Tom Vick 2017-08-23 14:25:51
A BATTLE FOR OUR FUTURE With over 100,000 active members, Texas clearly has one of the largest bars in the country, but I would argue we have the finest too. Woven in the tapestry of our bar are leaders and lawyers of every order. We have transactional attorneys who affect commerce from Wall Street to Main Street; our government lawyers make policies that keep our food, water, and shelter safe and enforce the law of the land for our protection; our brilliant criminal and civil litigators work diligently to safeguard our civil and constitutional liberties; and our family practitioners toil daily to help broken families put their lives back together and make certain the best interest of children is always served. When James Baker, III, Harriet Miers, and Ron Kirk served our presidents of the United States, they literally shaped the world and the course of human events. You, my friends, rarely get the credit you deserve for being the engines of our republic and the underpinning of our way of life. And I fear we do not always appreciate the impact our work has on this world. But in spite of this, we are faced with great challenges. Our legal system is under siege. Respect for our courts and our justice system is at an all-time low—with a population that lacks confidence in them because they don’t feel served; and, unfortunately, some public officials who show little deference for the rule of law or our courts. If left unchecked, this denigration of our institutions, this disparagement of our justice system will ultimately erode the foundation of our democracy. We can stem this tide together, and we must. We have the ability and the mandate to do so. We all took an oath to defend the Constitution and laws. That oath binds us all day, every day—not just during business hours or when it’s convenient. So what can we do together to solve this problem? First, by supporting programs to ensure low-and middle-income Texans have access to our judicial system. We must continue the work of educating our elected officials and convincing them this is a societal problem, not just a lawyer problem. Nothing will restore the public’s faith in our justice system as well or as quickly as being a meaningful part of their lives and gaining their confidence in the integrity and fairness of our courts. We do this by supporting the Legal Services Corporation both financially and physically. We do this by supporting the incubator programs in the state, helping match the unmet legal need with our young lawyers desperate to do good legal work. We do this by mentoring, and we do this by participating in programs to help our veterans and our fellow Americans who find themselves in despair. The second element of changing the perception is to be an advocate for our legal system at every opportunity. We must all stand up for what is right and what our Constitution demands. Be outspoken when your friends and relatives besmirch our legal system or our judges. Write letters to the editor, speak at civic clubs and schools, defend people’s constitutional rights, take an active role in your hometown, and lead the way to support our profession. If we do not do these things, and if we do not stand up for what is right, we cannot expect the same from those outside the legal community. The State Bar of Texas will continue to be a national leader in making all of this possible. We will work together as a bar to improve access to justice and will develop technology to help you be better lawyers and deliver your services more efficiently. We will do everything possible to remove the impediments that stand between our lawyers and the clients they serve. I pledge to you my best effort to ensure our bar is the best in the land and that it meets its mission of educating and protecting the public, administering and ensuring access to justice for all, and fostering ethical conduct, and in doing so, is mindful of taking care of ourselves and of each other. Be proud to be a Texas lawyer, be inspired to do great legal work every day, and be a part of this battle. Our future and the future of our profession depend on it. TOM VICK President, State Bar of Texas
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