The Supreme Court of Texas and State Bar of Texas welcomed the state’s newest members of the profession May 13 at the Frank Irwin Center in Austin.
Texas’ highest courts, the State Bar, the Texas Board of Law Examiners, law school deans, and friends and family looked on as newly licensed attorneys took the Lawyer’s Oath during Monday morning’s New Lawyer Induction Ceremony.
State Bar of Texas President Joe K. Longley emphasized the importance of the new attorneys’ commitment to equal access to justice, explaining that they are joining an organization of more than 103,000 attorneys who have chosen the destiny of supporting the cause. He pointed to joining State Bar sections for network and pro bono opportunities as ways to get started.
Longley reminded the inductees that the oath they take is one that stays with them 24/7, guiding them as they promote civility, professionalism, and adherence to the rule of law, not just when it is convenient to them. The words in the oath, he said, will be needed as the new attorneys seek their destiny within this chosen profession.
“Your presence here today demonstrates that people confident in their destiny do not wait to be sent for,” he said. “You’re already here and you knew how to get here and I congratulate you for that.”
Texas Young Lawyers Association President Sally Pretorius offered advice to the new lawyers based on themes of self-care, taking advantage of being underestimated, and protecting one’s reputation.
“As you guys sit here today, please remember you only get one shot to build your reputation,” she said. “One small lie; one little white lie—judges remember that. Your employers remember that. Your paralegals remember that. Your co-associates remember that and your opposing counsel remembers that.”
The TYLA president also encouraged the new lawyers to not get weighed down by their lack of experience. Pretorius told the group that opposing counsel in her first hearing was a seasoned board certified attorney. But Pretorius out-prepared her opponent, making sure she knew the law and that her witnesses were prepared, and she won.
“Just because we are young attorneys doesn’t mean that we don’t know what we are doing and that doesn’t mean that we don’t know the law and what’s best for our client,” she said. “So remember to always use the power of underestimation in your favor.”
The Bar Exam’s highest scorer, Round Rock-based attorney Melanie McCammon, thanked her coworkers and friends and family, especially her son, Isaac, who she called her inspiration, and her husband, Jack. She also thanked all the people in the audience who supported the inductees. “What we have accomplished was very hard by any measure and I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself but for most of you or all of you when I say it would have been even harder without the love and support of the people sitting here with us today.
McCammon, a graduate of New York University School of Law in 2010, drew from her experiences taking the bar exams in both New York and Texas and how her perspective has shifted from her previous outlook on taking the tests.
The first time I looked at this as just a stepping-stone in my career. It was something to get over—a hurdle to jump over. Now I see that it’s a huge achievement all by itself. I encourage you to take some time to really revel in this achievement. It says a lot about who you are and what you are capable of. First it shows you can think like a lawyer. You have the ability to think critically, analytically, creatively to take the facts that you’re given and question them and solve problems not just in the courtroom or across a negotiation table but in social media or whatever life throws at you.
She called the skills the inductees have developed—such as being able to teach themselves something or the ability to make things happen instead of waiting around—superpowers and told them it will allow them to keep up with the constantly changing world.
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht congratulated the inductees, welcoming them to the profession and reminding them of their duties going forward. The first part of the New Lawyer Oath, he said before administering it, charges them with supporting the U.S. and Texas constitutions, honestly demeaning themselves in practice, and discharging their duties to their clients to the best of their abilities. The second tasks lawyers with conducting themselves with civility and integrity in dealing with the court and all parties.
“From this day forward, you are the voice and the instrument for the rule of law,” Hecht said. “Whether you are prosecuting or defending an individual charged with transgressions against society; representing a party in a civil dispute; drafting a contract, a deed, or a will; or giving other legal counsel to a client; everything you do contributes to a republic in which the rights to life, liberty, and property have displaced reliance on class, heredity, wealth, and military might.”
To watch video of the New Lawyers Induction, go to the State Bar of Texas’ YouTube channel.