Opportunities for rural pro bono and legal aid

Legal groups across Texas have created innovative ways for lawyers to help fill the access to justice gap in rural areas. “There are fewer lawyers in rural communities to help meet the need on a pro bono basis,” said Trish McAllister, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission. “Coupled with geographic challenges, people have limited access to a lawyer or a legal aid office and are left with almost no options for legal assistance.”

Here are a few examples of some of the programs available. To suggest a rural-focused initiative not featured on this list, email lindsay.mader@texasbar.com. For more information on rural law practice, go to texasbar.com/smalltown.

Distance Lawyering Project
A collaboration between the Texas Access to Justice Commission and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, this program uses phone, email, or videoconferencing to connect volunteer attorneys with rural self-represented litigants who are seeking an uncontested divorce and need to discuss their case with an attorney. trla.org/DistanceLawyering/

Texas Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Spring Break
Last year, more than 60 Texas law students participated in this annual program and used their spring break to work in locations across the state—including rural areas—where they assisted clients with legal matters from disability rights to family law. texasatj.org/pro-bono-spring-break

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
Each year, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid helps more than 20,000 low-income Texans through Community Justice Programs and legal and referral clinics. The organization spans 68 counties in Southwest Texas, many of which are rural, and can tailor opportunities to volunteers. The organization also collaborates with the University of Texas School of Law on its Rural Outreach Initiative that educates rural residents on their legal rights and available legal services. trla.org/support/volunteer

Bar associations and state legislatures across U.S. reach out to rural lawyers

Editor’s Note: This article coincides with the Texas Bar Journal’s feature story on law practices in small towns and rural communities, published in the July 2015 issue.

Statistics on Texas lawyers reveal some interesting trends of the dispersal of the legal workforce. The state has a ratio of one attorney for every 312 citizens, and metropolitan areas have a ratio of 1:288, which is similar to the national attorney-population ratio of 1:252. But in rural areas, the ratio becomes 1:896.

These numbers raise the question of whether Texas attorneys are disproportionately concentrated in the cities. As of 2013—the most recent year for which the state bar has data—83 percent of all active, in-state attorneys were located in the four largest metropolises (the Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio metropolitan statistical areas).

While approximately 11 percent of the state’s population resided in rural areas, only 4 percent of active, in-state attorneys practiced in these places. And some rural counties had exceptionally high attorney-population ratios, such as 1:2,431 in Zavala County, southwest of San Antonio, where the median household income was $25,291 (compared with the state average of $51,714) and 42 percent of the 12,000 residents lived below the poverty line. Eight Texas counties had no attorneys whatsoever, 67 counties had five or fewer, and nearly half of the state’s 254 counties had attorney-population ratios of 1:1,000 or higher.

Some say these statistics don’t give a complete picture of the situation because a portion of the attorneys in metro locations represents businesses and corporations. Also, while the concentration of attorneys in rural Texas is low, many counties are not as isolated as counties in largely rural states like South Dakota and Nebraska.

Even when rural residents have access to an attorney or a metropolitan area that is a feasible driving distance, they typically have less money to spend on attorneys’ fees. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that the median household income in rural areas of Texas is $42,499 (compared with $52,198 of metro areas and $51,714 statewide) and that rural Texas has a poverty rate of 20.1 percent (compared with the urban poverty rate of 17.2 percent and statewide rate of 17.5). Because strained finances can increase the need for legal aid lawyers as well as attorneys doing pro bono work, the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Access to Justice Commission support groups offering such services around the state. (Stay tuned for a blog on rural-focused pro bono and legal aid efforts.)

The majority of small-town lawyers work as solos or in firms of two to five, and the State Bar serves this segment of its membership through the General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm Section, as well as its Local Bar Services and Law Practice Management committees, the latter of which provides resources such as the Ten Minute Mentor video series and brochures on starting, maintaining, and growing a practice.

Before the Internet made continuing legal education easily accessible online, TexasBarCLE traveled the state with large video projectors to play recorded programs for lawyers in smaller cities and rural areas. Now the department offers its DVD CLE program that enables local bars to show remotely located lawyers the same full-length CLE shown in major cities. And the Online Classroom allows lawyers anywhere 24/7 desktop and mobile device access to CLE, including streamed classes and downloadable PowerPoint slides, written materials, and audio files.

