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The State Bar of Texas Blog, offering news and information for TX lawyers & attorneys on Rule of Law, justice, law-related education, MCLE, CLE, law licenses, the Supreme Court of Texas, the Texas Bar Journal & bar exams.
Warren W. Harris, a partner at Bracewell, is the new president of the Houston Bar Association. Harris succeeds Alistair B. Dawson, a partner in Beck Redden, who will serve on the HBA Board of Directors as immediate past president.
Warren W. Harris
Harris chairs the appellate practice group at Bracewell and serves as appellate counsel in major trials to provide strategic advice, preserve error, argue jury charges, and handle post-verdict motions.
As HBA president, Harris intends to focus on initiatives that promote professionalism, ethics, member services, and community involvement through programs that educate the public on judicial civics, the rule of law, and the role of lawyers in society.
Harris has been a member of the HBA Board of Directors since 2008. He chaired the HBA’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers and Houston Lawyer Referral Service, as well as the HBA Appellate Practice Section. He served as editor in chief of The Houston Lawyer and as chair of the State Bar of Texas Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors. Harris is a life fellow of the Houston Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, where he served as fellows chair. He is a past president of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and received the 2017 Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award from the Texas Bar Foundation. Harris is certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Other new HBA officers are Benny Agosto Jr., of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels & Aziz, president-elect; Jennifer A. Halsey, of Hasley Scarano, first vice president; Chris Popov, of Vinson & Elkins, second vice president; David Harrell, of Locke Lord, secretary; and Bill Kroger, Baker Botts, treasurer.
New directors for 2018-2020 are Diana Gomez, of Chamberlain Hrdlicka; Greg Moore, of Norton Rose Fulbright; Robert Painter, of Painter Law Firm; and Greg Ulmer, of Baker Hostetler.
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Amarillo lawyer Christopher Wrampelmeier, who enjoys the ease of using the material straight from his browser window, said he keeps the online version of the Texas Family Law Practice Manual open on one of his two computer screens. “When I have a question about the law, I consult its practice notes, which are just a click away,” he said. “The online version requires no updating by me and is available wherever I have access to the internet. For new and old lawyers, the online Texas Family Law Practice Manual is an essential tool. Don’t practice Texas family law without it.”
If you want to update those old electronics or spruce up your car but worry about the price, your Member Benefit Program can help. The site has deals on everything from cameras and computers to car parts. Check out the Electronics and Automotive pages for more info.
For more information on other discounts you’re eligible for as a member of the State Bar of Texas, visit texasbar.com/benefits.
Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices and more.
The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting will again bring us two amazing days of networking, CLE sessions, and knowledgeable speakers. The event, June 21-22 in Houston, will feature keynote addresses from historian and author Joseph Crespino, businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley.
Joseph Crespino, the Jimmy Carter Professor of American History at Emory University, will be the keynote speaker at the Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon on June 21. Crespino is a historian of the American South since Reconstruction. He has written three books, including his most recent, Atticus Finch: The Biography—Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon.
On June 22, Houston businessman and philanthropist Jim McIngvale, known and beloved as “Mattress Mack,” will speak at the Bench Bar Breakfast. McIngvale famously opened two of his Gallery Furniture stores to use as shelters for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
Rounding out keynote speakers for Annual Meeting will be Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. Brinkley is the keynote speaker of the General Session Luncheon on June 22. He is a bestselling author, a Grammy Award-winning producer, and a presidential historian for CNN. Eight of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. His most recent book, JFK: A Vision of America, features the president’s greatest speeches as well as reflections from leading historians, statesmen, and public figures.
The “early bird” registration rate for Annual Meeting is good through May 21. After that day, the cost of registration will increase. For more information on how to register, go here.
The Task Force on the Texas Bar Examination issued its report to the Texas Supreme Court on May 16, including a recommendation that the state adopt the Uniform Bar Examination.
The task force recommended the Uniform Bar Examination, or UBE, but rejected the “diploma privilege” that would allow Texas law school graduates to practice law in the state without taking a bar exam.
