You know them when you see them—those people who get things done, motivate others to do their best, inspire the masses, or simply instill in others a sense of accomplishment. They are coaches, parents, friends, teachers, and mentors. They come from all walks of life—and their reach knows no boundaries. What makes a great leader? In the legal profession, leadership translates to vision, opportunity, and service. In 2008, the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association founded LeadershipSBOT, a yearlong training program for up-and-coming Texas lawyers. “The program evolved into a wonderful opportunity to develop bar leadership that looked like Texas by including lawyers from diverse backgrounds, practice areas, and regions of the state,” said Harper Estes, who was the driving force behind LeadershipSBOT during his State Bar presidency, along with TYLA President Sylvia Cardona. More than six years later, the academy is a resounding success, with many graduates having gone on to become leaders in the bar, their firms, and their communities. We asked current and former LeadershipSBOT members, State Bar presidents, and TYLA presidents to tell us about leadership and the inspiration that helped them become who they are today. Here are their responses. Isaac Faaz ATTORNEY, NORTH TEXAS INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS, LINEBARGER GOGGAN BLAIR & SAMPSON, DALLAS LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 A leader works hard for his or her family and community and has integrity, high ethical standards, and a positive spirit to find resolution. CONNIE JIMENEZ-FLORES CIVIL TRIAL ATTORNEY, SCHERR & LEGATE, EL PASO LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Every individual defines leadership by his or her own life experiences. Believing in and encouraging others to accomplish their greatest potential is how I define leadership. JOSHUA SNIDER Shareholder, Gordon Davis Johnson & Shane, El Paso LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is showing an absence of fear in the face of adversity while guiding and inspiring people at the same time. ANNAPOORNI R. SANKARAN Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Houston LeadershipSBOT Class of 2011-2012, State Bar of Texas Minority Director Leadership is an opportunity to put the success of a group or organization above all else, galvanize support for the mission, and empower people to execute it. JOSHUA LUKE SANDOVAL Assistant Criminal District Attorney, Bexar County, San Antonio LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 In its essence, leadership is going out of one’s comfort zone to learn ways of enhancing organizations, communities, and professions. As a Texas attorney, one of the most important ways of assuming leadership roles in the community is education. JULIET MCBRIDE Senior Associate, King & Spalding, Houston LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is not confined to the practice of law or the legal profession. Rather, leadership translates into a lifetime commitment of advocacy on behalf of those in need. TREY APFFEL ATTORNEY, APFFEL LAW FIRM, LEAGUE CITY 2014-2015 President, State Bar of Texas Leadership is about showing up for the job at hand. Visibility shows a level of commitment. A good leader would never ask someone to do something that he or she would not do themselves. A good leader needs to be able to articulate a message that makes sense. If it doesn’t, you will lose credibility. Credibility and genuine effort are most important for those with the reins in their hands. Lastly, a good leader will be judged more by what you do than by what you say. So don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You will earn your stripes and the respect that goes with it. AMY BLAKE Attorney, Amy Blake Law, Cooper LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 A great leader is someone who has even better character. Being a leader does not necessarily mean that you have to be the loudest. It means that you have values and stand by them, especially during the hard times. BUCK FILES Shareholder, Bain, Files, Jarrett, Bain & Harrison, Tyler 2012-2013 President, State Bar of Texas Leadership is the learned art of inspiring others to work with you to accomplish a task. For more than 50 years, these rules have worked for me: Lead by example. