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Updated: 2 days 6 hours ago

Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation awards scholarships to Houston law students

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 05:00

From left: Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Justice David Medina, Judge Caroline Baker, Kay Sim, Raul Peimbert, and Benny Agosto Jr.

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation held its 13th annual scholarship luncheon that benefits Hispanic law students attending one of the three Houston-based law schools on Wednesday, August 22 at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Houston.

The scholarships were awarded to law students who best exemplify leadership, commitment, justice, and equality within the Hispanic community and beyond.

“It is important that we encourage a new generation of lawyers to not only be great lawyers but to also give back to the legal community,” said Benny Agosto Jr., founder and president of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation and partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization that encourages justice and leadership within the Hispanic community.

The scholarship luncheon also honors men and women who exemplify the ideals of the foundation. This year the honorees were: Judge Caroline E. Baker of the 295th Judicial District Court, Harris County (Outstanding Service in the Judiciary); Maria Moncada of BMW of West Houston (Outstanding Service in the Community as a Business Executive); Raul Peimbert of KXLN-TV (Outstanding Service in Media); Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (Outstanding Service as a Public Servant); and Kay Sim, executive director of the Houston Bar Association (Lifetime Award).

Presiding Judge John Frank “Jack” Onion Jr., 1925-2018

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:00

Former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge John Frank “Jack” Onion Jr. died Sunday, September 2, 2018. He was 93.

Onion served as a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1967 to 1970 and as presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1971 to 1988. He was the first presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals to be elected by voters.

“He was a great judge and a great friend, and he loved the Court of Criminal Appeals,” Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has a news release here.

Texas Bar Journal Must-Reads for September

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 14:00

Check out or editorial staff’s picks for the September issue of the Texas Bar Journal. And don’t forget to catch up on the latest Movers and Shakers, Memorials, and Disciplinary Actions.

Annual Meeting 2018
Coverage of this year’s State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Houston.
By Adam Faderewski, Patricia Busa McConnico, Eric Quitugua, and Amy Starnes

Annual Review
Texas Legal Answers celebrates its one-year anniversary.
By Adam Faderewski

Coastal Living
A look at a lifetime of practicing environmental law.
By Jim Blackburn

Atticus Reconsidered
Unlocking the legacy of Harper Lee’s iconic character.
By Talmage Boston

Deadline to pay membership fees is midnight August 31

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:58

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Membership fees are due on June 1 but must be received by August 31 to avoid suspension of an attorney’s law license and application of a late payment penalty. To check your balance due, pay your fees, and/or claim a Legal Services Fee exemption, go to texasbar.com, log in to your My Bar Page, and then click “Pay Dues/Fees”.  Payments will be accepted online until midnight tonight.

Deadline to pay membership fees is midnight August 31

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:58

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Membership fees are due on June 1 but must be received by August 31 to avoid suspension of an attorney’s law license and application of a late payment penalty. To check your balance due, pay your fees, and/or claim a Legal Services Fee exemption, go to texasbar.com, log in to your My Bar Page, and then click “Pay Dues/Fees”.  Payments will be accepted online until midnight tonight.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Conroe

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:00

Veterans in need of legal assistance can attend a free clinic in Conroe on Saturday, September 8, from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will be held at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 690 S. Loop 336 W., 77304.

Veterans and spouses of deceased veterans can receive one-on-one advice from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who qualify for legal aid and are in need of legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney from the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

The clinic is sponsored by the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Houston Northwest Bar Association, The Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative.

No appointment is necessary.

For more information on the clinic, as well as the Houston Bar Foundation’s Friday clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, go to hba.org.

To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans web page at texasbar.com/veterans.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Conroe

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 08:00

Veterans in need of legal assistance can attend a free clinic in Conroe on Saturday, September 8, from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will be held at the Conroe VA Outpatient Clinic, 690 S. Loop 336 W., 77304.

Veterans and spouses of deceased veterans can receive one-on-one advice from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits.

Veterans who qualify for legal aid and are in need of legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney from the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.

The clinic is sponsored by the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Houston Northwest Bar Association, The Woodlands Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative.

No appointment is necessary.

For more information on the clinic, as well as the Houston Bar Foundation’s Friday clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, go to hba.org.

To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans web page at texasbar.com/veterans.

Cezy Collins, Larry McDougal recommended as State Bar president-elect nominees

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 17:42

The Nominations and Elections Subcommittee voted today to recommend the nomination of Jeanne Cezanne “Cezy” Collins of El Paso and Larry P. McDougal Sr. of Richmond as candidates for 2019-2020 State Bar of Texas president-elect, after interviewing six potential nominees in Austin.

The State Bar Board of Directors will consider the recommendations at its next meeting, on September 28 in Austin. The meeting is open to the public, and anyone is welcome to attend. If the board approves their nominations, Collins and McDougal would appear on the ballot in April 2019 along with any certified petition candidates.

Potential candidates can begin collecting petition signatures on September 1 and have until March 1 to submit their nominating petitions to the State Bar for certification. For information on how to run for president-elect, go here.

This year, the subcommittee considered candidates from non-metropolitan counties (all counties except Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Travis), according to State Bar rules. Click on the names below to read the potential nominees’ interest letters to the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee.

Cezy Collins
Larry McDougal

Nominations and Elections is a subcommittee of the State Bar board co-chaired by Immediate Past President Tom Vick and Immediate Past Board Chair Rehan Alimohammad. To view the full subcommittee membership, go here and scroll to the end of the second page.

