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

Appellate Civil Rights Clinic
Martin J. Siegel

Martin J. Siegel
Appellate Civil Rights Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

J.D., Harvard Law School
B.A., University of Texas at Austin

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 Practice Clinic
Judge Janet Heppard

Janet Heppard
Civil Practice Clinic Director
Professor of Practice

jheppard@central.uh.edu

JANET HEPPARD was the Law Center Clinic Director from 2008 through September 1, 2021.  She received a B.S. in Geology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and worked as a geophysicist for eight years at Amoco Production Company before returning to school at the University of Houston and received a J.D./ MBA degree.

After working both for a solo practitioner and as a volunteer attorney in the Civil Clinic, Professor Heppard was hired as a supervising attorney in the Civil Clinic in 1995 and was later appointed as the Civil Clinic Director and promoted to Clinical Professor.  In November 2020, Professor Heppard was elected as the Presiding Judge of the 387th State District Court in Fort Bend County and took the bench on January 1, 2021 where she presides over family court cases.  Professor Heppard has also taught courses on domestic violence and immigration family law at the law center.

Diane  McManus

Diane M. McManus
Legal Clinic Supervisor
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.

 

Frederick Krasny
Adjunct Professor
fakrasny@central.uh.edu

Consumer Law Clinic
Ryan Marquez

Ryan Marquez
Consumer Law Clinic Director
Professor of Practice

Rmmarqu2@central.uh.edu

J.D., University of Houston Law Center

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.
Judge Janet Heppard

Leticia Leal
Legal Clinic Supervisor
ldleal@central.uh.edu

Leticia Leal works at the University of Houston Law Center Clinical Programs, Houston Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) as a clinical supervising attorney. 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.

 

Sarah Kim
Legal Clinic Supervisor
sekim3@central.uh.edu


Moe Aljuboori
Law Clerk
mnaljubo@CougarNet.UH.EDU

Criminal Defense Clinic
Erik M Locascio

Erik M Locascio
Criminal Defense Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

emlocasc@central.uh.edu

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

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.

Entertainment Law Clinic

Justen S. Barks
Entertainment Law Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

Yocel Alonso
Adjunct Professor

Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

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

cdheard@central.uh.edu

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

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

Geoffrey Hoffman
Immigration Clinic Director
Clinical Professor

ghoffman@central.uh.edu

A.B. Columbia University (magna cum laude); J.D. Tulane Law School (cum laude), LL.M. Harvard Law School.

Professor Hoffman specializes in immigration-related federal court litigation, deportation defense, asylum cases, and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. He has represented numerous immigrants in a variety of settings including before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Department of Homeland Security, and in the federal courts. Professor Hoffman served as co-counsel before the Supreme Court of the United States in the precedent-setting immigration case, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder. He is co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at UHLC, as well as a founding member of the Board of Editors for the AILA Law Journal.

Professor Hoffman comments on immigration law and policy. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Mother Jones, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Houston Chronicle, among other outlets. He has published articles in the following representative law reviews, Maryland Journal of International Law, Journal of Gender, Race, and Justice at the University of Iowa, Houston J. of Int’l Law-Sidebar, Houston Law Review-Online, Nova Law Review, Loyola L.A. Int’l and Comparative L.J. He also has published pieces in Salon.com, Jurist, Immigration Professor’s Blog, Lexis Nexis Immigration Legal News, Notice and Comment, a blog from the Yale Journal on Regulation, among other venues.

Prior to joining the Clinic, he practiced immigration law at Kurzban Kurzban Weinger & Tetzeli, P.A. in Miami, Florida. Previously, he taught at the University of Illinois, Tulane Law School and 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.

In 2016, Professor Hoffman received the Ethel M. Baker Faculty Award for community service. In 2015, Professor Hoffman received the University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award, a University-wide award established by the UH Provost. In 2015, he was awarded the Certificate of Excellence for service to the Law Center and University. In 2014, Professor Hoffman received AILA's Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching 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.

Rosemary Vega
Lecturer
rvega5@central.uh.edu

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

Rosemary Vega is a Clinical Lecturer 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.

Lucas  Aisenberg

Lucas Aisenberg
Legal Clinic Supervisor
lmaisenb@central.uh.edu

J.D., St. Thomas University School of Law
B.A., University of Houston

Lucas Aisenberg is a Clinical Supervising Attorney in the Immigration Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center. He received a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Houston and a J.D. from St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens, Florida.

In his current position in the Immigration Clinic, Professor Aisenberg supervises law students on pro bono asylum cases and provides direct representation to adult immigrants and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States.

Prior to joining the Immigration Clinic, Professor Aisenberg was a staff attorney at Catholic Charities Community Services Unaccompanied Minors Program in New York City. At Catholic Charities, he provided direct representation to unaccompanied minors detained in Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters, as well as non-detained clients in Immigration Court and before the New York and New Jersey Asylum Offices.

R. Parker  Sheffy

R. Parker Sheffy
Clinical Supervising Attorney
rpsheffy@central.uh.edu

B.A., The University of Texas at Austin
M.S., St. John’s University (New York)
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center

Professor Parker Sheffy is a staff member of the Law Center’s award-winning Immigration Clinic. His work encompasses representing indigent individuals with immigration-based legal cases while simultaneously supervising and teaching law students in connection with those very cases. Mr. Sheffy represents clients with disparate immigration-based needs, including issues at the intersections of family law and immigration law, as well as criminal law and immigration law. He is active within the Greater-Houston immigration legal services community and contributes scholarship to the field. Prior to joining the Law Center in Spring 2022, Mr. Sheffy worked as a Clinical Teaching Fellow at Cardozo School of Law in New York City. He began his career in legal education at the University of Houston Law Center as a Clinical Teaching Fellow with the Immigration Clinic in the fall of 2019. He has been published in an academic law journal and contributes to local and national media coverage pertaining to immigration based legal and policy issues.

Mediation Clinic

Tasha Willis
Mediation Clinic Director
ADR Director
Clinical Associate 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.

Military Justice Clinic
Jason R. Marquez

Jason R. Marquez
Military Justice Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

jrmarque@central.uh.edu

J.D., The College of William and Mary, School of Law - 2010
M.A., The University of Oklahoma – 2006
B.A., The University of California, Los Angeles - 2004

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
tmbaines@central.uh.edu

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.

 

Jamie Zarate
Program Manager
jzarate@central.uh.edu