Abbott awards $100K to Consumer Law Program at St. Mary's

The SE Texas Record Jan. 24, 2008, 8:33am

SAN ANTONIO - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott awarded more than $100,000 to St. Mary's University School of Law on Jan. 24, which will use the funding to expand the legal services its consumer law clinic provides to South Texas residents.

"Today's award recognizes St. Mary's University School of Law's demonstrated commitment to local consumers," Attorney General Abbott said. "With additional resources, St. Mary's legal clinic can expand the availability of its high quality legal assistance. We look forward to working with Dean Cantú and his colleagues to aid South Texas consumers."

"We would like to thank the Attorney General and his staff for the support," said St. Mary's University School of Law Dean Charles Cantú. "St. Mary's University School of Law strives to graduate students who will one day become legal professionals with a dedication to excellence, a passion for service, and a commitment to ethical practice of law. A significant part of that educational process is the work done at the Center for Legal and Social Justice. Through the clinical work there, we nurture our students' desire to seek justice while meeting our University's mission of reaching out to our community."

The award is funded by the liquidation of Mark Nutritionals, Inc. In December 2002, the Office of the Attorney General took legal action against the San Antonio-based company for its widespread deceptive marketing and sale of unproven weight-loss products known as "Body Solutions."

Mark Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in September 2002, seeking to reorganize under Chapter 11. The case was converted to Chapter 7 liquidation in April 2003, and the Attorney General ultimately persuaded the bankruptcy court that the funds remaining in the case could best be used to advance consumer law education in Texas. In 2005, law schools at Southern Methodist University and the University of Houston received similar awards from the Mark Nutritionals bankruptcy to supplement their consumer law programs.

The St. Mary's University School of Law legal clinic addresses the legal needs of low-income people in San Antonio and South Texas. The legal clinic provides advice and representation in the areas of criminal defense, immigration law, family law and civil matters. The legal clinic will use the funding award to cover start-up expenses for its new Consumer Advocacy Program, which will help expand its direct legal services to consumers.

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