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Updated: 10 hours 22 min ago

Dallas Bar Association hosting summer law programs for law students, clerks

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 10:15

All law students, recent graduates and clerks are invited to the Belo Mansion for the Dallas Bar Association Summer Law Programs.

Here is the complete list of the summer law programs being offered:

Law Student Professionalism Program on Thursday, May 31 at 2 p.m. RSVP here.

Summer Clerks Pro Bono Luncheon on Friday, June 1 at noon. RSVP here.

Minority Clerkship Luncheons on Friday, June 8 and July 6 at noon. RSVP here.

Come out to network and learn!

State Bar LRE website redesigned

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 10:00

The State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department has announced the redesign of its website, texaslre.org.

The LRE aims to improve law-related and civic education programs throughout the state through curriculum development and educator training.

The redesigned site features two buttons front and center that provide educators with either professional development resources or lesson plans. The professional development resources includes information on specific programs and links to register for them in the various areas around the state.

The lesson plans are grouped from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, ensuring that the material—web lessons, games, and links to all its programs—is grade-level appropriate. For pre-kindergarten, for example, content ranges from a history lesson on Columbus Day to a culture lesson on appreciating likeness and differences. The content on the eighth grade lesson plan page includes materials on the creation of the Constitution and the Civil War. Lesson pages for world history, U.S. history, and government are also included.

The site was redesigned to provide educators with easy-to-find useful information. In addition, the site features entry points to LREs programs such as Citizen Bee, Justiceville, 7 Principles of the Constitution, I was the First. Vote for Me! The homepage also features the latest LRE social media updates and upcoming events.

For more information, go to texaslre.org.

Sophisticated scam targets Texas attorney

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 15:00

Last fall, a Texas attorney was contacted through Martindale-Hubbard to assist in potential bankruptcy representation for a Nova Scotia, Canada-based company, which was seeking funds owed from a Houston-based firm.

It was a sophisticated scam—and quite different from usual ones in the following ways: (1) the first check the scammer sent was a valid check and was collected by the bank; (2) the attorney was careful to ensure the check was collected before wiring the funds; (3) there was a second check involved instead of just one; and (4) the scammer used a legitimate legal website to contact the attorney.

This new scam targeting lawyers is described as extremely complex in nature and also has the implication to land those it is defrauding in legal trouble. Here’s what transpired.

The scam began when a representative for the Canadian company communicated to the attorney that it was owed a substantial amount of money and feared the Houston firm would go bankrupt in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The attorney researched both firms and found both to have working websites. He also read a media release indicating the Houston firm had suffered a significant disruption in its Houston operations due to Harvey.

At this point, the attorney sent a representation and retainer agreement to the Canadian firm. The issuance of the required retainer amount was delayed, but the attorney was assured verbally and in an email that it had been sent. Additionally, flooding in Houston had just subsided, and Hurricane Irma was affecting postal service in Florida. The attorney also considered the possibility that the letter was delayed in shipping through the Canadian postal system, and checked to see how long a letter from the zip code in Nova Scotia would take to be delivered to Texas. A search of the lawyer’s rural Texas zip code on the Canadian postal website turned up no result.

In the coming weeks, the Houston firm reached out the attorney and indicated it would immediately be paying its debt to the Canadian firm. On September 25, 2017, the attorney received a $357,000 check (the amount owed) from a personal bank account of a senior representative of the Houston firm. The attorney deposited the check in an Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, under a restrictive “Deposit Only” endorsement including his IOLTA account number. The check was placed under the standard seven-day business hold and no action was taken at that time. The attorney performed substantial services in advising the client of perfecting secured creditor status and undertook to engage both local counsel and a listing broker to evaluate the purchase or lease of moorage space on the Houston Ship Channel.

Once the check cleared, the attorney was instructed to make three wire transfers of $67,350, $176,350, and $96,200 from the account and to take his retainer sum and legal fees of $11,720 out of the available funds. Wiring instructions were delivered on company letterhead and contained one incorrect wiring code, which was corrected by the corresponding bank.

