HNBA introduces high school students to law through LEAP

The Hispanic National Bar Association Legal Education Fund is hosting the 2015 Legal Education Action Program (LEAP) this week at Rice University in Houston.

LEAP introduces Hispanic high school students to the legal system by enrolling and providing scholarships to selected students from diverse backgrounds across the United States.

The program also provides students the opportunity to meet with national and international business leaders, lawyers in private practice, government lawyers, government agency officials, state and federal judges, and law professors. Throughout the program, participants learn of the many different careers they can pursue with a law or graduate degree by interacting with leaders who resemble their diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.


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State Bar's Law-Related Education Department hosts Texas Citizen Bee state finals

High school senior Ayesha Rahman of Brighter Horizons Academy in Garland took home first place at the Texas Citizen Bee State Finals, held at the Texas Law Center and State Capitol on April 25. The State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department sponsors the program, which is made possible by a grant from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation. Rahman, who placed second at last year’s event, took home a scholarship prize of $1,000.

Above, from left: Ayesha Rahman, Daniel Reed, Joshua Goodwin, Morgan Frisby. Photograph courtesy of Barbara Schlief.

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ACU pre-law adviser recognized as best in the country

With more than 20 years spent providing guidance to undergraduate students considering a career in the law, Mel Hailey of Abilene Christian University has been recognized as the top pre-law adviser in the nation. On March 23, 2015, the Pre-Law Advisors National Council announced that Hailey would be the recipient of its 2015 Dean Gerald Wilson Award for Excellence in Pre-Law Advising, which he will accept at the council’s southwestern regional association meeting in October. He was selected for the recognition among pre-law advisers at all U.S. colleges and universities.

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LRE hosts conference for teachers


Teachers from around state gathered in Austin on Friday, Jan. 30, to attend the State Bar of Texas 2015 Law-Related Education Conference at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

The event kicked off with a lecture by Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library. Using videos and recordings of Johnson, Updegrove offered examples of the 36th president’s political strategy, professional relationships, and accomplishments, including the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Updegrove then connected with the audience by remarking on the significance of Johnson’s roots as a teacher in Cotulla and some of the acts he later signed in office.

“He believed that if everybody had access to a great education, there would be no need for civil rights because everybody would have an equal shot at opportunity,” Updegrove said. “I think he probably was the best education president of the 20th century, but he became the Vietnam president.”

Attendees also heard from Bettie Mae Fikes, a Freedom Rider, Freedom Singer, and leader within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s. Fikes provided a narrative of her experiences in those years and stressed the importance of sharing the history of the events with students so that they might continue the fight for human rights. “I do what I do today to keep the stories going, because it’s all a part of our history,” Fikes said. “When you teach this, you’ve got to teach it with heart.” Noram Scogin, Grace Cummings, and Beth Brent, representatives of the organization Working With Government, then discussed their efforts to learn more about civil rights and opportunities for teaching schoolchildren about the movement.

The event will continue through Saturday, Jan. 31, and feature multiple breakout sessions with resources for teaching civics. For more information about the conference and State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education, go to

From left to right: Hector Beltran, president of Law Focused Education, Inc.; Beth Brent; Grace Cummings; Bettie Mae Fikes; Norma Scogin; and Jan Miller, director of State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education.



Mike Maslanka @ Your Desk returns with new videos

Dallas lawyer Mike Maslanka was at the Texas Law Center last week to film new clips for his YouTube video series Mike Maslanka @ Your Desk. Launched two years ago, the series is presented by the State Bar of Texas and produced on the sixth floor of the bar’s headquarters in Austin, with the help of Paul Burks, director of video production. Maslanka has been practicing for more than 30 years and is an employment law attorney with Constangy Brooks & Smith. His blog was selected as the No. 1 employment law blog of 2011 by the American Bar Association.

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Scholarship luncheon to benefit Hispanic law students

The Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Houston for its annual scholarship luncheon, which provides financial support to six law students who best exemplify leadership, commitment, justice, and equality. Each Houston-based law school selects two scholarship recipients.

“It is important that we encourage a new generation of lawyers to not only be great lawyers but to also give back to the legal community,” said attorney Benny Agosto Jr., founder of the MABATx Foundation and partner in Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston.

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Texas Bar Foundation provides grant to design education center

The Texas judiciary has plans to develop a Judicial Civics and Education Center and, because of a $50,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, the project is now in the design phase.

Anticipated to be located in the entry-level corridor of the Tom C. Clark Building within the Capitol Complex, the education center is expected to include interactive civic displays, historic exhibits, and a conference space for lectures and forums.

“The center will be a game changer for the Texas Judiciary,” said Nathan Hecht, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. “It will tell the fascinating judicial history of Texas through compelling stories.”

The Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Office of Court Administration, Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, and all 14 Courts of Appeals collaborated to create a vision for the center.

“Numerous studies have shown that a lack of civic education is a growing problem in our country,” said David Slayton, administrative director of the Office of Court Administration. “Having a proper understanding of the judicial branch and its role in government is essential to enhancing the administration of justice.”

