Random Profile: Adam Schachter, Houston

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 92,000-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:  getting paid to help people

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Texas Senator Kirk Watson to receive Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award

Senator Kirk Watson Named “Legislative Hero” for Improving Access to Justice to the More Than Six Million Texans Who Qualify for Legal Aid

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation will honor Senator Kirk Watson with the Texas Access to Justice Legislative Hero Award for his contributions to improving access to justice in Texas during a special presentation in Austin on Friday, December 16. Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, will present the award to Senator Watson.

Senator Watson has a long history of supporting civil legal aid issues, including efforts that led to an historic appropriation of funding in the 81st Legislature for civil legal services to poor Texans. Through his leadership efforts, Watson has helped improve access to justice for poor and low-income Texans.

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ADL to honor Beverly Godbey

Beverly Godbey, Parter, Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, will receive the 2011 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Larry Schoenbrun Jurisprudence Award at a luncheon in her honor on Friday, December 16, 2011. She will be the 22nd recipient of this important award. Godbey is Chair of the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas.

Harriet Miers, former recipient of the Schoenbrun Award and Partner at Locke Lord LLP, is serving as the luncheon Chair. For more information about the event, please call ADL (972-960-0342).


Texas Bar Foundation announces the Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award

By Holly Priestner

The Texas Bar Foundation is pleased to announce a new addition to their annual awards program, the Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award. Established by Yetter Coleman LLP in honor and memory of its name partner, Gregory S. Coleman,  the award celebrates the high ideals and standards that Greg demonstrated in his appellate practice and personal life. 

The recipient should exhibit an outstanding appellate practice while maintaining a strong commitment to providing legal services for the underserved. Dedication to mentoring young attorneys should be evident as well as a strong moral compass to guide both professional and personal pursuits.

Applications are now being accepted. Submissions will be accepted in the Texas Bar Foundation office until January 13 at 5:00 p.m. For more information and an application, visit the Texas Bar Foundation website

Award categories include:

  • Dan Rugeley Price Award
  • Lola Wright Foundation Award
  • Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer Award
  • Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award
  • Samuel Pessarra Outstanding Jurist Award
  • Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award – NEW for 2012!

Holly Priestner is the development director for the Texas Bar Foundation.

Random Profile: Jay J. Chase, Dallas

Jim J. ChaseFor 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?

Areas of practice: Commercial Litigation.

Education:  University of Texas; St. Mary's University.

If I had more time I would: Invent the teleport.

Best thing about being a lawyer: You can always develop work for yourself.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? General stigma of not having a moral conscience.

Most important career lesson: When things are not going right, take a step back and remain calm. Having clarity is crucial and mistakes occur when you lack it. 

Favorite saying/quote: "You can't lose what you don't put in the middle…But you can't win much either."

Bet you didn't know: I cashed in the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Favorite TV program: Dateline NBC, King of Queens.

Hobbies: Sports, poker.

If you weren't an attorney, what profession do you think you would be in? Business owner/ business management.

What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? Growth of electronic discovery and e-filing.

How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? Widely accepted practice of web conferencing and centralized e-discovery for all parties.

Jay is an associate at Godwin Ronquillo PC.

You can also view Jay's TexasBar.com profile.

It's not every day that you're randomly picked from among 87,000 peers. To commemorate, randomly-profiled attorneys receive a TexasBar.com t-shirt.

Update Your Online Profile
Have you updated your attorney profile lately? Go to MyBarPage on TexasBar.com, log in, and click "Update My Profile." While you’re at it, click “My Directory Options” and add a photo, law firm link, and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blog accounts – all for free.

Opinions and statements expressed in these profiles are those of their subjects - not the State Bar of Texas.

If it sounds too good to be true ...

By Lené Alley DeRudder

Have you heard the saying if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is?  My advice to young and especially new attorneys is if it sounds too good to be true then beware.

A few weeks ago a colleague of mine who has built a successful solo practice referred a collection matter to me.  He received the potential client inquiry through his firm website which has been search engine optimized to the tenth degree.  This should be a strength but unfortunately Internet fraudsters turn it into a weakness.

I contacted the potential client, who was out-of-state, had several e-mail conversations, and engaged in a game of phone tag.  He requested my Engagement Letter Agreement, I sent it to him, and did some “Google research” on the potential client and debtor.  Both businesses appeared legitimate.  The potential client signed my Engagement Letter Agreement and agreed to my fee arrangement – there were no red flags at this point.  The first red flag showed up when shortly after my representation was retained my now client informed me that arrangements had been made with the debtor and no legal action was required.  However, the debtor would be sending prompt payments to my firm and I was to subtract my retainer from that amount.

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Wildfire survivors have more time to register for federal assistance

Texas homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered losses caused by the wildfires on or after Aug. 30 have more time to apply for federal disaster recovery assistance. At the request of the state, FEMA is extending the registration deadline to January 6. More details are available on the FEMA website.

“We hope this additional time will ensure that every Texan affected by the wildfires has an opportunity to register for state and federal assistance,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. “We want to be sure to reach all wildfire survivors who still need help."

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

This month, the Texas Bar Journal helps you answer some of those “friendly requests for advice” you may encounter at social gatherings in its latest installment of "Party Talk." In addition, you'll find information about the Texas Young Lawyers Association's latest project, Breaking the Silence: A Path to Finding Mental Health.
Let us know what you think of the December issue of the Texas Bar Journal — email comments to tbj@texasbar.com.


Minority director sought

Nominations are now being accepted for minority director for the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. Self-nominations will not be accepted. Four appointed positions were created on the Board in order to increase minority participation as well as to provide representation from varying professional, geographic, and social environments. One position will become vacant in 2012. 

