An annual award for outstanding legal-aid staff attorneys this year will honor two lawyers instead of one for the first time in the 20 years the State Bar of Texas has granted the award. Brian East (pictured), senior attorney for Disability Rights Texas in Austin, and Nelson Mock, staff attorney for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Austin, will receive the 2011 J. Chrys Dougherty Legal Service Award, one of five Pro Bono Excellence Awards being presented June 23 during the State Bar Annual Meeting. The award comes with a $1,500 stipend. “Both people were so outstanding, we didn’t want to slight one. And we decided, well, who says we can’t propose two?” says retired 101st District Court Judge Jay Patterson, chairman of the Awards Subcommittee of the State Bar’s Committee on Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters. East says he works to end discrimination that people with disabilities face from employment, private businesses and governmental programs. Recently he helped negotiate amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act, “which corrected about 20 years of bad case law on the issue of who is a person with a disability,” East says. He also commented on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s draft regulations that implemented the ADA amendments. “I guess I feel honored to be part of the civil rights struggle, generally, and more specifically on behalf of people with disabilities. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than eliminate barriers in discrimination,” he says. East says he admires Mock and is honored to share the Dougherty award with him. Mock did not return a telephone call seeking comment. David Grenardo, senior associate with King & Spalding in Houston, and Fulbright & Jaworski Austin partner Marcy Hogan Greer will receive the Frank J. Scurlock Award; the Houston Bar Association’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program will receive the Pro Bono Award; Ellyn Haikin Josef, pro bono counsel at Vinson & Elkins in Houston, will receive the Pro Bono Coordinator Award; and Fulbright will receive the W. Frank Newton Award.
-- Angela Morris