Random Profile - Stephen Daniel

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?

Best thing about being a lawyer: Being involved in the community and making a difference in my client’s lives.

Favorite saying/quote: The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.

Bet you didn’t know: I was a finalist in the Nintendo World Championships when I was much younger. 

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Input sought regarding professional liability insurance disclosure

The Supreme Court of Texas has requested that the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors make recommendations by Feb. 5, 2010, regarding whether Texas lawyers should be required to disclose whether they are covered by professional liability insurance (PLI).

During the remainder of 2009, the State Bar will publish information regarding both sides of this issue and collect input via public hearings and other avenues, including this blog.

For background on this issue and the consideration process, please visit www.texasbar.com/PLIdisclosure

To provide your thoughts regarding PLI disclosure, you may leave a comment below or email statebarpresident@texasbar.com

In Memoriam: Judge Jerry Buchmeyer

Judge Jerry BuchmeyerRetired U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, who for nearly 30 years compiled the popular humor column et cetera for the Texas Bar Journal, died Monday, Sept. 21, of natural causes. He was 76. He served as chief judge of the Northern District of Texas from 1995 to 2001 and took senior status in 2003 before retiring in 2008.

Judge Buchmeyer received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1957. He was a partner in the Dallas office of Thompson & Knight, where he worked from 1958 until his appointment to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. That same year, while Judge Buchmeyer was serving as president of the Dallas Bar Association, he began writing the et cetera column for DBA publications. In October 1980, the column first appeared in the Texas Bar Journal, where it quickly became a mainstay. The December 2008 issue paid tribute to Judge Buchmeyer’s many years of service, and readers can still enjoy his columns on the Say What? blog.

Judge Buchmeyer is survived by his sons, Jon Paul Buchmeyer of New York and James Buchmeyer of Dallas; daughters Paige Buchmeyer Brady of Driftwood and Pam Buchmeyer of Dallas; and three grandchildren. Services are pending.

Lawyer referrals go online

The State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) has launched a new online service to more efficiently connect lawyers and clients, 24 hours a day. The service is available via the LRIS website.

The State Bar LRIS covers areas of Texas not served by local referral services. These are generally non-metropolitan areas. Members of the public who use the service pay a $20 fee for an initial 30-minute consultation with an attorney. Attorneys pay an annual fee to be part of the LRIS plus a percentage of any fees generated.

Before the launch of this online service, referrals by the State Bar LRIS were done by phone and only during business hours, Monday through Friday. The online service is available anytime and allows the public to fill out an online form and instantly receive the name of an attorney who might handle their matter. The attorney also receives an email notification with the client's contact information. With the old system, attorneys received only a monthly report reflecting the previous month's activity.

LRIS director Denny Sheppard says her program has seen an uptick in the total number of referrals after less than two weeks of offering the online referral tool. LRIS continues to operate a toll free number where people can call and be matched with an attorney.

In November, State Bar LRIS plans to launch an online portal where LRIS attorneys can pay dues and referral fees.

For more on LRIS, visit www.texasbar.com/LRIS

Public hearing on certification standards slated for Sept. 30

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) will hold a hearing in Austin on Sept. 30, 2009, to gather public comment on proposed changes to certification standards covering personal injury trial law, civil trial law, and labor and employment law.

TBLS certifies attorneys and paralegals through a voluntary program which requires that they meet certain standards regarding length of practice, experience, and knowledge in their chosen practice areas. Those who meet the criteria are designated "board certified" by TBLS.

In the areas of personal injury trial law and civil trial law, proposed changes cover the definition of a "trial" in the standards and adjustments to the amount of trial experience an attorney must have to be certified. The labor and employment changes require that an applicant maintain a certain amount of his or her practice in Texas.

TBLS director Gary McNeil related that initial feedback regarding proposed changes to the trial standards involves concerns that trial experience is harder to obtain because fewer and fewer cases are tried before juries. After public input is received, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization is expected to submit final proposed changes to the Supreme Court of Texas late this fall.

Click here to read the proposed changes, and visit TBLS.org for more information about specialty certification.

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Random Profile - Cami Boyd, Dallas

Education: Southern Methodist University, B. S. Economics, 1990; Syracuse University College of Law, J.D., 1993

Areas of practice: Intellectual property law. My practice focuses on all aspects of business and intellectual. I routinely advise clients on all aspects of the development of a business.

Family: Husband, Randy. Spoiled pets – Scamp and Marilyn.

Favorite music/musician: Steve Vai.

Favorite place to find albums: Vintage music stores or those few places left that actually sell albums and CDs.

Memorable vacation: A week in Cabo San Lucas with the only decision of each day – which pool do I lounge in?

Mentors/heroes: Louise Raggio, whose tireless efforts have paved the way for women’s property rights and the rights of women lawyers in Texas. My grandmother, Grace Dawson, who literally has wrestled more than one alligator to the mat in her day.

Most important career lesson: An attorney must stand on her own two feet. Be diligent in honing your legal careers and stay singularly focused on providing clients with high quality legal services in furtherance of the clients’ goals and desired results. An attorney who delivers quality and results to clients will build long lasting clients relationships that will enable you to pursue your career goals and dreams, whatever those may be.

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Gary F. Kennedy named TMCP Corporate Counsel of the Year

Congratulations to Gary Kennedy, American Airlines Senior Vice President and General Counsel (pictured, left, with State Bar of Texas President Roland Johnson). The Texas Minority Counsel Program named Kennedy the Corporate Counsel of the Year for his commitment to promoting diversity in the legal profession and at American Airlines. 

Kennedy is a founding member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. Last year, he helped organize a Call to Action Summit that enabled a forum for discussion about improving diversity between the general counsels of large corporations and managing partners of top law firms. Because of Kennedy’s leadership, American Airlines’ legal department has successfully implemented diversity initiatives, improving diversity within the department and promoting it through outside counsel.   

CAAP marks 10 years of mediating client-attorney disputes

The State Bar’s Client-Attorney Assistance Program (CAAP) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month.

The program was launched on Sept. 27, 1999, to help mediate problems between attorneys and their clients in cases where a formal disciplinary proceeding is not warranted. CAAP has a staff of eight, most of whom are certified mediators. Most complaints involve a lack of communication by attorneys.

The program gets high marks from both sides. CAAP director Bennie Ramirez related that more than 90 percent of clients surveyed are happy with the results obtained by CAAP. “We also get a lot of letters from attorneys who say they’re glad their dues are helping to pay for a program which helps them resolve client disputes and avoid the grievance system,” Ramirez said.

CAAP plans just a small celebration in its office to mark the anniversary, and then it’s back to the phones. For the future, Ramirez predicts technology will help CAAP be more and more of a one-stop shop for clients who need help. “We’re always working to streamline things and help more people,” she said.

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

most links below point to PDF files

Legislative Update — Royce Poinsett provides an overview of the 81st Texas Legislature and how it may affect Texas lawyers, from the revised franchise tax to the fate of the "Pork Chopper Bill." For updates on specific areas of practice, from Criminal Law to Insurance Law, click here.

Lawyers, Laptops, and the Border — Odean Volker discusses electronic searches and seizures and their implications on attorney-client privilege. Learn what you should say if a customs official seeks to inspect electronically stored privileged documents.

Annual Meeting CoverageRead how State Bar President Harper Estes nearly stole the show from musician Charlie Robison, Justice Antonin Scalia's linguistic pet peeves, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's awkward picnic with her former boss, LBJ.

Profiles — Texas lawyers are really into their hobbies, as you'll see from stories about Kent Durham, part of a three-generation trick-roping family, and Rick Evans, a telecommuting steamship captain.