A reprieve for aspiring Grishams

Submissions for the 2009 Texas Bar Journal Short Story Fiction Writing Contest were supposed to be postmarked no later than than March 1, 2009. Apparently, the crack team of editors at the magazine failed to notice that March 1 is a Sunday, so you can have an extra day. That gives you a full weekend to search frantically for that long-lost manuscript or start writing a new tale. Postmark your entry by Monday, March 2, and your story may appear in the June 2009 issue of the Texas Bar Journal. Click here for the entry form.

Still not inspired? Read the winning entries from 2008 or listen to audio versions of those stories. Then, slam a couple of cappuccinos and start typing!

Austin lawyer an elite Yelper

Michelle Cheng is one of Austin's most prolific Yelpers.

Yelp.com describes its free service as "real reviews by real people." Michelle has written 501 reviews of restaurants and other businesses, leading her cohorts on Yelp to call her "legendary" and earning her an elusive "Yelp Elite" status for three years running.

"Yelp.com gives me an easy, no-pressure outlet to do some writing on one of my favorite topics – food," says Cheng. "I’ve discovered many great restaurants and other businesses through Yelp, and have met lots of terrific people, too (there are frequent social gatherings for Yelpers)."

There's no telling where she finds the time, considering she's a busy plaintiff's lawyer (recently promoted to name partner in Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees, Cheng & Imhoff, PC) and serves on the State Bar Board of Directors and Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors, among other community activities.

And it's not all fun and games. "I’ve even had some potential clients who discovered me through my Yelp activity," Cheng related.

Random Profile: Nelson Clare, San Antonio

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 80,000-plus attorneys, call them, and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Areas of practice: Environmental, municipal and energy law. In 2004, after 30 years of public and private practice, I retired as head of a small in-house shop to develop and run a tree farm (landscape trees). We cut, cleared, fenced, sunk wells, installed 2 irrigation systems and planted 5 species of native oak in containers. I’ve got sheep that help with the grass and chickens that help with the pests in and around the containers. It’s a one-man shop, and the learning curve has been steep, but the people in the business are open with advice, suggestions and support of all kinds, at the drop of a hat.

Favorite movie: Giant

The best piece of advice ever given to you and by whom: “Make yourself indispensible in whatever job you have,” given to me as a youngster by an older solo practitioner, James L.M. Miller, who, as a teenager during the Great Depression, was the sole support of his mother and 4 siblings.

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YouTube Contest ends March 16

We're calling on Texans of all ages to enter our 2008-2009 YouTube video contest, "Ideals That Unite Us." This is part of our public education campaign on the importance of the justice system.

What are the ideals that unite us as citizens of this country? Tell us in a three-minute-or-less video and you could win one of three $2,500 prizes. All are invited to enter, including groups like classrooms and law firms. We know Texans are a creative bunch, so give it a shot.

Rules and details are here, entries are due March 16

Call for entries: 

Last year's People's Choice: