Posted inLaw Practice Management

State Bar of Texas offers attorneys free toolkit for succession planning

What happens when an attorney stops practicing without warning? Health issues, unexpected deaths, and other emergencies can cause attorneys to cease practicing abruptly. Recent studies undertaken by the State Bar of Texas show such instances are on the rise and can leave attorneys’ law partners, or even family members, scrambling to access client documents and close practices. Now the bar is offering a free Succession Planning Toolkit to help.

“The new Succession Planning Toolkit is a one-stop shop for attorneys to find everything they need to plan ahead and prevent their partners or loved ones from being left to handle everything if the unexpected happens,” said bar president Cindy V. Tisdale.

Succession planning was one of the top initiatives of immediate past president Laura Gibson.

“We started studying this issue back in 2018 with a succession workgroup,” she said. “By 2021, those efforts led to a new rule authorizing attorneys to voluntarily designate a custodian attorney to assist with the cessation of practice.”

Now the toolkit provides even more help with shutting down a law practice. It takes attorneys through a series of steps, beginning with designating a custodian and including managing files, closing IOLTA accounts, and more.

The toolkit was created by the State Bar of Texas’ Law Practice Management Committee and Law Practice Management Program.

Posted inAmerican Bar AssociationNews

Judge Lora Livingston succeeds Kim J. Askew as ABA’s Texas delegate

After a maximum of nine years of service, Kim J. Askew has been succeeded by retired Judge Lora Livingston as the Texas state delegate in the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. Askew, a partner in DLA Piper in Dallas, is a longtime member of the House, having previously served as the delegate for the ABA Section of Litigation and the Dallas Bar Association. She continues ABA service as the delegate for the American Law Institute.

“I have long supported the State Bar of Texas and worked on behalf of Texas lawyers,” Askew said in an email to the Texas Bar Journal. “Serving as the ABA Texas delegate was a continuation of my service to Texas lawyers. Plus, I enjoy being at the heart of debates on some of the major issues facing lawyers and courts.”

Livingston was elected to Travis Country’s 261st District Court in 1999, becoming the first African American woman to preside over that court. She assumed the mantle of Texas’ delegate following the ABA’s 2023 Annual Meeting August 8 in Denver. She is eligible to serve up to three, three-year terms as delegate.

State delegates are elected by eligible ABA members in that state. Once elected, they become members of the ABA’s House of Delegates, the legislative and policy arm of the ABA. Delegates serve on the nominating committee that selects ABA officers and the board of governors, votes on ABA policy, and works with various state and local bars. For more information about the ABA, go to

Photo: Kim J. Askew (center) stands with State Bar of Texas President Cindy Tisdale (left), and incoming ABA Texas Delegate Judge Lora Livingston (right), at the ABA Annual Meeting August 8 in Denver, Colorado. Courtesy of Kim J. Askew.

Posted inTexas Bar Journal

Meeting Chris Spendlove

Since the spring, Geoffrey Hinkson and I have been working on our tentatively titled yearlong saga, “The Chris Spendlove Chronicles.” It’s a title so new and tentative, Geoffrey doesn’t even know about it! Our main goal is to showcase a freshman attorney navigating year one under interesting circumstances.

            Ultimately, we’ll have an article in the June 2024 issue of the Texas Bar Journal, along with our ongoing social media coverage, to cap off an attorney’s first year. We hope to show readers from next spring’s class of new lawyers how someone like them successfully met the challenges of work, home, and beyond. We hope they can identify with the highs and lows of the job, catch some things to look out for, learn about bar resources, and maybe even be more galvanized to kickstart their new career. Continue Reading

Posted inNews

Suellen Perry named Law-Related Education Teacher of the Year

Suellen Perry, a legal studies career and technical education instructor at Henderson High School in Henderson, Texas, has been named a Law-Related Education Teacher of the Year by the American Lawyers Alliance, a nonprofit whose mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the law and the American legal system.

Perry, a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, was selected based on her innovative course curriculum, which features topics such as “Principles of Law,” “Court Systems and Practices,” and dual credit criminal justice courses among several others.

With her experience as a law clerk to the Hon. John Hannah, U.S. District Court Judge in Tyler, as a Tyler-based Assistant United States Attorney, and as an attorney in private practice for 20 years, Perry has a background in the law which provides her students a real-world experience. In 2022 she was also named the TEX-ABOTA Champion of Civil Justice.

Posted inNewsState Bar

State Bar of Texas President Cindy Tisdale receives 2023 Dan Price Award for outstanding contributions to Texas family law

Cindy Tisdale

State Bar of Texas President Cindy Tisdale was honored with the 2023 Dan Price Award by the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section. This award highlights her accomplishments within the realm of Texas family law as well as her impact on the Family Law Section over the past year, according to a press release.

