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

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.

Amarillo’s federal Magistrate Judge Clinton E. Averitte believes a couple of other factors have contributed to the decrease of jury trials and lack of experienced litigators. First, the disappearance of workers’ compensation cases has resulted in the absence of a “trial training ground” for young lawyers. Also, in the past, new lawyers would often work in a prosecutor’s office to gain valuable trial experience. Those lawyers would stay one or two years, and then begin either a civil or criminal litigation practice themselves or with a firm. With increased salaries and benefits for prosecutors, however, more lawyers are staying on as career prosecutors.

Whatever the causes, the inability of young lawyers to gain “hands on” trial experience is not good for our legal system. Thus, Judge Averitte and 47th District Court Judge Dan Schaap approached the Amarillo Bar Foundation in hopes of a possible solution to help Amarillo area young lawyers gain valuable trial experience.

Out of these concerns, the Amarillo Area Bar Foundation determined to take on a new project and sponsor a “nuts and bolts” trial-advocacy seminar for new or inexperienced lawyers. The seminar was held on Friday and Saturday, November 16-17, 2012. The seminar focused on jury selection and direct examination. Twenty one young lawyers who had little or no trial experience participated along with numerous experienced trial lawyers as instructors. To provide as realistic an experience as possible, all the trial exercises were conducted in the Potter County Courts Building and a cross-section of lay persons acted as jurors. In addition, the participants were videotaped so they could see firsthand how they function in the courtroom during the feedback sessions with the experienced “coaches.”

The response by the area young lawyers and experienced trial lawyers alike was tremendous, and the Trial Academy was a huge success. The Amarillo Area Bar Association and Amarillo Area Bar Foundation are to be congratulated for engaging in this effort to improve the level of advocacy, the administration of justice, and the quality of representation for clients in the Texas Panhandle. The Trial Advocacy seminar was made possible in part due to generous grants from both the Texas Bar Foundation and the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $14 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation.