Posted inLaw Firms and Legal Departments

Scams continue to target Texas attorneys

Update 6/28/22: We received reports of two more scams. Scammers are emailing attorneys through their online profiles on texasbar.com as phishing attempts. One targeted attorney received an email that states,”Hi, I work with MCJ ASSETS, LLC. We are a new surplus funds business wanting to operate in Galveston County. We have all legal documents, sales tax, and clients ready! We will like to work with you. If you’re interested we will like to run ALL excess proceeds recoveries through you, which means constant business! We will like to offer 10% of our profit from the recoveries. We will have all the documents completed. All we need is you to look over the documents and file the claim.”

Another attorney reported an attempted scam on them and their firm in what appears to be an elaborate scheme. The attorney was contacted by “Mateo Santiago” of Four Tech Intelligence in Mexico. The original email said, “Hi There. I want to Inquire if your firm specializes in IP cases. Our corporation is seeking an attorney in your state who can represent us in a license infringement matter by a business partner of the corporation. Contact me if this is your area of expertise or if you can make a referral. Thanks.” The scammer claimed they had been doing business with a company named HBS Systems Inc. in Richardson (which the attorney called and verified is a real company), that HBS had violated a copyright on some software, had admitted to this, and had settled on $2.9 million as a settlement. The attorney was to write a demand letter, accept the payment in their bank account, and receive 5% of the proceeds. The attorney had sent the company their standard engagement agreement to sign, requested a retainer check, and gave them wiring instructions to their IOLTA account. In response, they received this email. The referenced “Bar Code Integrators” in the email appears to be another company they tried to scam. After the attorney received that email, they called HBS and spoke to someone in their accounting department and said they thought they were being scammed but were trying to confirm. They asked if they had done any business with a Mexican company named Four Tech Intelligence and asked if they owed them $2.9 million. A person there confirmed this had to be a scam and also said they knew that the CEO of HBS had received other scams, they had turned away all but one, and that the one was difficult to get out of.

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Posted inNews

Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health opens registration for 5th annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health

Registration is now open for the 5th annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health, hosted by the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health, or JCMH, that will be held November 2-4, 2022, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine.

The JCMH, a joint commission under the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is hosting this year’s event in hybrid format. In-person capacity is limited, but those who are unable to attend in person can register for the virtual live stream option.

The summit will include opportunities to connect with colleagues, obtain new resources, and engage in learning sessions. Participants will receive tools to help navigate the complex mental health laws.

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Posted inNews

American Bar Association announces 2022 winners of the Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts

John Browning, a former justice on the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas and a partner in Spencer Fane, is part of the team of the Oklahoma Bar Journal to be recognized as one of eight recipients of this year’s American Bar Association Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts.

The award, which recognizes outstanding work that fosters the public’s understanding of law and the legal system, has been presented annually by the ABA since 1958. Award categories include books, documentaries, drama and literature, newspapers, magazines, and radio and television. Winners are selected based on factors such as the work’s impact on the public; thoroughness and accuracy in presentation of issues; the work’s creativity, originality, and effectiveness in presenting information; and the educational value of the legal information or issues addressed.

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Posted inGuest BlogState BarTexas Lawyers' Assistance ProgramTLAP

Stories of Recovery: There is an army out there to help you

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery blog series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call or text TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

After interviewing to move my solo practice to another firm, I celebrated at home with a “solo” bottle of wine. I tried to share the news with my wife, but I couldn’t complete a sentence without slurring. She took a video of me on her iPhone as I tried to re-explain what I had just told her about my interviews. That was a wake-up call.

While I had long dealt with depression, matters only got worse years earlier when my then-firm closed its office and I went solo. Solo practice was not only isolating, but financially terrifying. If clients slow-paid or didn’t pay at all, the food on my table, the tax payments, mortgage, private college tuition payments, and every other bill were literally at stake, too often leaving me working paycheck to paycheck. My family asked why we had to cut the corners off the corners we had already cut even when I was working around the clock seven days a week.
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Posted inUncategorized

State Bar board creates new diversity committee, extends building committee

A new standing committee will work to develop and promote strategies and best practices for the State Bar of Texas in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The board of directors voted June 8 to create the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and asked 2022-2023 State Bar President Laura Gibson to submit a roster of proposed committee members for approval at the board’s next scheduled meeting on September 30.

