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Hannah Dyal

Hannah Dyal is an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and an Equal Justice Works Disaster Resilience fellow. She...

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Rocky Dhir

Rocky Dhir’s dual interest in innovation and the law prompted him to establish Atlas Legal Research, LP in 2000....

Episode Notes

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month! Have you considered whether your law firm could recover from an unexpected crisis? State Bar of Texas host Rocky Dhir discusses this topic with Hannah Dyal, whose article, “Building a Disaster Plan for Your Law Practice,” will appear in the September 2020 issue of the Texas Bar Journal. Hannah shares insights on the types of hazards lawyers should consider and outlines the essential elements of a well-conceived plan.

Hannah Dyal is an attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and an Equal Justice Works Disaster Resilience fellow.


State Bar of Texas

Be Prepared – Disaster Planning Tips for Lawyers and Law Firms





Intro: Welcome to the State Bar of Texas podcast, your monthly source for conversations and curated content to improve your law practice, with your host, Rocky Dhir.




Rocky Dhir: Hi and welcome to the State Bar of Texas podcast. So here’s a bit of trivia. September is National Disaster Preparedness month. Can you feel the irony? I mean, on the one hand you want to go out and share that little tidbit of information at the next cocktail reception, but on the other hand there won’t be any cocktail receptions at least not for a while and certainly not in person. What to do? What to do? Well, one thing you can do is check out the September 2020 issue of the Texas Bar Journal. In it you will find among other things or inter alias we lawyers like to say. Actually, why do we say stuff like that? That just sounds weird. Anyway, I digress. You will find an article titled ‘Building A Disaster Plan For Your Law Practice.’ No, the title doesn’t invoke non-paying clients, although it might be understandable why some of us might think it does. The title and the article refer to the natural kind of disaster. Think hurricanes, tornadoes. Viruses anyone? It’s a timely topic and an especially well-timed article. They say you should fight fire with fire, so when it comes to natural responses and natural disaster responses, we fight nature’s forces with another force of nature. One of those forces of nature is Hannah Dyal. She authored the TBJ article, and ever since graduating UT Law in 2017 has dedicated her career to serving the indigent and yes, helping people through natural disasters.


Hannah is an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, a nonprofit that serves indigent residents of Southwest Texas, and she’s also a Disaster Resilience fellow at Equal Justice Works. This is actually her second Equal Justice Works fellowship. And Hannah never actually chilled out in law school. Case in point, she was a team member on the ABA Young Lawyer Division’s Disaster Legal Services Program. She has helped clients respond to Hurricane Harvey and Corpus Christi and a number of floods in the Rio Grande Valley. On top of all that, she clearly rocks at adulting.


Hannah is a real-life superhero and she was kind enough to take a few moments out to sit and talk with us. Hannah, welcome.


Hannah Dyal: Hi. Thanks for having me.


Rocky Dhir: Absolutely. So look, we have Batman Begins, we have Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, the list goes on. So what’s your origin story? How did you get into the field of disaster relief?


Hannah Dyal: So, I graduated from law school in 2017 and Hurricane Harvey hit the Corpus Christi area that same year. So I took the bar in July, and Harvey hit in August. So I was kind of looking for a job and these cases were coming in from people in my state, whose whole lives have been upended by Harvey. Their homes were gone, some of their life savings were wiped out trying to recover, and so, I just kind of jumped in. And then once I got there, I really started to appreciate disaster recovery work. It’s very varied, you kind of never end up doing the same thing one day to the next. And so that has been very interesting for me.


Rocky Dhir: Now when there’s not a disaster are you just kind of bored or what do you do when there’s no disaster going on?


Hannah Dyal: So not really because there’s always preparation for the disaster and honestly, we’re still in long-term recovery for Hurricane Harvey down in the Coastal Bend region. And then due to climate change, there really hasn’t been a time period where there hasn’t been a disaster. I mean, we are currently responding to Hurricane Hannah that just hit the valley a couple weeks ago.


Rocky Dhir: Right.


