PRESIDENT’S PAGE January 2022
New Year, New Opportunities
Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones had a beautiful, fulfilling, and reenergizing holiday season. As we enter a new year full of hope and promise, I would like to take stock of how far we have come and lay out what is coming in 2022.
The State Bar Act requires the board of directors to “from time to time reapportion the state into bar districts for electing directors ...” The State Bar Board of Directors in September approved a task force to review the apportionment of the bar’s 17 districts to ensure all Texas attorneys are adequately represented by the board. This is an incredibly important process, and the task force will be chaired by President-elect Laura Gibson. You can read more about the effort, its background, its complexities, and the process on page 17.
As a result of strong fiscal management, the State Bar was able to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase the building located immediately adjacent to the Texas Law Center. The building at 1415 Lavaca Street in Austin will be used to further the mission of the bar and increase services to members and the public. To that end, the Building Planning Special Committee, created by the board in September, is working with bar staff to evaluate options for remodeling, repairs, and uses for the building. The committee will seek input from members as they move forward formulating their plans. I am excited to see their plans in the coming months.
The Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion issued its report to the board of directors in June and continues to pursue its recommended changes. At the quarterly board meeting set for January 28 in McAllen, I will ask the board to consider a recommendation to fortify the task force’s efforts through the creation of a committee to help coordinate diversity efforts across the bar.
Meanwhile, the bar is moving forward with two of the DEI Task Force recommendations: 1) creating a submission process that allows speakers who train specifically in the DEI space to sign up to be part of a curated list of experts; and 2) building an online directory of law school pipeline programs that provide support and opportunities to young people considering legal careers.
The task force also suggested changes to the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, promulgated by the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1989. In 2007, the mission of the State Bar was amended to include, “… and promote diversity in the administration of justice and the practice of law.” The proposed updates include statements in support of diversity and inclusion in the administration of justice and the practice of law to align the Texas Lawyer’s Creed with the bar’s mission statement. Of course, any proposed changes to the document ultimately need to be approved by the courts.
Last, but certainly not least, as we enter this new year, let’s consider refocusing on civility and wellness in our lives. The legal profession, as we all know, is immensely stressful and demanding. The often promised-and-then-broken New Year’s resolutions deserve their appropriate chuckles, but perhaps now is the perfect time to consider serious recommitment to being kinder and more professional to each other.
The State Bar’s life-saving Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program is continuing its Wellness Wednesday webinars series at noon on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The series, born out of the pandemic, engages attorneys where they are, providing education and outreach on a variety of wellness topics. Beyond the webinars, myriad resources can be found at texasbar.com/tlapsupporttoolbox.
Let’s enter 2022 with a renewed commitment to being the best we can be professionally and personally, and to be mindful and support one another as we soldier through the challenges we know are ahead.
Sylvia Borunda Firth
State Bar of Texas
Sylvia Borunda Firth can be reached by email at email@example.com..TBJ