University of Houston Law Center Logo

Clinical Faculty

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

Civil Practice Clinic

Janet Heppard
Director, Clinical Legal Education Program
Director, Civil Practice Clinic
Clinical Professor

J.D./M.B.A., University of Houston
B.S., 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

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
Ryan Marquez

Ryan Marquez
Professor of Practice - Consumer Law Clinic

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.
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

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.

Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

Christopher Heard
Director, Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic
Clinical Associate Professor

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.

Immigration Clinic

Geoffrey Hoffman
Clinical Professor
Director; Immigration Clinic

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, 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.


Josephine Sorgwe
Clinical  Supervising Attorney, Immigration Clinic

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
Clinical Lecturer, Immigration Clinic

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.

Parker Sheffy

Parker Sheffy
Clinical Fellow/Supervising Attorney, Immigration Clinic

J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
M.S., St. John’s University, Queen’s N.Y.
B.A., University of Texas at Austin

Parker Sheffy is a Clinical Supervising Attorney at the University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic. Professor Sheffy earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2017. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History, as well as St. John’s University in Queens, NY, where he earned a Master of Science in Math Education.

Professor Sheffy comes to the Clinic from the St. Francis Cabrini Center in Houston, TX where he worked as a Fellow for two years providing representation to individuals with wide ranging immigration-based issues, including: asylum, special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), family-based immigration issues, and inadmissibility waivers, among others. While in law school, he served as a law clerk in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, which included working on projects pertinent to immigration policy. Prior to law school, Professor Sheffy taught high school algebra in the Bronx, NY, and worked as a community organizer in South East Houston in connection with a presidential campaign. His professional interests include economic mobility, identity, and the influence of law and policy thereon. It is through this lens that he first became interested in immigration law.

Mediation Clinic

Tasha Willis
Director, Mediation Clinic
Associate Clinical Professor

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
Adjunct Clinical Professor – Military Justice Clinic
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.