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On March 1, candidates for president-elect of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) began campaigning across the Great State of Texas. We asked both Sally Pretorius and Jenny Smith some questions so that you can get to know them. Below are their answers.  

1. Why do you want to be the president of TYLA?

Sally -  

Fame, fortune, and money. KIDDING!

Honestly, I have seen the huge impact of the projects of TYLA on the law profession and the Texas community, and I am excited about the possibility of expanding on that legacy. Combining my passions and my collaborations with colleagues, I have been able to formulate goals and a vision for a wonderful 2018-2019 bar year. Those goals and visions include creating a program that was inspired by my and my husband’s friends, who served in the military and post-service were immediately reintegrated back into society. This program would create awareness and educate Texans on the impact of post-traumatic stress syndrome on our veterans, while simultaneously reinvigorating existing resources and offering legal assistance to veterans. I also would like to create a program that helps foster leadership in law students so that they transition easily into bar service; create videos to help attorneys and pro se litigants when they find themselves in IV-D courts (child support courts); and create programs that educate young lawyers and create awareness about work-life balance and challenges we face. The prospect of making these goals become a reality is the reason I want to be president of TYLA.

Jenny –

If given the opportunity to serve as president of TYLA, I want to implement programming to encourage our members to strive for a healthier work-life balance. Most attorneys are, like myself, type-A personalities. It is this characteristic that drove many of us to this career, and it pushes us to “be the best”—be the best associate, work the most billable hours, have the highest utilization rate, etc. This attitude, while it drives us to succeed, often consumes us with late nights, little sleep, and strain on our bodies and personal relationships. I want young lawyers to know that they can work hard and be extremely successful, but also find time to take care of themselves in the process.

Furthermore, I would like to find ways that TYLA can improve the lives of foster children, such as by developing programs that educate, encourage, and guide couples that are considering becoming foster parents. Because we all know that loving families can make all the difference in a child’s life, it is my hope that TYLA can facilitate that process.

TYLA is the public service arm of the State Bar of Texas; we work on projects that serve both the profession and the general public, and it is my passion to continue that great tradition of service.

2. What do you see as the single greatest challenge facing young lawyers in Texas?

Sally –  

Searching after this elusive thing called “work-life balance.” I find that as young attorneys, we are all striving to have it all—the great job, the house, the relationships, the money, and the social life—but can we have it all at once? A colleague once told me that work-life balance is really just a juggling act; some parts of your life are up in the air doing great, while others are about to fall, and balance is catching different parts of your life before they fall. If I am elected, one of the signature projects during my tenure would be working towards a program that originated with the Dallas Young Lawyers Association and would educate young attorneys about compassion fatigue. Simplified, compassion fatigue is when you take on other people’s issues and solve their problems to an extent that it begins to affect your own life. I want to be able to at least educate young attorneys on reasons why they may be feeling the way they do and how this may be affecting our ability to “juggle our lives.”

Jenny –

I see three significant challenges: debt, jobs, and experience. The current job market and legal environment that young lawyers are facing has changed drastically, even in the short amount of time since I graduated in 2011. In this market, I see three major issues: (1) many young lawyers are facing significant debt from law school and college; (2) young lawyers seeking a career in litigation are facing fewer opportunities to be in court, hindering their growth as a lawyer; and (3) because the supply of lawyers is outpacing the demand from law firms, students graduating law school are more likely to hang their own shingle and have less access to natural mentorship opportunities. Together, these factors put a lot of stress and anxiety on young lawyers. As a result, finding mentors, finding pro bono litigation opportunities, and being educated on student debt repayment plans are all things recent law school graduates should make sure are priorities for them.

3. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your legal practice, and your previous involvement with the bar?

 Sally –

I am an associate attorney at KoonsFuller, and I am board certified in family law. I am married to a wonderful man, Adam, and we have two dogs—Molly, a rescued German Short Hair Pointer, and Roxy, a miniature dachshund that I have had since college (she has helped me study for the LSAT, law school exams, the bar, and then the board certification exam, so I think she is pretty close to being a dog lawyer).

