ACC Houston - More than just CLE! Print

A Message from the ACC Houston Board of Directors

*Pictured above the 2016-2017 ACC Houston Board of Directors
(L-R; top row) Nicole Moss, Sajju George, Celia Balli, Kim Pilcher, Lauren Haller, Leo Guglielmi (L-R; bottom row) Patrick Byrd, Jessica Roper, Dean Fisher, Elena Baer, (on skype: Francisco Balduzzi), Dionne Hamilton, Mitch Blakely, Seema Puri-Patel, Victor Wright. Not Pictured: Chantel Jordan, Brian Kentshire, Santiago Laverde, Scott McCay


As we reflect on 2017, we cannot help but feel gratitude for how you, our ACC Houston members, have helped our chapter reach new heights truly embodying the principles upon which this organization was founded – connecting with fellow in-house counsel by sharing resources, lessons learned, networking and community engagement.  Your enthusiasm fueled our chapter and enabled us to offer nearly 40 CLEs providing 50.5 MCLE and 7.5 ethics credits respectively for Texas.  Many of you volunteered to speak on panels and took the time to complete surveys to ensure that CLE topics were timely and relevant to our membership, and your participation made our programming stronger.

However, as you can see from this year’s newsletter, as your ACC Houston Board members, we are most proud that we were able to offer our members “more than just a CLE.”  While we had nearly 40 CLE events, we had another 20 events that were not tied to CLEs.  With nearly 3,000 attendees at ACC Houston events this year, we saw many of you at social events such as Top Golf, wine tasting and the moving screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  We had an opportunity to meet your families at some of these events including our family volunteer day at the Houston Food Bank.  Our in-house legal community came together in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in August - some by picking up a hammer to help a neighbor and some by grabbing a pen and clipboard to assist individuals with FEMA filings.  We supported the future of our legal profession by providing scholarships to deserving area law students, and you showed them that their hard work does not go unnoticed by showing up at the ACC Diversity Dinner to support them. 

There are probably too many events to cover, but know that we appreciate each of you and your contributions to making the ACC Houston Chapter one of the strongest in the country.  As we say goodbye to 2017, we have no doubt that 2018 will be another strong year.  We hope that you and your families enjoy the holiday season.

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Annual Ethics Seminar and Golf/Spa Event

ACC Houston held its 18th Annual Ethics Seminar and Golf/Spa event on February 28, 2017. Over 200 members participated in this successful, all-day event featuring two hours of ethics CLE over breakfast, a fun day of networking over golf and spa treatments, and ending with an evening cocktail reception.  Members learned about ethics from lessons provided by our past United States Presidents as told by our speaker, Talmage Boston and, enjoyed a comical presentation of ethical responsibilities from members of the Night Court cast.  For 2018, we are enhancing the ethics CLE by featuring a workshop format to provide for greater member participation and discussion. We are also increasing the networking opportunities by offering group golf lessons and organized activities to the popular golf and spa offerings.  Special thank you to our Marquee Sponsor for the Golf/Spa Event, BoyarMiller.  Be sure to mark your calendars for the 19th Annual Ethics Seminar and Golf/Spa event which will be held Tuesday, February 27, 2018, at the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa and Memorial Park Golf Course.

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Hurricane Harvey Relief

After the Hurricane - How You Can Be of Service
R. Scott McCay
ACC Houston Board of Directors

CLICK HERE to view Scott McCay's full article in The Docket about his time volunteering after the floods.

R Scott McCay is a retired senior counsel from Chevron, where he worked for 35 years. At the end of his career there, he handled deepwater Gulf of Mexico transactions and regulatory compliance. He is now an adjunct professor teaching a course on that subject at the University of Houston Law Center. He also handled environmental and litigation matters and was active in volunteer and pro bono efforts.

Hurricane Harvey: The Best of Humanity on Display
Lauren Haller
ACC Houston Board of Directors

CLICK HERE to view Lauren Haller's full article in The Docket about neighbors helping neighbors.