On October 16, 2017, the attorney received a second, this time, cashier’s, check purportedly drawn on Comerica Bank sent by overnight mail in the amount of $295,720. The attorney deposited the cashier’s check that day, and received instructions from the Canadian firm to immediately wire $147,000 to a party in Georgia. The attorney made no attempt to complete the wire transaction at that time because the check had yet to clear and no funds were paid to the bank. The cashier’s check was immediately spotted during the bank to bank clearinghouse process and returned as a forgery.

A call to the accounting department of the Houston-based firm to confirm the check, resulted in the attorney being informed that no such check had been issued, and the company did not bank with the associated institution.

At this time, the attorney contacted another attorney to discuss the irregularities and was advised to proceed with extreme caution as this was likely a fraudulent scheme, identity theft, or both.

The attorney then emailed his Canadian contact to request financial backup and invoices for the cashier’s check in order to verify it as a genuine transaction. The contact provided the attorney with a supporting invoice to backup the transaction.

Out of curiosity, the attorney searched the address for the recipient of the fourth, unsent wire transfer, and found it to be a home improvement store Home Depot in Duluth, Georgia. Upon review of the tracking numbers attached to original letter, check express mail envelope, and subsequent certified mail envelope revealed the origin of shipping as Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, according to the Canadian postal service. All the communications purported to be from locations in Texas and the United States.

The attorney then did a BeenVerified search for his contact, and found two telephone numbers listed for the personal check payor. Attempts to contact were unsuccessful. During the corresponding time period, the website the attorney had used to verify the Canadian company was taken down. A link to the website, which the attorney had first used to verify the company, still remained in place.

On October 19, 2017, the attorney contacted the ethics department of the State Bar of Texas to determine whether there was a safe harbor provision to allow for disclosure of client communications to third parties when the attorney reasonably believed their services had or may be used in the furtherance of fraud or illegal activity. That same day, the attorney contacted his own bank to discuss the matter with the bank’s senior local office counsel. The attorney agreed to provide documentation despite a potentially adverse legal position and the bank agreed to release any hold on the IOLTA account as to remaining funds as specifically approved by the attorney.

The original $357,000 personal check was paid and transaction finalized per the UCC and the attorney’s bank received good funds. Since the date of deposit through this publication , the check has not been returned timely or late pursuant to UCC articles 3 and 4, nor has any communication of any kind been received from the personal check account holder despite the attorney being the named payee on the instrument.

The attorney terminated his representation of the Canadian company on October 20, 2017.

Multiple new defenses to any potential unjust enrichment claim by the account holder are propounded in the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment under “innocent payee” or “forced payee” theories. These defenses are grounded in the Holder in Due Course and Bona Fide Purchaser defensive theories, and require only subjective good faith and objective commercial reasonableness as to the conduct of an attorney involved. They are certainly worth and look and retention for any truly rainy day.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Richmond

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 09:00

Veterans in need of legal advice or assistance can visit a free clinic on Saturday, June 2, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Volunteer attorneys will give any veteran or spouse of a deceased veteran one-on-one advice in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate law, tax law, and disability and veterans benefits. Veterans in need of ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney.

No appointment is necessary.

The clinic will be held at the Richmond VA Outpatient Clinic, 22001 SW Fwy., Ste. 200, Richmond 77469, and is a public service of the Fort Bend Lawyers Care, the Fort Bend County Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative.

For more information, call the Veterans Legal Initiative at (713) 759-1133 or 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 website at texasbar.com/veterans.


Carmen Roe of Houston elected to State Bar of Texas Board of Directors in runoff

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:18

Carmen Roe

Houston lawyers have elected Carmen Roe to represent them on the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors.

Roe faced Courtney T. Carlson in a runoff election for the District 4, Place 5 seat on the board after none of three candidates received a majority of the vote in a general election that ended May 1. The runoff was held May 10 through 5 p.m. CT May 24.

In the runoff, Roe received 50.5 percent of the 3,387 votes cast. Carlson followed closely with 49.5 percent.

To read the full news release, click here.