Hannah Dyal: And then COVID is kind of a natural disaster. So since I’ve started doing this, there hasn’t really been any lulls in the disaster recovery work


Rocky Dhir: So I wanted to ask you about that because you know, lawyers, you talked about COVID and how that’s kind of a natural disaster. And so, as lawyers we love definitions, right? It’s like what precisely do you mean, and what is the definition of is. So let’s talk about the definition of disaster. Is there a definition? How do you know what a disaster is?


Hannah Dyal: I would not say that there’s really a definition. Honestly, COVID has really helped me kind of streamline what I think of as disaster recovery work, because it really highlighted what disaster attorneys do. And in my opinion, what really makes the disaster attorney is someone who has to adapt quickly to the ways the laws change because of an unexpected event. So Hurricane Harvey hits and there’s new FEMA Assistance and you know, the Governor may suspend certain rules or landlords — there are certain rules in the code that apply to landlords and apartment complexes only when a disaster has hit. And so you have to know those rules and know the different ways that the law may affect certain clients.




And so COVID has a similar thing. I mean, the first month after the shutdown, after we really started quarantining.


Rocky Dhir: Like we quarantined in March, we quarantined in March. So you’re talking like April at this point, right?


Hannah Dyal: Right. So like early April, even like probably the whole of April. Just it was kind of anything goes. I don’t know if other lawyers experienced that or that was exclusive to the legal aid world, but it was kind of like all, you know, Abbott was handing down orders and it was kind of like is this legal, what is happening, executive orders were being signed, are these allowed? And so the ability to adapt to those things and kind of go, we don’t know what’s coming next, something new maybe, is I think what makes being a disaster attorney.


Rocky Dhir: Now let’s talk about this article that you’ve written for the September issue of the Texas Bar Journal, right?


Hannah Dyal: Sure.


Rocky Dhir: So you’re talking about disaster preparedness. What compelled you to wake up one morning and say, “Let’s write an article and let’s tell people how to prep for this”? I mean, is this something you’ve always wanted to do or what kind of — what was the motivating force there?


Hannah Dyal: So first of all, I preach disaster preparedness to my clients all the time. So it’s hard to tell your clients, “Make sure your house is in order for a disaster,” and then not apply the same logic to a law firm. If your clients should be prepared, so should law firms.


Rocky Dhir: That’s kind of why I don’t let my daughter into my office because it’s a mess, and yet I tell her to keep her room clean.


Hannah Dyal: Exactly. It’s hard to tell clients, “Make sure you have pictures of all of your stuff so you can make insurance claims,” and then not do that yourself. So that’s part of it. And then the other part is really as you do disaster work, you see what happens when you don’t prepare. You see clients who have not prepared and clients who have prepared, and how much better, how much faster and easier your recovery is if you were ready.


Rocky Dhir: Now, when you’re talking about clients, these are your clients through Legal Aid?


Hannah Dyal: Yes, my Legal Aid clients that I do FEMA appeals for. I represent clients for title clearing so that they can get assistance to rebuild their homes. I’ve done a little bit of landlord-tenant law where I’ve represented clients who were being treated unfairly by landlords post-disaster. So that’s kind of the general work I do.


Rocky Dhir: Well, so I can see some people saying, “Well, I’m not indigent, I’ve got good insurance,” so on and so forth. I mean, do these same principles apply to them or is there really kind of an income divide when it comes to disaster preparedness and disaster relief?


Hannah Dyal: Yes and no. There is an income divide in recovery, people who are low income don’t recover with the same ease that people who have more resources do recover for a lot of reasons that we could do multiple episodes about.


Rocky Dhir: I’m sure.


Hannah Dyal: But we won’t go into all of that. But, there’s not a divide in the preparedness. One thing I think that might highlight this is you know we have income restrictions for the clients we serve because we are a free service, and so we can only accept people who meet a standard of low income. But, after Harvey and after other natural disasters, the income changes because people lose their jobs or their savings, and so we take that into account. Normally, we do like a yearly average, but there is the, “Oh, you did make too much money to qualify for our services, but you don’t anymore. And so now you are eligible for our services.” And so I think disasters can make people who were doing fine not be doing so fine. So yes and no. And also, everybody should be prepared because you can have great insurance but if you can’t prove your claims, you can’t make your claim, you’re going to be in the same boat as some of our low-income clients because you’re still not going to get your money.


