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.





























































September 2014

Editor's Column
Editor's Column

Writing Effectively and Efficiently
By:  Jenny Smith

Over the last year, I have become far more experimental in my legal writing—including charts and graphs, pictures where necessary, and working to make my writing as concise as possible, knowing that a court does not have time to read a treatise on any particular case.  While I have deviated from some of the strict rules of legal writing we all learned in law school, this process has been freeing, making the writing process more creative and fun.  At the same time, this strategic, concise approach to writing results in a better work product, and generally, better advocacy.

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Top Story
Top Story

Lessons from the Texas Supreme Court’s Recent Case on Spoliation
By:  Michael J. Ritter

The Texas Supreme Court recently addressed the intentional destruction of evidence—or “spoliation”—in Brookshire Bros. v. Aldridge. It held that (1) a trial judge, rather than a jury, must determine whether a party spoliated evidence, and (2) a trial judge must almost always find that a party spoliated evidence in bad faith before informing a jury about the party’s misfeasance.

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Feature TYLA Project
Feature TYLA Project

Pro Bono Guardianship CLE and Habitat for Humanity
By:  Aaron Capps

Learn About Guardianship at the Pro Bono Guardianship CLE in Dallas on Oct. 22.

Oct. 19-25, 2014, will be nationally recognized as Pro Bono Week. The purpose of Pro Bono Week, among other things, is to recruit more pro bono volunteers and increase the legal services to poor and vulnerable people throughout the nation.

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Feature TYLA Affiliate
Feature TYLA Affiliate

Legal Seminar for Parents of Children with Special Needs
By:  Craig Tahaney

On April 24, 2014, the Jefferson County Young Lawyers Association hosted a legal workshop for parents of children with autism and other special needs.  The workshop was held at The Shorkey Center, 855 S. Eighth St., Beaumont, Texas from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.  This workshop was open to the public, and free babysitting services were provided to parents who did not have child care available.  The event was made possible by a grant from the Jefferson County Bar Association.

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Tips for Young Lawyers
Tips for Young Lawyers

EEOC Procedure – Ten Minute Mentor Summary
By:  Malerie T. Anderson

Navigating the initial process of filing a charge with the EEOC and complying with procedures and prerequisites directly impact the lawsuit based on a claimant’s alleged discrimination claims.  In order to sufficiently represent your client, either on the defense side representing an employer or as an attorney representing a claimant, it is important to keep the following points in mind.

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Article of Interest
Article of Interest

Correction Instruments in Texas: Nonmaterial Corrections under Section 5.028 of the Texas Property Code
By:  Matt Douglas

Correction instruments are used to correct errors contained in an instrument that has been filed of record.  Texas courts have long recognized the validity of correction instruments, and so long as the correction instrument is properly executed and recorded in the county where the original instrument was filed, the correction instrument wholly takes the place of and acts as a substitute for the original instrument. 

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Law Students
Law Students

Five Tips to Opening a Law Firm Right After Law School
By:  Megan E. Leger

Starting your own law practice can be scary, stressful, and exhilarating all at the same time.  Whether you start your own law practice because you need a job or because you hate your current job, you took the challenge to go out on your own and be your own boss.  Being your own boss has its challenges, though.  You have to serve as the attorney, CEO, marketing coordinator, bookkeeper, and office manager, just to name a few jobs.  If you are up for the challenge, then it may be the right time for you to start your own firm.

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ABA YLD Update
ABA YLD Update

The ABA’s Young Lawyer Division is getting ready for the ABA Fall Conference in Portland, Oregon, which will take place Oct. 9-11, 2014. More information, including how to register, can be found here. If you are interested in getting more involved with the ABA’s Young Lawyer Division, several liaison positions remain open. Please email Brandon Crisp or Travis Patterson for more information about these positions.

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Texas Access To Justice Commission Update
Texas Access To Justice Commission Update

Why Greater and More Affordable Access to Probate and Probate Court is Needed
By:  Harry M. Reasoner, Chair, Texas Access to Justice Commission

Most people access our civil judicial system in either family law matters or due to the death or incapacity of a loved one. Unfortunately, poor Texans face two large problems when a loved one dies. Most often the deceased do not have wills. Even if they do, the heirs aren’t allowed to represent themselves in court.

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Important Dates to Remember

Oct. 9-12, 2014
ABA/YLD Fall Conference - Portland, OR

Oct. 10, 2014
TYLA deadline to receive TYLA Diversity Scholarship applications

Oct. 17, 2014
Handling Your First (or Next) Employment Law Case CLE
Register to attend at the Law Center by Oct. 3 and save $75

Oct. 19-25, 2014
National Pro Bono Week Celebration

Oct. 24, 2014
The Second Annual “Nuts & Bolts of International Law” Seminar & Networking Lunch
at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
8 a.m. for coffee, check-in and networking and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the seminar (CDT)
To learn more and to register (free of charge, including lunch), please click here

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Take Note

Rebekah Steely Brooker, TYLA President

Click here to view the TYLA President's Opinion.