For more information, contact Megan LaVoie at


Education: 'The Ultimate Civil Right'

A conversation on education wrapped up the panel sessions Thursday during the LBJ Presidential Library Civil Rights Summit in Austin.

U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Margaret Spellings, former U.S. education secretary and president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, answered questions on the state and potential future of the American education system from CBS News reporter Bob Schieffer.

A clip of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, once a Texas teacher, discussing his views on education opened the conversation, much of which focused on policies related to education reform. Both Miller and Spellings assisted with the national implementation of No Child Left Behind, a reauthorization and revision of Johnson’s 1965 Elementary and Secondary Act, under the George W. Bush administration.


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Houston firm sponsors scholarship to encourage text-free driving among teens

The Houston law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend is bringing attention to Distracted Driving Awareness Month by sponsoring its second annual Text Free Texas Scholarship Contest. The team of personal injury attorneys has noted their firsthand experience of how devastating one text can be.

Sophomore, junior, and senior students at El Campo High School, Lee High School, Waltrip High School, or Eastwood Academy in the Houston area are eligible to enter the contest by submitting a 150-word (or less) pledge to not text while behind the wheel. Pledges can be submitted by posting them on the law firm’s Facebook or Google+ pages. In May, Abraham Watkins will select the four top entries (one from each school), and the winners will each receive $250.

For more information, go to

Twibel, Tumblr, and the First Amendment: Ongoing themes at SXSW Interactive

With the option to hide behind avatars, handles, and screen names, people can be downright mean, even libelous, while communicating online. When defamatory statements are published online and a victim chooses to take action, who is to blame?

For websites like Tumblr and Twitter, which provide outlets for anyone with a username to publish content, the answer is somewhat complicated. But one thing is certain—it’s not them.

Under Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code, passed as part of the Communication Decency Act of 1996, web hosts have protection against legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties. This includes content such as hate speech and sex trafficking.

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SXSW Interactive Wrap-up: With Lightning Speed

South by Southwest has a tradition of encouraging innovators to push the tech envelope. But with new developments come new legal questions, and technology often moves faster than the legislative process.

During the opening days of SXSW Interactive, tech and law experts converged to discuss some of the legal issues currently at play regarding tech development. From patent control to protecting personal information, the topics were hot—and the opinions surrounding them were just as heated.

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Granbury High to represent Texas at We the People competition in D.C.

On Jan. 11, high school students from Granbury High School and the Episcopal School of Dallas participated in mock congressional hearings at the State Capitol as part of the We the People program. Granbury High won first place for the second consecutive year and will compete in the national finals, held in Washington, D.C., in April.

The State Bar’s Law-Related Education Department organizes and implements Texas’s branch of the national We the People program by hosting teacher training workshops and organizing the end-of-semester competition for high school students, which is heralded as an effective way to encourage civics participation and critical thinking.

Throughout one semester, students from a single class study the We the People constitutional law textbook—with one to five students being assigned to each unit of the book—as part of government class and during after-school hours. In January, the team travels to Austin to participate in the mock congressional hearings. Each unit’s student representatives sit on the bench in House and Senate hearing rooms, with the judges—who are Texas lawyers, educators, and community leaders—sitting on the other side.

First, the students share their responses to a previously disclosed “canned” question on a certain aspect of constitutional law, like the purposes served by the right to amend the Constitution. Then, each judge asks the students follow-up questions that they have never heard before, such as “Do you think that some of the contemporary issues, like gay marriage and abortion, are worthy of a constitutional amendment today or should these issues remain with the states?” Judges score the students on several aspects of their performance, such as their understanding of the issue, reasoning, and use of supportive evidence. These are tallied to arrive at a winner.

“We have evidence that these kids go on to do super work at the university level and later, after they get their degrees, become lawyers, doctors,” said Jerry Perry, former government professor at Angelo State University and chair of the We the People textbook-unit 3 assessment. “They vote in much higher numbers than the average citizen does. They’re much more informed than the average citizen. There is strong evidence that it has that kind of impact on them.”

As an example of how the program can influence Texas students, Texas Tech Law School professor Julie Doss—who participated in We the People when she was in high school—served as a judge in this year’s competition.


Crash course on jury duty for high school seniors

Many people dread jury duty, which is associated with detouring from our all-too-comfortable daily routines. High school seniors are no different, and with a multitude of enticing alternate options for how to spend their time, they likely are more susceptible to developing jury duty apathy.

On Nov. 7, a program of the Houston Bar Association will bring together 10 Harris County judges to teach Houston high school seniors about the importance of jury duty, as well as how juries are selected. Each judge works on humanizing the jury process for the students and dispelling common jury duty myths. The judge leads its class through mock questioning, treating the students as if they were potential jurors, and then selects a jury panel and discusses what made those students appropriate choices.

HBA created the Voir Dire Program in 2000 during a period of low juror turnout in Harris County. It seeks to increase the number of people who show up for jury duty in order to create a large, diverse jury pool for efficient administration of justice.

“Jury duty is not only a civic duty but a privilege,” said Judge Paula Goodhart of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 1. “And the less intimidating and more informative we can make it for young adults, the more likely they will respond when called to duty.”