The committee will identify opportunities within the State Bar to create an environment conducive to diversity, equity, and inclusion; assist in the creation of measurable goals; and periodically report on progress toward achieving the goals set by the board of directors, according to the resolution creating the committee. Continue Reading

Posted inAbout The BarState Bar

State Bar of Texas seeks candidates for 2023 president-elect race

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors is soliciting candidates for the 2023 president-elect race. State Bar rules stipulate that all potential candidates for 2023 president-elect shall come from any county of the state. 

Any member of the State Bar who meets the eligibility requirements for officers set forth in the State Bar Act and the State Bar rules is eligible for nomination for president-elect. The board of directors policy manual describes the criteria for selecting nominees. The board will consider potential nominees’ involvement as a member of the board or in State Bar committee work, knowledge of State Bar operations, participation in local and specialty bar associations, and other activities demonstrating leadership ability and sincere interest and competence in dealing with issues concerning the State Bar of Texas. Potential nominees should submit a resume and a statement of their views on the key issues facing the bar, the role they would play in dealing with those issues, and what they would seek to accomplish during their tenure as president, all within the overall strategic plan of the State Bar.  Continue Reading

Posted inAmerican Bar AssociationNews

American Bar Association to honor two Texas lawyers for pro bono work

The American Bar Association, or ABA, will honor Texas lawyers Maddy Dwertman and Mark Melton with the Pro Bono Publico Award for demonstrating outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for low-income and disadvantaged persons on August 5 during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

This award is the highest honor given by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service. It spotlights pro bono efforts of individual lawyers, small and large law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments, and other institutions in the legal profession.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNews

Jason P. Nance named new dean of SMU Dedman School of Law

Jason P. Nance, an education policy and law scholar who studies inequalities in public education, has been named the Judge James Noel Dean of SMU’s Dedman School of Law. Nance comes from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, where he served as associate dean for research and faculty development and was a professor of law. He will begin his new role at SMU on August 10.

“I am thrilled and honored to be named the incoming dean of the Dedman School of Law,” Nance said in a press release. “Dedman Law is an impressive law school with a talented faculty and staff, supported by a committed, energetic alumni base. It is well positioned to rise to even greater heights. I look forward to working collaboratively with students, faculty, staff and alumni to help Dedman Law reach its full potential in the coming years.”

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Posted inAccess to JusticeNews

Texas Access to Justice Foundation creates new fellowship to serve veterans

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, or TAJF, which provides grant funding for civil legal aid in Texas, announced the creation of the Terry O. Tottenham Veterans Justice Fellowship. The fellowship honors veteran, current TAJF Secretary, and former State Bar of Texas President Terry O. Tottenham, who is of counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright in Austin.

The new fellowship will be a priority for one of the annually selected, TAJF-sponsored Equal Justice Work Fellows to help address the legal needs of our veterans. Each year a Veterans Justice Fellow will be selected ensuring that lawyers are routinely placed to address the pressing legal issues facing veterans throughout Texas.

“Veterans deserve access to our civil justice system as they struggle with legal needs affecting their health, housing, and financial security,” said Deborah Hankinson, chair of the TAJF board of directors, in a press release. “Terry Tottenham is an exceptional lawyer who served in the U.S. Marines, and we’re honored to create this fellowship in recognition of his tireless efforts to serve those who have served.”

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Posted inNews

Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee announces Indigent Defense Awards winners

The State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee announced Michael J. Ritter as the 2022 recipient of the Michael K. Moore Award for Excellence in Research or Writing in the Area of Indigent Criminal Defense. Jeff Blackburn is the 2022 recipient of the Warren Burnett Award.

Ritter is senior counsel at Schmoyer Reinhard in San Antonio. The Michael K. Moore award is presented to an individual or organization in recognition of exceptional research or writing that deals with indigent criminal defense and that represents a significant contribution to the knowledge and practices of the bench, bar, and scholarly communities. It is named after Michael K. Moore for his pivotal role in research and writing efforts that had a major effect on indigent defense in Texas.

Jeff Blackburn is a partner at Blackburn & Brown in Amarillo, where he practices criminal defense and civil rights. The Warren Burnett Award recognizes extraordinary contributions to improving the quality of criminal legal representation to indigent Texans. The award honors either an individual or an organization for their work in the courtroom, Legislature, or in the public sphere.

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