STATE BAR DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT SEPTEMBER 2022
Interview by Eric Quitugua
Photo courtesy of Chris Gillett.
Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon
Position: Civil appellate lawyer at the Forbes Firm in Houston
Board Member: District 4, Place 4, since 2020
The law is not a natural fit for someone with my background as an Armenian immigrant.
The backdrop of my experiences as a young immigrant in my hardworking family became fundamental in my path to the law. My parents were born in the 1930s on the heels of the Armenian genocide, which spanned from 1915 through 1923. Fleeing war-torn and unstable countries, my parents sought a better life for us in America. We came to this country when I was nearly five years old in the 1970s. Although my parents spoke four languages, English was never among them. English is not my first language. I started to learn it in kindergarten, and even then, heard it only at school.
I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school and the first person in my extended family to graduate from a university. In pursuing a legal education, I figured a law degree would be a versatile educational achievement no matter what profession I ultimately chose.
Also, I knew how vulnerable my parents were because they weren’t
educated and didn’t speak English; in equal part, I knew that it was
less likely that someone could take advantage of me if I worked hard,
learned this country’s laws, and became well educated. Moreover, I would
gain the skills and earn a professional degree that would enable me to
become a voice on behalf of others against injustice.
I practice civil appellate law because I love working with clients and trial lawyers to find solutions for the client’s legal issues.
One of the most critical stages of appellate practice involves advising a potential client on whether an appeal is in his or her best interest. In handling the appeal, and contemplating legal arguments and strategies, I rely on my 24 years of legal experience and common sense to advise clients. I am honored when a client and their trial lawyer trust me to handle their appeal. Thus, I strive at all times to uphold the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct in serving my clients and as an officer of the court.
As my Baylor Law School professors used to tell us, the law is a jealous mistress.
The practice of law can be demanding on an attorney’s mental health and physical well-being. The State Bar’s support and promotion of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program is an invaluable, discrete service for our colleagues who need it.
I have served on the Client Security Fund Committee since the beginning of my tenure as a State Bar director and the work is fulfilling because our approved grants make a direct impact on the public.
The bar’s continued endowment of the Client Security Fund provides a distinctive program to protect the public. Its purpose is to protect the integrity of the legal profession through discretionary grants to clients who have been harmed by their lawyers’ dishonest conduct. The Client Security Fund is administered through the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel and operates as a standing subcommittee of the board’s Discipline & Client Attorney Assistance Committee.TBJ
The State Bar Director Spotlight highlights a member of the bar’s volunteer board of directors. Learn more at texasbar.com/board.