Lowell Brown, Hannah Kiddoo, Lindsay Stafford Mader & Patricia McConnico 2015-08-26 00:41:15
Bright Beginnings Allan K. DuBois wants to raise the profile of TLAP, connect young and old lawyers, and provide access to justice for low-income Texans. “I KNOW THAT THE STATE BAR OF TEXAS POSITIVELY CHANGED MY LIFE,” said San Antonio trial lawyer Allan K. DuBois, who was inducted as the 2015-2016 State Bar of Texas president at the General Session Luncheon on June 19. DuBois’s history plays a large role in the path he sets out on as president, one where he will give back to and spread the word about the resources that helped him overcome alcoholism more than two decades ago. “For nearly 25 years, I have been successful in recovery and practice because of the programs and peer support offered through the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program and Texas Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers,” he said. “Much work needs to be done as ours is a stressful profession.” DuBois discussed his presidential initiatives, including ensuring accessibility to and awareness of programs like TLAP and securing funds—including a $250,000 State Bar commitment—to support the Patrick Sheeran & Michael J. Crowley Memorial Trust, an independent entity that provides financial assistance to attorneys with substance abuse or mental health issues who can’t afford medical treatment. “Think of what 100,000 lawyers could do if we came up with only 10 bucks each,” he said. “I plan to seek similar help this year from all of you.” DuBois will also aim to address access to justice for low-income Texans, immigrant families, and veterans. He laid out his goal to encourage the 7,500-plus attorneys over the age of 70 to participate in mentoring and pro bono programs. Wrapping up his induction speech, DuBois said he was humbled by the honor of serving the lawyers of Texas as president. “I treasure your trust, pledge to work hard to honor my sacred oath, and together we’ll have a great year.” Generation Gap Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra H. Lehrmann, past State Bar President Roland K. Johnson, and Lamont A. Jefferson, a partner in the San Antonio office of Haynes and Boone, discussed technology, diversity, and aging lawyers in a session focused on ethics and professionalism in a changing legal landscape. “Sixty-five is the new 50,” said Justice Lehrmann as she emphasized her support for career experience. “The longer you do something, the better you are at it,” she explained. Jefferson questioned how we should manage the end of legal careers of people who are declining cognitively, and Johnson identified several converging issues in the legal profession that the aging lawyer population could help address, including fewer people becoming licensed attorneys, the other generation that wants to be relevant, access to justice, and professional identity. He said older attorneys could mentor new lawyers, provide pro bono assistance, and still keep their professional identity by using and passing on their skills. Creative Thinking Ten energized leaders took the stage one by one and talked to the crowd for five minutes each on a topic of choice during IgniteSBOT. Shawn Tuma, with Scheef & Stone, offered advice on building your brand on a budget, and 2014-2015 State Bar President Trey Apffel provided a few technology tips, such as doing research via Fastcase and Casemaker—free legal research services to State Bar of Texas members—and networking with peers on Texas Bar Connect, the bar’s new private online community. Play to Win “We don’t want CSI 3-D renderings with the dog walking in the background,” said 394th Judicial District Judge Roy B. Ferguson, referring to the bench’s perspective on what works in the courtroom and what doesn’t. “What we want is what we need to make a just decision.” Additional suggestions included everything from using a flip chart and simplifying evidence to reaching all 12 jurors and telling a compelling story. Street Cred “The practice of law is a profession,” former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson told the graduating class of LeadershipSBOT. He urged the young leaders to serve their communities. LeadershipSBOT—a yearlong training academy for up-and-coming lawyers—was founded in 2008 by the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association. At the ceremony, small groups discussed their service projects and imparted inspiring words to live by. Show and Tell “Jurors process information in bytes, so edit, edit, edit,” said Steve Malouf, with Malouf & Nockels, as he discussed low- and high-tech courtroom presentations with co-panelist Jennifer Doan of Haltom & Doan. “At the end of the day, what we do as trial lawyers is tell a story,” he said. “We paint a picture.” Information overload can lead to distraction, Malouf explained, and the jury needs to be able to process and understand all details in order for you to win your case. Doan