Local Affiliate

Local Affiliate

Continuing SAYLA’s 70-year Legacy of Service
By:  Ryan V. Cox, San Antonio Young Lawyers Association President

As the 2017-18 membership year begins for the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, we prepare to celebrate 70 years of service to San Antonio.  Founded in 1948 as the “Junior Bar,” SAYLA has been a bellwether of service to the community and to the bar throughout its history. 

In June, more than 20 of SAYLA’s past-presidents dating back to 1955 watched the newest board’s swearing-in by Justice Paul Green of the Texas Supreme Court.  These longtime supporters of the organization gathered to offer their encouragement and share their fond memories of the countless hours that each spent planning projects and events for young lawyers and communities in need.  They laughed and caught up with old friends, but underlying all their discussions was how important SAYLA—and the opportunities to serve that it provided—was to their young careers.  Several are now judges or partners at major law firms, but each remembered the impact they were able to make as a member and leader of the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association.

For the upcoming year, the SAYLA board has reaffirmed its commitment to serving the bar and the community, and to honoring the legacy of service inherited from our predecessors.  On July 18, SAYLA will present a record-breaking $20,000 contribution to Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas—the proceeds from the annual SAYLA Scramble golf tournament.  Through this tournament and other fundraisers like SAYLA’s “fiesta medal” sales, SAYLA donates more than 40 percent of its entire annual budget to charity.  This ratio is made possible through the tireless work of our attorney volunteers in fundraising from the community, and due to SAYLA’s proud independence—unlike most bar associations of our size, SAYLA has no staff salaries to pay and does not rely on any parent association for funding or administration.  This means that attorney volunteers perform all planning, events, meetings, coordination, and communications with the savings returned to our members and to the community.

In addition to fundraising, one of SAYLA’s newest programs, the annual “Season of Service,” was established in 2015 to concentrate a variety of service projects into the winter months when many bar associations are less active. This year’s “Season” will include dozens of young attorney volunteers serving unmet needs of hundreds of veterans and low-income residents.  Through this program, between November and February, SAYLA members are provided opportunities to volunteer at family and wills clinics, veterans’ clinics at the Audie Murphy VA Hospital, immigration/citizenship workshops, and non-legal service opportunities with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Haven for Hope, and through implementation of TYLA programs at local high schools.

While serving the community is of paramount importance, SAYLA has also served the bar and its membership though professional development and social opportunities throughout its history.  Last year, our new program “War Story Wednesdays” was awarded First Place for Service to the Bar in TYLA’s Awards of Achievement, and we will continue this program in the coming year.  This program features seasoned, often famous lawyers telling their “war stories” from long careers in the practice of law and gives young lawyers the ability to attend a professional event with experienced lawyers outside of the substantive-law requirement imposed on traditional CLE events.  This is, of course, in addition to our wide variety of award-winning, traditional CLE programs and seminars, and our signature events like the annual Courthouse Tour & Judicial Reception, now in its 30th year.

This year, SAYLA is also committed to a renewed emphasis on promoting diversity and family events.  With this focus, we will be organizing a range of kid-friendly events to complement our traditional social offerings, and we will also be working with members of our LGBTQ community to offer professional development opportunities specifically tailored for them. 

All told, SAYLA will offer more than 50 member events over the coming year with special consideration for inclusion of all lawyers and law students regardless of practice area or years in practice.  Finally, as we celebrate 70 years of service in 2018, we will also be a partner with the SA 300 Commission that is planning San Antonio’s 2018 yearlong tricentennial celebration; our TED-style event on the history of the San Antonio legal profession will be a showstopper, not to be missed. 

Ryan V. Cox is an attorney at Prichard Young LLP in San Antonio where he practices civil litigation with a primary focus on complex motion practice and appeals.

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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