Lives in the Law with Michael Urena, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Location: Eidman Courtroom followed by box lunches in the Jamail Pavilion

“The Struggle Over Native American Children and Haaland v Brackeen: Permanent Peace or Temporary Truce?” 

Lives in the Law speaker Michael E. Urena will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Haaland v. Brackeen, which rejected constitutional challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), in the context of the history of the U.S. Government’s treatment of Native American children, including the establishment of federal Indian boarding schools and other practices that led to the ICWA’s passage. He’ll also address the state court proceedings that preceded the federal case and explore the likelihood of future challenges to the ICWA.

This event has been accredited by the State Bar of Texas for 1.00 hour of CLE credit.

Mr. Urena will also be available to meet with students from 1-2 pm.

Please RSVP by 12PM, March 20.

Hosted by the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and the Career Services Office.

About the speaker:

Michael E. Urena has provided legal services to low-income Texans and their families in Eagle Pass for almost 30 years as an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA).  Currently, he leads TRLA’s Disability Rights practice as well as its Native American Rights practice.

Urena has had a diverse practice: from family law to electric utility rates to disability rights to employment and farmworker law to housing and consumer law and Native American issues. Two of his reported cases are Serna vs. Law Office of Joseph O Onwuteaka, PC, 732 F.3d 440 (5th Cir. 2013) (adopting a consumer-friendly standard for when the limitations period begins for certain Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claims) and Hurst vs. Texas Dept. of Assistive and Rehab. Services, 482 F.3d 809 (5th Cir. 2007) (holding Texas did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity for claims that its Vocational Rehabilitation Program violated the Rehabilitation Act).

Originally from California, Urena earned his BA from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before entering military service. While in the U.S. Army, he became fluent in German and was stationed in West Berlin, Germany for 2 1/2 years during the Cold War. He received his JD from the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC. While in Washington, he was drawn to Texas by TRLA, which was then known as Texas Rural Legal Aid.

Urena is admitted to the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Western Districts of Texas, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth U.S. Circuit, the State Bar of Texas, the State Bar of California (inactive), and the Tribal Court of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, where he practices regularly.

About the Lives in the Law speaker series:

The “Lives in the Law” speaker series focuses on the work and lives of lawyers who strive to improve the lives of others through litigation, advocacy and public service.


Event series: Lives in the Law Speaker Series