The Texas Supreme Court, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the State Bar of Texas welcomed the state’s newest attorneys at the New Lawyer Induction Ceremony on November 18 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
Joining the courts and bar were the Texas Board of Law Examiners, law school deans, and friends and family as newly minted attorneys took the Lawyer’s Oath on Monday morning.
State Bar of Texas President Randy Sorrels introduced himself to the new graduates, calling their career path the “most noble of professions.”
“You are indeed at the front line of our democracy,” he said. “Don’t let anyone ever underestimate or downplay our role as lawyers in the establishment and continued success of our country.”
Sorrels then discussed what the State Bar is and listed three things he wants graduates to do: 1) Consider the resources—things such as jobs, clients, ethics helpline, legal research, and especially the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program; 2) Get involved with local bars, committees and sections, and access to justice; and 3) Focus on becoming a great leader and aiming for elected positions.
“You can win the race for persistence because persistence pays off in this profession,” Sorrels said.
Texas Young Lawyers Association President Victor Flores congratulated the graduates on a “monumentous moment in [their] career.” Becoming a Texas lawyer comes with great reverence, authority, and responsibility, he said.
Flores shared a few tips for the new attorneys to take with them. The first: Do right—it may not be the quickest or most profitable option but it will be the most satisfying, he said.
“People will not remember how much money you make or whether you drive a Tesla or Mercedes or Audi. They won’t remember how expensive your watch was or what brand of suit you’re wearing,” Flores said. “The biggest part of doing right is to be kind, and people will remember that. People will remember that you’re kind.”
The TYLA president also encouraged the new lawyers to not travel alone but instead build relationships with mentors both young and wise to help them get through their careers.
“I want to shake your hand and get to know you and let you know this is going to be a fun and amazing journey,” he said. “That you will slay giants as you do right. You are not alone so don’t travel alone. TYLA is here for you.”
Stephen James Hammer, an Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan before earning his law degree at Harvard, achieved the highest score on the July bar exam. He previously clerked at two federal courts and will soon begin a clerkship for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Hammer congratulated his fellow inductees and thanked his wife and their five children, as well as his parents, brother, and stepparents.
The “bar” refers to the railing in the courtroom separating spectators from participants—today we cross that threshold to take up a professional duty to advocate for clients and pursue justice without fear or favor, he said.
“That’s a tall order but I think we’re up to the task,” Hammer said. “Each one of us has conquered untold challenges to make it to this ceremony, and this room is filled with limitless potential.”
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht closed out the ceremony, describing calls for integrity and civility in the Lawyer’s Oath. While the two have always been imperative in a lawyer’s responsibility, the words, added by the 84th Texas Legislature, solemnize the Texas lawyer’s dedication to them, he said.
Hecht then administered the oath, officially swearing in the state’s newest lawyers.
“From this day forward, you are the voice and the instrument of the rule of law,” he 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 of life, liberty, and property have displaced reliance on class, heredity, wealth, and might. You therefore have a special responsibility not only to those you represent but to our profession and to this great experiment in democracy. I hope your practice will be meaningful and in the words of the great Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, you will live greatly in the law.”