Executive Director's Perspective: Two Minds Coming Together - By Melissa J. Schank

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Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.

—Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

It always amazes me all the attorneys who take the time to accept court appointments just because it is the right thing to do. These attorneys give the same attention and service to those clients as they do to those who are able to afford legal fees. More importantly, some of these same attorneys also give of themselves to mentor other attorneys.

This week I had the opportunity to meet with the Chief Public Defenders and Managed Counsels from all over the state of Texas. The event was co-hosted with Lynn Richardson’s Dallas Public Defenders Office and TIDC. We had the opportunity to explore the Dallas office and specialty courts and examine the services TIDC provides. Public defenders do yeoman’s work! And they’ve been doing it for a long time: The Austin Juvenile Public Defender, the first office of its kind in Texas, opened in 1976.

Many of those lawyers cut their teeth at the Texas Criminal Trial College, and the 43rd Annual Tim Evans TCTC—held March 24–29, 2019, in Huntsville—is fast approaching. This remains one of my favorites because I see so many attorneys transformed, leaving with skills and a new-found confidence following the intense week-long sessions. And students as well as faculty members, who dedicate their time and talents, build lifelong relationships as a result. The students can and do reach out to our invited faculty and establish mentoring relationships. Several will themselves end up teaching and sharing their knowledge as faculty members. We still have a few spots left; if you’re interested, contact me at 512.646.2724 or mschank@tcdla.com.

It’s this spirit, attorneys working together in TCDLA, that unites us and allows us a strong voice in the legislative process. Legislative Senior Lobbyist Allen Place and Lobbyist Shea Place recently came by the office to discuss the legislative process with staff. As the session cranks up, bills will continue to be filed until March 8th. We hope everyone reads Shea’s legislative updates. Our Legislative Committee and lobbyists communicate as best they can on issues requiring our attention, but similar to trial strategy, there are confidential strategies that should not be shared with the opposition. We’ve had a big turnover in the state—in committees as well as in the House and Senate—and we are looking for members who might have a personal relationship with some of the new political seats. If you think you might, or if you have specific questions or thoughts on legislation, you can get in touch at legislative@tcdla.com. You can find out more about the 86th legislature and your representative or senator at www.capitol.texas.gov.

Executive Director's Perspective March 2019-1

As winter gives way to spring, plan on attending some of the big events on the schedule. Come support our president in his hometown of Lubbock at the 38th Annual Prairie Dog Lawyers Advanced Criminal Law Seminar March 7–8. Take a look on the website, www.tcdla.com, at the incredible lineup of speakers for some top-notch CLE. And the local bar always hosts a great party with live music and delicious food—not to mention socializing with some TCDLA and LCDBA members. This is what makes our CLE events the best—some outstanding networking.

And if you haven’t already, you should register for the 32nd Annual Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course. If you only choose one CLE event a year, this is it. Course directors Jani Maselli Wood, Bobby Mims, and Doug Murphy have put together a stellar lineup, with four tracks to choose from: Drug and DWI, Science and Forensics, Issues in Juvenile, and Issues in Representing Indigent Clients. Saturday’s lineup includes Gerry Goldstein, Sister Helen Prejean, Martin Underwood, Michael Tigar, and Dr. Katie McQueen. New lawyers take note: We have a networking event tailored to your needs, a lunch that pairs you up with a board member.

We know CLE can be pricey at times, so do be aware that we have several different scholarships—some including travel. Visit the link on our website, www.tcdla.com/cle/scholarships, or call us at 512.478.2514 (anyone can help). The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Educational Institute and the Criminal Justice section of the SBOT are among those offering help. We have a category to fit your needs. And if you don’t need a scholarship, we welcome your donation to TCDLEI!

I hope you will attend some or all of our upcoming events. New members, this is where you can get to know your fellow warriors, exchange information, maybe seek out an opportunity to sit second chair—you never know till you ask. If you’d like help making some connections, find me at the event and I will get you connected!