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Bar Leaders: A Path to Becoming Involved in the Legal Community.
By: Bill Gardner and Veronica Wolfe

What is the Bar Leaders Conference? In short, it’s a two-day conference in Houston that unites representatives from the local bar associations and the Texas Young Lawyers Association affiliates to brainstorm ideas on improving the leadership and membership among lawyers in their respective cities.  The conference is hosted by the State Bar of Texas, TYLA, and the Texas Access to Justice Commission. Representatives from the various local affiliates are invited to attend the conference, which is divided into various breakout sessions. These sessions generally consist of roundtable discussions or presentations on the various projects developed by the local affiliates. The conference also gives TYLA, the State Bar, and the Texas Access to Justice Commission an opportunity to inform the local affiliates about the resources they have to offer and the various projects being developed.

The first time I went to the Bar Leaders Conference, I had no idea what to expect.  I knew we would break into smaller groups and discuss recent projects in our local bar association or young lawyer association. What I didn’t know or expect was how inspiring it was to hear about other affiliates’ projects or how I could offer advice based on my experience with my local young lawyers association.  Then, you’re able to take those ideas back to your affiliate and build off of them to grow your membership and presence in your community.  This is the entire point of the Bar Leaders Conference – to share ideas and get inspired. Here are some examples of TYLA’s involvement from this year’s conference:

          1.  Meeting Uncommon Leaders Happy Hour: Attendees networked and mingled while enjoying light hors d’oeuvres and drinks at Mariposa in Neiman Marcus.

          2.  Supporting Uncommon Affiliates Presentation: TYLA’s executive committee presented the various services TYLA offers to empower young lawyer affiliates and their leaders.  Immediate Past President Rebekah Brooker presented Awards of Achievement to recognize outstanding local affiliates.  Click here for the list of the Awards of Achievement Winners.

          3.  Building Uncommon Leaders Sessions: TYLA spearheaded breakout sessions for affiliate presidents, president-elects, and other leaders to discuss ideas and solutions for improving membership, diversity, and leadership among local affiliates.

          4.  Projects! Projects! Projects!: Representatives from various small and large affiliates presented innovative and successful projects implemented within the past year. Each presentation was followed by a question/answer session so that attendees could build off of these projects and share the ideas with their local affiliates.

          5.  Rolling in Money, Rolling out Projects: How to Maximize Grant Requests: TYLA officers and directors presented strategies on drafting successful grant applications.

          6.  The Casino Party: Representatives from all of the local bar associations brought their best hands and tried their luck of the draw. (A special thank you to the East Alpine Bar Association for their fun-filled gift basket!)

While this article highlights TYLA’s involvement, this conference would not be possible without support from the local bar associations and the TYLA affiliates.  We encourage you to attend next year’s conference, which is scheduled for July 15-16, 2016, in Houston!  Your local bar association can delegate one member and all executive directors to attend.  Your local affiliate can designate up to four members to attend (two as TYLA official delegates, one as a TYLA minority delegate, and one as an access to justice delegate).  Delegates receive two nights at the Westin Galleria and access to all conference events, which includes the Casino Party and all scheduled meals.  The State Bar will reimburse travel expenses. There are requirements for receiving reimbursement, which are detailed in the registration brochure.

Perhaps upon reading this you would rather dedicate yourself to helping on a more local or national level. To do that, reach out to your local affiliate or the American Bar Association, respectively.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Veronica Wolfe or Bill Gardner.

Bill Gardner is a shareholder at Macdonald Devin, P.C., where he represents design professionals and land developers in litigation matters across Texas.

Veronica Wolfe is an associate at Ford Murray, PLLC in San Antonio, where her practices focus on family law and commercial litigation.

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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