Executive Director’s Page
Each time the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors meets, it’s my
job to call the roll. As I read down the list of names, I am struck by
the caliber of the leaders assembled—the people you elected to the bar’s
governing body. If you watch a board meeting video on our
website,1 you mostly see the person talking at the podium. I
sit at the front table, facing the opposite direction, toward the
Here’s what I see: 46 voting members. Thirty are elected by you from 17 geographic districts spanning every corner of the state. Three are State Bar officers elected by members statewide (president-elect, president, and immediate past president). Three more—Texas Young Lawyers Association president-elect, president, and immediate past president—are elected by the TYLA membership in accordance with the State Bar Act.2
Six directors are public (non-attorney) members appointed by the Texas Supreme Court and confirmed by the state Senate. Four others are at-large directors appointed by the State Bar president to help ensure the board reflects the varied backgrounds that make up our membership.
Together, the attorney-directors represent some 923 combined years of practice. They come from 16 different law schools. Firms big and small.3 Six are TYLA members, meaning they’re 36 or younger or in their first five years of practice. And 14 are certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in at least one area of law.
Fifteen non-voting, ex officio members also serve on the board. They include the immediate past chair of the board, the general counsel, the chief disciplinary counsel, the executive director, and liaisons representing State Bar sections, out-of-state members, and multiple levels of the judiciary.
Before I became executive director in December 2017, I was a longtime Galveston County trial lawyer. I served as a State Bar director in the 1990s and as president in 2014-2015. So I understand the sacrifices that our directors make during the course of their three-year terms.
Not only do they attend quarterly board meetings, but they also serve on a variety of board committees and subcommittees and act as advisers to State Bar sections and standing committees. Many are active in local, regional, and specialty bar associations and go out of their way to make themselves available to you—their constituents—when questions or concerns arise. And they do it all without pay, sacrificing billable hours and leisure time with family, because they are committed to serving the more than 103,000 active State Bar members and 28 million residents of our state.
That’s what I see when I call the roll.
After the names are called and a quorum is present, the real work begins. Board Chair Laura Gibson works her way down the agenda and directors do their jobs, applying the collective wisdom of the Texas legal community to the pressing issues of the day.
Our directors don’t always agree, but they are always civil. Sometimes they have different priorities, but all are committed to the bar’s core responsibilities.4 Working together, our board ensures that the State Bar of Texas fulfills its statutory responsibilities as the administrative arm of the Supreme Court consistent with the court’s authority to regulate the legal profession.
That is self-governance in action.
Since the adoption of the State Bar Act in 1939, Texas lawyers have benefited from a system of self-governance that grants all members the right to vote on the people who represent us, the rules that regulate us, and the dues we pay for the right and privilege to practice law—all under the umbrella of a unified bar.
This system has worked well for 80 years and counting. That’s due, in part, to the 60 volunteers who answer my “roll call” each meeting and the hundreds of women and men who served as directors before them.
For more information on the board, including meeting videos, future meeting dates, and information on how to run for district or at-large positions, go to texasbar.com/board.
Executive Director, State Bar of Texas
Editor-in-Chief, Texas Bar Journal
@ApffelT on Twitter
Have a question for Trey? Email it to email@example.com and he may answer it in a future column.
Board Policy Manual: texasbar.com/policymanual
Strategic Plan: texasbar.com/strategicplan
Performance Measures: texasbar.com/performancemeasures
Our Finances: texasbar.com/finances
More Governing Documents: texasbar.com/governingdocuments