The Texas Young Lawyers Association, meanwhile, offers its Office in a Flash online toolkit to guide attorneys—rural or urban—in starting their own practice. It also recently implemented the Interns Across Texas project that facilitates law student clerkships throughout the state, with the hope that some positions will turn into paying jobs and that candidates will consider taking positions in small towns.

Rebekah Steely Brooker, the immediate past president of TYLA, set out to create Interns Across Texas partly to encourage law students and young lawyers—who are entering a very competitive job market—to broaden their horizons beyond the big city. “At this stage of the game,” Brooker said, “I think it’s important that they know there are options. But sometimes the most rewarding experiences are in unexpected locations.”

Several states with rural lawyer shortages have initiatives that aim to address the issue. The Vermont Bar Association, for example, has a project that offers paid malpractice insurance as well as online mentoring and CLE to three lawyers of new small-town firms. In return, the participants must develop a business plan and take part in regular calls with an advisory committee.

The New Hampshire Bar Association is rolling out a project where mentors show interested attorneys around local courts and develop a road map of best practices for hanging out their own shingle in a rural area. Several other state bars, including Maine, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota (with funding from its supreme court), are doing clerkship programs focused on placing law students in remote locations.

The State Bar of South Dakota took it a step further when, in 2013, it started a program to pay qualifying lawyers $12,513 a year for five years if they would commit to residing and practicing in a county of no more than 10,000 for that time period. South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson had been stressing the rural attorney shortage in his annual State of the Judiciary speech before the Legislature. Eventually legislation was passed, largely due to its requiring the state to fund 50 percent of the project, with participating counties funding 35 percent and the bar’s foundation funding 15 percent.

The program has so far resulted in 11 contracts for lawyers setting up shop in 10 rural counties and has received national attention, including an in-depth article in the New York Times. Most participants are from South Dakota, although there have been several from out of state, including one from Texas. According to Suzanne Kappes, director of policy and legal services at the State Court Administrator’s Office, because the program has been so successful, the Legislature approved funding for an additional 16 contracts to begin in July 2015. For more information, go to ujs.sd.gov/Information/rarprogram.aspx and sdrurallawyer.com.

Nebraska’s Legislature passed a similar loan repayment act in 2008 for attorneys going into public interest law, but the program never received funding. So in 2014, Sen. Danielle Conrad proposed an amendment that would also encompass attorneys going into rural practice and stipulated that $500,000 in funding come from the state’s Uniform Commercial Code Cash Fund and $150,000 a year for three years be appropriated by the state’s budget. Sen. Conrad’s bill passed with no opposition.

Applicants who make a three-year commitment to practice in any Nebraska county with a population of fewer than 15,000 will receive up to $6,000 for three years (and possibly for as many as seven years, depending on funds). The program has received 32 applications, with an average applicant indebtedness of $90,000 and average salary of $48,500. “That clearly shows the need for such assistance,” said Jim Mowbray, chief counsel to the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy. Twenty-eight applicants met all qualifications and were awarded $4,600 each in January 2015.


For more information and additional articles on rural and small-town pro bono opportunities, State Bar resources, attorney profiles, and Texas law school efforts, go to texasbar.com/smalltown.

State Bar to welcome hundreds of new lawyers on May 11; Erwin Center street closures remain

On the morning of May 11, the State Bar of Texas will congratulate and administer the oath of office to more than 700 incoming attorneys at the New Lawyer Induction Ceremony, held at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin at 10 a.m.

If you are a newly licensed attorney or a proud family member or friend attending the event, you’ll notice that the grounds surrounding the Erwin Center are looking very different. With construction of the Dell Medical School Project fully underway, some streets and parking lots are currently closed. Please read on for important information regarding these changes. If you're unable to attend the ceremony in person, you can watch a live stream of the event here (must have Microsoft Silverlight installed).

Street Changes

  • Red River Street is closed between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 15th Street.
  • 15th Street lanes are periodically shifted and closed, so traffic can be heavy, particularly during morning rush hour.

Parking Options (a map of parking locations is available on the Erwin Center’s website)

  • Lot 118 directly north of the Erwin Center, accessible via I-35 southbound frontage road ($12).
  • Trinity Garage at the corner of Trinity Street and MLK Boulevard, accessible via MLK Blvd. ($9-$12, time based).
  • Capitol Visitors Garage on San Jacinto Street between Trinity and San Jacinto at 12th and 13th streets (free for first two hours, $1 for each half-hour thereafter with a maximum daily charge of $8).