A look at the Texas Lawyers Group

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 16:00

In August 2014, attorney-mediator Andrew Tolchin started the “Texas Lawyers” Group, or TL Group, on Facebook. Four years later, right after the February 2018 Texas Bar Exam results were released, the TL Group reached a significant milestone, surpassing the 10,000-member mark, and as of this writing constitutes nearly 10 percent of the bar. Tolchin credits the TL Group’s success to the fact that the group “provides a comfortable environment where mentorship and camaraderie are the norm in the absence of the immediate pressures of clients and judges. A number of those who have a positive experience invite colleagues.”

The TL Group provides a forum for the discussion of cases, laws, scenarios, rulings, ethics, practice issues, legal trends, legal education, legal job openings, office space, referrals, and other related issues of interest to Texas lawyers. Tolchin confirms that the viewership statistics reflect readership in the many thousands of attorneys daily and well in excess of a million interactions between members across the TL Group and its affiliates.

Such an active group requires active and engaged administrators who devote many hours each week. Tolchin now shares the burden with Michelle Cheng and Jason Rowe. The administrators vet potential members to ensure they are Texas lawyers and mediate the flare-ups between members that occasionally occur. Ensuring that the membership is “lawyers-only” is an important aspect of the job. The TL Group is a “judge-free zone.” Literally. No judges allowed. Those who seek membership in the TL Group are required to provide their Texas Bar number so the administrators can verify that they are active members in good standing.

Often, to understand the TL Group postings, you must know your lawyer acronyms. There are lots of potential new client, or PNC, fact patterns posed to the collective legal hive mind; baby lawyer questions, or BLQ’s; descriptions of possible unauthorized practice of law, or UPL; and—ahem—opposing counsel, or OC, horror stories. Not to mention a multitude of referrals for all manner of cases throughout the state.

The TL Group now includes a suite of affiliated group offerings to meet members’ interests, including the Texas Lawyers Lounge and Politics for Lawyers, as well as practice area groups like Oil and Gas, Criminal Defense, and Probate. These groups developed organically over time as the need arose. For example, the Texas Lawyers Lounge (think the bar from Cheers) was created as a place for members to post personal stories and jokes so that these things could still be shared, but not overtake the professional content of the TL Group. The Lounge is host to “Meme Friday” where members spend every Friday (don’t be surprised to find this starting on Thursday) posting all manner of memes. Some Lounge events even extend beyond the virtual world. Last year, member Eugene Haller organized a Secret Santa gift exchange for those who wanted to participate. There are frequent calls to “show us your critters” in the Lounge, to satisfy the need to share pictures of beloved pets and barnyard animals. And everyone knows the most important questions are answered in the Texas Lawyers Lounge using polls. There are an endless number of entertaining polls to answer. Hint: always choose “Sierra Mist” as the answer.

Longtime member and frequent-poster Scott Rothenberg praises the TL Group because it facilitates lawyer wellness by providing a way for lawyers to interact with their peers. He believes that when this interaction rises to the level of mentoring, it raises the quality of service lawyers provide to their clients. Rothenberg also sees the TL Group and the Lounge as a way to ensure communication of information about the State Bar, to encourage debate and discourse among members, and to provide feedback to the State Bar.

Perhaps unique to the TL Group is what Tolchin refers to as “peer-reviewed mentoring.” The guidance and mentoring provided to the attorney posing a question to the collective is necessarily “peer reviewed” by those in the group reading alongside. The interaction is viewed by learned peers who may, and often do, comment. That is, members of the TL Group opine about whether the answers provided are right, wrong, or should be expanded upon. There are reactions to the responses, whether agreeing or disagreeing, and sometimes reactions and responses to the way in which members communicate their response to the poster.

The TL Group truly shines in its function as an information gateway with tangible impact. During Hurricane Harvey, members used the TL Group to mobilize their many resources. For example, when Keri Brown posted in the TL Group seeking additional lawyer volunteers at the George R. Brown Convention Center emergency shelter in Houston, 38 members immediately signed up. TL Group lawyers shared information about donation collections for relief supplies and provided community support for attorneys who had lost their homes or offices. Dale Felton became a go-to source when he selflessly shared caselaw and his experience about flood insurance claims and the TL Group became a repository for that shared knowledge.

