SBOT President’s Column
by Trey Apffel
We marked the beginning of summer at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, which was held this year at the Austin Convention Center. The conference proved successful in large part because of the support and contributions of the Austin legal community. It was an extraordinary time to be in the Capital City, which had recently hosted four of the five living presidents at the Civil Rights Summit, and we were honored to learn more about the significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from two keynote speakers, Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Larry Temple, who served as LBJ’s special counsel. In two short days, we also networked with friends and colleagues; participated in CLE programming; and heard from Bobby Ray Inman, the former director of the National Security Agency, and Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center. And in keeping with the theme of celebrating civil rights, we witnessed a reenactment of the oral argument in Sweatt v. Painter in the historic Supreme Court Courtroom in the Capitol. I want to thank the Annual Meeting Committee and each of you for your time, and I hope you will continue to be involved with the bar throughout the year.
As we move through summer and toward the busy fall, my focus will be on communications. I want you to know what we are doing to better provide services to members. I plan to use every available channel—from print to email to social media—to communicate with you in all the different ways you receive information. We are expanding our breadth of social media platforms—we’ve seen an increase of more than 2,300 Facebook fans and 3,700 Twitter followers since June of 2013—and have recently launched a beta version of Texas Bar Connect, a private online community that allows Texas attorneys to engage in legal discussions, share files, create blogs and make professional connections.
Our new mobile-friendly version of our website makes it easy to navigate our most visited pages—Find a Lawyer, Contact Us, Calendar of Events—and find links to our blogs, all from your tablet or smartphone. We are also working on a refresh of our website, texasbar.com, so that the public and members can find the information they need in a well-designed user-friendly environment. If we are communicating effectively, every attorney who needs guidance on an ethical dilemma will know to call the State Bar Ethics Helpline. If we are doing our job, Texans who are in a legal bind will know to turn to our Lawyer Referral Information Service to find an attorney. If we are getting our message out, then every lawyer, judge, and law student will know to call the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program if a substance abuse or mental health issue is affecting their life or the life of a colleague or friend.
Staying relevant means not only reaching you through a new communications effort, but also addressing other issues that are facing the profession. We have to find ways to lessen the effects of a turbulent job market for younger lawyers and also provide a comfort zone for attorneys as they practice into their later years. I understand the daily challenges that a majority of you face, and I want to assist you in making your practices more productive and lives less stressful. To that end, there are already many benefits and resources available, from the Texas Bar Career Center, which provides a searchable database of job opportunities, distributes an electronic Job Flash highlighting new job postings, and allows users to post their résumés and sign up for job alerts to Fastcase, a free legal research engine new to members that makes running a practice more manageable and features legal research apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. But I need your input—and your help—to do more and to work together to make our profession stronger.
As we look to a new year, think of these three words: engage, inform, and inspire. Engage: Be present and active. Inform: Learn about a service the bar provides to members and spread the word. Inspire: Recommit yourself to the profession. I will be living by those three words. I hope you will do the same. I am looking forward to working with you and hearing your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.