If you have any additional questions, please contact the State Bar Membership Department at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1383, or (512) 427-1383.


TYLA launches Interns Across Texas program

The Texas Young Lawyers Association is proud to announce Interns Across Texas, a free program aimed at creating judicial internships for law school students all across the state.

Interns Across Texas aims to “kill two birds with one stone.” First, it is increasingly more difficult for law students to find meaningful internships while in law school that provide the “real-world” work experience that law firms or governments often require. Second, many of the judges in Texas lack access to smart, hard-working law students to assist in researching and drafting opinions and orders.

The goal of the Interns Across Texas program is to increase the availability of judicial internships throughout Texas by connecting law students looking for internship opportunities with state and federal judges in Texas who seek well-qualified interns.

The Web-based program allows judges to identify and ultimately hire law students across the state for unpaid, judicial internships for the summer, fall, or spring semesters. Students will apply for internships online, and judges will receive all applications electronically.

The user-friendly site allows judges to easily sort and select the best-suited applicant for each position. If you are interested in participating in the program, please sign up today!

Baylor Law School places as quarterfinalist at National Trial Competition finals

Although the crime is fictitious and the attorneys, witnesses, jurors, and judges are acting, the courtroom drama at the annual National Trial Competition is very real to the law students navigating what will soon become an integral part of their careers.

The students, who play either the role of prosecuting attorney or defense attorney, have learned trial technique and strategy from their law school classes and have developed their skills through practice and training from professors and attorney coaches. This year’s National Trial Competition had more than 315 participating teams from 160-plus law schools competing in 14 regional tournaments across the country, with the top two teams from each region advancing to the national finals in Texas from March 11-15. Chicago-Kent College of Law took home first prize as the 2015 National Champion Team, while Baylor Law School placed as a quarterfinalist.

The national tournament, hosted by the Texas Young Lawyers Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers, seeks to prepare future attorneys to successfully complete a trial from beginning to end—an especially important endeavor considering the declining rates of jury trials and resulting decrease in numbers of attorneys with this essential experience.

“The National Trial Competition was established to encourage and strengthen law students’ advocacy skills through quality competition and valuable interaction with members of the bench and bar,” said Zeke Fortenberry, tournament chairman and a TYLA director. “The program is designed to expose law students to the nature of trial practice and to serve as a supplement to their education.”

This year, the National Trial Competition returned to Houston, the city where it began 40 years ago after being co-founded by TYLA and ACTL in 1975. Preliminary rounds, which had more than 200 volunteers taking on various roles, took place at the Harris County Civil Courthouse. Final rounds were held at the federal courthouse in Houston.

“The students are nervous because this mock trial tournament is unlike any other—we have random volunteers playing witnesses that competitors meet just 15 minutes before the round begins, so you never know what the witness will say on the stand,” said Fortenberry. “Also, the judges are fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers as well as local attorneys, so the students are excited to try a case in front of the distinguished attorneys.”

TexasBarCLE, TYLA provide young lawyers insight into profession










“I don’t know what motivated you to join the legal profession. But what I do know is that a lot of my peers got into this profession to help people. I hope that the same calling will drive you to help others as well.” – C. Barrett Thomas, TYLA president-elect

More than 100 young lawyers learned useful information regarding networking, client development, and the importance of pro bono work, and heard advice from judges and experienced courtroom advocates, during a CLE program Friday in Austin.

TexasBarCLE and the Texas Young Lawyers Association hosted “Building Your Career: A Guide for New Lawyers” at the Texas Law Center and also offered the event as a live webcast. Legal professionals devoted their time to share key skills and advice they learned to propel their careers.

“The best advice that I have received from a mentor was to 1.) be excellent in all that you do, 2.) meet as many people as you can, and 3.) give thanks,” Adán D. Briones of Boardwalk Pipeline Partners in Houston said.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht discussed “the noble profession” of law and the importance of civility, the jury, and professionalism.

“The general public does not see the sacrifice of lawyers, but sacrifice is an important element of this noble profession,” Hecht said.

Other topics included State Bar resources, tips for successful legal writing, negotiation techniques, and practical considerations for starting and building a law practice. According to State Bar statistics, 28 percent of active Texas attorneys are age 36 or younger or in their first five years of practice.

