Charlotte Hughart

Professor of Law; Director, Family Law and Benefits Clinic

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“Law is a service profession. We do not sell widgets. If you want to be happy in the practice of law, you need to care about your clients.”

Get to Know Charlotte Hughart

What drew you to the law?

After college, I became a social worker for the state. During training, we went to the Legal Aid Society and the director gave a presentation that inspired me. I saw that lawyers, because of their knowledge and skill, could really help our poor clients. I decided that was what I wanted to do. It has turned out to be a wonderful career. It is true that lawyers can make a big difference in people’s lives.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I truly enjoy the opportunity to teach law students while continuing to represent people who would be without legal counsel otherwise. My favorite thing is being present when a student begins to really understand how the law works. I like to see their eyes light up when they realize how their own efforts make a difference in the case and in their clients’ lives.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

In my course, students actually experience being a lawyer. It’s different than case law, a problem in a book or a simulation. They work with real clients in real cases that affect real lives. They aren’t pretending to practice – they are practicing (with lots of supervision!). I want students to feel the weight of the experience of being responsible for a client’s case. I hope my students will find that legal practice can be both fun and fulfilling. The key is doing legal work that means something and that makes a difference.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I practiced law with a legal aid office in Oklahoma. I represented indigent clients in a variety of civil cases, including divorces, adoptions, Social Security/SSI disability, name changes, consumer cases, bankruptcies, unemployment compensation, food stamps, welfare benefits and landlord/tenant cases. Then I was a staff attorney at the University of Oklahoma legal clinic, where I also practiced criminal defense.

What are you passionate about outside of the law?

I love to travel! I have been to all 50 states, most of Canada and Mexico, England and Europe several times, Cuba and Japan. I also like to garden and read. My favorite volunteer effort is Habitat for Humanity. I love picking up a hammer and actually building a house with the homeowner and other volunteers. A house is tangible and positive. The homeowner is always so excited.

What are your research interests?

My research and writing focuses on real cases for real clients. I have been director of the Family Law and Benefits Clinic since its founding in 1998. During that time, most of my research has been in the areas of Social Security/SSI disability and family law. I have filed approximately 192 hearing and appellate briefs in client cases, plus innumerable pleadings. I enjoy seeing the result of my written and oral work, and knowing that it has made a difference for my clients.

Publications

My publications are available on BePress SelectedWorks™.

Presentations

  • 2015 Women’s Research on Women Symposium poster presenter – March 30, 2015
  • AALS Clinical Section Annual Meeting group leader – April 28, 2013 to May 1, 2013
  • North Richland Hills Police Department panelist – July 3, 2012
  • Kinship Network Symposium speaker – June 12, 2010
  • Women Law Students Association panelist – March 25, 2010
  • Guest speaker for Trial Advocacy class – 2010
  • United Way Families Council speaker – June 26, 2008, November 13, 2008
  • Law Clinic’s 10th Anniversary Dinner keynote speaker – 4-3-08
  • Law Clinic video presenter – March 2008
  • League of Women Voters panelist – Spring 2008
  • Speaker at Prospective Student and Admitted Student events – 2007-13
  • Texas Access to Justice Foundation presenter – June 23, 2007, July 1, 2008
  • TWU Law Day panelist – Spring 2003
  • Emergency Assistance of Tarrant County Annual Meeting speaker – October 16, 2002
  • Texas State Trial Advocacy Meeting speaker – June 16, 2001
  • Relatives as Parents Coalition speaker – April 10, 2001
  • Texas National Association of Social Workers award speaker – November 5, 1999
  • Introduction of ATLA program speaker, John Howie – Fall 1999
  • Planning Your Course of Study panelist – 1998
  • Guest speaker for Negotiations class – 1998
  • Law Clinic Information Sessions – 1998-present
  • Faculty Colloquy speaker – April 16, 1997, March 3, 1998, April 2, 2003
  • “First Monday” Pro Bono Board panelist – October 1997, 1998
  • Externship Program Information Sessions – Fall 1996, Spring 1997
  • Judicial Clerkship panelist – 1995, 1997