Tisdale, a partner in Goranson Bain Ausley, is known for her expertise, unwavering commitment to clients, and credentials as a family lawyer practicing across Midland, Fort Worth, Granbury, and the surrounding areas. She served as chair of the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section from 2017 to 2018, chair of the Texas Bar Foundation from 2017 to 2018, and chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors from 2012-2014. She is among an exclusive group of family lawyers who are members of the invitation-only American Board of Trial Advocates. Tisdale is a fellow with the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She is certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a frequent author and presenter at legal continuing education seminars.

Posted inNews

Dallas Bar Association names Charla Aldous a Living Legend

The Dallas Bar Association, or DBA, has named trial lawyer Charla Aldous among its Living Legends, highlighting her major courtroom wins, career successes, and legal strategy.

The DBA’s Living Legends series honors Dallas lawyers who have vaulted to the forefront of the profession through dedication and courtroom success. Other DBA Living Legends include former Supreme Court of Texas Justice Deborah Hankinson, Senior U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, and renowned appellate lawyer Nina Cortell.

“While Charla undeniably is a skilled lawyer in the courtroom, what truly sets her apart is the care and attention that she gives each one of her clients,” said DBA member Meghann Reeves in a press release. “They are an extension to her family.”

During her career, Aldous, founder of Aldous\Walker in Dallas, helped win a $37.6 million verdict on behalf of a young woman who was paralyzed while riding in a Honda Odyssey minivan with a dangerous seat belt system, according to a press release. That verdict was one of four totaling $20 million or more that Aldous and the firm secured within a 90-day period. In 2022, she also helped secure a $21 million verdict in a botched anesthesia case, the largest medical malpractice verdict in Texas that year, according to a press release.

“I don’t consider what I do as a profession, I really consider it to be a calling,” Aldous said in a press release. “It’s a calling to help those that need me. I would like to be remembered as a lawyer that made a difference in people’s lives.”

Posted inBar Leaders ConferenceConferenceLocal BarsNews

Local Bar Leaders speaker series emphasizes second chances, recovery from burnout

The Local Bar Leaders Conference began with a theme of second chances. “The last time I saw Judge (Richard G. Kopf), my daughter was running off with the gavel he used to sentence me,” Shon Hopwood said during the opening luncheon. Hopwood’s first stint with the law began with a 10-year stint in federal prison after he was convicted and sentenced by Kopf in 1998 for robbing banks in Nebraska. Continue Reading

Posted inNews

Jerry Kolander receives Justice G. Denton Distinguished Lawyer Award

By Terry Greenberg

When Jerry Kolander grew up in Amarillo, he had a friend named Tommy Denton. They played sports together through junior high and at Tascosa High School. Denton went to Baylor University on a football scholarship and Kolander went to Texas Tech University to play baseball.

Denton became an opinion-page writer and opinion editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Kolander graduated from Tech’s School of Law and joined the McCleskey Law Firm, now McCleskey Harriger Brazill & Graf, in 1971, where he’s managing partner. Continue Reading

Posted inBlogTechnology

Cyberattack: It Can Happen to You

Cybersecurity is an important concern not only for the safety of data, but also for the protection of people. In many ways, with the internet of things and the proliferation of breaches and exploitation, cyber threats are at the forefront of what we, as individuals and organizations, face. The technology we now have at our fingertips allows us to more quickly integrate and innovate, network and share ideas more easily, and save money. Our digital capacity enables us to do amazing things, but it also makes us vulnerable. According to Martin Banks’ “Five Laws of Cybersecurity,” everything is vulnerable. Put another way, if there is a vulnerability it will be exploited, and that is a problem when your job is to protect people or your organization.

We store a lot of data in our systems. We collect personal information, track usage, and hold terabytes of sensitive information. Even the “zero trust policy” itself, the mechanism by which entities require pre-approval before allowing entry to a space, both physically (like a key card to gain access to a building) and electronically (like a password to enter a computer system), creates risk to data. That sounds far-fetched, I know, but think of what is required to implement zero trust. To approve a person for access to spaces and systems, data about them must be collected, organized, reviewed, and stored. This mechanism requires information such as social security numbers, fingerprints, birthdates, and other personally identifiable information as a baseline for entry. Once individuals gain access, their movements and habits are collected and tracked. As sensitive information and data points are collected and stored, more data is being created that companies must protectall in the name of protecting its data in the first place! Thus, companies are tasked to find security measures to secure their security measures.

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Posted inAccess to JusticeLocal BarsNewsSpecial Event

Local bar associations celebrated for improving legal assistance to low-income Texans

Bar associations from around the state were honored for their commitment to access to justice issues on July 22 during the State Bar of Texas 2023 Local Bar Leaders Conference in Houston.

Terry O. Tottenham, a commissioner on the Texas Access to Justice Commission and past president of the State Bar of Texas, presented the Deborah G. Hankinson Awards on behalf of the commission during the conference.

These awards honor local bar associations and young lawyer affiliates that demonstrate a commitment to access to justice by creating initiatives that increase access to civil legal services, increase awareness of access to justice issues, or raise funds for legal aid providers on a local and statewide basis. Continue Reading