TYLA Diversity Scholarship
The Texas Young Lawyers Association’s Diversity Committee is proud to offer a $1,000 scholarship to one or more law students at each of the ABA-accredited law schools in Texas.  The scholarship is open to any student who can demonstrate a commitment to diversity.  In awarding the scholarships, the Diversity Committee will consider the applicant’s resume, responses to the essay questions contained in the application, demonstrated commitment to diversity, academic performance, and financial need.  Please click here to download the application.

Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange Open Enrollment Period
The national open-enrollment period for health insurance coverage for 2015 is Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. During this period, insurance carriers offering coverage must guarantee acceptance into
Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant health insurance plans without limitations on pre-existing conditions. If you haven't already prepared for the 2015 open-enrollment period, visit the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange Web page now.

Legal Research
The State Bar of Texas is the first and only bar association to offer its members free access to both Fastcase and Casemaker, giving members unprecedented access to two nationwide legal research services. Firms of 11 lawyers or more will have free access to Fastcase’s extensive Texas Plan, while solo practitioners and firms of 10 lawyers or less will have access to Fastcase’s Premium plan. State Bar of Texas members have access to Fastcase’s intuitive legal research tools, training webinars and tutorials, mobile apps, and live customer support. The free member benefit has no restrictions on time or number of transactions and includes unlimited printing, unlimited reference assistance, and unlimited customer service. Casemaker’s expanded offerings include access to premium services at no cost for all members. Casemaker has also added its new Subsequent History  and Statute Annotator features for Texas attorneys. The Subsequent History feature allows researchers to determine writ and petition history while the Statute Annotator feature displays how the courts have cited, applied, interpreted, and construed each statute. Click here for more information. 


Texas Bar Today
Texas Bar Today is an online media network featuring curated news and commentary from Texas legal professionals. The site, TexasBarToday.com, is updated weekdays with selected blog and video posts and Texas legal headlines, which are also promoted on the Texas Bar Today Twitter account.

Texas lawyers who want to include their blog, video, or submit a guest article on Texas Bar Today can send an email request to jherzik@texasbar.com. The State Bar of Texas has full editorial discretion regarding which blogs are linked, and all opinions and statements in blogs are those of their authors and not the State Bar. All attorney websites, including blogs, must comply with State Bar of Texas advertising guidelines.


Member Discounts
The State Bar Member Discount Program offers discounts for home, office, vacation, and other purchases. There are more than 200 discount providers, and members can save up to 25 percent or more. In addition to the member discounts program, professional liability insurance is offered at special rates by USI Affinity and Texas Lawyers’ Insurance Exchange.


Texas Bar Career Center
If you are still looking for the right job opportunity, try the Texas Bar Career Center.  The Texas Bar Career Center posts job openings across the state. Every other week, you will receive an electronic Job Flash email highlighting the latest postings.  Click here now to search for jobs.


Stay Connected
TexasBar.com connects you to information and resources offered by the State Bar of Texas, TexasBarCLE, and other entities. One example is the online Resource Guides section, which includes information on trust accounts, ethics, services for new lawyers, and mentoring. You can also access your My Bar Page to update your contact information, keep track of your MCLE credits, join a section, report pro bono hours, make access-to-justice contributions, and request documents all in one place.

The Web page TexasBar.com also keeps you connected with information pertaining to the bar 24/7. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive timely announcements on lawyers in the news, reminders about your membership, links to special articles, and information about events. Follow the Texas Bar Blog for more information about special events, award recipients, Texas Bar Journal summaries, and attorney profiles. Finally, the bar recently launched a YouTube channel, Texas Bar TV, to bring you interviews with experts on the latest legal trends and hot topics.


Ethics Resources
The State Bar offers numerous ethics resources for Texas attorneys, judges, and legal professionals. The Ethics Helpline at (800) 532-3947 offers guidance on ethical questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The TexasBarCLE Online Library offers more than 19,000 CLE articles, and State Bar members have free access to more than 1,500 ethics-related articles. Additional online resources include links to the Texas Lawyers' Creed and applicable disciplinary rules and procedures, along with answers to frequently asked questions regarding solicitation and barratry.


The Texas Bar Journal Wants to Hear From You!
Have you received an honor or recognition? Have you recently accepted a new position or moved?  Keep the Texas legal community informed by submitting your news at texasbar.com/tbjsubmissions. Your news could appear in an issue of the Texas Bar Journal.


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 Chair Sally Pretorius.

Ten Minute Mentor
Ten Minute Mentor debuted in 2004 to share concise and practical advice from leading lawyers in their area of expertise through an online collection of video presentations. Today, more than 2,000 segments are viewed each month and more than 50,000 people have visited the Web page proving its enduring appeal as one of TYLA’s most successful projects. For more information on Ten Minute Mentor, click here.

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.


TYLA Annual Report 2013-2014
Want to know how TYLA is serving its members and the community? Be sure to read the Annual Report, which details the activities of TYLA during the 2013-2014 bar year. Click here for a copy or call (800) 204-2222, ext. 1529 and we'll send one.

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