Editor’s note: State Bar President Tom Vick sent the following update to members on Friday. 

I’m writing to further update you on the State Bar’s recent board meeting in Lubbock and a change to the guidelines for the 2018 election for president-elect.

I reported last Friday on our board’s vote to elect Trey Apffel of League City as the next executive director of the State Bar of Texas. If you missed that update, you can read it here.

Hurricane Harvey relief

The board also approved a $50,000 donation to the Texas Bar Foundation Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund. All donations to this fund are going directly to nonprofit organizations providing much-needed aid to Hurricane Harvey victims, including Lone Star Legal Aid, local bars, and other legal aid and volunteer legal service organizations in the more than 55 affected counties. If you would like to donate to disaster relief efforts, please visit our website.

The State Bar is providing numerous disaster relief resources for the public at texasbar.com/disasters (or texasbar.com/desastre for Spanish-language resources) and for attorneys at texasbar.com/attorneyresources. The Texas Young Lawyers Association has produced additional disaster resources in English and Spanish, including guides related to employment, enrolling children in another school, and hiring a contractor. Find those here.

At-large directors

The board also approved changes to the State Bar Board Policy Manual related to the position of at-large director, which the Texas Legislature created this year through Senate Bill 416. The new law allows the State Bar president to appoint four at-large directors, subject to board confirmation. In making appointments, the law says the president should select directors “who demonstrate knowledge gained from experience in the legal profession and community necessary to ensure the board represents the interests of attorneys from varied backgrounds that compose the membership of the State Bar.”

These new at-large directors will replace the board’s minority director positions over time as the terms of our current minority directors expire. A lawsuit was filed in December 2016 in the Western District of Texas challenging a 1991 state law that provided for the minority director positions. With the new law in place, Judge Robert L. Pitman of the Western District dismissed the lawsuit against the State Bar as moot.

Our minority directors have served with distinction, and we thank them for their service to the bar over the past 26 years. Their ranks have included Lisa Tatum, who went on to be elected State Bar president; Rehan Alimohammad, who is our current board chair; and Pablo J. Almaguer, a former board chair and current chair of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline. Although these positions are changing, your State Bar leadership is fully committed to ensuring that the rich diversity of our membership and our state continues to be reflected on our board.

To that end, the board has created an At-large Directors Nomination Committee chaired by Houston director Angelica Hernandez to review applicants and recommend finalists for appointment. Directors Amie Peace of Denton, Dinesh Singhal of Houston, Sam Houston of San Antonio, and Audrey Moorehead of Dallas also will serve on this committee. For information on the nomination process for at-large directors, go here. The deadline for nominations is October 27.

2018 election

The 2018 race for president-elect is quickly approaching. The State Bar board’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee has taken a significant step toward ensuring all candidates—whether they are nominated by the board or certified through petition—have the same opportunities to campaign under our election guidelines.

The subcommittee recently voted to suspend certain election guidelines for the 2018 president-elect race, including those that limit how and when candidates can campaign through in-person contacts, mailings, and online communications. For a complete list of the suspended election guidelines, click here.

Our board will vote to nominate candidates for president-elect on January 26, 2018. We are aware of two attorneys, Lisa Blue of Dallas and Randall O. Sorrels of Houston, who are currently seeking certification as petition candidates. Those seeking election as a petition candidate have until March 1 to be certified for a place on the ballot. The election will take place April 2 to May 1.

As always, if you have questions or comments, please let me know. It’s an honor to serve as your State Bar president.