Executive Officer’s Perspective: A New Year

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“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”

—Bill Vaughan

2022 is here! I am hoping you had the chance to take some time off and re-energize. After hunkering down for two years, my family went on vacation during the holiday break. Wow, did it feel good to see people and try to regain some semblance of normality. It felt so good to disconnect. Still, it was a little scary trying to take every precaution and preventive measure—masking up and liberally applying hand sanitizer all the while. But I am glad we were able to spend time together. The time off was welcome and proved enjoyable. When is the next holiday?

TCDLA has hit the ground running in 2022. The Ethics Committee has reviewed and prepared a letter for the State Bar Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda regarding the proposed changes to Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 3.09. The Bylaws Committee is clarifying verbiage regarding terms and application requirements. The Amicus Committee voted on several cases presented. The Membership Committee has planned several social events so members can reconnect, bringing along friends and family.

The TCDLA Codes have also been updated, along with several revised publications per the 87th legislative session. In addition, we have a new app coming out, which will include quick links to our resources and members-only section. You will be able to check your membership status and renew, register for a seminar or access seminar material, and shop for publications. You will also have access to the Member Directory Search, TCDLA Listserv, and podcast. The TCDLA podcast bank has been growing (download it!), and if you want to be part of the this, email .

The Voice editorial committee continues to work hard to provide you with monthly issues. If you are interested in writing an article, please do consider submitting. Articles can run anywhere from 500 to 2500 words. The website has guidelines and videos to help get you started. A team reviews all submissions. Looking for a past article? All the Voice issues since its inception in March 1972 can be searched.

Looking forward, a number of events are upcoming, as shown on the website, and you can attend them in person or virtually. Course directors and speakers are busy filling out lineups for the year’s schedule. We are building on-demand CLE as well, if you’re looking to fill a specific need for CLE. On tcdla.com, go to CLE/Events → Webinars on Demand.

Reminder too: We have a host of resources on  Task Force the members-only section of the website. Several committees maintain specific pages with additional resources—COVID, Law School, Client Mental Health, Memo Bank, Amicus, Veterans, DWI, Juvenile, Wellness—incorporating how-to videos, motions, and numerous other resources. If you are interested in Operation Lonestar, you can find information, training material, and such as well. TCDLA’s 35-plus committees are here to assist, and you can find them listed on the website under the About tab. As work with officers on this year proceeds, we are already sifting through grant applications for next year.

On the home front, staff started the first week of January with two grant-funded programs, heading off to Lubbock. Together with the Lubbock Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, they put on the Prairie Pup Nuts & Bolts and the 41st Annual Prairie Dog. Next up are preparations for 26 scheduled seminars, beginning with site visits then work on marketing and registration, publications, and the new app.

Our accounting team is currently huddling with auditors to complete the FY21 audit. As we approach the midway point in the fiscal year, we are looking at how we fared in our budgeting to ensure we end the year on track. This is an important tool in helping us plan for FY23—which is just around the corner!

Never forget that we are here to serve and assist you. If there is anything we can do for you, our members, please let me know. Let TCDLA be part of your starting the new year off in a positive direction: Let’s be the optimists with half-full cups!

TCDLA
TCDLA
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.

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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