Executive Director’s Perspective: Learn by Doing


Join the next generation of Texas Defenders by applying to become a mentor or mentee through the Future Indigent Defense Leaders Program (FIDL). Together the Texas Indigent Task Force, Harris County Public Defenders Office, and TCDLA are starting their second year of the program.

FIDL is a selective program that aims to create the next generation of highly skilled, client-centered Texas attorneys to represent persons who cannot afford counsel. FIDL offers unparalleled indigent defense training, mentoring, and leadership opportunities. Selected through a competitive process, FIDL mentees become part of an exclusive statewide team dedicated to zealous representation.

If you’re interested in learning more about the program, visit our website. Mentee and Mentor applications are due Monday, December 16, 2019, by 5 pm (Central).

And lest you forget one of TCDLA’s signature events: The 44th Annual Tim Evans Texas Criminal Trial College is coming up. The College is an intensive program of practice exercises on a simulated case, from jury selection to final argument, enhanced by faculty demonstrations and personal critiques. This course is designed for all ranges of criminal defense trial experience—from new to veterans to those who left prosecution to the attorney who wants to continue improving trial skills.

Students and faculty build lifelong relationships, and many students come back as faculty members. No other program builds the relationships that allow such an exchange of ideas specifically for criminal defense. Enrollment is limited to 80 students, selected by an application and registration process. Get your application in now—the deadline is January 14, 2020, at 5 pm (Central).

We are also seeking local bars interested in holding one- to two-hour CLE seminars. TCDLA can sponsor your event. Contact me for more information.

As everyone counts down the holidays, I am selfishly counting down the days I have before Craig Hattersley, TCDLA communications director, will retire. I will be so sad to lose such a talented individual, one who possesses such institutional knowledge of our association. He will be irreplaceable, and I will miss him dearly.

On a more positive note, I wish everyone a happy holiday. I hope you can relax and take some time for yourself.

Melissa J. Schank
Melissa J. Schank
Melissa J. Schank, Chief Executive Officer, has worked with nonprofit associations for over 20 years, and has been with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association more than 15 years. She earned her master’s of human resources, business administration, bachelor’s of communication and mediation certificate from Saint Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and is a certified association executive. Her greatest strengths are overseeing the long-term planning, financial management, and strategy for legal educational programs, in addition to managing the organization’s seminars, membership, publication, and communication departments.
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