State Bar Director Spotlight

Kate Bihm

Interview by Eric Quitugua

Photo courtesy of Kate Bihm

Position: Principal in the Bihm Firm in Conroe
Board Member: District 3 since 2019

I became a lawyer because when i was nearing the end of college, I sat my parents down for dinner and told them that I intended to pursue another degree in dance
with dreams of coaching a high school dance team. My sociology degree wasn’t particularly marketable. My mom said, “You hated high school. Why would you want to work in one? Have you considered law school?” Twenty years later, here I am.

I practice in the fields of family law and criminal defense.
I sort of drifted into these fields after a miserable foray into insurance defense and a few years as a prosecutor. I find them intellectually and personally challenging. Not a day goes by in which I am asked a question I have never been asked before, and I like that.

When I ran for director, I did so because I believed that the State Bar wasn’t doing enough for me as the little guy.
I believed the bar was run by fat cats in ivory towers in Dallas and Houston. I wanted to be part of the change that we needed. At my first meeting, I was humbled and thrilled to learn that the board of directors is an even mix of attorneys from a variety of fields and practices. I’ve met solo practitioners or small firm folks from around the state. People just like me, doing the best they can to make it and serve the profession. I also got to experience the incredible hard work that State Bar staff puts in day in and day out to keep this ship afloat and headed in the right direction. I have also learned how much the State Bar was doing for me that I didn’t take advantage of or even know about! We have a lot of work to do, especially in regards to diversity, inclusion, and promoting mentorship for young attorneys who aren’t employed by large firms, but we can do it if we work together.

In my role as a director, i have fielded calls and had tough conversations with my constituents about how the Bar’s efforts toward diversity and inclusion are necessary
to continue the legacy of our profession and the commitment that we all make to uphold the Constitution. I am honored to do this work during this moment in time.

It was important to me that my constituents know where i stood on the issues of diversity and inclusion as it relates to statements made by President Larry McDougal.
I’ve gotten a lot of pushback for it, but it was the right thing to do.

I think the top issue facing Texas attorneys going into 2021 is practicing in a COVID-19 and [hopefully] post-COVID-19 world.
The pandemic has revealed some deep fissures in our existing systems and has changed expectations for attorneys in all environments. Working through that has caused attorneys an enormous amount of stress, fear, and frustration. The bar needs to work with the Office of Court Administration to normalize procedures throughout the state. We need to help attorneys develop their professional skills using the technology in use with the courts and provide our membership with training regarding professionalism during these unprecedented times.

Many of our directors have spoken publicly about diversity and inclusion in our profession.
We have worked hard to give our membership a platform in which to have their voices heard on those issues, which I believe has moved many of our colleagues forward. I hope that these efforts help our members who feel marginalized to know that their participation in the State Bar is strongly desired by the board of directors.

I’d like to improve our mentorship opportunities and also to improve our outreach to rural areas and encourage organization of formal local bars in rural areas.
We’ve learned through the pandemic that by meeting remotely we can improve participation. We need to leverage remote participation to assist our members who do not live in metropolitan areas. I would also like to improve the State Bar website—it is not particularly user-friendly for casual users.

Contact us! Your district director is elected to represent you, our constituents.
Find out which director represents your county and reach out to him or her directly. We don’t know all of the answers, but we can usually point you in the right direction.TBJ


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