State Bar educational initiative launched in classrooms

As students across the state returned to the classrooms to kick off a new school year this August, the opportunity for attorneys to host a session of the State Bar of Texas project “I was the first. Vote for Me!” also began.

In Williamson County, Lisa Richardson joined forces with Wendi Lester-Boyd and Stacey Mathews, both fellow Williamson County attorneys, and Mya Mercer, principal of Old Town Elementary, to bring the program—and the importance of Celebrate Freedom Week and Constitution Day—to more than 400 first through fifth grade students. Pictured from left to right: Lisa Richardson, Richardson & Cechura, PLLC in Round Rock; Mya Mercer, Principal of Old Town Elementary, Round Rock ISD; Wendi Lester-Boyd, Wendi Lester and Associates, PC  

“I would love to be able to get this [project] into all the Williamson County schools,” said Richardson. “It’s an educational project that’s well-thought-out.”

Launched in July and inspired by Lisa Tatum’s election as the first African-American State Bar of Texas president, “I was the first. Vote for Me!” is a multimedia project that works to inform students about a series of historic leaders who were firsts, from Susan B. Anthony and Sam Houston to Cesar Chavez and Barack Obama. After students are introduced to each character by way of a colorful animation, they cast a vote for the “first” they believe a fictional school should be named for. The project incorporates lessons in reading, math, citizenship, and voting and aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for elementary students.

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Celebrate Freedom Week with I Was the First!

This year, Celebrate Freedom Week is September 16-20. During this week, every social studies class in the State of Texas is required, under Texas Education Code, §29.907, to provide instruction regarding the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) in their historical contexts.

To help Texas teachers, the State Bar of Texas has created a resource—I was the First. Vote for Me! This interactive, web-based program features animated historical firsts, including Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony, and others related to the American Revolution, U.S. Constitution, abolitionist movement, women’s suffrage, and more. In honor of Celebrate Freedom Week, and to help students learn the Declaration of Independence, these characters are featured in a special animation reciting a paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Visit the website to listen and learn why these important people, and their contributions to American freedom, make them the most important first!

Houston Law Student Awarded Association of University Women Fellowship

South Texas College of Law student Stephanie deJesus of Houston has been awarded a 2013-14 Selected Professions Fellowship by the American Association of University Women, the association announced this week.

As part of the fellowship, deJesus will speak at local high schools on the importance of education, opportunities available to graduating students, ways to apply and pay for college, and how to choose a career.

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Fresh off reform vote, Mongolian bar president visits North Texas legal mentors

The president of Mongolia’s top lawyers’ association was in Dallas-Fort Worth on Friday for meetings on how to improve the country’s bar and implement its newly adopted Bar Act.

Batsukh Dorjsuren, president of the Association of Mongolian Advocates, held private meetings with legal mentors including Judge Joe Spurlock II, a Texas Wesleyan University law professor who founded and directs the law school’s Asian Judicial Institute, which focuses on educating former communist nations about the rule of law and judicial independence.

Just weeks ago, Mongolia’s national legislature passed a Bar Act based largely on the 1939 act that created an integrated Texas bar, Spurlock said. The Mongolian bar now must write its bylaws and establish committees to carry out the reforms, and Batsukh came to Texas to see how the institute could help.

“This is a big step,” said Spurlock, who has been working with the country to develop an integrated bar system since the mid-1990s. “Now that they’ve got it, they don’t want to lose their momentum.”

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Constitution Day Op-Ed, Sept. 2012 - by State Bar President Buck Files

We hear a lot of talk these days about the U.S. Constitution and how important it is to protecting our liberties. But surveys continue to show a disturbing trend of many Americans not understanding the Constitution and its relevance to our lives today. After all, with all the technology we have now, why should we care about a document that was written 225 years ago on parchment and with a feather quill pen?

For starters, just imagine life without the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights guarantees some of our most precious liberties, including freedom of religion, speech, and press, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and private property rights. The Constitution created the framework for a strong but limited national government and established the fundamental rights of all U.S. citizens.

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Gregory-Portland educator selected for Teachers' Law School

Debbie Armentor, a teacher at Gregory-Portland High School, has been selected to attend the Fourth Annual Teachers’ Law School in Austin on July 12-14.

Armentor is one of 34 teachers statewide whose applications were accepted to attend the three-day legal education program at the Texas Law Center near the State Capitol.

Social studies and government teachers from around Texas sought entry into the Teachers’ Law School. The school brings together more than a dozen of the State’s leading judges and lawyers who give presentations on civil and criminal legal systems at the state and federal level.

The Teachers’ Law School is done in collaboration with the State Bar of Texas and its Law-Related Education Department. “The Teachers’ Law School provides experienced educators a chance to interact with the legal community one-on-one and then translate that experience into effective practices in the classroom,” said Jan Miller, director of the Bar’s Law-Related Education Department.

The Teachers’ Law School was piloted in Austin in 2009 and has become a national model for similar programs across the United States. Faculty includes U.S. Appeals Court Judge Edward Prado, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, and nationally recognized defense attorney Gerald Goldstein. Past presenters include Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks and criminal defense attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes.