Nominees will be screened by an ad hoc committee comprised of members from the State Bar Board’s Nomination & Elections Subcommittee, Women in the Profession Committee, and the Racial Diversity in the Profession Committee. Nominees will be responsible for their own expenses related to the interview process. The Ad Hoc Committee to select minority directors will submit to the President of the State Bar two nominations for the one vacant position. The President shall appoint one of those nominated individuals, subject to confirmation by the Board of Directors, at the April 13, 2012, State Bar Board of Directors meeting. Minority Directors serve three-year, staggered terms.

Criteria for selection:
Any minority lawyer in good standing with the State Bar is eligible to be nominated as a minority member director, provided such lawyer has never served, or is not currently serving as a minority member director or as an elected director. To the fullest extent possible, the nominating committee shall only nominate persons who demonstrate the sensitivity and knowledge, gained from experiences in the profession and the community, necessary to represent the interests of minority lawyers.

A minority member of the State Bar is any lawyer who is female, African American, Hispanic American, Native American, or Asian American.

The nominating committee shall be guided, but not limited, by the following criteria in selecting its nominees for minority member director:

  • The minority population of the area in which the candidate resides and practices.
  • The degree of minority representation already on the State Bar Board of Directors from a particular geographic area.
  • Demonstration of leadership ability.
  • Involvement in civic or political activities within the minority community.
  • Participation in minority bar associations.
  • Participation in local bar, State Bar and American Bar Association committees and activities.
  • Year of licensure.
  • Number and content of recommendation letters.
  • Ethnicity and gender.

Deadline for nominations is 5:00 p.m., December 15, 2011. Persons interested in being nominated for the position should submit the following: a nomination letter from a third party; resume including information on bar participation, civic and political activities, ethnicity, gender, place of residence, and letters of recommendation (typically three to five).

Submit the information requested to:
Toni Nguyen, Chair
Ad Hoc Committee to Select Minority Directors
c/o State Bar of Texas
1414 Colorado Street, Ste. 300
Austin, TX 78701-1627

Self-nominations will not be accepted. (Please note that applying to be a minority director does not preclude an applicant from running as a district director candidate from a geographic area.  Petitions for the elected District Director candidate positions must be received at the State Bar headquarters by 5:00 p.m. on March 1, 2012, in order to be considered.)

ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20

At its October 2011 meeting in Denver, Colorado, the Commission decided to bifurcate its presentation of proposals to the ABA House of Delegates to help facilitate that entity's considered action on a significant number of complex and diverse subjects. The Commission will present its first group of proposals in August 2012, and the second set in February 2013. The Commission currently plans to present its proposals relating to mobility issues, outsourcing, and technology in August 2012. The Commission will circulate one more time for comment the drafts of those proposals before it files them with the House of Delegates for consideration in August 2012.  It will do so after discussing at its February 2 - 3, 2012 meeting the recent comments and suggestions received, and after making any necessary revisions to the proposals based upon those comments. The Commission will hold a public hearing in at its February meeting. Details are forthcoming.

The remaining proposals, including those relating to Model Rule 1.7, inbound foreign lawyers, and, if the Commission decides to do so, any proposals relating to alternative law practice structures, will be presented in February 2013. 

On Dec. 2, consistent with the Commission's promise to provide opportunities for input, it published for comment a Cover Memo and Discussion Draft relating to alternative law practice structures. The Commission already has ruled out certain forms of nonlawyer ownership that currently exist in other countries. In particular, the Commission rejected: (a) publicly traded law firms, (b) outside nonlawyer investment or ownership in law firms, and (c) multidisciplinary practices (law firms that offer both legal and non-legal services separately in a single entity). This Discussion Draft relates to a very limited form of nonlawyer ownership in a law firm akin to, but more restrictive than, that which has been permitted for 21 years in the District of Columbia. Before deciding how to proceed, the Commission wants to receive your comments and review any supporting materials you may wish to offer.

The Commission also posted for comment a Cover Memo and Initial Draft Proposal relating to choice of law and alternative law practice structures. Choice of law issues will exist whether or not the Commission ultimately decides to propose any modification to the current prohibition in Model Rule 5.4 on any form of alternative law practice structure. The Commission has heard that lawyers and law firms would benefit from additional guidance in this regard, particularly given the proliferation of domestic and international cross-border practice and the fact that more countries where U.S. lawyers and law firms do business now permit alternative law practice structures (as does the District of Columbia).

The Commission encourages responses to the Discussion Draft and the Initial Draft Proposal by late January 2012, so that they can be discussed at the Commission's February 2-3, 2012 meeting, and further asks that those requiring additional time submit their comments by February 29, 2012.

The documents can be downloaded here [website].

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Reduced State Bar of Texas merchandise, just in time for the holidays

By Kayla Markert

The State Bar of Texas offers a great selection of merchandise, including business card holders, leather coasters, legal pads, computer bags, baseball caps and apparel. Prices for select State Bar of Texas merchandise items have been reduced, just in time for the holidays! 

If you are looking for something to add a special touch to your Christmas tree decorations, look no further. The official State Bar of Texas ornament is a great addition to your collection, and can be yours for only $10.00. The ornament makes a great stocking stuffer, too.

The men’s pullover fleece is perfect for the Texas winter, and has been reduced to just $38.00. Another great item is the men’s button down, which has been discounted to $40.00. With the purchase of either the pullover or button down, we will also send you the State Bar of Texas ornament at no additional charge.

Visit the Shop With Us link on the State Bar of Texas website to see these items as well as other great State Bar of Texas merchandise.