Rocky Dhir: Let’s talk about law firms and lawyers for a moment because that’s really who you were focusing your article about.


Hannah Dyal: Right.


Rocky Dhir: Obviously, because it’s the Texas Bar Journal, right?


Hannah Dyal: Right.


Rocky Dhir: Your readership would primarily be people in the legal field. Now, you employ your readers to have a written disaster plan, to write it all out. Now, what should the plan include? Or to put it in legal speak, what are the elements of a good disaster plan?


Hannah Dyal: So there’s a lot of resources out there for what specific things to include. The State Bar does have resources, and so does the American Bar for the specific things to include. I would say making sure that it is written is probably the most important step, because a lot of times attorneys will say, “Well I have a plan. It’s all up here, and attorneys it’s all in my head,” and attorneys are — we’re usually smart individuals and so they think I’ve got this handled, then they don’t write it down, and then something happens to them or the secretary at the front desk doesn’t know what the plan is and so she can’t respond and then that leads you to some issues. So that’s the first thing is I would say make sure it’s written, and then I would say the next thing is to just make sure you have a plan for continuing operations when something interrupts it. That is really the defining thing for a disaster plan. And that is going to look very different depending on your firm.




A solo practitioner or a small firm with only two or three attorneys, it’s going to be a really different plan because you don’t have maybe the same staff to take stuff. You probably also don’t have the same number of cases that you need to be watching out for. So make sure you adapt your plan to your practice, make sure you write it down and make sure you evaluate it often. So that’s what I would say my top tips kind of for making a disaster plan.


Rocky Dhir: Interesting. Now, and I actually wanted to ask you about solos and small firms, and you’re saying they need to have a written plan as well.


Hannah Dyal: Yes.


Rocky Dhir: And you said there’ll be differences. So you talked about everything just kind of being up in the attorney’s head, let’s say it’s a solo firm and they say, “Well, it’s all up in my head,” or “It’s in my laptop and I’ve got everything I need in my laptop and I can work from home,” right?


Hannah Dyal: Right.


Rocky Dhir: What’s the flaw in that if you just say, “I’m a solo practitioner and I’ve got one assistant, and everything’s on my laptop and as long as my laptop is with me, I’m fine”?


Hannah Dyal: So maybe part of your plan that your laptop is the thing that needs to be protected. I would say you could leave your laptop on your desk to go to lunch and have a pipe burst and your laptop’s gone. So that’s one flaw. And one thing about disaster preparing, we call it an all-hazards approach, you want to make sure you’re prepared for everything. So your disaster that you’re prepared for may not be a Hurricane Harvey level event or a COVID level event. It may be a burst water pipe and what do you do when your client files are destroyed because the upstairs neighbors had plumbing issues? You need to have a plan for that. So the other thing is if you do have a Hurricane Harvey level event, you’re probably not going to be thinking very clearly. You know, you get panicky. After a disaster there can be some trauma associated with that disaster. I think probably many of us understand that in light of COVID that there is some trauma that we are experiencing because of what’s happening.


Rocky Dhir: Sure.


Hannah Dyal: So having it written down and so you can have something to refer to is helpful. And what if your assistant leaves and your assistant knew the plan but now you got a new assistant and you never told her what the plan was and she didn’t do her job and now water got into your building or something like that. So that’s why we would recommend writing it down.


Rocky Dhir: So when you’re saying disaster, you don’t just mean a national life-threatening level disaster. I guess like you said, it’s anything that interrupts your ability to continue serving your clients and doing your work.


Hannah Dyal: Exactly, yeah.


Rocky Dhir: Okay. So I guess that could even be, going back to my earlier example, you left your laptop in the car.


Hannah Dyal: Yeah, and it got stolen.


