Sept. 18, 2018 — University of Houston Law Center Professor Emeritus Richard M. Alderman is moving his popular "People's Law School" online to reach a wider audience and make it more accessible to people in need of basic information about their legal rights.
Known as "The People's Lawyer" for his efforts to educate the public over four decades through his newspaper column, books, radio and TV appearances, Alderman founded the "People's Law School" in 1991. It is recognized as the longest running and most successful legal program for the layman in the country.
The program has drawn more than 55,000 "students" to the Saturday morning sessions on the Law Center campus and around the state where they learn about their legal rights from volunteer professors, lawyers and judges.
Instead of attending "classes" on a wide-array of subjects ranging from landlord-tenant disputes to wills, Alderman said the move to the Internet will allow people to learn at their convenience 24/7.
Although still in the development stage, he plans to start making videos this fall and completing the project by next summer. The online version will provide short sessions, instead of the 50-minute classes of the "live" version. People will be able to watch all of the sessions or select specific subjects in which they have a particular interest. For example, he said, a viewer could select "Scams and Rip-offs," which would explain provisions of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Classes will be taught by Alderman and other legal experts, and will be updated as required by changes in the law.
Alderman retired in 2014 after 41 years at the Law Center, teaching and serving as associate dean and interim dean as well as director of the Center for Consumer Law, which he continues to lead.
He recently stopped writing his "Know Your Rights" column, which had been published weekly by more than 30 newspapers statewide since 1981. He ended his weekly television broadcast, "The People's Lawyer," in 2014, after airing thousands of segments and responding to countless viewer questions in 33 years on the air. His book, "Know Your Rights by The People's Lawyer," which he first published in 1981, is now in its 9th edition, including one in Spanish.
Regardless of platform, Alderman has always stressed that he is arming people with information about their basic legal rights, not advice on how to resolve specific disputes. One of his oft-repeated phrases in promoting "The People's Law School" is, "When it comes to the law, knowledge really is power."
Alderman's efforts and expertise have been recognized by the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association, which have twice awarded him their highest honor — the Golden Gavel. Another highlight came when the Houston City Council and then-Mayor Lee P. Brown proclaimed April 15, 2000, as "Richard M. Alderman Day" in honor of his public service. He also has often been quoted in national publications and has appeared on numerous television programs, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show."