Tell us what you think via @statebaroftexas, email@example.com, or P.O. Box 12487, Austin, TX 78711-2487. Letters addressed to the Texas Bar Journal may be edited for clarity and length and become the property of the magazine, which owns all rights to their use.
RE: “Finding New Ways to Give
Access to Justice to Those Who
Cannot Afford Lawyers,”
May 2016, p. 366
The issue of student loan debt and young lawyers is a serious one, but many young lawyers are still unaware of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives the remaining balance on qualifying direct loans after 120 qualifying monthly payments are made under a qualifying repayment plan while working full time for a qualifying employer. Monthly payments are based on income, so they may not cover interest or any principal balance on the loan. A qualifying employer is a governmental organization, a not-for-profit organization that is tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(3)(c), or another type of not-for-profit organization that provides certain types of qualifying public services, such as a legal aid not-for-profit organization. For young lawyers with large student debt, the loan payments based on their income may well be less than $500 a month while working for legal aid. Legal aid has scholarships of $400 a month available, so anyone can do the math. When forgiven under the PSLFP, the loans are not considered debt cancellation income for tax purposes. This program has the potential to assist legal aid in the retention of young lawyers who ardently desire loan forgiveness and to provide an incentive for young lawyers to apply for satisfying work. PAULA J. GAUS Dallas
RE: “Serving the Profession and
May 2016, p. 354
I am in agreement that attorneys of any age, if practicing law, should be required to comply with the continuing legal education requirements. I am not over 70 (yet); however, I believe we should grant the attorneys over age 70 an exemption from paying for CLE offered by the State Bar. I saw the points made—three hours of self-study plus the three hours of free CLE currently offered by the bar in the form of half an hour six times a year that result in only nine hours left to be paid for. In addition to the three hours already being offered, the bar should provide attorneys 70 years and older the courtesy to obtain up to nine complimentary hours of TexasBarCLE. I also saw the point related to the scholarship fund available to elder attorneys who “need” financial assistance. Although an elderly attorney may not “need” financial assistance, frequently these individuals are experiencing a lifestyle more frugal than their earlier years due to being semi-retired or a reduced workload. Every little bit helps, and the bar should join other organizations and entities providing financial breaks for the elderly, like exemptions reducing ad valorem taxes. Sure, the bar offers the option of going inactive, but this may not be a viable alternative if the attorney intends to continue practicing on a part-time basis or wishes to take advantage of the occasional big case or client and, therefore, needs to maintain the license and shouldn’t need to switch between inactive and active statuses. RAYMOND LOOMIS Houston
RE: “What Will You Do When Your
Law Firm Is Breached?”
May 2016, p. 348
Even solo and small firms are subject to this problem. For the most part, your firm will conduct the investigation even though law enforcement may be involved. Don’t let your staff, or family, or yourself do any personal work on the computer that houses your clients’ business. Don’t email clients from that computer either. There is a door to the information you store, and it is quite easy to get into so don’t increase the chances. Above all, back up your files frequently on another system. Ransomware is prevalent—hacked emails to look like yours to communicate with others in your firm to transfer money, exchange information, or get your case file. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands are out there looking for an opportunity to randomly ravage your client data or extort money from you. As Sharon and John suggested, have a plan. The preamble to that plan should be: “We expect to be breached, so let’s try to prevent it, but if we don’t, this is what we do.” Plan ahead. That’s what lawyers are supposed to do. GEORGE SCHILTER Webster
COVER, MAY 2016
New Texas Bar Journal out. Love the cover!
Tori Keith (@ToriKeith1)
RE: “STATUS UPDATE,” MAY 2016, P. 360
Thanks #TexasBarJournal / SIJ: court has
jurisdiction to appoint a managing conservator
to collect child support.
Bernardo Kohler Center (@BKCAustin)
RE: MOVERS AND SHAKERS, MAY 2016, P. 392
Project Legal Director Bronwyn Blake featured
in @statebaroftexas Texas Bar Journal May
Texas Advocacy Project (@legalhelp4dv)
RE: “SERVICE ON THE MOVE,” MAY 2016, P. 371
Check out the May issue of the Texas Bar
Journal featuring some familiar faces!
Military Spouse J.D. Network (@MilSpouseJD)