Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Padon D. Holt

Firm: Holt & Hutchins, PLLC

Area of Law You Practice: Commercial transactions and litigation

Position Held in TYLA: District 2 Director

How did you get involved in bar service? When I was working at West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry—a firm with a rich history of service to the State Bar of Texas—I was encouraged by several colleagues and mentors to increase my service involvement on both a local and statewide level. When individuals you have a tremendous amount of respect for encourage you to do something independently of each other, the best course of action is to heed their advice.

What is your favorite TYLA project and why? Having only been active with TYLA for the past few months, all of which being during the COIVD-19 pandemic, this is difficult to answer. I will say that I have been extremely impressed with the level of commitment I’ve seen from my fellow directors and the TYLA leadership team to the various TYLA projects. So, while I cannot identify a favorite project just yet, I’m confident each project is filled with dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to achieve the goals set out before them.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress? Be intentional in all things and develop systems to help you achieve those intentions. When you are in the office and crushing out work, make sure that you are focused on your client’s needs by putting in place measures to limit social media use or any other distraction for that matter. In my experience, nothing builds up work-related stress like a backed-up docket that has been self-imposed. Conversely, when you are with your family, significant other, enjoying your hobbies, exercising, or on vacation, be sure to dedicate your time to those experiences and intentionally limit work-related distractions. We all feel the need to check our inboxes while eating dinner, but just as we dedicate our skills to our clients, we must also dedicate ourselves, both physically and mentally, to those people, things, and places we love as well as ourselves. Finally, and this is the kicker, be sure to share these intentions/plans with both your colleagues, friends, and family so they not only know you aren’t ignoring them when your intentions are on something else, but also so they can help hold you accountable to your system. In my experience, nothing relieves stress more than having the support and understanding of those within your community.

What is a piece of advice you would give new lawyers or law students? Work where you want to live; don’t live where you think you have to work. After law school, I felt like I had to work in Houston to make the type of income my ambition deemed acceptable. Problem was, I grew up in Smyer, Texas, population 482—large cities did not feel like “home” to me. Yet I continued to try to force that feeling of “community” because if I wanted to make a large salary, I couldn’t get past the thought, I have to work in Houston. After my wife and I had our first daughter, my desire to make a large salary was quickly overtaken with the desire to live in a place that provided a sense of community for my family. Being the good Aggie that I am, College Station was where we set our sights. Fast forward four years, I still have the income my ambition (and my wife) deems acceptable and, more importantly, have found a “home” for our family. So, when I look at hiring an attorney for my firm, my first question is, Where do you want to live. If you know the answer to that question, then that is where you are meant to work. Trust me.

What do you do in your spare time? “Spare time” is a bit an endangered concept for me. That said, I almost always have a furniture-building project going on (right now it’s building an industrial conference room table for our office), a tee time booked (I try to play golf with a group of friends at least twice a month), and/or am gearing up for some kind of hunting trip (right now it’s a sandhill crane hunt planned for the first of November in Brownfield, Texas). If I’m not juggling one of those items, I am usually being used as a human jungle gym/pony by my daughters or (hopefully) enjoying a bottle of wine with my wife on our back porch. (See “PDH’s Tips for Managing Stress” supra.)

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? My first job growing up was hoeing cotton for a farmer outside of Ropesville, Texas, for $4.25 an hour. I was 12 years old. This experience is the reason why I keep a large vase full of harvest-ready cotton in my office—to serve as a constant reminder that no matter how bad of a day I am having, I am not hoeing cotton for $4.25 an hour in the Texas heat. Perseverance is predicated by perspective.