State Bar seeking LeadershipSBOT nominations by July 1

The deadline is approaching to nominate attorneys for the 2013-2014 class of LeadershipSBOT, a diversity initiative of the State Bar of Texas.

The State Bar and Texas Young Lawyers Association are looking for 20 Texas lawyers to take part in the program, which prepares participants for leadership positions in the legal community and the State Bar. Participants are chosen to reflect the state’s cultural, ethnic, geographic, and practice-area diversity.

Created in 2008, the yearlong program consists of two training sessions and ends with the presentation of group projects during the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.

Visit the LeadershipSBOT section of for more information, including nomination forms and lists of past LeadershipSBOT classes.

Pictured above: The LeadershipSBOT Class of 2012-2013.


Random Profile: Danny Long, Houston

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 93,000-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: Lean into your fears.

Favorite saying/quote: “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”  Thomas Jefferson.

Best thing about being a lawyer: The tremendous satisfaction I have in counseling and assisting clients who often times have nowhere else to turn.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? George H.W. Bush

What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? The advancement in courtroom technology has changed the most. When I first started practicing law, very few lawyers were using computer technology in presenting their cases in court. Now it is a necessity. 

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New SBOT, TYLA leaders take office


The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting saw a changing of the guard in the leadership of the State Bar and Texas Young Lawyers Association.

San Antonio attorney Lisa M. Tatum took the oath as State Bar president, replacing 2012-2013 President Buck Files of Tyler. Galveston County personal injury lawyer Trey Apffel, who won a runoff election in May, succeeded Tatum as president-elect. Also, Granbury attorney Cindy V. Tisdale replaced Frank E. Stevenson II of Dallas as chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors.

During the meeting, Tatum previewed her initiatives for the year, including the Care Campaign for low-income Texans, which is designed to connect lawyers and clients, increase pro bono efforts, and encourage service providers and programs to coordinate to meet needs. The program will include a Care Kit, providing materials for attorney groups to hold legal services clinics, she said.

Tatum, the first African American lawyer to serve as State Bar president, also is spearheading the web-based civics project Vote for Me, I was the First!, which highlights important “firsts” in U.S. and Texas history included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills social studies standards for elementary school students. The project will feature 22 animated historic figures explaining their accomplishments in 30-second vignettes.

Plano family law attorney Kristy Blanchard took office as president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, replacing 2012-2013 President C.E. Rhodes of Houston. Flower Mound attorney Cameron J. Cox replaced Alyssa J. Long of San Antonio as TYLA chair.

The meeting took place June 20-21 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

Above: Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, left, swears in Lisa M. Tatum of San Antonio as the 2013-2014 State Bar president. Below, at top: Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson, left, swears in Trey Apffel of League City as the 2013-2014 State Bar president-elect. At bottom: Cindy V. Tisdale, a Granbury attorney, speaks after being sworn in as the 2013-2014 chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. 



Oswald mock trial to air as special TV broadcast Saturday in DFW










One of the highlights of last week’s State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Dallas was the mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald for the 1963 killing of President John F. Kennedy.

The mock trial, which ended in a hung jury, will be the subject of an hour-long TV special at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 29, on WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Until then, you can catch up on highlights of the trial at the links below.

Dallas Morning News story

WFAA story

CBS/DFW story

Bush library director speaks at SBOT meeting


President George W. Bush stood atop the ruins of the World Trade Center on Sept. 14, 2001, and addressed the rescue workers through a bullhorn.

“I can hear you!” he said, in what later would be known as a defining moment of his presidency. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people—and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

That bullhorn is among the items on exhibit at the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, which has welcomed more than 80,000 visitors since opening to the public May 1 on the Southern Methodist University campus. The library director, Alan Lowe, offered an overview of the items Friday during a keynote speech at the Bench Bar Breakfast, part of the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

Other objects on display include Florida ballots with “hanging chads” from the disputed 2000 presidential election and steel beams from the remains of New York’s Twin Towers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks—a jarring and emotional sight for many visitors, Lowe said.

Texas now has three presidential libraries, including the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station. That’s more than any other U.S. state.

“I’ve lived here long enough to know you wouldn’t have it any other way,” Lowe said.

Visit the official website for more information on the Bush library.

Above: Lowe speaks during the Bench Bar Breakfast on Friday in Dallas.

