Texas Bar Foundation welcomes new trustees and officers

The Texas Bar Foundation recently welcomed several new members and officers to its board of trustees and fellows in a ceremony at the 2014 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Austin on June 27, 2014.

Melinda Wycoff with Wycoff Development and Construction took office as a public member of the Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees. Wycoff, who has an educational psychology degree from Texas A&M University, was an educator for 15 years, teaching students from kindergarten through college and also serving as a central office administrator. She also is a member of the scholarship committee for Lighthouse Christian Ministries.

Dustin Burrows with McCleskey Harriger Brazill & Graf became a member of the board of trustees. Burrows focuses his law practice on commercial and personal injury litigation and also volunteers for local community and charitable organizations.

Wendy Burgower with Burgower & Rainwater also became a trustee. Burgower is a board certified family law practitioner. She has served as the chair for several organizations, including the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section, Gulf Coast Family Law Specialists, the Burta Rhoads Raborn Family Law American Inn of Court, and the Association of Women Attorneys. She is chair-elect of the Texas chapter for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Buck Files with Bain, Files, Jarrett, Bain & Harrison was elected secretary-treasurer of the board of trustees. Files, a criminal defense lawyer and a former State Bar president, is a charter member and former director of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and has been inducted into the organization’s hall of fame. He is also a long-time member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Timothy W. Mountz, a litigator with Baker Botts, was elected chair of the foundation's board of trustees. Mountz has served as a former director of the State Bar of Texas, chair of the Dallas Bar Association Board of Trustees, and DBA president.

Shannon Dacus with the Dacus Firm was previously on the board of trustees and has become secretary of the Texas Bar Foundation Fellows. Dacus focuses her practice on numerous areas of commercial-business litigation, including patent litigation, contract disputes, and personal injury claims. She also serves as general counsel for several counties and is on the boards of the Tyler Economic Development Council and the Tyler Hispanic Business Alliance, among others. 

Randall O. Sorrels with Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, is now fellows chair of the Texas Bar Foundation Fellows. Sorrels, a personal injury trial lawyer, also serves as president of the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists.

Foundation grant to help prosecutors attend Conference on Crimes Against Women

About 20 Texas prosecutors and legal professionals will attend an upcoming conference on combating violence against women because of funding from the Texas Bar Foundation.

The foundation provided $10,000 in scholarship funding for the Ninth Annual Conference on Crimes Against Women, which is happening March 31 through April 2 in Dallas.

The money will allow about 20 prosecutors and legal professionals from across the state to attend as Texas Bar Foundation scholarship recipients. That means scholarship proceeds will cover their registration expenses and, if needed, hotel costs, according to the Dallas nonprofit group Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, which presents the conference with the Dallas Police Department.

The conference is described as a national clearinghouse for training and best practices regarding the identification, investigation, and prosecution of all types of violent crimes against women, including domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

For more information or to register, visit the conference website. You can also find the conference on Facebook and Twitter


Texas Bar Foundation Call for Award Nominations

The Texas Bar Foundation is calling for entries for their 2014 Award Program. The Texas Bar Foundation award categories include the following:

  • Dan Rugeley Price Award recognizes an attorney who is an accomplished legal writer and researcher.
  • Lola Wright Foundation Award is given to an attorney who exemplifies the highest standards of legal ethics.
  • Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer Award recognizes an attorney whose practice spans 50 years or more and adheres to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and service to the public.
  • Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award is awarded to an attorney who has demonstrated high ethical and moral standards and has demonstrated exceptional professional conduct, thus enhancing the image of the trial lawyer.
  • Samuel Pessarra Outstanding Jurist Award is given to an active current Federal or State judge who has served on the bench for a minimum of 10 years and exhibits an exceptionally outstanding reputation for competency, efficiency, and integrity.
  • Outstanding Law Review Article Award which honors a law review article published by one of the Texas law schools.
  • Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award recognizes an attorney who exhibits an outstanding appellate practice and strong moral compass while maintaining a strong commitment to providing legal services for the underserved and mentoring of young lawyers.

For more information and to view the nomination form, please visit the Texas Bar Foundation website and click on the "2014 Awards Submissions" ribbon.

The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. in the Texas Bar Foundation office.

The Texas Bar Foundation is located at 515 Congress Ave., Ste. 1755, Austin, 78701. You may contact them at 512-480-8000, Fax: 512-480-8005, or info@txbf.org.

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.”


The change means all lawyers, judges and prosecutors must be a member of the bar association to practice in Mongolia, Spurlock said. The bar also will begin administering lawyer testing, discipline, law school certification, and continuing legal education, he said.


“They are trying to transition from the nonintegrated bar to the integrated bar, and they’ll have a lot of issues on how to get all the lawyers under their umbrella as quickly as possible,” said Dallas attorney Matthew Toback, a cofounder of the Asian Judicial Institute who also met with the Mongolian bar president.

Batsukh previously visited Fort Worth in 2008 as part of the Asian Judicial Institute’s annual training session for Mongolian attorneys and public officials. The Texas Bar Foundation helped fund the institute with a $25,000 grant, which Spurlock called critical seed money.

Also that year, Batsukh and other Mongolian attorneys visited the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Supreme Court in Austin, where they received additional training and information.

“Today’s talk was very helpful,” Batsukh said through an interpreter Friday after meeting with Spurlock. “I’m looking forward to working in the future with this school and the Asian Judicial Institute and the Texas bar association. What we’re doing is very similar to the Texas bar association in its structure, and it was very nice to have the good information.”

Read more about the institute here. For more information on the Texas Bar Foundation, visit txbf.org.

Pictured, from left, are Batsukh, Spurlock, and Mongolian interpreter Baasanjar Baska.



Texas Bar Foundation announces the Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award

By Holly Priestner

The Texas Bar Foundation is pleased to announce a new addition to their annual awards program, the Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award. Established by Yetter Coleman LLP in honor and memory of its name partner, Gregory S. Coleman,  the award celebrates the high ideals and standards that Greg demonstrated in his appellate practice and personal life. 

The recipient should exhibit an outstanding appellate practice while maintaining a strong commitment to providing legal services for the underserved. Dedication to mentoring young attorneys should be evident as well as a strong moral compass to guide both professional and personal pursuits.

Applications are now being accepted. Submissions will be accepted in the Texas Bar Foundation office until January 13 at 5:00 p.m. For more information and an application, visit the Texas Bar Foundation website

Award categories include:

  • Dan Rugeley Price Award
  • Lola Wright Foundation Award
  • Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer Award
  • Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award
  • Samuel Pessarra Outstanding Jurist Award
  • Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award – NEW for 2012!

Holly Priestner is the development director for the Texas Bar Foundation.