Expertise

  • Clinical programs
  • Social Security/SSI disability law
  • Family law
  • Trial advocacy

Courses

  • Family Law and Benefits Clinic

Academic Experience

  • Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2013-present)
  • Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2000-2013)
  • Associate Clinical Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (1995-2000)
  • Visiting Associate Professor of Law
    University of Oklahoma College of Law (1989-1990)
  • Staff Attorney
    University of Oklahoma College of Law (1981-1995)

Education

  • J.D., Oklahoma University College of Law
  • B.S., Oklahoma State University

Awards / Honors

  • 2013 Outstanding Large Law Firm of the Year – Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
  • 2006 Outstanding Large Law Firm of the Year – Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
  • 2003 Volunteers of the Year (100+ hours) – Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
  • 2002 Volunteers of the Year (100+ hours) – Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
  • 2001 Dwight H. Moore Urban Attorney of the Year – Tarrant County Bar Association and West Texas Legal Services
  • 1999 Nominee for National Public Citizen of the Year – National Association of Social Workers
  • 1999 Public Citizen of the Year – Texas National Association of Social Workers
  • 1999 Public Citizen of the Year – Tarrant County National Association of Social Workers
  • 1999 Fort Worth Star-Telegram Hometown Hero – July 19, 1999
  • 1998 Tarrant County Commissioners Resolution Honoring Law Clinic and Director – December 8, 1998

Other Professional Activities

National

  • Licensed to practice with United States Supreme Court – 2000
  • National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives – 1998-present
  • National Legal Aid and Defenders Association (NLADA) – 1997-present
  • American Bar Association – Legal Education Section – 1995-present
  • National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) graduate – 1985

Texas

  • State Bar of Texas – 1995 to present
  • Northern District of Texas, Federal District Court – 2004
  • Tarrant County Bar Association – 1995-present
  • Women’s Section – 1995-present
  • Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association – 2002-present
  • Mediation Certificate – July 1995

Tarrant County

  • Tarrant County ACLU Legal Committee – 2003-06
  • Tarrant County Bar Association – 1995-present
  • Habitat for Humanity Committee – 2002-14
  • Chair – 2010-11
  • Vice-Chair – 2009-10
  • Community Service Committee – 2003-12
  • Lawyer Referral Committee – 1997-2001
  • Tarrant County Bar Foundation Life Fellow – 2009
  • Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association – 2005-present
  • Sponsored family law CLE – April 9, 2014

Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma Bar Association – 1977-present
  • Legal Services Availability Committee – 1985-95; Chair – 1986
  • 10th Circuit Court of Appeals – 1978
  • Western District of Oklahoma, Federal District Court – 1978
  • Cleveland County Bar Association – 1981-95
  • Legal Services Availability Committee – 1988-89; Chair 1985-86
  • University of Oklahoma College of Law Committees
  • Enrichment Committee – 1985-88
  • Law Day Committee – 1985-91
  • Oklahoma Association of Women Lawyers
  • President – 1984-85
  • Secretary/Treasurer – 1982-84
  • Board of Directors – Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma 1986

Professional Organizations – Pro Bono Activity

  • Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (formerly West Texas Legal Services)
  • Pro Bono Volunteer Attorney – 1995-present
  • 1995-96 – Divorce Clinic Volunteer Attorney - November 2, 1995, December 7, 1995, May 2, 19696, June 6, 1996
  • 1998-present – Referrals accepted by Law Clinic
  • Tarrant County Bar Association – Civic Projects
  • Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans Clinic – 11-21-14, 2-20-15
  • Habitat building projects – 2000-14
  • Food drive – 2003-09
  • Clothing drive – 2003-09
  • Suit Up for Success – August 2001
  • Cowtown Brush-up – 10-21-00
  • National Adoption Day Attorney – November 2000, 2001