picked up on that message and stressed the importance of knowing who your jurors are. There’s an App for That In 60 minutes, three panelists—Eric Griffin, Robert A. “Tony” Ray, and Laura Leonetti—discussed their 60 favorite apps. Old standbys such as Evernote, Penultimate, and Documents to Go made the list, as did relative newbies like Unclouded (helps clean up cloud storage), Mohiomap (searches multiple cloud accounts and creates graphs for a visual data map), and Trello (creates digital whiteboards for project management). Rock the Vote This area is in flux, said Ian Pitz, a partner in Michael Best & Friedrich, referring to photo ID laws. The Madison, Wisconsin-based attorney talked about the impact of Shelby County v. Holder, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that held Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unconstitutional; states with stringent voter ID laws, including Texas and Wisconsin; and forms of identification that some states allow and others don’t. Flipping the Firm Model Fred H. Bartlit Jr., a trial lawyer perhaps best known for representing George W. Bush during the 2000 “hanging chads” case, shared his observations on the traditional law firm model during the General Session Luncheon keynote address on June 19. After spending about half of his career at a big firm, Bartlit said he realized it was more important to do a good job than to have a lot of billable hours, which is why, he said, “the prevailing large-firm business model is inherently flawed.” Bartlit told the audience that focusing on billable hours means attorneys are doing superfluous work while quality is seldom discussed, true leadership is not nourished, and little time is left for mentoring. “The biggest profits come from the least efficient operations,” he said. Bartlit recommended turning “the entire law firm model upside down” and using fewer workers and less time, rewarding not the input but the output and results. Have a firm of 85 percent partners and 25 percent associates, he suggested, with the most experienced attorneys doing the big jobs while the younger ones improve skills through training and taking on smaller cases. Bartlit stressed not being at the office on evenings and weekends and encouraged working remotely. All of this, he said, will produce better results and more fulfilled lawyers. Winning Mark Cuban’s Insider Trading Trial Tom Melsheimer, a principal in Fish & Richardson, didn’t begin representing Mark Cuban on his insider trading case until six months before trial—at which point the Dallas billionaire had already given somewhat harmful preliminary depositions to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Melsheimer reflected on this experience during a panel sponsored by the Antitrust and Business Litigation Section. Melsheimer’s first tip for attorneys was to advise clients to take everything seriously and pay attention to their body language and attitude. He also encouraged attorneys to ask potential jurors hard questions relating to a client’s reputation or wealth. “That’s what voir dire is about,” he said. “It’s not about selling your case.” Melsheimer recommended conducting a mock trial that exposes weaknesses, studying jury research, and focusing on preparing clients for cross-examination. It’s also important to understand that even big clients have their emotions involved, which Melsheimer said he realized when Cuban went on an unscripted rant to reporters after they won. “We do our clients a disservice by losing sight of the personal side to it,” Melsheimer said. “He told me that the reason why he went through this whole thing was because he didn’t want his kids to look him up in Wikipedia and read an entry about Mark Cuban’s fraud.” Rulings Roundup Breaking from their lively talking points only to update the crowd on an 11-minute-old ruling in State of Texas v. Angelique Naylor and Sabina Daly (where the court ruled that the Attorney General’s Office did not have standing to appeal the same-sex couple’s divorce), Craig T. Enoch, Susan S. Vance, and Scott Rothenberg discussed recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Texas rulings, including Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. LHC Group, Inc.; In Re Longview Energy Co.; and Randy Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P. Do the Right Thing Austin attorney and former chair of the Board of Disciplinary Appeals JoAl Cannon Sheridan addressed common ethical mistakes that lawyers make and offered solutions for avoiding them. Citing a survey conducted among her colleagues, Sheridan noted that top blunders include conflicts of interest, lack of communication with clients, negative comments about judges and opposing counsel, and failure to withdraw from a case when warranted or failure to reply to a rules violation complaint. “If there’s any advice I can give you,” Sheridan said, “it would be respond, respond, respond.” A Conversation With Sandy Shapiro In an