Cezy Collins, Larry McDougal recommended as State Bar president-elect nominees

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 17:42

The Nominations and Elections Subcommittee voted today to recommend the nomination of Jeanne Cezanne “Cezy” Collins of El Paso and Larry P. McDougal Sr. of Richmond as candidates for 2019-2020 State Bar of Texas president-elect, after interviewing six potential nominees in Austin.

The State Bar Board of Directors will consider the recommendations at its next meeting, on September 28 in Austin. The meeting is open to the public, and anyone is welcome to attend. If the board approves their nominations, Collins and McDougal would appear on the ballot in April 2019 along with any certified petition candidates.

Potential candidates can begin collecting petition signatures on September 1 and have until March 1 to submit their nominating petitions to the State Bar for certification. For information on how to run for president-elect, go here.

This year, the subcommittee considered candidates from non-metropolitan counties (all counties except Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Travis), according to State Bar rules. Click on the names below to read the potential nominees’ interest letters to the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee.

Cezy Collins
Larry McDougal

Nominations and Elections is a subcommittee of the State Bar board co-chaired by Immediate Past President Tom Vick and Immediate Past Board Chair Rehan Alimohammad. To view the full subcommittee membership, go here and scroll to the end of the second page.

The State Bar Professionalism Committee has been hard at work

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:00

The mission of the State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee is to increase professionalism and improve the development of new lawyers. The committee was revitalized in 2012 by State Bar President Buck Files, and it has striven to accomplish its mission by tackling four key subjects: mentoring, promoting professionalism through CLE and different events, providing access to good ethics speakers, and promoting the Texas Lawyer’s Creed. All of the resources and databases described below can be found at www.texasbar.com/professionalism. Just click on the relevant program or subject matter on the site for more information.

Mentoring
One of the key missions of the Professionalism Committee is to increase the number of mentoring resources across the state. In years past, lawyers came out of law school with a job that provided a wealth of mentoring opportunities. Whether they were practicing with a large or small firm or with the government, lawyers had a built-in support system upon which to rely.

For many lawyers today, those opportunities do not exist. More and more lawyers are choosing to hang out their own shingles. They may not know who to reach out to for general advice on the practice of law. They may not have someone willing to advise them on the importance of professionalism and the true strength of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed. Local and statewide bar associations have been laboring to find solutions to fill the gap.

Many larger jurisdictions have formal mentoring programs like the State Bar’s Transition to Practice, but the Professionalism Committee has worked to broaden the scope of these curriculums to make them more accessible to medium-sized jurisdictions. We have also spearheaded regional mentoring projects for smaller jurisdictions and created online mentoring resources for those lawyers who don’t have access to any formal mentoring program or just want a completely informal opportunity to learn.

Improving and expanding the State Bar’s Mentoring Network is the next step in our quest to make mentoring available to every lawyer in the state. The Mentoring Network provides an online list of reputable and professional lawyers across the state who are willing to share some of their precious time to gently steer new lawyers in the right direction. These mentors will be available by phone to answer general (non-case related) questions. The resources will initially be practice or geographic location related, but hopefully, the mentors will be encouraged to talk to mentees about professionalism and civility as well. The website is easy to manage and very user friendly. If you are interested in being considered for this mentoring database, please contact professionalism@texasbar.com or call 1 (800) 204-2222, ext. 1726.

Education and the Day of Civility
Members of the Professionalism Committee have traveled across the state giving CLE presentations on various topics including mentoring, advertising, the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, and other State Bar resources. The committee is also proud of its role this year in promoting the Day of Civility. Local bar associations can use the Day of Civility as an opportunity to plan an entire or partial day of ethics-related CLE that encourages civility and professionalism. Local and regional judges can join their efforts by co-signing a letter setting aside a day where lawyers are encouraged to focus on the importance of professional conduct. The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have called for a statewide date of April 20, 2018, for these events or observations, but bar associations can choose any date or time period. A lot more information, including a proposed calendar, frequently asked questions, sample forms, and a sample judicial letter is included on the website as part of the State Bar’s Day of Civility Guide.

Ethics Directory
Professionalism Committee members come from far-flung jurisdictions, so they have been keenly aware of different needs across the state. While larger jurisdictions and bar associations don’t have much difficulty finding good and entertaining ethics speakers, smaller jurisdictions have more limited choices. Therefore, the Professionalism Committee has created a directory of recommended speakers who are willing to travel to different areas to give ethics presentations. The website includes a statewide database of speakers, their various presentation topics, and how far they will travel from their own jurisdictions. Many presentations are already approved for CLE ethics credit. If you are interested in being considered for inclusion in the database of potential speakers, please contact professionalism@texasbar.com.

The Texas Lawyer’s Creed
In 1985, lawyers from across the state came together in an effort to discuss and combat “Rambo litigation” tactics they were seeing in their practices. Their efforts culminated in the creation of a document that has withstood the test of time. The Texas Lawyer’s Creed was formally adopted by the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1989 and then re-dedicated in 2013 in time for the 25th anniversary of the document. It speaks to the relationship between opposing lawyers, between lawyers and judges, and between a lawyer and his or her client, and it gives practical advice on how those parties should act and interact. If you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to do so and use it in your own practice. Many lawyers staple the Texas Lawyer’s Creed to their fee agreements so clients will understand the lawyer’s ethical duties and professional responsibilities to others. It has been cited in cases, referred to by judges, and proffered in court. It is definitely a document with which you should be familiar.