“I don’t know what motivated you to join the legal profession,” C. Barrett Thomas, president-elect of TYLA, said. “But what I do know is that a lot of my peers got into this profession to help people. I hope that the same calling will drive you to help others as well.”

The class will be made available in the TexasBarCLE Online Classroom in May. For more information on upcoming TexasBarCLE events, visit texasbarcle.com.

Pictured: Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht speaks during “Building Your Career: A Guide for New Lawyers” in Austin. 

TYLA's free bilingual legal clinic scheduled for Saturday in Houston

This Saturday, the Texas Young Lawyers Association is hosting its Know Your Rights/Conozco Sus Derechos! free legal clinic from 9 a.m. to noon at the Mexican Consulate in Houston. Attorneys will be available to meet one-on-one with clients at no cost, and presentations will be given—all in Spanish—on a range of pertinent issues, such as family law (divorce, custody, alimony), criminal law (assault, drunk driving), immigration (deportation, repatriation, President Obama’s executive order), and consumer law (notaries, sales and leases, debt collection violations).

A Spanish-language informational video on the event is available on YouTube.

The Conozco Sus Derechos event has its roots with the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, which TYLA has been working with to expand the goal of educating Latinos throughout Texas about their legal rights.

“Knowing one’s rights in these areas is instrumental to giving them a voice in the community,” said Aaron Capps, a Dallas attorney and director on TYLA’s board who has been involved with the project. “As the service branch of the State Bar, this is something we strive to accomplish every day for all community members who feel lost, unrepresented, or unheard.”

More information on the event, including details in Spanish, is available on TYLA’s website.

She Grew Up in Boots

When Natalie Cobb Koehler was a student at South Texas College of Law in Houston, she decided that she would move back home to practice law. Koehler and her family now live on an oak- and cedar-covered ranch in Cranfills Gap in Central Texas, where her kids show animals in 4H and her husband co-stars in a horse and western lifestyle show on RFD-TV. Koehler has a broad solo law practice in nearby Meridian (population about 1,500) and has twice been elected as Bosque County attorney. She also was the president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association from 2011 to 2012.

This is the second installment in a series of blogs on the lives and careers of small-town lawyers. For more, go to texasbar.com/smalltown.

The move back home

My husband, Sean, and I made the decision to move to my family’s ranch in Cranfills Gap, population 291, before I even took the bar exam. I had received an offer of employment with a large Dallas firm, but rescinded it in exchange for the quality of life we knew we wanted to have in the future, such as raising our kids in a small town, involving our kids in agriculture, and raising them in a close-knit family environment. I was extremely nervous about rescinding the offer, but I am so glad I did. I believe that God always provides, and he puts you on the perfect path for where you need to be.


It was crazy at first because I not only missed my friends, I missed all the restaurants and conveniences like Central Market! My husband and I love good food and wine, and Houston has some of the best. However, we really enjoyed not sitting in traffic anymore. I can honestly say that I would pass a tractor and maybe two or three pickup trucks during my 100-mile round-trip commute to my first job. It was a totally different way of life.

The practice

For my first job, I practiced family, real estate, and probate law with a solo practitioner and title company in Erath County. It was basically baptism by fire from the first day. Luckily, my boss was a good mentor and believed in my skill set. I felt that my law school professors prepared me to actually practice law. My involvement in the Moot Court program also helped me be a confident public speaker. I’ll admit that many days I just “winged it” and tried my best. Fortunately, in most rural areas, the judges and other lawyers make you feel welcome and want to see you learn and do well—and they will help you as you go. Rural practice involves many facets of law and lots of listening. I get bored if I am not doing something different every single day so I like that I handle many different matters while seeing firsthand the actual impact I make in a person’s life.

The right fit

I was meant to practice in a rural community. Anyone who knows me can tell you I am most comfortable in a pair of boots. I feel better when I know about my clients’ lives—their kids’ first names, even their grandkids’ first names—as well as their story. I have been able to make the most positive impact on my community by serving as county attorney. I’m the CPS prosecutor, misdemeanor prosecutor, protective order prosecutor, and civil legal counsel. As you can imagine, I never do the same thing any two days in a row, and I like it that way.

