STATE BAR DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT JANUARY 2022
Interview by Eric Quitugua
Photo courtesy of Christina Davis
Position: Attorney and Shareholder in the Sinclair Law Office in Tyler
Board Member: District 2 since 2019
My parents tell me that we were watching an episode of Law & Order when I was about 7 years old, and I asked them what a lawyer was.
It was then that I declared I wanted to be lawyer. I don’t remember this, but they must have given me a really good answer!
The only specific prerequisite I have is that the client needs a lawyer. That sounds very simplistic, but in family law, I often have the opportunity to counsel potential clients not to act.
In a divorce consultation, for example, it is not uncommon for me to tell the person, “I have not yet heard a reason that you want to get divorced.” If it becomes clear to me that someone doesn’t really want a divorce, I will do what I can to help them stay married. On the other hand, many people need to have their day in court, and I make it my priority to give them that opportunity.
The hardest—but most necessary—part of being a lawyer is standing up when everyone else sits down.
Being a lawyer often means representing people or defending circumstances that others find unpleasant. In those situations, it’s really tough to be the person standing up. Other times, standing up as a lawyer means questioning the status quo when others want to conform and others want you to conform. While this is often not an easy job, you can find your niche and work for causes you believe in.
A friend and mentor told me when she was nearing retirement
that of all the volunteer work, sections, and committees she had been on throughout her career, it was her time as a State Bar director that she felt was the most impactful. She convinced me to run.
I think that I have made the bar more accessible to small-firm and solo practitioners in my district.
I regularly get phone calls and emails from lawyers asking questions about State Bar of Texas benefits and offering opinions on State Bar happenings. I then take those opinions into our committee meetings and speak up on the issues presented.
Directors need to understand that we are there to serve the membership and, specifically, our districts.
We need to make sure that the attorneys in our districts feel connected to the bar and that the bar is accessible to them.
Go to texasbar.com, click on the tab that says “For Lawyers” and then go through every section.
It will take you a long time to get through all of the different offerings the State Bar of Texas has for its members, many of which I don’t think the average attorney even knows about. I recommend paying close attention to the Member Benefits section, Succession Planning, Resource Guides, and the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program. This is how you make the most of your membership.
I think one of the top issues facing Texas attorneys is managing second-hand trauma and burnout.
Thankfully, those are becoming more widely known terms, which is allowing some of the resources to be put in the spotlight. Some attorneys don’t know that TLAP can help with more than substance use. Further, there are resources on the TLAP website, tlaphelps.org, that an attorney can privately access, without having to communicate with TLAP at all, such as articles, videos, and TED Talks.
My fellow directors have improved the legal profession by setting the example for professionalism and service within the bar.
I am constantly amazed at watching those around me practice at very high levels, while still maintaining a commitment to service. Through their service, I have seen them spend countless hours reviewing processes, procedures, and policies, all of which are aimed at making our profession better and serving the bar membership.
Call your local director.
If it isn’t an issue that the director personally knows about or is involved with, they may know of the next person, committee, or section that could best help address the issue.TBJ