Executive Director's Report • May 2024

Let's Talk Leadership

Headshot of Trey Apffel

Your State Bar runs at its best when we have knowledgeable, committed leaders heading up our standing committees, sections, and board of directors. One way we ensure this is by training the next generation of attorney leaders in a program called LeadershipSBOT.

Former State Bar of Texas President Harper Estes created LeadershipSBOT in collaboration with the Texas Young Lawyers Association during his term in 2008, modeling it after successful leadership academies in Houston and Dallas and in other states. Among his goals were to develop bar leaders in parts of Texas not served by existing leadership programs and to attract participants who may not have been involved with the bar before. Since then, more than 300 young attorneys have gone through the program.

Members of the bar nominate candidates for LeadershipSBOT, choosing those in whom they see a desire and potential to assume leadership roles in both the bar and in their communities, and submit those nominations by the end of June each year. Once nominated, candidates submit an application and supporting materials to the selection committee.

The selected participants are usually announced in August. Each LeadershipSBOT class is made up of 20 attorneys and is designed to reflect the demographics of Texas—culturally, ethnically, geographically, and in practice area.

The program lasts a year and includes two multiday training sessions in different parts of the state. In these sessions, participants study what is expected of leaders and discover how public involvement can help them be effective both in the legal arena and in their communities. Participants also work on group projects during the year.

LeadershipSBOT members present their projects each summer at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting. When a class member exemplifies exemplary leadership qualities, that member is recognized during the meeting with the Pedro “Pete” Serrano Leadership Award.

After completing the program, class members spend the following year volunteering for a State Bar committee or program, choosing among a variety of options presented in their training sessions.

Sixteen years after its creation, the program is working exactly as intended. LeadershipSBOT alumni have gone on to serve as TYLA presidents, directors on the State Bar and TYLA boards, Texas Bar Foundation trustees, local bar leaders, and in many other leadership roles in our legal profession.

Do you know any lawyers in your area who might benefit from participating in LeadershipSBOT? If so, consider nominating someone this summer. For more information on this program, go to texasbar.com/leadershipsbot.


Executive Director, State Bar of Texas
Editor in Chief, Texas Bar Journal

Trey Apffel can be reached at 512-427-1500, trey.apffel@texasbar.com, or @ApffelT on X (formerly Twitter).

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