Lauren Haller is legal counsel at Hess Corporation, where she supports the Global Supply Chain organization. Prior to joining Hess, Haller was technology and intellectual property counsel at ConocoPhillips Company. She is the director of the ACC Houston chapter.


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Awards and Recognitions

ACC Top 10 30-Something 2017: Jessica Roper

ACC Houston's own, Jessica Roper was awarded the Top 10 30-Something for 2017.  Jessica was able to received this award with husband Matt and their newborn in New Orleans this summer.  Nominations are now being accepted for 2018 recipients.

Click HERE to view the full article in the Docket.

Top 10 30-Somethings Award Nominations Extended to December 20: It is not too late to submit nominations. The deadline has been extended to December 20! ACC's ACC Top 10 30-Somethings Award is a special honor recognizing in-house rising stars for their innovation, global perspective, proactive practice, advocacy efforts, pro bono and community service work. All in-house counsel aged 30 to 39 are eligible for nomination. To nominate yourself or someone deserving, please use the nomination form. Contact Josh Shields with questions. 

ACC Value Champions:  Submit your nomination through January 31. The ACC Value Champions program identifies, celebrates and publicizes successful law department value initiatives and collaborations between clients and their legal service providers. The Champions utilize value–focused management practices to cut spending, improve predictability and achieve better outcomes. ACC Value Champions have made great strides in controlling legal costs and have shared their value practices and tools to inspire others. Contact [email protected] with questions.

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Diversity Committee Update

2017 was a good year for the Diversity Committee, we were able to complete the scholarship application and selection process.  We had 22 applications coming from all three Houston area law schools, and got to learn a bit about these students, their aspirations and what makes them diverse.  The pool of applicants really reflects how diverse is our city, our community and luckily, for our profession, the future attorneys.  ACC Houston could not be prouder of this heritage.  From those 22 applications, we selected 12 recipients that truly excel in their academic performance; diversity in our view is very important, but it is also important academic excellence, and this is what our scholarship program recognizes: a culture of diversity and academic excellence.  We also had the opportunity to celebrate these students and their achievements in April, were we hosted a dinner for them, their families and friends, and took the opportunity to introduce them to our members.  This is also another very important aspect of our program, not only we have the opportunity to help these students complete their Law School, but also we immediately embraced them in our legal community.  We believe that this will help them as they develop their careers and grow as professionals.

Finally, we cannot close this year without recognizing our diversity dinner co-sponsors for this year, Vorys, Sater, Seymore and Pease LLP, and Baker Wotring LLP.  In addition to being able to meet our scholarship recipients at the dinner, our sponsors enjoy various benefits, however one of them is especially important.  As a sponsor they get to host a CLE for our members where they have the opportunity to talk about diversity in our legal profession, and how their firms are contributing in promoting diversity in our community.  This year we were particularly fortunate because our sponsor Baker Wotring was able to secure for their CLE seminar Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis.  The event took place on December 12th with over 100 attendees!  This esteemed group of presenters shared their personal stories around inclusion and diversity that brought valuable insight from their very unique perspectives and positions in the community.  We really appreciate the time they spent with us sharing their experiences.

(L-R)Paul Shanklin, Mayor Turner, Debra Baker, Commissioner Rodney Ellis

It was a full house at Maggiano's for the Diversity CLE on December 12, 2017

ACC Houston will continue its journey in promoting diversity in our city and we hope you join us in this endeavor.  Remember to sign up for the next Diversity Committee CLE event on January 23, 2018 at Maggiano's when Vory's presents Workplace Civility, Off-Duty Conduct and the First Amendment: Where should employers draw the line?  Happy Holidays and a very good 2018!

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Community Service

With your help, the ACC Houston Pro Bono Committee made a significant impact in 2017 supporting Greater Houston through the provision of pro bono legal services and volunteerism.  During the pro bono pairing event, held on February 9, 2017, Houston Volunteer Lawyers brought a variety of cases appealing to attorneys with transactional and litigation backgrounds.  ACC Houston members were able to browse through the cases, which ranged from everything to family law, IRS tax disputes and bankruptcy, and select the case of their choice while enjoying networking with their fellow in-house counsel over food and drink.  Members were delighted that they also had an opportunity to meet and select an attorney from Gardere Wynne Sewell as their partner to assist with all aspects of their selected case. 