Civility is a cornerstone of our profession and should be stressed in our day-to-day interactions with each other and with our clients. As the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals eloquently stated in their preamble to the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, “We must always be mindful that the practice of law is a profession. As members of a learned art, we purse a common calling in the spirit of public service. We have a proud tradition. Throughout the history of our nation, the members of our citizenry have looked to the ranks of our profession for leadership and guidance. Let us now as a profession each rededicate ourselves to practice law so we can restore public confidence in our profession, faithfully serve our clients, and fulfill our responsibility to the legal system.” These words ring true today just as they did when written in 1989. Let us truly rededicate ourselves to professional conduct and live up to the proud tradition of the classic lawyer.

Summary
I have been so honored to serve as the chair of the State Bar Professionalism Committee and am honored to continue to serve with current Chair Suzanne Duvall. If you are interested in participating in any of the programs mentioned above or interested in getting more information about the Professionalism Committee, please contact any Professionalism Committee member, send an email to professionalism@texasbar.com, or call 1 (800) 204-2222, ext. 1726.

This article was originally published on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Texas’ blog and has been edited and reprinted with permission.

Kenda Culpepper is the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney and was the chair of the State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee from 2012 to 2016. She can be contacted at kculpepper@rockwallcountytexas.com.

The State Bar Professionalism Committee has been hard at work

Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:00

The mission of the State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee is to increase professionalism and improve the development of new lawyers. The committee was revitalized in 2012 by State Bar President Buck Files, and it has striven to accomplish its mission by tackling four key subjects: mentoring, promoting professionalism through CLE and different events, providing access to good ethics speakers, and promoting the Texas Lawyer’s Creed. All of the resources and databases described below can be found at www.texasbar.com/professionalism. Just click on the relevant program or subject matter on the site for more information.

Mentoring
One of the key missions of the Professionalism Committee is to increase the number of mentoring resources across the state. In years past, lawyers came out of law school with a job that provided a wealth of mentoring opportunities. Whether they were practicing with a large or small firm or with the government, lawyers had a built-in support system upon which to rely.

For many lawyers today, those opportunities do not exist. More and more lawyers are choosing to hang out their own shingles. They may not know who to reach out to for general advice on the practice of law. They may not have someone willing to advise them on the importance of professionalism and the true strength of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed. Local and statewide bar associations have been laboring to find solutions to fill the gap.

Many larger jurisdictions have formal mentoring programs like the State Bar’s Transition to Practice, but the Professionalism Committee has worked to broaden the scope of these curriculums to make them more accessible to medium-sized jurisdictions. We have also spearheaded regional mentoring projects for smaller jurisdictions and created online mentoring resources for those lawyers who don’t have access to any formal mentoring program or just want a completely informal opportunity to learn.

Improving and expanding the State Bar’s Mentoring Network is the next step in our quest to make mentoring available to every lawyer in the state. The Mentoring Network provides an online list of reputable and professional lawyers across the state who are willing to share some of their precious time to gently steer new lawyers in the right direction. These mentors will be available by phone to answer general (non-case related) questions. The resources will initially be practice or geographic location related, but hopefully, the mentors will be encouraged to talk to mentees about professionalism and civility as well. The website is easy to manage and very user friendly. If you are interested in being considered for this mentoring database, please contact professionalism@texasbar.com or call 1 (800) 204-2222, ext. 1726.

Education and the Day of Civility
Members of the Professionalism Committee have traveled across the state giving CLE presentations on various topics including mentoring, advertising, the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, and other State Bar resources. The committee is also proud of its role this year in promoting the Day of Civility. Local bar associations can use the Day of Civility as an opportunity to plan an entire or partial day of ethics-related CLE that encourages civility and professionalism. Local and regional judges can join their efforts by co-signing a letter setting aside a day where lawyers are encouraged to focus on the importance of professional conduct. The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have called for a statewide date of April 20, 2018, for these events or observations, but bar associations can choose any date or time period. A lot more information, including a proposed calendar, frequently asked questions, sample forms, and a sample judicial letter is included on the website as part of the State Bar’s Day of Civility Guide.

Ethics Directory
Professionalism Committee members come from far-flung jurisdictions, so they have been keenly aware of different needs across the state. While larger jurisdictions and bar associations don’t have much difficulty finding good and entertaining ethics speakers, smaller jurisdictions have more limited choices. Therefore, the Professionalism Committee has created a directory of recommended speakers who are willing to travel to different areas to give ethics presentations. The website includes a statewide database of speakers, their various presentation topics, and how far they will travel from their own jurisdictions. Many presentations are already approved for CLE ethics credit. If you are interested in being considered for inclusion in the database of potential speakers, please contact professionalism@texasbar.com.

The Texas Lawyer’s Creed
In 1985, lawyers from across the state came together in an effort to discuss and combat “Rambo litigation” tactics they were seeing in their practices. Their efforts culminated in the creation of a document that has withstood the test of time. The Texas Lawyer’s Creed was formally adopted by the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1989 and then re-dedicated in 2013 in time for the 25th anniversary of the document. It speaks to the relationship between opposing lawyers, between lawyers and judges, and between a lawyer and his or her client, and it gives practical advice on how those parties should act and interact. If you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to do so and use it in your own practice. Many lawyers staple the Texas Lawyer’s Creed to their fee agreements so clients will understand the lawyer’s ethical duties and professional responsibilities to others. It has been cited in cases, referred to by judges, and proffered in court. It is definitely a document with which you should be familiar.