TYLA Awards

TYLA started off an evening to remember with a reception on Friday, June 21, at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting. 2012-2013 President C.E. Rhodes spoke from the heart when he touched upon all of the people who have supported him along the way. 2012-2013 President Kristy Blanchard graciously accepted the challenge of leading the group for the next year.  Awards were given to the following:

Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas Award--Brittany K. Byrd

Liberty Bell Award--Donna Kay McKinney

Outstanding Mentor Award--The Honorable Harlin D. "Cooter" Hale

Joseph M. Pritchard Inn Outstanding Director Award--Sam Houston

Texas Young Lawyers Association President's Award--Priscilla D. Camacho

Texas Young Lawyers Association Keith L. Krueger Leadership Award--Dustin M. Howell

Texas Young Lawyers Association Outstanding First Year Director Award--Sally Pretorius and Amanda N. Torrres



Bryan Garner on writing about the law

Author Brian A. Garner, who has spent a lifetime examining and interpreting the written word, talked about his recent book co-authored with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to a packed room on Friday, July 21, at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.

Garner, the editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, said he worked for 200 hours side by side over three years with Justice Scalia to produce Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, which is their second collaboration. Writing a book with a U.S. Supreme Court justice was an organic process. Garner was working on a project and trying to secure interviews with all of the U.S. Supreme Court justices when he first wrote to Scalia, who declined to be interviewed but asked to meet Garner at another time. They met, shared ideas, and then Garner jumped on plane home. Once onboard, Garner got a great idea—to ask Scalia to write a book with him. He drafted the letter during the flight and then promptly sent it off upon arrival. Garner’s father thought he was crazy, but a few days later, Scalia accepted his offer. They later published their first book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

Garner, who attended the University of Texas and received his J.D. degree in 1984, has written numerous books, including Garner’s Modern American Usage. He is the founder and president of LawProse Inc.


Kathryn Keneally talks about taxes and offshore accounts

“We are looking at the whole world—and still looking at Switzerland,” Kathryn Keneally, assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice Tax Division, told a crowded house at a Q&A session Friday, June 21, at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting. Keneally talked about the goings-on offshore and while she couldn’t comment on upcoming specific actions, she did say: “There are going to be things we are going to do next.” She said the division has many tools and will be getting information in non-public ways that it will use. In other words, don’t think your Swiss bank account will go unnoticed. Keneally said the division wants the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure program to work. “It would be foolish not to come forward.”


Alito explains Supreme Court work in State Bar speech

DALLAS--Justice Samuel Alito offered a glimpse into the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday during the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.

Alito, speaking during the Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon, offered a "top 10" list of things he believes most people don't know about the court, saying his fellow justices' recent TV talk show appearances inspired the David Letterman-style countdown.

Among them: Most cases don't involve constitutional law; oral arguments--although high profile--are only a small part of the job; and, despite some tartly worded dissents every now and then, the justices basically get along.

Alito, who joined the court in 2006, spoke to a crowd of more than 1,300 people inside the Hilton Anatole on the first full day of the bar's annual meeting. The meeting continues Friday.

For a schedule of remaining events, visit

Alito explains Supreme Court work in State Bar speech


What Corporate America Really Expects

Dallas-native Walter Sutton, associate general counsel for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., moderated a panel discussion on corporations and diverse outside counsel at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting on June 20. Sutton, who received the 2013 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, stressed the importance of diversity in the workplace. According to Sutton, there are 150 lawyers working in the legal department in Bentonville, Ark., and 46 percent of them are women and 30 percent are attorneys of color. He said Wal-Mart wanted to make sure its own workforce was diverse before making it a priority when hiring outside counsel. Wal-Mart spends $200 million a year on outside counsel.

The participating panelists—Toni D. Nguyen, assistant general counsel at Dallas-based Luminex Corporation, Michelle A. Peak, senior labor attorney at American Airlines, and Navin Rao, vice president and assistant general counsel at Dallas-based Michaels Stores, Inc.—agreed, emphasizing the need for outside counsel to be diverse in makeup as well as in thought. “I’m not shy about saying your numbers are low, and I’m going to take my business elsewhere,” said Rao, describing a scenario when an outside firm might not have many minorities. One way to ensure outside counsel makes a concerted effort to be more diverse is for attorneys to attend diversity events and interact with the lawyers in these groups. According to the panelists, attorneys who promote diversity will have a better understanding of what corporations are looking for when hiring outside counsel.


LeadershipSBOT Awards Ceremony

"You have to stick your neck out every once in a while if you believe in what you are doing," Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson told the graduating class of LeadershipSBOT at an awards ceremony on Thursday, June 20, at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Dallas. Jefferson talked about getting out of your comfort zone as he addressed the crowd.

LeadershipSBOT celebrates its fifth birthday this summer. The brainchild of former State Bar President Harper Estes, the program is a fusion of diversity awareness, idea brainstorming and implementation, executive grooming, and bar immersion. The idea is to get a group of young lawyers together—they meet twice a year—to envision a better State Bar.

Members work together in groups to create service projects, which they presented at the ceremony. The Access to Justice group worked on videos to inspire and educate attorneys about pro bono family law cases. The Diversity group devised a program with a video stressing the importance of diversity throughout the law profession. The Member Service Professionalism group developed a mentor bank that lawyers will be able to access on the State Bar of Texas website soon. The Education and Public Service group devised a lesson plan for students that focuses on civility and public discourse.

