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.





























































December 2012

Editor's Column
Editor's Column

Celebrate the Holidays by Helping Others
By: John W. Shaw, Whitaker Chalk Swindle & Schwartz, PLLC

For you, the holidays may a joyous time to spend with family and friends. For some, however, it is not as enjoyable. Consider parents who cannot afford to buy gifts for their children, homeless trying to find a meal, and elderly passing time alone in assisted living.

This month, young lawyers throughout Texas are helping others by donating toys for children, and by volunteering at shelters and nursing homes. The selflessness of young lawyers throughout the state of Texas is yet another reason that I am proud to be part of such an amazing group.

Top Story
Top Story

Do You Bank on Justice?
By: Clint Harbour

One of the easiest ways you can contribute to funding for legal aid is simply by banking at a Texas IOLTA Prime Partner Bank. The Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Program was established in 1984 to provide funds for legal aid. However, since the interest rate decline began in 2008, IOLTA funding has plummeted, causing disadvantaged Texans to face serious, complicated and sometimes life-threatening civil legal issues on their own.

Feature TYLA Project
Feature TYLA Project

Ladies Night Out
By: Sally Pretorius

On December 3, 2012, representatives from the Texas Young Lawyers Association headed to Bastrop to host a “Ladies Night Out” for domestic-violence survivors at the Bastrop Family Crisis Center. The night began with the ladies being shuttled on a luxury bus to a local hotel, where a feast awaited them. The ladies were able to bring their children, who ate pizza and watched holiday movies in an adjacent room. TYLA Directors Sally Pretorius and Dustin Howell, TYLA President-elect Kristy Piazza-Blanchard, and TYLA President C.E. Rhodes presented Healing the Wounds, a TYLA feature project. The film follows the story of a domestic violence survivor and helps educate victims of family violence about their legal rights.


Feature TYLA Affiliate
Feature TYLA Affiliate

Trial Advocacy Seminar Provides Amarillo Young Lawyers with Invaluable Experience
By: Lee Ann Reno

The declining number of jury trials has been a topic of recent discussions among trial judges and litigators across the state. They all seem to bemoan this dwindling number of jury trials and the increasing difficulty of training to young lawyers. There are several schools of thought as to why jury trials are decreasing. Contracts requiring a waiver of the right to jury trial or compelling arbitration, tort reform, the cost of jury trials, and the cost of discovery are some factors that have been mentioned. The inescapable result is fewer experienced litigators and, more importantly for young lawyers, the lack of a way to gain experience.

Tips For Young Lawyers
Tips For Young Lawyers

Tips for Handling Appeals
By: Justice Brett Busby, 14th Court of Appeals

Would you like to handle an appeal in one of your cases with confidence, or are you considering specializing in appellate practice? Here are a few tips that will help you put your best foot forward in the appellate courts.

Article of Interest
Article of Interest

Eminent Domain Update: Pipelines
By:  Eric Opiela, Eric Opiela PLLC

Controversy over the Keystone XL pipeline has brought the private use of the public power of eminent domain to the fore, but the little-known common-carrier provision has been around for over a century in Texas. Recent rulings, however, have begun to circumscribe the exercise of eminent domain by private entities and put it in its proper place as a last resort to ensure a public benefit.

ABA YLD Update

We hope that you will join us in Dallas during the American Bar Association Midyear Meeting this February. The Young Lawyers Division will host activities from February 7 until February 9. If you are an ABA member, there is no registration fee to attend the Midyear Meeting.

Even if you cannot attend the entire conference, you may be interested in some of the great YLD programming, including “The Spread of Alternative Resolution Methods within Local Courts – A Review (CLE),” and, “Legal Issues after a Disaster Hits (CLE).” For more information about scheduled events visit the ABA website.

Texas Access To Justice Commission Update

Supreme Court Approves Divorce Forms for Self-Represented Litigants
By:  Jocelyn Fowler

In a landmark decision on November 13, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court issued an Order approving Divorce Set One, a set of uniform forms for pro se litigants seeking a divorce involving no children and no real property. These forms play a vital role in providing access to the courts for people who are unable to get a lawyer through legal aid and cannot otherwise afford representation. States with standardized forms report that they increase judicial efficiency and economy, creating a win-win for the courts and the growing number of poor without meaningful access to the judicial system.

Important Dates To Remember
Important Dates To Remember

January 1, 2013
Holiday - New Year's (Texas Law Center closed)

January 18-20, 2013
TYLA Board of Directors Meeting - Hotel Palomar, Dallas

January 21, 2013
Holiday - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Texas Law Center closed)

January 23, 2013
TYLA Officer ballots mailed to the TYLA Board of Directors

Take Note
Take Note

Click here to view this month's TYLA President's Opinion
C.E. Rhodes, TYLA President


We would like to thank our Platinum Sponsor FTI Consulting

We would also like to thank our Silver Sponsor DTI Global

Write for Litigation News!
The American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s national news magazine, Litigation News, seeks excellent writers interested in joining the editorial board as contributing editors.  Contributing editors write four articles per year and attend two ABA conferences.  This is a great opportunity to get your name out there and connect with attorneys across the country.  Litigation News is published quarterly in print, and adds stories at least weekly to its online version.  Its print circulation exceeds 50,000.

Interested?  Send a resume and writing sample to 2013writeon@lit-news.net by January 15, 2013.  We will notify those applicants selected to participate in our annual write-on competition by approximately February 1, 2013.

Call for Entries! 2012 State Bar of Texas YouTube Contest
The State Bar of Texas celebrated Constitution Day on September 17 with the launch of its 2012 YouTube Contest. This year's theme is "Compromise in a Democratic Society" and is geared toward Texas middle school and high school students. Students are asked to create a video between 1 and 2 minutes long answering the following question: "Why is compromise important to our democratic society?" Students are encouraged to think about how compromise played a significant part in the framing of the U.S. Constitution, in significant moments in U.S. history, and in their own lives. The contest has two categories, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12, with one $1,000 scholarship available in each category. Students may enter individually or as a team/class. The deadline for entries is December 14, so there's plenty of time to enter. Please spread the word to students you know! For more information, visit www.texasbar.com/justicefortexas.


Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay!
State Bar of Texas Past President Bob Black worked with the State Bar Law-Related Education Department to create Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers, an interactive web-based project to assist Texas teachers and their students in preparing for the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, which took effect August 1, 2011. The website includes links to landmark court decisions that students are required to learn, case studies, videos and multimedia tools, teaching strategies, and other online resources. For a printed toolkit contact Blair McBride or call (800) 204-2222, ext. 1726.

Savings through the State Bar Member Discounts Program
Visit texasbar.com/discounts to take advantage of the State Bar’s Member Discount program. Save money on vacations, computers, clothing, gourmet chocolate, televisions, and more! Visit often – the site is updated regularly with new deals!


TYLA Local Leader Directory
Please email the TYLA office if there are any changes to your local affiliate's contact information.

If your affiliate has an upcoming event that you would like featured in eNews, please forward the information to Bree Trevino or contact eNews Co-Chairs Robert E. Booth and Leif Olson.

Ten Minute Mentor
Ten Minute Mentor debuted in 2004 to share concise and practical advice that is always accessible online. Since then, it has proven its enduring appeal as one of TYLA's most successful projects. More than 50,000 people have visited the site, and we continue to average more than 2,000 segments viewed each month. You can visit the site at www.tenminutementor.com.

Support Pro Bono Legal Services and Let Everyone Know It!
TYLA needs your help to support and promote free legal services for indigent Texans by purchasing a specialty license plate. The license plate proudly states that you support "Justice for All" and costs only $35.00 per year, or $70.00 for a personalized plate.

$25.00 from the purchase of each plate will go to support legal services to the poor.  To buy your plate, simply fill out an application and send your check, payable to the Texas Department of Transportation, to:

Vehicle Titles and Registration Division (SPB)
Texas Department of Transportation
Austin, TX 78779-0001
To pay online click here.

Make New Connections with Texas Bar Circle
More than 15,000 of your peers have joined Texas Bar Circle - our social and professional network for Texas lawyers. Join today and reconnect with colleagues, find jobs, explore opportunities, and have fun. The power of Texas Bar Circle is in the connections you will make. Visit here.

TYLA Annual Report 2011-2012
Want to know how TYLA is serving its members and the community? Then be sure to read the 2011-2012 Annual Report, which details the activities of TYLA during the 2011-2012 Bar year. Click here for a copy or call 800-204-2222, ext. 1529 and we'll send one.


TYLA is Co-Sponsoring the Following CLE Courses.  Register now to save $50! TYLA members can save $75!  New attorneys can attend for $95!  Please see below for more information:

Handling Your First Jury Trial 2012
Austin - Live Presentation - December 7, 2012, Texas Law Center
More Info or Register

Can't make it to Austin? Watch via Live Webcast in the comfort of your own home or office!
LIVE WEBCAST - December 7, 2012 - From 8:25 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
More Info or Register

Handling Your First (Or Next) Divorce Case
Austin - Live Presentation - January 18, 2013, Texas Law Center
More Info or Register

Can't make it to Austin? Watch via Live Webcast in the comfort of your own home or office!
LIVE WEBCAST - January 18, 2013 - From 8:40 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
More Info or Register

Success Strategies and Key Lessons for Young Lawyers
Houston - Live Presentation - March 1, 2013, Crowne Plaza River Oaks (713-523-8448)
More Info or Register

Handling Your First (or Next) DWI Case 2013 
Austin - Live Presentation - March 1, 2013, Texas Law Center 
MCLE Credit: Approximately 6.5 hours, including .75 hr ethics expected.
More Info or Register

Can't make it to Austin? Watch via Live Webcast in the comfort of your own home or office!
LIVE WEBCAST - March 1, 2013 - From 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
More Info or Register

17th Annual Choosing & Courting a Jury Course: Legends in the Courtroom
Houston - Live Presentation - March 8, 2013, Westin Galleria Hotel (713-960-8100)
MCLE Credit: 6.5 hrs (including 1 hr ethics) which applies to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Civil Appellate, Civil Trial, Criminal Appellate, Criminal, Family, Juvenile and Personal Injury Trial Law.
More Info or Register