Take a R.I.D.E. With Me
When I ran for president-elect, I talked with lawyers from all across this great state. I heard your opinions of what is right with our bar and what you feel is wrong. I took all of your comments to heart, and I think about some of you every day.
What I found is we have more in common as Texas lawyers than that which sets us apart. Of course, we cannot expect that 106,000 lawyers will agree on everything all the time, but what I do know is that there is room at the table for all viewpoints.
This is our bar. We are fortunate to be self-governing and led by dedicated volunteers with diverse opinions and ideas and who, like me, are indeed listening. Every day they and the State Bar staff are working to find the best ways to serve Texas lawyers.
I have high hopes for this year. We are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic but still struggling with its hardships. This past year brought our country to some difficult truths and discussions about race and relationships, but I know together we can chart a path forward to greater understanding as we fulfill our purposes of regulating and improving the quality of legal services in Texas. I would like for you to come along for the R.I.D.E. as we focus on Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity within our bar.
These are big words with colloquial definitions that evoke different feelings in different people, but I want to think critically about what each one of these words means to us as members of the State Bar of Texas.
The Texas Lawyer’s Creed: A Mandate for Professionalism holds that we as lawyers are committed to the highest ethical and moral standards for no other reason than it is right. Above all, we commit to be civil and courteous. We agree to respect the rule of law, our colleagues, our clients, the judiciary and its rulings—even if we sometimes vehemently disagree.
In our bar world when ideas clash, it can be easy to withdraw, to throw up our hands and claim “these are not my people.” But they are.
Advancing the mission of our bar will sometimes require uncomfortable conversations with people of opposing views, but these conversations can be had respectfully, with consideration given to the feelings of others and full attention to the diverse makeup of our bar. Who better than lawyers to work together on the common goals that unite us?
I know some lawyers may look at our bar and feel they have little in common with those they see in leadership roles. But that’s an invitation to take part. If you don’t hear a voice like yours in the volunteer bar leadership, on a board, on a committee, in a section, then be that voice.
I am the first Hispanic woman to be president of this bar and the seventh woman overall. This is the first time in our bar’s 82-year history that the president and president-elect have both been women. There is a seat for everyone at the table.
Sylvia Borunda Firth
State Bar of Texas
Sylvia Borunda Firth can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.