Rocky Dhir: When you went to lunch it got stolen or it overheated.


Hannah Dyal: Exactly.


Rocky Dhir: Because you don’t have tinted windows, whatever.


Hannah Dyal: Or there’s a fire in your building or something like that. You may have a plan that has different steps, you know. You may have a plan that has, this is what we do if a Hurricane Harvey level event happens, and this is what we do — because they may be different things. You may have one response for one type of disaster and another response for a different type. So yeah, we would recommend even the the smaller, if you want to call them that, disasters that are more localized maybe just impact you, I would try to put something that might address that into your plan.


Rocky Dhir: When you talk about a plan for disasters, obviously there’s different types of disasters. Now with something like COVID.


Hannah Dyal: Right.


Rocky Dhir: Do you think that it was possible or have you seen people that had a written disaster plan that would have encompassed something like this? I mean this was — COVID, it’s kind of hard to describe. I mean, I don’t know how future generations are going to describe this disaster. I mean yes, it’s a pandemic, but on the other hand it’s lasting for a long time, it’s just changing the way people do business. Is this the type of disaster that you think somebody could have planned for?


Hannah Dyal: So it’s interesting you mentioned that and I’m going to talk about my boss for a second because her name should come up because she’s an expert in this. So my boss, Tracy Figueroa, actually did have a plan for a pandemic for for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and she’s been doing this work for a lot longer than I have and she’s trained me on this. And so she had a few years ago gone to a number of trainings on pandemics.


Rocky Dhir: Yeah, what compelled her to do that? I mean because that wasn’t in our — I mean yes, there was SARS I think and there was bird flu, but there wasn’t anything like this. So what got in her head about pandemics? That’s kind of interesting.


Hannah Dyal: I’m not really sure. I don’t know if there was — because I would have been probably — I don’t even think I was in law school at the time. I know there was an article a while ago saying at one point George Bush got super invested in pandemics and maybe that carried over. I’m not really sure why she did, I don’t know that I’ve ever asked her that. I think the executive director of our organization at the time was very invested in it too, but yes she went to a number of trainings that talked about it. I will say I think there were provisions, she had plans and so when it appeared that this was going to become serious in early, mid-March really, we started talking about what we were going to do.




And we handled shutting down and working from home I think better than some other law firms and legal aids that I’ve heard from but we didn’t think it was going to be this. So I agree that you can’t plan for everything because you don’t know, and my boss, she makes the jokes about preparing for alien invasions because right now you’re like, “Oh that’ll never happen,” but we really — I mean back in February, we were saying we weren’t going to be here and here we are. So I think you’re right that you can’t plan for it, but yeah there were people who had an idea that something like this might happen and had a vague idea of a plan.


Rocky Dhir: It’s fascinating. Even one of the local grocery stores here where I live up in the Dallas Fort Worth area. They had a disaster plan for pandemics. And so it was interesting because then when the lockdown happened they were one of the only grocery stores that was not out of produce and flour and everything else. They had stuff stockpiled and they knew what to do.


Hannah Dyal: Right.


Rocky Dhir: And they just executed on their plan. And so I’m trying to think about how, as a lawyer, if I’m running a law office, how do I envision that? Now are there experts out there — so let’s say you’ve got the resources to hire somebody to help you with disaster preparedness, are there people you can hire to do this for you?


Hannah Dyal: You know, I’m not really sure. I know I’m not sure there are because — so I know that Tracy Figueroa did help. She wrote Charles’ disaster plan, she wrote our law firm’s disaster plan, but she also helped the Corpus Christi Bar Association right there. So I know she’s done a number of disaster plans, but I don’t know because she is an expert, we’ve never really looked at hiring outside help to do it. There might be and there are resources like I mentioned American Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas do have some resources for helping people put together their own plans, but I’m not sure if you could hire somebody else.


Rocky Dhir: So your article right now we’ve been focusing on protecting your data, protecting your client files. Let’s talk about protecting the person and the people around you. What steps did your organization take, what steps have you seen others take successfully to try to protect the people? Alongside the client files, how do they protect themselves in these types of disasters?


