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.





























































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.

As Blaise Pascal aptly observed, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”  It can take time to draft effective briefs, motions, and other legal writing that are short and to the point.  But taking the time to write that shorter brief, motion, or legal memorandum that effectively encapsulates the relevant legal issues will provide better service to your clients.

As I have been going through this process of strategically analyzing my writing, focusing both on my purpose and my audience for every legal memorandum or brief, here are a few tips I have identified to think about using in your legal writing.

Pictures are worth a thousand words:  Pictures, if used appropriately, can be incredibly effective in legal writing.  When you approach your writing, imagine you are presenting your case in the courtroom.  What demonstratives would you use?  How would you effectively communicate your message with the use of evidence before the court?  Consider using demonstratives and evidence as inserts in your legal writing.  Using this approach can make your writing more concise and can also provide more effective communication.

Get to the point:  Lawyers are not known for being short-winded—in the courtroom or in legal briefing.  But the reality is that courts are busy.  And our clients are busy.  So we need to succinctly, while thoroughly, make legal arguments and conduct legal analysis.  I would suggest that as you edit a document, strive to determine how you can shorten sentences or paragraphs to concisely make your point.  Oftentimes, I have found that what I originally said in 10 words, I could have more clearly stated in five. 

Forget form introductions for motions: We can all pull a form that contains some of the following:

“COMES NOW, Defendant Jane Doe and files this Motion to Compel Documents Responsive to Discovery Requests . . . .” or “WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED . . . .”

Using a form like this may have its advantages in some situations.  But consider the space you might be wasting with formulaic wording that does not further your argument or the advocacy for your client.  Consider dropping this formulaic, legalistic vocabulary and get to the point.

With these tips, I don’t suggest that we should throw out the rules of legal writing.  But we should recognize that our primary responsibility is to be advocates on our client’s behalf.  And how we formulate our writing reflects our advocacy.  Being strategic, getting to the point efficiently, and figuring out the most effective way to convey our message can make us all better advocates for our clients.