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Clinical Faculty and Staff

Appellate Civil Rights Clinic | Civil Justice Clinic | Criminal Defense Clinic | Entertainment Law Clinic | Entrepreneurship & Community Development Clinic | Immigration Clinic | Mediation Clinic | Military Justice Clinic | Professional Staff

Appellate Civil Rights Clinic
Martin J. Siegel

Martin J. Siegel
Appellate Civil Rights Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

Martin Siegel handles appeals in constitutional, civil rights, commercial, personal injury, and other cases.  Representative matters have included Tolan v. Cotton (U.S. Supreme Court, reversing summary judgment for officer following police shooting); Kinney v. Barnes (Texas Supreme Court, enjoining online defamation except future speech); GDG Acquisitions v. Gov’t of Belize (11th Cir., reversing judgment for foreign state based on international comity); and In re Volkswagen (5th Cir. en banc, setting circuit standard for venue transfer).  Siegel also frequently represents amici in the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.  Recent amici have included centers on legal ethics at Stanford and NYU law schools, Texas state senators, the Anti-Defamation League, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Before opening his own appellate practice in 2007, Siegel clerked for the Hon. Irving R. Kaufman on the Second Circuit; was an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block; served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he received the Justice Department’s Director’s Award for his trial defense of the CIA; served as Special Counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Charles Schumer; and was a partner at Watts Law Firm in Houston.  

Siegel has written widely on legal topics.  His Op-Ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Houston Chronicle.  His biography of Judge Kaufman will appear in 2023 (Cornell University Press).  He also authored a series on appellate practice for Texas Lawyer and serves as a senior editor for Litigation, a quarterly published by the ABA Section on Litigation.  
Civil Justice Clinic
Ryan Marquez

Ryan Marquez
Civil Justice Clinic Director
Clinical Associate Professor

Professor Marquez has been at the Law Center since 2016, where he began as a Staff Attorney for the Center for Consumer Law. He has experience with consumer legal issues including debt collection, contractor disputes, foreclosures, title disputes, and landlord/tenant cases. He has been board certified since 2019 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization for Consumer and Commercial Law.  As a Professor of Practice, he directed the Consumer Law Clinic from 2019-2022. He previously managed the Hurricane Harvey Assistance Program with other Law Center clinical programs and oversaw the legal work in law clinics for cases related to Hurricane Harvey. From 2010 to 2015, he worked for Lone Star Legal Aid’s Disaster Relief Unit and Housing and Consumer Unit.  Under his leadership, UH Law Center was one of 99 law schools in 35 states and Puerto Rico recognized by the White House for its commitment to address the national housing and eviction crisis. Through Professor Marquez’s efforts this initiative was funded by a $300,000 grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

Nour Acosta
Senior Legal Clinic Supervisor

Nour Acosta received her undergraduate degree from the Honors College at the University of Houston, and then went on to receive her J.D. and LL.M from the University of Houston Law Center. 

After running a family law practice for nearly a decade, during which she hired law clerks and interns from the University of Houston Law Center, Professor Acosta joined the Civil Justice Clinic as a Senior Legal Clinic Supervisor to continue teaching and supervising law students in hopes of helping mold them into great civil litigators. She supervises law students through the practice of various areas of civil litigation, including consumer law, landlord and tenant law, property law, family law, guardianship and probate.

Professor Acosta is also an advocate for Americans with disabilities and has served on the Board of Prevent Blindness Texas.
 

Frederick Krasny Adjunct Professor

  Helen Malveaux
Staff Attorney
 

Blanca Orellana
Law Clerk

Criminal Defense Clinic
Erik M Locascio

Erik M. Locascio
Criminal Defense Clinic Co-Director
Adjunct Professor

As a former felony prosecutor, Erik M. Locascio has tried many cases as first chair, including assaults, drug cases, DWIs, and a variety of others. He additionally handled hundreds of cases from initial arrest to final disposition, including pleas and other hearings. Erik is skilled in all aspects of criminal law, including punishment hearings; bail hearings; cross-examination of civilian and police witnesses; motions to suppress evidence; and more.

During his time at the University of Houston Law Center, he was a finalist in the John Black Moot Court Competition, as well as a member of the Mock Trial team. As a third-year law student, Erik served as the Executive Chair of the Board of Advocates, where he was ultimately responsible for all of the student-run advocacy competitions at the Law Center, including Moot Court, Mock Trial, Mediation, and Client Counseling competitions. Erik also served as a Research Assistant to Professor Merle Morris in the Legal Writing Center. Finally, Erik served as both a Student Attorney and a Graduate Fellow in the Civil Practice Clinic, where he worked on a variety of family and civil cases. Erik is also a trained mediator.

