Texas native Thomas Headen III is a founder of the Legal Equalizer® app which promotes positive police encounters through a more legally informed citizenry. His mantra is legal literacy, which makes him part teacher, part lawyer.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
When I was growing up, I accompanied my grandfather on missionary trips to the Navajo and Apache Reservations. It was there I saw the most extreme, widespread, and pervasive inequality. People without basic needs. I saw the impact that my grandfather made on such people and it inspired me to want to serve the community.
People who most impacted society historically were people that led movements in areas of Religion, Economics, and Government/Law. I decided that I would study all three, but never knew I would find my calling in the law.
What’s your area of practice?
My main focus is bringing legal literacy to people. It seems that most of America is legally illiterate. People don’t know their 4th, 5th, 6th Amendment rights. They don’t know how those things apply to them, so they can’t assess how they apply to other Americans.
That ties in with the app, Legal Equalizer®. What prompted its creation?
With Trayvon Martin, people either projected the idea of the innocent child being stalked by some maniac or people projected some guy trying to protect his neighborhood. We didn’t have any objective account of what actually occurred. Whatever the case may be, this caused a schism in America. We wanted to create an objective tool of evidence and a more informed citizenry so that our democracy could better function.
That’s how we came up with Legal Equalizer®. When you’re in a situation where you have been detained or get pulled over by the police, you open the app, press one button, it sends an emergency text message to your loved ones to let them know and starts to record the encounter. Once the recording is done, it uploads to our secure cloud. We are currently developing live-stream, a “how to contact an attorney” feature that will put you in touch with local representation as well as other helpful features.
What’s the most valuable thing that you do as a lawyer for your clients?
The most valuable thing is to understand their position. For example, I had a gentleman that came to me for some legal literacy. This man committed a robbery and in the process, he falsely imprisoned his victims because he said, “Stay right here and don’t move.” The prosecutor put on the maximum for false imprisonment as well as the maximum for robbery and in that instance, they should not have been put on top of one another, they should have been compounded together. This man thought he was facing 15 years with these two maximums, but in actuality, he was facing a lot less than that. Legal literacy helps people make more informed decisions.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
I would probably be a minister or a counselor or something that would allow my bleeding heart to really show.
What do you do to unwind, when you’re not helping people?
My wife and I like to go to a little BYOB paint your own pottery place where we can participate in artwork and fellowship with good people.
What are you most proud of on your resume?
At South By Southwest in Austin, TX in early March 2017, we were selected as the first winner for the annual entrepreneur pitch competition with President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. We will be working with the alliance and the Ford Foundation, to further Legal Equalizer.
What is something your clients would never guess about you?
I played Division 1 football and ran Division 1 Track. My senior year I placed first in my district for track down at my high school in Texas. But if you looked at me, you would never know I had it in me.
LeanLaw believes that lawyers are heroes, critical to the rule of law in a free society. You can find out more about Thomas Headen III at Legal Equalizer® app. If you know a heroic lawyer whom we should spotlight, please let us know in the comments below.
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