TYLA Officers


Rebekah Steely Brooker, President


Dustin M. Howell, Chair


Sam Houston, Vice President


Baili B. Rhodes, Secretary


John W. Shaw, Treasurer


C. Barrett Thomas, President-elect


Priscilla D. Camacho, Chair-elect


Kristy Blanchard, Immediate Past President

TYLA Directors


Amanda A. Abraham, District 1


Sharesa Y. Alexander, Minority At-Large Director


Raymond J. Baeza, District 14

    Aaron J. Burke, District 5, Place 1

Aaron T. Capps, District 5, Place 2


D. Lance Currie, District 5, Place 3


Laura W. Docker, District 10, Place 1

    Andrew Dornburg, District 21
    John W. Ellis, District 8, Place 2
    Zeke Fortenberry, District 4

Bill Gardner, District 5, Place 4


Morgan L. Gaskin, District 6, Place 5

    Nick Guinn, District 18, Place 1

Adam C. Harden, District 6, Place 6


Amber L. James, District 17


Curtis W. Lucas, District 9

    Rudolph K. Metayer, District 8, Palce 1

Laura Pratt, District 3

    Sally Pretorius, District 8, Place 2

Baili B. Rhodes, District 2


Alex B. Roberts, District 6, Place 3

    Eduardo Romero, District 19
    Michelle P. Scheffler, District 6, Place 2

John W. Shaw, District 10, Place 2

    Nicole Soussan, District 6, Place 4
    L. Brook Stuntebeck, District 11

C. Barrett Thomas, District 15

    Judge Amanda N. Torres, Minority At-Large Director

Shannon Steel White, District 12

    Brandy Wingate Voss, District 13
    Veronica S. Wolfe, District 18, Place 2

Baylor Wortham, District 7

    Alex Yarbrough, District 16


Justice Paul W. Green, Supreme Court Liaison


Jenny Smith, Access To Justice Liaison


Brandon Crisp, ABA YLD District 25 Representative


Travis Patterson, ABA/YLD District 26 Representative


Assistant Dean Jill Nikirk, Law School Liaison


Belashia Wallace, Law Student Liaison


TYLA Office

Tracy Brown, Director of Administration
Bree Trevino, Project Coordinator

Michelle Palacios, Office Manager
General Questions: tyla@texasbar.com

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 12487, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711-2487
(800) 204-2222 ext. 1529
FAX: (512) 427-4117

Street Address

1414 Colorado, 4th Floor
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 427-1529


Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.





























































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TYLA eNews Q&A for President-Elect Candidates (2013)

Editors Note: During the month of April, you will be able to vote for the next TYLA President-Elect. We asked the two candidates to answer the same set of questions. We encourage you to visit the website for Rebekah Steely Brooker and you can follow Alfonso Cabañas on Twitter @Cabañaslawfirm.

1.  Why do you want to be TYLA President?

Brooker: Simply put, I want to make a difference. I have seen firsthand the tangible impact that TYLA makes in the community locally and statewide. Growing up, my mother always reminded me of the Parable of the Faithful Servant—“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” With this echoing in the back of my mind, I have always felt more fulfilled—personally and professionally—when given the opportunity to give back.

As a first-generation college graduate, I am not just fulfilled by service but compelled to service. While I have enjoyed pro bono opportunities throughout my career, TYLA has provided me a vehicle to help people beyond just the practice of law. As the public-service arm of the State Bar of Texas, TYLA creates and implements relevant and impactful community education and service projects year after year. I hope to continue and grow this tradition, and I believe I can provide the leadership necessary for TYLA to positively impact how communities experience lawyers and how young lawyers experience the bar.

Cabañas: I want to be TYLA president to continue to provide young lawyers with career options through networking opportunities. I also want to increase volunteer participation through public service projects that deal with current issues. Lastly, I want to increase public awareness of the many great projects that TYLA has readily available.

2.  What do you see as the single greatest challenge facing young lawyers today?

Brooker:  Jobs. The United States continues to recover from a depressed economic period. In this economic climate, the single greatest challenge facing young lawyers in Texas is the job market. Law students and recent graduates find it exceedingly difficult to get a job, particularly one sufficient to repay their educational debt. In addition to the practical realities of unemployment and underemployment, these young lawyers battle with limitations on their professional growth and/or health concerns from stress and depression. Ultimately, these young lawyers may leave the legal profession entirely to find a better paying job or a healthier work-life balance. TYLA’s priority should be engaging, developing, and retaining this generation of young lawyers in the legal profession.

