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.





























































Top Story

Top Story

 The Call to Help: Foster Children

For the past several months and especially in December, the Texas Young Lawyers Association has put a special emphasis on foster children. The need for focus on foster children is significant. In 2012 there were 30,571 Texas children in foster care.  Studies show that less than 2% of these foster children receive a bachelor-level degree after high school.  More than 37% of Texas foster children drop out of school and never receive a diploma or GED. Sadly, some foster children experience seven or more school changes during their academic career and more than 54% of these children have one or more mental-health issues. These children often are torn from their homes, their families, and their everyday life and are without things that we take for granted every day.



The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA), Dallas Young Lawyers Association (DAYL), and Texas Lawyers for Children (TLC), are partnering with Dallas County’s Special Guardians/Attorneys Ad Litem (Special Guardians) assigned by the Honorable Cheryl Shannon, judge of the 305th District Court, to implement a pro bono pilot project to advocate for children in foster care. 

This pilot project will utilize pro bono attorneys in Dallas and surrounding cities to serve in the capacity of Education Advocates to help enhance the educational outcomes for children in foster care.   The Education Advocate’s role is to serve as co-counsel to the child’s court appointed attorney to take action to ensure the child has the best opportunity to succeed in school, such as ensuring the child receives things such as:

• Appropriate evaluations to identify any learning or psychological issues;
• Services and accommodations for any identified issues;
• Adequate support from school personnel and foster parents; access to programs, resources, and services necessary to help the child succeed both academically and socially; and
• Support and resources necessary to adequately prepare the child for graduation and acceptance to a college or vocational school. 

To begin this service, the Education Advocate will be provided with initial background information about the child.  The Advocate will also gather information from the child, the DFPS file and caseworker, CPS’s Education Portfolio, and the foster parent, and necessary school personnel.  A minimum commitment of one year is expected of each volunteer.  However, volunteers are encouraged to continue representation of the child until he or she leaves foster care.  The Advocate will develop a basic plan to help address the child’s educational needs and provide a written monthly status report to the court and Special Guardian including the child’s educational status and action taken on behalf of the child. 

How can you become an Educational Advocate?

• You must in good standing with the State Bar
• You must participate in 6.75 hours of free CLE training provided by Texas Lawyers for Children.
• TYLA members (those 36 years old or younger, or licensed for five years or less, as of June 1, 2013), who join the project will be covered by the State Bar's pro bono malpractice insurance.   All other volunteers are eligible for malpractice coverage through the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

To sign up for the free CLE training in January or for more information about this project, contact Patricia Hogue, Toll Free: (800) 993-5TLC (5852).  


TYLA has created a program called “A Welcoming Home: Be a Foster Parent”  that focuses on informing professional, social, and civic organizations about the current need for foster-care agencies (specifically in underrepresented communities), the requirements for becoming a foster-care family, and the resources available for foster care families.

A child is often placed in a foster home when a family undergoes a traumatic experience or an emergency (e.g. a parent becoming an addict, an unsafe home, or the death or incarceration of a parent).  A foster family is needed when relatives are unavailable or unwilling to take children into their homes. There are sometimes a shortage of families willing or qualified to take children into their homes for an extended time.

If you are interested in obtaining additional information about “A Welcoming Home” or in having TYLA do a brief presentation to your organization, please contact TYLA at tyla@texasbar.com or (800) 204-2222 ext. 1529.


The holiday season can be a difficult time for children in foster care.  Volunteer in your local community or organize a project through your local bar to help make a difference.  As featured in this edition of eNews, the Austin Young Lawyers Association participated in TYLA’s "Generation Generosity" project, which is focusing on young attorneys giving back to the community.  They dedicated their annual Reindeer Games event to bringing happiness and Christmas cheer to local foster children taking them away from their troubles and offering them small Christmas gifts to brighten their season.