I have been involved with the TYLA board since 2012 when I was elected as the Austin area representative. In 2014, when I moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I was appointed to the Minority At-Large Director, Large City position. Since then, I have been truly fortunate to have been granted other leadership opportunities within TYLA, including being elected to the Executive Committee, where I served as secretary for the 2015-2016 bar year, and am currently serving as vice president for the 2016-2017 bar year. I had the pleasure of serving on several different committees as chair and co-chair and have been Executive Committee advisor for both the Diversity and Public Service committees. I received one of the First Year Director of the Year awards in 2013 and the Director of the Year award in 2014. I have had the privilege of working on Welcoming Home: Be a Foster Family, the Social Media Toolkit, the Family Law Toolkit, Educating Educators, and If I Knew Then… Life Lessons from Legendary Texas Lawyers; of being filmed for the family law portion of What Do Lawyers Do; and of helping coordinate the revamping of the Ten Minute Mentor segments. Most recently, I have been able to create and collaborate on signature projects based on my passions and knowledge such as: If I Knew Then; Strength in Unity; Pregnancy and the Workplace; Divorce Guide for Teenagers; the Divorce Guide for Children; and the Sexual Assault Survivor Guide—which just launched, and I am excited to see its success.  It has been my absolute pleasure to help take many of the existing projects that TYLA has created, such as Vote America! and Breaking the Silence, and roll them out to the community.

I have also been involved with the local young lawyer affiliates. I served on the Austin Young Lawyers Association Board from 2011-2013, won the Director of the Year award in 2012, and participated in the first ever Leadership Academy, which I subsequently went on to co-chair for two years. Now that I am in North Texas, I am involved with the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and was a participant of the DAYL Leadership Academy in 2014-2015.

Jenny –

I was born and raised in Austin, but I don’t think I’m weird. I love the practice of law and improving our profession. My husband, Rusty, has been my rock in the storm of law school and associate life for over six years. We have two “children”—loving rescue dogs, Maggie and Sarge, and are expecting our first human child in August of this year.

I am an associate of Cobb & Counsel, where I help companies and professionals comply with regulations, obtain licenses and permits, and navigate government investigations. I’m also a trial lawyer, zealously representing businesses in litigation against other businesses, or in litigation against the government.

I first began my service on the TYLA Board of Directors in 2013. In 2016, I received the Keith L. Krueger Leadership Award for my commitment to service with TYLA. I also serve as a commissioner on the Access to Justice Commission. I currently serve as co-chair of TYLA’s Law Focused Education Committee, and was a project lead for And Justice for All: Preventing Wrongful Convictions Through Education.

4. What is the best advice you have been given about practicing law?

Sally –

When I was a first-year attorney, one of my mentors sat me down and told me never to underestimate the power of a cup of coffee. He encouraged me to pick up the phone and ask people out for a cup of coffee. The beauty of a cup of coffee is that it is non-intrusive and can last five minutes or five hours. For the past eight years, I have taken his advice, and it proves to be true. So much can be accomplished over a cup of coffee—learning a little bit about your opposing counsel or a judge, networking for that new job, or even breaking the ice with your new paralegal. Throughout my legal career, I have accomplished so much over a cup of coffee and would encourage all young attorneys to take this same advice and incorporate it into their legal careers.

Jenny –

After I received my offer from Carrington Coleman in law school, I discussed it with my favorite college professor. He told me to accept, but the reason why surprised me: Because I would never be the smartest person in the room, and that’s the best way to learn the practice of law. That advice was and remains true—find smart, talented lawyers and soak up everything you can from them.

5. What is some advice you were not given as a young lawyer that you wish you had received?

 Sally –

Learn to say “no.” You really do need to know when to learn to say “no,” and when to say “yes.” I am a firm believer in taking opportunities when they come knocking and sacrificing a little of your time to something that will pay off immensely in the future. But I do think there comes a time to say “no,” and I didn’t learn to say “no” soon enough—there are definitely portions of my legal career where I wish I would have said “no.” “No” to a potential new client that is not going to be a fit for you. “No” to that job that you know is going to be a terrible fit and is not going to get you anywhere in your career. “No” to that extra committee that you really do not feel passionate about and won’t do a good job on.

Jenny –

Despite the fact that it is cliché, both with law school and your legal career, it is important to remember you are running a marathon and not a sprint. If you push too hard for too long without taking time for yourself, burnout is almost a guarantee. While it is important to work hard, it is also important to pace yourself for the long career ahead.

6. If anyone wants to find out more about you, where should they turn?

Sally –

Please visit my website or feel free to follow me on social media. I am on Facebook and Instagram. Of course, I am happy to chat via email ( or phone (214-871-2727) and even meet for a coffee while I am out on the campaign trail.

Jenny –

On the web at, on Facebook @votejennylee, and on Twitter at #votejennylee. You can also read more about me on our firm’s website at

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.

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