New leadership, recognitions mark 2014 General Session

At the General Session Luncheon on June 27, 2014, during the State Bar of Texas’s Annual Meeting in Austin, 2013-2014 State Bar of Texas President Lisa M. Tatum gave her farewell remarks before Trey Apffel, a League City attorney, was sworn in as the 2014-2015 State Bar president. Apffel, surrounded by his family, shared his objectives for the upcoming bar year, including expanding communication tools and outreach projects.

“My goal will be to engage our members in constructive dialogue and connect attorneys to the programs and services that will help make their practices more productive and their lives less stressful,” Apffel said. “We will continue to search for how we can improve an already efficient, effective, and exemplary bar association.”

Apffel, who has previously served on the board of directors of the State Bar of Texas and as a member of the executive committee, among other bar leadership roles, also highlighted the significance of the law in his family and the importance of taking an active role in the profession.

“We must not shy away from speaking out forcefully on issues that affect the profession of law, our practices, or most importantly, the people we represent,” he said. “It is the oath we take as lawyers, and it is the right to access to justice that we defend every day that makes our profession different from any other.”

Following Apffel’s speech, Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, took the stage to present a keynote on the significance of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation decision that observes its 60th anniversary this year. Rosen’s talk also touched on some of the legal issues that currently stand before the court, such as same-sex marriage and search warrants for cellphone data.

Additionally, Cindy Tisdale, 2013-2014 State Bar chair of the board, introduced a number of 50-year lawyers, who stood to receive applause. Tisdale also announced three 75-year lawyers: Leroy G. Denman Jr. of San Antonio; Bernard Hirsh of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Milton H. West Jr. of Houston.

New lawyers inducted at Austin ceremony

The Supreme Court of Texas held an induction ceremony for new members of the State Bar of Texas on Monday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

Tom Owens, the high scorer on the July 2013 bar exam, addressed the crowd before Chief Justice Nathan Hecht led licensees in the lawyer's oath. State Bar of Texas President Lisa M. Tatum and Texas Young Lawyers Association President Kristy Blanchard welcomed the new lawyers to the profession.

The ceremony also featured the presentation of two awards. Megan Sheffield of the University of Texas School of Law received the Access to Justice Law Student Pro Bono Award, which honors a law student from an accredited Texas law school who has most enhanced the delivery of quality legal services to poor Texans and underserved communities.

St. Mary’s University School of Law received the Access to Justice Law School Commitment to Service Award, which honors an accredited law school in Texas that has made significant and innovative strides toward increasing access to justice.

Pictured: Tom Owens, front right, and other new attorneys take the lawyer's oath Monday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. 

For more photos from the ceremony, visit the State Bar of Texas on Facebook or Flickr.

Proclamations help kick off National Pro Bono Celebration in Texas

Proclamations from Gov. Rick Perry and the Supreme Court of Texas helped the State Bar of Texas kick off its weeklong observance of the National Pro Bono Celebration on Monday.

Perry and the state Supreme Court signed proclamations encouraging Texans to observe the celebration, which is designed to focus attention on the need for pro bono legal services and commend attorneys who perform the work. The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service started the celebration in 2009, after the recession intensified the need for pro bono legal services.

“In 2012, Texas lawyers volunteered more than 2.4 million hours of pro bono work and donated an additional $13.26 million to providing legal assistance for low-income Texans,” Perry said in the proclamation. “Each year, a week in October is dedicated to recognizing those professionals who have stepped up to the plate and to encourage other lawyers to volunteer a portion of their time. The Lone Star State is well known for its hospitality, and these dedicated individuals are doing a great service to their communities and their state.”

During the celebration, the State Bar of Texas is promoting its new Care Campaign, a program designed to further empower Texas attorneys to provide pro bono services. The campaign offers practical training tools, interpreters for clients with limited English-language abilities, and access to malpractice insurance through a specialized network. The program includes a “Care Kit” with all of the resources local bar associations and legal organizations need to easily hold a legal advice clinic.

The national celebration is under way through Saturday and includes events in Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio, Beaumont, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Texarkana, Tyler, and other Texas cities. A full list of Texas events is available here

Pictured: Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, left, and State Bar of Texas President Lisa M. Tatum stand with proclamations from the Supreme Court of Texas and Gov. Rick Perry encouraging Texans to observe the National Pro Bono Celebration this week.