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Join the Texas Bar College!
By: John C. Grace

     As a young lawyer, how can you set yourself out from the pack? How can you demonstrate that you are an exceptional attorney? Opportunities to demonstrate competence and commitment do not happen very often. But if you consider yourself to be a legal scholar—an attorney eager to do more than the bare minimum to keep your license current—there is a special opportunity for distinction, made possible by the Supreme Court of Texas and the College of the State Bar.

     For more than 30 years, the College of the State Bar has honored legal scholars. The Texas Supreme Court chartered the College in 1981 to recognize and encourage lawyers who maintain and enhance their professional skills and the quality of their service to the public by significant voluntary participation in legal education.

     The College invites attorneys to demonstrate their commitment to legal scholarship by seeking admission. For your initial membership year, you must accumulate at least 80 hours of accredited CLE within a three-calendar-year period, or at least 45 hours in the current calendar year.  After that, you must accumulate at least double the minimum number of CLE hours each year to maintain your membership. As a young lawyer, this makes College membership a worthwhile and laudable accomplishment. Not every lawyer can achieve this level of scholarship. In fact, only 10 percent of the lawyers in Texas are eligible to join the College.

     As a College member, you will be permitted to promote your achievement by using the College logo in your correspondence, stationery, business cards, and advertising. You will gain complimentary access to the TexasBarCLE Online Library, a collection of more than 18,000 articles from the bar’s continuing legal education seminars. The library is Boolean-searchable and each article is linked to the citing authorities. This is a $295 value, which more than justifies the College’s annual regular dues of $60. You also receive discounts on TexasBarCLE live or video replay seminars.

     The College offers special incentives for newly licensed attorneys. If you attend at least 45 hours between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 in your first year, or between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of the year after you are licensed, you may qualify for a reduced initial-year membership fee of only $35.  The requirements may look confusing, but the College staff is standing by to help you determine what you need to qualify.

     I urge you to review your MCLE transcript. You may be closer to qualifying for College membership than you think. If you have the necessary hours, you can apply for College membership online at: If you are close, you may be able to get over the threshold with one or two of the free courses offered by TexasBarCLE, the Texas Young Lawyers Association, or your local bar. You can also claim six hours of self-study per year for the College. If you have questions about membership, call Merianne Gaston, the College’s managing director.  She can answer your questions and help you plan a path to College membership.

     The College of the State Bar offers a way to distinguish your practice and demonstrate your commitment to legal scholarship. Join today!

John C. Grace is an assistant city attorney in Lubbock, Texas. He has been a member of the College since 2003. He has served on the College’s Board of Directors since 2010 and was elected treasurer in 2014.

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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