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.





























































Feature TYLA Affiliate

Feature TYLA Affiliate

Lawyers Cookin’ and Judges Judgin’—Arlington’s First Annual Chili Cook-Off
By:  Daniel B. Mathis

On Saturday, September 24, 2011, things were heating up in Downtown Arlington, but the weather was only partially to blame.  In addition to the lingering summer temperatures, 30 judges and 20 teams of lawyers and a few friends spiced things up during the ABA/AYLA First Annual Chili Cook-Off, an attorney/judge meet-and-greet event and fundraiser for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas (“LANWT”).  The event concept was developed in 2010 by the Arlington Young Lawyers Association (“AYLA”), and this year AYLA teamed up with the Arlington Bar Association (“ABA”) to make the event a reality. 

Timing was ripe for the new joint ABA/AYLA event.  In 2010, after 50 successful years, the ABA retired its annual BBQ honoring the Tarrant County Judiciary.  At the same time, AYLA members were hungry to launch a new community service and fundraising project.  Thus, the two groups decided to join forces and, after a little brainstorming, settled on the chili cook-off format and selected LANWT as the fundraising recipient.

The First Annual Chili Cook-Off had three goals (1) to provide attorneys and judges an opportunity to meet; (2) to raise money for LANWT; and (3) to provide an event for attorneys, sponsors, and judges to entertain their family, friends, and clients.  The event was successful in all respects, but the format proved to be a particularly effective vehicle for attorney/judge interaction.  After visiting a judge’s check-in station and receiving their score sheets, the judges made the rounds and scored each chili team in three categories (1) Best Taste; (2) Most Creative (recipe); and (3) Best Presentation.  The 30 judges in attendance were presented with red aprons embroidered with “Judge” as part of their invitation packages.  The aprons not only provided a fun and attention-getting invitation, but they also made identifying judges very easy for attendees and contestants. 

In addition to focusing on their chili recipes, each team was encouraged to decorate their booth in a theme of their choice.  Some opted for a traditional “law firm” presentation, while others were more creative—especially the team from Rad Law Firm, which took home the “Best Presentation” award for their “Pirates of the Chilibean” theme.  Regardless of the approach, each chili team presented their entry to all 30 judges, thereby enabling many of them to meet and talk with judges.  In addition, attendees were allowed to cast their votes for the “People’s Choice” award.

While the judges were “judging,” attendees sampled chili, which they could eat straight or as an accompaniment to a hot dog.  As part of their admission, attendees received access to chili sampling, a hot dog, soft drink, dessert (compliments of BlackFinn American Saloon), and access to children’s activities, which included a bounce-house, face-painting, a clown, and balloon animals.

To defray event costs and make the event’s charitable component possible, AYLA and ABA members solicited a number of event sponsors.  Maverick’s Sports Grill of Arlington generously provided their restaurant as a venue.  The parking lot was closed and chili team and sponsor booths were set up around the parking lot perimeter.  Attendees also enjoyed music by a band, sponsored by law firm Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff, and Miller.  A number of other sponsors helped cover costs for the event logo graphic design, invitation and ticket printing, signs and banners, equipment rental, t-shirts, and decorations.  These generous sponsors included:  Elite Document Technology (Platinum), Collaborative Lawyers of Arlington & Mansfield (Gold), C.L. Civil Process (Gold), Allegra Printing, Wells Fargo Advisors, Step Brothers, Meteor Logistics Xpress, Access Global Logistics, Signs by Faith, Visual Impact, and Calloway’s Nursery.

The two entries from the Shannon Gracey team took both the Champion and 1st Runner-up awards in Best Taste, following by 2nd Runner-up Purdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins and Mott.  The Most Creative award went to the team from Curnutt & Hafer and its “Buffalo Chicken Chili” topped with blue cheese.  The team from Rad Law Firm took “Best Presentation.”  Finally, Rad Law Firm tied with one of the Shannon Gracey entries for the People’s Choice award.  Overall, the event was a huge hit among the judges, lawyers, and sponsors.  Talk is already underway for the “2nd Annual Chili Cook-off” in 2012.

If you are considering a new attorney/judge event and fundraiser, you might consider this novel format.  If you have any questions about this event, feel free to contact any of the ABA/AYLA First Annual Chili Cook-off Co-Chairs, Donna Smiedt (ABA President), Daniel B. Mathis (AYLA President), or Kimberly Fitzpatrick (AYLA Vice President).  Event photos may also be viewed here.