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DBA and DVAP establish legal aid endowment fund

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 09:00

The Dallas Bar Association and the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program have established the DVAP Endowment, which will help fund legal aid to the indigent in Dallas. The endowment was created by DBA President Michael K. Hurst to secure long-term aid should DVAP lose traditional funding methods.

Several attorneys and companies have stepped in to donate money to the endowment. Aubrey Connatser, of Connatser Family Law in Dallas, donated $50,000 in honor of her mentor, Ken Fuller, who died in 2014. The late KoonsFuller partner was a regular volunteer with DVAP even after retiring.

“Aubrey Connatser knows the importance of ensuring that legal aid to the poor is funded for generations. For all people, for all time. I was not surprised when she once again wanted to put her money where her heart is, and become the DVAP Endowment’s first major donor to honor the memory of Ken Fuller. Aubrey’s leadership will no doubt have a lasting impact on our community,” Hurst said in a press release.

Others who have stated they intend to donate money to the endowment include:

  1. Lynn Pinker Cox Hurst/Jane and Michael Hurst—$50,000;
  2. Jerry Alexander of Passman & Jones—$50,000;
  3. Hunt Consolidated, through Ray Hunt, David Hernandez, Hunter Hunt, and Chris Kleinert—$50,000;
  4. David and Michele Hernandez—$10,000;
  5. Highland Capital Management, through Jim Dondero—$50,000;
  6. Vistra Energy, through Stephanie Moore and Dan Kelly—$50,000;
  7. AT&T, through David McAtee—$50,000; and
  8. David and Christy McAtee—$10,000.

Andrew Oldham appointed to the Texas Access to Justice Commission

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 15:00

Andrew Oldham, general counsel to Gov. Greg Abbott, will serve as liaison to the Texas Access to Justice Commission.

Oldham was appointed by Abbott, whom he advises on federal and state law issues. He currently manages litigation in which the governor is an interested party and is a lecturer on the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, administrative law, federal courts, and federalism.

Oldham’s history with Abbott includes serving as deputy solicitor general to the then-attorney general. In this role, he represented Texas in federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Mr. Oldham is a brilliantly talented lawyer and has experience at many levels of both state and federal governments,” said Commission Chair Harry M. Reasoner in a press release. “We look forward to his contributions on achieving access to justice in Texas.”

Oldham, previously with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., practiced appellate litigation across the country. Prior to private practice, he served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Judge David B. Sentelle, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Oldham also was an attorney adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Entries sought for Texas Gavel Awards

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 12:09

Submissions are being accepted for the 2018 Texas Gavel Awards!

The awards recognize excellence in print, broadcast, or online journalism that educates the public about the rule of law, the legal profession, and the judicial branch of government; and discloses practices or procedures needing correction to improve the practice of law, the courts, or the justice system. The awards are given out yearly by the State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee.

To view eligibility requirements, submission guidelines, and submit an entry, visit texasbar.com/gavelawards.

The deadline to submit a story or series of stories for consideration is 5 p.m. March 30.

Go here to see the 2017 winning stories.

A Lawyer’s Duty of Confidentiality When Using Social Media

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 09:35

We all know that an attorney has a duty to protect confidential client information, but it’s easy to forget that duty when posting on social media or responding to online reviews related to a lawyer’s services. The proper analysis under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct will involve Rule 1.05, which generally defines the scope and extent of a lawyer’s duty to protect confidential client information.

Rule 1.05(a) broadly defines “confidential information” to include information protected by the lawyer-client privilege, as well as “all information relating to a client or furnished by the client” that a lawyer acquires during the course of or by reason of the representation. Rule 1.05(b) prohibits a lawyer from revealing confidential information of a client or former client absent an applicable exception and also extends to the use of confidential information to the disadvantage of a client or former client.

For example, an attorney’s inclusion of information in a social media post that identifies a particular client, or which would allow a third party to do so, will generally be subject to the restrictions of Rule 1.05. These limitations will apply regardless of whether the communication is made in a public social media post or a social media post that is limited to friends and acquaintances of the lawyer.

The Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas issued Ethics Opinion 662 (August 2016) related to an attorney’s duty of confidentiality in responding to a former client’s adverse comments on the internet and Ethics Opinion 648 (April 2015) related to an attorney’s communication of confidential information by email, which provide useful analysis related to an attorney’s duty of confidentiality as related to electronic communications. See www.legalethicstexas.com. As always, the proper analysis will depend on the specific facts involved.

If you are a Texas lawyer and have questions about your ethical obligations, you may contact the State Bar of Texas Ethics Helpline at (800) 532-3947 for guidance on how to access the relevant rules and information, including ethics opinions and caselaw, that may help you reach an informed decision. Please note that the service is not confidential and is not binding on any grievance committee panel.

Brad Johnson is an ethics attorney with the State Bar of Texas. 

6 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for Lawyers

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 06:00


The best-run law firms use Clio. Learn more at clio.com.

Just 8% of people are successful at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions. However, taking care to set  resolutions you’ll actually keep can help you achieve success.

Here are six resolutions to help you improve your practice this year.

1. Network more

The 2017 Legal Trends Report found that when looking for a lawyer, 62% of consumers seek referrals from friends or family, and 31% get a referral from another lawyer. In other words, you need to go to more networking events, both to meet other lawyers and to meet new clients.

These events don’t have to be boring either. The Clio Cloud Conference is an event for gaining inspiring ideas to make your practice more profitable—while connecting with innovative legal professionals. You don’t want to miss it!

To connect with potential clients, give talks at non-legal-specific events, get involved in your local community, and don’t forget to mention to new connections that you’re a lawyer available for hire.

2. Prepare your client intake before you meet your next client

A streamlined client intake system will save you time, plain and simple. More importantly, it will eliminate the potential for human error that comes with manual data entry.

To get you started, here are 3 ways to automate your client intake process.

3. Start accepting credit cards

Nearly 85% of solos and small firms haven’t set themselves up to accept online credit card payments. But, according to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, lawyers who accept credit cards get paid 39% faster than those who only accept payment by cheque.

Also, 28% of consumers surveyed said they wanted to pay law firms via credit card, and that this was a key factor for them when choosing a lawyer.

To get you started, here’s some information on choosing a credit card processor for your law firm.

4. Take better care of yourself

If you’ve been working long hours and neglecting self-care, use the new year as a turning point. Eat well, get enough sleep, and take care of yourself.

Don’t forget your mental health either. Try mindfulness exercises—meditation, even for just a few minutes each day, can clear your mind and set yourself up for success at work.

5. Manage your time more wisely

As mentioned above, according to the 2017 Legal Trends Report, lawyers log just 2.3 billable hours per day, based on an eight-hour workday.

In the new year, resolve to start managing your time better, so that you spend more time on billable work and less on administrative tasks. We’ve got a few time management tips for lawyers to start you off, but don’t try to do it all yourself—a robust practice management solution like Clio can help minimize time spent on non-billable work.

6. Bring technology into your practice

Legal tech is changing fast—firms that have implemented technology already are reaping big rewards, and those that don’t risk being left behind.

Make 2018 the year to adopt technology in your practice. The first step is to start using practice management software, if you haven’t already. Then, keep an eye out for new tools that could help you become even more efficient and profitable. If you’re not sure where to start, read about how Patrick Palace and Jordan Couch successfully implement new technologies at Palace Law.

Choose at least one of these New Year’s resolutions, and you’ll be on your way to a more balanced and successful practice in 2018.

Start the new year off right—Clio can help make your practice more efficient than you ever thought possible. Try it for free today.

Teresa Matich writes about legal technology and the business of law for Clio’s blog. She has previously worked as a reporter in the financial sector, and prior to that, she was an office clerk at a Vancouver real estate law firm.

Michael K. Hurst elected president of the Dallas Bar Association

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 12:00

Michael K. Hurst, a litigation attorney and named partner at Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst, has been elected president of the Dallas Bar Association and will be inaugurated as the organization’s 109th president on January 20.

