Former State Bar president appointed as UT regent

One of the three regents recently appointed to the University of Texas System Board of Regents is a former president of the State Bar of Texas. David Beck, a senior partner in Beck Redden in Houston, was named a regent on Thursday by Gov. Greg Abbott. The well-known trial lawyer led the State Bar from 1995 to 1996. A biography of Beck is available on the State Bar’s website.

Joining Beck as a newly appointed regent is Sara Martinez Tucker, the CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative based in Dallas. R. Steven Hicks, owner and executive chairman of the private investment firm Capstar Partners, was appointed as a regent in 2009 and 2011 by former Gov. Rick Perry and reappointed by Gov. Abbott this week.

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Gardere hosts oratory competition

In conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, elementary school students from Houston and Dallas competed in Gardere’s annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition on Jan. 16. Now in its 23rd year in Dallas and 19th in Houston, the event features students who speak for three to five minutes on a topic related to the impact of Dr. King. This year’s prompt asked, “If Dr. King were to win the Nobel Peace Prize today, what would he say in his acceptance speech?” The top 20 participants, selected from 360 fourth- and fifth-grade students representing 39 schools in Dallas and Houston, were judged on delivery, stage presence and decorum, content interpretation, and memorization.

At the end of the day, the winners included Etana King, a fifth-grade student from John Neely Bryan Elementary in Dallas, and Chase Roberts, a fifth grader from Cornelius Elementary in Houston.

“The inspiring speeches prepared by these young orators are a testament to their commanding presentation skills and offer compelling insights to their thoughts on Dr. King’s words,” said Holland N. O’Neil, chair of Gardere. “By applying his teachings to today, the students bring new life to Dr. King’s legacy.”

For more information on the competition, go to gardere.com/Firm_Profile/Community/.     

 

Member benefits - education

What’s your 2015 plan for education? Is it time to get the kids ready for SATs? Or are you ready to get a new professional certification? Your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program can help.

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A Quick Guide to Slowing Down

By Michael Winters

 

“When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.”
—Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

It is now possible for us to be connected to an array of devices almost 24/7, only pausing a few hours for sleep before waking up and starting all over again. We feel compelled to always respond, and our attention spans are shorter than ever. But does this connectivity make us happier? Does it make us better at our jobs? Are there alternatives?

As 2015 begins to unfold, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the pace of your life and considering slowing down. Ask yourself:
• Do I wake up feeling rested and ready to start the day?
• Can I identify what’s important to me and do I live up to and in accordance with those values?
• How do I react when I am in a traffic jam? Am I upset or anxious about the delay or do I take that time as an opportunity to reflect on my day?
• When a loved one talks, do I ask questions? Do I really listen? Do I check my phone while they are talking?
• Is there any sacred time when I can’t be reached?

If you answered any of these questions in a way that is inconsistent with the person you want to be, consider slowing down. Here’s how.

Set aside time to disconnect each day.
By carving out a block with no obligations each day, you are creating space in your life to take a breath and slow down. Contemplation, prayer, and a nap are great ways to spend that period and take life down a notch. It doesn’t matter how you choose to slow down as long as your needs are the only consideration during this sacred time. You can start with as little as 5 minutes.

Take mini-vacations.
A few days away can be relaxing and reenergizing if you commit to disconnecting. Try it at least once. Block out a weekend on your calendar, give your colleagues sufficient forewarning, get your work covered, and then take off. If you must maintain some contact, include in your out-of-office reply a specific time each day that you will be checking email and messages—and then stick to it. Focus on your immediate surroundings and sensations while away and rein in those thoughts of the office.

Take a page from the Slow Food movement.
Eating slowly is good for your physical and mental health. A simple exercise is to put your fork down between each bite and chew your food completely, until it slides down your throat. Savor the multiple flavors. And enjoy the social benefits of not rushing through a meal by listening to and talking with your dining companions.

Think through complex decisions.
In some situations you may be rewarded for making quick decisions, but during other times, it may prove beneficial to weigh options before making a commitment. Instead of immediately hitting “reply” (or worse, “reply all”) to a distressing email, wait until the following morning, after you have had time to think about it overnight. Consider how your response may be interpreted. Even if you return to your typical style of thinking and decision-making for less important tasks, engaging in this exercise will leave you with a different perspective on the benefits of slowly thinking through complex decisions.

Slow down as a means to an end.
Eknath Easwaran, the author of Take Your Time: How to Find Patience, Peace and Meaning, noted, “Slowing down is not the goal; it is the means to an end. The goal is living in freedom—freedom from the pressures of hurry, from the distractions that fragment our time and creativity and love.” Easwaran is right. Slowing down allows us to be truly present; it is a way of experiencing life to its fullest and helps us identify and enjoy what is most important.


Michael Winters is a psychologist in Houston. He has cultivated his practice around the concept of meaning-centered living and is a frequent guest on local television and radio programs. For more information, go to DrMWinters.com.
 

State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program

New year, new you? Maybe your resolution is to lose some weight or get in better shape. Or maybe you just want to take better care of yourself. Whatever your thinking, know you can save on goods and services to keep you fit and healthy from your State Bar of Texas Member Discount Program!

