TYLA Officers


Rebekah Steely Brooker, President


Dustin M. Howell, Chair


Sam Houston, Vice President


Baili B. Rhodes, Secretary


John W. Shaw, Treasurer


C. Barrett Thomas, President-elect


Priscilla D. Camacho, Chair-elect


Kristy Blanchard, Immediate Past President

TYLA Directors


Amanda A. Abraham, District 1


Sharesa Y. Alexander, Minority At-Large Director


Raymond J. Baeza, District 14

    Aaron J. Burke, District 5, Place 1

Aaron T. Capps, District 5, Place 2


D. Lance Currie, District 5, Place 3


Laura W. Docker, District 10, Place 1

    Andrew Dornburg, District 21
    John W. Ellis, District 8, Place 2
    Zeke Fortenberry, District 4

Bill Gardner, District 5, Place 4


Morgan L. Gaskin, District 6, Place 5

    Nick Guinn, District 18, Place 1

Adam C. Harden, District 6, Place 6


Amber L. James, District 17


Curtis W. Lucas, District 9

    Rudolph K. Metayer, District 8, Palce 1

Laura Pratt, District 3

    Sally Pretorius, District 8, Place 2

Baili B. Rhodes, District 2


Alex B. Roberts, District 6, Place 3

    Eduardo Romero, District 19
    Michelle P. Scheffler, District 6, Place 2

John W. Shaw, District 10, Place 2

    Nicole Soussan, District 6, Place 4
    L. Brook Stuntebeck, District 11

C. Barrett Thomas, District 15

    Judge Amanda N. Torres, Minority At-Large Director

Shannon Steel White, District 12

    Brandy Wingate Voss, District 13
    Veronica S. Wolfe, District 18, Place 2

Baylor Wortham, District 7

    Alex Yarbrough, District 16


Justice Paul W. Green, Supreme Court Liaison


Jenny Smith, Access To Justice Liaison


Brandon Crisp, ABA YLD District 25 Representative


Travis Patterson, ABA/YLD District 26 Representative


Assistant Dean Jill Nikirk, Law School Liaison


Belashia Wallace, Law Student Liaison


TYLA Office

Tracy Brown, Director of Administration
Bree Trevino, Project Coordinator

Michelle Palacios, Office Manager
General Questions: tyla@texasbar.com

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 12487, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711-2487
(800) 204-2222 ext. 1529
FAX: (512) 427-4117

Street Address

1414 Colorado, 4th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 427-1529


Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.





























































Top Story

Top Story

Sean Pevsner: Venit, Vidit, Vicit
By:  Mark Whitburn

Sean Pevsner was born a breech baby on January 20, 1971.  He was clinically dead for about 45 minutes before an anesthesiologist resuscitated him.  One obstacle overcome, Mr. Pevsner set out to tackle more, despite the severe cerebral palsy and speech impediment that drastically limited both his mobility and his communication abilities from that point forward.

I met Mr. Pevsner at a summer camp for the disabled in 1984 when he was 13.  He was sitting on the porch of the camp lodge in his manual wheelchair one evening as I came up the sidewalk.  I remember his arms flailing wildly and his head and torso flopping around loosely due to the spastic-athetoid character of his disability.  I remember his piercing blue eyes and his wavy blonde hair.  Most striking by far, however, was his smile.  He was grinning from ear to ear as I approached, and I was intrigued.  What could this jumble of perpetually moving limbs find so humorous?  Then he said something.  Or at least I thought he did.  It did not exactly sound like words, but his laughter clued me in that he had attempted some witticism, probably at my expense.  I adjusted my glasses, peered closer, and asked him to repeat himself.  After a full half hour of dogged and determined repetition, with never a droop to the grin, Mr. Pevsner finally managed to communicate the following two words to me: “Four eyes.”  For him, it was worth the wait, as evidenced by his peals of laughter.  For me, it was worth the next 27 years of uninterrupted friendship with an individual who would restlessly forge ahead towards the goals he set for himself, would neither offer nor accept any excuses for any missteps he might make along the way, and who would meet each new challenge with his ever-present self-confident grin.

When I met him, Mr. Pevsner was about to enter Ninth Grade in Arlington, Texas.  Although he had a sterling record of achievement in earlier grades, his high school intended to place him in remedial classes simply because of his severe disability.  Mr. Pevsner would have none of that.  He had a clear vision of his future, and that future depended on a quality education.  He demanded placement in regular classes and even insisted on taking Latin.  He excelled brilliantly and graduated to a standing ovation—the first among many such ovations for one whom doctors had consistently urged his parents to institutionalize in his early years as far too disabled to accomplish anything significant in life.

