Posted inGuest BlogState BarTexas Lawyers' Assistance ProgramTLAP

Stories of Recovery: Be Compassionate

Editor’s note: TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call or text TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) or find more information at tlaphelps.org.

I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder when I was six years old. During my first year of law school, I experienced a significant depressive episode that culminated in a suicide attempt.

Like most law students, school had always been easy for me. When I got to law school, I suddenly went from being a big fish in a small pond, to being in a tank full of sharks. I found it difficult to relate to my peers socially; I had trouble grasping the material, but I was afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to look dumb in front of them or feel like I didn’t belong there. I was so tired and felt so defeated that I didn’t want to do anything but sleep after class. In my mind, there was nobody at school I could comfortably call a friend. I felt completely inadequate, inferior, overwhelmed, and alone. My torts professor, without hyperbole, terrified me. Before long, I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I didn’t do any of the reading. Nothing brought me any semblance of happiness. I lived in constant fear of being rejected, being a disappointment, being a failure. Soon I began to think it would be better if I wasn’t living at all.
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Posted inSponsored Content

Sponsored Content: Piper Aircraft: Elevating Business Travel to New Heights

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Posted inState Bar

State Bar of Texas board to meet January 26 in San Antonio

The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors will hold its quarterly meeting January 26 in San Antonio.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Hilton Palacio Del Rio (Salon B & C) at 200 S. Alamo. The meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live on the State Bar of Texas YouTube channel.

The agenda and meeting materials are available here.

Those who wish to address the board in person should fill out a speaker card at the beginning of the meeting and submit it to a staff member onsite. To sign up to speak remotely during the meeting, email boardofdirectors@texasbar.com or call 512-427-1713 or 800-204-2222 (toll free) before 5 p.m. CST on January 25. Please provide the agenda item number you wish to speak on.

Posted inNews

Bill Mateja to serve as Dallas Bar Association president

Bill Mateja, a partner in Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in Dallas, was inaugurated as the 115th president of the Dallas Bar Association, or DBA, on January 20, according to a press release.

Mateja, whose practice focuses on white-collar defense and corporate investigations, has been on the DBA Board of Directors for many years and has also served on a variety of DBA committees and sections. He is a past president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Other officers serving on the board include Vicki Blanton (president-elect), of AT&T; Jonathan Childers (first vice president), of Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann; Sarah Rogers (second vice president), of Thompson Coe; Chelsea Hilliard (secretary/treasurer), of McGuireWoods, and Cheryl Camin Murray (immediate past president), of Katten Muchin Rosenman.

For more info about the DBA, go to dallasbar.org.

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Bar Association.

Posted inSponsored Content

Sponsored Content: Thinking About Chartering an Aircraft? Here Is What You Can Expect

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Posted inNewsState Bar

Former State Bar of Texas President Richard Pena named National Conference of Bar Presidents 2024 Fellow

Austin attorney and former State Bar of Texas President Richard Pena has been named the National Conference of Bar Presidents 2024 Fellow, according to a press release.

Pena, who served as State Bar of Texas president from 1998 to 1999, is the second Texas-based attorney to receive the award. The late James B. Sales, who served as State Bar of Texas president from 1988 to 1989 and who passed away in February 2023, was named the NCBP Fellow in 2007.

Pena, president and CEO of the Law Offices of Richard Pena, has embodied excellence in the legal profession for decades. He made history as the first Hispanic and minority president of the Austin Bar Association in 1990 and the State Bar of Texas, is a trailblazer in the Hispanic legal community, a trusted mentor to many, and has consistently provided the organized bar with stellar leadership and service.

Following his tenures as president of the Austin Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas, Pena continued serving the legal community as president of the American Bar Foundation, completing multiple terms as a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates, serving on multiple committees within the American Bar Association, and actively engaging with several other legal organizations.

For more information on the NCBP, go to ncbp.org.

Posted inAward NominationsPro Bono

Nominations sought for pro bono awards

The State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee and the State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee are seeking nominations for their annual awards.

Award recipients are deserving individuals, groups, or entities that perform exceptional work in the field of legal services to the poor.

The Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee honors recipients with its Pro Bono Excellence Awards, including the Frank J. Scurlock Award, named after the first chair of the committee who tirelessly provided legal services to the poor; the J. Chrys Dougherty Legal Services Award; the Judge Merrill Hartman Pro Bono Judge Award; the Pro Bono Award; the Pro Bono Coordinator Award; the W. Frank Newton Award; and the Pro Bono Support Staff Award. For more information about these awards and to download nomination submission forms, go here.

The Legal Services to the Poor in Criminal Matters Committee recognizes two outstanding individuals or organizations with its Indigent Defense Awards. The Warren Burnett Award honors extraordinary contributions to improving the quality of criminal legal representation to indigent Texans. The Michael K. Moore Award for Excellence in Research or Writing in the Area of Indigent Criminal Defense recognizes exceptional indigent criminal defense research or writing that contributes to the knowledge of the bench and bar. For more information about these awards and to download nomination submission forms, go here.

Nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 21 and recipients will be notified in May. Attorney nominees must be in good standing with the State Bar.

For more information about these awards, contact the Legal Access Department at 512- 427-1855 or by email at probono@texasbar.com.

Posted inAccess to JusticeNewsTexas Supreme Court

Texas Access to Justice Commission takes action on working group report

The Texas Access to Justice Commission met December 15 to consider the report from the commission’s Access to Legal Services Working Group. After accepting public comment and discussion among the commissioners, the commission voted to approve the following recommendations from the working group’s report:

  • Authorize Supreme Court of Texas-licensed (1) paraprofessionals to represent and assist low-income Texans with certain matters in certain areas of the law and (2) Community Justice Workers to provide limited-scope representation in justice court cases, under the supervision of an attorney working for a legal aid entity or other nonprofit entity. (“Low income” is defined as at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines as determined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)
  • Create rules, qualifications, licensing, and disciplinary infrastructure within the Judicial Branch Certification Commission to ensure paraprofessionals have the necessary training, skill, and oversight to deliver quality services while protecting the public.

The Access to Justice Commission voted against the working group’s other proposal, which would create a pilot program, regulated and overseen by the Judicial Branch Certification Commission and the Supreme Court, that permits non-attorney ownership under an exception to Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 5.04 for entities that demonstrate a business model that provides services to low-income Texans and includes infrastructure to protect clients and ensure attorney independence. Continue Reading

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