Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Joe K. Longley sent the following message to members on Friday.

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors met today in Austin. Highlights from the meeting are provided below.

Seana Willing

New chief disciplinary counsel named
The board voted unanimously to consent to the Commission for Lawyer Discipline’s selection of Seana Willing as the new chief disciplinary counsel. She will replace Linda Acevedo, who is retiring this month after 33 years of service to the State Bar and 10 years as chief disciplinary counsel. For the past two years, Ms. Willing has been executive director of the Texas Ethics Commission. She previously served the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for 18 years, including 14 years as executive director. She will now lead the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which administers the state’s attorney discipline system and represents the commission in disciplinary litigation.

TYLA voting eligibility issue
On a roll call vote, the board voted unanimously—with my abstention—to reaffirm Section 1.23 of the Board Policy Manual to maintain the status quo regarding voting in State Bar and Texas Young Lawyers Association elections. I abstained because of concerns over the constitutionality of the current practice of preventing non-TYLA members from voting in statewide elections for TYLA president-elect. Although I am open to all suggestions, my proposal is to give all active State Bar members the right to vote in the statewide election for TYLA president.

Budget approved for publication
The board voted unanimously to approve the proposed 2019-2020 fiscal year budget for publication in the March issue of the Texas Bar Journal. A public hearing will be held April 2 at the Texas Law Center in Austin, followed by a vote of the board on April 26 to submit the proposed budget to the Texas Supreme Court for review and approval. For the second straight year, the proposed budget will hold total general fund expenditures to under $44 million without a reduction in State Bar programs or services.

Committee review completed
The State Bar Act requires the board’s Executive Committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the standing committees biennially to determine whether there is a continued need for each committee and whether there is unnecessary overlap of committee activities. I served as the chair of the Committee Review Subcommittee, which completed a review of all State Bar standing committees. Overall, we concluded that:

  • our committee structure is working well,
  • there is a continuing need for all standing committees with some exceptions, and
  • that committees are working on mutually exclusive projects.

The board voted unanimously to approve the recommendations. A copy of the subcommittee’s report and its recommended changes is available here.

Transparency audit report accepted
The board accepted a transparency audit report by Weaver, an independent assurance, tax, and advisory firm. The February issue of the Texas Bar Journal will include a full report on the Weaver audit.

Board chair election set
Directors heard comments from the four candidates for 2019-2020 chair of the State Bar Board: Jerry Alexander (Dallas), Alison Colvin (Brownsville), Leslie Dippel (Austin), and Neil Kelly (Houston). At its April meeting, the board will vote by written ballot to elect the new chair.

New Supreme Court liaison, San Antonio director
It was our pleasure to welcome Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann as the court’s new liaison to the State Bar of Texas and the State Bar Board. Justice Lehrmann replaces Justice Phil Johnson, who retired from the court on December 31. Also, San Antonio attorney Marc E. Gravely was sworn in as the new State Bar director for District 10 (Bexar County), Place 1. He replaces Tom Keyser, who resigned from the board.

As mentioned above, Linda Acevedo is retiring as chief disciplinary counsel, and Justice Phil Johnson has retired from the Supreme Court. The board honored both of them with resolutions in recognition of their years of dedicated service to the State Bar and all Texans.

If you have any questions about the board meeting, please let me know. For more information on the board or to read meeting agendas and materials, go to texasbar.com/board.


Joe K. Longley 
President, State Bar of Texas 2018-2019