Mr. Pevsner entered college at the University of Texas at Austin in 1990, immediately after high school, and, after a very brief flirtation with Business, settled quickly into a major in Latin and Greek.  Although still using a manual wheelchair in his first college years, Mr. Pevsner found a way to get someone to push him to all his classes and assist with taking notes.  He also found a way to terrorize local pizza establishments with his first primitive voice synthesizer.  Those who hung up the phone in confusion learned to regret the mistake.  Mr. Pevsner would call and call again.  He always got his pizza.  Patient persistence marked these years and would become characteristic of Mr. Pevsner through all his endeavors from then on.

Mr. Pevsner never shied away from new technology, even if it had its problems.  He trusted that the technology would develop over the years and he saw it as his task to push his education to the limit so that, when the technology was ready, he could take full advantage of it.  He finally got his first motorized wheelchair after about a year of college, controlling it with sensory devices in the headrest.  True to his fiercely independent nature, he insisted on driving it about campus unaccompanied—despite the fact that it had a very narrow wheelbase and would tip over easily, causing him to smack his head on the pavement and forcing him then to wait however long it took for someone to find him.  His first motorized chair also had protrusions from the back that looked temptingly like brake levers.  As his first chair did not give him fine-tuned control, other pedestrians often assumed Mr. Pevsner was having some sort of attack or had perhaps escaped from some hypothetical handlers.  Accordingly, on at least five to ten occasions in those early college years, someone would grab the “brake levers” to stop the chair without ever speaking a word to Mr. Pevsner.  Of course, they were not brake levers at all but rather devices to recline the back of the chair.  Having fully reclined the chair and rendered it inoperable, the culprits would sprint off in confusion, leaving Mr. Pevsner once again to wait for someone to find him.  He learned quickly that, despite his growing list of accomplishments, society’s confusions about the severely disabled would prove intransigent.

In his later college years, Mr. Pevsner founded Groups United Against Rights Discrimination (GUARD) which worked with other organizations to address problems not only on campus but with the city bus system and elsewhere.  He led rallies for the purpose of educating the public on civil rights issues, using his persistence and charisma to attract speakers ranging from city council members to state legislators to Texas gubernatorial candidates to members of Congress.  He testified before the state legislature on several occasions and became a respected figure in Austin from campus to the Capitol.

Mr. Pevsner graduated from college in 1998 with awards in Latin and Greek scholarship.  He once again received a standing ovation in the University of Texas’ Erwin Center—not for the last time.  He immediately set his sights on law school, hoping not only that he could use his experiences to advocate directly for the rights of the disabled and others, but also that his very presence in the profession would help clear up society’s confusion as to prospects for the severely disabled.  He soon won admission into the University of Texas School of Law.  There, he tackled classes from Torts to Federal Courts with equal aplomb.  He published an article on various constitutional considerations bound up with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Furthermore, he was selected for admission into the prestigious Friars Society, an honor reserved for students at the University of Texas at Austin who have made significant contributions to the university.  During his summers, Mr. Pevsner interned at Advocacy, Inc., in Austin, the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems in Washington, D.C., and the Department of Justice, also in Washington.  He thus expanded his reach to the national scene.  Unsurprisingly at this point, he graduated to a standing ovation at the Erwin Center.

After law school, Mr. Pevsner was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship and worked with Advocacy, Inc., to assist others with disabilities and educate them on how to advocate for their own rights in a variety of settings.  He focused primarily, however, on preparing for his most difficult task to date--the Texas bar exam.  The bar exam presented a particularly difficult problem for two reasons.  First, Mr. Pevsner did not at first have a computer system sophisticated enough to allow him to peruse easily all of the materials necessary for adequate preparation.  Second, at no stage did Mr. Pevsner have a computer system fast enough to use for communication on the bar exam itself, and only one individual could interpret his speech quickly enough to manage the writing portions of the exam.  Over the grueling bar exam—an exam which would last a full eight straight days for Mr. Pevsner with the necessary accommodations in place—he would have to deal not only with his own fatigue but with lapses in the concentration of his willing but limited interpreter.  In a few years, the first difficulty fell away.  Mr. Pevsner received a computer system advanced enough to serve his bar preparation needs.  Consequently, he had only now to muster up the strength to manage the arduous bar exam.  He took it in July 2011 and, in November of that year, discovered that he had passed and indeed that he had done well enough to waive into the DC bar as well.  At his swearing in at the Erwin Center, Mr. Pevsner received not only a standing ovation but special recognition from Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson.

Mr. Pevsner currently plans to start his own firm focused on disability rights and on several other areas of the law as well.  Who knows?  As an attorney myself, I may even join him.  All I know for sure is that I definitely would not want to be on the other side.