Cabañas:  The greatest challenge young lawyers are facing today is adapting to the increasingly difficult time commitments required by our profession while maintaining a healthy lifestyle with our family and friends.

3.  What is your favorite TYLA project?

Brooker:  The most fulfilling TYLA project for me was my first. I volunteered to serve on a TYLA committee concerning family and elder law. Despite simply being a committee member, I had the opportunity to co-create and co-author Dealing with Dementia, a pamphlet designed to educate caregivers and families about legal issues relevant to dementia, such as guardianships, powers of attorney, advanced directives, estate planning, and other issues. I helped TYLA publish this pamphlet shortly after my father-in-law passed away after years of battling Alzheimer’s Disease. Personally, Dealing with Dementia gave me a certain peace because I knew that TYLA had created a solid resource to help families answer the hard questions and address the difficult issues that my family had also confronted.

Cabañas:  My favorite TYLA project is “Healing the Wounds.”

4.  What is your primary practice area, and how did you come to choose that area?

Brooker:  I am an attorney with Passman & Jones in Dallas where I manage the firm’s estate planning and administration and probate practices. I primarily spend my time administering trusts and estates and counseling clients on estate planning, charitable planning, asset protection, and estate and trust management.

I began my career practicing commercial litigation with a dose of bankruptcy. However, a couple years into my practice, my grandfather passed away, and my grandmother needed help probating his estate. Little did I know that her simple request and the experience that I gained would alter the focus of my practice and the future of my legal career. Fortunately, my firm had a partner who practiced estate planning and probate. He helped me conquer the learning curve, and along the way, I realized how much I enjoyed this area of the law. When he left the firm, Passman & Jones asked me to lead the firm’s estate planning and administration and probate practices. I am very fortunate to get to do something that has such a real and tangible effect on my client’s personal lives.

Cabañas:  My primary practice area is international business transactions and white collar criminal defense. I chose international business transactions since I have strong business and family ties to Mexico. The practice area of white-collar criminal defense has been a great complement to my international practice.

5.  If you were not a lawyer, what would you be?

Brooker:  I have a very musical family and growing up I always said I wanted to be an opera singer. Back home in Huntsville, I was very involved in both my church and high school choirs. If I had not gone to law school (or made it as an opera singer), I suspect that I would have pursued a degree in music and would be singing in or directing a choir.

Cabañas:  If I was not a lawyer, I would be mountain biking.

6.  What do you like to do for fun?

Brooker:  In my spare time, my greatest joy is spending time with my family and watching my three children learn and grow. I also enjoy watching college football, practicing yoga, and running. I am an avid reader who has recently (and reluctantly) made the conversion from hardbacks to a Kindle.

Cabañas:  For fun I like to work-out, play soccer, and mountain bike.

7.  Family is important to you both. Please tell us a little about your family.

Brooker:  My husband Chip is a business trial lawyer in Dallas, and like me, he is also a graduate of Texas A&M and SMU Dedman School of Law. He is a former President of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and a former director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Our five-year old son, Hutch, is an aspiring superhero/artist/ninja. Meanwhile, our three-year old son, Mac, is yet to meet a ball that he does not like. If you have a football, basketball, baseball, soccer ball, or golf ball, then Mac is your best friend. Earlier this year, we added a baby girl, Tess, to the mix. Her hobbies include eating, sleeping, and wrapping all of us around her little fingers.

Cabañas:  My wife, Andrea, and I are the happy parents of one and one-half month old, Nicolas Alfonso Cabanas. Thus far, we both enjoy sleepless nights, waking up throughout the night to feed the baby, and constantly changing diapers.

8.  What is the best advice you have been given about practicing law?

Brooker:  You have two ears and one mouth so that you could listen twice and speak once. With that in mind, it is important to remember the “counseling” side of attorney-and-counselor at law.

Cabañas:  The best advice I received is to understand that my law practice is a business.

9.  What is your favorite television show?

Brooker:  My favorite television show is now and always will be Dallas. Growing up, I was hooked on the original show, and I loved all the characters … Miss Ellie, Sue Ellen, and even J.R. However, no one could compare to Bobby Ewing. As a little girl, I may have had plans to marry him! When I first moved to Dallas for law school, my husband would laugh when I would refer to the Fountain Place building in downtown Dallas as the Ewing Oil Building. Although it does not hold a candle to the original, I have gotten hooked on the new Dallas.

Cabañas:  My favorite television show is Modern Family.

