This month’s Sidebar spotlight features two Texas Tech Law alumni, Art and Stephanie McClain Hall. Art currently serves a district director of research, development for the Alamo Colleges Workforce Training Network. Art is also a board member on the Texas Tech Law School Foundation. Stephanie has worked in various legal capacities for Valero Energy Corporation for the past 15 years. They also have a beautiful daughter, Londyn.
How did your experience at Texas Tech Law contribute to your success?
Stephanie: Texas Tech Law provided a solid foundation on the black letter law. The focus was on the basic building blocks cultivating an atmosphere of learning how to “think like a lawyer”. The professors and curriculum were very good.
Art: Texas Tech Law is known for training highly skilled, practical lawyers. Similar to my education at Harvard, Texas Tech Law taught me “how to think,” as opposed to “what to think.” My training in and out of the classroom has prepared me well for all aspects of life, from the courtroom, to business deals, to academia, to politics, to personal life.
What is your favorite memory from your time at Tech Law, and why?
Stephanie: I sometimes miss the environment of the college campus. Being at Texas Tech Law was like having a taste of the real world while in a safety net. I made some of my closest friendships while attending law school (several who later became bride maids in my wedding!) and met my best friend (Art) who is my husband today.
Art: Certainly meeting my future wife (Stephanie) in law school is a definite highlight. She was a year behind me, so I “helped” her with notes and homework! But, the other major memory I had was the day the OJ Simpson verdict came down on October 3, 1995 – I was a 3L. Hundreds of students were gathered in the center of the law school around a TV. It was one of the first times that the “practice of law” seemed “real” to me. When the verdict was announced, the tension in the air was heavy. Afterwards, when I went to lunch with a small group of friends, without thinking about it, I ordered “OJ” when the waitress asked me for my drink order. I didn’t catch what I had just done until she gave me a look! – the tension was everywhere! I decided to eat light that day.
What activities did you enjoy when you were at Texas Tech Law, and do you keep in touch with any classmates?
Stephanie: I enjoyed participating in the moot court, mock trial and negotiation competitions the law school provided. While often times nervous about the caliber of the competition, I forced myself to engage because I wanted to learn. The court room seemed like a space I was naturally meant to be in, later I realized just how much work it takes! I also enjoyed being a part of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) and the mentorship that naturally occurred within the organization. I do try to keep in touch with classmates; a few have become life-long friends.
Art: I enjoyed serving on the Student Bar Association (SBA) and the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). However, my favorite activity was the student advocacy programs. My partner, Kelly Vick, and I were exact opposites in so many areas – woman/male, white/black, conservative/progressive, Baylor/Harvard, etc. – but our differences made us one of the formidable teams and created a lasting bond of friendship. To this day, some of the key team names are well-remembered – Insani/Mitchell, Sims/Underwood, Musick/Mullins, Jensen/Strelzen, Bowdich/Nowlin, Gainer/Miller, Helberg/Gowan, Gowan/Truelove, and Vick/Hall.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment to date?
Stephanie: God’s blessings have been plentiful and his grace amazing. I consider it a privilege to have interned and started my career at Strasburger. The trial academy program and mentorship was incredibly good. Realizing early on in my career that I would one day like to work as an in-house lawyer, I could not have landed a better opportunity than Valero. The work is complex yet engaging, and the people are very bright and kind. I have received a number of recognitions from the San Antonio legal community over the years.
Art: I have enjoyed opportunities working internationally and in academia. However, my proudest professional accomplishment has been my service on San Antonio’s City Council. Everyone ought to give back to their community in some form or fashion. The opportunity to serve in an elected capacity and make long-lasting decisions that would impact our city long into the future was an honor.
What activities do you enjoy in your free time?
Stephanie: I enjoy reading the Bible and desire to continue growing spiritually. I cherish quality time with family, especially my daughter Londyn. I also like to run, swim laps, bike, and read biographies about life experiences.
Art: I enjoy spending time with my family on our ranch in East Texas. The things that matter most in life are faith, family, and health, and occasionally retreating there helps bring everything back into perspective. Although we live in San Antonio and I grew up in Lubbock, I’ve often called our ranch “home.” It’s the place where my “roots” are located, where my great great grandparents came as slaves and our family later settled. The connection between “the now” and history, who I am and whose shoes I’m filling, and my own legacy that I create with every step of every day, are important reminders and guides.
Tell us about some of the professional organizations you are involved in.
Stephanie: In 2010, I was invited by the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to serve as a member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). The NEJAC is a formal federal advisory committee whose objective is to advise EPA on various Environmental Justice related policies across the country. I served on the Council for approximately 4 years. I currently serve on the Diversity Committee for the Masters Leadership Program (MLP).
Art: I recently served on the Texas Tech Alumni Association (TTAA) National Board of Directors. I currently serve on the Texas Tech Law School Foundation Board and the San Antonio Fire & Police Pension Fund and Health Fund Boards. I was a member of Leadership San Antonio Class 27 (2001) and served on the Steering Committee for Leadership San Antonio Classes 37 (2011) and 42 (2016).
Tell us about some of the charitable organizations you are involved in.
Stephanie: I served on the Board of The Children’s Shelter in San Antonio for 9 years. Over the years, I have supported a number of other charitable organizations. I am a member of Grace First Baptist Church, where I share in a Sunday School teaching role.
Art: I served as Chair of the San Antonio Martin Luther King Commission in 2012, hosting the 25th anniversary of the largest MLK march in the world. I continue to serve on the Mayor’s Charter Commission and serve my church, Grace First Baptist Church, as an Associate Minister.