State Bar Director Spotlight
Interview by Eric Quitugua
Photo by RCL Portrait Design
Position: Partner in Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson in Houston
Board Member: Minority director1 since 2016
Given the sacrifices and contributions made by my family in this state, and our rich family history in the Rio Grande Valley, it was important to me to practice law in Texas.
The original goal I set for myself was to graduate from law school, as a way of validating all the struggles of my grandparents who were migrant workers. Seeing my father and maternal grandfather tear up at my law school graduation solidified the importance of accomplishing that goal. The next goal was to develop a proficient set of skills as a lawyer. Houston is the perfect place to practice law with its diversity of practice areas and rich trial activity. Along the way I knew it was important to develop as a leader. Volunteer positions with Houston legal and non-legal groups afforded me the ability to work with talented individuals, serve our public, and grow in leadership. I am blessed with two decades of experience as a lawyer and leader.
Notwithstanding my enjoyment as a Hispanic Issues Section board member, I knew nothing about the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors.
The State Bar announced open applications for two presidential appointments of the minority director positions. HIS leadership encouraged me to step up my bar work. A great friend and mentor, Justice Gina Benavides—herself a former minority director—nominated me for the position; she spoke highly of her time in bar leadership and the importance of diversity on the bar board. I was proud to have been selected, along with my Austin friend Rudy Metayer, by past president Allan DuBois. It’s been a great insight into the State Bar and an enjoyable experience.
It’s been a privilege to serve as a director.
And, it’s been a privilege to witness the time commitment and hard work of all my fellow board members who hail from all sections of the state. Aside from our board work, we serve as liaisons to State Bar committees and sections. Additionally, we serve on board committees. While all our board meetings are open to the public, few fellow lawyers attend our meetings or witness the diligence and discussion that occurs when fulfilling our board duties. I encourage all to develop a well-rounded perspective of the bar by talking to their bar representatives, coming to our meetings, and joining our sections.
Many attorneys may be unaware of all the offerings of their bar.
There are services, activities, resources, networking, programming, and support available whether you are at the beginning of your career or an experienced lawyer licensed for many years. To find what is right for you, I invite all lawyers to explore the State Bar website, read our blog, read the Texas Bar Journal, attend the annual bar conventions, and reach out to a director. We are available to make presentations anywhere, anytime.
Both the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston and the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston aimed to develop members professionally,
build friendships among fellow attorneys, and serve not only the local legal but also the public at large through different projects—the same is true of the State Bar, so I had plenty of practice. In addition, both bars aim to augment diversity in the legal profession, based on our population. Concerning the Hispanic population, currently, there are over 100,000 licensed attorneys, and of those, approximately 9 percent are Hispanic (a little under 9,000 attorneys).
I am proud of the diversity efforts of the bar.
There were many highly qualified applicants for the minority director positions. The State Bar did an excellent job of recruiting top-notch attorneys. Last year, I chaired the Ad Hoc Committee to Nominate At-large Directors and will do so again this year. It’s a wonderful privilege to meet highly qualified applicants from across the state and make recommendations, along with the committee members, to the bar president.
If a law student or rookie attorney asked me the most important takeaway from my career,
I’d tell that person it is collegiality with colleagues, fellow attorneys, the court, and the public. Civility is paramount as an officer of the court. And, public service is a must. As lawyers we are leaders, and it’s imperative to give back to our community and the public.TBJ