On June 24, 2017, ACC Houston members carried on the annual tradition and volunteered at the Houston Food Bank.  Despite the torrential rain and flooding, ACC members along with their families and friends rolled up their sleeves to help combat hunger in our community by sorting and packing food at the Portwall Warehouse location.  A fun time was had by all, and the event ended with a luncheon for volunteers.

We are excited about continuing the Pro Bono Pairing event and Houston Food Bank family volunteer day in 2018.  Dates are tentatively set for the evening of February 22, 2018 for Pro Bono Pairing and the morning of March 24, 2018 for the Houston Food Bank, so please save the date! 

Finally, we are excited to share the details of a new initiative for 2018.  ACC Houston will form a team to compete in the Houston Food Bank’s Food from the Bar (“FFTB”) campaign.  FFTB is a month-long competition against law firms and legal organizations in Greater Houston from April 1, 2018 to May 1, 2018 to see who can best support the Houston Food Bank.  Points in the competition are awarded based on volunteer hours, pounds of food donated and monetary donations.  Last year’s campaign was a great success as 45 participating legal organizations raised $170,000, collected 15,000 pounds of food and donated 2,300 volunteer hours (702 volunteer shifts), all of which generated the equivalent of 685,100 meals for the community.  Unfortunately, of the 45 legal organizations, the in-house legal community was not well represented, and we would like to show our colleagues that the in-house community is just as engaged.  There will be many opportunities to participate in the competition, including a “Legal Frenzy” day at the Houston Food Bank where hundreds of legal professionals come together to volunteer, have fun and network.  Stay tuned for more details as April approaches, but we hope that you will join and support our team!   

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Women In-House

The ACC Houston Chapter Women In-House Committee was formed approximately 4 years ago to focus on issues important to women in-house lawyers and build a community of women in-house lawyers in the Houston area.  In these four years, the Committee’s events have grown from one or two a year to 6 events in 2017.  The event topics included Networking, Women on Corporate Boards, Professional Attire, Executive Presence, Gender and Sexual Discrimination in the Legal Profession, and a Holiday Market supporting local women owned businesses.  These events are not only a forum to address important issues.  They are always combined with a social and networking component which has allowed our members to make connections and form friendships.  Many of our members tell us they now look to these events as an extension of their social and professional circle. In addition, it allows our sponsors to establish connections between their female employees and our members. It is important to note that these events are not only open to women, we usually have several male members attend each event!  We are looking forward to another exciting year in 2018 and invite all of our members, particularly those that have not attended before, to come to our events in 2018.  We also welcome ideas for topics.  Planning for 2018 is underway so please reach out to Committee leads Celia Balli or Nicole Moss with your ideas!

Special thank you to our 2018 Women In-House sponsors:

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Socials and More

Louisiana meets Texas.  Kean Miller, one of the largest full-service law firms based in Louisiana, opened their Houston office in December.  What better way to celebrate the opening of the Houston office than a crawfish boil with ACC?  Look for it in the spring of 2018.

Can’t Get Enough of Those Astros? Shook, Hardy & Bacon with a mission of Providing creative and practical solutions at unsurpassed value.® is planning a great social event for members next year.  Families will be welcome to accompany ACC members and catch the World Series Champion, Astros, in a private suite at Minute Maid Park.  Astros gear optional, but encouraged. 

Questions or comments about our social events can be addressed to Dionne Hamilton or Lauren Haller, Co-Chairs of the Social Committee for 2018.

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Calendar of Events

All of ACC Houston upcoming events can be found on our website.  Go to to find out more.

January 2018 Events:

ACC Houston Diversity CLE: Workplace Civility, Off-Duty Conduct and the First Amendment

Jan 23, 2018 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Maggiano's Little Italy
2019 Post Oak Blvd.
Houston, TX 77056


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