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.





























































October 2013

Editor's Column
Editor's Column

By:  Laura Pratt

Would you believe that the first personal computer was introduced about 35 years ago?  Guess that means that a growing number of young lawyers have never lived in a world without computers. 
In fact, not too long ago, lawyers actually debated the effectiveness and applicability of technology in the legal profession as it continued to develop.  

Top Story
Top Story

The Michael Morton Act: What prosecutors and defense attorneys need to know
By:  Alex Bell

When Governor Perry recently signed SB 1611, also known as the Michael Morton Act, the landscape for Texas criminal discovery changed dramatically. Gone are the days of discretionary open file policies. New disclosure requirements are mandatory and extend to "all material evidence." The duty to turn over Brady materials now extends indefinitely—as in FOREVER. And, most importantly, the language of the new law suggests that none of its requirements are waivable.

Feature TYLA Project
Feature TYLA Project

Pocket Guide: Social Media 101
By:  Sally Pretorius

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, AVVO, Linkedin, search engine optimization, pop-up advertisements, and blogs: Everywhere we turn social-media is in front of us. When we open up our social-media forum of choice, we see many of our non-lawyer friends and colleagues showcasing their work lives with boasts about success, where they are, and even funny stories about what happened at work.  However, we as lawyers have an obligation and duty to make sure that we do not run afoul of our governing Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct while participating in the social-media fun. We all know that we have to be cautious when it comes to advertising and soliciting clients, but are we all aware of the rules as they apply to our social-media involvement?

Feature TYLA Affiliate
Feature TYLA Affiliate

Hidalgo County Young Lawyers Association’s 9th Annual Monster Bash
By: Carina C. Garza, HCYLA President-Elect

Is your local affiliate looking for a fun way to engage current members, recruit new ones, and give back to your community?  Throw a Halloween costume party benefiting your favorite charity!

This year marks the 9th Anniversary of Hidalgo County Young Lawyers Association’s Monster Bash social. Monster Bash is open to the public and features a Halloween costume contest, live music, and food and beverages for the night. The proceeds of our Monster Bash benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® and go towards sponsoring a local child’s wish.  It typically takes $5,000 to grant one wish, and past sponsored wishes include fantastic trips to Disney World.

Tips for Young Lawyers
Tips for Young Lawyers

Pursuing Excellence in Your Legal Writing
By:  Elizabeth Beyer

Similar to the number of rules in the Bluebook for legal citations, as legal writers, we are bound by a seemingly limitless number of grammatical rules and guidelines to follow.  However, sometimes the only thing that matters is whether you’re making errors that your audience will notice.  Perhaps your Facebook grammarian friends have shared the commonly frowned-upon mistakes made in Facebook posts. (I consider the your / you’re distinction to be the number one pet peeve of Facebookers everywhere.)  While it’s good to keep those basics in mind, as professional writers, we have a more sophisticated audience – other lawyers and judges.   Let’s just put it this way: If the judge thinks you don’t know what you’re talking about, your clients may end up disappointed in the result.

Article of Interest
Article of Interest

Contention Discovery Requests in Federal Cases in Texas: Punting in the First Quarter Could Lead to Disaster in the Fourth
By:  Ricardo J. Bonilla

It happens every day: One litigant serves discovery requests on another, asking the latter to “identify every fact” or “explain every basis” for the party’s legal contentions in a lawsuit. For the longest time, the response was standard: Delay answering the requests by pointing to the party’s expert reports, which would be produced much later in the case, allowing the party to perform more discovery and spend more time formulating its contentions and the bases for them. That practice is not safe in Texas's federal courts anymore, and one need look no further than the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to find the reason why.

Health Tips for Young Lawyers
Health Tips for Young Lawyers

Dallas Fair Park Run Supports Pro Bono Efforts

Young lawyers in the Dallas area can support efforts to provide free legal services to indigent Texans by participating in the Family Law Cares Pro Bono 5K Fun Run and Walk to be held Sunday, November 10, at Fair Park in Dallas.

Those who want to participate can click here and register for the event. The registration fee prior to race day is $20. On-site registration is $25 and begins at 7:30AM that morning. The fee for runners up to 14 years of age is $15. Each entrant receives a fun run tee shirt and other giveaway items.  Runners are advised to arrive prior to the 8:30AM race start time. 

ABA YLD Update
ABA YLD Update

The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Fall Conference was recently held in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Affiliate Assistance Team, as well as the other YLD teams, coordinators, and committees hosted an Affiliate Leader Programming roundtable discussion. 

During the first part of this session the Affiliate Assistance Team introduced leaders of affiliated young lawyer organizations (Affiliates) to the ABA YLD and its resources.  Affiliate Leaders were given an overview of the ABA YLD and provided handouts with helpful information on key resources and deadlines.  The Team also introduced itself to Affiliate Leaders and explained its role within the Division.

Texas Access To Justice Commission Update
Texas Access To Justice Commission Update

Join the Pro Bono Party

National Pro Bono Week is coming up on October 21 – 25. Organizations across the state are celebrating the work of pro bono volunteers and turning their attention to meeting the need for pro bono services.

During Pro Bono Week we’ll be recognizing outstanding pro bono volunteers and programs on our Facebook page. Follow us on Facebook for more information about pro bono opportunities and ways to get involved.

