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A Few Words from the TYLA President-elect Candidates
By: Baili Rhodes and Alex Yarbrough

Editor’s Note: You will be able to cast your vote for the next president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association in April. We asked the two candidates, Baili Rhodes and Alex Yarbrough, a few questions to get to know them better. Here’s what they said:

1. Why do you want to be the president of TYLA?

Baili: As the public service arm of the state bar of Texas, TYLA works to develop projects that benefit lawyers, the public, and students. During my time on the TYLA Board of Directors, I have been astounded by the impactful projects that TYLA has produced and its ability to reach the diverse citizens of Texas.  

As President of TYLA, I would have the unique opportunity to develop projects that will continue that tradition of great service.  I believe I can accomplish this by developing programs that will prepare law students to enter practice and tools to provide young lawyers assistance in business development, forming networking relationships, and succeeding in their early years of practice.  I also want to encourage young lawyers to serve the public by becoming involved in TYLA on either the state or local affiliate level. Finally, I have several ideas for resources to inform members of the public of their legal rights and duties in various situations.  These include working with primary and secondary schools to identify needs in the education system, and, based on this, developing projects to benefit teachers and students alike.

Alex: For me, the opportunity to serve as president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association is about being able to increase awareness of all the incredible things TYLA does. TYLA impacts many different people in many different ways. Every lawyer I know who has helped with a TYLA or local affiliate program has felt like he or she made a real difference and has been proud of being a lawyer.

As far as professional development, TYLA helps new lawyers bridge the learning gap by offering great programs like Ten Minute Mentor videos and toolkits on various topics. TYLA’s programs also impact Texas citizens. From civic-minded publications like the Legal Guide for Cancer Patients to the CPS Handbook, TYLA’s efforts have a real impact on Texans.

Finally, I want to serve as president of TYLA because I want to continue TYLA’s strong tradition of member and public service. I’ve seen firsthand the tangible impact that TYLA has in communities, locally and statewide. I want to continue that tradition.

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

Baili: The stress that is inherent in our profession. Lawyers deal with clients who are facing difficult situations every day.  Additionally, many young lawyers also face stress related to the burden of student loan debt and the difficulty in finding jobs. TYLA has developed and will continue to develop projects that address stress management and work-life balance, as well as helping young lawyers find mentors to help deal with these issues.

Alex: It’s hard to single out the greatest challenge.  I see three broad categories: 

Job/Career Satisfaction—Many young lawyers do not like what they do and are looking for other ways to use their education. Whether it’s using their practice areas to help create public service pamphlets or answering questions at senior citizen seminars, TYLA and its local affiliate programs offer a place to use those talents.

Avoiding burnout—Our profession is stressful and places huge demands on our time. It is easy for lawyers to hit a point where the practice of law has taken over their lives in an unhealthy way. TYLA has implemented, and can continue to develop, programs aimed at helping lawyers cope and succeed.

Employment—Law students and recent graduates find it exceedingly difficult to get a job, particularly one sufficient to repay their educational debt. TYLA should work to promote better understanding of the job market and provide more opportunities for developing supportive networks.

3. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your legal practice, and your previous involvement with the bar?

Baili: I am a mom, a wife, a lawyer, a runner, and a person who loves to read anytime I get a spare second.  My husband, Casey, and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary in December.  We are the parents of two wonderful kids, Cooper, who is 4, and Stella, who is 19 months.  Casey is an engineer in for the City of College Station.  I graduated from Texas A&M in 2005 and Baylor Law School in 2008.

I became a lawyer because I wanted to have a career where I could continue learning and continue to serve.  I found that the legal profession embodies both of these elements. 

I practice law in College Station at West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry, PC.  My practice focuses primarily on family law and employment/higher education law.  I became involved in bar leadership when I joined the TYLA Board of Directors in 2012.  I have been on the TYLA Board for four years; I currently serve as vice president.  I was secretary in 2014-2015.  I am also involved in the Brazos County Young Lawyers Association, where I serve as secretary.

Alex: I’m an associate at Sprouse Shrader Smith PLLC in Amarillo, Texas.  I devote a significant portion of my practice to representing cities, counties, law enforcement, and the railroad industry. 

Prior to becoming involved with TYLA, I graduated from LeadershipSBOT. LeadershipSBOT, a joint program of the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Young Lawyers Association, is designed to prepare Texas attorneys, who have already shown a dedication to improving their practice and their community, to become successful state and local leaders.  After graduating from LeadershipSBOT, I became involved with TYLA, serving most recently as treasurer of the association. 

Most importantly though, I have been married for eight years to my beautiful wife, Kelsey, and we are the proud parents of 3-year-old Payton and eight-month-old Zane.

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

Baili: Be nice to the people in the courthouse, especially the folks in the district clerk’s office and the court coordinators – they can save you! I can’t tell you the number of times that a kind court coordinator or district clerk has helped with a scheduling issue, or a filing problem.  As a young lawyer, you should work to form relationships with them, just like you do with other lawyers.  On a broader scale, this advice is about humility.  A humble and respectful approach to others will take you a long way in your practice and in the courtroom.

Alex: Before you click send on an email, pretend it is being read in open court.

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

Baili: Don’t be scared to ask questions.  It can be intimidating as a new lawyer to ask questions to those around you, but seriously do it.  Whether it is a partner at your firm, a court coordinator, or a district clerk, the individuals who have been in the legal profession for many years have wisdom and advice to share.  Ask for it, and use it.

Alex: John Shaw of Fort Worth answered this same question last year, and I couldn’t agree more with what he said: “I cannot think of any advice that I wish I had been given that I was not given because I have been blessed throughout my career to have had some amazing mentors and friends who have consistently given me very good advice since very early in my career. However, I can tell you that I wish that I had taken some of their advice a little more seriously.” 

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

Baili: You can learn more about me on my website,  You can also follow my campaign adventure on Facebook,, Instagram: votebaili, and Twitter, @votebaili.

Alex: My campaign materials can be accessed online and on social media. My firm’s website can be accessed here. You can always email me as well.

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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