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2014 Bar Leaders Conference
By: Alex Yarbrough

Every year, the State Bar of Texas and the TYLA invite local affiliates to a two-day conference that addresses common concerns for volunteer leaders.  The Bar Leaders Conference is also a great place to meet other elected leaders and learn about the resources provided by the State Bar of Texas and TYLA.  This year, the annual Bar Leaders Conference took place on Aug. 1-2, 2014, at the Westin Galleria in Houston, Texas. It was a great opportunity for local bar leaders to meet and discuss common topics of interest, learn about resources, share ideas, network, and just have fun.   Each young lawyer affiliate was invited to bring a total of four delegates (two official TYLA delegates, one TYLA minority delegate and one ATJ delegate).

This year’s Bar Leaders Conference started with an exciting presentation by Vicki Clark.  Even though Clark started her presentation with the notion that pork is BBQ (a highly debatable subject), the main focus of her presentation addressed servant leadership.  Clark, inspired by J. Carla Nortcutt’s words, shared that great leaders are servants.  Although the goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader, the goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.  After Vicki Clark’s opening presentation, delegates attended various presentations and round-table discussions throughout the weekend. 

Additionally, the 2014 TYLA Awards of Achievement winners were recognized.  There are five award categories: comprehensive, service to the bar, service to the public, minority project, and newsletter.  Among the recognized winners were Denton County Young Lawyers Association, winner of the small city comprehensive award, and Austin Young Lawyers Association, winner of the large city comprehensive award.  During lunch on Saturday, Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman presented the Pro Bono Service and Hankinson awards.  On Saturday afternoon, both large and small affiliates presented on several highly successful and innovative projects as ideas that other local affiliates can duplicate.  Each project discussed was designed to serve the public and bar associations of all sizes. 


TYLA also informed each delegate that TYLA has grant money available for local affiliates.  This funding supports local programs furthering the purposes of TYLA.  The Local Affiliate Grant Program is available to those local bar associations who have affiliated with TYLA for programs implemented at the local level that advance TYLA's purposes. These grants are primarily for new programs. This year’s deadline to apply for a grant is 5 p.m. Aug. 22, 2014.  For more information, please visit the TYLA website here.

The Bar Leaders Conference ended with a “Wild Wild West Casino Party.”  Attendees were encouraged to wear their best western attire and try their luck at a few casino games.  Overall the Bar Leaders Conference was a great success, and hopefully, each local affiliate in attendance benefited.  The conference material can be found here.

ALEX YARBROUGH has a civil litigation practice at Sprouse Shrader Smith, PLLC in Amarillo, Texas, and is the current District 16 Director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association.