Beginning the Fall of 2018, Erik was selected to run and direct the University of Houston Law Center Criminal Defense Practice Clinic, where his students actively learn hands-on advocacy skills on real-world criminal cases. In the Clinic, students are placed in the role of student attorney to learn every aspect of a criminal case, from initial arrest all the way to a potential trial.

While a student at the University of Texas at Austin, Erik received the Liberal Arts Endowed Presidential Scholarship; served as the President of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta; and was a Distinguished College Scholar.
Stephen E. Touchstone

Stephen E. Touchstone
Criminal Defense Clinic Co-Director
Adjunct Professor

Stephen E. Touchstone has dedicated his practice of law to criminal defense since becoming a licensed attorney in 2006, during which time he has tried many cases in federal and state courts. After 12 years as a private practitioner, he joined the Felony Trial Division of the Harris County Public Defender’s Office representing indigent defendants. He recently returned to private practice and continues to represent defendants within Harris County as well as surrounding counties. Stephen utilizes a client-centered approach by tailoring his representation to meet the varying needs of each of his clients and their case. Stephen, a fluent Spanish speaker, represents clients from diverse backgrounds and circumstances in appointed and retained cases.

Stephen earned his J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and was an undergraduate student at the University of Houston, where he majored in marketing and Spanish. Prior to attending law school, Stephen owned STS Products, an oilfield products company servicing upstream and midstream production and MTM logistics an over the road trucking company.

He was invited to speak on the Second Amendment at the 47th Annual State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course.
Entertainment Law Clinic

Justen S. Barks
Entertainment Law Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

Justen S. Barks is a commercial, intellectual property, and entertainment litigator. His experience in the courtroom helps his clients in their various transaction needs. For his commercial clients, he provides work in the form of risk management counseling, litigation in state and federal courts, mediation, contract drafting and negotiation. His intellectual property practice includes a mix of work with the U.S. Trademark Office, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Copyright Office, and copyright, patent, and trademark litigation.

Mr. Barks was trained by some of the best instructors in the music industry, and has practical experience in all aspects of the entertainment industry. He helps his entertainment clients by counseling the creation and retention of royalty streams, drafting and negotiating film, book, and music industry agreements, and litigation in the areas of entertainment and media, including copyright infringement, management agreements, and claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In addition to his work as an attorney with Beard & Barks PLLC, Mr. Barks also donates his time pro bono to the Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the arts and for the University of Houston Law Center Intra scholastic Mock Trial Team. He was named to the annual list of Top Lawyers in Houston for his entertainment practice by Houstonia Magazine each year from 2016-18.

Erin Rodgers
Adjunct Professor

Erin Rodgers is currently a partner with Rodgers Selvera PLLC in Houston. Her areas of practice include entertainment, nonprofits, intellectual property, and corporate matters. Erin earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Business from Loyola University New Orleans, and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. She has extensive experience representing clients in all facets of the entertainment industry.

In addition to practicing law, Erin is a classically trained clarinetist, and also plays the piano, accordion, and guitar. Erin currently performs with Houston bands National Pleasure, The Wheel Workers, and Houston’s Accordion Super Stars, and is a Core Artist at Catastrophic Theatre. She also supports the local arts community through board service, volunteering, and advocacy for many local arts organizations.

Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

Christopher Heard
Assistant Dean of Clinical Programs
Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic Director
Clinical Associate Professor

Christopher Heard supervises and trains law students representing entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations in connection with transactional business law matters. Prior to joining the Law Center, Professor Heard was Senior Counsel at Bracewell LLP in Houston where he represented lenders and borrowers in connection with the structuring, negotiation, and documentation of a wide array of commercial lending transactions. He was recognized as a Thomson Reuters Texas Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Professor Heard 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.
Immigration Clinic
J Cabot

J. Anna Cabot
Immigration Clinic Director
Clinical Associate Professor

Prior to teaching at the UH Law Center, Professor Cabot was the Practitioner in Residence in the Gender Justice Clinic at American University Washington College of Law. There she taught and supervised students representing clients with cases spanning immigration, housing, family law, domestic violence protection, wills, and name-and-gender change. Additionally, from 2014 to 2018, Professor Cabot was the William Davis Clinical Teaching Fellow at the University of Connecticut School of Law, teaching in the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic.

Professor Cabot’s research interests include the intersections of gender and cultural difference with global migration, immigration laws, and international law, and crisis-responsive clinical pedagogy. Most recently, Professor Cabot wrote a chapter for a book discussing expert country conditions testimony in fear-of-return immigration claims: Understanding the Legal Framework for Asylum: A Guide for Expert Witnesses in Practicing Asylum: A Handbook on Expert Witnesses in Latin American Domestic Violence, LGBTI, and Mother/Child Cases (Kimberly Gaudermann ed.) (forthcoming).

