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Clinical Faculty and Staff

Appellate Civil Rights Clinic | Civil Justice Clinic | 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 Justice Clinic
Ryan Marquez

Ryan Marquez
Clinical Associate Professor
Director of the Civil Justice Clinic

J.D., University of Houston Law Center

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 nishatle@Central.UH.EDU

LL.M and J.D., University of Houston Law Center B.A., University of Houston

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 fakrasny@Central.UH.EDU

Judge Janet Heppard

Leticia Leal
Legal Clinic Supervisor

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.


Erik Huhn Law Clerk ehuhn@Central.UH.EDU

Criminal Defense Clinic
Erik M Locascio

Erik M Locascio
Criminal Defense Clinic Director
Adjunct Professor

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 yalonso@Central.UH.EDU

Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

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

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
Teresa  Messer

Teresa Pham Messer
Immigration Clinic Director and Professor of Practice of the Immigration Clinic

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

Teresa Messer is the Director and Professor of Practice of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center. Professor Messer’s own experience as the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants cultivated her desire to assist other immigrants early on in her life. This desire ultimately led her to her calling – to help immigrants navigate through the complexities of U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law.

Professor Messer’s immigration legal experience, commitment to her clients, and dedication to the legal profession has been recognized by the State Bar of Texas, Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Houstonia Magazine, H Texas Magazine, and Texas Lawyer Magazine.

Professor Messer has written several immigration legal articles which have appeared in publications such as the Texas Bar Journal, Law360, and the University of Houston’s Online Law Journal. She has presented on immigration law topics for organizations such as the State Bar of Texas, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Katy Bar Association, and the Houston Northwest Bar Association.

Prior to joining the Immigration Clinic, Professor Messer was a private practice attorney focusing exclusively on immigration law where she represented individuals and companies before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, Customs and Border Protection, and US Embassies and Consulates.

Lucas  Aisenberg

Lucas Aisenberg
Legal Clinic Supervisor

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

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

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

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

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