Hundreds Visit Baylor Law to Participate in the 2019 “People's Law School”

February 13, 2019

Hundreds Visit Baylor Law to Participate in the "People's Law School 2019"

On February 9, 2019, Baylor Law hosted the 14th annual People's Law School, a half-day event offering free courses designed to make the law more accessible to central Texans.

Patricia Wilson welcoming people to the People's Law School

Professor of Law Patricia Wilson, founder of the People's Law School at Baylor Law, welcomes participants.

WACO, Texas -

On Saturday, February 9th, hundreds of central Texas residents braved the cold rainy weather to participate in Baylor Law's popular People's Law School, a free half-day event designed to educate consumers about their legal rights and to make the law "user friendly."

Volunteer attorneys and legal experts offered a total of 19 hour-long courses. Participants could attend up to three throughout the day. Along with the topics on major current events like The Criminal Justice System and Plea Bargains: Understanding a Prosecutor's Role, information on the Mueller Report, and birthright citizenship, other courses focused on other important issues such as family law, navigating traffic stops, the jury selection process, landlord & tenant rights, understanding gun trusts & gun regulations, and many others. In addition to the courses, all attendees received copy of the U.S. Constitution and a helpful fact sheet on how Central Texas residents can access publicly available legal services. The Law School offers this event to the public free of charge, thanks to the generous support of many local associations, businesses, law firms, and media companies.

Assistant Dean Stephen Rispoli Candid Photo

Assistant Dean Stephen Rispoli speaks with People's Law School participants about zoning and planning laws.

"I believe it is important that we do our part to educate our community and make the law more accessible to the general public. Baylor Law is uniquely positioned to host a People's Law School, given our beautiful facility, our access to lawyers who are experts in their field and are willing to volunteer their time to teach a course, and the support of many fine businesses in the community," stated Baylor Law's Professor of Law Patricia Wilson, the driving force behind the creation of the People's Law School, who added, "We believe that it is important for us as lawyers and for the benefit of our students that the Law School both engage in and model community service. In addition, we are a nation of laws. An informed citizenry is necessary to a functioning democracy and a productive country."

"This event reminds us of why we came here to law school. It's really easy to get involved in studying hard and making good grades, but [The People's Law School] helps you stay focused on what's really important, and that is giving back." Stated Baylor Law student Jessica Wiewel, who, along with dozens of other Baylor Law students, volunteered her time on Saturday morning. Fellow Student Jessica Washington added, "This is a nice way to stay connected to the community while we're still in the process of learning."

A full classroom at Baylor Law

Local attorney and Adjunct Lecturer at Baylor University's Honors College, shares about Special Education Law on Saturday, February 9th at Baylor law.

Thank You To Our Sponsors

This year's People's Law School was co-sponsored in part by Waco-McLennan County Bar Association; Center for Consumer Law; Sheehy, Lovelace & Mayfield, PC; the State Bar of Texas Consumer and Commercial Law Section; Shipley Do-Nuts (Waco Drive location); Blanek's Custom Catering, SCM Promotions, and Mars, Inc. Media sponsors included The Waco Tribune-Herald; KWTX Channel 10; Power 108 FM, 106.7 - the Eagle; and Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

The complete list of the 2019 courses is below:

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Jury Selection Process
This class is for those who want a better understanding of the jury selection process. What are the attorneys looking for when they select a jury? What’s the difference between a preemptory challenge and a challenge for cause? Two experienced trial lawyers will conduct a mock voir dire in a mock case presided over by one of our local judges.

Birthright Citizenship and the Fourteenth Amendment New Course!
The concept of birthright citizenship has been in the news lately. In this course, learn the history of this concept, what individuals are entitled to birthright citizenship, and how the rights of those individuals differ from those of naturalized citizens.

The Criminal Justice System and Plea Bargains: Understanding a Prosecutor’s Role New Course!
In felony cases, what is the prosecutor’s duty to the victim, the accused, and society? Why are some defendants offered a plea while others are taken to trial? What considerations go into a prosecutor’s decision to offer a plea bargain to a criminal defendant? These are some of the questions that will be addressed during this session.

Debt Collectors and Identity Theft
What rights do debtors have? What is permissible for debt collectors and when do they violate the law? What rights and responsibilities do you have if you are the victim of identity theft? The instructor of this course will educate attendees about their rights in this area of the law.

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.

Finding the Law 
This is the course for people who wish to know how to use the library and the internet to find cases, statutes, and other law-related items.

Hiring and Working with Your Attorney New Course!
What are the things that you need to know and think about when hiring an attorney to help you solve a problem? This session will cover these issues and discuss the best strategies for working with your attorney after you’ve hired him or her to work on your case or matter.

Introduction to Special Education Law
This instructor in this course will provide an overview of the important laws and procedures regarding special needs children and their education, including a look at the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process, discipline of students with special needs, and other topics of interest to those who parent or work with special needs children.

Landlord/Tenant Law
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 or another law school.

back to topThe Mueller Report: What’s Next?

The Mueller Report: What’s Next?New Course!
Special Counsel Robert Mueller soon may be submitting (or may have by the time of session) a report to the Attorney General. We’ll take a non-partisan look at where things may go from there depending on the findings and what the Attorney General and Congress do.

Texas Community Property: What is it and How to Protect It New Course!
This course is for individuals who want to have a better understanding of Texas community property. What determines whether something is community property or separate property? Can a premarital agreement change the nature of the property? What about post-marital agreements? This course will provide a general overview of the law in this area.

Traffic Stops: From Initial 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.

Understanding Gun Trusts and Other Gun Regulations New Course!
This course will cover what a “gun trust” is and whether you need one. It will also address what types of firearms are best suited for gun trusts, procedures for legally purchasing and transferring firearms to gun trusts, and gun trusts in the administration of your estate.

Veterans’ Rights
This course will provide veterans a basic review of rights and benefits available to them, as well as a basic overview of services offered by the Veteran’s One-Stop.

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.

Zoning and Planning Laws New Course!
Local governments across Texas have implemented zoning laws to control the use of real property. What purpose do these zoning ordinances serve? What rights do landowners and others have when a city or county seeks to change the zoning or planned use of a particular parcel of land? This session will cover not only the history and use of zoning laws, how they may affect you, and how you can appeal to your city for upcoming plans or for requesting changes.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ed Nelson, Director of Marketing & Communications
PHONE: 254-710-6681

Established in 1857, Baylor Law 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 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. Baylor Law 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 one of the top 5 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #50 in the magazine's 2019 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984. Learn more at

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 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. Learn more at

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