A Well of Information
A new State Bar website provides Texas legal professionals with help in the day-to-day practice of law.
The State Bar of Texas Podcast is a monthly show produced with the Legal Talk Network featuring news and discussions for Texas attorneys and others interested in the law. The following is an excerpt and to listen in, go to texasbar.com/podcast.
In September 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Bar of Texas Law Practice Resources Division launched a new website aimed at providing Texas legal professionals with tools to run a successful law practice. But the idea for the site, texasbarpractice.com, was sparked long before lawyers—like the rest of world—abruptly began working remotely and had to re-think everything from simple processes like deliveries and mail to more advanced issues such as cybersecurity.
On the September 2020 episode of the State Bar of Texas Podcast, host Rocky Dhir interviewed attorney Sharon Sandle, the director of the State Bar of Texas Law Practice Resources Division, who was instrumental in the development and launch of texasbarpractice.com.
In this edited excerpt, Sandle talks about the goal of creating a separate and distinct site, developing content, and what it means to practice well. Go to texasbar.com/podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts to hear the full episode.
SANDLE: Well, really the goal is that we wanted to create a website that lawyers could go to when they are looking for something to help them in their practice. We feel like lawyers in Texas, they want to have a healthy practice, they want to have a successful practice—and there are a lot of things going into that. It’s not just about the substantive resources like a book about pattern jury charges or a book about family law. It’s also advice on how to keep your practice running and what kinds of technology you should be using. . . . Before this website’s launch, there were really a multitude of different sites. There’s the main State Bar site, but there’s also a Texas Bar Books website where you can go to find books. There’s also a Law Practice Management website where you can go find those kinds of resources. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It makes more sense to put them in one place. . . .We wanted to create a place that really was not so much what you need in terms of dealing with the State Bar and the regulatory aspect of the State Bar but more of what would help in the day-to-day practice of law . . .
DHIR: I did notice the Guide to Starting a Law Practice, which looked kind of interesting and I could see that being interesting especially for younger lawyers, or should I say more newly minted lawyers, who are looking to go out on their own. You even had a part on there about partner compensation . . . Am I reading that right?
SANDLE: We’ve got the Law Practice Management Committee, the standing committee of the State Bar, and what we try to do is really tap into the expertise of the members of that committee and ask them to either do a short video or write about a topic they feel they’ve got something to say about and something that they think is important for lawyers.
DHIR: I have got to say it kind of struck me as maybe gutsy to talk about partner compensation.
SANDLE: I like that you said it’s gutsy. I hope that this website is gutsy because what we have found over the years is that people call us with difficult questions and they’re looking for some advice. . . . I would definitely rather go to our group of experts on the Law Practice Management Committee and say look, can you give folks something to go on, some kind of advice, something that will help them at least get started. Because otherwise, if we’re just putting up articles that everybody has heard before on topics that everybody’s familiar with, I don’t think it’s really going to be a place that people feel like they need to visit.
DHIR: So do you think you’re ready for the fairly frequent updates that you’ll probably have to make? Especially with things like cloud computing or with technology—there’s going to be what’s cool today is verboten tomorrow or just changes, like the world of fashion.
SANDLE: Absolutely. . . . I’m hoping that attorneys find that every time they come back, they find something new that’s helpful.
DHIR: So talk to us about this term “practice well” and what you mean by it.
SANDLE: So you want to practice well in the sense that your law firm is successful and it’s sustainable and you’re doing a good job. But you also don’t want to be killing yourself practicing law. You want to practice well in the sense that it’s a healthy thing for you to do and a job that hopefully Texas lawyers enjoy . . . So “practice well” to me encapsulates both of those ideas—that you have a successful, sustainable practice and that it’s also a healthy practice for the attorney and for the clients and as a business. TBJ