State Bar Director Spotlight
Jerry C. Alexander
Interview by Eric Quitugua
Photo by Bret Redman
Position: Shareholder in Passman & Jones in Dallas
Board Member: District 6 since 2017; chair 2019-2020
I was childhood friends with and neighbors of Grier Jr., Tommy, and Kenny Raggio.
Their parents—friends of my parents—were both lawyers. Louise Raggio, their mother, was one of the primary drafters of the Family Code, which is as important a piece of legislation as any that have come into the law in my lifetime. Their father, Grier Sr., was a terrific practicing attorney. I was welcome at gatherings in their home of attorneys, judges, and law school deans and thought, as a group, they were all very lively, interesting people. Because of that positive exposure to the profession, it was always in the back of my mind since early in high school that I might want to be an attorney. That goal evolved in my undergraduate studies and eventually into taking the LSAT and applying to law school.
I focus on things that happen in the courthouse.
Starting out, I thought all lawyers went to court, so that is what I started doing. My interest in getting better at litigation came from assisting and watching the named partner I worked for, Shannon Jones Jr., try lawsuits. He was terrific! I wanted to try and approach that level of competence.
The most important thing for a young person starting out to understand is there are plenty of other people who will be hard on you, so do not be hard on yourself.
The practice of law is difficult. You are not in this alone. Everyone feels stress and anxiety at times practicing law. Those things will always be there. Do not try to eliminate them (you probably cannot); just learn how to deal with them and function and be professional while doing so in those situations. That is all you can do. But that is a lot, and if you can do that, you will be way ahead and will be able to practice more effectively and for years and years longer than those who cannot.
My interest in the State Bar grew out of my service in the Dallas Bar Association.
Many past presidents of the Dallas Bar Association have gone on to serve as State Bar of Texas directors. They were all great people, and it seemed like something I should do too because it would give me additional opportunities to serve the profession.
I am most proud of my committee work and the contacts i have had with the attorneys from my district.
They have had a lot of questions I hope I have been able to answer, and I have asked them for their ideas about how the State Bar can better serve them. Many times their responses dovetail with a program or service the State Bar already has or provides. However, sometimes an important need or a really good idea has come out of those conversations. Those needs and ideas are being compiled for future consideration by the appropriate State Bar committees.
Toughest decision as a director?
Making the decision on several occasions to stay patient and quiet and not exacerbate some situations that were in the process of working themselves out. For many of us, our first reaction is to confront and advocate a contrary position, but that is not always helpful, especially if other directors are advancing the same position in a better way. Other times it is absolutely better and necessary to confront and advocate. Deciding which is the proper course is the difficult decision.
The State Bar of Texas is under-utilized by its members.
As a board and staff, we are working to help the members get more benefit from their memberships. This is being worked on from two perspectives. First, from the member’s perspective, more value is being added to their memberships by developing new benefits like volume discounts and the new health insurance alternative.
Second, from the State Bar’s perspective, more benefits like these are being studied, and the State Bar board and staff are pursuing initiatives to make members more aware of what benefits and programs are already available. How can attorneys make the most out of their memberships in the bar? Become informed of what is available from the State Bar by:
Asking your director;
B. Calling State Bar staff; and
C. Reading the official communications from the State Bar of Texas and its executive director and visiting and navigating the State Bar website, including the Texas Bar Journal and Texas Bar Blog.
The directors have been cohesive and on mission through
Sunset Review, a new way of electing State Bar presidents, and various task forces and special studies that have shown the board, the bar, and staff to be performing and to have performed in an exemplary fashion in all respects. Now the directors are moving forward on the matters the board has already discussed and are expanding their reach to pursue the State Bar’s mission further.
As a director, I need to become A+ in communicating with my constituents like many of the directors already are.
There are some of us, myself certainly included, who could work on that. I would also like to have the ideas the directors receive from those communications with the members in their districts compiled and shared for the board’s consideration regarding future State Bar of Texas programs and benefits.TBJ