Editor’s note: State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick sent the following message to members on Monday. 

I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season so far. Please read below for updates on the State Bar budget and other news.

Good Financial Stewards

I’m pleased to report that, under the leadership of our new Executive Director Trey Apffel and his staff, the proposed 2018-2019 State Bar general fund budget reduces overall spending by 5 percent compared with the current budget while adding additional money in reserves. This is a fiscally responsible budget, and I was proud to vote for it as a member of the State Bar Board of Directors’ Budget Committee.

The committee met Thursday at the Texas Law Center and invited the major State Bar departments to present their budget proposals. After hearing detailed reports and asking a number of questions of staff, the committee voted unanimously to approve the proposed budget for presentation to the full Board of Directors. I want to commend our staff and the committee, led by President-elect Joe K. Longley, for their many months of diligent work to get us to this point. The Board of Directors will consider the proposed budget on January 26 and April 27 before submitting it to the Texas Supreme Court for final approval. The State Bar also invites your feedback at a public hearing at 9 a.m. on April 3 at the Texas Law Center in Austin. 

While no particular budget savings recommendations have been received as yet from the financial task force appointed by President-elect Longley, the task force is working on recommendations for future budget savings. Those recommendations will be furnished in a report to the State Bar Board of Directors, and I look forward to reviewing the recommendations when the task force completes its work.

Studying Advertising Review 

As attorneys, most of our public marketing efforts must be submitted to the State Bar Advertising Review Committee under Part VII of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. As your president, I am committed to making sure this service is as user-friendly as possible while still achieving its purpose. As such, I have asked the Advertising Review Committee to study ways to improve the system. If you have feedback, please email Gene Major.

Other Reviews 

At the request of President-elect Longley, I have asked the State Bar Board’s Administration Committee to study the necessity of hiring a general counsel for the board. I have also asked the board’s Policy Manual Subcommittee to study our travel policies and recommend any needed changes. I will update you as these studies continue.

Open Enrollment Reminder

Finally, the 2018 open enrollment period for health insurance ends this Friday, December 15. To learn more about the offerings listed on the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange or schedule an appointment with a benefits counselor, please go to the website.

Tom Vick
President, State Bar of Texas