The program is free for the teachers with food, lodging and travel funded through scholarship donations from the American Board of Trial Advocates-Texas and its Texas affiliates.

“Texas is blessed to have talented teachers all across the state,” said Jim Parsons, president of TEX-ABOTA and past president of the State Bar of Texas. “We’re very pleased to be able to show some of them our appreciation for all that they do to help us educate our kids on our judicial system, why it’s the best system around and how they can help make it better.” 

Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Program to Receive National Award

The State Bar of Texas Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! program will receive the National Association of Bar Executives NABE/LexisNexis Community & Educational Outreach Award on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, at the NABE Annual Meeting in Chicago. The award is presented to bars and related foundations for outstanding public service and law-related education programs.

The Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers is an interactive web-based program developed by the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department. It is designed to assist Texas students and teachers in preparing for the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards in government, history and citizenship.

Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! — a play on the chant “oyez, oyez, oyez” to call the U.S. Supreme Court to order — focuses on landmark court decisions that middle and high school students must know to be successful in their academic work and on assessment examinations. The program is an initiative of Immediate Past President Bob Black, who initiated it when he was president-elect in March 2011.

The primary component of Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! is a website — — that provides resources and curriculum materials for teachers, downloadable court case summaries, multimedia resources, and links to interactive activities for students.

Congratulations to our Texas Citizen Bee winners!

The Texas Citizen Bee is a statewide civic education program and competition that offers teachers and high school students (9th-12th grades) a way to reach and study America's heritage. Students use an online "Study Guide" program created by the Bill of Rights Institute that covers the U.S. Constitution, important documents, people, issues, civic values and skills and a Bill of Rights Institute article/current events category.

This year's competition was held May 12 at the Texas Law Center in Austin.

This year's winners are listed below.

First Place
Region 7- Whitehouse ISD
Student- Asa Johnson- $1,000 Scholarship
Teacher/Sponsor- David Bell- $ 750 Award

Second Place
Region 10/11- Plano ISD
Student- Taylor A’Latorre- $750 Scholarship
Teacher/Sponsor- Tim Murray- $500 Award

Third Place
Region 10/11- Frisco ISD
Student- Kristina Morton- $500 Scholarship
Teacher/Sponsor- Patience LeBlanc- $250 Award

Fourth Place
Region 8- Chapel Hill ISD
Student- McKinley Terry- $250 Scholarship
Teacher/Sponsor Lily Svrcek- $250 award

Civic Conversation Award
Region 10/11- Frisco ISD
Student- Kristina Morton- $500 Scholarship
Teacher/Sponsor- Patience LeBlanc- $250 award

Dueling and Law Licensing in 1853

As the newest lawyers in the State of Texas prepare to be sworn in on May 14, the Archives Department of the State Bar presents one of its most unusual items: a law license from 1853.

The item, donated to the Texas Bar Historical Foundation by Robert M. Minton, shows that the new attorney was certified by the Supreme Court to practice law in Texas. The faded signature of Chief Justice John Hemphill can be seen on the front. The reverse side of the law license (see below) shows a very different Oath of Attorney. Careful reading shows that Jesse H. Parsons swore that “since the adoption of the Constitution of this State by the Congress of the United States, I, being a Citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, or aided, advised, or assisted any person thus offending. SO HELP ME GOD.”

More information about the Archives Department can be found in the March 2012 Texas Bar Journal or by visiting our web page.



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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Cruise the Caribbean with TexasBarCLE!








For the first time, TexasBarCLE is partnering with Minnesota CLE to offer top-quality legal education in conjunction with a 7-day cruise of the eastern Caribbean. A 15-hour MCLE-accredited Negotiation Skills Training Seminar will be taught by Nina Meierding, a nationally-recognized leader in the field of conflict resolution for over 25 years. Departing from Miami on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, and returning Saturday, Feb. 18, the cruise will feature first-class meals and entertainment, plus optional excursions including snorkeling, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing, as well as stops in Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. Reserve your spot now -- the early bird discount ends August 31! For full details on the seminar, the cruise, and pricing, click here.

Get a Headstart on Starting Your Own Practice

An ongoing initiative of State Bar President Terry Tottenham has been Practice Tips in Good Times and Bad, a series of career development webcasts premiering the last Thursday of each month on Each webcast is free of charge to registered users of the site. (Site registration is also free.)

This month's offering, So You Are Starting Your Own Practice?, will be May 26 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm CDT. (It is not MCLE-accredited.) Seasoned practitioners Claude Ducloux and Xavier Medina, both of Austin, will give their perspectives on a range of issues, from finding suitable office space and storage to managing your finances and new technology. If you're considering hanging out your own shingle, you'll appreciate the insights and advice offered in this FREE overview. Click here to register.