Hurst was elected chair of the Dallas Bar Association Board of Directors in 2014. He has served as a chair on various bar association committees and sections, including the Bylaws, Judicial Investiture, and Peer Assistance committees, and the Trial Skills Section. Hurst was also co-chair of the 2013-2014 Equal Access to Justice Campaign, which funds the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program that provides free legal assistance to low-income families and individuals.

Hurst, who graduated from South Texas College of Law, is a life fellow of the Dallas Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation and a founding life fellow of the DAYL Foundation. He is a master in the William “Mac” Taylor Inn of Court and is a member of State Bar of Texas Litigation Section and the American Bar Association Business Tort Section. He was the first male recipient of the Dallas Women Lawyers Association’s Louise B. Raggio Award in 2015.

Other officers serving on the board include Laura Benitez Geisler, of Geisler Law Firm, as president-elect; Robert Tobey, of Johnston Tobey Baruch, as first vice president; Aaron Tobin, of Condon Tobin Sladek Thornton, as second vice president; Vicki Blanton, of AT&T, as secretary/treasurer; and Rob Crain, of Crain Lewis Brogdon, as immediate past president.

Willett, Blacklock take oaths

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 14:00

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett was sworn in to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today at the Texas Supreme Court in Austin. James Davis Blacklock, Willett’s replacement on the Supreme Court, was also sworn in.

Judge Don Willett delivers remarks after taking the oath of office for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Willett, who was nominated to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Donald J. Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, took the oath of office from Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht.

“A strong judiciary is indeed essential to a strong state and to a strong United States,” Willett said in remarks after taking the oath of office. “My title today has changed from justice to judge, but my task has not—judging according to the rule of law, a sacred trust.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn gave remarks to the guests in attendance, which included some members of the 5th Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, and friends and family.

Justice James Davis Blacklock speaks after taking the oath of office for the Texas Supreme Court.

Willett served for 12 years on the Texas Supreme Court and is replaced by James Davis Blacklock, who was appointed to the court by Gov. Greg Abbott. Blacklock, who most recently served as the governor’s general counsel, took the oath of office from Abbott, who spoke of Blacklock’s gifted qualities as a lawyer.

Texas Bar Journal must-reads for January 2018

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 09:00

Ready to ring in the new year with the Texas Bar Journal? Check out our editorial staff’s must-reads for the January 2018 issue. Don’t forget to catch up on Movers and Shakers, Memorials, and Disciplinary Actions.

2017 Year in Review
A recap of significant developments to the legal profession and caselaw.

Texas Day of Civility in the Law Declared for April 20, 2018
A statewide day of civility makes its debut in 2018.
By Suzanne M. Duvall, Ann Howey, Justice Douglas S. Lang, and D. Patrick Long

Embrace Urgency and Uncertainty
Remarks from the high scorer of the Texas Bar Examination.
By Philip Murray MacGregor Cooper

From the Pitch to the Courtroom
A San Antonio attorneys swaps out business shoes for cleats in his coed soccer league.
Interview by Adam Faderewski

Apffel: State Bar incubator is producing success stories

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 15:34

Editor’s note: The following column also appears in the January 2018 issue of the Texas Bar Journal.

Did you know that the State Bar of Texas will soon have one of the largest legal incubators anywhere? And that the program is helping not only new attorneys but also people who normally can’t afford legal services?

The State Bar launched the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator, or TOJI, in April 2017 under the superb leadership of Immediate Past President Frank Stevenson. Its mission is to expand access to justice for low- and moderate-income Texans by helping new lawyers establish sustainable practices that serve this population.

Two cohorts of 10 attorneys each are now participating in the 18-month program, which operates out of co-working office space near the University of Texas at Austin campus. When the third cohort begins in April, TOJI, with 30 attorneys, will be one of the largest legal incubators of the nearly 70 programs operating worldwide.
Incubator participants aren’t State Bar or TOJI employees. They establish independent practices while receiving training in business operations, marketing, and client relations. They also provide at least 100 hours of pro bono legal assistance during their first 12 months in the program.