interview with Dallas lawyer William D. Elliott, Sander W. “Sandy” Shapiro regaled fellow attorneys with stories from his more than 60 years of practicing tax law. During the hourlong conversation, Shapiro recalled some of his significant cases—including handling a migrant worker minimum wage dispute in 1961 and arguing at the federal appellate level as a beginning lawyer. “I wanted extra work,” Shapiro said. “That’s how I got into the appellate practice.” He also discussed some of the places he traveled, such as Rome for a case involving the Vatican, and the largerthan- life characters he encountered, including Bob Bullock, who served two terms as lieutenant governor, and Edward Clark, a lawyer and lobbyist who mentored Lyndon Baines Johnson. Following his talk, Shapiro received the Tax Section’s Outstanding Texas Tax Lawyer Award. The Producers The average person has an attention span of just eight seconds, according to Jasmin Brand, the CEO of Dallas-based Brandpointe. “Build your social media strategy around that,” she told the crowd during a session on creating your own video platform. Panelists Joshua Wethington of video marketing company Vidpow and Kevin O’Keefe—the CEO and founder of LexBlog, a Seattle, Washington-based company that coaches lawyers on building an online presence—agreed that a well-executed social media plan is key to a successful brand. Wethington said that you don’t need a ton of equipment to shoot and produce a video but recommended getting a good USB mic. “If they can’t hear you, they will click away in three seconds,” he explained. O’Keefe said he is excited about using video on Facebook and believes it is the No. 1 way to connect with other people. Moving On Up At a discussion on “sticky floors and glass ceilings” by the Women and the Law Section, panelists—all females in the legal industry—talked about realizing the importance of paying attention to nuances that win cases, training clients to be more accepting, being frustrated by “firms that like women who work their tails off but keep their mouths shut” when it comes to asking for raises, and encouraging women lawyers to resist judging each other’s personal decisions, such as whether or not to have children. Friendly Divorce After Leaving the Closet In a joint panel hosted by the Collaborative Law and LGBT Law sections, speakers shared their personal stories of getting divorced after accepting their gay or lesbian identities. They discussed the importance of being true to oneself and then explained how collaborative divorces can benefit most couples, including many who are ending their marriages because one spouse has recently come out of the closet. The process features both sides’ attorneys working together in the interest of all parties as opposed to acting as litigators, and it can also include a community of professionals dedicated to helping the two clients come to a reasonable solution, such as a mental health professional who ensures a calm and open atmosphere, a financial adviser, or a parenting planner. Options are evaluated and then decisions are negotiated. “It’s like ‘love 101,’ ” said Jack H. Emmott III, an attorney with Gray Reed & McGraw in Houston. “The more we do loving things, the more we enrich others and the more we’re enriched.” Emmott noted that collaborative divorces can be particularly helpful for couples with one or two LGBT spouses because it is a private process that avoids judges who might not understand the LGBT community. Belief System During the Bench Bar Breakfast, Ken Starr, president and chancellor of Baylor University, discussed religion and the law and the impact of decadesold cases, such as Wisconsin v. Yoder, as well as more recent ones, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Starr suggested finding common ground when facing religious arguments in legal disputes as well as using a threepart plan of accommodation, equality, and celebration of culture. “How can we protect freedom?” he asked. “Does the regulation or the rule point toward freedom? And does the principle or regulation point toward justice?” There’s No Place Like Home Evan Smith, editor in chief and CEO of the Texas Tribune, walked through the 84th legislative session’s top issues—from border security and medical marijuana to tax cuts and open carry—during the Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon. Smith and a bevy of Trib reporters kept the state up-to-date on the 2015 regular session through social media and the nonprofit’s Texas Legislative Guide. Smith wrapped up his keynote by emphasizing the impact of our government’s decisions on other states. “Everything that happens in Texas matters to the rest of the country,” he said. “There is no better canvas for considering this stuff. It is the most fascinating place in the world.” To see a list of local bar association winners, go to texasbar.com/annualmeetingawards. Building Blocks A panel by the State Bar’s Law Practice Management Program focused on affordable, effective technology that helps solos and small-firm lawyers build their practices. A few of the panelists recommended investing in a good case management system, and they shared a variety of real-world lessons, from avoiding practicing out of one’s inbox to backing up encrypted documents on the cloud as well as a physical device. It’s All About the Relationship “Always talk about the attorneyclient privilege,” said Kim Askew, a partner in K&L Gates in Dallas. “This is the granddaddy of all the privileges, and there’s still a lot of litigation over what it is. It hasn’t changed since any of us were in law school.” Citing dozens of recent cases, such as Gillis v. Provost & Umphrey Law Firm and Martinez v. Refinery Terminal Fire Co., Askew provided an overview of issues regarding privileges. Overcoming Prejudice Panelists agreed: Implicit biases impact the workplace every day because everyone has them—whether realized or not. “It’s our autopilot,” said Wei Wei Jeang, a partner in Andrews Kurth in Dallas. “If it’s not something that you actively correct or control, then that’s your default direction.” The speakers reviewed historical understandings of prejudice and provided examples and solutions from their own careers. For Veronica S. Lewis, a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Dallas, it’s essential to find areas of agreement, sometimes moving outside one’s comfort zone. “You have to recognize you have this problem, and you have to reach out in spite of it,” Lewis said. Other steps could include a change in office protocol, such as conducting blind resume reviews and rethinking how hiring decisions are made. “Let’s base it on some concrete examples instead of this warm and fuzzy feeling that you may have,” Jeang said. Low Bono Noting that there are inadequate numbers of legal aid lawyers to serve every indigent person in Texas, Dallas attorney Melissa Thrailkill discussed her practice model that aims to serve low-income clients. During a panel hosted by the Poverty Law Section, she shared her strategies on cutting costs— doing free research at law libraries and using inexpensive technology like Gmail and Google Drive, for example— that enable her to pass on those savings to clients and charge more affordable rates (also known as low bono), sometimes via payment plans and flat fees for certain cases such as uncontested divorces. Post-DADT Appeal Panelists of the first-ever joint session by the LGBT Law and Military and Veterans Law sections reviewed the history and process of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which barred gays from serving openly in the military. Jason Connors, a lieutenant commander at the Naval Justice School who is gay, said that since the repeal became effective in 2011, there are issues to work out with countries where the U.S. military has a presence. But generally, he said, the response from military officials has been “NSTR” (nothing significant to report), and a result is that more people are joining openly. “I thought it would be a slow trickle,” he said, “but it hasn’t been.” On the Border Frances E. Valdez, of FValdezLaw in Houston, offered tips on working with clients who are applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and also explained several immediate disqualifications, such as a felony or a terrorist affiliation. She also touched on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program. Edna Yang, of American Gateways in Austin, then discussed a recent decrease in unaccompanied minors and an increase in family apprehensions along the border, as well as the multiple lawsuits that have impacted how families and individuals are treated once they enter the country. Remembering the Callejos In 2015, just a few months apart, the Texas legal community lost two legends. Panelists Elisabeth Wilson and Marcos Ronquillo looked back on the lives and accomplishments of Adelfa and Bill Callejo during a discussion presented by the Hispanic Issues Section. Wilson told the audience how the two Dallas attorneys and civil rights activists “exemplified certain mandates of our profession,” such as honesty, candor, fairness, and an attorney’s broader duty to become involved in the problems of the disadvantaged. Adelfa, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, worked her way through 10 years of night school at Southern Methodist University School of Law, from which she was the first Hispanic woman to graduate. She went on to become a community leader and legal powerhouse. Ronquillo, who was mentored by Adelfa, said that the most important things to her were family and community. “There was no case too small, no matter too trivial for Adelfa. She handled everything zealously.” The Callejos worked tirelessly, sometimes late into the night, to strategize initiatives, such as calling for an end to the poll tax and a transition for the Dallas City Council from atlarge districts to single-member districts. Ronquillo said that Bill, an architect, engineer, and attorney, was a brilliant numbers man who excelled at forecasting and investing, ensuring that the couple had economic security to take on any task. The two complemented each other like yin and yang. “They were partners,” he said. “Nobody could get in between them.” Avoiding Cybersecurity Heartaches At a panel by the Business and Corporate Counsel Law sections, attorney Jason Smith used country songs like Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” to illustrate situations where a law firm’s cybersecurity could be compromised, such as by a disgruntled former employee trying to hack into the network. To avoid these calamities, Smith recommended updating antivirus software every day, refusing to open attachments in unsolicited emails, regularly backing up files and storing data offline on an external hard drive, encrypting files stored on the cloud, and considering cyber liability insurance to protect the firm’s most important documents. Crowdfunding Compliance Addison attorney Shanna Nugent encouraged attendees to ensure that their clients are complying with both state and federal regulations pertaining to crowdfunding, which include the Securities Act of 1933, the Jobs Act, and Sections 115.19 and 139.25 of the Texas Administrative Code. Even when meeting all requirements of our state rules, Nugent said that those involved with crowdfunding investments must still comply with federal exemptions for intrastate offerings. She also discussed the requirements of proposed rules that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is still considering after the passage of the Jobs Act in 2012. Insurance Update Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht reviewed several insurance law trials decided by the court from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015. Referring to a packet prepared by Justice Phil Johnson and his staff, Hecht discussed important cases including two dealing with spoliation—Brookshire Bros., Ltd. v. Aldridge and Wackenhut Corp. v. Gutierrez . “The destruction of evidence really tears at the fabric of the justice system,” he said, noting, “We don’t want spoliation to become the new sanctions.” When reviewing RSUI v. Lynd, a case dealing with an insurer’s calculation of limits on losses, Hecht said it illustrated the “growing difficulty our court is having in interpreting texts, like statutes and policies.” State Bar Board Report The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors wrapped up the 2014-2015 bar year and kicked off 2015-2016 with meetings held June 17-18 in San Antonio. Incoming President Allan K. DuBois, a San Antonio solo, gave a preview of his presidential initiatives, which focus on the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, the Patrick Sheeran & Michael J. Crowley Memorial Trust—which provides financial assistance for medical treatment to attorneys with substance abuse or mental health issues—and engaging senior lawyers through mentoring and other opportunities. DuBois also reported that the Supreme Court of Texas approved the State Bar’s 2015- 2016 budget, including a $250,000 commitment to the Sheeran-Crowley Trust. Outgoing President Trey Apffel gave an update on the State Bar’s response to recent flooding and other severe weather events in Texas. The bar is offering a disaster hotline at (800) 504-7030 to connect victims with local legal aid providers. A Web page, available at texasbar.com/floodresponse, includes public resources and a volunteer form for attorneys who want to help. Apffel also updated the board on his communication initiatives, saying that a professional redesign of texasbar.com was complete. The website has a cleaner look, allowing members and the public to more easily find the features they’re looking for, and the design adapts to smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers, he said. Dallas attorney Frank Stevenson was sworn in as State Bar presidentelect, and David Chamberlain of Austin replaced Roger Key as chair of the board. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Michael Keasler administered the oath of office to new officers and directors. Key presented Larry McDougal of Richmond with the Outstanding Third-Year Director Award, and State Bar Executive Director Michelle Hunter honored Kristina McGuire, governmental affairs coordinator, as the Employee of the Quarter. Also during the meeting, State Bar Law-Related Education Director Jan Miller received a resolution and Distinguished Public Service Award from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation for her work in promoting civics education. SWEARING IN Frank Stevenson (top left), of Dallas, takes the oath of office and is sworn in as president- elect. David Chamberlain (above left), of Austin, shakes hands with Judge Michael Keasler after being sworn in as chair of the board of directors.
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