GCBA October 2015 Newsletter

President's Update

For the third year, Pro Bono Week will take place the last week of October. The initiative was started as a global celebration of professional services for the public good and is an opportunity to highlight the global network of pro bono intermediaries, striving to mobilize volunteers all around the world.  During that time, local bar associations, law firms, and law schools have kicked off a number of legal clinics, including Galveston County Bar Association’s Veteran’s Legal Clinics, as a way to make a difference, develop skills, and network.   In the past few weeks, I have been approached by some of our members about the need to go even further by developing an official pro bono committee within the Galveston County Bar Association to oversee the numerous requests for help we receive each month.  We are all very busy in our daily lives, both professionally and personally; however, we should all strive to find the time to give back to our communities.  As such, our October meeting will focus on those that have been stepping up to the plate.  Betty Vereen, the Managing Attorney of the Galveston Branch at Lone Star Legal Aid will present awards to some of our members that have not only volunteered their services, but did so much to help seek equal justice for needy clients in Galveston County.  The awards presentation will be followed by our lunch CLE from Andrew Lehmann of the Veteran's Legal Initiative regarding the ins and outs of the Veteran’s Legal Clinics, in hope to get even more volunteers out to help at the next clinic on November 7.  Please let me know if you would be interested in participating in the formation of the pro bono committee.  We already have a great team forming, but could use more help!

Kelly M. Haas

President, GCBA

October Meeting

Please join us at the San Luis Thursday, October 15th, as we welcome Andrew Lehmann of the Veteran's Legal Initiative. The Houston-based Initiative coordinated each of the Veteran's legal clinics offered in Galveston County. Andrew will provide an advice clinic and pro bono referral training to hopefully take the fear out of helping our veterans. 

Please remember that the GCBA guarantees payment for a minimum number of lunches depending on the responses. If you can no longer attend the event, please send a short notice to contact@galvestoncountybar.org. 

Non-member guests can attend for $25, payable at the event.

Register Now 

November VA Clinic Vet Fair
Leading by Example: It Takes Practice

by E.K. Meltzer

How many of us take eight minutes of our day to mentor others in the legal profession? How many of us take time to ask for help from someone with more experience? Contrast that with how much time we regularly devote to grumbling about the decline of standards, complaining about others who don’t know what they’re doing, and wondering why things aren’t as easy as they used to be.

Recently, I had the privilege to view the Transition to Practice introduction video created by the Professionalism Committee of the State Bar of Texas. In this eight-minute video, Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht offers practical tips and insights in answer to the question “what does the profession expect of us?”

After viewing this inspirational video, I reached out to the State Bar’s Professionalism Committee to find out who wrote the script and to congratulate them on a job well done. Their answer won’t surprise you, and reflects the best spirit of professionalism and collegiality. Members of the Professionalism Committee, Kenda Culpepper and Jacob Marshall, worked with Fifth Court of Appeals Justice Douglas Lang and Chief Justice Hecht to ensure the words and sentiments the chief justice shares in the video included his personal thoughts on mentoring, professionalism, and the legal profession. The video serves as a tribute to the public spirit of the bar and judiciary at all levels of practice in our great state. To watch the video, visit texasbar.com/transition. For a listing of State Bar mentoring resources, visit texasbar.com/mentoring

We all have a role to play in the significance of mentoring in the legal profession. Here are four easy ways any of us can lead by example:

The Texas Lawyer’s Creed

The Texas Lawyer’s Creed promotes our collective goals of eliminating abusive tactics within the practice of law in Texas and promoting respect and confidence in the legal profession. In your office, chambers, or even in your home, you can display a poster-sized (24” x 36”) version of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed.
 Members can also receive free a Texas Lawyer’s Creed brochure available in both English and Spanish. To obtain your free copy of the poster or brochure, email professionalism@texasbar.com or call (512) 427-1726.   

2.The State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee

Chaired by Rockwall County District Attorney Kenda Culpepper, the Professionalism Committee recently inaugurated its Web-based project “Need Ethics? A Directory of Speakers.”    See: texasbar.com/ethicsspeakers. This online database provides contact, topic, and travel distance information for ethics speakers who are willing to travel to your city. The intention of this project is to match speakers with local groups interested in discussing professionalism matters.  The Professionalism Committee’s database is an easy way to help your group by providing them with a knowledgeable speaker.

3. Walking the Talk of Professionalism

Taking time to mentor others is an investment, both personal and professional. Personally, mentoring builds a network and allows you to promote your style and values. Professionally, your experience and shared wisdom helps others comport themselves with dignity and respect while avoiding rookie mistakes. To make things easier for you, the State Bar of Texas has multiple “how to mentor” resources. With this information alone, you have a secret weapon to mentoring success. Visit texasbar.com/mentoring for a listing of resources. 

4. Working With A Mentor

If Shakespeare were around today, wouldn’t you consider asking him to comment on your play?  The State Bar of Texas has similarly knowledgeable attorneys just waiting for your call. Far from being an imposition, receiving a request to mentor is one of the most flattering professional moments a lawyer experiences. One great way to find a mentor is through legal education courses. Identify a speaker who motivates you — and call them. Or, talk to other attendees and follow up with those who are in a field that interests you. Mentors are everywhere. They are just waiting to be asked.

Chief Justice Hecht notes that honesty, integrity, and civility should be qualities of all lawyers within the State Bar of Texas. How we manifest these qualities is a comment on our professionalism. Using the Transition to Practice and other professionalism resources available can help all lead by example in demonstrating how the State Bar of Texas is dedicated to winning and maintaining public trust every day. Visit texasbar.com/transition for more resources on the Transition to Practice program.

Eleanor K. Meltzer is a member of the State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee and lives just north of Austin where she focuses on the issues that make a career as a government attorney so rewarding: Contracts; Human Resources; Risk Management; Veterans Benefits; and Intellectual property. She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

  Calling for Award Nominations

Deadline- January 15, 2016

The Texas Bar Foundation is calling for entries for the 2016 Award Program!  The Texas Bar Foundation award categories include the following:

·        Outstanding 50 Year Lawyer Award recognizes an attorney whose practice spans 50 years or more and adheres to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession and service to the public.

·        Dan Rugeley Price Memorial Award recognizes an attorney who is an accomplished legal writer and researcher.

·        Lola Wright Foundation Award is given to an attorney who exemplifies the highest standards of legal ethics.

·        Outstanding Law Review Article Award which honors a law review article published by one of the Texas law schools.

·        Ronald D. Secrest Outstanding Trial Lawyer Award is awarded to an attorney who has demonstrated high ethical and moral standards and has demonstrated exceptional professional conduct, thus enhancing the image of the trial lawyer.

·        Samuel Pessarra Outstanding Jurist Award is given to an active current Federal or State judge who has served on the bench for a minimum of 10 years and exhibits an exceptionally outstanding reputation for competency, efficiency, and integrity.

·        Gregory S. Coleman Outstanding Appellate Lawyer Award recognizes an attorney who exhibits an outstanding appellate practice and strong moral compass while maintaining a strong commitment to providing legal services for the underserved and mentoring of young lawyers.

·        Terry Lee Grantham Memorial Award is awarded to an accomplished, talented, and dedicated Texas lawyer who is a servant of the profession and a dedicated advocate.

For more information and to view the nomination form, please visit our website and click on the "2016 Awards Submissions" ribbon. Please also find the nomination form attached.

The deadline for submission is January 15, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. in the Texas Bar Foundation office. 

Texas Bar Foundation 515 Congress Ave., Ste. 1755 Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 480-8000  |  Fax: (512) 480-8005  |  Email: jbramlett@txbf.org