Tom Vick 2017-06-01 20:42:50
MEETING OUR MISSION A number of exciting things are happening as we begin a new bar year. All of them reflect the unwavering commitment our lawyers have to meeting our mission in support of the legal system, access to justice, and serving the public. The State Bar of Texas will continue this work in earnest, and with our sections and divisions, we will remain a leader in the delivery of services to our members and the public. Soon we will begin new initiatives to help you enhance your practice through the use of technology both in developing and serving clients more efficiently. Updates on our latest initiatives follow. Meeting veterans’ legal needs Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Texas Access to Justice Commission’s Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans. The State Bar underwrites this event each year so proceeds can go to helping veterans receive the legal assistance they deserve. The gala raised $560,200 this year, of which $125,000 is part of the new Joe Jamail Endowment for Veteran Legal Services. Since it began eight years ago, the event has raised more than $3 million. The endowment, an effort of Houston lawyer Richard Mithoff, represents another important step toward ensuring our veterans have fair and equal access to the justice system. The gala co-chairs and sponsors deserve our thanks for helping us send a clear message: Texas lawyers take care of Texas veterans. Lawyers’ assistance website launch We also take care of our fellow lawyers. As president I will continue the State Bar’s strong support of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program, or TLAP, which provides confidential help for lawyers, judges, and law students challenged by mental health and substance abuse issues. I’m pleased to announce the launch of TLAP’s new website, tlaphelps.org, which will make our resources even more accessible to those who need them. I encourage you to visit the site to see the many ways TLAP helps, including providing wellness tips, suicide prevention resources, and information on cognitive decline. We are an aging bar and a profession whose substance abuse and suicide rates surpass most others. Please reach out to TLAP if you need help or know a lawyer who does by visiting the website or calling (800) 343-8527. Funding for legal services In April, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with other Texas lawyers and access-to-justice advocates to urge our congressional delegation to support the Legal Services Corporation, or LSC, whose funding was threatened in a federal budget proposal. LSC provides grants to legal services providers that supply civil legal aid to nearly 2 million people every year. Texas’ largest legal aid agencies received nearly $31.2 million in LSC funding in the last fiscal year alone, helping to ensure that veterans, natural disaster survivors, and others in need have access to the legal help they otherwise could not afford. A federal budget agreement continues LSC’s funding at its current level through September, but we must be diligent in urging continued support. Executive director search As you may know, Michelle Hunter has announced her retirement as executive director effective in January 2018. Michelle has served our bar exceptionally in various roles for nearly 20 years. In her current position since October 2008, she has succeeded in creating and expanding new programs to benefit Texas lawyers and the public—all without raising dues. Replacing her will be difficult, but we have appointed a search committee and hired a national recruitment firm to help find the best candidate. Those who are interested can learn more at texasbar.com. Incubator open house 2016-2017 President Frank Stevenson’s signature initiative, the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator, or TOJI, is up and running. The 10 recently licensed attorneys who make up the program’s inaugural cohort finished their “boot camp” training, and we celebrated the program’s official launch with an open house at the TOJI Austin offices in May. The State Bar incubator is an exciting approach to legal access that helps new lawyers build sustainable practices that serve low and modest-income Texans. TOJI is accepting applications through July 1 for the second cohort, which is expected to start on October 1 in Austin. Learn more at txoji.com. See you at Annual Meeting I hope to see you at our 2017 Annual Meeting on June 22-23 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, where I will have the honor of being sworn in as your 137th State Bar president. Our Annual Meeting Committee has secured some stellar keynote speakers: Hon. Carl E. Stewart, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; Bryan A. Garner; and Joseph Jaworski. If you’re into technology like me, the Adaptable Lawyer track will offer sessions on the latest trends and a keynote by Dallas attorney and author Brian Cuban. And we’ll have a variety of legislative updates to bring you up to speed on what passed the 85th Texas Legislature. You can register at texasbar.com/annualmeeting. I look forward to visiting with you throughout the year and hearing your thoughts about how we can improve our bar. TOM VICK 2017-2018 president of the State Bar of Texas
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