I’ve spent the last year at courthouses and CLE Events talking, and more importantly listening to attorneys. As of February 19th, I had 5,166 verified signatures ,enough to run for president-elect. Many attorneys are neither wealthy nor feel appreciated by the Bar.
In my January 2011 Texas Bar Journal article on the selection process, I detailed the closed door and back room politics, where the Bar anoints it’s two candidates. I like fair elections. As Willacy County District Attorney , I prosecuted voter fraud (featured in Texas Monthly) . Bar insiders tell me, “Average attorneys can’t make these decisions.” I believe in democracy and I disagree.
I am the only candidate with recent Bar experience. I serve as an elected Director and am on a host of Bar committees. Compare the candidates:
1. Who has worked hardest for us?
2. Who has the most relevant and diverse background?
3. Who has the independence to speak out for us on bar issues?
ATTORNEY AT LAW
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE
Indiana University, Doctor of Jurisprudence
University of North Texas, Masters in Public Administration
Sam Houston State University, Masters in Criminology
University of California at Berkeley, BA with Honors in Psychology
University of Texas at El Paso, Student Body President
College of the State Bar, 1989 & 2012
Aransas County ISD, Trustee
Amassed over 150 hours this year, in part to ask attorneys in different areas of law how the Bar might better relate to their practice. Attended Advanced Civil, Oil & Gas, Personal Injury, Employment, Criminal, Family, and Bankruptcy.
State Bar of Texas, District 11 Director
During his term, Steve published guest editorials in more than 40 Texas Newspapers urging school boards to condemn the State Board of Education for “injecting politics, whether liberal or conservative into our children’s curriculum”. At the Texas Association of School Board’s 2010 Annual Convention, my resolution was endorsed by a 76-24 margin.
The University of Texas – Permian Basin, Visiting Professor
Nominated for ”most outstanding faculty” after 1st year. Brought defendants to class for mock trials and students attended my successful hearing at the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Dallas)
MY VISION FOR OUR STATE BAR
92,210 Texas attorneys should be a potent force in Texas. To achieve this we need a united Bar where attorneys feel included and involved. More rules, condescending referendums, unnecessary obligations and rising costs are not the solution. A federal judge serving on a State Bar Committee put it best, “The Bar is great at making money but also needs to remember service to its members.””We can’t just tell attorneys how good the Bar is — we have to show them.”
1. Reform grievances. The Bar spends $9 million annually on grievances. My guiding formula/principle – If you have (A) No bad intent + (B) No harm done = (C) No foul. A Bar prosecutor once boasted, “ Look at the rules – we don’t need mens rea.” My response, “You don’t need this job”. Remove the crooks and grossly incom- petent lawyers, but stop stressing the rest of us.
2. Support local bar associations. The Bar should use some of its resources to better help local bar associations offer services and recruit lawyers in all areas of practice.
3. Reform the Bar. This means making it more democratic, increasing transparency and actively pursing more inclusive activities. A few people, often acting behind closed doors, run the entire show, and they wonder why 80% of us toss our bar ballots in the trash.
I love the State Bar despite its faults. Abolishing the mandatory Bar would give others, including our enemies, control over our disciplinary process and our funds. Let’s build on what we have, not destroy it!
Bar leaders have publicly recognized Steve’s passion and dedication, citing emails sent at 3:20 AM or whenever he is “on to something.”
1. Affordable Health Insurance. SBOTIT plans are too expensive. Steve chairs the survey subcommittee . A free 1.5 CLE credit hour webinar on healthcare choices was shown January 30. We need 10,000 attorneys to achieve optimal rates.
2. Attorney Networking. Steve creates groups so Texas attorneys can network. These forums feature news, advice, discus- sions and referrals, but no spam. These are on Facebook – others are on Bar Circle.
3. A reasonably priced CLE . Only 2% subscribe to the Online Library. Steve proposed lowering the price from $300 to $39 annually. Surveys demonstrated 25% might subscribe; a “win-win” for all – increased revenue and better research. On the meeting agenda, the Bar only included it’s arguments, claiming a lower fee would “devalue” the research. The CLE authors however, disagreed. This experi- ence illustrates the Bar’s often conde- scending attitude to lawyers who are not wealthy. Steve vows to try again.
4. CLE Scholarships. Steve has helped over 100 attorneys receive 50% discounts to Texas Bar CLE Events.
5. State Bar College Gold Program. Steve believes we need to restore this great program! If members who can’t attend cancel in advance, and recruit others, this could revive in 2014.
6. Useful Publications. See Practicing Law in Texas – May 2012 Texas Bar Journal. They detail practice demographics by county and project future employment trends. Steve has been publishing these since 1992.