EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S PAGE DECEMBER 2022
2022: A Year of Adaptability, Creativity, and Innovation
I’d like to start this look back at 2022 with gratitude to the volunteer leaders and professional staff of the State Bar of Texas. Without you, we would not have any successes to measure. Your commitment to the bar’s mission, dedication to excellent service, and collective willingness to go above and beyond makes my job that much easier. With that said, let’s look at some of the things we accomplished in 2022. For more data on the bar’s work, see the By the Numbers report on Page 938.
Remote Court Proceedings
This bar year started in June when the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors approved a resolution supporting efforts of the Texas Supreme Court and its Remote Proceedings Task Force to remove impediments to remote court proceedings, including the adoption and implementation of rule amendments. In October, the court issued proposed new rules for remote proceedings and invited public comment through January 1, 2023.
More Member Benefits
The State Bar rolled out a much-needed program to assist lawyers who have been victims of identity fraud while informing the public and protecting them from scammers impersonating attorneys. The Identity Fraud Flag Program gives lawyers a way to voluntarily report to the bar that they have been the victim of identity fraud and acts as a safeguard for the bar to protect both its members and the public. Also, the bar began offering up to $20,000 in free basic member term life coverage through the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange; new travel savings through the Travel Discount Program; and free access to Docket Alarm’s vast library of briefs, pleadings, motions, and orders through the Fastcase legal research benefit. These and other member benefits can be viewed at texasbar.com/benefits.
Preserving Lawyers’ Self-Governance
On April 4, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in the McDonald v. Firth litigation, ending a challenge to the mandatory bar in Texas. As a result, Texas lawyers continue to practice in a self-regulated profession with an independent grievance system. No other profession in Texas enjoys such a privilege, and we remain committed to protecting it because our bar structure provides the most effective way to regulate the legal profession and improve the quality of legal services provided to the public.
Lawyers, Mental Health, and Succession Planning
2022-2023 State Bar President Laura Gibson took office in June and has used her platform to emphasize the importance of lawyer wellness. The Sheeran-Crowley Lawyer Wellness Trust provides financial assistance to lawyers, law students, and judges who experience mental health or substance use challenges and find cost as a barrier to obtaining the professional help they need. Donations can be made at sheerancrowley.org/donate. Just as passionately, President Gibson advocates for succession planning to encourage solo practitioners to designate a custodian attorney should they die or no longer be able to practice without taking steps to close their practice. You can designate a custodian attorney and find more information at texasbar.com/succession.
Back in Person
With 845 attendees, the 2022 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting was a success as it returned to an in-person format June 9-10 in Houston after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the 50-Year Lawyer Reception, we celebrated more than 900 lawyers licensed in Texas in 1972 for their achievement and commitment to our esteemed profession. In July, we returned to Houston for the Local Bar Leaders Conference in person for the first time since 2019 with nearly 200 lawyers in attendance.
TOJI Goes Global
The State Bar unveiled a Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator online platform to make TOJI materials available to legal incubators and lawyers beyond Texas. Powered by a state-of-the-art learning management system, TOJI on Demand launched with a selection of videos, reading materials, worksheets, and supplemental resources. Inspired by our conviction that we are better together, we are excited to share this resource with our colleagues who are committed to closing the access to justice gap worldwide.
Outstanding work last year, everyone! May 2023 be our best year yet!