Random Profile: Elizabeth Martinez, Laredo

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: Helping people in need

The best piece of advice ever given to you: Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together.

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Attorneys: Be extra-vigilant for scams targeting lawyers

Update (4/25/2012): Today we received a report from a firm in Houston regarding a scam that has apparently targeted at least six law firms. Please see the comment from Ted Tredennick, below, for more information.

Update (11/15/2011): We have received reports of persons impersonating law firms in the Houston and Dallas areas. These persons are purporting to be from the law firms and are aggressively demanding payment on debts. If you encounter this situation or tactic please contact the White Collar Crime and Public Integrity Section of the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Update (9/6/2011): We received a report from a non-lawyer in Illinois who received a call from Michael Jones at (512)651-3635 who purported to be an investigator with the State Bar of Texas. He had the person's social security number and told her she had defaulted on an online loan, had to be in court the next day, and would be arrested if she did not pay $250.

Update (7/27/2011): At least two local bar associations report that scam artists are calling members and asking for dues payments. We have received reports from the Tarrant and Lubbock County bars.

The callers say they are "from the bar association" and that the attorney's bar card is expiring or that membership dues must be paid immediately. According to one report, the caller promised a free section membership with dues renewal.

These are not legitimate calls from any bar association. Do not provide credit card information if you are called and asked for a dues payment.


Texas attorneys should be extra-vigilant regarding potential scams involving fraudulent checks or wire transfers. These scams are increasing in sophistication, sometimes involving innocent third parties who seek legal services at the request of a scam artist.

The bottom line is this: Never issue a check from a trust account until deposited funds have been collected.

Recent scam scenarios include:

  • unsolicited email requests for legal help collecting money or judgments, sometimes apparently coming from actual professionals whose identities have been stolen
  • a real estate transaction for an overseas client (whose identity was stolen by a scam artist) involving an innocent third-party realtor
  • impersonation of law firms by scam artists who issue bogus checks and attempt to charge a fee for the checks to clear
  • a bogus check received by a law firm, purportedly for payment regarding representation of an inmate
  • impersonation of a lawyer and law firm by a scammer "collecting debts" under the attorney's name

Again, be vigilant and do not disburse funds from your accounts until underlying funds have cleared your bank (and not simply been made “available”).

Cases involving bank fraud are investigated by the Secret Service. If you are targeted, contact an office in your area. Internet fraud should be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If a scam has targeted you or your firm, please leave a comment below describing the scenario or tactics the scammer used.

Texas Center for Legal Ethics Announces 2012 Pope Professionalism Awards

The Texas Center for Legal Ethics (TCLE) is proud to announce the 2012 recipients of the Chief Justice Jack Pope Professionalism Awards: former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill and attorney Kevin Dubose.

Former Justice O’Neill — who served with distinction on the Supreme Court of Texas from 1998 until she retired in 2010 — has long been a champion for pro bono representation of low-income victims of domestic violence in Texas. She founded the Law Office of Harriet O’Neill in Austin, where her practice includes business, personal injury and commercial litigation, and the mediation of complex legal disputes. She frequently writes and lectures for continuing legal education programs.

Dubose, a partner in Alexander, Dubose & Townsend, L.L.P. in Houston, conceptualized, initiated, and executed a project that culminated in the creation of the landmark Standards for Appellate Conduct, which, in 1999, became the first set of ethical standards tailored to appellate practice adopted by any jurisdiction in the United States.

"Harriet O'Neill and Kevin Dubose are highly esteemed by their peers for their immense contributions to the legal profession," says TCLE Executive Director Jonathan Smaby. "The Pope Award highlights the good works that lawyers do, and this year’s Pope Award recipients have careers that are rich in accomplishment."

The Pope Awards will be presented by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson at the Annual Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Dinner on June 1 in Austin.

Each year, TCLE presents the Pope Awards to one judge and one attorney who personify the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in the field of law. The Pope honor is named after one of TCLE’s founders, former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jack Pope, who was the first individual to receive the award in 2009.

Congratulations to the 2012 Law Day winners!

The State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) invited local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates to participate in the statewide Law Day contest. This year’s Law Day theme is No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom. Contest winners will be recognized on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at the Texas Law Center. The State Bar of Texas and TYLA will host the luncheon and present the awards to the winners. Click here for the list of winners [PDF].

Register for Annual Meeting now -- and save $50!

The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Houston is right around the corner! Register before May 15 and save $50. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, a flash drive with all the materials, free wi-fi in the meeting rooms, and two quality days of CLE. Receive all of your MCLE and ethics requirements for only $245!

This year's keynote speakers include former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, attorney and reinvention strategist Marshawn Evans, and best-selling author Richard North Patterson. For more information, click here. To download the Annual Meeting brochure, click here.