Our incubator is already producing success stories. Here’s what members of our inaugural cohort had to say:

  • Basic legal services should be available to anyone regardless of income. TOJI is an important step in bridging the wide gap between the legal profession and underserved communities. —Andrew Bernick
  • TOJI gave me the confidence to take risks with unconventional billing practices, which I hope take off because so many people can’t afford traditional attorneys’ fees. —Sarah J. Kelly
  • I appreciate the creative energy that drives the program and the opportunities it provides to collaborate with other like-minded attorneys and local experts as we learn from each other, create together, and experiment with new ways to address the justice gap in Texas. —Carolyn Cadena
  • TOJI empowers entrepreneurs like me to develop new and sustainable models of legal practice to reduce costs and expenses while still providing high-quality and affordable legal services. —Mario Cantu
  • This program has continued to inspire and empower me to use my legal skills for the good of our community. —Claire Vaho

Clearly, TOJI is making a difference in the lives of these attorneys and the clients they serve. We are also working to establish a model and curriculum for similar incubator programs throughout Texas.

Incubators aren’t a cure-all for closing the justice gap, but they do play a role, according to the Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services. The Texas Supreme Court created the commission in 2015 to study ways to expand access to the civil justice system, and its December 2016 report encouraged the court to support and promote existing and new legal incubators, among other recommendations.

According to the report, incubators “can meet the needs of some clients and some new law-school graduates; they can teach lawyers how to make a living serving modest-means clients; and they can serve as a visible reminder to the legal community that serving clients who are unable to pay full price ‘is a moral obligation of each lawyer as well as the profession generally.’”1

The deadline is January 5 to apply for the third TOJI cohort, which begins in March. Applications for the fourth cohort will be accepted starting in May. If you’re not a new lawyer (in your first five years of practice), you can still get involved with TOJI by volunteering as a mentor or speaker by filling out the form at txoji.com.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far and look forward to seeing more results as we work together to bridge the justice gap.


Trey Apffel

Executive Director, State Bar of Texas
Editor-in-Chief, Texas Bar Journal

Have a question for Trey? Email it to trey.apffel@texasbar.com and he may answer it in a future column.

Note

  1. Tex. Disciplinary Rules Prof’l Conduct pmbl. ¶ 6 ***.

Well-being task force’s 10 tips on fostering a healthy workplace

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 09:00

A recent report by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being focused on solutions to prevailing mental health and substance abuse disorders among attorneys. Many lawyers, it found, neglect their own needs, inhibiting their ability to be at their best for clients, colleagues, and families. To counter that, the report emphasized the importance of fostering a supportive workplace, highlighting areas where firm leaders can make a positive impact on the health of their employees. Now with the “Lawyer Well-Being Start-Up Kit,” the task force has more guidance with 10 recommendations for promoting good health in the workplace.

  1. Launch a Lawyer Well-Being Committee. The committee’s leader should be someone proactive with credibility and influence.
  2. Define Well-Being, Set Goals & Create a Plan. Define well-being from scratch or use the National Task Force’s report (pages 9-10) as guidance; then establish policies and practices that support that definition.
  3. Measure Indicators of Well-Being. Potential resources include Subjective well-being, which assesses life satisfaction and the balance of negative and positive emotions; the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Oldenburg Burnout Inventory; the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 for depression; the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test; and any measures that gauge a person’s knowledge of how to seek help and their likelihood of doing so.
  4. Provide Tools for Lawyers to Individually Track Their Own Well-Being. Confidential self-tests are readily available, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Authentic Happiness, a questionnaire that assesses optimism, depression, and satisfaction; the “Wheel of Life” exercise, which measures satisfaction with different areas of life; and the Wellness Assessment.
  5. Provide Education on Well-Being. Regularly offer educational programs and create an information hub on your intranet for resources. Education should guide people on identifying, addressing, and supporting colleagues with mental health and substance use disorders.
  6. Ask Lawyers to Include Well-Being Topics in Their Goal-Setting Practices. Goals can include nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Leaders should monitor these goals as they would professional development goals.
  7. Embed Well-Being into Meetings. Include well-being as an agenda item in meetings, offer gratitude activities, and encourage “walking meetings” outside of conference rooms.
  8. Include Well-Being Topics in Organizational Transitions. Give a realistic preview of new roles and identifying common stressors and well-being strategies.
  9. Leverage Well-Being-Related Technology. Encourage the use of mental health apps, health-related smart phone apps, tools such as Glint, and treadmill desks in a conference room for all. Offer health-related prizes, such as Fitbits, in office giveaways.
  10. Develop Effective Leaders. The more contact with lawyers, the bigger the impact leaders have on their work experiences. It’s essential for leaders to optimize performance, work engagement, and job satisfaction—and to retain valued people.