Another value aspect of the TL Group is the presence of several lawyers who also happen to be court clerks. When a TL Group member experiences an e-filing struggle in Harris County, Harris County District Clerk (and lawyer) Chris Daniels is often tagged by another member and responds with instructions and help. Texas Supreme Court Clerk (and lawyer) Blake Hawthorne used the TL Group to spread the word about the beta testing of the new statewide court records access for attorneys.

Now reaching a new stage in its evolution, the TL Group recently was the first digital bar association to be listed and hyperlinked from the State Bar’s webpage listings of bar associations. The Texas Lawyers Group, by membership, is now the third largest voluntary bar association in Texas—after the Houston Bar Association and the Dallas Bar Association. As a bar association, the TL Group will send delegates to the annual Bar Leaders Conference this year in Austin.

Look also for TL Group administrators Tolchin and Cheng presenting “The Ever-Changing World of Social Media” at this year’s State Bar Annual Meeting next month in Houston.

Beth Crawford joined Practical Law as a senior editor writing Texas litigation content from Lone Star College System, where she was acting general counsel. Previously, she was litigation counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright, concentrating on commercial litigation and appeals. Before that, she clerked at the Texas Supreme Court and First Court of Appeals, where she later served as a senior staff attorney. She is also an adjunct professor teaching business law.

To meet the administrators of the Texas Lawyers Group, visit Andrew Tolchin, Michelle Cheng, and Jason Rowe.




Sponsored Content: Lawyers of Distinction Can Help Your Law Practice Grow

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 23:01

In 2018 The Lawyers of Distinction Organization has unveiled a new and innovative search feature for Member attorneys. The general public can perform a search on the Lawyers of Distinction website either by searching geographically, by city or state or area of specialization or both. The actual personal profile page’s of individual attorneys is unmatched amongst leading industry competitors.  The member profile contains a detailed biographical section, Google maps feature and perhaps most importantly a section containing reviews directly from Avvo, Google, and Yelp. The reader is armed with both subjective as well as objective information to make an informed decision in retaining quality counsel.

Currently, thousands of people visit the Lawyers of Distinction website daily. Unlike most competitors, Lawyers of Distinction does not refer clients to specific attorneys and therefore is not a lawyer referral service. Lawyers cannot pay for a preferential listing nor does Lawyers of Distinction post banner ads or accept any outside advertisements. The goal of the directory is simply to create a unique user experience allowing the public to make informed consumer decisions. The Membership roster currently has over 3,000 highly competent attorneys from all 50 states as well as U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam and internationally with members from Japan, Canada, and even Australia.

Membership in Lawyers of Distinction provides significant value to Members. Yearly Membership starts at $475.

For further information on Lawyers of Distinction and how it can help benefit you and your law practice, visit lawyersofdistinction.com

Sponsored Content: Lawyers of Distinction Can Help Your Law Practice Grow

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 23:01

In 2018 The Lawyers of Distinction Organization has unveiled a new and innovative search feature for Member attorneys. The general public can perform a search on the Lawyers of Distinction website either by searching geographically, by city or state or area of specialization or both. The actual personal profile page’s of individual attorneys is unmatched amongst leading industry competitors.  The member profile contains a detailed biographical section, Google maps feature and perhaps most importantly a section containing reviews directly from Avvo, Google, and Yelp. The reader is armed with both subjective as well as objective information to make an informed decision in retaining quality counsel.

Currently, thousands of people visit the Lawyers of Distinction website daily. Unlike most competitors, Lawyers of Distinction does not refer clients to specific attorneys and therefore is not a lawyer referral service. Lawyers cannot pay for a preferential listing nor does Lawyers of Distinction post banner ads or accept any outside advertisements. The goal of the directory is simply to create a unique user experience allowing the public to make informed consumer decisions. The Membership roster currently has over 3,000 highly competent attorneys from all 50 states as well as U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam and internationally with members from Japan, Canada, and even Australia.

