Houston area residents learn about their rights at UHLC’s “People’s Law School”

UHLC Professor Emeritus Richard Alderman welcomes guests to the 2015 People’s Law School.

Oct. 12, 2015 – How to avoid scams and navigate the difficult legal territory involving divorce were among the most popular subjects of the latest installment of “The People’s Law School” held Oct. 3 at the University of Houston Law Center.

Professor Emeritus Richard Alderman retired from teaching last year but continues to direct the Center for Consumer Law, which he founded, and “The People’s Law School,” the oldest and most successful law program for lay persons in the nation.

Classes included business law, tax law, employment law, health insurance, consumer law, credit and debt collection, wills and estates, family law, insurance law, landlord-tenant law, Social Security law, how to deal with an attorney, as well as a course on how to find the law on the Internet or in UHLC’s John M. O’Quinn Law Library, which is open to the public.

Attendees filed into Krost Hall auditorium, where they were welcomed by Alderman and Laura Gibson, ’84, president of the Houston Bar Association.

In his remarks, Alderman told the attendees how he decided to start both the Center for Consumer Law and later The People’s Law School, after arriving at UHLC. So the idea of the center, Alderman explained, was to give everyday people access to information about the law that they could use in their day-to-day lives as consumers.

“These are laws that if you know about them, you will save money, you will be able to assert your rights, and you’ll know when to not assert your rights because you may not have the rights you thought you have,” he said.

“We don’t want to be your lawyers. We don’t want you to need a lawyer. We want to give you information about the law so you can help yourselves,” he said.

Alderman later taught a class on avoiding common scams, many of which involving the use of counterfeit cashier’s checks and “work-at-home” schemes. Others that people too often fall for involve purported phone calls or emails from banks about “problems with your account” and the ever-popular emails from people overseas seeking help transferring large sums from U.S. banks, asking the recipient to first put some money themselves.

Professor Barbara Stalder, a noted advocate for victims of domestic abuse, presented a class on family law, with emphasis on the difficult terrain of divorce and child custody disputes.

Other presenters at the law school, who volunteered their time, were: Lavonne Hopkins and Ruby Powers (finding attorneys); Professor Seth Sandler (health insurance); Professor Richard McElvaney, David Tariq, and Tariq Gladney (credit and debt); UHLC librarians Chris Dykes and Dan Donahue (finding the law on the Internet and in law libraries); Bob Gilbert, David Sadegh, and Reggie Fox (landlord/tenant disputes); Harris County Justice of the Peace David Patronella (small claims court); Professor Janet Heppard Bill Stone, Kith Morris (wills and estates); Professor Cassandra Jeu (criminal law); Jessie Campbell (tax law); Teri Kelley (business law); Mark Steiner and Don Turbyfill (consumer law).

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