Hispanic Issues Section celebrates 35th year

Now in its 35th year, the Hispanic Issues Section of the State Bar of Texas has been active addressing statewide matters, such as helping to create a bar association coalition to address the unaccompanied minors situation. The coalition is at work providing training and CLE seminars to attorneys and other legal professionals who are interested in volunteering their time.

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Share your blog on Texas Bar Today

Texas Bar Today is an online media network featuring curated news and commentary from Texas legal professionals. It is provided as a service of the State Bar of Texas. If you are a Texas legal professional/blogger and are not yet listed on the Texas Law Blogs section of Texas Bar Today, please email webmaster@texasbar.com to request inclusion on the site.

Please also contact us if you do not have a blog but would like to contribute a guest post.

Bar Leaders Conference on Texas Bar TV

The Bar Leaders Conference video playlist, which can be found on the State Bar's YouTube channel, Texas Bar TV, includes interviews with speakers and attendees of the conference which was held in Houston earlier this month.

The conference offers tools and resources that attendees can utilize to help them become effective bar leaders. The two-day training program also addresses common concerns for volunteer leaders.

State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program

It’s August, which means you might be getting your kids ready for another year of school. You don’t have to stress about the costs of the season – your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program has lots of ways to save on products and services to make sure your loved ones get back to school in style and with the supplies they need to succeed. Check out the deals available to you today.

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Registration for Pro Bono Coordinators Retreat is open

Registration for the Pro Bono Coordinators Retreat is open. It will be held Sept. 3-5 at the Texas Law Center in Austin. This two-day event provides valuable training on increasing the quantity and quality of legal services available to the poor through pro bono efforts.

The retreat is designed for staff whose primary roles include coordinating pro bono efforts, recruiting private attorneys to provide direct legal services to the poor, and/or organizing training events so attorneys can deliver civil legal services to poor Texans. This retreat is open to pro bono coordinators in legal services programs and private law firms.

To find out more information and to download the registration form, please visit www.texasbar.com/pbcr.

Scholarship luncheon to benefit Hispanic law students

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Houston for its annual scholarship luncheon, which provides financial support to six law students who best exemplify leadership, commitment, justice, and equality. Each Houston-based law school selects two scholarship recipients.

“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 attorney Benny Agosto Jr., founder of the MABATx Foundation and partner in Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston.

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Tatum speaks at national bar meeting, accepts civics education award

BOSTON — State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa Tatum joined Missouri Bar Past President Lynn Ann Vogel on Aug. 8 to present “Creating Energy in Your Bar,” a presentation highlighting successful bar programs from across the country.

“There’s no point in reinventing the wheel if you can take what you like from these programs and make it your own,” Tatum said during the presentation, which was part of the National Conference of Bar Presidents 2014 Annual Meeting.

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Commission on Judicial Conduct schedules public hearing

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct will meet Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, for a public hearing pursuant to Section 33.0055 of the Texas Government. During the hearing, members of the public may comment on the commission’s mission and operations.

Witnesses may register to speak by completing and submitting an affirmation form, which will be available at the hearing room on the day of the event, or by advance request. Testimonies will be limited to five minutes; written submissions also will be accepted. The hearing will take place at Room E2.028 in the Capitol Extension in Austin at 11:00 a.m., with a sign-in period for those wishing to speak from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.

For additional information, contact Executive Director Seana Willing at (512) 463-5533.

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Bar Leaders Wrap-up

The 2014 Bar Leaders Conference, held in Houston on August 1-2, was filled with speakers and presentations aiming to strengthen, inspire, and celebrate local bar associations—all while participants earned CLE credit.

Each day, attendees could choose from a diverse selection of panels, with topics ranging from Law Related Education and Access to Justice to mentoring and Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans. Also offered were roundtable discussions that encouraged participants to share their own experiences and ideas on successful—or struggling—local bar initiatives and suggestions for improving State Bar efforts to connect with and support local leaders.

The weekend ended with a western-themed party that featured casino games and more than 60 door prize baskets provided by delegates. Details on select panels are provided below.

General Session Luncheons

Kicking off the Bar Leaders Conference, Vicki Clark, owner of Building the Capacity of Organizations, took the stage during Friday’s general session luncheon to give the audience tips on how to strengthen and inspire a bar association to increase its impact. “The only way your association is going to grow is if the members change,” Clark said, touching on her presentation’s theme of making bars “mission driven and member focused.” Below: Vicki Clark delivers the Local Bar Leaders Conference keynote presentation on servant leadership.

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Q&A with Richard Pena, author of Last Plane Out of Saigon

Richard Pena saw the realities of war while working as an operating room specialist in Vietnam. While he was stationed in that country full of unrest, Pena took it upon himself to learn about the locals—and to try to understand why he had flown halfway around the world to help the South Vietnamese people. The Austin-based attorney, who has served as the president of the American Bar Foundation, the State Bar of Texas, and the Travis County Bar Association, was on one of the last planes to exit Vietnam at the war’s end. He left on day 61 after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, which stipulated that America withdraw in 60 days. Last Plane Out of Saigon is a reproduction of Pena’s thought-provoking, real-time journal from that long, final year of the war.

The Texas Bar Journal interviewed Pena in July 2014 about his experiences in Vietnam and the process of writing and publishing the book. An excerpt of Last Plane Out of Saigon will be published in the September 2014 issue of the Texas Bar Journal. For more information, go to lastplaneoutofsaigon.com.

Can you describe how the book came into existence?

I told my story to John Hagan, an award winning writer and scholar with the American Bar Foundation. He asked if he could read the journal notes. I proceeded to take them out of the brown box in my attic and delivered them to him in Chicago. It took him several days to read them. He then called me, and to my surprise, he felt they were very good. He recognized the historical significance of my journal notes and the fact that they were written in real time, while the events were happening. He also commented, “America needs to read these.” Shortly thereafter, we decided to collaborate.

Why did you start writing in a journal and how often did you write in it?

Once I arrived in Vietnam, I was assigned to 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon, working as an operating room specialist. It was early May 1972. America had grown weary of the war and I kept wondering why I was there and why we were there. After several months of being “in country,” I was compelled to begin documenting some of what I was seeing. The journal notes were written every now and then, when I had time or when something compelling had happened. In this war, as in others, what one experiences and witnesses would be unbelievable in normal society and often surreal. The war was affecting our young American soldiers and also the Vietnamese people and their country. I felt that I was witnessing a story that needed to be told.

Had it been a long time since you had read your journal entries? What was it like to revisit this material?

I was discharged from the Army when I returned from Vietnam in March 1973. I returned to law school and picked back up with being a law student. Later I was busy practicing law and became active in local, state, and national bar associations. In short, I went about the business of living my life. This whole time, I kept my journal notes from Vietnam and carried them with me from house to house. They were in a brown box. Every now and then I would read a short passage. This usually occurred when I was doing work in the attic or garage. Reading them always brought back the memories and some of the feelings experienced when I was in Vietnam.

These feelings were the same when I began work on taking the book to publication. The anger associated with the war has been replaced with a sense of sadness, especially when reflecting on the more than 58,000 Americans that were killed. But the hope is that the journal entries, and the book, will help the country learn from the mistakes made in Vietnam.

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