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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals welcomes three new judges

Three judges of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals were sworn in during a formal investiture ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, at the House Chambers of the Texas Capitol. Bert Richardson, Kevin Patrick Yeary, and David Newell, all of whom were elected to the bench by the public in November 2014, are the newest judges on the state’s highest criminal court.

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Firm's new office showcases a modernized Texas Lawyer's Creed

When the firm of Shipley Snell Montgomery recently moved its office to a historic downtown Houston building, it hired local architects at Mayfield and Ragni Studio to give the new space an affordable yet meaningful design. While many law offices across Texas take on a traditional décor, with chunky wooden bookshelves, oversized leather chairs, and framed artwork, Shipley Snell and the designers went a different direction—by implementing some tools of the lawyer’s trade and doing so in a modern way. This included hundreds of old law books used for a custom reception desk, several law journals stacked and tied with a belt and buckle to form an end table, and life-size words taken from the Texas Lawyer’s Creed—“A lawyer owes to a client allegiance, learning, skill, and industry”—painted on the walls throughout the lobby and meeting rooms.

Photographs courtesy of Mayfield and Ragni Studio and photographer Eric Laignel

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Entries sought for 2015 Texas Gavel Awards

Starting today, the State Bar of Texas is accepting submissions for the 2015 Texas Gavel Awards, honoring journalism that fosters public understanding of the legal system.

Entries published or broadcast during the 2014 calendar year will be accepted for the print, broadcast, and online categories until 5 p.m. April 1. Awards will be presented Sept. 17 at the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas annual conference in Austin.

For more information on the Texas Gavel Awards, including eligibility requirements and submission guidelines, visit texasbar.com/gavelawards, call (512) 427-1713 or download the entry form

The Texas Gavel Awards program is coordinated by the State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee and judged by an independent panel.

Texas Gavel Awards recognize excellence in 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.

 

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Random Profile: Chuck Kibler, Silsbee

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 96,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Best thing about being a lawyer: It’s always a good feeling to help fix someone’s problem.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? Any major league baseball player. I’d love to play just one game.

The best piece of advice ever given to you and by whom: Work hard and lucky just comes. – my dad

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Therefore, be it Resolved: 2015

As we enter 2015, many people are deciding on their New Year’s resolutions. If you are thinking about what you can improve, congratulations!

It’s important, however, to think about the form your goals should take. If you want to create lasting change, consider altering an attitude rather than just one behavior. So instead of making the resolution to lose 15 pounds, resolve to care for your body. This distinction is significant: changing an attitude is more likely to achieve the desired result than a simple change in behavior.

Why attitude is more important than behavior

Let’s go back to the goal of losing 15 pounds. You could hit the gym twice a week, eat well, and successfully lose the 15 pounds by the end of April. But then what? Does that mean you can order seconds and ease off on going to the gym?

Another way to lose 15 pounds might be by acquiring a really nasty case of food poisoning. You’d still achieve the identified objective but not in a manner in keeping with the true underlying desire.

Changing attitudes is complex and requires ongoing maintenance. This underscores why resolving to alter an attitude (care for your body), as opposed to a identifying a specific goal (drop 15 pounds), is more likely to produce desired results.

How to make and achieve attitudinal goals

If you already have a behavioral resolution, you can translate it into an attitudinal goal. Start by asking yourself why you want to make this specific change. Once you have discovered the underlying motivation, then you can conceptualize the goal in attitudinal terms. For example, if your original resolution was to “not work weekends,” the attitudinal goal might be to recognize the importance of your family and your own mental health.

Once you have identified the reason to change, you can then brainstorm specific goals that can help you achieve the desired adjustment. If your goal is to spend more time with your family and on yourself, regular date nights, quality time with the kids, and time to meditate on a daily basis could be definable to-do goals.

Set a variety of measures to evaluate your progress. Perhaps date night is less meaningful than a long-overdue vacation with the entire family or maybe you realize that me time is less fulfilling than anticipated—what you really need is a regular guys’/girls’ night out. With this range of actions, you are achieving and maintaining your overall goal that is based on the underlying motivation.

Monitoring your progress

Check in with yourself. To start, schedule a monthly reminder to evaluate your progress. Use a scale to rate your attitude change, from 0 (no attitude change) to 10 (complete attitude change).

You can also add evidence for the evaluation. Let’s return to the example of prioritizing family and self. Here, you might list time spent with your partner, trips taken, poker nights and dinners out with friends—anything that you feel is an accurate, honest actualization of your resolution.

Attitudinal Goal Progress: Prioritize my family and myself
My attitude change rating: 5/10
In January, I have moved toward my goal by: Attending three of son’s soccer matches and two dates with spouse
In January, I missed chances to move toward my goal by: Canceling a night out with friends and missing two scheduled family dinners

If you score a rating of 5 out of 10, shoot for a rating of 7 out of 10 for the next month. Be mindful of setting the bar too high: if you are unrealistic in your goal, you may find it too difficult and give up. Instead, try and adopt a long-term perspective.

In our efforts to achieve goals, we do not simply “solve” issues once but “re-solve” over a period of time. Resolutions are often difficult and require willpower and effort to achieve. By shifting your focus from behavior to attitude, you can create lasting, meaningful change in your life.

Michael Winters is a psychologist in Houston. He has cultivated his practice around the concept of meaning-centered living and is a frequent guest on local television and radio programs. For more information, go to DrMWinters.com.
 

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