For a full list of the recommendations, along with valuable resources for each, go to the toolkit online.

The Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program provides additional resources for wellness, stress and anxiety, mental health and substance abuse disorders, suicide prevention, and cognitive decline. For more information, go to tlaphelps.org.

Robert Doggett named new executive director of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 09:00

Robert Doggett will succeed David Hall as the executive director of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid beginning January 6, 2018.

Doggett has spent 27 years litigating precedent-setting cases for TRLA and other legal aid groups as a general counsel.

“We are fortunate to have someone like Robert take on leadership of TRLA,” Hall said. “He has been a powerful, tireless advocate for low-income Texans, acting as counsel or co-counsel in cases that have benefited not only our individual clients but also their larger communities. Under his leadership, TRLA will continue its trajectory as an aggressive defender of the people often least able to defend themselves.”

Hall led TRLA through its 40-year development, serving about 25,000 Texans each year. Since 1970, the non-profit organization has provided free legal services across 68 counties in Texas. TERLA attorneys specialize in more than three dozen areas of law, including colonias and real estate, civil rights, environmental justice, labor and employment, and border issues.

“TRLA is an exemplary legal services program because of the dedication, passion, and talent of its staff,” Hall said. “I am leaving with full confidence that those attributes will sustain this program for decades to come as a zealous force for the communities it serves.”

Doggett described his new role as “a great honor, and greater responsibility. David has cut the path for us for 40 years, and I intend to help keep us on it.”

For more information about TRLA and its services, go to trla.org

Registration for ABA TECHSHOW 2018 is open

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 08:32

Come network with legal technology experts from around the globe at the ABA TECHSHOW 2018, March 7-10, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

State Bar of Texas members can save $150 on registration by using the code EP1814. Early bird registration ends January 22.

Through the expansive EXPO Hall, CLEs, presentations, and workshops, you will be able to get your questions answered and learn from the top legal professionals and tech innovators, all under one roof.

The American Bar Association Law Practice Division hosts the annual ABA TECHSHOW Conference where lawyers, legal professionals, and technology all come together for three days for continuing legal education, networking, and practice management information. For a complete list of upcoming sessions, go here.

SABA launches Project RISE with $7,000 Texas Bar Foundation grant

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 09:30

The San Antonio Bar Association and San Antonio Bar Foundation launched Project RISE: Rebranding, Innovation, Success & Experience, an initiative to streamline communications and improving the customer experience.

Project RISE is a multi-year strategy set in phases, with the first funded in part by a $7,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation. During this phase, SABA staff will be equipped with the tools and infrastructure needed to breathe new life into existing programs while planning and implementing new ones. The later include the Subpoena newsletter and the Civil Bench Motions & Trials continued legal education seminar.

The project comes on the heels of the San Antonio Bar’s 2016 Raising the Bar initiative. Fifteen-year-old SABA data systems were updated and access to community information, membership benefits, and the bar’s legal directory was made easier.

The grant from the Texas Bar Foundation will allow the San Antonio Bar to continue its upgrades. Since 1965, the bar foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants to law-related programs, according to a press release.

