Heather Barbieri

Heather Barbieri has more than 20 years of experience representing people facing serious state and federal criminal allegations. She was licensed in 1998, and became board-certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 2005. She was named to the Texas Super Lawyers every year since 2013, was named one of D Magazine’s Best Lawyers in Dallas for 2022 in the area of Criminal Law, and has an AV-Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell. Heather was also honored to have been named Percy Foreman Lawyer of the Year in 2015 by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association after a series of “not-guilty” verdicts in complex criminal cases, and currently serves as TCDLA’s 2021-2022 President-Elect. She lectures to attorneys on multiple criminal defense topics, and teaches trial skills across the country as a faculty member of the Trial Lawyers College.

President’s Message: Room at the Table

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What an honor to be writing my first column as President of Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association! I remember how this journey began in the fall of 1999, when I was a proverbial baby lawyer in the Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas. I was proud to have been assigned to my very first court‑appointed case and determined to figure out how on earth I was going to actually try the case. My partner in crime at the time, Darlina Crowder, and I were newly‑licensed, but so hungry, and it showed.

After court, we were heading onto the elevator with our shiny new briefcases, and we were lucky enough to be approached by a couple of great lawyers, John Hardin and Chris Hoover. They said we should sign up for this organization called TCDLA. We even got a discounted rate, so why not? I filled out my application and faxed—yes faxed—it back the same day. The rest, as they say, is history.

My 23‑year TCDLA journey has been filled with many great adventures, some challenges along the way, but most all, many cherished friendships. And I’m grateful for every single second of the journey so far. My family and I are so blessed to be part of this incredible group of people.

I would also like to thank the Past‑Presidents who have led this organization with such valor, especially immediate Past‑President Michael Gross, who has paved the way for me. Michael, I have said this before, you are one of the finest lawyers I’ve ever known. You were a fearless leader, and as always, an officer and a gentleman. Thank you for your service.

Over the next year, I want to work relentlessly to make sure that everyone in TCDLA‑‑all 3,500 of us‑‑is afforded the same experiences and opportunities I have had. My vision is simple: to make sure there is room at the table for everyone. I hold in the highest esteem the tenets of inclusion, diversity, and the institutional knowledge that we all bring from our wealth of experiences – inside the courtroom and beyond.

What does that vision entail, you ask? Well, first and foremost, I want everyone to realize they have an individual seat at the table. All lawyers who are committed to protecting the individual rights of the criminally accused are welcome in TCDLA ‑ whether you have been practicing for less than a year, or for many decades. We want to celebrate – and tap into – the fresh ideas and innovation of all the younger lawyers as well as the institutional knowledge of those that are seasoned and battle‑tested. The TCDLA tent is as enormous as the State of Texas, and all are included inside.

I also truly value and want to recognize our diverse membership ‑not just because that is the progressive thing to do these days‑ but because diversity breeds excellence. Proverbs teaches us that “Iron sharpens iron; one person sharpens another.” And to me, that is the beauty of a diverse tent – diversity that is celebrated by including every gender, race, ethnicity, geographic background, political and religious belief – and perhaps most especially – diversity of thoughts, ideas and dreams. The more diverse we are, the more inclusive we become, the more room we make at the table – our organization becomes even greater, we become even better lawyers and we thrive more as individuals. Iron truly sharpens iron.

I see this upcoming year as the greatest opportunity of my career… to serve all of you. My TCDLA journey, which started many years ago when those elevator doors opened in a Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas, is only complete when I have finished doing all I can to help every TCDLA member fulfill their lifetime journey.