Fort Bend County lawyers golf for a great cause

The Fort Bend County Bar Association’s 31st Annual Golf Tournament proved to be a huge success! The bar association raised more than $10,000 which exceeded the goal and allowed the association to make more donations than expected.   Fort Bend Lawyers Care received $5,000 to enhance free legal services to the indigent. Richmond Rosenberg Helping Hands received $5,000. Helping Hands provides food, clothing, shelter and assistance to families in financial crisis. 

Random Profile - Everett Newton, Dallas

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?

Favorite saying/quote: “He who has it not in his head must have it in his feet.”

Bet you didn’t know: I have a rock band whose music is being featured in an upcoming horror film.

Talents (besides law): Talk radio. For four years, I hosted my own legal call-in talk show on a local CBS radio affiliate.

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No place like home: Bell County Bar and National Adoption Day

The Bell County Bar Association is preparing for their second annual National Adoption Day. This year's theme is "The Wizard of Oz, There's No Place Like Home." A yellow brick road will lead the way to the bench as 32 children will be adopted by 20 families on November 16.

"The purpose of this day is to make it the most special day of their life," Judge Rick Morris (pictured), President of the Bell County Bar said.

Adopted children will receive special gifts to signify their adoptions - engraved necklaces for girls and engraved dog tags for boys. Teddy bears, books, and donated bags of necessities from hospitals will also be presented to the new families. A photographer will take pictures of the new families and each family will receive an 8x10 framed photo of the special day.

Fifteen attorneys, four judges and 20 paralegals have volunteered their time for adoptions and to write wills.

"National Adoption Day is so fun, I should have to pay to take part!" Morris said, "There will not be a dry eye in the room."
 

Providing access to justice to those who protect our country

The U.S. Armed Forces protect citizens’ rights, including the right to access to justice. The Houston Bar Association and Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program have found a way to ensure that Houston veterans receive access to justice in return.

Approximately 1/3 of Houston veterans are homeless and many more are living on modest means, unable to afford an attorney. Recognizing the severity of this issue, the Houston Bar Association implemented a program to aid our nation’s heroes. Every Friday from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., volunteers from the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program staff a free legal clinic held at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Any veteran who attends receives a free legal consultation. Many times, questions are basic and the legal need is fulfilled. If by chance a veteran has an ongoing legal issue, the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program determines if the veteran is eligible for free representation and connects qualified veterans with a volunteer attorney.

The attendance at the legal clinics has grown - attorneys are now seeing 30 attorneys a week. As the clinics’ success grew, the Houston Bar has expanded the program to include services at veteran transition homes and other special legal clinics. Houston lawyers agree that the volunteer efforts are very fulfilling and that attorneys are building close bonds with local veterans.

Volunteer attorney Denise Scofield described the relationships, “We know our clients, we receive Christmas cards, announcements about grandchildren, and emails. “

The Houston Bar Association held a training seminar on Friday, November 13 to assist with a statewide initiative. Speakers included volunteer attorneys who have experience siding veterans, Judge Mark Cater who developed the first veterans court  in Texas, and executive staff members of the Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center. The State Bar of Texas will implement a program in June of 2010, Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans.

Above: On November 13, State Bar Director Allan DuBois of San Antonio discusses his experience handling a VA disability case.
 

Honoring our nation's veterans

The State Bar of Texas extends its deep gratitude to all veterans for their service to our country.

Throughout the year, our Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP) program recruits volunteer attorneys and legal professionals to assist soldiers and their families with legal issues involving family law, employment, housing, and more. Read more and learn how to volunteer

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PLI disclosure hearing report: Austin, November 9

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors held its seventh and final public hearing on whether lawyers should be required to disclose to clients if they carry professional liability insurance. Seven attendees chose to testify publicly — two in favor of requiring disclosure, five opposed to the idea. The Board will vote in January to make a recommendation to the Supreme Court of Texas. The Court sent a letter to the Board asking for its recommendation.

Several State Bar directors participated in the hearing, including Steve Benesh and Randy Howry of Austin; Guy Choate of San Angelo; David Copeland of Midland; and Barbara Young of Temple. State Bar President-elect Terry Tottenham of Austin introduced the meeting. Jonathan Smaby, executive director of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, moderated. Audio recordings of the seven hearings, as well as background materials, are available at www.texasbar.com/plidisclosure.

Among the points raised during public testimony:

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Random Profile - Steve Collins, Austin

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?

Most important career lesson: Integrity matters. Be the same person at home, at work, and in the world. Be consistent.

Bet you didn’t know: I married my high school sweetheart, who was the homecoming queen. We’ve been dating, going steady, broken-up, engaged, or married since she was a sophomore and I was a junior in high school.

Another little known fact: My daughter was homecoming queen 31 years later.

Current Project: Surviving a kitchen remodel.

Favorite TV program: Daily Show

When you are not practicing law, what do you like to do? Drive my Miata, ride my motorcycle, make sawdust.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? Overcoming the image that we will lie and misrepresent in order to serve our clients.

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A Milestone for Legal Ethics in Texas

Happy Birthday to the Texas Lawyer's Creed! The Creed contains principles for civility and courtesy between lawyers and honesty in statements to judges and lawyers and was promulgated in 1989 by both the Supreme Court of Texas and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, two former justices of the Texas Supreme Court were on hand to help celebrate the 20th anniversaries of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed and the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism at a ceremony at the Texas Law Center in Austin. Former Chief Justice Jack Pope and former Justice Eugene Cook were instrumental in the creation of the Center and the Creed. Also on hand were Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Elrod, who served as master of ceremonies, as well as current Supreme Court Justices Nathan Hecht, Phil Johnson, Paul Green, and Don Willett.

After several speeches commemorating the anniversaries, those in attendance sang "Happy Birthday" and celebrated with cupcakes and a reception.

“Today we are honoring hundreds of people, those who had vision, raised money [for the creation of the Center], and worked day-to-day to keep that vision alive," said Chief Justice Pope. “The organization is here because of them.”

The November issue of the Texas Bar Journal (www.texasbar.com/tbj) includes a special section about how and why the Creed came into existence. A free 30-minute online ethics CLE on the Creed is available at www.texasbarcle.com. For details on the Center, visit www.txethics.org.

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

 most links point to PDF files

New Disciplinary Rules — The Supreme Court of Texas has published for comment proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. 

Pro/Con: Professional Liability Insurance Disclosure — The Supreme Court has asked the State Bar Board of Directors to recommend whether lawyers should be required to disclose to clients if they carry professional liability insurance. Read some of the arguments for and against the proposal.

20 Years of the Texas Lawyer's Creed — Read one man's observations on the need for the Texas Lawyer's Creed, as well as the personal reflections of some of the lawyers and judges who had a hand in crafting it. 

Profiles — Texas lawyers take their passions seriously, as you'll see from stories about El Paso lawyer Gene Semko, who moonlights as a Big 12 referee, and Bellville lawyers John and Taunia Elick, who caught the attention of the New York Times for their collection of historic houses.

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