Share your blog with more readers!

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 07:00


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Texas Bar Today is a curated blog updated daily that features legal news and commentary by Texas legal professionals: www.texasbartoday.com.

Share your blog on Texas Bar Today

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 06:06


Share your blog with more readers!

Texas Bar Today is a curated blog updated daily that features legal news and commentary by Texas legal professionals: www.texasbartoday.com.

Texas Bar Foundation grant to help CJP upgrade technology

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 09:30

The Community Justice Program, the San Antonio Bar Association’s pro bono project, will be able to expand and upgrade infrastructure thanks to a $20,800 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation.

The money will help CJP replace malfunctioning laptops and cover the purchase of other equipment the program needs for its services.

Since October 2002, the program has held community clinics offering legal advice and services in areas of law including family law, wills and probate, and veterans law. CJP has helped more than 10,000 low-income clients since the start of the clinics, according to a press release. With the grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, the program will be better able to accommodate volunteer demand and assist clients.

The Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants to law-related programs since it began in 1965, according to a press release.

Discounts for vacations

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 08:00

Need a vacation? Your Beneplace Savings Program has great deals on luggage, rental cars, hotel reservations and vacation packages—everything you need to get away and have the trip of a lifetime.

If your luggage is starting to look a little worse for the wear, it’s time to start thinking about an upgrade. Save an additional 10% off the already lowest prices on luggage and travel goods from Luggage Designers. They feature the lowest prices on luggage, suitcases, anti-theft travel bags, RFID blocking wallets, backpacks, duffels, handbags, leather goods, totes, garment bags, luggage sets, sports bags, and a complete line of travel accessories for your trip.

Don’t overpay for your rental car. Take advantage of an Enterprise membership and enjoy a discount on their everyday low rates. When you’re ready to go, Enterprise makes it easy. Or try a Zipcar membership—you can book sedans, hybrids, SUVs and vans whenever you need. Then, just walk to the car, scan in with your Zipcard and drive.

Check out great savings on accommodations, by land or by sea. Save up to 20% with Wyndham. From upscale hotels and all-inclusive resorts to something more cost-effective, Wyndham has the right hotel for you! Discount Hotel Reservations offers exclusive rates up to 60% off – with over 8,000 hotels around the globe. Book a vacation with Cruise & Vacation Perks and save 4%! Plus, CVP brings you added-value offers, including special pricing, cabin upgrades and onboard credits.

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

Hotmail users targeted by IRS email scam

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:30

The Internal Revenue Service warned Hotmail users are being targeted by a phishing email scam designed to steal personal and financial information.

The email subject line reads “Internal Revenue Service Email No. XXXX | We’re processing your request soon | TXXXXXX-XXXXXXXX.” Taxpayers are then led to a fake Microsoft page and asked for personal and financial information.

The IRS has received more than 900 complaints from Hotmail users who have received the email. Suspected websites associated with the scam have been shut down but the IRS cautions taxpayers should not discount similar schemes.

The IRS generally does not request personal or financial information from taxpayers via email. Those who receive the scam email are asked to forward them to phishing@irs.gov and then delete them. For more information, go to the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alert” page on IRS.gov.

The IRS is also asking tax professionals who have had data breaches to contact them through their Stakeholder Liaison. For more information, go to the “Data Theft for Professionals” on IRS.gov.

UT Austin police seek help

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 14:30

The University of Texas Police Department issued a call Tuesday for assistance in locating women who may have been photographed inappropriately by a man on the Austin campus. Here is a link to the police department’s request, which includes descriptions of the unidentified potential victims.

The suspect, charged with invasive visual recording, is a former State Bar of Texas employee. The State Bar of Texas issued the following statement:

These are troubling allegations that center on the former employee’s alleged actions outside of his work for the State Bar of Texas. Following his arrest, the employee was immediately suspended without pay and soon after resigned his position. The State Bar is cooperating with authorities as they investigate.

 

Stories of Recovery: ‘Good Enough Just by Being Me’

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 06:30

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.

