State Bar Lawyer Referral Information Service (2/28/08 Texas Lawyer)

February 28, 2008 Texas Lawyer. The referral of a case to Houston attorney Randy Sorrels in December 2005 has resulted in a boost in funding available this year to the State Bar of Texas Client Security Fund, which compensates clients victimized by dishonest lawyers. The State Bar Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) referred to Sorrels a case stemming from the alcohol poisoning death of University of Texas freshman Jack Phoummarath, who died Dec. 10, 2005, after consuming too much alcohol , allegedly as a result of a fraternity hazing incident. Sorrels, a partner in Houston's Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz, represents Phoummarath's family in a wrongful-death suit, Phoummarath v. Lambda Phi Epsilon, et al., filed in Houston's 334th District Court. Sorrels says the family is settling the suit against the fraternity and other defendants, but that his firm already has sent the State Bar about $160,000 for the referral fee. Lawyers who receive LRIS referrals pay 10 percent of any fees earned of $500 or more to the State Bar. To ensure that the referral fee from the Phoummarath case -- the largest fee that LRIS has ever generated -- would have maximum impact, the State Bar board of directors voted Jan. 25 to transfer money from the bar's general fund to the Client Security Fund, according to State Bar spokeswoman Kim Davey. The Phoummarath case also has produced another benefit. As part of the settlement, fraternity members participated in the production of an educational anti-hazing video designed for use by colleges and universities. The video can be found at inmemoryofjack.com.

-- Mary Alice Robbins