El Paso Conference Addresses Legal Needs of Veterans and Active Duty Military

El Paso Lawyers for Patriots conference As part of the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans initiative, El Paso Lawyers for Patriots, an arm of the El Paso Bar Association, is holding a two-day CLE aimed at preparing legal professionals to better address the legal needs of the military community. The course will be held May 20-21, 2011, at Fort Bliss in El Paso, with topics ranging from initial military client interview to jurisdiction and service of process and from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to military retirement issues, family law issues, and more. Featured speakers include Capt. Evan Seamone of the Judge Advocate General's Corps, Prof. Kyndra R. Rotunda of UC Berkeley School of Law and Executive Director of AMVETS Legal Clinic, and LTC George McHugh, Liaison Officer from the Department of Defense to the ABA's Military Pro Bono Project. Click here for more information or here to register.

YouTube contest winners announced

Lone Star Stories logoThe State Bar of Texas 2011 YouTube video contest awards will be presented May 9 at the Texas Law Center in Austin as part of the statewide Law Day celebration. This year's theme was "The Difference a Lawyer Makes." Participants were asked to create a 30-second video in the style of a public service announcement.

Winner of a $500 scholarship in the under 18 category is Ryan Nelson of Dallas for his video, "What's Great About Lawyers." Matthew Crouch, an attorney with the Office of the Texas Attorney General in Austin, picked up a $500 prize in the 18 or older category for his video, "What They Gave." Jacob and Erin Lawler of Georgetown received $500 for the People's Choice Award for their video, "Texas Lawyers: Looking Out For You."

Finalists in the under 18 and 18 or older categories were judged by Dallas entertainment lawyer and film producer Sally Helppie, Left Brain Creative video production company director Cathy Davenport, and San Antonio attorney and Texas Young Lawyers Association officer Alyssa J. Long. The People's Choice Award was based on the number of YouTube views at the time the finalists' videos were submitted for judging.

To view all the entries, visit

Congratulations to our 2011 Law Day winners!

The State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association invited local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates to participate in the statewide Law Day contests.

We had many talented entries this year and are excited to recognize our winners on Monday, May 9, 2011 at the Texas Law Center in Austin. The theme celebrated this year was The Legacy of John Adams, From Boston to Guantanamo.

Click here for the list of winners [pdf].

TYLA takes part in child abuse prevention rally at Texas Capitol

On April 6, during the "Go Blue Day" rally at the Texas Capitol, Texas Young Lawyers Association President Jennifer Evans Morris (right) discussed TYLA's latest project, "The Little Voice: Recognizing Child Abuse and Your Duty to Report It." Morris joined several lawmakers, including Sen. Carlos Uresti (left), and child advocates who expressed support for child abuse prevention efforts. To watch "The Little Voice" video or public service announcements, click here. To read the accompanying public education brochure, click here. To read a recent Texas Bar Journal article about the project, click here.

Stars of Texas Bars and Judge Sam Williams contests

Local bar associations are invited to participate in the Stars of Texas Bars and the Judge Sam Williams contest. This year’s entries must be received by the State Bar of Texas, Local Bar Services department by Wednesday, May 4, at 5:00 p.m. For questions please email

Get the details:
Stars of Texas Bars [pdf]
Judge Sam Williams [pdf]

State Bar YouTube Contest Deadline April 1

Lone Star Stories logoThere’s still time to enter your videos in the 2011 State Bar YouTube contest! The deadline is April 1, and entering is simple: Just go to for the contest rules and entry form. Then, pull out your video camera and shoot a 30-second PSA-style video that answers the question: “How do lawyers make a difference in our society?” Upload your video to YouTube and remember to tag it “statebaroftexas.” Winners will be announced May 9 as part of the State Bar’s Law Day celebration. Prizes of $500 each will be awarded in three categories: Under 18; 18 and over; and People’s Choice Award. The contest is open to residents of Texas and attorneys licensed to practice in Texas. It’s especially a great project for your children, so get them and their friends involved!


Lawyers volunteer and earn a "Standing Ovation"

Eight Texas attorneys were honored this month by the State Bar of Texas for their exceptional contributions in 2010 to the Bar's continuing legal education efforts. Justice Harvey G. Brown, Jr., of Houston, David A. Chaumette of Houston, Tina R. Green of Texarkana, Randall Coyt Johnston of Dallas, Christopher Kirby of Bastrop, Michael C. Smith of Marshall, Peter S. Vogel of Dallas, and Charles M. Wilson III of Addison each received an award from the staff of TexasBarCLE, the Bar's division for providing continuing legal education and one of the premier providers in the nation.

The award, a handsome cobalt blue obelisk, is inscribed with "A Standing Ovation — Staff Appreciation for an Outstanding Volunteer of 2010." It also bears the name of the recipient, the logo for TexasBarCLE, and the seal of the State Bar of Texas.

Pat Nester, Director of TexasBarCLE, explained the significance of the award. "It is a recognition by the staff of individuals who have stood out this last year for their extraordinary commitment — of time, of leadership — and for the inspiration and insights they provided."

The attorneys’ contributions included chairing and serving on committees to plan and present continuing legal education courses, speaking and writing for courses, and generating ideas for new programs.     

"Volunteers are the lifeblood of what we do," Nester continued. "Hundreds graciously give of their time and expertise to help us each year. Without them, continuing legal education from the State Bar wouldn't be nearly as high quality, as abundant, or as affordable. It's one of the great manifestations of lawyers giving back to the legal profession."