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of you. Follow the seven P’s of leadership—Prior Proper Planning Prevents Pathetically Poor Performance. Listen while you are leading. Try for consensus. Be humble. JENNIFER EVANS MORRIS General Attorney, Litigation, AT&T, Dallas 2010-2011 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association I learned about leadership from former TYLA President David McAtee, who identified people’s greatest strengths, put them in positions that utilized those strengths, made them feel like it was their idea, and then gave them all the credit. You are only as successful as those you lead. ASHLEY L. WHITE Associate, Davidson Troilo Ream & Garza, San Antonio LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 The legal market has changed drastically. For young attorneys to survive and excel in this new environment, they have to start thinking differently. RICHARD THOMPSON Associate, Rees, Rees, and Fuller Attorneys at Law, Colorado City LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leaders lead by example, even when people aren’t watching. It means being an ethical attorney even if it doesn’t make you the most profitable attorney. As the laws continuously change in Texas, strong leaders help inform and educate others to ensure the client’s success. C.E. RHODES Managing Legal Director - International Operations (Middle East Asia Pacific Region), Baker Hughes, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2012-2013 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association Leadership is the ability to effectively communicate a vision to a team, inspire and motivate them to act together to achieve a common goal, and at the same time, give them the confidence and flexibility to achieve the goal, perhaps in a way the leader had not thought possible. The true measure of success is not only whether the goal was achieved but also whether the team had fun along the way. SHINIQUE D. WILLIAMS Public Liability Specialist I - Risk Management, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is thoroughly about service. Leadership as a Texas lawyer is based upon reaching within oneself and sowing outward so that the group might flourish. It is an incorporation of each of my experiences and skills, coupled with my desire to serve. Leadership for me is being present. MONIKA SANFORD Associate, Haynes and Boone, Dallas LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership involves challenging stereotypes and old cultural mindsets and being a mentor to, advocate for, and champion of diverse candidates who want to pursue a career in the law. RANDOL STOUT Attorney, Law Office of Randol L. Stout, San Angelo LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Texans greatly value their communities, and improving these communities is what it means to be a leading Texas lawyer. MARTIE GARCIA VELA First Assistant District Attorney of the 229th Judicial District, Rio Grande City LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership guidance is essential to lawyers who seek to have their level of professionalism enhanced. REBEKAH STEELY BROOKER MEMBER, SCHEEF & STONE, DALLAS 2014-2015 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association It’s been said that average leaders raise the bar for themselves, good leaders raise the bar for others, and great leaders inspire others to raise their own bars. I couldn’t agree more. As President Reagan said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things; the greatest leader is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things.” HARPER ESTES Attorney, Lynch, Chappell & Alsup, Midland 2008-2009 President, State Bar of Texas The most effective leaders I have known understood that those who lead must first serve and must always continue in service. St. Augustine wrote, “Do you want to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” Leaders are borne of relationships and sustained by nurturing those relationships in service to others and to the cause to which they were called to lead. TERRANCE GARMON ASSISTANT CITY ATTORNEY, TYLER LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is the ability to influence and drive others through actions, perseverance, strength, motivation, humility, wisdom, and speech. ANUJ SHAH Managing Shareholder, the Law Office of Anuj A. Shah, Houston LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 It has been said that one’s vitality and effectiveness in life are directly proportional to one’s degree of participation. And what is leadership, if not the highest degree of participation in a community’s undertakings? CRAIG MOORE ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, TRAVIS COUNTY, AUSTIN LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 I truly believe that diversity in the legal profession, particularly among individuals in leadership positions, is a recipe for success. There is strength in diversity. TIFFANY KAMUCHE Attorney, Kamuche Law Firm, Dallas LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is more than a title; it is a state of mind. You have to be a leader in your own right before anyone ever calls you one. This is accomplished by understanding what lies at the core of leadership: service, competency, and effort. LISA M. TATUM Attorney, LM Tatum, San Antonio 2013-2014 President, State Bar of Texas Leadership is often defined as the position of guidance by someone who directs or commands. For me, leadership is servanthood, a commitment to perform a service to another or to a cause or creed. There are moments of triumph and pains of failure. I love serving with all its highs, lows, and in-betweens. TOM KNAPP Attorney, the Law Office of Tom Knapp, Amarillo LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is not something you can ask for; it is something you do by example. Being