The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting September 24 in San Antonio. Highlights of the meeting appear below. You can watch video of the meeting at youtube.com/statebaroftexas and read the agenda and meeting materials at texasbar.com/bodmaterials.
2022 Election Update
The board approved Joe Escobedo Jr., of Edinburg, and Cindy V. Tisdale, of Granbury, as candidates for 2022-2023 State Bar president-elect. Escobedo and Tisdale will appear on the ballot in April 2022 along with any certified petition candidates. Presently there are no additional president-elect candidates, although members have until March 1 to submit nominating petitions to the State Bar for certification. For information on how to run for president-elect, go here. Click the names below to read the candidates’ interest letters and resumes as submitted to the board’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee.
The board also approved policy changes to allow electronic signatures on candidate petition forms, to define candidates’ principal place of practice for nomination and election purposes, and to require candidates to establish their principal places of practice no later than December 31. The bar previously allowed electronic signatures on petition forms as a pandemic-related safety measure but now will allow them in all future bar elections.
Federal Lawsuit Response
The board approved changes to State Bar rules and policies to comply with the recent U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel opinion in McDonald v. Longley. The changes include updates to the bar’s budgeting, legislative, and expenditure objection processes. Click here to view the changes, and here for a case timeline and a summary of similar litigation against other mandatory bars. On September 30, the State Bar of Texas filed a summary of the rule and policy changes approved by the board with the district court as part of the case’s remedies phase. Go here to read all filings in the case.
Directors approved forwarding a resolution regarding trial safety measures from the Presidential Task Force on Criminal Court Proceedings to the Office of Court Administration for consideration. The board postponed, until its January meeting, a resolution by director Steve Fischer supporting a post-pandemic remote hearings policy after some directors said they wanted to refine the resolution language.
At the request of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the board approved changes to TYLA’s membership structure and approved a request that the Texas Supreme Court amend bar rules to reflect the changes. Under the new structure, if approved by the court, all Texas-licensed attorneys in their first 12 years of practice, regardless of age, would be TYLA members. Currently, Texas lawyers are TYLA members if they are 36 years old or younger or in their first five years of practice, regardless of age. The resolution states the revisions to TYLA’s membership definition are needed “to better ensure that all new attorneys are included, specifically, those practicing law as a second career.” The changes are expected to increase TYLA’s membership from approximately from 25,000 to 32,000 members. TYLA does not charge membership fees.
New Task Force and Special Committee
The board approved the creation of the Task Force on Redistricting to review apportionment of bar districts as required by the State Bar Act. The board also voted to create a Building Planning Special Committee to work with State Bar staff regarding decisions on remodeling, repairs, and uses of the property at 1415 Lavaca in Austin, which the bar recently purchased.
Proposed New Disciplinary Rules
The Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda has recommended proposed Rule 1.18 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, pertaining to duties to prospective clients, and proposed Rule 13.05 of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, pertaining to the termination of a custodianship for the cessation of practice. The board voted to approve the changes and to hold them for submission to the Supreme Court at a later date with other proposed rules as deemed appropriate by the board. Ultimately, the board will petition the Supreme Court to order a referendum on the proposed rules.
President Sylvia Borunda Firth and the board honored three individuals for exceptional service to the legal profession. Receiving board resolutions were James L. Branton (in memoriam), Jane H. Macon, and David Slayton. Executive Director Trey Apffel honored Royce LeMoine, deputy counsel for administration in the Austin office of the chief disciplinary counsel, with the quarterly Staff Excellence Award.