Austin Bar Foundation & Austin LGBT Bar Association gives two $5,000 scholarships to Texas law students


Austin Bar Foundation & Austin LGBT Bar Association gives two $5,000 scholarships to Texas law students

October reception to raise more funds for students committed to LGBT legal issues


AUSTIN, TEXAS — During the State Bar of Texas’ Annual Meeting in Ft. Worth, two Texas law students received $5,000 scholarships for their demonstrated contributions to LGBT legal issues.  The students, from the University of Texas School of Law and St. Mary's University School of Law, were the first recipients of a scholarship administered by the Austin Bar Foundation and fundraised for by the Austin LGBT Bar Association.  The Association will host a reception in October in Austin to fundraise for future scholarships.

In 2015, the Foundation and Association launched a scholarship program for LGBT and ally law students.  To qualify, students must have attended a law school in Texas and have demonstrated commitment or contribution to the LGBT community or LGBT legal issues.  The selection Committee also considered financial need.

The first scholarship recipients were Ms. Anya Morgan, a rising third year law student at the University of Texas School of Law, and Mr. Luis A. Medina, Jr., a 2016 graduate of St. Mary's University School of Law.

“Applications for this year’s scholarships were extremely competitive.  Nearly 20 students representing six Texas law schools applied,” said Daniel Collins, Austin LGBT Bar Association treasurer.  “Selection committee members were impressed with Anya and Luis’ stellar academic qualifications, as well as their obvious commitment to advancing LGBT equality.  They are tremendously talented and have bright legal careers ahead of them.”

Ms. Morgan is pro bono director for OUTLaw, Texas Law's LGBT student affinity group. In this role she will continue the School's transgender name and gender marker change project, which represents transgender clients in Travis County courts. During law school she wrote blog content on transgender employment law while interning at DLA Piper in Los Angeles and was a board member for Texas Law Fellowships.  She is a summer intern for the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a New York-based nonprofit which represents low-income transgender clients.

Mr. Medina, as president of St. Mary's OUTLaw, organized guest lectures on topics at the intersection of LGBT, family, and immigration law, as well as organized the first networking program for law students and the newly-created San Antonio LGBT Bar Association.  As staff writer for The Scholar Law Review, he authored an article on immigration law's impacts on transgender immigrant women.  His service experience also includes work on behalf of immigrant families, including clinical work for clients qualified under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Ms. Morgan and Mr. Medina received their scholarships at the State Bar of Texas’ 2016 Annual Meeting in Ft. Worth during a reception hosted June 16 at the Texas A&M University School of Law by the LGBT Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.  State Bar of Texas Board of Directors Chair David E. Chamberlain, Austin Bar Foundation Board of Directors Chair Judge Eric Shepperd, and immediate past LGBT Section Chair Frederick W. Sultan, IV presented the students with their checks.

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible support we’ve received from the State Bar, LGBT Section, and most of all from the Austin Bar Foundation, without whom this scholarship program would not have been possible,” said Gary N. Schumann, Austin LGBT Bar Association founding president and incoming State LGBT Section chair. 

The Austin LGBT Bar Association fundraised for the scholarships through their first-annual scholarship reception held September 2015.  The reception, titled “Sculpting the Future,” was held at the scenic Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum in Austin, and featured live model sculpting and a silent art auction.  

The evening also honored Austin attorneys Chuck Herring and Jody Scheske with the Association’s first Legal Advocacy Awards.  Mr. Herring represented the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Texas, and Mr. Scheske succeeded in securing Texas’ first same-sex divorce — both before the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which found that same-sex couples could not be denied the right to marry under the Constitution.

“After only four years of existence, the Austin LGBT Bar Association was thrilled to kick off the scholarship with such a successful event honoring Mr. Herring and Mr. Scheske for their trailblazing work on behalf of the LGBT community,” said Elliott Beck, the Association’s 2015-16 president.  “With money raised at our reception, we now support the next generation of lawyers that will continue to fight for the rights of all people to be treated equally under the law.”

The Austin LGBT Bar Association will host the second-annual Sculpting the Future reception October 13, 2016 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.  Tickets are on sale now here:

Donations for the LGBT scholarship may be made online by visiting the Austin Bar Association's website hereSelect and amount you'd like to donate, and  make sure you click the option "I would like to designate my donation to the LGBT Scholarship Fund." Donations may also be submitted by mail to the Austin Bar Foundation, 816 Congress Avenue, Suite 700, Austin, Texas 78701.  Donations by mail should include a note that they are for the LGBT Scholarship.

 Read a State Bar of Texas blog about the Scholarship here.