State Bar's #txlawdesk project reveals traditional office styles and heavy workloads

As we take a look at the first installment of the State Bar of Texas’s #txlawdesk social media project, it’s clear that many Texas lawyers keep traditional desks.

According to the Harvard Business Review’s October 2014 cover story, the design of an office or workspace can affect a host of important issues, including collaboration, concentration, rejuvenation (breaks for our bodies and brains), productivity, creativity, communication, income, and job satisfaction. Many businesses, particularly large tech companies like Facebook and Samsung, put considerable resources into designing office layouts and choosing tools and gadgets.

But while many Silicon Valley startups favor open offices with public spaces and modern multi-person desks, the vast majority of our #txlawdesk submissions featured classic, dark wood desks located in private offices. Some desks were clean and others proved messy with piles of paper. Many had personal touches such as family photos or artwork, and several offices featured standing desks, a nod to the increasingly prevalent notion that sitting can be harmful for your health.

We’ve included some of the most interesting photos from the #txlawdesk project, along with each person’s top five items that are indispensable to their daily practices. Keep sharing and discussing what keeps you organized, motivated, and effective. We’ll be doing another blog in the coming weeks to feature fascinating new Texas law desks as well as ones we might have missed the first time around.

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Mike Maslanka @ Your Desk returns with new videos

Dallas lawyer Mike Maslanka was at the Texas Law Center last week to film new clips for his YouTube video series Mike Maslanka @ Your Desk. Launched two years ago, the series is presented by the State Bar of Texas and produced on the sixth floor of the bar’s headquarters in Austin, with the help of Paul Burks, director of video production. Maslanka has been practicing for more than 30 years and is an employment law attorney with Constangy Brooks & Smith. His blog was selected as the No. 1 employment law blog of 2011 by the American Bar Association.

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Past President Tatum accepts ABA award for community service

SAN ANTONIO — State Bar of Texas Immediate Past President Lisa M. Tatum, who helped launch successful pro bono and civics education projects during her presidential year, was recognized Friday for her community service.

Tatum, the owner of San Antonio-based LM Tatum, PLLC, received the 2014 Making a Difference Through Community Service Award from the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. The award, which honors an attorney—living or deceased—who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the local community, was presented during the 9th Annual National Solo & Small Firm Conference.



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Texas law school updates manual on infectious disease outbreaks

Hours after a man in New York was diagnosed with Ebola—the fourth diagnosis in the United States—the University of Houston Law Center has announced an updated version of its legal manual on infectious disease outbreaks.

The manual was created by the law school’s Health Law and Policy Institute and is titled “Control Measures and Public Health Emergencies.” It includes flow charts and sample forms among its 100 plus pages and is designed to give judges and law enforcement officials information on how to handle situations like quarantine and isolation. The book also features chapters on state and federal jurisdiction, distribution of executive branch authority in Texas, and the role of Texas courts during a public health emergency. Revised from an earlier 2010 version, the recently released manual includes the latest applicable Texas and U.S. law.

The University of Houston Law Center is providing the book as a PDF for free at:

The center’s Health Law and Policy Institute is holding a public health preparedness program on Nov. 7 for judges and officials in law enforcement, county and city government, and public health. The event will take place from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the law center’s main campus in Houston. The deadline to RSVP to is Nov. 4.

Member Benefits - Home Buying and Moving

Home buying and moving can be stressful. Use discounts from your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program to ease the strain on your budget!


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Pro Bono Spotlight: Jeremy Coe

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the National Pro Bono Celebration (Oct. 19-25). Pro bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more people in the legal community to get involved. Today, we feature Jeremy Coe for his invaluable work in East Texas.

Jeremy Coe, the founder of the Coe Law Firm, has volunteered with both the Smith County Bar Foundation and Lone Star Legal Aid for several years. There is always a shortage of attorneys to handle contested divorce cases, especially those that have domestic violence components, in East Texas counties.


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Free legal clinic for veterans to take place in Lake Jackson

A free legal clinic for veterans is scheduled for Oct. 25 at the Lake Jackson VA Outpatient Clinic, 208 Oak Drive South, Lake Jackson.

During the event, attorneys will be available to answer questions on a variety of legal issues, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate, and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits.

The clinic, which will run from 9 a.m. to noon, is also open to spouses of deceased veterans. No appointment is necessary.

The clinic is sponsored by the Brazoria County Bar Association conjunction with the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative, a coalition of local bar associations that provides pro bono legal services to U.S. veterans in 17 Texas counties.

For more information, contact the Veterans Legal Initiative at (713) 759-1133.


Pro Bono Spotlight: Eduardo V. Rodriguez

The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the National Pro Bono Celebration (Oct. 19-25). Pro bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more people in the legal community to get involved. Today, we feature Eduardo V. Rodriguez for his invaluable work in the Rio Grande Valley. 

For more than four years, Eduardo V. Rodriguez has served as a pro bono volunteer with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s Hidalgo County Community Justice Program

According to Rodriguez, the drive to be a pro bono volunteer is a natural aspect of his profession. 

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Pro Bono College members, Champion of Justice law firms honored at reception

The Texas Access to Justice Commission kicked off Pro Bono Week on Monday with a reception honoring law firms and individual attorneys that support access to justice efforts in Texas. 

Gov. Rick Perry and the Supreme Court of Texas both issued proclamations designating this week as Pro Bono Week in Texas. The commission’s annual reception, held at the law firm of Vinson & Elkins in Austin, started off the week by celebrating the supporters of the commission’s Access to Justice Campaign, as well as those who support access to justice throughout the year by providing pro bono legal services.

“Every person deserves access to the courts,” said Jenny Smith, the Texas Young Lawyers Association liaison to the commission. “If we as lawyers don’t provide that, no one will.”


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Dallas lawyer selected for ABA award

Kim J. Askew, partner in K&L Gates in Dallas, was recently named as the recipient of a 2015 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Askew, one of four winners, will receive the award during a Feb. 7, 2015, ceremony at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston.

The Spirit of Excellence Award is presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and demonstrate a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.

Askew, the 2003-2004 chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors, specializes in complex commercial and employment litigation. She is a longtime leader in the State Bar, ABA, and Dallas Bar Association.