In addition to teaching, Professor Cabot has experience practicing immigration law. She was a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS). In that position, she conducted appellate litigation before the US Courts of Appeal and the Board of Immigration Appeals, worked on litigation teams challenging immigration policies in the US District Courts, and represented clients in asylum cases involving gender-based and gang-based violence.

Professor Cabot also served the Managing Attorney as Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas. She represented clients in a wide variety of immigration claims in immigration court, before the Board of Immigration Appeals, and before the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Prior to her work at the border, Professor Cabot was the Legal Services Coordinator at Asylum Access Refugee Solutions in Tanzania.

Professor Cabot received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law in 2009 and her B.A. from Amherst College in 2003. Professor Cabot graduated from college with a degree in physics and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, India.
Rehan Alimohammad

Rehan Alimohammad
Professor of Practice

Rehan is a Partner in the national firm of Wong Fleming in the Sugar Land, Texas office in charge of Immigration Law. He has been named a Super Lawyer in Immigration Law since 2019 and is currently Chair of the Committee for Laws related to Immigration and Nationality for the State Bar of Texas since 2022. Mr. Alimohammad is Past Chair of the Board for the State Bar of Texas and past State Bar Advisor for two years for the Immigration and Nationality Section; Past Co-Chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee for the State Bar of Texas, member of the Executive Committee and Past Minority Director and Board Member of the State Bar of Texas.

He has given over 500 seminars on immigration law topics throughout the U.S., written over 400 articles on immigration topics for community papers and answered questions for over 5 years on immigration topics on community radio.  He graduated in 1996 from the University of Texas at Austin in Accounting and from the University of Houston Law Center in 2001 with a J.D. where he also assisted late Professor Michael Olivas with publications on immigration law.

Leticia Leal
Legal Clinic Supervisor

Leticia Leal works at the University of Houston Law Center Clinical Programs, Immigration Clinic, as a Legal Clinic Supervisor. She received her LLM in United States Law from the University of Houston Law Center in 2020 and is admitted to practice law both in Texas and Brazil. Having grown up in Rio de Janeiro, Leal received her Bachelor of Law in 2007 from Estácio de Sá University and a Bachelor of Physical Education from Castelo Branco University in 2002. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Leal has a wide range of interests that include social activism as well as health and fitness.
Vanessa  Lopez

Vanessa Lopez
Senior Legal Clinic Supervisor

Professor Vanessa Lopez currently works as a supervising attorney at the University of Houston Law Center’s Immigration Clinic. She represents clients in a variety of immigration related issues, while overseeing students working on asylum cases before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Previously, Professor Lopez was a supervising attorney for the YMCA of Greater Houston. She was a manager for the detained adults’ program, working with immigrants detained in any of the four detention centers in the Houston area. She performed know-your-rights presentations through the Legal Orientation Program and represented immigrants in removal proceedings under the National Qualified Representatives Program. Part of her role was to hire and train legal and administrative assistants, and mentor attorneys. Professor Lopez also collaborated with participating non-profits as Harris County began its first universal representation program, the Immigration Legal Services Fund, for immigrants that are also Harris County residents.

Mediation Clinic

Tasha Willis
Mediation Clinic Director
ADR Director
Clinical Associate Professor

Tasha L. Willis is ADR Director, Mediation Clinic Director, and Clinical Associate 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.
Military Justice Clinic
Jason R. Marquez

Jason R. Marquez
Military Justice Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

Professor Marquez enlisted in the California Army National Guard at 19, deploying as an infantryman to the Middle East region shortly after September 11th. 

Upon his return, Professor Marquez received an Army Green-to-Gold scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles.  He was ordered to active duty and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery after receiving his B.A. in Anthropology.  Shortly after his promotion to Captain, Professor Marquez was selected for the Army’s funded legal education program, and attended law school at the College of William and Mary. 

As an Army Judge Advocate, Professor Marquez served as a prosecutor, senior prosecutor, defense attorney, senior defense attorney, and deputy regional defense attorney.  During his tenure as an active duty trial attorney, Professor Marquez prosecuted and represented clients in all manner of cases, ranging from mail fraud to capital murder in both military and federal court.  He continues to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Major in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Professor Marquez teaches trial practice, partnering with students to represent military clients in adverse administrative proceedings and courts-martial.
Professional Staff
Thelma M. Baines

Thelma M. Baines
Program Manager

Thelma M. Baines is the Program Manager for the Clinical Legal Education Program. She earned her Paralegal Certificate from the University of Houston in 2005. Baines began working at the UH Law Center in 2005 as a legal secretary working closely with Professor Joseph A. Vail, founder and then director of the UH Immigration Clinic. She became the clinic Program Manager in 2007.  Prior to coming to UH, Baines was a legal assistant at Barrett, Burke, Daffin, & Frappier LLP and served as a collection supervisor for Commonwealth Mortgage/Transworld Mortgage.
 

Rosie Martinez
Administrative Assistant

University of Houston Law Center

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