The task force recommended the adoption of the UBE for its utility to law graduates who might want to practice in several jurisdictions without retaking bar exams in each.
The report said, “Examinees who score well enough on the UBE become eligible for admission by examination to the bar in every jurisdiction in which the UBE has been adopted.”
The UBE is used by more than half of the U.S. It has been adopted by 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
While unanimously rejecting the full diploma privilege for any law school or law school graduates, the task force did encourage Texas law schools to develop alternative licensing programs.
Other recommendations from the task force include:
• If the UBE is adopted, the Multistate Essay Exam should replace Texas essays. The task force suggests supplementing the UBE with a Texas law component, consisting of a Texas Law Exam to be administered online following the completion of, or in conjunction with, an online Texas law course.
• If the UBE is adopted, the number of essays would be reduced from 12 to six by adoption of the Multistate Essay Exam. If the UBE is not adopted, the task force still recommends reducing the number of essays from 12 to six.
• If the UBE is adopted, the equivalent passing score should be 270. If it is not adopted, the Texas Bar Exam passing score should remain at 675. In either occurrence, the task force recommends the Supreme Court consider a standard-setting study to determine whether the passing score meets a standard of minimum competence to practice law. (A list of minimum passing UBE scores can be found here).
• If the current Texas Bar Exam is retained without change, the task force recommends that the current scoring system should be continued. The task force found that no internal evidence demonstrated that the exam was not performing as intended.
As a result of concerns about the Multistate Bar Exam, the principal Texas Bar Exam component, and their bearings on recent bar-passage rates, the task force proposed an independent study of Texas Bar Exam scores. However, issues with the availability of relevant data from Texas law schools, the National Conference of Bar Examiners—the group behind the UBE—and the Board of Law Examiners remained unresolved, and the task force concluded an independent study could not be carried out.
The Supreme Court created the task force in June 2016 to answer questions about across-the-board declines in bar exam passage rates across the country. The task force, which was led by St. Mary’s University School of Law Dean Stephen M. Sheppard, also included SMU Dedman School of Law Dean Jennifer M. Collins, the University of Texas School of Law Dean Ward Farnsworth, Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law Dean Dannye Holley, Baylor Law School Dean Bradley J.B. Toben, Texas Tech University School of Law Professor Cassie Christopher, Chief Justice Jeff Rose of the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas Board of Law Examiners chair Harold “Al” Odom, Texas Board of Law Examiners vice chair Augustin “Augie” Rivera Jr., Texas Board of Law Examiners member C. Alfred Mackenzie, Dallas attorney Beverly B. Godbey, and Dallas attorney Rebekah Steely Brooker. The Supreme Court liaison to the task force was Justice Jeff Brown.
Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance abuse or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.
What’s it like living with bipolar II disorder?
It’s been a while since I’ve had a hypomanic episode. I can remember feeling great, but with an edge. Everything would be fine, but then I would start to feel irritable. I could almost feel myself vibrating just beneath the surface of my skin. Any little thing would completely set me off into a rage—someone cutting me off in traffic, someone questioning what I was telling them.
I can remember one time when I could feel myself about to come unglued, and I had to tell my son, who was in first grade at the time, that mommy needed him to be quiet for a just little bit. Not my proudest parenting moment.
But I didn’t always catch myself first. Usually I went from flying high to absolute rage with little warning. Then the depression would follow. That I can remember distinctly, because the pain of my last serious depressive episode, though several years passed, is still fresh in my memory.
I’ve been dealing with mood disorders since I was a teenager. Depression first came on the scene when I was 16 years old. I told my mom that I thought I was depressed, and she told me I couldn’t be depressed because I had nothing to be depressed about.
I struggled with ups and downs throughout my teens—the ups, the rages, and the lows—and finally in undergrad I had my first major depressive episode. I was taking a psychology class at the time and went to my professor’s office in tears because I just didn’t know how much longer I could keep living. That struggle—to keep living—has continued to be a common theme in my life.