Important Dates To Remember

October 20-26, 2013
National Pro Bono Week Celebration

October 28, 2013
TYLA deadline to receive second committee report

Take Note

Kristy Blanchard, TYLA President
Click here to view this month's TYLA President's Opinion


Insurance and Health Care Choices For You
Enrollment begins November 1, 2013
The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is a multi-carrier private exchange designed for State Bar of Texas members and their staff and dependents. Available to both individuals and employer groups, the exchange offers a wide range of health insurance choices, including access to and choices from:
• The Public Exchange
• The Private Exchange
• Non-qualified Health Plans

The Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange is divided into two extranet portal components—one for individuals and another for employer groups.  For questions please call, Member Benefits, Inc. at (800) 282-8626 and sign up for updates at memberbenefits.com/texasbar.


I was the First. Vote for Me!
The State Bar of Texas has launched I was the first. Vote for Me!, a multimedia project educating elementary students on some of the historic figures featured in the new social studies TEKS standards. In addition to lessons on historic firsts, students will also learn about math, citizenship, reading, and voting. The website includes animations of historic figures; curriculum materials for teachers; and links to other resources for students, teachers, and attorneys. In addition to the web-based materials, an e-reader and hard-copy book are available and can also be accessed in PDF format from the website. The book and animations are prepared in both English and Spanish.


Professional Liability Insurance
Two professional liability insurance providers have options specifically for State Bar of Texas members. Learn more about USI Affinity and the Texas Lawyers' Insurance Exchange and how they can help Texas lawyers here.


Texas Bar Today
Texas Bar Today is an online media network designed to promote the news and commentary of Texas lawyers, law students, and legal professionals who maintain blogs or submit guest articles. The site, TexasBarToday.com, is updated weekdays with selected blog and video posts and Texas legal headlines, which are also promoted on the Texas Bar Today Twitter account.

Texas lawyers who want to include their blog or video on Texas Bar Today, or submit a guest article for posting, can send an email request to webmaster@texasbar.com. The State Bar of Texas has full editorial discretion regarding which blogs are linked, and all opinions and statements in blogs are those of their authors and not the State Bar. All attorney websites, including blogs, must comply with State Bar of Texas advertising guidelines, TexasBar.com/adreview.


Savings through the State Bar Member Discount Program
Take advantage of discounts offered through the State Bar of Texas Member Discounts Program. Save money on clothing, cellular service, computers, televisions and other office supplies!  For more information please visit www.texasbar.com/discounts.  Visit often – the site is updated regularly with new deals!


The Texas Bar Journal wants to hear from you!
Have you received an honor or recognition? Have you recently accepted a new position or moved? Keep the Texas legal community informed by submitting your news at texasbar.com/tbjsubmissions. Your news could appear in an issue of the Texas Bar Journal.


International Law Section of the State Bar of Texas
2013 Nuts & Bolts Seminar and Networking Lunch

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The International Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and its co-sponsors are proud to invite you to enjoy a great morning seminar in Dallas on the basics of practicing law internationally and an excellent opportunity to meet lawyers already doing so. Please be our guest at our complimentary CLE event which includes ethics followed by a networking lunch.  Click here to RSVP and download the agenda.


TYLA Diversity Scholarship Program
Each year, TYLA awards a $1,000 scholarship to one diverse student at each Texas law school. The scholarship promotes diversity in the legal profession by assisting members of diversity populations within the bar to (1) enter the legal profession and (2) participate in the programs and activities of TYLA and the State Bar of Texas. The application deadline is October 25, 2013. The scholarship awards are distributed before the Spring semester. For more information please click here


Law Student Division - Legal Professionalism Award
The State Bar of Texas Law Student Division would like to invite members to apply for the Legal Professionalism Award. Each year the State Bar of Texas awards two $1,000 scholarships to students from the Texas law schools.  Please click here for eligibility rules and judging criteria.


TYLA Local Leader Directory
Please email the TYLA office if there are any changes to your local affiliate's contact information.

If your affiliate has an upcoming event that you would like featured in eNews, please forward the information to Bree Trevino or contact eNews Co-chairs Anita BarksdaleLeif Olson, Sally Pretorius and John Shaw.

Ten Minute Mentor
Ten Minute Mentor debuted in 2004 to share concise and practical advice that is always accessible online. Since then, it has proven its enduring appeal as one of TYLA's most successful projects. More than 50,000 people have visited the site, and we continue to average more than 2,000 segments viewed each month. You can visit the site at www.tenminutementor.com.

Support Pro Bono Legal Services and Let Everyone Know It!
TYLA needs your help to support and promote free legal services for indigent Texans by purchasing a specialty license plate. The license plate proudly states that you support "Justice for All" and costs only $35.00 per year, or $70.00 for a personalized plate.

$25.00 from the purchase of each plate will go to support legal services to the poor.  To buy your plate, simply fill out an application and send your check, payable to the Texas Department of Transportation, to:

Vehicle Titles and Registration Division (SPB)
Texas Department of Transportation
Austin, TX 78779-0001
To pay online click here.

TYLA Annual Report 2012-2013
Want to know how TYLA is serving its members and the community? Then be sure to read the Annual Report, which details the activities of TYLA during the 2012-2013 Bar year. Click here for a copy or call 800-204-2222, ext. 1529 and we'll send one.