TCDLA Awards $5,000 Charlie Butts Scholarship to San Antonio Law Student

TCDLA awarded the annual Charlie Butts Memorial Scholarship worth $5,000 to a student at San Antonio’s St. Mary’s School of Law.

The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Educational Institute (TCDLEI) administers the Charlie D. Butts Memorial Scholarship every year. The scholarship is named after Charles D. Butts, who practiced as an attorney in Texas for 63 years.

Aaron Diaz has been a student attorney at St. Mary’s since August 2019. He said he applied for the scholarship to alleviate the financial strain law school has put on his wife, Samantha.

“We married the summer before I started law school,” he said. “I was fortunate to start working part-time after my first semester, but we have mostly survived off my wife’s income as a San Antonio city employee.”

Diaz is currently working as a law clerk, but said he will have to leave that position in order to prepare for the Texas Bar exam.

“I’m grateful for the sacrifices my wife has made, but I don’t want to overburden her,” Diaz said. “This scholarship will help ease the burden on her as I study for the Bar exam. I’m very appreciative.”

Cynthia Orr, a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer and partner at Goldstein & Orr, wrote Diaz a letter of recommendation that helped earn him the scholarship. Diaz started at the law firm during his second semester of law school.

“This past summer, Mr. Diaz accompanied me to New Orleans to prepare for oral arguments before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Orr wrote. “We are most proud that Mr. Diaz’s student comment on the controversial Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) will be published in Volume 51 of the St. Mary’s Law Journal. We are extremely proud of Mr. Diaz and look forward to welcoming him as a criminal defense lawyer when he graduates next year.”                                                               

Stephanie Stevens, clinical professor of law at St. Mary’s, also wrote Diaz a letter of recommendation.

“Mr. Diaz is always available for his clinic clients, even though he carries a full load of classes and works part-time for Goldstein and Orr,” Stevens said. “He truly takes advantage of every opportunity to prepare to be an excellent defense attorney.”

TCDLEI administers other scholarships:

  1. Kelly Pace Memorial New Lawyer Travel Fund
  2. The Christine S. Cheng, M.D., Memorial Asian-American Scholarship & Travel Fund;
  3. Numerous CLE scholarships given to criminal defense attorneys and public defenders.

TCDLEI awards more than $45,000 a year in scholarships.

These scholarships help ease the cost of travel to attend continuing legal education seminars.

These scholarships are funded in part by private donations but also corporate donations, fundraising, and merchandise sales. All donations to TCDLEI are tax-deductible.

TCDLEI is part of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Charles Butts served as TCDLA’s president in 1987-88. TCDLA sponsors more than 40 CLE seminars a year and boasts a membership of more than 4,000 criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, judges, law professors, paralegals, private investigators, scientists, and mental health professionals.

Discounted memberships are available for new members, public defenders, and law students online at

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for a TCDLEI scholarship, or if you’re interested in donating, go to and click on the “TCDLEI” tab. Or you can call TCDLA at 512-478-2514.

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