It can sometimes be hard to break into a rural area if you were not raised in that area. However, in my experience, most small towns are so glad to have new people that you will be made to feel welcome after a bit. You just have to get involved in a variety of community and civic organizations. You will have a client base and new friendships before you know it. You may not make the big bucks you thought you would coming out of law school. I was once paid a fee with a horse! However, the cost of living can be lower, and the personal satisfaction that comes from helping people is amazing. Be prepared to be well versed in lots of areas of law; you cannot just focus on one specific area.

I think a lot of new lawyers have the same idea I had—that being a lawyer meant the skyscraper office building and a large firm. However, there are opportunities outside metropolitan areas where lawyers are desperately needed and appreciated. With Texas’s global climate, increasing job market in suburban areas, and oil and gas play in rural areas, I encourage all new lawyers to look at servicing these communities.

Bar Leaders Wrap-up

The 2014 Bar Leaders Conference, held in Houston on August 1-2, was filled with speakers and presentations aiming to strengthen, inspire, and celebrate local bar associations—all while participants earned CLE credit.

Each day, attendees could choose from a diverse selection of panels, with topics ranging from Law Related Education and Access to Justice to mentoring and Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans. Also offered were roundtable discussions that encouraged participants to share their own experiences and ideas on successful—or struggling—local bar initiatives and suggestions for improving State Bar efforts to connect with and support local leaders.

The weekend ended with a western-themed party that featured casino games and more than 60 door prize baskets provided by delegates. Details on select panels are provided below.

General Session Luncheons

Kicking off the Bar Leaders Conference, Vicki Clark, owner of Building the Capacity of Organizations, took the stage during Friday’s general session luncheon to give the audience tips on how to strengthen and inspire a bar association to increase its impact. “The only way your association is going to grow is if the members change,” Clark said, touching on her presentation’s theme of making bars “mission driven and member focused.” Below: Vicki Clark delivers the Local Bar Leaders Conference keynote presentation on servant leadership.

Clark explained that methods of leadership are always evolving and that servant leadership—which turns the traditional hierarchy pyramid upside down, placing management heads at the bottom of an organization chart and members at the top—makes members more likely to participate in and contribute to the association. She emphasized the importance of delivering transformative experiences to members, valuing people who are different, building a sense of community, nurturing the spirit of fun and allowing members to relax and be themselves, and not just “passing out marching orders.”

Saturday’s lunch took a “Lunch & Learn” format, allowing attendees to network at their tables while eating. Following the meal, Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva M. Guzman presented pro bono service awards to several local bars.

Breakout Panels

These sessions brought in experts to cover a range of topics from igniting an online presence and running an effective meeting to cross-association collaborations and lawyers as lifeguards. During Law Related Education sessions, panelists provided insight into the classroom projects I was the First. Vote for Me! and Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay!. Attendees heard practical tips for presenting material to students and saw examples of videos and teaching techniques that are used during the lessons.

At a Saturday session titled, “TYLA: Building Uncommon Leaders,” small-sized and recently formed young lawyer groups were encouraged to reach out to prospective members by utilizing the county-by-county information kept by the Texas Young Lawyers Association. Other conversations focused on the possibility of raising the age limit for young lawyer associations to ensure that effective members remain active and pass on their success while transitioning to the “Big Bar”; preventing the loss of members with children by hosting family “fun days” and events for kids to meet members of the judiciary; the importance of reaching out to law students; and how young lawyer associations should work with the area’s local bar association.

Roundtable Talks

The Bar Leaders Conference Roundtables offered valuable opportunities to brainstorm successful strategies and solutions to common hurdles. Attendees shared experiences from their successful community service projects, and also offered suggestions for others interested in completing similar projects. Examples of events ranged from chili cook-offs and fun runs to Habitat for Humanity workdays and will-drafting events.

Participants also exchanged ideas on how to deal with challenges that certain initiatives present. One local bar that was having trouble attracting veterans to its free legal clinic was advised to focus on holding such events at the most appropriate location, due to the transportation issues that many veterans have, and also to consider reaching out to local veterans organizations and nearby veterans health care facilities. Another bar association located in a rural area of Texas expressed difficulty in fundraising; an urban association replied with a suggestion that they hold local CLE seminars for the legal community, which reportedly helped it raise thousands of dollars to use on service activities.

New TYLA project battles substance abuse in youth

A new multimedia project from the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) will educate young people about the dangers and real-life consequences of substance abuse.

Through BSAFE: Battling Substance Abuse For Everyone, TYLA aims to provide resources to those struggling with substance abuse and inform the public about the use and benefits of drug courts. The project includes a three-part DVD and written materials targeted at middle and high school students, their parents, and educators.