Frank E. Stevenson II of Dallas Elected 2012-13 Chair of the State Bar Board

Frank E. Stevenson II, a partner in the Dallas office of Locke Lord, L.L.P., has been elected Chair of the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas. He will take office during the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting to be held June 14-15 in Houston and will serve as chair until June 2013.

Stevenson has practiced administrative, transportation, real estate, and finance law for more than 30 years. He has served on the board of directors of the State Bar of Texas since 2010 and on the board of the Dallas Bar Association since 1999, serving as president in 2008. He has served on the Dallas Bar Foundation’s board of directors since 2007, and was chair of the Dallas Bar/Legal Aid of Northwest Texas Equal Access to Justice Campaign in 2003.

Stevenson is an associate member of the Dallas Citizens Council and serves on the executive committee of the Sammons Center for the Arts. He has been on the board of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce since 2007 and has served Amherst College in numerous capacities, including as a member and then chair of the executive committee of the Alumni Council. The college awarded Stevenson its Medal for Eminent Service in 2009.

He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a sustaining life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Dallas Bar Foundation, and a life fellow of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Foundation.

He graduated with a B.A. magna cum laude from Amherst College and earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas honored with 2012 ABA Justice Award

Last night, April 17, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas was honored with a 2012 ABA Justice Award. Sen. Hutchison was honored for her efforts to preserve funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). She was instrumental in ensuring that the LSC budget was cut only 2 percent when others were calling for much deeper cuts. She is pictured here with the President of the ABA William T. Robinson III, ABA Day Chair William C. Hubbard, and members of the Texas delegation to ABA Days.

ABA Honors Betty Balli Torres, Texas Supreme Court

Betty Balli Torres, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation in Austin, has been recognized with the American Bar Association (ABA) Grassroots Advocacy Award. The award, which honors her efforts in securing legal aid funding and ensuring access to justice for low-income Americans, will be presented April 18 during a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Every day, families go without much-needed protection from abuse, benefits to which they are entitled, and they lose homes because they are unable to access the justice system due to inability to afford a lawyer," Torres said. "As lawyers, we each have a role to play to ensure that everyone has access to our judicial system. That access is not possible without critical funding of legal aid programs that do the day-to-day work and provide the infrastructure and support to thousands of lawyers doing pro bono work in this country."

Torres will receive one of five ABA Grassroots Advocacy Awards. Among the other recipients is the Texas Supreme Court, which is being recognized for its key role in obtaining funding for legal services during the last legislative session.

"The justices of the Supreme Court of Texas deserve special recognition for their outspoken support of legal services. Every community in Texas is a beneficiary of their dedication to equal access. The justices demonstrate yet again their commitment to be the ultimate guardians of our liberty,” said ABA President William T. "Bill" Robinson III.

2012 Judicial Poll is Open

The State Bar is conducting a poll of the contested Supreme Court of Texas, Court of Criminal Appeals and Court of Appeals district races up for election. This is a non-partisan straw poll of our current members.

Members must vote by Tuesday May 8, 2012, at 5:00 p.m.

Please visit TexasBar.com for details and to participate.


Warning - Fake "Account Suspended" Email

Update 4/2/2012

We have received more reports that lawyers are receiving a scam/phishing attempt. This is not from the State Bar. Do not click links contained in the message which reads as follows: 

From: State Bar of Texas <acs35@comcast.net>
Date: April 2, 2012 3:47:21 PM CDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Account Suspended

Dear Subscriber,
Your State Bar of Texas account has been suspended because of unusual invalid login attempts into your account. You may experience inability to access certain feature. To restore your account, please click on the link below and complete the form.
Click on the link above (or copy and paste the URL address into your web browser) to complete the form.
Thank you for co-operation.
Technical Support
State Bar of Texas

Original blog post 2/23/2012

We received reports late today about an email purporting to be from the State Bar of Texas with the subject line: "Texas Bar Account Suspended." The email asks the recipient to click a link and provide information.

This email is not from the State Bar of Texas and is a scam/phishing attempt. Do not click the link contained in the email or provide information in response to it.

If you did provide information in response to the scam email we recommend that you log in to My Bar Page on TexasBar.com, click "Update My Profile," and change your password. If you need help please email webmaster@texasbar.com.


State Bar of Texas election 2012

Election 2012 for State Bar and TYLA presidents-elect and district directors is currently underway and will continue until 5:00 pm on May 1, 2012. Read about the candidates.

You can vote online now, or if you prefer to vote via a paper ballot, election packets were mailed on April 2, 2012 and may take five (5) to seven (7) days for delivery. Complete your ballot and return it in the postage paid envelope provided.  If you have not received your paper ballot by U.S. mail by April 9, 2012, please call 1-800-218-4026 for assistance Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CT.

The deadline to cast your vote is May 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm. Votes must be received either online or at the designated U.S. Postal address no later than that date and time.