State Bar Director Spotlight
Interview by Eric Quitugua
Photo by Ashley Rodgers
Position: Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law
Board Member: At-Large Director since 2018
I grew up around highly successful lawyers. My father has been a plaintiffs’ lawyer since 1961, and when I was young, he tried cases with both Gerry Spence and Joe Jamail. So, from a young age, I was exposed to the legal profession and was in awe of lawyers who sought truth and justice. I also had an interest in education, so I earned my M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction before I attended law school. I was a partner in a plaintiffs’ firm in Amarillo before joining the faculty at Texas Tech Law in 2007. Now, I have the quintessential career that combines my interest in education with my love of the law.
I have been passionate about service since I was a young girl, so following suit, I wanted to become involved in the State Bar of Texas from day one as a lawyer. I jumped right in and quickly became involved in the local young lawyers association and the Texas Young Lawyers Association. From there, I catapulted into other leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels. It’s gratifying to give back to our profession.
Over the years, I have been involved in the State Bar of Texas in a variety of ways such as serving on the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals and serving on the Law Focused Education, Inc. Board of Directors. I also served on the Local Bar Services Committee and the Texas Minority Counsel Program Steering Committee. The next logical step for me was the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. I applied for an at-large director position, and luckily, then-President Tom Vick appointed me to the board. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to serve the State Bar of Texas.
State Bar leadership needs to understand the chief issues that are important to all members. To accomplish this salient goal, directors must be engaged with all their constituents and listen to them with the intent to understand. Active engagement—and meaningful connections—with our membership is the most constructive way to continue identifying issues and seeking solutions so that our bar remains the preeminent bar association in the nation.
The State Bar has a genuine desire to provide services and resources that benefit all Texas lawyers. In the past, I might have said the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program is a little-known way the bar helps its members, but our membership increasingly has become more aware of this valuable resource. Now, I think members may not be fully aware of some benefits such as the insurance exchange (and complimentary products), free access to Fastcase and Casemaker, CLE scholarships, and a plethora of discounts. We are continuing to get the word out so members know all the ways in which the State Bar serves it members. Please help us spread the word.
I encourage all Texas lawyers to pay closer attention to what the State Bar is doing. What issues are being tackled? What ideas are being floated? What benefits/resources are provided (or should be provided)? Sometimes, Texas lawyers do not realize that the State Bar has already identified an issue, explored solutions, and implemented positive change. Additionally, we want Texas lawyers to get involved—?join a committee or section, attend a State Bar-sponsored CLE, or simply talk to bar leaders to relay ideas.
Our State Bar does a tremendous job of seeking solutions to benefit its members and the public. But as with any organization, room for improvement always exists. We must continue to be responsive to the changing needs of Texas lawyers—succession planning, technology, and issues related to well-being. If you have any ideas, please reach out. TBJ