State Bar of Texas Seal

January 20, 2017
Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1706, or (512) 427-1706

State Bar of Texas, TYLA announce president-elect candidates

McALLEN — Texas attorneys will choose between Chad Baruch of Dallas and Laura Bellegie Sharp of Austin in the race for the next president-elect of the State Bar of Texas. The State Bar Board of Directors today approved their nominations as president-elect candidates during its quarterly meeting in McAllen.

Also, the Texas Young Lawyers Association recently nominated Sally Pretorius of Dallas and Jenny Lee Smith of Austin as the next candidates for TYLA president-elect.

State Bar of Texas and TYLA members will cast ballots April 3 - May 2, and election results will be announced May 2. The winner of each race will serve as president from June 2018 until June 2019.

State Bar of Texas candidates

Chad Baruch is board certified in civil appellate law. A longtime solo practitioner, he now practices with Johnston Tobey Baruch in Dallas.

Chad Baruch

Baruch speaks often on legal writing. He has served on the Board of Directors and as chair of the Texas Bar College, Consumer & Commercial Law Section, and Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section.

Baruch won the 2015 State Bar of Texas Gene Cavin Award for lifetime contributions to continuing legal education, and the 2016 Texas Bar Foundation Dan Price Award for excellence in legal writing and commitment to the profession. The Texas Access to Justice Commission has named him a Pro Bono Champion. Baruch has been recognized repeatedly on the Thompson Reuters list of Texas “Super Lawyers” and D Magazine list of “Best Lawyers in Dallas.”

Alongside his legal career, Baruch has served as a college and high school head basketball coach and as a high school administrator.

Baruch graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Laura Bellegie Sharp is an AV-rated trial attorney handling all forms of litigation for The Sharp Firm in Austin.

Laura Sharp

Sharp served on the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors from 2004 to 2007. She has served on the bar’s Rules, Grievance and Women in the Profession committees, the boards of the State Bar of Texas Insurance Trust and Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2007. She is a Texas Bar Foundation Life Fellow and a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.

Locally, she served as president of the Austin Bar Association, 2003 to 2004, and held director and officer positions from 1998-2003.  She is a Founding Fellow of the Austin Bar Foundation, served as chair twice, and continues to serve as treasurer.

Nationally, Sharp has been a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates since 2008, is on the board of the National Conference of Bar Foundations and an American Bar Foundation Life Fellow.

Sharp obtained her bachelor’s degree from UT and her J.D. from Baylor Law School.

TYLA candidates

Sally Pretorius, board certified in family law, is an associate at KoonsFuller in Dallas.

Sally Pretorius

Serving as the current vice president of the TYLA Board of Directors, Pretorius previously served on the Executive Committee as secretary, 2015-2016, and earned the Director of the Year Award in 2014 and the First Year Director of the Year Award in 2013. She has led or participated in numerous TYLA projects, including the Divorce Guide (for teenagers and children); Strength in Unity; Pregnancy and the Workplace; Educating Educators; A Lawyer’s Guide to Social Media; the Family Law Toolkit; and A Welcoming Home: Be a Foster Family. Pretorius also chaired the National Trial Competition and served on the Health and Fitness Initiative Committee. 

She is a member of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, the Junior League of Dallas, and the Dallas Museum of Art Junior Associates. She was listed in Super Lawyers 2014-2016.

Outside of the courtroom, Pretorius enjoys running, spinning, and spending time with her husband, Adam; miniature Dachshund; and rescue German Short Hair Pointer.

She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2009.

Jenny Lee Smith practices regulatory and business litigation with Cobb & Counsel in Austin.

Jenny Smith

Smith is a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, a commissioner on the Access to Justice Commission, and a Texas Bar Foundation fellow.

In 2016, she received the Keith L. Kruger Leadership Award for her commitment to service with TYLA. She has assisted with numerous TYLA projects, including And Justice for All: Preventing Wrongful Convictions through Education; TYLA eNEWS; End Bullying Now; and the National Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions.

Before helping build Cobb & Counsel, Smith worked at Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, LLP, and later, at Jackson Walker LLP. While at Carrington Coleman, Smith was a member of a team of attorneys that received the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project’s 2013 Exceptional Service Award for their work on a wrongful conviction case that led to the defendant being released from prison in 2014.

She received her J.D., summa cum laude, from Texas Tech University School of Law.

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The State Bar of Texas, created in 1939, is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, visit

The Texas Young Lawyers Association, organized in 1930, is commonly referred to as the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas. TYLA’s primary purposes are to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All licensed Texas lawyers 36 years old or younger or in their first five years of practice, regardless of age, are automatically members of TYLA. For more information, visit

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