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Three Outstanding Attorneys Receive Honors During STCL Houston’s Alumni Awards Luncheon

Home Law School News Three Outstanding Attorneys Receive Honors During STCL Houston’s Alumni Awards Luncheon

The South Texas College of Law Houston Alumni Association honored three South Texas alumni Sept. 21 at The Hobby Center during its Centennial Alumni Awards Luncheon: Benny Agosto, Jr. ’95, Distinguished Alumni Award; Samantha Torres ’13, Young Alumni Award; and Jose S. Lopez ’03, Public Service Award.

The event serves as an opportunity for South Texas Law to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of exceptional alumni.

In her welcome, Jennifer O’Brien Stogner ’06, president of the Alumni Association, praised her fellow alumni in the audience, saying, “We are a diverse, successful, and impressive group.”

Agosto received the highest award given by the Alumni Association. “It is a great honor that I am here standing before you,” he said. “I am a blessed man, here by the grace of God. Thank you to South Texas for this special recognition and thank you to all those distinguished people who came before me.”

He is a managing partner with Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz &  Stogner, one of the longest standing plaintiffs’ personal injury law firms in Texas. The distinguished alumnus shared three messages: be grateful, be inspired and inspire others, and keep setting new goals. Agosto concluded with a centennial celebration moment as guests raised their glasses of champagne: “I toast South Texas for 100 years of success — and for success in the in the next 100!”

Torres, a litigation associate at Okin Adams Bartlett Curry LLP, shared in her response that mental health in the legal profession is an important priority for her. She has been involved in developing events for the Houston Bar Association that emphasize mental wellness. She said she attributes much of her success and the development of her network to South Texas Law and to bar service. “I continue to get more connected with my law school alma mater as the years wear on,” she said. “I am honored to be here with all of you. This award today is unexpected — and even better than I imagined.”

Lopez, owner of The Lopez Law Firm, noted that the law school provides a platform and resources for alumni to stay connected. “I cannot do this alone,” he  said, as he described his professional and service activities. He noted several nonprofits that are important to him, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Connect Community, and Rotary International. “South Texas shaped my law career and helped me form lifelong friendships,” Lopez said. “Here’s to the next 100 years!”

Stogner shared that the Alumni Association has given a total of 77 awards since 1967. Many past honorees joined the three from this year for the special celebration held during the law school’s 100th anniversary year.

At the luncheon, STCL Houston President and Dean Michael F. Barry said, “It is an honor to be part of a law school that so ably prepares its graduates for success in the legal profession. There are 16,000 South Texas alumni serving our city, our state, and our country. Thank you for your commitment to the legal profession, your dedication to justice, and your support for the mission of South Texas College of Law Houston.”

Below is more information about this year’s recipients.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Benny Agosto, Jr. ’95

Benny Agosto, Jr., is a managing partner with Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz &  Stogner, one of the longest standing plaintiffs’ personal injury law firms in Texas. He has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Texas. A $3 million initial gift from Benny Agosto and his wife Nichole in 2021 allowed STCL Houston to launch the Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center. Agosto has focused much of his career on helping change the face of law to become more diverse. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Houston Baptist University (now Houston Christian University).

Agosto served as Houston Bar Association President in 2019-20 and was the first native Spanish speaker and second Latino to serve as president of the HBA. As the Hispanic National Bar Association President from 2011-12, Benny brought many important issues to the forefront of the national debate. He is president and a co-founder of the HNBA’s Legal Education Fund —  the association’s only 501(c)3 charitable group that raises money to give 100 percent of its contributions toward minority scholarships — and he founded the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas Foundation. He has earned significant recognition on local and national levels. He is a former recipient of the President’s Award from both the State Bar of Texas and the Houston Bar Association and the Outstanding Public Service Award from STCL Houston.

Young Alumni Award Recipient: Samantha Torres ’13

Samantha Torres, a first-generation attorney and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, is a litigation associate at Okin Adams Bartlett Curry LLP, a bankruptcy & restructuring, general litigation, and corporate transactions firm. Before entering private practice, Torres gained extensive first-chair jury trial experience as an attorney for the State of Texas at the Special Prosecution Unit in Huntsville.

She serves as vice chair of the Programs & Events Committee on the STCL Houston Alumni Association Board. In 2022, the committee organized a Women in the Law CLE featuring prominent STCL Houston alumnae. Torres is a director on the Houston Bar Association Board, the co-chair of the Houston Bar Association’s Membership Committee, and a director on the Houston Lawyer Referral Service Board. In 2019-20, she served as President of Houston Young Lawyers Association. During her tenure, HYLA developed mental health/wellness and first-generation attorney programs that received state and national recognition.

Public Service Award Recipient: José S. Lopez ’03

José S. Lopez is recognized for his unwavering commitment to public service and his substantial contributions to the betterment of society. Lopez is a proud immigrant and the owner of The Lopez Law Firm. His practice focuses on helping people who have suffered serious injuries in an accident. He represents thousands of clients and has recovered millions for them.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston.

Lopez is widely recognized for his mentoring and support for youth and youth organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters. Lopez is dedicated to giving back to his community and has been recognized by the Houston Mayor’s Office and the City of Houston for his work.

From food drives for needy families to laptop giveaways to students, he is visible and active in serving the community.

View more photos here: Alumni Awards Luncheon 2023

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