For more information, read the news release and the feature in the April Texas Bar Journal

BSAFE: Battling Substance Abuse For Everyone is available at www.tyla.org.

Dallas civil rights activist to speak at TYLA Diversity Dinner

The Rev. Peter Johnson, a prominent Dallas civil rights activist, will offer insights from his lifelong work of promoting non-violence and civil rights at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 at the Texas Young Lawyers Association Diversity Dinner in Fort Worth.

Johnson, the founder and CEO of the Peter Johnson Institute of Non-Violence, will speak at the Fort Worth Club, 306 W. Seventh St., as part of the free TYLA event. A 6 p.m. reception will precede the dinner.

Participating attorneys will receive 1.5 hours of CLE ethics credit. RSVP by email to mpalacios@texasbar.com by Monday, Jan. 13.

Free parking will be available in the Fort Worth Club garage.

Program to help attorneys handle pro bono tax cases

Attorneys can learn how to handle a tax controversy case, audit techniques and procedures, and other helpful information at a free CLE program Feb. 7 in Houston.

Houston Volunteer Lawyers, together with the Houston Bar Association Tax Law Section and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, will present “How to Handle a Pro Bono Tax Case” from 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 7 at South Texas College of Law.

The program will also teach attorneys when and how to litigate a tax case, the use of administrative appeals, and innocent spouse/injured spouse relief.

Attorneys who attend the seminar and accept a pro bono tax controversy case from Houston Volunteer Lawyers between Dec. 1, 2013, and Feb. 7, 2013, will be eligible to win an iPad, courtesy of Stratos Legal, that will be given away at the seminar.

Read the agenda and register here.

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.

The TBJ May Issue

Inside: C.E. Rhodes, Priscilla Camacho, Victor Villarreal, and Sam Houston on how they are getting the word out to students about the TYLA project What Do Lawyers Do? Plus: A look at social host liability in Texas, a new book by James L. Haley on the history of the Texas Supreme Court, a video that uses Brady V. Maryland to train law enforcement officers, and tips on how to wow if you land at a solo or small firm after law school. Go to the Texas Bar Journal to read the entire issue. 

State Bar of Texas, ABA, Lone Star Legal Aid and Local Bar Associations Stand Ready to Assist Texans Impacted by the Disaster in West, Texas

The State Bar of Texas has established a disaster legal hotline – 800.504.7030 – to assist people with basic legal questions following the devastating plant explosion in West, Texas.

The hotline – answered in English and Spanish by Lone Star Legal Aid – is intended to help low-income persons affected by the disaster with such issues as replacing lost documents, insurance questions, landlord-tenant issues, and consumer protection issues such as price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process. Residents can call and leave a message any time. People who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help. 

A partnership between the State Bar of Texas, Texas Young Lawyers Association, American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Lone Star Legal Aid, local bar associations, and other legal services providers throughout Texas is making a range of assistance available.

Additional resources are available at www.texasbar.com/disasterresponse and www.texaslawhelp.org.

The State Bar of Texas reminds the public that solicitation of a potential legal case is a crime unless the lawyer has a family relationship with you or you have been a client of the lawyer in the past or are currently a client. Solicitation of you is also a crime if perpetrated by a non-lawyer employee or representative of the lawyer, unless the previous conditions exist. Please report any prohibited contacts by lawyers or their representatives, whether in person, telephone or otherwise, to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar of Texas at 877.953.5535.

Attorneys who want to volunteer to help may visit our Disaster Relief and Attorney Resources page.

TYLA President-elect candidates announced

The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) has named Alfonso Cabañas of San Antonio and Rebekah Steely Brooker of Dallas president-elect candidates. The individual receiving the most votes in an election this spring will serve as TYLA president from June 2014 until June 2015. Election results will be announced May 1. Read the full press release

TYLA hosts night out for battered women

The Texas Young Lawyers Association hosted “Ladies Night Out” for the Bastrop battered women’s shelter on Monday evening. Women were treated to dinner and pampered by hair and make-up consultants. The women viewed TYLA’s Healing the Wounds video, which discusses what victims of domestic violence can expect when utilizing the courts. TYLA President C.E. Rhodes, President-elect Kristy Piazza Blanchard, and directors Dustin Howell and Sally Pretorius (pictured right) gave legal advice and answered questions on obtaining a protective order and filing a temporary restraining order. The goal of the program is to educate victims of family violence about their legal rights. For more information on TYLA or to view the video, visit tyla.org.

