PRESIDENT’S PAGE JANUARY 2023
What You Need to Know About the Duties of the State Bar President and Why Your Vote Matters
With the new year upon us and campaigning for the next state bar of
texas president-elect expected to begin in earnest, it is a great time
to review the importance of this annual exercise of self-governance.
The State Bar Board of Directors has nominated two candidates who will stand for election as president-elect for the 2023-2024 bar year along with any certified petition candidates. They are Jerry Alexander from Dallas and Steve Benesh from Austin. Both are highly qualified and would do an excellent job leading our bar. Currently, there are no additional president-elect candidates, although members have until March 1 to submit their nominating petitions to the State Bar for certification. Please show the candidates your appreciation by making the time to hear their platforms and vote when your ballot arrives in April 2023. More information about the candidates is available at texasbar.com/elections.
The role of president-elect is more than ceremonial. Your president-elect is responsible for chairing the Budget Committee. The proposed budget for 2022-2023 included total revenues and receipts of $49,545,155. The committee must understand the budget, make sure that it is balanced, and that your dues are wisely spent.
The budget for my year as president was the first that responded to the changes mandated by McDonald v. Firth, including a new dues allocation schedule. The Budget Committee met six times over six months. The committee reviewed over 500 pages of documents. Our State Bar executive staff spent over 400 hours detailing their programs and activities and documenting how those expenditures were germane to the mission of the State Bar.
The president-elect also attends all of the committee meetings which include: Administration, Budget, Audit & Finance, Discipline & Client Attorney Assistance, Executive, Member Services & Education, Public Services & Education, and an ad hoc committee to select at-large directors, so that she or he is prepared to lead as president.
The president-elect decides what initiatives to pursue as president. My first presidential initiative is succession planning to promote the law practice management online portal, which provides solo practitioners an easy mechanism for designating a custodian attorney.
My second initiative is to focus on attorney well-being and educating our members about suicide prevention.
My third initiative is to increase the understanding of the attorney grievance system by lawyers and the public. The grievance system is vital to the State Bar’s duty as a mandatory bar to improve and advance the quality of legal services to the public and foster integrity and ethical conduct in the legal profession.
These are just a few of the responsibilities of the president-elect and president of the State Bar. The decisions of the State Bar leadership and staff are important to our members and the public.
For many years, the State Bar Board of Directors interviewed candidates for president-elect in January and the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee made recommendations to the board that were considered in January.
In years when we had petition candidates who started campaigning on September 1, earlier than the other candidates, this led to confusion. The board now interviews candidates in August and the Nominations and Elections Subcommittee makes recommendations to the board that are considered in September.
We are always working to improve voter turnout, because every vote matters. One year, the election was decided by 37 votes.
Some people choose not to vote because they believe that the bar is in good hands regardless of the candidate elected. Even if you believe that is the case, in order to demonstrate that we deserve the opportunity to continue as a self-governed profession, we can’t sit on our rights. We must exercise our right to vote.
Thank you for your time, attention, and most of all, your support.
State Bar of Texas
Laura Gibson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.TBJ