DBA State Bar President’s Update
by Bob Black
During this holiday season, it is important for us to remember that many of our colleagues are facing some tough economic realities and having to make hard choices, whether they are looking for a job or thinking about going solo, or just trying to figure out how to pay the bills. Because of these challenges, I want to highlight just a few of the resources and services available through the State Bar of Texas to help members in their practices.
Access to legal research is key for lawyers to effectively do their jobs. The State Bar offers Casemaker, which provides free online legal research including material from all 50 states and a federal library. More than 25,000 Texas attorneys have already signed up. You can access Casemaker on the State Bar website (www.texasbar.com). The State Bar also offers free CLE from time to time at www.texasbarcle.com. Check the website regularly for available courses. Other resources to help you build your practice include the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s “Office in a Flash,” available online at www.tyla.org or on a flash drive. This program provides the resources lawyers need to open a practice, including information on business plans, office space, technology needs, revenue sources and money management.
Other State Bar programs that may be helpful include member discounts, which features dozens of discounted services and products, from office supplies and rental cars to travel packages and insurance. Check out the website at www.texasbar.com/discounts. If you are looking for a job, or perhaps looking for the right person for a job, visit the State Bar’s online Career Center (go to www.texasbar.com and click on “Career Center” at the top of the page). Job seekers can post a resume for free and can sign up to receive monthly emails.
For a more complete list of resources, visit www.texasbar.com/toughtimes, where you can access links to job search and networking sites, free legal research, member discounts, practice management resources and stress management resources.
Helping Texas Students and Teachers
In my September State Bar President’s Update, I introduced you to a new State Bar civics initiative called Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers. This web-based project was developed with the invaluable assistance of the State Bar’s Law-Related Education Department and its director, Jan Miller and focuses on the landmark court decisions that middle and high students must know to be successful as set out in the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. The new standards—the first in 13 years—took effect at the beginning of this academic year. The website—www.texasbar.com/civics—offers links to case summaries, texts of the actual court opinions and additional resources and games.
Middle school students are required to study five seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases: Marbury v. Madison (1803), McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Gibbons v. Odgen (1824), Worcester v. Georgia (1832), and Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). High school students are required to know 19 additional cases, from the well-known—Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966)—to more recent cases, such as Edgewood ISD v. Kirby (1989) and Texas v. Johnson (1989). Students are not the only ones who must know about these cases. For teachers facing limited resources, this website provides access to comprehensive resource and curriculum materials to assist them in preparing engaging lesson plans.
Perhaps the most exciting resource on the website is a series of videos the State Bar commissioned on the five middle school cases. Each video is between 12 and 15 minutes and features archival materials, an engaging narrator, and interviews with leading Texas lawyers and law professors. The videos help bring the cases to life and help students better understand how these cases are important to their lives today.
Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans
A year and a half into the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans program, it is going stronger than ever—and that is thanks to the many dedicated volunteer attorneys and legal aid attorneys and staff who give their time and expertise to help our veterans through veterans legal clinics across the state. I want to commend the Dallas legal community, from individual lawyers to law firms and in-house legal departments, who have volunteered at the Dallas veterans legal clinics or have taken a veteran’s case pro bono.
In my President’s Opinion in the November Texas Bar Journal (www.texasbar.com/tbj), I asked two of my fellow lawyers in Beaumont to share the stories of their fathers, who both served and died in Vietnam. These lawyers volunteered for a veteran’s legal clinic to honor their fathers’ service and sacrifice. If you haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer for a clinic, I highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful way to give our thanks and assistance to the men and women who have served our country. You can contact the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program at (214) 243-2243 to learn more about getting involved.