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.





























































Texas Access To Justice Commission Update

Texas Access To Justice Commission Update

The Year in Access to Justice
The Texas Access to Justice Commission kicked off 2013 and the 83rd legislative session by hosting our first Legislative Breakfast with first- and second-term representatives of the Texas legislature and their staff. It was an opportunity to talk with representatives about the ATJ needs in our state. In February, we hosted ATJ Days with the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and met with almost sixty legislative offices about statewide ATJ issues and to advocate for funding. The Commission hosted its first Pro Bono Spring Break for law students in March. Forty-nine students from Texas law schools traveled to rural areas across the state to work with local legal aid organizations, ultimately delivering pro bono services to more than three hundred low-income clients.  In April, a contingent from the Commission, the Foundation, and the State Bar of Texas went to Washington, D.C for the annual ABA Days.  We met with thirty-seven of the thirty-eight Texas Congressional offices to discuss funding for legal aid providers. As the 83rd Legislature closed, $17.6 million was allocated to civil legal aid, including $4.6 million in funds that were reallocated to legal aid after initially being cut.

It was also a banner year for raising funds to support Texas legal aid providers. The annual Access to Justice Campaign raised over one million dollars from more than seven thousand attorneys across the state. During Pro Bono Week, the Commission presented awards to sixteen Champion of Justice Law Firms for their exceptional support, both in terms of participation and dollars raised. The Commission also launched the Champion of Justice Society, a giving society for individuals who wish to make a contribution larger than the $150 suggested donation. Over 260 inaugural members donated this year, raising more than $100,000, with another $31,000 pledged for future years. These funds will go directly to local legal aid providers.

This was the first year that self-help divorce forms approved by the Supreme Court of Texas were available to pro se litigants.  The forms have been downloaded over three thousand times from TexasLawHelp.org and have helped hundreds of people, who could not afford an attorney, successfully dissolve their marriage.

In May, the Commission submitted a revision to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 145, which governs affidavits of indigency, to the Texas Supreme Court.  The proposed revision provides greater guidance on who qualifies as indigent and when court costs should be waived.  Also, the State Bar of Texas Legal Access Division held their annual Poverty Law Conference in May for legal aid and pro bono attorneys to explore various topics affecting the practice of poverty law. The workshops included current issues that go beyond typical poverty law matters, including sessions on creative lawyering for systemic change, the new e-filing system, and working with community organizations.

In September, the Legal Access Division also hosted its annual Pro Bono Coordinators Retreat for more than seventy legal service organization, law firm, and corporate counsel coordinators. One of the highlights of this year’s retreat was a role-playing exercise simulating a month in the life of a typical client. Participants were divided into families and for each 20-minute “week” had overcome obstacles like getting to work, accessing benefits, and maintaining housing.  Also in September, the State Bar launched its Care Campaign to empower attorneys who want to do pro bono service.  The Care Campaign will provide attorneys with practical training tools, interpreters for clients with limited English-language abilities, and access to malpractice insurance to cover their pro bono work. The program also includes a Care Kit with all of the resources local bar associations and legal organizations need to hold a legal advice clinic.

The Care Campaign was one of the many pro bono initiatives celebrated during National Pro Bono Week in October. Governor Perry and the Supreme Court of Texas both issued proclamations encouraging Texans to participate in this nationwide celebration, and Governor Perry declared October 20-26 to be Pro Bono Week in Texas. The Commission held a reception to kick off Pro Bono Week and recognize outstanding supporters of access to justice initiatives, including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and current Chief Justice Nathan Hecht. Both Chief Justices have been longtime advocates for access to justice initiatives in our state and we have been very grateful for their continued support and advocacy on behalf of low-income Texans. We also recognized Kelly Harrington of Flower Mound, who has been a member of the Pro Bono College for 20 years. The Pro Bono College is an honor awarded to attorneys who perform at least seventy-five hours of pro bono work per year.

We sincerely thank everyone who contributed to the Access to Justice Campaign, participated in one of our programs, or took on a pro bono case this year. With your help we hope to make 2014 an even more successful year for access to justice initiatives in Texas.