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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A few words from the TYLA President-elect candidates

Editor’s Note: During April you will be able to cast your vote for the next President-Elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. We asked the two candidates a few questions so that you can get to know them better. Here’s what they told us. 

1. Why do you want to be President of TYLA?

Barrett: I have served this organization in almost every capacity from being a local-affiliate member and president to being a member of TYLA’s Executive Committee. I have worked alongside attorneys from all over this state training police officers, writing wills for veterans and first responders, stocking food banks, visiting children’s homes, and more. I have witnessed first-hand the power that TYLA has to change lives for the better. I am convinced that no other organization provides such a unique opportunity to serve both the members of a profession I love and those in our communities who are in need.

It is the same passion for public service that drives me to serve as president of TYLA. I believe the leader of TYLA should not just casually accept TYLA’s mission, but rather should be driven in their heart to want to improve the lives of their fellow attorneys and to assist all those in need who cross our path. I have that heart and that passion. Most importantly, I have the ability—forged through experience—to continue the great tradition of excellence in public service that people have come to expect from TYLA.

Amber: I want to be President of TYLA because I think it is important for the TYLA leadership to reflect the diverse make-up of its membership. Having practiced both in Houston and the Permian Basin, I feel particularly equipped to serve all members of TYLA. The challenges facing young lawyers in the major metro areas differ greatly from those affecting young lawyers in more rural areas of Texas—and in order to serve all members, we must draw upon our resources (both human and financial) to address those challenges. While active participation from our membership might be the ideal outcome, I believe our real focus should be on how we are serving our membership, regardless of their level of participation. As a board member, I’ve been so encouraged by the level of effort and commitment contributed by our board on a multitude of projects—but also disappointed, that, despite all of our collective efforts, we still aren’t reaching our membership—and I’d like the opportunity to change that.

2. What do you see as the single greatest challenge facing young lawyers in the State of Texas?

Amber:  The single greatest challenge facing young lawyers today lies somewhere between finding a job and finding job satisfaction. Oftentimes, the expectations of young lawyers doesn’t match the opportunities available to them—both at the beginning of practice and even five years into practice. There is no question that the legal job market has changed fairly drastically in the last 10 years—and law schools haven’t fully adjusted to the new realities. TYLA can, and should, take the lead in enabling young lawyers to excel and achieve in this new market. More resources geared towards solo and small-firm practitioners, more opportunities for service and networking events, and even a more detailed analysis of where there is demand for jobs, what kind of jobs, and how to best market yourself for those jobs.

Barrett: Young lawyers are facing many more critical issues than just one, and I know TYLA has the talent and resources to take on many of them simultaneously. However, if I had to choose one, I would say it is the number of attorneys going into practice on their own without adequate hands-on training combined with a lack of adequate mentorship or supervision. The result is many young lawyers getting into trouble way too early and ultimately leaving the practice of law.

While the economy is arguably improving, there are still far more lawyers than there are jobs. Young lawyers are coming out of law school unprepared to practice on their own without a mentor or supervising attorney, yet the economy is forcing many of them to do just that. Moreover, when those attorneys inevitably make a mistake due to their inexperience, the bar seems disinterested in addressing the underlying cause of the mistake outside of the standard grievance process. 

TYLA should work to provide avenues for job seekers to gain experience and improve resumes while working with experienced attorneys—possibly through legal-based public-service projects. TYLA should work to provide a network of mentors for those who strike out on their own to ensure new attorneys have adequate guidance to avoid novice mistakes that lead to grievances and/or sanctions. Finally, TYLA should strive to provide more opportunities for low-cost or free CLE’s that prioritize hands on training rather than the traditional lecture-based variety.

3. Tell us a little about yourself, your legal practice and about your previous involvement with the bar.

Barrett: First and foremost, I am a husband and father. My wife Charla is an Assistant City Attorney in Abilene. We met on the first day of Contracts, where I asked her out during class so she couldn’t say no. The strategy paid off. We have four children. We have twin boys, Will and Aaron (12), and two girls, Adellyn (3) and Lauren (1). We also have a four-legged fuzzy child named Mabel. We like to BBQ in the backyard, play sports, and hang out with our church family. 

I work full-time as a felony prosecutor in the 32nd Judicial District. The district serves Nolan, Mitchell, and Fisher Counties. I got into prosecution after policing for several years. I still maintain my commission and volunteer as a reserve police office and deputy when they need extra security at local events. I also run a part-time law practice handling family cases in the Sweetwater and Abilene area. 

I became a member of the Abilene Young Layers Association in 2008. I was fortunate enough to be elected as Treasurer in 2009-10 and as President in 2010-11. Later that same year, I was elected to the TYLA Board of Directors. In 2013 I was elected to the Executive Committee as Treasurer. From 2009 to date, I have been so blessed to meet some of the most dynamic and motivated leaders I have ever known. I have served alongside them as we have done a vast array of public service projects that have changed so many lives for the better—all because of Texas lawyers who care enough to give back.

Amber: I was born and raised in Southeast Texas (Nederland, TX—the Golden Pride of the Golden Triangle) and attended the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University School of Law. After law school, I practiced with a civil defense firm in Houston, Texas before moving out to West Texas. Currently, I am a Shareholder with the firm of Atkins, Hollmann, Jones, Peacock, Lewis & Lyon where I maintain a commercial-litigation practice involving oil-and-gas related litigation.

Upon arriving in the Permian Basin, I immediately became involved with both the Ector County Bar Association and Ector County Young Lawyers Association. I was vice-president/social chair of the ECBA and am serving my second term as VP of the ECYLA. I also served on the 2011-2012 LeadershipSBOT Team and in 2012-2013 I was an advisory member of the Law Practice Management Committee of the State Bar. I was elected to serve on the TYLA Board of Directors for the 2013-2015 term.

For fun, I’m down for anything involving travel, food, art, music or outdoor pursuits. I spend lots of weekends hiking in the Davis Mountains 2 hours south of Odessa and hanging in the cultural mecca in the middle of nowhere that is Marfa.  I also love traveling the State to see my friends and family from Fort Worth to Beaumont and everywhere in between.

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

Amber: The best advice I’ve been given about practicing law is to be a happy warrior.   Treat your clients, your co-counsel, and other parties with complete respect, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the outcome of the case, and regardless of the fairness of the result. We may work in an adversarial occupation, but zealous advocacy does not require us to abandon our professionalism and civility. Like in fencing and golf, a certain level of dignity and respect for one’s opponent is required to maintain the quality and fairness of the match. Fight hard, but respect your opponent—regardless of the outcome.  

Barrett: As a young prosecutor, I lost a hearing that I really felt I should have won. I was upset. I was frustrated. I felt totally defeated in mind and body. My boss knew it. I worried that she might come in angry or disappointed. Instead, she came in my office, handed me a small passage on a piece of paper, and simply said, “Good job. Forget this case. We have court tomorrow and I am counting on you to work just as hard as you did today.” I read the following words:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt, April 23rd, 1910.

I think every lawyer should here those words as we all will feel the sting of defeat at some point in our practice, but it’s our work itself that truly matters.

5. What is some advice that you were not given as a young lawyer that you wish you had received?

Barrett: I honestly wish someone had told me about all the great resources available at www.tyla.org. I didn’t know anything about the great projects and resources TYLA has to offer until I went to Bar Leaders as a local affiliate member. When I visited the website, I was shocked to find Ten Minute Mentor, the Toolkit Series, Probate Passport, and a host of other guides that would have made the learning curve so much easier to navigate. There were so many answers to questions I researched for hours right there on the website in clear plain language that I could grasp as a new lawyer. If elected, I hope to make sure all new attorneys know about what TYLA has to offer long before I did.

Amber: It wasn’t until I had been practicing for several years that an older lawyer first told me that the quality of my practice would be dictated more by the cases and clients I decided not to take, then those I decided to take. He was absolutely right. A bad case or a bad client will consume a disproportionate amout of your resources. Choose wisely!

6. If anyone wants to find out more about you, where should they turn?

Amber: If you get a chance to corner my mom, my best friend Jess, or my cousin Ashley, they would tell you all you ever needed to know about me, and then some. Short of that, check out my brochure (coming to a mailbox near you), my Facebook page or my website for more info.

Barrett: I can be contacted personally at the 32nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Sweetwater, Texas.  They can reach me there at 325-235-8639 or at barrett@thethomasfirm.com.  More information can also be found on the web at www.BarrettfortheBar.com, www.facebook.com/BarrettfortheBar, and on Twitter @Barrett4theBar.