Civility is a cornerstone of our profession and should be stressed in our day-to-day interactions with each other and with our clients. As the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals eloquently stated in their preamble to the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, “We must always be mindful that the practice of law is a profession. As members of a learned art, we purse a common calling in the spirit of public service. We have a proud tradition. Throughout the history of our nation, the members of our citizenry have looked to the ranks of our profession for leadership and guidance. Let us now as a profession each rededicate ourselves to practice law so we can restore public confidence in our profession, faithfully serve our clients, and fulfill our responsibility to the legal system.” These words ring true today just as they did when written in 1989. Let us truly rededicate ourselves to professional conduct and live up to the proud tradition of the classic lawyer.

Summary
I have been so honored to serve as the chair of the State Bar Professionalism Committee and am honored to continue to serve with current Chair Suzanne Duvall. If you are interested in participating in any of the programs mentioned above or interested in getting more information about the Professionalism Committee, please contact any Professionalism Committee member, send an email to professionalism@texasbar.com, or call 1 (800) 204-2222, ext. 1726.

This article was originally published on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Texas’ blog and has been edited and reprinted with permission.

Kenda Culpepper is the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney and was the chair of the State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee from 2012 to 2016. She can be contacted at kculpepper@rockwallcountytexas.com.

First Amendment attorney wins Texas freedom of information award

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 14:43

Laura Lee Prather

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas will award its prestigious James Madison Award to First Amendment attorney Laura Lee Prather.

Prather is a board member and past-president of the FOI Foundation of Texas. She is a partner in the litigation section of Haynes and Boone LLP in Austin.

The James Madison Award has been given out since 1987 to journalists, politicians, academics, attorneys and vigilant citizens to celebrate outstanding achievements or distinction in the areas of open government, freedom of information and other related First Amendment issues.

“Laura is fearless and tireless in championing open government. No one in Texas has done more for the cause than her during the past decade,” Chris Cobler, editor and publisher of the Victoria Advocate and president of the FOI Foundation of Texas, said in a news release.

According to the release, Prather led the drafting and negotiations for the Texas reporters’ privilege law, the anti-SLAPP statute, and the Defamation Mitigation Act. Read the full release here.

Prather will receive the award on September 21 at the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon during the foundation’s annual conference. The State Bar of Texas’ Texas Gavel Awards, honoring journalism that deepens public understanding of the legal system, will also be awarded at the luncheon.

For more information on the Texas Gavel Awards, winner bios, and their stories, go to texasbar.com/gavelawards.

For more information on FOIFT and its Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference visit www.foift.org.

Longley: Seeking your help to tighten the belt

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 16:56

Joe K. Longley

Editor’s note: State Bar of Texas President Joe K. Longley sent the following message to members on August 23. 

The Bar’s 2019-2020 budget “season” is now upon us—and I seek your help for further cost saving ideas to achieve my goal of a 10 percent overall reduction1 off the Bar’s 2017-2018 $45 million general fund budget. [Click here to view] See 80 TBJ 166 (March 2017)

There is good news in that, with excellent assistance from Bar members, budget staff, and the Financial Responsibility Task Force, the bar trimmed over $2 million (5 percent) from its general fund budget last year. See 81 TBJ 182 (March 2018). Nevertheless, there’s more work to be done.

In my opinion, we still need to tighten our “expenditure belt” even further to reach a 5 percent reduction for the 2019-2020 proposed budget. This is where you, as a State Bar member, can add value.

Your suggestions and ideas for further budget reductions are welcome. I’ve heard many suggestions already, which include:

1. Creating a “mini-sunset review” to require that every Bar program justify its continued existence;

2. Implementing “zero based budgeting” to require each Bar department to annually justify the cost of each program; disclosing its 10-year history of costs and results, together with the justification for continuing the program;

3. Continue requiring each Bar program to explain how it fulfills the core functions of the State Bar (e.g., protection of the public; licensing; regulating and educating lawyers), and to explain what would happen if the program were eliminated;

4. Creating a potential annual savings of over $700,000 through monthly electronic distribution of the Texas Bar Journal—while still providing hard copies to members who request a paper version;

5. Eliminating unnecessary travel expenses—especially to conferences of voluntary associations such as the ABA, the National Association of Bar Executives, and various regional conferences of state bar presidents;

6. Eliminating the Bar’s use of “outside” counsel by entering interagency agreements with the Office of the Texas Attorney General to represent the Bar in litigation and other matters; and

7. Reducing, as appropriate, the Bar’s expenditures in order to keep the Bar’s combined budget under $50 million for the foreseeable future.

These are but a few ideas to help keep the Bar’s combined annual budget under control—and I welcome any others you may suggest.

Last year, your State Bar collected over $20 million from dues you pay, and collected more than $16 million in CLE revenues and other fees to fund its operations. For me, and for the rest of the State Bar leadership, it’s a given that the Board of Directors needs to ensure that money is spent prudently.

Speaking personally, I pay my own travel expenses associated with State Bar business without seeking reimbursement. Likewise, I’ve not sought, nor do I seek, any of the combined $70,000 stipend money the Bar sets aside for the offices of president-elect, president, and immediate past president.

