Task force on additional resources for complex cases

Per HB 79 passed in the 82nd Legislature, First Called Session, the State Bar of Texas has appointed a task force to develop rules to determine whether a civil case requires additional resources for efficient judicial management.

The Task Force has posted draft rules for public comment. Click here [PDF] to see the draft rules. If you would like to provide comments, please send them to comments@texasbar.com. A public hearing will be held on Oct. 13, 2011 at 10:30am.

The Supreme Court of Texas will review the recommendations of the task force and promulgate rules by May 1, 2012. For more information, contact Ray Cantu at 512-427-1506.


Date: Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
Time: 10:30am-noon


State Bar of Texas
1414 Colorado, Hatton Sumners Room
Austin, TX 78701

Chief Disciplinary Counsel
14651 Dallas Parkway, Ste 925
Dallas, Texas 75254

Chief Disciplinary Counsel
600 Jefferson, Ste. 1000
Houston, Texas 77002

Chief Disciplinary Counsel
Federal Reserve Bank Building
126 E. Nueva, Suite 200
San Antonio, Texas 78204

Historic Texas documents to be unveiled at Austin reception

Twenty historic documents that provide significant information about Texas history and many of the characters -- both famous and infamous who contributed to the Lone Star State's colorful past -- will be unveiled for the first time at a reception at the State Bar of Texas Building, 1414 Colorado Street in Austin, on Monday, September 26, 2011, starting at 4 p.m.

The reception will include remarks from former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III -- whose great-grandfather's circuit court "minute" book from Galveston County during the 1860s will be among the documents unveiled -- and State Bar of Texas President Bob Black. The State Bar and Baker Botts L.L.P. are co-hosting the event.

The reception - as well as a hearing in Texas Supreme Court Chambers earlier in the day - will showcase the work of The Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force that for the past year has worked to uncover forgotten and, in many cases, decaying records stored in courthouses across the state.

The Texas Supreme Court created the 19-member Task Force last November and charged its members with preparing a report on the condition of state historical records. Bill Kroger, a partner at Baker Botts L.L.P., and Mark Lambert, Deputy Commissioner of Archives and Records for the Texas General Land Office, co-chaired the Task Force and will attend the reception.

About the Historical Texas Court Records Reception

What: Unveiling for the first time 20 key Texas historical documents
When: 4 p.m. on Monday, September 26, 2011
Where: State Bar of Texas Building, 1414 Colorado Street in Austin
Speakers: James A. Baker, III, former U.S. Secretary of State and senior partner at Baker Botts L.L.P. Bob Black, President of the State Bar of Texas


Texas Lawyers Auxiliary holding awards dinner October 2

The Texas Lawyers Auxiliary is holding an awards dinner on Sunday, October 2 to honor Teacher of the Year Patience LeBlanc and Lifetime Achievement Recipient Judy Abright Troy. The dinner will be at Carmelo's Italian Restaurant in Austin. The Texas Lawyers Auxiliary will hold their board meeting the following day on Monday, October 3 at the Texas Law Center in Austin. For information on how to RSVP for the dinner and to learn more about the Texas Lawyers Auxiliary, you may visit http://www.texasbar.com/tla.

Bell County Bar Association collecting items and donations for victims of the Bastrop County fire

The Bell County Bar Association will be collecting items next week, specifically at the Bench Bar Conference on Sept. 22. The items will be delivered to victims of the Bastrop County fire. Please limit your donations to these specific items: gift cards for grocery stores (HEB, Walmart, Target), new socks and undergarments (all sizes), toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, body soap, shampoo, disposable razors), baby clothing, blankets, diapers, gently used small toys, school supplies (pens, pencils, notebooks) talcum powder, anti bacterial hand gel, eyedrops, chapstick, and sunscreen.

During the week of Sept. 19 - Sept. 23 boxes will be set up at the Justice Complex located at 1201 Huey Road, Belton. Cash donations are always accepted, please make checks payable to BCBA.

Volunteers are still needed to assist at onsite legal clinics in Bastrop. Free legal advice will be provided to those affected by the fires. For more information on the clinics, please contact Lisa Richardson (lisa.richardson@rclawtexas.com).

Bob Black on Civics Education

Focus on Civics Education on Constitution Day

By Bob Black

Do you know more than an 8th grader? How many of us could master the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) required curriculum? Remember the significance of Marbury v. Madison? McCulloch v. Maryland? Gibbons v. Ogden? These are just a few of the landmark court decisions that 8th grade social studies students must know to be successful in preparing to meet the new TEKS standards.

