DBA State Bar President’s Update
By Bob Black
It has been a great privilege to serve you this year as president of the State Bar of Texas. It has been an incredible journey, one I will be long in remembering. I come away from this year proud of our profession and the work we are doing. The Dallas legal community is an especially engaged group, and I have been continually impressed at the many outstanding ways you serve your fellow lawyers and the community.
Educating the Public
One of my main efforts as president has centered on education, both to the profession and to the public. Educating the public about the role of the judiciary and how we as lawyers serve the judicial branch is crucial to not only helping citizens become more aware of and involved in our democratic system but also helping to improve the reputation of our profession over time.
I realized early on that we needed to focus on our schools. Civics education is critical to fostering engaged citizens who understand our democracy and the liberties it protects. To engage students, we must find ways to teach civics in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner.
We developed Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers to provide teachers across the state with a website (www.texasbar.com/civics) full of helpful resources, lesson plans, and even games. A key component of the website are videos geared to middle school students about seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases that illustrate the independence and equality of the judicial branch. In the coming bar year, several new videos designed for high school students will be added. Teacher response to the website and videos has been incredibly enthusiastic.
Serving Our Members
This year, it has been especially important to me to make sure you are aware that the State Bar of Texas is focused on serving you, our members. During my 32 years as a lawyer, I have never witnessed tougher times for our profession. Thus, I want to point out some resources that can help you in your day-to-day practice, help you build your practice, or help you find a job.
The State Bar offers members free online legal research through Casemaker. This service includes material from all 50 states and a federal library. You can access Casemaker on the State Bar website (www.texasbar.com). The State Bar also offers the opportunity to get free CLE from time to time at www.texasbarcle.com, and the Law Practice Management Program has plenty of tools and resources to help you in your practice.The Texas Young Lawyers Association’s “Office in a Flash,” available online at www.tyla.org or on a flash drive, can assist young lawyers—or any lawyer—in opening a practice.
The State Bar also has a revamped online Career Center, where job seekers can post resumes for free (available at www.texasbar.com), as well as a member discounts program (www.texasbar.com/discounts) that features dozens of discount service providers. You can learn about these programs and more at www.texasbar.com/toughtimes.
I encourage you to make plans to attend this year’s State Bar Annual Meeting in Houston at the George R. Brown Convention Center on June 14-15. Where else will you have the opportunity to get a year’s worth of CLE all in one spot? We have an outstanding slate of CLE programming planned with more than 35 participating State Bar Sections, as well as special tracks for ethics, law practice management and legal innovations and technology.
Our featured speakers include former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who will provide his perspective on America’s position in the world; bestselling author and lawyer Richard North Patterson; and entertainment lawyer Marshawn Evans, an expert on branding, relationship building, and business strategy.
In a special exhibit at the Annual Meeting, we will showcase 21 Texas court records that have been preserved through the efforts of the State Bar and the Texas Supreme Court-appointed Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force. These records, which were featured in the March Texas Bar Journal, provide an intriguing glimpse into our rich legal heritage and illustrate how much we have in common with past generations. (If you would like to be a part of preserving our state’s historical legal documents, you can make a contribution to the Texas Bar Historical Foundation at P.O. Box 12487, Austin, TX 78711-2487.)
I encourage you to check out everything the State Bar Annual Meeting has to offer. To register online or for more information, visit www.texasbar.com/annualmeeting.