S. in Economics from The Pennsylvania State University in 1982 and a J.D from the University of Houston Law Center in 1986, where he was an associate editor of the Houston Journal of International Law.

Professor McElvaney practiced as a 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.

He previously served as Chair - and currently serves as a board member - of the State Bar of Texas – Consumer & Commercial Law Section. Professor McElvaney is co-author of O’Connor’s Property Code Plus. He received the Order of the Barons’ Professor of the Year Award in 2009.

Mark McQuality is a partner of the law firm of Shackelford, Melton & McKinley.  His litigation and dispute resolution practice concentrates in the areas of residential and commercial construction and development, real estate, insurance and commercial law.  Mark was actively involved in the negotiations on the amendments to the Residential Construction Liability Act starting in 1995 and subsequent amendments to that statute.  He is a frequent speaker for continuing education seminars and author for a variety of legal and consumer publications.

Manuel H. (Manny) Newburger is the President of Barron, Newburger & Sinsley, PLLC, and practices in the firm’s Austin office. He is also the President of Fair Debt Consultants, LLC, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches consumer protection law. He has repeatedly been recognized by Law & Politics and Texas Monthly magazines as a Texas Super Lawyer, and he is a Fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers Mr. Newburger received a B.A. in history from Trinity University in 1980 and his J.D. in 1983 from the University of the Texas School of Law. He has been licensed to practice law in the State of Texas since November 4, 1983, and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits, all United States District Courts in Texas, and the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, the Northern District of Illinois, the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana, the District of Colorado, and the Western District of Tennessee. He is certified as a specialist in Consumer and Commercial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and his practice is almost exclusively in the areas of consumer and commercial law. Mr. Newburger is a past Chair of the Consumer Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, and the Texas State Bar's Advisory and Exam Commissions on board certification in consumer law. He is a member of the Commercial Law League of America, and he served for four years as Chairman of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Committee of that organization and subsequently as the Chair Emeritus of that committee. He testified as the League’s representative before a United States Congressional Subcommittee regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at the last oversight hearing held on the Act. A frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education Programs around the United States, Mr. Newburger has a nationally-based consumer law practice in the area of fair debt collection practices. He has been quoted in articles on FDCPA issues in the National Law Journal, Lawyers Weekly USA, and The Texas Lawyer, and in 1995, he represented the Commercial Law League of America as an amicus curiae in Heintz v. Jenkins, 514 U.S. 291, 115 S.Ct. 1489 (1995), White v. Goodman, 200 F.3d 1016 (7th Cir. 2000), Koons Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. v. Nigh, 543 U.S. 50, 125 S. Ct. 460,160 L. Ed. 2d 389 (2004), and Riviere v. Banner Chevrolet, Inc., 184 F.3d 457 (5th Cir. 1999). Mr. Newburger is the co-author of M. Newburger and B. Barron, Fair Debt Collection Practices: Federal and State Law and regulation (Sheshunoff & Pratt 2002), M. Newburger and B. Barron, The Guide to Fair Debt Collection Practices Laws in the United States (Faulkner & Gray 2000), as well as a number of published articles on consumer law. He was a member of the manual committee for the Texas Collection Manual – Third Edition (State Bar of Texas 2000), and a contributing author to the Manual of Credit and Commercial Laws (National Association of Credit Management 2002) and The Practice of Consumer Law (National Consumer Law Center) (Chapter 13). Mr. Newburger was a recipient of the State Bar of Texas’ 1999 Frank J. Scurlock Award for voluntary legal services to the poor, the 2006 J. Chrys Dougherty Award from Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, the 2005 Don Kramer Award from the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, and the 2008 President’s Cup from the Commercial Law League of America..

David Tiede is the Director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center.  David is a graduate of University of Texas (BA, JD), and after 15 years in California, including 13 as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, he has returned home.    Prior to returning to Texas, David worked for the Consumer Law Section of the California Attorney General’s Office, and prosecuted major corporations for violations of California’s consumer laws.