Our Leaders Must Look
Like Our Lawyers

In the State Bar of Texas’ 83-year history, only eight women have served as president. As women lawyers continue to make up a greater percentage of active Texas lawyers—growing from 33% to 38% over the past decade—the State Bar must continue working to ensure our leadership reflects our membership.

The same principle applies to lawyers from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in leadership positions. We are an increasingly diverse bar in an increasingly diverse state, and our leadership must continue to be inclusive of all members if we hope to retain the confidence of our fellow lawyers and the public at large.

As an administrative arm of the judicial branch, the State Bar of Texas is prohibited from taking a stance on specific political or ideological issues unless they relate to the regulation of the legal profession or improvements to the quality of legal services, but this is not a reason to avoid the topic of diversity. In fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled in McDonald v. Longley (2021) that the State Bar of Texas’ diversity initiatives—which are open to all lawyers—are germane to the bar’s purposes.

Immediate Past President Sylvia Borunda Firth, during her term, created a 15-member Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. That task force issued a report in June 2021 making recommendations on how we can better increase diversity. In furtherance of the bar’s effort to be inclusive to all, in May 2022, a subcommittee of the State Bar Board of Directors voted to recommend the creation of the bar’s 28th standing committee: the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. On June 8, 2022, the final board meeting of the 2021-2022 bar year, the board voted to approve the new standing committee.

On September 30, 2022, the board approved the nominations of 15 people to serve on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Those persons are: Britney E. Harrison, chair; Deborah Cordova, vice chair (Women and the Law Section); Tracy Almanzán (Diversity in the Profession Committee); Jesús Castillón (LGBT Law Section); Michelle Cheng (Women in the Profession Committee); Victoria “Tori” Easton Clark (Native American Law Section); Robert “Rob” D. Crain; James Dockery; Shana Faulhaber; Victor Flores; Punam Kaji (Asian Pacific Interest Section); Sean Pevsner (Disability Rights and Issues Committee); Goodwille Pierre (African American Lawyers Section); Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza (Hispanic Issues Section); and Alan York. Those persons without a designation after their names were selected by me to serve on the committee but do not serve as a representative of a section or standing committee.

The committee will study the recommendations of the task force as well as provide its own perspective on other aspects of the bar’s operations so that we can be more inclusive to all of our members. I will work closely with the chair of the committee to ensure that the committee recommends board approval of those recommendations the committee decides are appropriate.

The State Bar also changed the name of the Office of Minority Affairs to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

We all owe Sylvia our thanks for getting this important work done. So long as our leaders don’t look like our lawyers, we have work to do. We need to continue to improve the promotion of women, minorities, and those who self-identify as members of the LGBTQ-plus community of lawyers so that they have opportunities to succeed in the practice of law, including having leadership opportunities in our bar should they desire them.

This initiative is dear to my heart. As I enter my 38th year of practice, I will redouble my efforts and will not rest until our leaders look like our lawyers. Please help me by accepting my invitation to get involved with the State Bar of Texas.

Laura Gibson
President, 2022-2023
State Bar of Texas

Laura Gibson can be reached by email at


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