Editor’s note: The State Bar of Texas sent the following message to members on September 25.
The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting today by videoconference. Highlights of the meeting appear below. You can watch video of the meeting at youtube.com/statebaroftexas and read the agenda and meeting materials here.
The board voted to petition the Texas Supreme Court to order a referendum of bar members on proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, as provided by Tex. Govt. Code 81.0878. Under the board’s approved plan, subject to Supreme Court approval, voting would take place from February 2 to March 4, 2021, by paper and online ballot.
Over the past year and a half, the board has approved six proposed amendments for inclusion in the next rules vote. Those proposals will be submitted to the Supreme Court for possible inclusion on the February 2021 ballot, along with two more proposed amendments the board approved today:
- Proposed Rule 1.05(c)(10), Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which permits a lawyer to disclose confidential information when the lawyer has reason to believe it is necessary to do so in order to prevent a client from dying by suicide, and
- Proposed amendments to Rule 8.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct and Rules 1.06 and 9.01 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure to extend self-reporting and reciprocal-discipline provisions to cover certain discipline by a federal court or federal agency.
The Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda approved each the proposals before they came to the State Bar board. For a rule change to take effect under the process, it must be approved by the committee, the board, the State Bar membership, and the Supreme Court. For more information on the proposals, go here.
2021 Election Update
The board approved the nominations of Sara Dysart, of San Antonio, and Laura Gibson, of Houston, as candidates for 2021-2022 State Bar president-elect, accepting the recommendation of the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee. The candidates will appear on the ballot in April 2021 along with any certified petition candidates.
Potential petition candidates have until March 1 to submit nominating petitions to the State Bar for certification. Go here for information on how to run for president-elect and here for information on how to run for a district director seat.
The board also agreed to accept electronic signatures on petitions for president-elect and director during the 2021 election cycle, provided the electronic signatures are facsimiles of the signors’ own handwriting.
President’s Diversity Plan
The board received an update from President Larry McDougal on his diversity plan. McDougal reported he plans to hold virtual community conservations on race relations for each of the 17 State Bar director districts around the state before June 2021. The conversations would be based on Project Unity’s Together We Dine project. Details of the plan are being formalized.
New Tasks Forces
President McDougal requested and the board approved the creation of the Task Force on Public Protection, Grievance Review, and the Client Security Fund. The 21-member task force will study the attorney grievance process to ensure it remains fair to Texas lawyers while also protecting the public. McDougal also requested and the board voted to create the Courthouse Access Badge Workgroup to study the possible implementation of courthouse access badges in Texas, resuming the work of a 2018 task force.
The board approved the State Bar legislative program and the recommendations of the Legislative Policy Subcommittee. The program is made up of proposed bills supported by State Bar sections.
MCLE Committee Study
The board voted to ask the State Bar Minimum Continuing Legal Education Committee to study and report to the board regarding the possibility of categorizing CLE courses on the subject of mental health and substance abuse as eligible for “legal ethics/professional responsibility” credit.
The board appointed Clifton L. Roberson, of Tyler, to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to replace Steve Fischer, of El Paso, who is resigning from the commission.
Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann formally administered the oath of office to the board’s newest public member: Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier, the founding president and president emeritus of Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
President McDougal honored two lawyers and two judges for exceptional service to the legal profession. Receiving board resolutions were Ralph L. Gonzalez, Richard L. “Dick” Tate, Judge R. O’Neil Williams, and the late Judge R.H. “Sandy” Bielstein.
The next board meeting is scheduled for January 22. If you have comments for the board, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to find your district directors.