Pursuit of Great Expectations

"Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” —Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The State Bar of Texas and Texas Young Lawyers Association continue to evolve and leadership is now more inclusive and diverse than ever. Although many past leaders made significant strides toward that goal, on one memorable day in 2008, Harper Estes, past president of the State Bar of Texas, collaborated with Sylvia Cardona, past president of the TYLA, and other members of the State Bar of Texas to create LeadershipSBOT.

TYLA Pres Page
Front row from left: Matthew Manning, Reina Cisneros, Katie Fillmore, TYLA Chair Courtney Barksdale Perez, Jeanine Rispoli, and Lauren Sepulveda. Back row from left: TYLA Vice President Donald Delgado, Josue Galvan, Jefferson Fisher, TYLA President-elect Britney Harrison, TYLA President Victor A. Flores, and Johnathan Stone..

This annual leadership academy selects 20 attorneys from nominations anonymously submitted by members of the State Bar of Texas. Applicants may not nominate themselves. The academy encourages lawyers to harness their diverse influence, develop a strong understanding of servant leadership, and participate in pro bono work and community service.

“The idea was to develop bar leaders that looked like Texas—in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender but also in practice area and geographic area—so we could have leaders from all different walks who could relate to the needs of lawyers all around the state,” Estes said.1

Estes set the first link of great expectations by creating a pool of diverse servant leaders that truly represented the entire state. This year and next, LeadershipSBOT graduates will lead TYLA as president. Some past LeadershipSBOT graduates and current TYLA officers and directors are pictured here.

TYLA Pres Page
TYLA President Flores with the 12th LeadershipSBOT class.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, if the bar had not created this project, think how different its course would have been.

Further, the vision and expectations for LeadershipSBOT remain active and growing. Recently, I had the privilege of welcoming the 12th LeadershipSBOT class: Angelica Cormier (Austin), Bernedette Dela Cruz (Austin), Smaranda Draghia (San Antonio), Ashley Earl (Richmond), Gregory Franklin (Dallas), Judy Furth (Austin), John Garcia (Corpus Christi), Sohail Hasanali (Richmond), Alyson Martinez (Laredo), Rachel McKenna (Austin), Chelsea Mikulencak (San Antonio), Katya Nikitina (Houston), Juan Pequeno Jr. (Brownsville), Lucia Regalado (McAllen), Tara Richardson (San Antonio), Victoria Smith (Belton), Charla Thomas (Temple), Steven Traeger (San Marcos), Leslie Turnage (Katy), and Pei Yu (Dallas). The group had a special collaborative energy and decided to adopt not one, but two TYLA community projects: What Do Lawyers Do? and I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too! Together, over the next year, the group will present these projects in colleges, high schools, and elementary schools across Texas.

Nominations for the 2020-2021 LeadershipSBOT class will open this summer. In the meantime, we encourage you to begin thinking of possibly nominating an attorney who you think may benefit from participating in this great program.

This year’s LeadershipSBOT sponsors include Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz; Almanza, Blackburn, Dickie & Mitchell; Blanchard & Thomas; KoonsFuller; Law Offices of Diane St. Yves; Lynch, Chappell & Alsup; Members Health Plan; Patterson Law Group; and the Texas Lawyers’ Insurance Exchange. We will also be searching for other partners to help continue this legacy project for 2020-2021.

If you would like more information about LeadershipSBOT, the nomination process, or how your firm can help sponsor LeadershipSBOT this summer, go to texasbar.com/leadershipsbot.

Together, let us continue the pursuit of great expectations for a more diverse and inclusive state bar.

Better Together,


2019-2020 President,
Texas Young Lawyers Association.


1. Eric Quitugua, LeadershipSBOT Celebrates 10 Years, 81 Tex. B.J. 699.

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