Membership in Lawyers of Distinction provides significant value to Members. Yearly Membership starts at $475.

For further information on Lawyers of Distinction and how it can help benefit you and your law practice, visit lawyersofdistinction.com

Warren Harris is new Houston Bar Association president

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:00

Warren W. Harris, a partner at Bracewell, is the new president of the Houston Bar Association. Harris succeeds Alistair B. Dawson, a partner in Beck Redden, who will serve on the HBA Board of Directors as immediate past president.

Warren W. Harris

Harris chairs the appellate practice group at Bracewell and serves as appellate counsel in major trials to provide strategic advice, preserve error, argue jury charges, and handle post-verdict motions.

As HBA president, Harris intends to focus on initiatives that promote professionalism, ethics, member services, and community involvement through programs that educate the public on judicial civics, the rule of law, and the role of lawyers in society.

Harris has been a member of the HBA Board of Directors since 2008. He chaired the HBA’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Houston Lawyer Referral Service, as well as the HBA Appellate Practice Section. He served as editor in chief of The Houston Lawyer and as chair of the State Bar of Texas Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors. Harris is a life fellow of the Houston Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, where he served as fellows chair. He is a past president of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and received the 2017 Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award from the Texas Bar Foundation. Harris is certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Other new HBA officers are Benny Agosto Jr., of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels & Aziz, president-elect; Jennifer A. Halsey, of Hasley Scarano, first vice president; Chris Popov, of Vinson & Elkins, second vice president; David Harrell, of Locke Lord, secretary; and Bill Kroger, Baker Botts, treasurer.

New directors for 2018-2020 are Diana Gomez, of Chamberlain Hrdlicka; Greg Moore, of Norton Rose Fulbright; Robert Painter, of Painter Law Firm; and Greg Ulmer, of Baker Hostetler.

TexasBarBooks offers affordable subscriptions to online manuals

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 10:16

TexasBarBooks Online is the technology-based solution for lawyers looking to leverage the value of TexasBarBooks’ practice manuals at a more affordable entry point.

Featuring the same authoritative content of the print and digital download versions, the monthly and annual subscriptions to online versions allow greater flexibility for those needing material in a specific practice area on a short-term basis. And with a subscription, those update downloads and page replacements that come along every few years are no longer necessary. The online versions always feature the latest content published by TexasBarBooks.

Amarillo lawyer Christopher Wrampelmeier, who enjoys the ease of using the material straight from his browser window, said he keeps the online version of the Texas Family Law Practice Manual open on one of his two computer screens. “When I have a question about the law, I consult its practice notes, which are just a click away,” he said. “The online version requires no updating by me and is available wherever I have access to the internet. For new and old lawyers, the online Texas Family Law Practice Manual is an essential tool. Don’t practice Texas family law without it.”

To date, TexasBarBooks Online features the Texas Family Law Practice Manual, the Texas Real Estate Forms Manual, the Texas Guardianship Manual, the Texas Collections Manual, and the Texas Foreclosure Manual in online subscription versions. Subscribers can easily navigate practice notes and edit downloadable forms in Word. The Texas Business Organizations Manual and the Texas Probate System will be added to the offerings by the fall of 2018.

Each title varies in price, but all cost under $30 a month, with an additional $5 a month discount for customers choosing to pay the annual cost up front.

To view a demo or purchase a subscription, go to http://texasbarbooks.net/texasbarbooks-online/. For more information, email books@texasbar.com or call the customer service team at (800) 204-2222.


Conor Jensen is a web content specialist.

Electronics and automotive discounts

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 08:00

If you want to update those old electronics or spruce up your car but worry about the price, your Member Benefit Program can help. The site has deals on everything from cameras and computers to car parts. Check out the Electronics and Automotive pages for more info.

