Baylor Law School Hosts 11th Annual People's Law School

February 15, 2016

WACO, Texas –

Baylor Law School continued the tradition of educating the community on the law and their legal rights by providing a free half-day of user-friendly courses. Now in its 11th year, the People's Law School puts the law in the hands of the people.

"I look forward to it every year, it is a great learning experience,” said Woodway resident Betty Fornelius, who attended the course on landlord/tenant issues.

Nearly 350 people from the Waco and McLennan county community gathered Saturday, Feb. 13 at Baylor Law School to take part in this year's event. The courses were taught by Baylor Law School professors and area attorneys. With a total of 17 courses scheduled in 25 classroom sessions, attendees had a wide variety of legal subject matter to choose from. The course listing included practical courses such as "Wills and Estate Planning," as well as courses on legal theory such as "Constitutional Law Review."

"I really enjoyed it. I love the atmosphere of the law school and I think being able to choose the classes that fit your interests is really helpful," said Reed Williams, a Baylor undergraduate student who took the "Constitutional Law Review" course.

Every year, the People’s Law School includes topics that pertained to the current political and social climate of the time. A new course in this year's curriculum, “What is Sharia Law and Can it Become American Law,” addressed what Sharia law is, how it is interpreted and adopted into law differently throughout the world, and whether or not any aspect of it could become state or federal law in the United States.

Ruddy Tchao, a student who attended this course, said, "I loved it. I haven't thought much about Sharia Law, but getting to see where the basis of this law comes from and how it could fit in or be rejected by the American legal system was very interesting. There is a lot of fear in general of Islamic law coming here an taking over, and the professor did a great job of remaining true to both sides of the issue and quelling that fear."

Virginia Taylor of Waco, who also attended the Sharia Law course, commented, "the session on Sharia Law was so informative. It really put it into context, and I feel much more educated on the subject now."

With the new open carry laws in place in Texas, participants were eager to learn the new policies in “Open Carry/Concealed Carry.”

"I just got my concealed carry license and this course put everything into a real world perspective," said Caitlin Mcpherson. "The instructor taught us much more than what is required in a concealed carry class. It was pertinent information that applies to actual situations."

“People are yearning to have a better understanding of the law and are very appreciative of our efforts to expand their knowledge,” says Professor Patricia Wilson, the organizer of the People’s Law School. "We are very pleased with the response of the community and I believe that we are fulfilling our goal of providing information that is both interesting and relevant, or as I like to say, making the law user-friendly,” she continued.

In addition to the program’s many sponsors, the hard work and volunteer efforts of Baylor Law School students played a significant role in the success of the program. Understanding the importance of service to the community, the students assisted with the organization and administration of the program.

Professor Wilson is thankful to those who contributed to the success of the People’s Law School, whether through the donation of time or funds, “We’re very lucky so many people and local organizations believe in the mission of the People’s Law School and graciously sponsor or give their time to the program.”

The 11th annual People’s Law School was sponsored by the Waco-McLennan County Bar Association; Center for Consumer Law; Sheehy, Lovelace & Mayfield, PC; State Farm - Terry Strickland Agency; the State Bar of Texas Consumer and Commercial Law Section; Screen-Tex Graphics; Shipley Do-Nuts (Waco Drive location); and Mars, Inc. Our media sponsors include The Waco Tribune-Herald; KWTX; and Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

The complete list of the 2016 courses that were offered can be found below.

Buying and Selling Real Estate
A look at what buyers and sellers should know about real estate transactions, including the contract of sale, title insurance, the seller's disclosure obligations, and related issues.

Constitutional Law Review
First amendment rights, search and seizure, and same-sex marriage were all issues that the U.S. Supreme Court addressed in recent years. The instructor of this course will review some of those cases and their implications.

Consumer Law
The instructor for this class will provide an overview of some of the more important consumer protection statutes, including the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Elder Law
This course provides an overview of issues important to senior citizens and those who care about them, including a review of long term care planning, including Medicaid eligibility.

Family Law I
The instructor of this course will provide a brief overview of divorce, protective orders, and related issues.

Family Law II
In this course, participants will learn about the law regarding child custody and visitation duties and rights, child support, and grandparent's rights.

Intellectual Property for the Common Person
When can you copy a DVD or include another photographer's picture in your social media without infringing the owner's copyright? What's the difference between copyright and trademark law? The instructor of this course will provide attendees a brief primer on this area of the law.

Keeping Your Church Out of Court
Churches face a wide variety of legal issues. In this course, the instructor will address some of the most common issues faced by churches while offering suggestions on organizing, operating, and insuring to protect against those issues.

This course will provide valuable information for both landlords and tenants on the Fair Housing Act, security deposits, the landlord's responsibility for repairs, and eviction.

Law School: How to Get In
Whether you are currently in college or contemplating a second career, this course will provide you the information you need if you are considering applying to Baylor Law School or another law school.

Open Carry/Concealed Carry
The new Open Carry law recently became effective. What does it provide? Where can one carry a gun openly or concealed? When can guns be prohibited? The instructor of this course will review the law as it currently stands and highlight the unanswered questions, particularly those regarding the Open Carry law.

Pitfalls for Non-profit Corporations
Nonprofit law is surprisingly complex. The instructor of this course will identify some of the most common pitfalls faced by nonprofit corporations and address how to avoid them.

Separation of Church and State: Religious Liberty and Freedom
This course is for those who want a better understanding of what religious freedom means in the context of the law.

What is Sharia Law and Can it Become American Law?
The lecture provides a brief overview of the development and sources of Islamic Law, how it is interpreted and codified differently in various countries, and then explores whether or not and to what extent aspects of Islamic Law could become state or federal law in the United States.

From Traffic Stop to Trial
What are one's rights when stopped by law enforcement? What are the consequences of that encounter? This course will address the rights and obligations one has when interacting with the police and the subsequent navigation of the criminal justice system.

Veterans' Rights
Attendees to this course will gain a better understanding of veteran's rights and benefits and working with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wills and Estate Planning
Everyone should have a will. Students in this course will learn the requirements of a valid will and basic estate planning considerations.

CONTACT: Berkley Knas

Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,200 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked No. 51 in the magazine’s 2015 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law in its top 10 law schools for practical training, and second best value in private legal education in the nation. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 D1 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big XII Conference. Learn more at

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