Emma Cano received the Pete Serrano Leadership Award for her outstanding contributions throughout the year.

LeadershipSBOT members are nominated via a downloadable form on the State Bar website. The deadline for nominations this year is July 1.  


David O. Stewart on the Two Most Important Trials in American History

Lawyer-turned-historical author David O. Stewart talked about the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson and the treason trial of Aaron Burr to a crowd at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting on June 20, 2013. As Stewart flipped through images of historical people in American politics, he pointed out that the trial of Andrew Johnson was the first presidential impeachment trial--a proceeding that was important because it would overturn how the public voted. The second most important trial, according to Stewart, involved former vice president Aaron Burr, who was on trial for treason. Burr was a controversial figure--he killed his political opponent Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Stewart noted that the trial proved important because it showed that everyone--even people the general public despised--are entited to legal protection and a fair trial. Burr was acquitted.

Stewart is the author of The Summer of 1787, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy, and American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America, and he regularly speaks on history and the law. His first novel, The Lincoln Deception, a story about the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy, will be released in August/September 2013. 


Justice Alito throws first pitch at Texas Rangers game

ARLINGTON--U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, in town for the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night as the Texas Rangers hosted the division rival Oakland Athletics.

Alito's throw was outside, but he still drew applause from the crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He then took a seat along the first-base line to watch the game with Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson.

Alito, who joined the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 after being nominated by President George W. Bush, will speak at the State Bar of Texas Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Guest tickets can be purchased for $60 at the State Bar of Texas Registration Center inside the hotel.

For more information about the Annual Meeting, visit

 Alito's first pitch

Alito & Jefferson


Film on race, university admissions now online

We recently blogged about Austin broadcast journalist Lynn Boswell’s new documentary on race and university admissions, which premiered last month on KLRU-TV.

We can now report that the film, “Admissions on Trial: Seven Decades of Race and Higher Education,” is online for viewing anytime.

Boswell plans to update the film after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its eagerly anticipated decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which could affect whether UT can consider race in admissions decisions.

Former TYLA leader hopes book serves as leadership guide for women in law

A former Texas Young Lawyers Association leader has written a book to help women apply corporate leadership research and wisdom to the field of law.

Gindi Eckel Vincent, a Houston attorney who was chair of TYLA in 2006-2007, said she wrote “Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in the Law” as a practical guide to leadership for women practicing law today.

The idea grew out of discussions with Mary B. Cranston, a mentor of Vincent’s who leads the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, about a lack of toolkits and research for women seeking promotions and leadership opportunities in the legal field, Vincent said. Cranston is listed as an advisor on the book, which the ABA commission is publishing. 

“The book is essentially broken into three parts,” Vincent, who works as counsel for ExxonMobil, said by email. “The first part highlights background information and statistics, identifies myths and stereotypes that exist, and features the key corporate leadership findings. The second part takes apart the nine essential techniques to lead effectively and tailors them to women practicing law. The third part, and my favorite, features interviews with women leaders that have a law degree as well as preeminent judges in America and closes with Total Leadership Makeover, which applies the techniques to real women practicing law to help them achieve the next step in their career.”

The book will premiere at the ABA Annual Meeting on Aug. 9 in San Francisco and will be available for purchase on the ABA website and, eventually, on Amazon, Vincent said.

State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral and Information Service

For San Antonio attorney Rafael Baca, the State Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) provides opportunities for him to help and talk to people from all areas of the state. “Most of the time they are people in the smaller parts of Texas,” said Baca, who practices intellectual property law. “I enjoy helping people. They just need a little guidance that is always greatly appreciated.”

Baca said he receives two to three referrals a month from LRIS, which serves the dual purpose of helping Texans find a lawyer and assisting attorneys in building their practices. The phone- and website-based LRIS generates thousands of public inquiries every month from more than 240 counties across Texas where there is no local lawyer referral program. The program does not include Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Jefferson, Nueces, Tarrant, and Travis counties, which all are covered by local referral programs.

Baca is a member of the San Antonio Bar referral service, but he also joined the State Bar program to get referrals from outside Bexar County. “The State Bar referrals, for the most part, include a broader mix of intellectual property issues,” he said. “Even people who are not a match … I still enjoy our visit."

Lawyers who participate in LRIS agree to provide all referral clients an initial consultation of up to 30 minutes for no more than $20, a fee which the attorneys keep.

If the lawyer and client agree to continue with the case, the attorney’s standard fees apply for the services provided. Ten percent of total fees are remitted back to LRIS in cases that generate attorney’s fees of $500 or more.

LRIS made 60,965 referrals during 2011–12, including 3,832 from the online system. Overall, 40 percent went to LRIS panel members, 35 percent to local referral services, and 25 percent to other resources.