  • HP Employee Purchase Discount — HP is where power meets performance. Save up to 35% on laptops, desktops, tablets and more.
  • Canon Find the perfect gift for the photographer in your life with exclusive pricing on a wide range of Canon products including new and refurbished cameras.
  • Samsung The Galaxy S9 is here! Save up to $300 with a qualifying trade-in. You can also save over 15% on Samsung’s major appliances.
  • Sennheiser — Sennheiser makes sound come alive. Save 20% on headphones, microphones and other audio accessories.
  • Advance Auto Parts — With Advance Auto Parts, you get trusted advice and save on parts and accessories that keep your ride running right. Save 20% with your exclusive member offer.

With the Member Benefit Program’s offers for restaurants and watches, you can plan the best date night ever. For more info, click on the Dining & Grocery and Retail pages.

  • Restaurant.comSave at over 18,000 restaurants nationwide! Get $25 certificates for $10 with Restaurant.com, and browse menus to find the perfect fit.
  • Ashford WatchesAlways dreamed of owning a luxury watch? Ashford.com has unbeatable prices on a large selection of timepieces and other fine jewelry.

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

Keynote speakers announced for 2018 State Bar Annual Meeting

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 07:53

The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting will again bring us two amazing days of networking, CLE sessions, and knowledgeable speakers. The event, June 21-22 in Houston, will feature keynote addresses from historian and author Joseph Crespino, businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley.

Joseph Crespino, the Jimmy Carter Professor of American History at Emory University, will be the keynote speaker at the Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon on June 21. Crespino is a historian of the American South since Reconstruction. He has written three books, including his most recent, Atticus Finch: The Biography—Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon.

On June 22, Houston businessman and philanthropist Jim McIngvale, known and beloved as “Mattress Mack,” will speak at the Bench Bar Breakfast. McIngvale famously opened two of his Gallery Furniture stores to use as shelters for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Rounding out keynote speakers for Annual Meeting will be Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. Brinkley is the keynote speaker of the General Session Luncheon on June 22. He is a bestselling author, a Grammy Award-winning producer, and a presidential historian for CNN. Eight of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His most recent book, JFK: A Vision of America, features the president’s greatest speeches as well as reflections from leading historians, statesmen, and public figures.

The “early bird” registration rate for Annual Meeting is good through May 21. After that day, the cost of registration will increase. For more information on how to register, go here.

Task Force recommends adopting the Uniform Bar Examination

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:00

The Task Force on the Texas Bar Examination issued its report to the Texas Supreme Court on May 16, including a recommendation that the state adopt the Uniform Bar Examination.

The task force recommended the Uniform Bar Examination, or UBE, but rejected the “diploma privilege” that would allow Texas law school graduates to practice law in the state without taking a bar exam.

The task force recommended the adoption of the UBE for its utility to law graduates who might want to practice in several jurisdictions without retaking bar exams in each.

The report said, “Examinees who score well enough on the UBE become eligible for admission by examination to the bar in every jurisdiction in which the UBE has been adopted.”

The UBE is used by more than half of the U.S. It has been adopted by 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

While unanimously rejecting the full diploma privilege for any law school or law school graduates, the task force did encourage Texas law schools to develop alternative licensing programs.

Other recommendations from the task force include:

• If the UBE is adopted, the Multistate Essay Exam should replace Texas essays. The task force suggests supplementing the UBE with a Texas law component, consisting of a Texas Law Exam to be administered online following the completion of, or in conjunction with, an online Texas law course.
• If the UBE is adopted, the number of essays would be reduced from 12 to six by adoption of the Multistate Essay Exam. If the UBE is not adopted, the task force still recommends reducing the number of essays from 12 to six.
• If the UBE is adopted, the equivalent passing score should be 270. If it is not adopted, the Texas Bar Exam passing score should remain at 675. In either occurrence, the task force recommends the Supreme Court consider a standard-setting study to determine whether the passing score meets a standard of minimum competence to practice law. (A list of minimum passing UBE scores can be found here).
• If the current Texas Bar Exam is retained without change, the task force recommends that the current scoring system should be continued. The task force found that no internal evidence demonstrated that the exam was not performing as intended.

