Bob Black to be inducted as Texas Legal Legend

The Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas has chosen Beaumont attorney Bob Black as its newest Texas Legal Legend. Black, a former State Bar president who practices as the managing shareholder in MehaffyWeber, will be inducted at a ceremony during the bar’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Austin.

Black has tried more than 50 cases to verdict, including some before the Texas Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to a press release from the Litigation Section. He has mediated and arbitrated more than 4,000 cases, including one involving 30,000 asbestos claims, which he handled in just one year. Recently Black was an appeals panelist for 200 appeals concerning the Deepwater Horizon case.

“His thoughtful listening and ability to develop new approaches enable him to lead others toward resolution of strong differences without rancor,” the press release stated.

In addition to his impressive trial experience, Black also has been instrumental in educating the public and legal community about the positive work that lawyers do. As State Bar president in 2011-2012, he headed the award-winning project Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay!, a civics education website for students and teachers that details important court cases.

The Litigation Section aims for its Texas Legal Legends initiative to “memorialize the stories of many legendary lawyers who have practiced in Texas, and to use those stories to enhance the public’s understanding of the historical importance of law students and lawyers to emulate Legends like Black by serving others and making a difference—not just a living.”

Black will be inducted at 10:30 a.m. June 27 at the Austin Convention Center, Room 15.

He joins other litigation giants who have been named Texas Legal Legends including Joe Jamail, Joe Reynolds, Harry Reasoner, Barbara Aldave, Carolyn Dineen King, Gibson Gayle Jr., L.A. Bedford, Jerry Goldstein, Adelfa B. Callejo, Broadus Spivey, Blackie Holmes, Craig Washington, Scott Baldwin, Royal Furgeson, and Forrest Bowers.

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

As part of State Bar President Bob Black's initiative on civics education, the State Bar Law-Related Education Department debuts a new online resource for Texas students and teachers — Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers. In addition, the many aspects of school law are examined in this month's issue of the Texas Bar Journal, including the high-profile issue of school finance.

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.

The website - www.texasbar.com/civics - includes links to case summaries, videos, and curriculum materials and strategies for teachers. It also includes a State Bar-produced DVD featuring five seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases, with remarks from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson. It is our hope that the available resources will provide our teachers with the tools they need to shape our state’s next generation of civic leaders.

Constitution Day was created in December 2004 by legislation introduced by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. The legislation requires any educational institution receiving federal funding to implement an educational program about the Constitution on Sept. 17, to commemorate the signing of the Constitution in 1787.

Students at all levels throughout the country will celebrate Constitution Day. It’s a good time for all Americans to pause and learn more about the rule of law and how that concept is embodied in the Constitution. It is the basis for our government and ensures that we, as citizens, hold accountable our elected representatives for upholding our system of laws and protecting our liberties. As American citizens, we not only enjoy rights and freedoms, but we have a responsibility to ensure that the system of checks and balances and the separation of powers inherent in our great democracy live on. And that those principles live on in the generations to come.

For additional resources produced by the State Bar Law Related Education Department, including interactive games, visit www.texaslre.org.

Bob Black is president of the State Bar of Texas. He is managing shareholder of MehaffyWeber, a law firm with offices in Houston and Beaumont.

The Red and the Black

State Bar President-elect Bob Black of Beaumont has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Tech University School of Law. Black, a shareholder in Mehaffy Weber, P.C., will become the first graduate of the school to serve as president of the State Bar of Texas when he takes office during the State Bar Annual Meeting in June. Among many professional accomplishments, Black has served as president of the Jefferson County Bar Association, chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors, and trustee of the Texas Bar Foundation.