The process leading up to the Referendum included numerous opportunities for those who had concerns with the proposed rules to make their voices known. This process has taken a long time, debate has been invited and ongoing throughout, and the debate and input by lawyers and the public has benefited the proposed rules that are under consideration. Every Texas lawyer is encouraged to read the proposed rules and decide for him or her self whether these rules reflect the way they practice in 2011. Then, vote responsibly.
A brief overview of the process:
- The committee began developing these proposed rules in 2003. The Supreme Court appointed an independent task force to look at the rules and review the committee’s work. There were many differences that led to multiple reports and joint hearings before the Court.
- In October 2009, the Supreme Court published the proposed rules for comment. It received more than 500 comments. The Court went through those comments and made numerous changes based on the input it received.
- In April, the Court asked the State Bar Board of Directors to consider the revised rules and report back by Oct. 6, 2010. The Board sought written input both through the mail and electronically and held hearings throughout the state. A member of the Court attended each of the hearings that were conducted. The Board compiled and considered all the comments received and made changes to the proposed rules for recommendation to the Court.
- Shortly before the October deadline, the Bar Board began to receive strong concerns about the proposed rules concerning conflicts. The Board voted to send all its proposals to the Court with the exception of the Conflicts rules which the Board asked for more time to consider and consult with those who had expressed strong concern with those proposals.
- The Court allowed the Bar to continue the debate on the Comments portions of the proposed rules, to hold another public meeting with ethics counsel and others from throughout the state, to ensure those concerns were heard and addressed.
- On November 5, the Board adopted the remainder of the proposed rules and sent them to the Court with a petition for referendum.
- The December 2010 issue of the Texas Bar Journal included the proposed rules to be voted on. The January issue included commentary and asked numerous people whether they would advise support of the rules. An educational webcast explained the new rules and advised viewers of some of the concerns expressed by those who did not support specific rules.