In closing, I pledge to continue to work with you to reduce the budget as much as possible so that all of our members can have confidence in what the Bar does and how it spends your money. I welcome your ideas and suggestions to help achieve these goals—and I look forward to hearing from you.

With kindest regards,

Joe K. Longley 
President, State Bar of Texas 2018-2019
Joe.Longley@texasbar.com

1This 10 percent goal came from the American Bar Association model used in its recent budget reductions.

Savings on electronics and services

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 08:00

With offers on phone cases, headphones, laptops and more, your Member Benefit Program has savings on the electronics and services you need. Check out the Wireless Phone,  Electronics and Home Office pages for more info.

  • OtterBox — Our multi-layer cases absorb impact and divert shock away from the device inside. You can save 15% on the case of your choice.
  • Samsung Samsung has special offers on tablets, phones and much more. When you shop now, you can save up to 40% on a range of products.
  • Sennheiser Sennheiser is shaping the audio world of tomorrow, today. State Bar of Texas members save up to 20% on all headphones.
  • Panasonic — You can save up to 60% with Panasonic. You’ll find everything from appliances and cameras to massage chairs and vacuum cleaners.
  • HP Employee Purchase Program — HP is where power meets performance. You can save up to 35% on laptops, desktops, tablets and more.
  • Lenovo ComputersLooking to upgrade your PC or laptop? Thanks to Lenovo’s Corporate Employee Purchase Program, you can save on the entire product line.
  • McAfee Employee Purchase ProgramMcAfee LiveSafe protects you from viruses and malware and allows you to manage and monitor all the devices in your household. Buy McAfee LiveSafe for only $39.60, which is 60% off MSRP.

Current offers provided by Beneplace.

For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.

State Bar of Texas – Benefits & Services

Stories of Recovery: A Different Meaning of ‘AA’

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 06:00

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery blog series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

My ideal resume would read as the antithesis of conventional resumes. I’d memorialize both my darkest secret and most crowning achievement: “2016: Following an extended period of self-harm, substance abuse, and a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis, I enrolled in intensive therapy treatment. I simultaneously studied for the Texas bar exam. After my time in therapy and multiple attempts, I passed the Texas bar exam. I became a lawyer.”

My personal story of recovery utilizes a different meaning of “AA”: accountability and activity.

Accountability

As fitness guru Tony Horton says, “I hate it! But I love it!”

I don’t think anyone truly “likes” accountability, but we certainly love what it does for us! We become more stable and fulfilled.

During my inpatient therapy, I was forced to check in with my counselor daily and document which coping skills I had used the night before. I spent the mornings at therapy and the afternoons studying for the bar exam at my parents’ house. I reluctantly asked my dad to check in on me every 50 minutes for a progress update. Before every study session, I recorded myself reading positive affirmations aloud. I felt dumb uttering saccharine phrases I didn’t believe in.

“I see my name on the list of passing students.”

“Hah … yeah, right.”

However, after over a month of begrudgingly reading sentences aloud and meticulously documenting coping skills, it all became pleasantly routine. There was a brightness in the monotony called “stability.”

Today, I have to keep some semblance of structure in my life; else, my BPD brain will run this train right off the tracks. I am accountable to my therapist bimonthly. I downloaded habit-tracking apps on my phone. I am open with close friends and family about recovery.

Accountability isn’t easy and lawyers often have the hardest time asking others for help. I guarantee you, though, despite some feelings of embarrassment, it works wonders.

Activity

I read this striking quote on Pinterest: “Everyone needs three hobbies: one to make money, one to keep them creative, and one to keep them fit.” (Who would’ve thought I’d be gathering my life-guiding principles from a social media website fraught with never-ending pictures of houses and clothes I can’t afford!)

This pithy statement is correct: our bodies are engineered for movement. Our brains love stimulation. Sitting down in my office chair all day, making that rear-end imprint on the seat even deeper, drove me nuts. My eyes would glaze over staring at the screen for so long. Exercise quickly became the antidote for inactivity. It became my sanctuary; my one hour during which no one could bother me or scold me. I treat that hour as sacred. My phone is stashed away; it’s only my muscles and I working in harmony to keep me strong and sane.

You don’t have to run in oppressive Texas heat or join an expensive spin class you actually hate to be fit. Just move.

Similarly, I highly recommend picking up a creative activity. I’m biased because I have always loved the performing arts. However, your activity of choice doesn’t have to be “artsy fartsy” if that sounds unbearable to you. Merely engage in an interest devoid of “the law.” Your brain will thank you.

Recovery is not merely the summit of a mountain. You don’t reach “Recovery Peak,” stick your flag in the ground, shout “I’ve done it” and go home. While victory is part of the process, recovery is a life-long journey through peaks and valleys. As I write, I happen to be in a valley. I know it is temporary and the only way out is through.

The other night I decided to get a dose of pure positivity by watching the new documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” about the late Fred Rogers. He said something that struck me deeply: “I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be. … Everyone longs to be loved. The greatest thing we can do is help somebody know that they are loved.”

Lawyers, relentlessly subjected to incredible pressure and unrealistic expectations, need to be reminded of this foundational maxim: that they are loved as they are.

It is my hope that in sharing my recovery story, dear reader, you will gather some helpful tips.

More importantly, know that I love you for who you are right now.

HBF, HVL to hold legal clinics for Harris County residents impacted by Harvey

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 08:00

The Houston Bar Foundation and Houston Volunteer Lawyers will hold four free legal clinics for people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The clinics, which take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 18, mark the one-year anniversary of the storm and will provide one-on-one legal advice on related issues.