As a result of concerns about the Multistate Bar Exam, the principal Texas Bar Exam component, and their bearings on recent bar-passage rates, the task force proposed an independent study of Texas Bar Exam scores. However, issues with the availability of relevant data from Texas law schools, the National Conference of Bar Examiners—the group behind the UBE—and the Board of Law Examiners remained unresolved, and the task force concluded an independent study could not be carried out.

The Supreme Court created the task force in June 2016 to answer questions about across-the-board declines in bar exam passage rates across the country. The task force, which was led by St. Mary’s University School of Law Dean Stephen M. Sheppard, also included SMU Dedman School of Law Dean Jennifer M. Collins, the University of Texas School of Law Dean Ward Farnsworth, Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law Dean Dannye Holley, Baylor Law School Dean Bradley J.B. Toben, Texas Tech University School of Law Professor Cassie Christopher, Chief Justice Jeff Rose of the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas Board of Law Examiners chair Harold “Al” Odom, Texas Board of Law Examiners vice chair Augustin “Augie” Rivera Jr., Texas Board of Law Examiners member C. Alfred Mackenzie, Dallas attorney Beverly B. Godbey, and Dallas attorney Rebekah Steely Brooker. The Supreme Court liaison to the task force was Justice Jeff Brown.

Stories of Recovery: Living with Bipolar II Disorder

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 06:00

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery 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.

What’s it like living with bipolar II disorder?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a hypomanic episode. I can remember feeling great, but with an edge. Everything would be fine, but then I would start to feel irritable. I could almost feel myself vibrating just beneath the surface of my skin. Any little thing would completely set me off into a rage—someone cutting me off in traffic, someone questioning what I was telling them.

I can remember one time when I could feel myself about to come unglued, and I had to tell my son, who was in first grade at the time, that mommy needed him to be quiet for a just little bit. Not my proudest parenting moment.

But I didn’t always catch myself first. Usually I went from flying high to absolute rage with little warning. Then the depression would follow. That I can remember distinctly, because the pain of my last serious depressive episode, though several years passed, is still fresh in my memory.

I’ve been dealing with mood disorders since I was a teenager. Depression first came on the scene when I was 16 years old. I told my mom that I thought I was depressed, and she told me I couldn’t be depressed because I had nothing to be depressed about.

I struggled with ups and downs throughout my teens—the ups, the rages, and the lows—and finally in undergrad I had my first major depressive episode. I was taking a psychology class at the time and went to my professor’s office in tears because I just didn’t know how much longer I could keep living. That struggle—to keep living—has continued to be a common theme in my life.

Depression is a continuous loop of sadness, guilt, and self-loathing. And even when you aren’t depressed, you are constantly vigilant, looking for any signs that the next episode is coming on. Most days I feel like I am treading water, trying to keep moving so this thing that’s been chasing me doesn’t catch up to me again. It can be absolutely exhausting, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I still struggle against the diagnosis. I still struggle to take the pills and do the counseling sessions. But I know I have to. I’ve seen what happens when I don’t, and my family deserves better.

I deserve better.

Even though I have this label that follows me around everywhere, I’m a better person because of it. I can relate to people dealing with terrible situations that they have no control over. I can talk to clients about their mental health problems and can help them with their cases, because I really understand. I am kinder, and I am more compassionate.

And when my son, now an undergrad himself, came to me about his own depression, I knew how to help him. I knew how to help him, because I had helped myself first.

Bipolar II disorder doesn’t define me; it is just one part of me. And fortunately, it’s a manageable part.

Sponsored Content: Lawyers of Distinction

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 23:01

As we all know the practice of law becomes more competitive all the time. Lawyers are looking for any legal edge they can find to help them stand out. This has created an industry of legal vanity organizations whose primary agenda is to promote their members.  One of the most innovative organizations in this space who constantly promotes their members to the legal industry as well as general public is Lawyers Of Distinction.

Lawyers of Distinction stands apart by advertising their member roster in national legal publications like the American Bar Association Journal, The American Lawyer and The National Law Journal. Additionally, Lawyers of Distinction publishes membership announcements in The New York Times. Online, Lawyers of Distinction runs targeted ads across multiple web site channels including Google and Yahoo as well as daily social media posts announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Of all the legal vanity organizations, Lawyers of Distinction is certainly the most innovative technologically giving its members very broad and consistent exposure.

