Paula Pierce, Attorney at Law
Starting a business is exhilarating but stressful, and it is hard to justify huge legal fees in times of financial uncertainty. Every business deserves a general counsel or consigliere, but in-house general counsel is out of reach for small businesses. That is why I offer limited scope services. Businesses can economically outsource their general counsel needs to a law firm by taking advantage of flexible fee structures. Having an attorney handle every aspect of an issue can be expensive.
Most people are capable of handling some aspects their legal issues if they have access to legal advice and legal documents. However, too many business owners hurt themselves by purchasing stand alone legal forms without any counsel or advice. Often, they end up spending much more in legal fees because the forms did not meet their needs. By unbundling services and limiting the scope of attorney representation, our clients are able to target legal services, and limit legal fees, to meet their unique needs.
I have been practicing law for 30 years. I received my bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Trinity University in San Antonio and my law degree, summa cum laude, from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After serving a year as a briefing attorney to the state’s highest court, I worked as a litigation associate in a small personal injury law firm in Houston.
In 1990, my family moved to Austin. Working part-time as a staff attorney at Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) gave me the ability to have lots of time with my children while they were growing up. When my youngest child entered high school, I transitioned to a full-time legal practice at Texas Legal Services Center. Working in a legal aid organization allowed me to develop a diverse set of skills spanning several areas of the law.
ID Theft Experience
In 2005, I had the unique opportunity to work with people who were plagued by a crime that had received little attention: identity theft. At that time, there were few resources available to identity theft victims and few lawyers with experience helping them. As the managing attorney for TLSC’s identity theft project, I learned about the federal and state laws that can be used by victims to recover from the crime and helped develop a victim’s toolkit. I also represented identity theft victims in court. Several times, I was the first lawyer to appear in a court on behalf of an identity theft victim. This work gave me an inside look at the challenge cyber-crime poses for businesses.
Helping Victims Recover
Under my leadership, TLSC expanded its services to crime victims to include helping victims of violent crime understand the criminal justice system, going to court with victims, representing victims who had been sued as a result of the crime, and helping victims locate the resources available to help them recover. I have successfully represented crime victims in federal, state, and appellate courts. TLSC also gave me the opportunity to work with self-represented litigants, that is, people who were turned down for free legal assistance and who were unable to find an attorney that they could afford. TLSC’s self-help resources are accessed through a website, www.TexasLawHelp.org.
Under my leadership, we instituted some groundbreaking services for self-represented litigants. We helped install computer stations, called kiosks, in law libraries and courthouses so that people without computers could use www.TexasLawHelp.org. We sent materials and offered training to public libraries and law libraries throughout the state so that more people could find and use the website. And, we hired and trained attorneys to give legal information and answer quick legal questions through a chat service called LiveHelp. Doing this work gave me an appreciation for flexibility in provision of legal services and tailoring services specific to client needs.
- Managing ACA Compliance for Non-Profits, Team NFP, 2016
- The Lurking Pirahna: Anti-SLAPP Statutes…, Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court, 2016
- Legal Issues for Businesses, Women Grow, February 2016
- Smile: You’re on Candid Camera, the public’s right to film interactions with law enforcement, Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court, 2015
I believe in giving back. Our family has attended All Saints’ Episcopal Church for two decades. I’ve served as a lector and chalice bearer, vestry member, and Sunday school teacher. My husband and children have also actively served the church. Additionally, I’m a volunteer deputy voter registrar for Travis County. It is fun to register new voters – especially those who have just turned eighteen and are about to vote for the very first time.
Our family has volunteered for a number of Austin nonprofits through the years including the food bank, Interfaith Hospitality Network, and Meals on Wheels. We are fans of the “I Live Here, I Give Here” campaign of Amplify Austin. I’ve served on the board of directors of Zilker Theatre Productions and Austin Foundation for Eating Disorders.
I love Austin and Central Texas – from our annual wildflower drives on the Willow City Loop to the local food and music scenes to hiking the Barton Creek Greenbelt. My husband and I raised our children in Austin, and we still love exploring the area.