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TYLA to present voting rights documentary and voter registration drive

In an ongoing quest to educate young people across Texas about their fundamental right to vote and the history of the suffrage movements that solidified that right, the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) is presenting "Vote America! Honor the Fight, Exercise Your Right" Video Presentation and Voter Registration Drive:

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 1:19 – 2:44 p.m.
Akins High School
Academy of Business, Leadership and Legal Enterprises, Library
10701 South First St., Austin

Deputy Voter Registrars will be on site to facilitate voter registration. Read the full press release.

2012 voting for State Bar and TYLA presidents-elect begins April 2

Election 2012 online voting for State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) presidents-elect will begin April 2 and end May 1. Paper ballots will be mailed April 2.

The State Bar Board of Directors approved the nominations of E. Steve Bolden, II of Dallas and Lisa Tatum of San Antonio as State Bar president-­elect candidates. The TYLA Board of Directors approved the nominations of Shivali Sharma of Texarkana and Kristy Sims Piazza of Plano as TYLA president-elect candidates.

To view the candidates' bios, please visit www.texasbar.com/elections.

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

This month, the Texas Bar Journal examines the efforts of the Texas Supreme Court-appointed Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force to build awareness of the importance of preserving the state's vast collection of historical court documents. In addition, we look at the issue of recovering stolen Texas court documents, provide document preservation tips, and highlight the work of the State Bar of Texas Archives Department. We also introduce the 2012-13 State Bar President-elect candidates, Steve Bolden of Dallas and Lisa Tatum of San Antonio, and the 2012-13 Texas Young Lawyers Association President-elect candidates, Kristy Sims Piazza of Plano and Shivali Sharma of Texarkana.

TYLA names president-elect candidates

TYLA names Shivali Sharma of Texarkana and Kristy Sims Piazza of Plano as President-elect candidates. The attorneys will face one another in an election this spring to become president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA). Election results will be announced May 1. The president-elect will serve as TYLA president from June 2013 until June 2014. Read the full press release

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

This month, the Texas Bar Journal highlights The Unconscious Truth: Physical and Legal Effects of Underage Binge Drinking, a new project from the Texas Young Lawyers Association on the legal consequences and health dangers associated with underage binge drinking. In addition, we also take a look at juvenile law and the juvenile justice system, including an overview of juvenile vs. criminal law, deferred prosecution, and the law concerning underage drinkers stopped for a DWI.

This month in the Texas Bar Journal

This month, the Texas Bar Journal helps you answer some of those “friendly requests for advice” you may encounter at social gatherings in its latest installment of "Party Talk." In addition, you'll find information about the Texas Young Lawyers Association's latest project, Breaking the Silence: A Path to Finding Mental Health.
Let us know what you think of the December issue of the Texas Bar Journal — email comments to tbj@texasbar.com.


2011 TYLA Minority Scholarship Program application deadline is October 14

The deadline to receive 2011 TYLA Minority Scholarship Program applications is tomorrow, Friday, October 14.

The TYLA Minority Scholarship Program is an annual scholarship awarded to one minority student at each Texas law school. The scholarship promotes diversity in the legal profession by assisting members of minority populations within the bar to enter the legal profession and to participate more fully in the programs and activities of TYLA and the State Bar of Texas. Scholarship awards are distributed prior to the Spring semester.

For more information and to download the application, you may visit http://www.tyla.org/tyla/index.cfm/resources/law-students/scholarships/.

10 Minute Mentor Goes to Law School

Due to its popularity among practicing members of the bar, Ten Minute Mentor has been expanded to cover topics of interest to law school students interested in learning about the ins and outs of practicing law. Visit the 10 Minute Mentor Goes to Law School website.

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.

National Trial Competition: judges and witnesses needed

The American College of Trial Lawyers and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) will host the championship rounds of the National Trial Competition (NTC) on Thursday and Friday, April 7 and 8 at the Harris County Civil Courthouse downtown on 201 Caroline Street, Houston, 77002. This competition is the premiere mock trial competition in the country. The top 28 law school mock trial teams from around the country will advance from their region to the NTC Championship Rounds in Houston. Read more information about the competition.