Lawyers of Distinction also encourages members to provide news, case results, law firm announcements and other newsworthy items, which it then publishes on social media giving members constant exposure.

Another really cool feature of the Lawyers of Distinction model is the most comprehensive biographical section for each member including a Google Maps feature and most recently a section with member reviews from Google, Yelp and Avvo, all aggregated in one place. This feature makes searching for an attorney seamless since objective rankings and reviews are integrated into the member profile. While many legal vanity organizations strive to promote their members, none of them come close to Lawyers Of Distinction when it comes to marketing it’s members.

For further information on Lawyers of Distinction and how it can help benefit you and your law practice, visit lawyersofdistinction.com.

Knowledge Center offers members practical resources

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 07:00

New offerings are available at the State Bar of Texas Knowledge Center, a repository of relevant, vendor-sponsored news and information that practitioners can access for free. Need help drafting a Texas company agreement? Get the information to make it happen from Thomson Reuters. A complimentary e-book from LawPay provides tips to strengthen client communications. The National Institute for Trial Advocacy features articles on techniques to enhance communication skills. The Knowledge Center is a new program by the State Bar of Texas aimed at offering members a resource for the latest vendor-sponsored whitepapers, case studies, trial reports, and more. To get started, go to texasbar.com/knowledgecenter.

Michele Wong Krause elected to ABA Board of Governors

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 09:00

Michele Wong Krause, a Dallas-based solo practitioner, was nominated to the American Bar Association Board of Governors by its Nominating Committee at the 2018 ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, and will be officially elected to her post for a three-year term by the ABA House of Delegates at its annual meeting in Chicago in August.

Krause, a former State Bar of Texas director from 2004 to 2007 and 2011 to 2014, is also a member of the Commission on Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts and was on the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities from 2014 to 2017.

In her new role as an ABA governor, Krause will help oversee the operation of the ABA and develop plans of action. The board, along with the ABA House of Delegates, is responsible for policymaking and general organizational oversight while employees put to practice those policies.

Free legal clinic for veterans in Tomball

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 09:00

Veterans can receive free legal advice at a clinic hosted by the Houston Northwest Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative on Saturday, May 19.
The clinic will offer veterans and spouses of deceased veterans advice and counsel from volunteer attorneys in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits. Those who qualify for legal aid and are in need of ongoing legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney to take their case.

The clinic, which does not require an appointment, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tomball VA Outpatient Clinic, 1200 W. Main St., Tomball 77375.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly Friday afternoon clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. For more information, 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 webpage at texasbar.com/veterans.

TYLA seeks moot court judges

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 14:30

The Texas Young Lawyers Association is seeking volunteers to judge preliminary rounds of the State Moot Court Competition on June 19-20 in Houston. Attorneys can receive CLE self-study credit for being a judge.

Nine law school teams from across the state will be competing at the competition from June 19 to June 21 at the Marriot Marquis in Houston.

Openings for Tuesday, June 19, are at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. On Wednesday, June 20, openings are at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 2 p.m.

All materials will be provided prior to the round.

If you are interested in judging, sign up here.

For more information, contact Kaylan Dunn at KaylanDunn@HuntonAK.com.

Fort Worth Library legal education series concludes May 20

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:00

The Fort Worth Library, Tarrant County Bar Association, and Texas A&M School of Law teamed up this spring to educate library patrons in Fort Worth on relevant legal issues and point to available resources.

The education series will conclude 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, with a presentation at the Central Library in downtown Fort Worth from Judge Steven Owen. The focus: paternity establishment, child support, and possession and access issues stemming from paternity cases.

Throughout April and May, presentations were given on family law, immigration law, elder law, low-income tax issues, and veterans’ legal rights and services. Lectures came from attorney Carlos Rocha, of Texas A&M; attorney Mireya Granados, of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas; and veteran William Rivera-Vasquez.

For more information, go to fortworthtexas.gov/library/programs/legalseries.