TLA's Teacher of the Year Award deadline is approaching

In recognition of the vital role that teachers play in law-related education, the Texas Lawyers' Auxiliary is sponsoring its annual High School Teacher of the Year Award. The award honors public and private high school teachers in Texas who have made significant contributions in law-related education, developing and supporting programs which enhance awareness of legal rights and the American legal system. Candidates may be nominated by teachers or principals. The entry deadline is April 15, 2011. Download application.

2011 LeadershipSBOT Class

LeadershipSBOT through teambuilding and development of leadership skills contribute $1,000 to ProBAR.

Some of this year's class (pictured below) participated in a team building exercise. The class will spend the next couple of days attending workshops and listening to a line-up of speakers on a variety of leadership topics.

The State Bar established the LeadershipSBOT program to prepare lawyers for leadership positions in the legal community. Participants commit to serve at least one year on a committee or board of the State Bar, and must demonstrate a willingness to use the LeadershipSBOT experience within their communities. 

Nominations are now being accepted for next year's class. For more information please contact Kelley Jones King at

Texas Hispanic Community at the Crossroads Conference

Join the HIspanic Issues Section for the Texas Hispanic Community at the Crossroads Conference on Tuesday, February 22, 2011. Highlights of the event include: Update on Federal Immigration Reform; State of the Border and International Law Enforcement; Federal Legislative Legal Developments: Washington Perspective; and 82nd Texas Legislative Update from State Representatives and Senators. Get more details and a registration form

Texas Forum XXVIII offers ethics focus

On Feb. 25, 2011, the State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Paralegals will host Texas Forum XXVIII, its annual conclave of attorneys, paralegals, and legal administrators. This year’s Forum, to be held in Dallas, focuses on ethical vulnerabilities created by business scandals and social media. Panel discussions will look at the ethical implications involved in using social media in a legal setting and the ethical responsibilities lawyers and paralegals owe to each other and to clients. Keynote speaker Kari Wangensteen, the senior director, legal at Best Buy, will speak on “Embracing Transparency: The Business and Legal Impact of Social Media.” The half-day seminar (9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is MCLE accredited for 3 hours (2.25 ethics). For more information or to register, visit

Changing careers? Learn how these lawyers did it

An ongoing initiative of State Bar President Terry Tottenham is Practice Tips in Good Times and Bad, a series of career development webcasts premiering the last Thursday of each month on Each webcast is free of charge to registered users of the site. (Site registration is also free.)

The first such webcast of 2011, Considering Your Alternatives: 3 Lawyers' Paths to Alternative Careers, will be January 27 from 12:30 to 1:30pm CST. (It is not MCLE-accredited.) Three Central Texas attorneys, Jenna Beller Donatiello of Austin, and Chris W. Kirby and Brent Golemon, both of Bastrop, will give a lively and informative look at how three very different people took vastly different journeys on the way from law school to their current careers. You won't find a "how-to" checklist here, but if you're considering a change, this is a conversation you don't want to miss. Click here to register.

To learn of upcoming Practice Tips programs, visit each month and click the Webcasts tab.

Improve your practice with free career development webcasts

An ongoing initiative of State Bar President Terry Tottenham is Practice Tips in Good Times and Bad, a series of career development webcasts premiering the last Thursday of each month on Each webcast is free of charge to registered users of the site. (Site registration is also free.)

The last such webcast of 2010, Strategies to Weather a Challenging Economy, will be December 30 from 12:30 to 1:30 CST. (It is not MCLE-accredited.) Two experts from Houston, Lawyer-Coach Debra Bruce and Greenberg Traurig Business Director John Meredith, will give their perspectives on diversifying your client base, retooling your practice, providing services at a reasonable rate, cutting costs, and much more. Click here to register.

To learn of upcoming Practice Tips webcasts, visit each month and click on the Webcasts tab.

New note-taking feature enhances online CLE

 Through, the State Bar has long offered the viewing of videos online for MCLE credit, but now has added a feature that allows the viewer to take and save notes within the presentation for future reference.

At its website, TexasBarCLE maintains its Online Classroom, housing hundreds of hours of recent MCLE-accredited videos. Choose an archived presentation and begin watching. At any time, click the Highlight tab, then click the Add Highlight button to pause the presentation and take a note about the current subject. Click Save to preserve your note; the video will then automatically continue where it left off. Once saved, your note may be referred back to at any time. Simply click Go to 0:00:00 (the time within the presentation) to go to the video at the point where the note was saved.

Should you return to the video on another day to review key points, your notes will be archived. Try out this new feature for yourself. Take a free online class here:

Networking webcast serves a critical need

To provide guidance and advice to attorneys in this challenging economic environment, State Bar President Terry Tottenham initiated a series of career development webcasts collectively called Practice Tips in Good Times and Bad. A new webcast premieres the last Thursday of each month on, free of charge to registered users of the site. (Site registration is also free.)