Hannah Dyal: Right. You mean like COVID or natural disasters?


Rocky Dhir: You know, really any one, because things like hurricanes and tornadoes — tornadoes are a little bit harder to predict, but hurricanes you can kind of see them coming but with the tornado, maybe you have an hour to kind of get prepared. COVID, I mean I don’t think anybody saw it becoming what it is now. So what recommendations would you give or what’s the mindset you should take when it comes to trying to protect the people around you?


Hannah Dyal: I think the best thing I could say is communication and I’ve seen that in the ways that it failed with other law firms who may still not know exactly what their office or their firm’s plan is for COVID. I think communicate with your staff early about what your plan is. So part of your disaster plan should probably be if a hurricane, and I’ll use that as an example because you do have a lot of warning with a hurricane, with others you don’t have as much warning. If a category three hurricane is coming, we will shut our offices down 36 hours before it is anticipated to make landfall. A clear this is what we will do so that staff knows I’m not expected to stay here. And another way that that’s beneficial for law firms is that staff are more likely to complete the tasks at the office that they’re supposed to do, unplugging their computers, putting everything up higher, putting their client files and whatever it is your law firm does up on a desk in some kind of waterproof container, whatever it is you come up with, sandbagging the door. They’re more likely to complete those tasks if they know they get to go home and they don’t have to come back to work. And they can then get their own house in order, so I would do that. And then for the shorter term things, tornadoes, I would say shootings, it might be a concern for a law firm.


Rocky Dhir: Shootings? Like like guns, like somebody shooting?


Hannah Dyal: Like guns.


Rocky Dhir: Okay.


Hannah Dyal: We have a plan for what we do.


Rocky Dhir: For active shooters.


Hannah Dyal: For active shooters. Also I should mention, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has an office in El Paso. We did respond to the El Paso mass shooting last year. That is another type of disaster. So have a written plan on that too that everybody knows about.


Rocky Dhir: So tell us about that. I mean, how did you respond to the active shooter? I guess you’re right that’s a disaster, but it didn’t occur to me as we were talking about this. That’s interesting.


Hannah Dyal: Right. It doesn’t occur to most people. Yeah, so we went and they had some resource centers set up to help people out, and we staffed those, and we talked to people about their legal rights.




We had a lot of issues with employment, there were some employment law issues that popped up because of it. And then one thing that comes up and I would say this is another pretty unifying thing for disasters is assistance that is available to people impacted by it and a lot of times it has different rules that confuse people. And so making sure that these clients who are very traumatized particularly after a mass shooting understand whether or not they are eligible for a certain type of aid. So we helped with that. And then also, our branch manager in El Paso actually kind of helped with — there was a big pot of money that went to survivors and the family members of those that passed away, and he helped kind of figure out how that money should be distributed. So we were pretty involved and we did some trainings with the local bar association in El Paso. That is something that we would consider to be a disaster.


Rocky Dhir: Now that comes without any warning at all, right? I mean yes, they look back after and they say, “Oh well, we saw the shooter’s Facebook postings and it looked like this person was a nut job,” but more often than not you don’t know where they’re going to strike or when they’re going to strike. So it sounds like you guys were really helping people in the aftermath of the shooting. Have you put any plans in place for if you have an active shooter in your building or in your vicinity?


Hannah Dyal: I can’t speak for all of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid on that issue because that is a less centralized disaster. So our particular office in Corpus Christi does have a plan for who we’re supposed to call and what we’re supposed to do and we have where you like call the police. It’s like a little emergency button that you hit.


Rocky Dhir: Okay, sure.


Hannah Dyal: Yeah, like a panic button.


Rocky Dhir: It’s like an alarm?


Hannah Dyal: Yeah.


Rocky Dhir: Yeah, there you go.