Civics education ensures and fosters engaged citizens who understand our democracy and the liberties the rule of law protects. Receiving a comprehensive groundwork in civics is essential to producing the next generation of responsible, engaged citizens. To accomplish this, we need to connect with students via technology in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner.

We must also ensure that our teachers have a full array of educational resources available to help them prepare our children for the future. A major initiative during my tenure as president of the State Bar of Texas this year is working with the State Bar Law Related Education Department on Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers – an interactive, web-based project to assist Texas teachers and middle and high school students in preparing for the new TEKS standards in the areas of government, history, citizenship and culture.

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Austin Bar Wildfire Response Team offers attorney volunteer training

The Austin Bar Association is offering a free CLE training for attorney volunteers responding to legal questions and providing assistance to all those affected by the wildfires. The training will be Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Austin Bar Association, 816 Congress Ave., Suite 700, Austin.

The cost is free to Austin Bar Association and Austin Young Lawyers Association members. The CLE credit for this training is 2.0 hours MCLE ethics credit.

This training will cover:

  •  Ethics & Pro Bono Service
  •  FEMA & Public Benefits
  •  Home Ownership Issues (title/mortgage, tax & fencing, barn, pens)
  •  Landlord-Tenant Concerns
  •  Insurance and Consumer Law Issues
  •  Pet and Animal Welfare Law

Read the full agenda.

Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas is providing malpractice coverage to lawyers volunteering through the Austin Bar.

To RSVP for this training, please contact Marissa Lara-Arebalo at 512-472-0279, x100 or at Marissa@austinbar.org.

Thank you to all the volunteer attorneys and donors for your support in helping evacuees affected by the Bastrop wildfires.

President declares disaster For Texas

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal aid has been made available to the State of Texas to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by wildfires beginning on August 30, 2011, and continuing. Read the FEMA news release for more details.

Legal clinic for wildfire victims is available today in Smithville

State Bar staff are volunteering today at a legal clinic in Smithville. Volunteers are available to provide legal advice and disaster information to those who have been affected by the wildfires. The clinic is located on 210 Main St., Smithville and volunteers will be available from 10a.m. - 6p.m.

Clinics are also available in Bastrop which are sponsored by the Austin Bar Association. Download a pdf for clinic details.

(Pictured: State Bar of Texas Executive Director Michelle Hunter (right) and State Bar employee Elma Garcia. Volunteers not pictured, State Bar staff Pat Nester and John Sirman).


Austin Bar expands free legal advice clinics for wildfire evacuees

From the Austin Bar Association:

Austin, TX – The Austin Bar Association, in partnership with the Bastrop County Bar Association, has expanded the free legal clinics for wildfire evacuees to six shelters in Bastrop County.

Attorneys will be available in Bastrop at the following locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Sept. 8 through Saturday, Sept. 10 (and possibly into next week depending on need):

  • Bastrop Christian Outreach, 1096 Hwy 71 W.
  • Ascension Catholic Church, 802 Pine St. (Water St. & Pine St.)
  • Celebration Christian Church, 107 Longhorn St.
  • First Assembly of God, 609 Pecan St.
  • Premerica Baptist Church, 308 Paul C Bell
  • Sears Hometown Store, 735 Old Austin Hwy, Ste. B

In addition, two hotlines have been set up for legal questions for those that cannot return to the area:

  • State Bar of Texas: 1-800-504-7030
  • Texas RioGrande Legal Aid: 1-866-757-1570

Attorneys who want to volunteer, should contact Michelle Fox at michelle@austinbar.org.

Volunteers sought for wildfire legal response

The Austin Bar Disaster Response Team is looking for more volunteers this week to serve at its Austin Bar Legal Clinic at two locations in Bastrop. Please visit this website to sign up and help. The Austin Bar needs need attorneys, legal assistants, legal administrators, receptionists, legal secretaries, and couriers (with cars).

The Austin Bar also seeks donations of necessities for evacuees.

Random Profile: Carolyn Shellman, 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?

Best thing about being a lawyer:  My colleagues are other lawyers who are, generally, the smartest and most witty people in the room. And I’ve been fortunate to work with really smart clients. Surrounding yourself with people like that makes going to work easy.

The part of my job I do best is: Listen

Most important career lesson:  Listening is more important than speaking.

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September Texas Bar Journal -- Legislative Update

The 82nd Texas Legislature passed numerous bills of interest to Texas attorneys. The articles in this month's Texas Bar Journal identify major changes to specific areas of law that will affect Texas lawyers and the clients they serve.