If you happen to be in the Tarrant County Family Law Center around noon on the first Thursday of the month, you will find 30 to 50 chipper young (and mature) lawyers eagerly learning trial skills from Judge William Harris. What is taking place on these first Thursdays? It’s a new program called #LongLunchThursday.
#LongLunchThursday was created by Judge Harris of the 233rd Judicial District Court of Tarrant County to help equip younger lawyers with the trial skills and tools necessary for the courtroom and to help sharpen the trial skills of more experienced lawyers. The program is highly focused on the Texas Rules of Evidence and the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. When coordinating the first year of CLE for #LongLunchThursday, Judge Harris really kept in mind the mistakes and errors that he has repeatedly seen in his courtroom.
I’m sure that almost everyone is familiar with the various social media platforms and the #tbt hashtag that trends on Thursdays along with bad photos from the 80s. If you are somehow unfamiliar with the #tbt trend, it means “throw back Thursday” and is used to indicate a reference to the past. When we were trying to decide on a name for our program, we wanted something trendy, but also something fitting. That is how we decided on #LongLunchThursday, which describes how we put time aside in our day to study the Rules and how they work in the real world.
The program is run 100 percent on volunteered time and funds. Each month a different lawyer or firm graciously sponsors lunch for the program. The Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association sponsors the monthly CLE accreditation application through the State Bar of Texas.
In 2015, we kicked off #LongLunchThursday with a January information session to gauge interest from the lawyers in our bar. We had a great response! We covered the following topics throughout the year:
- Basic Rookie Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.
- Jury Trials I.
- Temporary Orders—How to Get What you Want.
- Handling a CPS Case.
- Recusal and Expert/Daubert Challenge—A Trial Exhibition.*
*Joint programs with the Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association
Overall, in 2015 alone, Judge Harris taught 11.25 hours of CLE, 9.25 of which were free accredited hours*. The program went over so well that we carried it into 2016 and have already had two successful luncheons. Coming up, our program is teaming with Texas A&M University School of Law and will be presenting a CLE for students titled Contempt: A Trial Exhibition.
I have to give a tremendous, heartfelt thanks to my mentor, Judge Harris. He had an idea and made it a reality. Not only has he created this great program but he is also an excellent mentor to numerous lawyers, both young and older. Judge Harris will basically tell you like it is. Young lawyers need that.