10.  What is your favorite city to visit?

Brooker:  Even though I got my degree in College Station, Austin is my favorite city to visit in the State of Texas. While I was in college, my family moved from Huntsville to Austin. Now, that I have children, it is important for me to take them to Austin as much as possible so that their grandparents, aunts, and uncles have plenty of time to spoil them. You cannot beat free babysitting combined with a city that has endless food, music, and fun!

Outside of Texas, I love visiting Charleston, South Carolina. My husband Chip grew up about an hour-and-a-half away from Charleston, and I cannot travel to South Carolina without stopping in Charleston. It is minutes from the beach, the shopping and food are excellent, and life just moves a little slower in Charleston. There is a reason why Condé Nast named it the best vacation spot in the United States.

CabañasMy favorite city to visit is Seattle, Washington.

11.  What is your favorite restaurant and what should I order if I go there?

Brooker:  This question depends entirely on where you are. In Dallas, I love the shrimp and grits at Hattie’s, but I can’t go to Fort Worth without eating fajitas at Joe T. Garcia’s. As a college student, I loved the corn chowder at Café Eccell in College Station. But, if you ever have the opportunity to antique shop in Round Top, you absolutely have to get a slice of pie from Royer’s Cafe.

Cabañas:  My favorite restaurant in San Antonio is Beto’s Comida Latina. You should undoubtedly order the grilled-fish tacos on a corn tortilla and their homemade lemonade.

12.  If you could attend any event, what would it be?

Brooker:  I have always wanted to attend the Olympics. I may not be the world’s biggest sports fan, but I am always drawn to the competitiveness, patriotism, and pageantry of the Olympic Games.

Cabañas:  I would attend the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

13.  What was the last song you sang when no one else was around?

Brooker:  “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond

Cabañas:  La Macarena

14.  What is the last CD you bought?

Brooker:  I would have to go back several years to figure out the last CD that I actually bought, but I did recently download “Babel” by Mumford & Sons.

Cabañas: It was actually pretty recent purchase and I think it was called “hip-hop’s greatest hits”

15.  If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?

Brooker:  There is a good answer here and a bad answer here, right? Of course, I would fund a charity, pay off all our school loans and our house, and fully fund our children’s college accounts. But the less responsible side of me would probably start shopping for a lake house.

Cabañas:  I would buy a house in Bariloche, Argentina.

16.  Who was your favorite cartoon character or super hero when you were growing up?

Brooker:  Wonder Woman! She had the best accessories—a golden belt, bullet-deflecting bracelets, and a golden lasso.

Cabañas: My favorite superhero was Superman.

17.  If you could have a dinner party and invite three famous people (living or dead), who would you invite and why?

Brooker:  Abraham Lincoln gets the first invitation because we share the same birthday—February 12. As a result, throughout my life, I have always been drawn to Honest Abe, and I have spent a lot of time studying his career. I would be interested to hear his thoughts on leadership and building consensus.

Sam Houston would get the second invitation because he had such a tremendous influence on my hometown of Huntsville and on the State of Texas generally. I suspect that he would have a lot to say on leadership. And, can you imagine the conversation between Sam and Abe?!

Julia Childs would get the final invitation. As the foremother of the American culinary scene, Childs would be the perfect chef and host for a lovely evening. In addition to getting to enjoy her food, I would appreciate learning how Childs built a successful business and career in a time when it was hard to be a career woman.

Cabañas I would invite Stephen Colbert so he could make us laugh. Willie Nelson so he could keep play some good music. Mario Batali so he could cook some awesome Italian food.

18.  Name something that your parents told you when you were a child that did not find to be true until you became an adult (or parent)?

Brooker:  “Time flies!” – I never really believed my mother when she told me how quickly time flies. However, it seems like yesterday that our oldest son, Hutch, was born, and now, he is about to begin kindergarten in the fall. Remembering that “time flies” helps me to keep my priorities straight and motivates me to work hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Cabañas: They told me that life goes by very quickly!!!

19.  If you were stranded on a deserted island, and had to pick 3 books, which 3 books would you pick and why?

Brooker:  The Bible (for hope), a family photo album (for determination), and a survival guide (for practical skills).

Cabañas:  The First Billion is the Hardest by T. Boone Pickens, The Godfather by Mario Puozo, and Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

20.  What would your spouse say is your best quality?

Brooker:  He would probably say my friendliness. He frequently tells me that I have been known to make friends with walls, but I genuinely enjoy meeting and getting to know new people. It is always interesting to learn about someone … where they’re from, what they do, where they went to school, and how our lives intersect.

Cabañas:  My sense of humor.