a good leader, especially as it relates to being a Texas lawyer, is doing the right thing, even when doing the right thing is the tough decision. KRISTY BLANCHARD Attorney, Blanchard & Thomas, Flower Mound 2013-2014 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association Leadership is having the courage to stand up for what you believe in and the ability to inspire others to stand with you. ALEX YARBROUGH Associate, Sprouse Shrader Smith, Amarillo LeadershipSBOT Class of 2012-2013, TYLA District 16 Director Leadership is giving what you have to offer. If you have a vehicle, offer to transport people or things; if you have trial experience, offer to coach a mock trial team; if you have a few extra dollars, donate some to an organization that inspires you. We all have different things to offer, and being a good leader is about recognizing this. Finally, I honestly believe in punctuality. Punctuality is important to Boy Scouts, military personnel, and judges, so it must be significant. Show up on time, listen to others, and give what you have to offer, and you will be on the right path to being a great leader. JESSICA HALL JANICEK Attorney, KoonsFuller, Southlake LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is absolutely at its core about how you can contribute to and learn from your legal community. CORI A. HARBOUR-VALDEZ Attorney, the Harbour Law Firm, El Paso 2009-2010 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association Leadership means finding the individual strengths of your group and helping others maximize their potential. The group is more motivated to act when individuals feel their voices are heard and their strengths are being utilized. I believe this inspires passion and promotes ownership of the shared goal. BOB BLACK Shareholder, MehaffyWeber, Houston and Beaumont 2011-2012 President, State Bar of Texas Leadership means not only having the vision to see the central importance of the rule of law to our democracy but also ceaselessly speaking up for it and educating about it. RUDOLPH METAYER Special Counsel, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Pflugerville LeadershipSBOT Class of 2012-2013, TYLA District 8 Place 1 Director Leaders create leaders. I’m struck by the number of people who have helped to cultivate me into the person I am today. From my early years as the class clown—when my sixth-grade teacher warned me that other students followed my lead and I could use my leadership abilities “for good or for evil”—to LeadershipSBOT, which reinforced the idea that lawyers have a responsibility to be leaders in their respective communities, the common thread has been that leaders were teaching me how to lead. And that is the most important thing I believe leaders do. JOSE VEGA Associate Attorney, Robles Bracken & Hughes, El Paso LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 I am committed to the profession of law and aspire to build the reputation of attorneys as leaders in the community. AMANDA MCKINZIE ASSOCIATE, BOWMAN AND BROOKE, DALLAS LeadershipSBOT Class of 2014-2015 Leadership is about empowering people and inspiring them to achieve more than they thought possible. It is not enough for a leader to simply demand action. A true leader leads others by listening, understanding, inspiring, and finding solutions. ROLAND K. JOHNSON Attorney, Harris, Finley & Bogle, Fort Worth 2009-2010 President, State Bar of Texas Forest Gump might say that leadership is as leadership does. Great leaders begin with the end in mind. They are expected to see what others don’t, to guide through adversity, and to motivate others to reach for the common good. But how do you know what leadership does? As Dr. Henry Cloud suggests, imagine you are the driver of a ski boat. There are people riding in the boat, people being pulled by the boat, and other people on the lake. So how is it looking behind you? It is up to you to be reflective and intentional about how you use leadership to cause either shadow or light in your office, in the boardroom or courtroom, and in your community. NATALIE COBB KOEHLER Bosque County Attorney, Meridian 2011-2012 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association Leadership is having strong character and working with others, not for short-term glory but for long-term impact on the organization and the hearts of the people you are leading. RAYMOND BAEZA Attorney, Farmers Insurance Exchange, El Paso LeadershipSBOT Class of 2012-2013, TYLA District 14 Director A true leader recognizes others’ strengths and is not afraid to hand off the baton to further the purpose. KIMBERLY CLARK Attorney, Civil Division of the Special Prosecution Unit, Huntsville LeadershipSBOT Class of 2013-2014, TYLA Minority-at-Large Director I have encountered the gamut of leaders and have found that those who inspire me to go above and beyond in my service embody the ability to make everyone around them feel included. They make each person feel appreciated for what they bring to the table and empower them to aspire for greatness.
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