This month's webcast, Effective and Enjoyable Networking….Really, will confront a reality that most lawyers know all too well:  networking is critical to business success, yet for many, it is unsavory at best and torture at worst — but it need not be so. The program will explore enjoyable, practical tools and strategies that play off the strengths of the user. Discover what will work best for you. Join your colleagues online to hone your knowledge and skill in this essential area. The webcast is October 28 from 12:30 to 1:30pm CT. (It is not MCLE-accredited.) 

To learn of upcoming Practice Tips programs, visit each month and click the Webcasts tab.

TYLA presented their Vote America! video at Judson High School in San Antonio

Yesterday, the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) presented their Vote America! video to over 700 high school senior students at Judson High School in San Antonio.

To remind us of our civic duty, Vote America! educates students about the heroic efforts made for equality and democracy; the struggles of the civil rights era, passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 15th, 19th, and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution are all chronicled in this historical video.

The event was a tremendous success as not only did TYLA present to a large number of students, but they also helped register 106 new voters! The event was a day-long presentation divided into class periods which allowed the senior class students to attend and register to vote.

The presentation began with a step-by-step overview of the voter registration card and a question-and-answer session on "voting myths." TYLA committee members presented the Vote America! video followed by a question-and-answer session.

You can find out more about the Vote America! project on TYLA's website at .

Preventing and Resolving Law Firm Disputes

A new State Bar of Texas CLE course premieres this week to focus on an area of growing concern to the legal profession. "Lawyer and Law Firm Disputes: Problems and Prevention" will be held Friday, September 17, in Dallas at the Belo Mansion. The brainchild of Interim Dean Susan Saab Fortney of the Texas Tech University School of Law, the course brings together top experts to discuss intra-firm litigation, loss prevention, risk management, lawyer mobility, de-equitization, and more. The keynote speaker is Professor Robert W. Hillman, author of Hilman on Lawyer Mobility: The Law and Ethics of Partner Withdrawals and Law Firm Breakups. The luncheon speaker will be W. Mark Lanier, recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the nation's Top Ten Trial Lawyers and one of the Most Influential Lawyers in America.

Accredited for 7.25 MCLE hours, including 3.25 hours ethics, the course will be recorded and archived for future viewings at

LeadershipSBOT kicks off with Habitat for Humanity

The LeadershipSBOT class of 2010-2011 had its first session of the program today. It assisted in the deconstruction of a home as part of their work with Habitat for Humanity. Also helping out today was Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) President, Jennifer Evans Morris (pictured left).

The State Bar established the LeadershipSBOT program to prepare lawyers for leadership positions in the legal community. Participants commit to serve at least one year on a committee or board of the State Bar, and must demonstrate a willingness to use the LeadershipSBOT experience within their communities.


Gene Cavin Award Honors Justice Cook

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eugene A. Cook III (at left in photo) was honored with the Gene Cavin Award at the annual "Summer School" course sponsored by the College of the State Bar of Texas and TexasBarCLE in Galveston July 22-24 at Moody Gardens. The award was presented by one of the course planning committee members and himself a prior Gene Cavin Award recipient, Charles M. Wilson III. A former chair of the Bar's Continuing Legal Education Committee, Justice Cook was the principal architect of the Texas Lawyer's Creed, adopted by the Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, making Texas the first state to adopt a code of conduct for its lawyers.

Named for the State Bar's first full-time CLE director, the Gene Cavin award is the highest honor given annually by the State Bar of Texas in the area of continuing legal education.

Free Advice from Fellow Lawyers

One of State Bar President-Elect Terry Tottenham's initiatives is to provide guidance and advice to attorneys in this challenging economic environment. To that end, he is behind the development of a series of career development webcasts to be known collectively as Practice Tips in Good Times and Bad. A new one will premiere the last Thursday of each month on Each webcast will be free of charge to registered users of the site. (Site registration is also free.)

The first webcast, Jumpstart Your Law Practice with Social Media, will be May 27 from 12:30 to 1:30pm CDT. (It is not MCLE-accredited.) Click here to register.

To learn of upcoming Practice Tips programs, visit each month and click the Webcasts tab.

YouTube Video Contest Winners Announced

The State Bar of Texas 2010 YouTube video contest awards will be presented April 30 at the Texas Law Center in Austin as part of the statewide Law Day celebration. This year's theme was "The Importance of the Legal System." Participants were asked to create a 30-second video in the style of a public service announcement.

Winner of a $500 scholarship in the under 18 category is Callie Eichner of Dallas for her video, "Lawyers Are Eggcellent!" Eduardo Ruiz-Healy of San Antonio picked up $500 in the 18 or older category for his video, "The American Court System." Robbie Ryan of McKinney received the $500 prize for the People's Choice Award for his video, "Legal-Eze." In addition, Honorable Mentions go to Raphael and Alexandre Chaumette of Sugar Land for their video, "Lawyers in Our Society," and Henry Spellings of Dallas for "A Slam Dunk for Justice." Both videos were in the under 18 category. The Chaumettes won the State Bar YouTube video contest the previous two years in the under 18 category. 