Volunteer attorneys from Houston law firms and corporate legal departments will provide advice on insurance, FEMA appeals, contractor abuse, mortgages, landlord/tenant issues, family law matters, replacing lost documents, probate, clear home ownership, and other legal issues.

Attendees who need continued legal representation must be Harris County residents and have a household income of no greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline. No appointment is necessary.

“A year after Hurricane Harvey, some Houstonians are still suffering and dealing with legal challenges. The Houston Bar Foundation and Houston Volunteer Lawyers are putting on these clinics in hopes of providing needed assistance,” Houston Bar Foundation Chair Barrett Reasoner said in a press release. “We are fortunate to have received a grant from the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers that helped make this possible.”

Locations:
• Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star Dr., Houston 77074
• Mangum-Howell Center, 2500 Frick Rd., Houston 77038
• Northeast Multi-Service Center, 9720 Spaulding St., Houston 77016
• Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol St., Houston 77011

The clinics are possible through a grant from the Foundation of the American College of Trial Lawyers and co-sponsored by the HBA, Houston Health Department, and Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle.

TYLA, young lawyer affiliates receive national awards

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 15:56

The Texas Young Lawyers Association and young lawyer affiliates in Dallas and San Antonio earned national awards August 3 at the 2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago.

TYLA, the public service arm of the State Bar of Texas, was recognized with 2017-2018 ABA Young Lawyers Division Awards of Achievement in the public service and diversity categories for its Hurricane Harvey disaster relief resources and its annual Diversity Dinner.

TYLA’s disaster relief resources included guides in English and Spanish on topics such as replacing lost documents, filing claims for federal disaster assistance, hiring a contractor, and employment during a natural disaster.

The 2017 Diversity Dinner, held July 27 in Houston, featured a keynote address by Houston lawyer Diana Marshall and an overview of TYLA’s project I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too!, a video series highlighting the contributions of first-generation lawyers. The 2018 Diversity Dinner, held May 22 in Austin, featured a “Legal Legends” panel discussion with Texas Supreme Court Justice Paul Green, 261st Civil District Court Judge Lora Livingston, former State Bar of Texas President Lisa Tatum, and Austin attorney Steve McConnico.

Dallas Association of Young Lawyers received an award for its newsletter, The Dicta. San Antonio Young Lawyers Association received three awards: a comprehensive award for overall programming, a public service award for its Hurricane Harvey disaster response legal clinics, and a bar service award for The Balcony: The Trial of Lee Johnson, attorney Lee Cusenbary’s one-act play based on a 1913 local murder trial.

“I am so proud of our Texas young lawyers, who continue to set the standard for young lawyer organizations across the country,” said 2017-2018 TYLA President Baili B. Rhodes. “Our members dedicated countless volunteer hours to these projects because they have a passion for public service, and I am thankful to the ABA Young Lawyers Division for recognizing their exceptional work.”

Municipal judge tapped to help educate judiciary on mental health matters

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 15:54

Judge Edward J. Spillane III

The State Bar of Texas’ Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program has taken the innovative step of adding a sitting judge to its staff of experts to reach out to fellow jurists about issues such as stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, and other mental health matters.

The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (TLAP) has always served judges as well as lawyers and law students, but TLAP Director Bree Buchanan notes that less than 1 percent of the annual calls received by the program come from judges.

Buchanan is confident that the addition of Judge Edward J. Spillane III, a former member of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and frequent speaker at judicial education conferences, can help TLAP reach out to the judiciary about behavioral health issues. Judge Spillane will work with TLAP as an independent contractor.

“We’re excited to have Judge Spillane’s help in carrying the message to our Texas judiciary that TLAP is available for them, whether to provide confidential assistance for themselves or to assist an impaired lawyer in their court,” Buchanan said.

Judge Spillane has been the presiding municipal judge for College Station since 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago.

He has written several articles on the plight of indigent defendants and the benefits of mindfulness in the courtroom. In his position with TLAP, he will focus on outreach to the judiciary on topics such as prevention of substance use, mental health disorders, cognitive impairment, burnout and compassion fatigue, as well as strategies for the promotion of well-being.

Read the full news release here.

A Guardian of the Greens

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 12:00

William J. Brotherton, third from left, with, from left, Richard McDermott, deputy chief marshal of Royal Portrush; Ian Frier, deputy chief marshal of Carnoustie; Gary Hawker, chief marshal of Carnoustie; Chris Smith, assistant deputy chief marshal of Carnoustie; and Euan Kerr, assistant deputy chief marshal of Carnoustie at the British Open. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

Denton County attorney William Brotherton enjoys spending time on the golf course. After 13 years serving as a gallery guard on the 14th hole at the Masters, Brotherton has seen some of the best golfers in the world play. So when an opportunity to serve as a marshal on the 16th hole at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland for the British Open presented itself, Brotherton jumped at the chance to see some of these greats play a different course. Brotherton, who has links to the United Kingdom through his heritage to Lord Edward Brotherton, is also a member of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in Vermont and an adopted member of the Spirit Lake Sioux of North Dakota. His Native American heritage excited the organizers of the Open, who invited Brotherton to be the first Native American marshal of an Open. Here, Brotherton talks about his passion for the sport and his experience working the event in Scotland.

How did you get the opportunity to work at the British Open?

Brotherton working the tournament on the 16th hole holding the “quiet please” paddle. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

Having worked at the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia for the past 13 years on the 14th hole, I had become a big fan of Jordan Spieth. So while watching the Open last year, I was on the edge of my seat as Jordan pulled out a victory—after making some miracle shots—at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. I was inspired. The very next day I tracked down the head pro at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland where the next Open would be held. I briefly described my golf background in an email and asked to be considered as a marshal at the next Open. I was amazed at how quickly I received a response from Chris Smith, who is the deputy chief marshal for the Open. Chris told me that he’d do his best to get me on, and he did. I was approved to work as a marshal by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, or the R&A, the governing body of golf outside of the U.S. and Mexico (it’s the United States Golf Association, or USGA, in the U.S. and Mexico) and provided a waiver by the National Health Service. Chris was able to find a golf club, the Piperdam Golf Club near Carnoustie, to sponsor me to work on the 16th hole. It all came together nicely. I’ve been invited back to work as a marshal at the Open being held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2019. It will be very historic as this is the first Open being held in Northern Ireland in over 65 years, and I certainly want to be there.

Your heritage is English and Native American, which both had significance at the Open. How did it feel to be working the British Open in regards to your heritage?

Brotherton spent three nights in Kilcoy Castle in Scotland before working the British Open. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

The Scots working the Open were intrigued by my heritage. When I first inquired about serving as a marshal, I mentioned that I was a member of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in Vermont and served on tribal council. That opened a lot of doors because they had never had a Native American serve as a marshal at the Open. And the fact that I’m an adopted member of the Spirit Lake Sioux in North Dakota made it even better. They even had a Carnoustie hat made up for me with my Sioux name “Iron Horse” (Tasunka Masa in Sioux) embroidered on the back. My new friends were fascinated that years ago, my wife and I had visited the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. Lord Edward Brotherton founded the Brotherton Library and left his personal collection of books and manuscripts in trust for the university. When we visited, the curator of the library, Chris Sheppard, gave us a high tea to celebrate our visit and confirmed that I was a distant relative to Lord Brotherton. It was quite an honor, especially when Chris allowed us to handle valuable items from the collection, including first editions of Shakespeare and a lock of Mozart’s hair. So, in addition to calling me Iron Horse, my friends at Carnoustie also called me “Sir William.” Great fun!

What was it like working at the Open?

Brotherton at the finish of the British Open. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

It was an honor to work at the oldest golf tournament in the world. I was happy to be there, and everyone was incredibly friendly. Golf is a universal sport shared by almost every country in the world. When I would talk with the fans, their first comment was usually, “You don’t sound like you’re from Scotland.” Many, especially those from America, quickly recognized that I was a Texan from my accent, and everyone spoke highly of Texas. The golf at the Open was incredible under somewhat difficult circumstances—it had been hot (for Scotland) and dry and the officials were especially concerned that the Americans would have a field day with a course that could produce 400-yard drives on such hard fairways. But that didn’t happen, and as it turned out, it was not an American who won but an Italian. Everyone couldn’t have been nicer, and they were happy to have me there. And that was especially true at the Open campground, where I stayed in a roomy tent at the Carnoustie High School football field. Sleeping on an air mattress in Scotland is something everyone should experience at least once in their life, and the campground was a mix of young and old and people from everywhere. The campground was well run and included not only a bar in a teepee-like structure but also food trucks featuring a variety of good food, including of all things, barbecue. The owners were quite proud of their smoker, manufactured in Ennis, Texas. And the brisket was tasty!

You’ve previously worked the Masters for quite a number of years, how does it compare to working the Open?
The Open is a public tournament open to everyone, and from what I gathered, the ticket prices are very modest. Unlike Augusta, anyone can walk up to the ticket office at the Open at any time during the tournament and simply buy a ticket. With Augusta, you typically have to have a family connection, win badges through the lottery (paying face value for the badges), or purchase the badges on the open market where you will pay considerably more than the face value of the badge. The Masters is held at the same venue every year, and the number of patrons is regulated. Bobby Jones, the founder of the Masters, was always concerned about having too many people at a tournament diminishing the value of watching golf. There are no such restrictions at the Open because typically the events are held at courses that can hold a great number of people, and it’s a different venue every year. But it certainly didn’t feel crowded at the Open because there was more than enough space to accommodate all of the gallery. And let me mention the food as well. At Augusta, you enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich, an egg salad sandwich, or barbecue, along with the beverage of your choice and dessert items such as a peach ice cream sandwich. At the Open, it was fish and chips, Yorkie pie, sausage rolls, and large roast pork sandwiches. One of the biggest differences between the two tournaments is the fact that at the Open, marshals hold up a “quiet please” paddle whenever a player is about to hit his ball. No such signs are used at Augusta—after 82 years of the tournament being held at the same location every year, the signs simply aren’t needed. Indeed, gallery guards, as marshals are called at the Masters, rarely even need to raise their hands for quiet. Thankfully, at both tournaments, you just don’t hear many people screaming “get in the hole” or “mashed potatoes—something you tend to hear at other U.S. tournaments.

It was a rather close finish to the tournament on Sunday. Any particularly exciting moments at the 16th hole?

