Texas Legislature issues resolution commending Texas Supreme Court for its access to justice efforts

A resolution was presented to the Texas Supreme Court Monday, June 27, in recognition of their efforts to preserve funding for the state’s legal aid system. Rep. Jerry Madden (Plano), Rep. Will Harnett (Dallas) and Rep. Jim Pitts (Waxahachie) presented the resolution to the Court in the House Chamber. Sen. José Rodríguez (El Paso), Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (McAllen), Sen. Rodney Ellis (Houston), Sen. Steve Ogden (Bryan), Sen. John Carona (Dallas) and Sen. Jeff Wentworth (San Antonio) acknowledged the Court’s efforts on the Senate floor.In part, the resolution reads: “RESOLVED, That the 82nd Legislature of the State of Texas, 1st Called Session, hereby commend the members of the Texas Supreme Court for their actions in support of legal aid services and honor them for their work in promoting access to justice for the state’s most vulnerable citizens; and, be it further RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for the Texas Supreme Court as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives and Senate.”

Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, was in attendance for the historic proclamations, along with fellow justices from the Court.

"Continued support for basic civil legal services for the poor is a high priority for the Texas Supreme Court,” Justice Hecht said. "With more than 5.7 million Texans qualifying for legal aid, the Supreme Court is proud to have been able to work with the Legislature to ensure access to justice for struggling Texans."

The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.

Bob Black sworn in as State Bar of Texas President

Bob Black was sworn in today by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson at a special ceremony at the annual meeting in San Antonio. He will serve as president of the State Bar until June 2012.

Black is managing shareholder of MehaffyWeber in Beaumont. He has served as chair of the State Bar Board of Directors, Policy Manual Subcommittee, Facilities and Equipment Subcommittee, co-chair of the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee, and vice chair of the Executive Committee. He was also past president of the Jefferson County Bar Association.

Black earned a J.D. summa cum laude from Texas Tech University School of Law in 1980, where he was an editor of the Texas Tech Law Review. He was recently honored as the Distinguished Alumnus of Texas Tech University School of Law for 2011.


Individuals and organizations honored by State Bar of Texas

Presentation of awards honoring exceptional service to the public and the legal profession will be a highlight of the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, to be held June 23-24 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Read the press releases for more details.


Random Profile: Lee Cusenbary, San Antonio

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 87,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Bet you didn’t know: I was a professional actor for the three years between college and law school, and was represented by Actors’ Clearinghouse, the same agency that represented Renee Zellweger when she won the Oscar for the film Jerry Maguire. I was featured in twelve national commercials during that time period, including Stop N Go, Volkswagon, and Nation’s Bank.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? If it were just one day, Justin Beiber.

What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? The use of email, flash drives and cell phones has created an expectation in clients to immediately respond to needs. It’s great for people who are natural communicators. It’s very difficult for less extroverted individuals who feel a burden of having to communicate before they have finished all their research or drafting.

What most people don’t know about me: I painted most of the paintings in our home.

Favorite movie: Philadelphia Story.

The last movie: Inception.

Favorite magazine: Popular Science

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LeadershipSBOT nominations due July 1, 2011

The State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association are looking for 20 Texas lawyers to participate in LeadershipSBOT. This diversity initiative is designed to recruit, train, and retain Texas lawyers for leadership positions in the legal community and the State Bar of Texas. Program participants will be selected to reflect the cultural, ethnic, geographic, and practice area diversity of the state. Nomination forms are due July 1, 2011. For more details read the nomination letter and download the nomination form.

Lawyers and judges hit the stage to raise scholarship funds

Hear entertaining anecdotes, parodies and more at Bar None—the annual variety show sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association and Dallas Bar Foundation. Each year, members of the Dallas legal community assemble to perform hilarious songs and original skits about current events, politics, the legal profession—and anything else worth spoofing or lampooning. And the talent is brilliant!

The cast of more than 50 attorneys and judges endure weeks of rehearsals—and jabs from their colleagues—preparing for the four-day variety show, which benefits the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarships at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. The scholarship program provides a full three-year law school education to outstanding minority students who plan to make Dallas their home after graduation.  

Since Bar None began in 1985, the performers have raised more than $1,366,000 for the scholarship program, funding the education of 46 law students (some of whom went on to become judges). This year’s show will run June 15, 16, 17 and 18 at the Greer Garson Theatre on the SMU Campus. Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Ticket prices are $25 for all shows, when purchased in advance (or $30 at the door).

For more information, visit www.BarNoneShow.com , or contact DBF Executive Director Elizabeth Philipp at (214) 220-7487.

Chief Justice Greenhill tribute service today

The late Chief Justice Joe R. Greenhill will be honored in a memorial service at 2 p.m. today in the Texas Supreme Court Courtroom.

Chief Justice Greenhill was the longest-serving justice in the Court’s history.

Tributes will be given by Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas M. Reavley of Houston and U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Brownsville. Reavley was Greenhill’s colleague on the Court when Reavley served from 1968 into 1977. Hanen was a briefing attorney for Greenhill in 1978-79.

Joe R. Greenhill Jr. of Austin will respond for the Greenhill family. Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson will respond for the Court.

The Rev. David A. Boyd, rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin, where Greenhill was a member, will lead the invocation and benediction.


Random Profile: James Bailey, Houston

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 87,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Most important career lesson:  My client’s time is valuable. Don’t waste it. Be Direct. Be Accurate. Be prompt.

Culinary talent: “Yankee” Potato Salad (russet potatoes; mayo; diced celery and white onion; generous salt and pepper. That’s’ all you need.)

Favorite food:  Baked-stuffed lobster (It’s a New England-thing).

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Texas Supreme Court urges budget item for legal aid for the poor

In an analysis Wednesday responding to a legislative request, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson and Justice Nathan L. Hecht urged a $20 million budget item for Texas legal-aid programs that was omitted in the waning-days budget debate in the regular legislative session.

Without the $20 million, Jefferson and Hecht told state Sen. Royce West, as many as 25,000 low-income Texas residents would be denied basic legal services now provided to 104,000 families - and, they added, that figure could mean more than 75,000 people affected because of the disproportionate number of single-parent households. They estimated the need for legal assistance at 5.7 million people in the state.

To read the full press release, please visit the Texas Supreme Court website.

10 Minute Mentor Goes to Law School

Due to its popularity among practicing members of the bar, Ten Minute Mentor has been expanded to cover topics of interest to law school students interested in learning about the ins and outs of practicing law. Visit the 10 Minute Mentor Goes to Law School website.

June 2011 Texas Bar Journal

In this month's issue of the Texas Bar Journal:

Bob Black Takes Office as President of the State Bar of Texas
Black, managing shareholder in MehaffyWeber, P.C. in Beaumont, takes office as the 131st president of the State Bar of Texas during the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Antonio, June 23–24. Read his profile.

2011 Texas Bar Journal Short Story Fiction Writing Contest
Making it through a competitive initial round of judging, sixty Texas lawyer-authors earned a spot in the finals. Their stories can be found online at texasbar.com/tbj.

Natalie Cobb Koehler Will Serve as TYLA President from June 2011 until June 2012
Koehler is the Bosque County attorney and a sole practitioner in Meridian. She will be sworn in at the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Antonio. Read her profile.