Voting for State Bar and TYLA presidents-elect begins April 1

Election 2011 online voting for State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) presidents-elect will begin April 1 and end May 2. Paper ballots will be mailed April 1.

The State Bar Board of Directors approved the nominations of Guy Choate of San Angelo and F.R. "Buck" Files, Jr. of Tyler as State Bar president-­elect candidates. The TYLA Board of Directors approved the nominations of David Courreges of Austin and C.E. Rhodes of Houston as TYLA president-elect candidates.

To view the candidates' bios, please visit www.texasbar.com/elections.

Nominations are open for LeadershipSBOT

The State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association are looking for 20 Texas lawyers to participate in LeadershipSBOT. This diversity initiative is designed to recruit, train, and retain Texas lawyers for leadership positions in the legal community and the State Bar of Texas. Program participants will be selected to reflect the cultural, ethnic, geographic, and practice area diversity of the state. It is not designed to compete with bar association and local affiliate leadership academies but to complement those exceptional programs.

Nomination forms should be submitted by July 1, 2011. Read the nomination letter and download the nomination form.

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 http://www.tyla.org/tyla/index.cfm/projects/vote-america/ .

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.

TYLA helps keep kids safe with new video, "R U Safe? Protecting Yourself in Cyberspace"

“R U Safe? Protecting Yourself in Cyberspace” is designed to educate children and their parents about online dangers and give them the tools needed to be safe while online. The DVD was created by the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) and is available for viewing and downloading at www.tyla.org/rusafe or may be requested by calling 512.427.1529.

The video covers such topics as cyber bullying, social networking sites, chat rooms, sexting, and online predators. Each part of the four-part DVD is 15-20 minutes in length and geared toward a specific age group, helping kids and parents learn how to report suspicious activity and understand the legal ramifications of certain online behavior.

The project is made possible by a generous grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, the largest charitably-funded bar foundation in the country. Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has distributed over $10 million in grants.

Members of the TYLA Cyber Awareness Committee include Brett Busby, Houston, Adrienne Clements, Fort Worth, Kirsten Cohoon, Houston, Alyssa Long, Houston, Erin O’Driscoll, Houston, Jobe Rodgers, Lubbock, and David Anderson, Dallas. 

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Nominations Sought for Leadership SBOT

The State Bar is seeking nominations for the 2009-2010 class of LeadershipSBOT, which is designed to prepare lawyers for leadership positions in the legal community. Click here for a nomination form (PDF), which must be submitted by July 1, 2009.

Strong named general counsel of A&M System

On Friday, March 27, the Texas A&M University Board of Regents selected Andrew Strong as general counsel of the Texas A&M System. As general counsel he'll be responsible for all legal matters affecting the system and provide legal counsel to A&M's board of regents, chancellor, and CEOs.

Strong is a partner in the Houston office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, which he joined in 2005 after serving as the managing partner of Campbell, George & Strong since 1994. At A&M Strong replaces former general counsel Jay Kimbrough, who now works in the governor's office. According to an article in the Bryan College Station Eagle, details of Strong's starting date as general counsel are being worked out.

Strong is a former president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association and currently servces as chair of the State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee, co-chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission's Civil Gideon Task Force, and chair of the Children at Risk's Public Policy and Law Center.

Judges and witnesses sought for National Trial Competition

The finals of the 34th Annual National Trial Competition are set for March 26 - 28 in San Antonio. Its cohosts are the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) and the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). A whopping 152 law schools and 300 teams competed in 14 regionals around the country, and 28 finalists are headed to San Antonio.

The TYLA and ACTL are seeking 56 judges for each of the first three preliminary rounds, and 56 witnesses for each of the first four preliminary rounds.

If you can serve as a judge in one or more of the championship rounds, please click the following links (judges must be licensed attorneys):

Round 1: 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Thursday, March 26
Round 2: 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 26
Round 3: 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Friday, March 27

If you can serve as a witness in one or more of the championship rounds, please click the following links.  (Note the earlier starting time for witness preparation):

Round 1: 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Thursday, March 26
Round 2: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 26
Round 3: 8 a.m. to 12 noon on Friday, March 27
Round 4: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 27

This is a big request, but also a great chance to nurture the careers of aspiring lawyers and help the legal community. If you need more information about being a judge, please email Ashley Street  or Israel Garcia. For more information about being a witness, please email Alyssa Long or Alfonso Cabanas.

National Trial Competition website