St. Mary’s University School of Law and the Law Alumni Association honored the Hon. Lawrence “Larry” E. Noll (J.D. ’72), Bexar County’s 408th District Court Judge, and Dwain Dent (J.D. ’76), founder of Fort Worth’s The Dent Law Firm, as their 2012 Distinguished Law Graduates at a dinner on Oct. 19, at the San Antonio Marriot Rivercenter, 101 Bowie Street. The annual awards are given to two individuals with both outstanding achievements in the legal profession and dedicated service to St. Mary’s School of Law.
A new addition to the dinner, the Distinguished Young Alumnus award was presented to Jennifer A Tharp (J.D. ’03), Comal County’s Criminal District Attorney.
Noll practiced real estate and family law privately and served as Justice of the Peace and municipal judge before election to his current bench in November 2006. Noll has held many leadership positions in state and local bar associations including membership on the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee and the Texas Supreme Court Committee on Professionalism. He teaches as an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s University, is a past president of the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association and current board member of the Hispanic Law Alumni Association. Among his many accomplishments, he has been inducted into the St. Mary’s University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Archdiocese of San Antonio Catholic Schools Hall of Fame and the Holy Cross High School Hall of Fame, named a St. Mary’s University Distinguished Alumnus, and won the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Doctoral Achievement Award.
Dent founded The Dent Law Firm in Fort Worth in 1990. A preeminent personal injury trial lawyer, he has led the way for many class action pharmaceutical suits and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, limited to trial lawyers who have won a verdict or settlement of $1 million or more. He founded the Spencer B. Dent Memorial Foundation dedicated to youth sports activities and is on the board of directors (and a coach) for the West Side Lions Little League in Fort Worth. Dent frequently appears as a legal analyst in the media and for many years had a radio show in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Also a history buff, Dent is a member of the United States Supreme Court Historical Society and has won numerous awards from the Historic Preservation Council for Tarrant County.
Tharp made history as the first female district attorney in Comal County. She began working in Comal County in 2004 as a juvenile prosecutor. Tharp has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases ranging from domestic abuse to attempted capital murder. She also worked in Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s general litigation division. She currently serves as president of the Comal County Sexual Assault Response Team, vice president of the New Braunfels Republican Women and is a co-founder of Comal Cops for Kids Foundation.Tharp is active with the Teen Court Task Committee, the Comal County Bar Association, the Sherriff’s Citizen Academy, Leadership New Braunfels, the Children’s Advocacy Center for Comal County, and C.A.S.A, (Court Appointed Special Advocates).
The Hon. Israel Ramon (J.D. ’77), St. Mary’s Law Alumni Association president and 430th District Court Judge, and Charles E. Cantú, St. Mary’s School of Law Dean, will act as hosts of the evening. Last year’s awardees were the Hon. Catherine Stone (J.D. ’82) and James “Jimmy” Kenton Jones, Jr. (J.D. ’81). Other >past winners include Justice Paul W. Green, Judge Carol R. Haberman Knight-Sheen, U.S. Representative Charles A. Gonzalez, Senator John Cornyn, Paul E. Casseb, Jack Paul Leon, Frank Herrera, U.S. Representative Henry B. Gonzalez and Chief Justice Alma L. Lopez.