Tiger Woods getting ready for his tee shot on the 16th hole. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

What made working at the 16th hole so much fun was that it is considered one of the toughest, if not the toughest hole, in the tournament. With sand traps on both sides of the green—deep and treacherous—and a narrow green that slopes to send a player’s ball off the green with even what seemed to be perfect shots, it was a hole that was hard to master by anyone. Tiger Woods and Jordan both bogeyed the 16th, and many players coming to the 16th had good rounds going until they bogeyed or worse on 16. What really got all of us on 16 excited was the fact that it sure looked like there was going to be a playoff—at one point there were four or five players tied for the lead including Jordan and Tiger. And the playoff holes are, in order, 1st, 16th, 17th, and 18th. It’s sudden death, and the players continue playing 18 until a winner is determined. So, our hole was going to be in the middle of the playoff, and we started bracing for the onslaught of fans. Then, it got even stranger. Apparently, at the Open, it’s a tradition that once the match is finished, the fans are free to run all across the golf course. As marshals, we were asked to stop this, and it was easier said than done. But it was all part of working the Open and what made it so much fun!

Did you do any other activities while in Scotland and away from the course? Any sightseeing?

Brotherton swimming in Loch Ness. Photo courtesy of William J. Brotherton

Absolutely. This was not my first trip overseas, but I was excited to see more of the U.K. on this trip. Previously, I had taken depositions in London in an insurance fraud case and taken a train to Edinburgh after the depos and rented a car to play a few courses in Scotland. However, this time, I wanted to see more. My brother, Matt, and I got to Edinburgh a week and half before the Open and drove to Cairnryan on the west coast of Scotland to take the ferry to Belfast to see Northern Ireland and Ireland. Thankfully, driving on the wrong side of the road came back quickly to me. It was a challenge to drive, especially on narrow Irish roads, with two lanes—probably the equivalent of one-and-a-half of a Texas road lane. To make matters worse, there were typically stone walls right up to the edge of the roadway, and you cringed every time you encountered heavy goods vehicles (tractor-trailers) and tour buses. Despite all that, we covered 2,000 miles throughout Ireland and Scotland, and we enjoyed the spectacular Cliffs of Moher in the Republic of Ireland, visited Dublin and Killarney, and played the seaside courses of Tralee and Lahinch. My brother, who doesn’t golf and didn’t want to drive, ended up walking the courses with me. In Scotland, we stayed at a good friend’s castle for three days. The day we arrived was spent exploring the 17th-century structure and its secret passageways, drinking a dram of whiskey with the estate manager to celebrate our safe arrival, and having a specially prepared dinner of salmon steaks. The following day we explored Loch Ness, visited Urquhart Castle, and swam in the Loch. It was exhilarating because the temperature was only 54 degrees and the water temperature was 46 degrees, but we had to do it! That evening we had the traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties. Haggis is a spicy dish made from sheep organs, while neeps are smashed turnips, and tatties are simply mashed potatoes. During our stay at the castle, I also played two additional seaside golf courses—Royal Dornoch and Fortrose. After all that, it was back to Edinburgh where I dropped both my brother and our car off at the airport. I then took the tram into Edinburgh and hopped onto one of the frequent trains to Carnoustie via Dundee. Just riding the trains through the Scottish countryside and cities brought back great memories of riding in locomotives and cabooses when I was a brakeman/conductor for the Burlington Northern Railroad some 40 years ago. When I stepped off the train in Carnoustie, I walked to the golf course to get my security briefing and following the briefing, started enjoying my assignment as a marshal on one of the toughest golf holes in the world.

William J. Brotherton is the principal of the Brotherton Law Firm, a six-attorney civil litigation firm located in Highland Village. Brotherton is licensed in both Texas and North Dakota. He taught environmental law for 12 years at Texas Christian University, and is the author of Burlington Northern Adventures: Railroading in the Days of the Caboose (South Platte Press, 2004). For more information, about the Brotherton Law Firm, go to brothertonlawfirm.com and for the book, go to bnrailstories.com.

Sponsored Content: Launching One-Click Document Editing

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 23:01

Every click counts, especially when it comes to your workday. This month, some thoughtful new additions to Clio will help you complete your day-to-day tasks in fewer clicks—so you can run your law firm more efficiently and keep your business profitable.

First, there’s Clio Launcher, which makes it incredibly fast and easy to edit documents from Clio. We’ve also added the ability to quickly edit payments in Clio when needed, and updated our Accounts Receivable Aging Report to make it even simpler to manage collections.

Read on for these and more updates.

Clio Launcher: The easiest and fastest way to edit documents from Clio

Get excited: With Clio Launcher, you can edit files in your favorite document editor with one click from Clio! Editing any type of document on the fly, while keeping everything organized by matter, has never been simpler.

Here’s how it works:

  • Click the new launcher icon beside a document to open the document-editing software installed on your device. This works with any file format you have software for—from Word, to Excel, to PDF, and more.
  • Make your edits.
  • Close your document.
  • See your new version instantly appear in your Clio Documents folder—without you having to think, or click, twice.

It really is that easy. You’ll save hours on document editing, while keeping all document versions organized, and ensuring everyone in your firm is on the same page.

To access Clio Launcher today, simply navigate to Clio Documents and install the new launcher tool.

Learn more about Clio Launcher.

Easy payment editing

In a perfect world, all payments to your firm would be recorded 100% accurately, and you’d never need to change a thing. But the world isn’t perfect, and sometimes changes need to be made.

With the new ability to edit payments in Clio, you can quickly and easily edit payments recorded manually (e.g., direct payments or payments from trust) for single invoices. In other words, you can rest easy knowing you have the tools to make sure your payment records are accurate.

Read the full article for more recent updates from Clio.

 

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