Depression is a continuous loop of sadness, guilt, and self-loathing. And even when you aren’t depressed, you are constantly vigilant, looking for any signs that the next episode is coming on. Most days I feel like I am treading water, trying to keep moving so this thing that’s been chasing me doesn’t catch up to me again. It can be absolutely exhausting, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
I still struggle against the diagnosis. I still struggle to take the pills and do the counseling sessions. But I know I have to. I’ve seen what happens when I don’t, and my family deserves better.
I deserve better.
Even though I have this label that follows me around everywhere, I’m a better person because of it. I can relate to people dealing with terrible situations that they have no control over. I can talk to clients about their mental health problems and can help them with their cases, because I really understand. I am kinder, and I am more compassionate.
And when my son, now an undergrad himself, came to me about his own depression, I knew how to help him. I knew how to help him, because I had helped myself first.
Bipolar II disorder doesn’t define me; it is just one part of me. And fortunately, it’s a manageable part.
As we all know the practice of law becomes more competitive all the time. Lawyers are looking for any legal edge they can find to help them stand out. This has created an industry of legal vanity organizations whose primary agenda is to promote their members. One of the most innovative organizations in this space who constantly promotes their members to the legal industry as well as general public is Lawyers Of Distinction.
Lawyers of Distinction stands apart by advertising their member roster in national legal publications like the American Bar Association Journal, The American Lawyer and The National Law Journal. Additionally, Lawyers of Distinction publishes membership announcements in The New York Times. Online, Lawyers of Distinction runs targeted ads across multiple web site channels including Google and Yahoo as well as daily social media posts announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Of all the legal vanity organizations, Lawyers of Distinction is certainly the most innovative technologically giving its members very broad and consistent exposure.
Lawyers of Distinction also encourages members to provide news, case results, law firm announcements and other newsworthy items, which it then publishes on social media giving members constant exposure.
Another really cool feature of the Lawyers of Distinction model is the most comprehensive biographical section for each member including a Google Maps feature and most recently a section with member reviews from Google, Yelp and Avvo, all aggregated in one place. This feature makes searching for an attorney seamless since objective rankings and reviews are integrated into the member profile. While many legal vanity organizations strive to promote their members, none of them come close to Lawyers Of Distinction when it comes to marketing it’s members.
For further information on Lawyers of Distinction and how it can help benefit you and your law practice, visit lawyersofdistinction.com.
New offerings are available at the State Bar of Texas Knowledge Center, a repository of relevant news and information that practitioners can access for free. Need help drafting a Texas company agreement? Get the information to make it happen from Thomson Reuters. A complimentary e-book from LawPay provides tips to strengthen client communications. The National Institute for Trial Advocacy features articles on techniques to enhance communication skills. The Knowledge Center is a new program by the State Bar of Texas aimed at offering members a resource for the latest whitepapers, case studies, trial reports, and more. To get started, go to texasbar.com/knowledgecenter.
Michele Wong Krause, a Dallas-based solo practitioner, was nominated to the American Bar Association Board of Governors by its Nominating Committee at the 2018 ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, and will be officially elected to her post for a three-year term by the ABA House of Delegates at its annual meeting in Chicago in August.
Krause, a former State Bar of Texas director from 2004 to 2007 and 2011 to 2014, is also a member of the Commission on Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts and was on the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities from 2014 to 2017.
In her new role as an ABA governor, Krause will help oversee the operation of the ABA and develop plans of action. The board, along with the ABA House of Delegates, is responsible for policymaking and general organizational oversight while employees put to practice those policies.
Veterans can receive free legal advice at a clinic hosted by the Houston Northwest Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Association, and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative on Saturday, May 19.
The clinic will offer veterans and spouses of deceased veterans advice and counsel from volunteer attorneys in any area of law, including family law, wills and probate, consumer law, real estate and tax law, and disability and veterans benefits. Those who qualify for legal aid and are in need of ongoing legal representation may be assigned a pro bono attorney to take their case.
The clinic, which does not require an appointment, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tomball VA Outpatient Clinic, 1200 W. Main St., Tomball 77375.
The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly Friday afternoon clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. For more information, go to hba.org.
To view a list of other free veteran legal clinics around the state, please go to the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans webpage at texasbar.com/veterans.
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