On February 23, 2018, at an induction ceremony in Austin, 194 attorneys and 30 paralegals became certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Photo by Eric Quitugua


The latest group to be certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization was inducted at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin on February 23. Spanning nearly 30 specialty areas, inductees included 194 attorneys and 30 paralegals.

TBLS also announced the creation of two specialty areas, child welfare law and property owners association law. Executive Director Leo Figueroa said the launch of the new specialties, as well as an increase in applicants in recent years, shows the growing value of board certification in the state.

“We’re proud to recognize these newly board certified attorneys and paralegals, whom also recognize the impact of specialization, as this is an achievement that greatly matters to potential clients, fellow lawyers, and the judiciary,” Figueroa said. “Congratulations to our newest class of board certified attorneys and paralegals.”

Numerous awards were given out during the induction ceremony.

Judge Dean Rucker, of the 318th Family District Court in Midland, received the Tom Garner Award for his work creating the child welfare law specialty. Rucker, who is certified in family law, is a founding member of the TBLS Child Welfare Law Advisory Commission.

John F. Sheehy, of Sheehy Lovelace & Mayfield in Waco, received the inaugural John F. Sheehy, Jr. Distinguished Attorney Award. The award recognizes an attorney who has been certified for more than 25 years, is committed to serving the public and justice system, and has raised the standards of the profession. Sheehy has been certified in residential, commercial, and farm & ranch real estate law for 35 years.

State Bar of Texas Executive Director Trey A. Apffel III was the keynote speaker. Apffel, who is certified in personal injury trial law and civil trial law, first spoke about being inspired to become a lawyer by his father, who described trying cases “like playing football with a suit on.” He then recalled testing for his own board certifications and gave praise to paralegals, who he said are in the trenches on a daily basis.

Apffel told the inductees to wear their certifications like a badge of honor and emphasized how attorneys and paralegals have the ability to change lives and help people achieve justice so they can put their lives together.

“It’s how you treat others in practice that’s going to frame your legacy in this profession,” he said.