I remember the day I was accepted to law school. I was full of promise and excitement. That is, until I got to orientation.

I was used to being one of the smartest kids in the room. But now I felt outranked and overwhelmed at every turn. After my first year, I was embarrassed that I had a solid C average — not the straight A’s I was used to. My grades had always been what made me feel good about myself. If I wasn’t the “one who had it all together,” then who was I?

I was consumed with shame and my grades worsened. I wouldn’t seek out interviews because I was convinced no one would hire me. When time for graduation came, jobless, I moved home to live with my mother in another state and prepared to study for the bar exam.

Terrified that I’d fail the bar, I studied nonstop. And with every fresh wave of panic, I ate. My appetite seemed insatiable. By the time the bar exam was over, I’d gained more than 30 pounds in a couple of months. I again felt like a failure — for my lack of professional success and for not controlling my weight. I began to focus my anxious energy on addressing the weight I’d gained.

I severely restricted my food and spent hours at the gym, and the pounds began to shed.

Whenever I heard my stomach growl, I felt a rush of adrenaline. I was superhuman; I could ignore my hunger! Resisting food made me proud of myself, which I hadn’t felt in a long time. My weight continued to drop until I weighed about 75 pounds on my 5-foot-5-inch frame. My next twisted thought was: “I wonder if I can get lower than that?”

The days were consumed with avoiding and obsessing over food. It was the perfect excuse for everything I was trying to avoid. How could I look for a job when I could barely stand up? How could I deal with my emotions if all I could think about was how much I weighed? I was equally numb to pain and joy.
One night, several months into my weight loss, my mother pleaded with me to stand on her bathroom scale. I stood on the scale and instantly saw fear in her eyes. The gravity of what I was doing hit me and I could no longer pretend that I didn’t have a problem. I needed help.

My mother found me a nutritionist and a therapist, and I was checked out by medical specialists. I slowly started to gain the weight back. It was a fight with myself every step of the way. There was a daily battle being waged in my head between my addiction and my desire to get better.
I eventually regained the weight I had lost, but I had yet to change the way I dealt with life or how I viewed myself. Still, I managed to get a job at a firm and start some semblance of a life. Even though I looked normal, I was tortured by anorexic thoughts. I might be sitting in a firm meeting, but my mind was a million miles away counting calories or wondering how I could avoid eating at a client dinner.

I’ve heard that you can’t truly want change until you’ve experienced pain in all three time zones — the past, present, and future. When I started thinking about the possibility of staying in this anesthetized, grey twilight for the rest of my life, I knew more needed to change.

I’ve heard that you can’t truly want change until you’ve experienced pain in all three time zones — the past, present, and future. When I started thinking about the possibility of staying in this anesthetized, grey twilight for the rest of my life, I knew more needed to change.

My mother encouraged me to try a 12-step program for eating disorders. At first, I was vehemently opposed to it. My friends and colleagues couldn’t know my dirty secret (as if I was fooling them!). What if someone at my firm found out? And, 12-step programs are for addicts; I wasn’t an addict! (Boy, was I wrong!) But, desperate for a change, I decided to give it a try.

I started to attend meetings and my attitude slowly changed. Whenever I shared something about my struggles, I was always met with someone who’d say “I’ve been there” without judgment. There is something very powerful and healing about not feeling alone.

Through recovery, I realized that anorexia was my way of dealing with my sense of worthlessness, perfectionism, self-hatred, and fear that ruled my life. I finally started to learn to deal with my emotions without needing to numb or avoid them. Little by little, I saw glimpses of peace.

Because I continue to choose recovery every day (and sometimes every hour), I’ve been able to practice law at a firm I love and develop meaningful friendships. Today, I can feel joy. I can admit when I’ve screwed up and not get so bogged down in the shame of not being perfect that I have to numb out. I’m learning that I am good enough just by being me — not because of external trappings or my accomplishments or what others think.

That’s the hardest and most beautiful part of recovery. It’s been one day at a time and I’m so glad I took the first step.

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