Hannah Dyal: We have like panic buttons throughout the office. So yeah, we have a plan that we go over — well, we haven’t gone over it for a while now, but we we were going over it like twice a year pre-going home what to do, and our office, because we also have some family law attorneys who represent a lot of domestic violence victims and so our office would get actual threats every once in a while. So it became more critical for us to actually have plans and run-throughs because probably once or twice a year we get somebody threatening us. So you got to be cautious of that. And that plan is pretty much solely focused on staff safety rather than there’s not a lot of — I haven’t seen much focus on client documents at that point.


Rocky Dhir: At that point, yeah, you’re not going to walk out with a file cabinet.


Hannah Dyal: Probably not.


Rocky Dhir: Unless it’s shielding you. But, tell us a little bit about Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. You said that in your Corpus Christi office. So it sounds like you’ve got multiple offices.


Hannah Dyal: Yes.


Rocky Dhir: How many offices, how much staff? Because obviously if Tracy Figueroa is managing multiple offices with multiple staff, your disaster plan has got to be pretty robust?


Hannah Dyal: Yes. So we have an office in Austin, San Antonio, El Paso. We have offices in the Valley, Laredo, Corpus, Victoria. So we have a number of offices.


Rocky Dhir: Wow, okay.


Hannah Dyal: And there’s a lot in the Valley. We started kind of as a valley organization and then kind of grew.


Rocky Dhir: Sure.


Hannah Dyal: And so we actually have two offices in Corpus Christi. And so Tracy, the way Trala is broken up, we represent low-income individuals in almost every civil legal matter that you can think of, we have like teams focused on a particular issue. So Tracy manages not particular offices but particular attorneys. So I’m not actually in her office, but she manages our disaster group, and so she manages — we have an attorney in the valley, we have three attorneys in Corpus, and we have an attorney in Victoria as well. So that’s how it really works. So there’s a family law team and then there’s a torts team and there’s other teams that do a specific thing. But our disaster plan is pretty robust, and that is one thing when you have offices all across the state you can really rely on other offices.


Rocky Dhir: There’s some redundancy there, yes?


Hannah Dyal: Mm-hmm.


Rocky Dhir: Yeah.


Hannah Dyal: And so part of our plan is if where something were to happen to Corpus Christi office or a valley office, then we can make space in our San Antonio office, and vice versa, if a tornado comes through San Antonio, unlikely but possible, then attorneys there may be able to work out of other offices. So yeah, it’s pretty robust and it gets re-evaluated every year, and we’ve had it in place for at least more than a decade. I’m not exactly sure when she first wrote it but for a long time.


Rocky Dhir: In your article for the TBJ, you actually recommend, you know speaking of representing the indigent and pro bono work, you recommend that attorneys do pro bono work, but interestingly you recommend that as part of disaster preparedness.


Hannah Dyal: Yes.


Rocky Dhir: And yes I see that pro bono work is important but linking that to disaster prep, I’d never made that connection. Can you explain a little bit about why you thought that that is part of disaster prep?




Hannah Dyal: Absolutely. So I would say the biggest way pro bono attorneys could really help pre-disaster in my opinion is to do title clearing because the thing is we see over and over and over again, and this is what we’re currently doing because we’re in a long-term recovery phase for Hurricane Harvey. What we’re seeing is in order to get your house rebuilt you usually have to completely — you have to have clear title to that home and a lot of low-income individuals live in homes that belong to grandma and there are now 19 owners and nobody’s cleared that title and so the house is in really bad shape and because it was an old house it was probably destroyed, but they can’t get help because they don’t own their house. And the issue is that the legal aid side, we get inundated by these FEMA appeals immediately after disaster. And so we don’t really have time to do any title clearing because those are more time consuming cases. And what you get is pro bono attorneys who have the best intention to really want to do those FEMA appeals and that’s helpful too, but that requires a lot of training on our part to train them on how to do them and you have people who are already experts in title clearing. And if you could take some of those cases that might take a year or more and get title cleared by the time the big money comes down to do a rebuild, that client might be in line to be able to get that. So that to me, and then just have it pre-disaster, just clear title for low-income people who can’t afford to pay the 20 grand it might take to clear a really complicated title clearing case, just take one and spend a little bit of time on it over a two-year period and see if you can get something done, and that might really change that person’s life.