To view the winning videos, visit

Entries in the under 18 and 18 or older categories were judged by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, Austin entertainment lawyer Mike Tolleson, Dallas attorney and State Bar of Texas Entertainment & Sports Law Section Chair D'Lesli Davis, and Houston lawyer and Texas Young Lawyers Association Chair C.E. Rhodes. The People's Choice Award was based on the number of YouTube views at the time entries were submitted to the judges.


2010 Law Day Contest Winners

The State Bar of Texas would like to congratulate the 2010 Law Day contest winners! Download a list of the winners (pdf).

The theme for the contest this year was Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges.

The first, second, and third-place winners of the statewide contest in each category have been invited to the State Bar of Texas Law Day Luncheon on Friday, April 30, 2010. The luncheon will be hosted by the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, where awards will be presented to the winners.

Practicing Law and Wellness

State Bar President-Elect Terry Tottenham is working with TexasBarCLE and the Texas Lawyers' Assistance Program for the 2010-2011 fiscal year to produce a panel of speakers to address addiction and mental health issues for attorneys. At many popular TexasBarCLE live courses, the panel will discuss signs for colleagues to look for, intervention techniques, and resources for attorneys with addiction and mental health issues. A DVD of this topic, "Practicing Law and Wellness:  Modern Strategies for Lawyers Dealing With Anxiety, Addiction and Depression," will be produced and made available for local bar associations to show to their membership. offers resources for soon-to-be lawyers logoToday was the final day of the February Texas Bar Exam, and participants are hopefully seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel that began on the first day of law school. After a well-deserved break, these future lawyers will begin the next phase in pursuing their legal careers. That’s where comes in. This online resource from the State Bar is geared toward assisting bar examinees who are awaiting their results — and trying to figure out what to do next. During this three-month waiting period, bar examinees can register for free access to TexasBarCLE’s Online Classroom, as well as view TYLA’s Ten Minute Mentor videos. The courses and videos focus on finding one’s place in the profession, law practice management, ethics and professionalism, and networking. Many of the courses can be claimed for MCLE credit once the participant is licensed. The goal is to help these soon-to-be lawyers make a successful transition from student to practitioner. So, if you know anyone who took the February Bar exam, encourage him or her to visit and help a new colleague prepare for a life in the law.

Call for Entries -- 2010 YouTube Video Contest

Grab your video cameras! It's time for the 2010 State Bar YouTube Video Contest, "The Importance of the Legal System." President Roland Johnson is encouraging all Texans, and especially Texas attorneys and their families, to participate. The deadline for entries is April 1, 2010. Read the complete contest rules and get ready to enter!

Law Day at the Texas Law Center

Harper Estes and Law Day essay winnerThe State Bar of Texas celebrated Law Day today at the Texas Law Center in Austin with a ceremony to recognize Texas students and their award-winning projects on this year's Law Day theme, "A Legacy of Liberty: Celebrating Lincoln's Bicentennial." Students from across the state showed their creativity and thoughtfulness on the Law Day theme through poster, photography, and essay contests. State Bar of President Harper Estes and President-elect Roland Johnson were on hand to present awards to the statewide winners. Prizes ranged from $50 to $1,000 with each winner also receiving a medal and a framed certificate. The essay contest winner, Veronika Johannsen (pictured with President Estes), of Memorial High School in Victoria, read her winning paper on "A Legacy of Liberty." (Go here for a complete list of winners.) The event concluded with a tour of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the 3rd Court of Appeals for the students and their families, and several students seemed very intrigued by the idea of sitting on the bench. 

2008-2009 YouTube Contest winners announced

Here are the official winners of the 2008-2009 State Bar YouTube Contest, "Ideals That Unite Us," in which State Bar President Harper Estes invited all Texans to contemplate the ideals that unite us as citizens of this country.

In the Over 18 category, the winner is Gabriel Evans' video, "Memories Unite Us:"

In the Under 18 category, winners for the second year in a row, the Chaumette brothers, Raphael and Alexandre, won with their video "Ideals: Every Citizen Counts!"

And the winner of the People's Choice Award is Manuel Hernandez's "Ideals That Unite Us - Raising the Bar for Justice:"

All entries were evaluated by a panel of judges to determine the winners of the Over 18 and Under 18 categories. The People's Choice winner was determined by the video that received the most views on YouTube.

Evans and Hernandez will receive $2,500 cash prizes for winning in the Over 18 and People's Choice categories.  And the Chaumette brothers will receive a $2,500 scholarship for winning in the Under 18 category.

All winners have been invited to attend a red carpet awards ceremony to be held in conjunction with next week's State Bar board meeting in Fort Worth.

Many thanks to everyone who participated in this year's contest. We will announce the theme of the 2009-2010 State Bar YouTube Contest later this year, so stay tuned!

YouTube Contest ends March 16

We're calling on Texans of all ages to enter our 2008-2009 YouTube video contest, "Ideals That Unite Us." This is part of our public education campaign on the importance of the justice system.

What are the ideals that unite us as citizens of this country? Tell us in a three-minute-or-less video and you could win one of three $2,500 prizes. All are invited to enter, including groups like classrooms and law firms. We know Texans are a creative bunch, so give it a shot.

Rules and details are here, entries are due March 16

Call for entries: 

Last year's People's Choice: