Allan K. Dubios 2016-02-26 12:08:38
Mentorship We are all influenced by others, especially those we come to know as mentors—significant people because they set the standard for whom we want to be. The lawyer that I am today is a direct result of the outstanding mentorship received throughout my 45 years of practice. While many great attorneys have influenced me, specific individuals come to mind, often with sadness because those more senior have passed. Joy triumphs as I reminisce about their courage and willingness to serve. As an Army Judge Advocate General captain, it was my honor to serve as an appellate briefing attorney on the Army Court of Military Review. I was a “commissioner” for Chief Judge (Maj. Gen.) Kenneth Hodson and Judge (Col.) Joseph Bailey. At the height of the Vietnam War, the court adjudicated hundreds of serious cases, subjecting soldiers to long confinement sentences and lifelong losses of veterans’ benefits as a result of a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge. The impact of one decision remains with me to this day. I assisted Gen. Hodson in preparing a historic per curium opinion concerning a decorated young soldier who had illegally used marijuana off-post and off-duty in a private home when he returned stateside. Gen. Hodson’s efforts, based upon a finding of no jurisdiction due to a lack of legitimate military nexus to the crime, reversed the conviction. This was an unpopular decision in the hawkish political circles of the early 1970s. Now, as I work with Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, I realize that some veterans still qualify for earned Veterans Affairs medical benefits as a result of this wise decision. Col. Bailey, a distinguished graduate of Howard University School of Law, painstakingly mentored this idealistic clerk in the area of balancing the legitimate interests of maintaining “good order and discipline” and deterrence in the Army. He tempered my naive recommendations to grant sentencing clemency in virtually every case with the advice to “pick your best spots.” In the past few years, Col. (retired) Bryan S. Spencer, a volunteer with the Legal Assistance for Military Personnel program of the American Bar Association, showed me how to put past military legal expertise to work for our active-duty service members. After three years of advocating for soldiers as an appellate defense attorney, I was eager to return to Texas and start a career as a civilian trial lawyer. Luck would have it that my in-laws played bridge with Bernard “Beb” Ladon, a partner with Lang, Ladon, Green, Coghlan & Fisher. At Mr. Ladon’s direction, Paul M. Green (retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel) met my family and me in Virginia. We got a poolside interview at the officers’ club and the rest is history. For the next 25 years, I learned from these two gifted men how to practice law successfully as ethical advocates in civil litigation. I am also truly grateful to Tom Coghlan, my other partners, and all the members and staff of our wonderful “law firm family.” Mr. Ladon, then nearing 90, no longer drove, so it was my privilege to pick him up in the morning and listen to his “war stories” and parables on historical events, law, and politics. After he died two years later, our law firm dissolved. I was privileged to continue practicing with Paul for nearly another decade. Over the years, Paul began toting an oxygen bottle, and we began exchanging first and second chair responsibilities. With the permission of his family, I want to acknowledge a mentor and close friend of Paul’s and mine. Bobby Myers practiced law in San Antonio for more than 50 years with federal Judge Fred Biery’s father and uncle, before retirement. At Bobby’s memorial service, a close friend spoke of Bobby’s 25-plus years in recovery, celebrated annually on St. Patrick’s Day when his two daughters would bring him a red rose for each year of recovery and a loving note that Bobby shared with the Thursday night Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers meeting. Bobby was honored with the prestigious LCL’s Ralph Mock Award for service to his fellow attorneys the summer before he passed. All lawyers have benefited from their mentors, and all lawyers serve as mentors whether we realize it or not. Sometimes the roles become interchangeable, just as Paul and I sat first and second chair at trial. I hope I have encouraged you to think about and thank the mentors in your life. More importantly, let’s continue to make ourselves available to young attorneys seeking mentorship. In honor of Bobby Myers, Happy St. Patrick’s Day. ALLAN K. DUBOIS President, State Bar of Texas
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