Rocky Dhir: Okay. So when you’re saying disaster prep, this isn’t so much about your own firm. This is about helping others and kind of doing our job as attorneys to try to help push the ball forward when it comes to access to justice?


Hannah Dyal: Yeah, for sure on the pro bono side I would say that. I also would say you just need to be prepared yourself. But I think part of disaster preparing is disaster preparing your community to make it more resilient and pro bono attorneys could absolutely do a lot of good working on those issues.


Rocky Dhir: Before we close out, I wanted to ask you about your career. We talked about this early on to some extent, but when you were in law school, did you always think you were going to go and become a legal aid attorney or is that something you always wanted to do or was this something you kind of got into after? And so that way, for the law students out there, they can kind of explore whether this might be a career path for them.


Hannah Dyal: Yeah. So I always wanted to do legal aid. I think I would probably — well, I grew up without any attorneys being around. I didn’t know anything about their —


Rocky Dhir: Congratulations.


Hannah Dyal: Yeah, I know.


Rocky Dhir: That’s a good childhood.


Hannah Dyal: It is.


Rocky Dhir: That’s a happy childhood right there.


Hannah Dyal: It is. I didn’t know any attorneys, there were no attorneys in my family. So, I kind of didn’t know what I was doing.


Rocky Dhir: I still don’t know what I’m doing.


Hannah Dyal: True. That’s true to a certain extent.


Rocky Dhir: It’s chronic.


Hannah Dyal: I actually wanted to work for the ACLU like many idealistic young attorneys or law students, that was my goal, and then I kind of got into the legal field and realized that there’s direct client representation and then there’s like impact litigation. An impact litigation is very important and I would never downplay that. It’s just not for me. My personality is not — the amount of time you spend on those cases to potentially lose just devast — I could not do it. So I prefer the client interaction. And so I think legal aid has a lot of client interaction if that’s what you’re after and you’re not so much on that impact litigations.


Rocky Dhir: You better like people.


Hannah Dyal: You do. And we do impact litigation too. Legal aids across the country do it as well. So if you want to do a little bit of that, 5% of that or 10% of that but mostly you want to figure out what your impact litigation is going to be through your direct representation of clients, legal aid is probably a good path. So I did always want to do public interest, but law school really turned it into legal aid rather than some ACLU type job.


Rocky Dhir: Got it. Well, I mean, heck, I’ve learned something from this. But, Hannah, unfortunately we are out of time and I know you need to go change into your superhero clothes and go save some more lives. By the way, I have this question. Maybe you guys out there can help me. Do superheroes ever wash their outfits? I never see them do it, but if so, when? I mean what if disaster strikes and — see what I did there — right in the middle of a spin cycle, what do you do? Think about that one, Superman, Bruce Wayne. Anyway, as you ponder that one, Hannah, I want to thank you so much for coming on and sharing your knowledge with us. This was fantastic.


Hannah Dyal: Thanks for having me.


Rocky Dhir: Absolutely. And of course, I want to thank you for tuning in and encourage you to stay safe and make sure you follow all applicable orders for dealing with COVID-19 and please advise your clients and loved ones to do the same and maybe this is a good time for you to think about some pro bono work, maybe we’ve inspired you.




This situation with COVID-19 is changing fluidly and quickly so please seek out legal counsel if you have a question. If you like what you heard today, please rate and review us in Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or your favorite podcast app. Until next time, remember life’s a journey, folks. I’m Rocky Dhir, signing off.




Outro: If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit Go to, subscribe via Apple Podcast and RSS. Find both the State Bar of Texas and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.


The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by the State Bar of Texas, Legal Talk Network, or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.






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Episode Details
Published: August 27, 2020
Podcast: State Bar of Texas Podcast
Category: Practice Management
State Bar of Texas Podcast
State Bar of Texas Podcast

The State Bar of Texas Podcast invites thought leaders and innovators to share their insight and knowledge on what matters to legal professionals.

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