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Ideas Worth Sharing Drive the 2018 Bar Leaders Conference

Ideas Worth Sharing Drive the 2018 Bar Leaders Conference

Ideas Worth Sharing Drive the 2018 Bar Leaders Conference
By: Ryan V. Cox

For yet another year, TYLA co-hosted the annual Bar Leaders Conference on July 20-21, 2018.  The conference was held at the Westin Domain in Austin—a temporary move from its regular home at the Westin Galleria in Houston while that hotel undergoes major remodeling.

Each year, TYLA invites officers and directors from affiliates around the state to attend a two-day conference focused on sharing ideas, learning about new projects developed by TYLA and other affiliates, and tips for administering a better young lawyers association, regardless of size, budget, or location.

The conference began on Friday afternoon with a welcome from Santos Vargas, chair of the Local Bar Services Committee for the State Bar of Texas (and former president of the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association).  After lunch, representatives from more than a dozen local affiliates attended panels focused on developing legal incubators, increasing membership, and visiting schools with TYLA and State Bar projects.  Molly Kilmer Flood of the ABA Division for Bar Services presented in the afternoon about the trends and problems facing modern bar associations, and attendees were then offered information about how to run nonprofits generally—from managing finances to recruiting staff.  In “interactive leadership breakouts,” leaders from bar associations around the state were separated into random room assignments and asked to brainstorm new ideas for generating revenue, increasing membership, and serving their communities.  Affiliates were able to learn the different challenges affecting bars ranging from the biggest bar association to the smallest affinity bars in rural counties.

On Saturday, TYLA President Sally Pretorius opened the day for TYLA at the annual Pro Bono Breakfast, which honored many bar associations and individuals that have provided exceptional service to their communities.  Ms. Pretorius informed the conference-goers about TYLA’s current programs and plans, including the new “Proud to Be an American” program launching later this year with assistance from a Texas Bar Foundation grant.

Panels on Saturday included access to justice topics like developing disaster response programs and bias training for use in developing pro bono programs.  At its annual “Supporting Uncommon Affiliates” breakout, TYLA recognized the remarkable efforts of several affiliates with Awards of Achievement including Service to the Bar, Service to the Community, Diversity Projects, Newsletter Excellence, and Comprehensive (or “Best Affiliate”) categories.  The El Paso Young Lawyers Association was awarded first place in Small City Comprehensive Programing, while the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers took that top-honor in the Large City category. Following award presentations, TYLA hosted the first ever “Local Affiliate Showcase.”  At this event, local affiliates each set up a conference table exhibiting their favorite and most successful events with photos, props, flyers and much more.  TYLA Board Chair Aaron Burke served as the MC while affiliates were able to see and hear firsthand about the amazing projects going on around the state.

On Saturday afternoon, TYLA hosted additional panels on managing social media, getting cash for projects with the TYLA and Texas Bar Foundation grant programs, and tips and tricks for “doing more with less” for those affiliates who work without paid staff or an executive director.  TYLA also hosted a panel called “Staying Relevant: Serving OUR Community” that featured speakers working at ground zero on some of the most important issues facing the legal community today:  immigration and family separation, LGBT issues, and domestic violence.  The conference room was overflowing as crowds of bar leaders tried to learn how their local bars could assist in these areas of great concern.

As always, the conference ended with a casino night dinner and raffle of gift baskets provided by attendees—each basket representing the unique features and businesses of a different community around the state.  The TYLA Local Affiliates Committee continues to be amazed at the success of this program and hopes that it will result in better programing and resources for all TYLA members around the state. 

Ryan V. Cox is a staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project and a member of the TYLA Local Affiliates Committee. He can be reached by email.

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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