State Bar of Texas

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State Bar of Texas
TexasLawCenterAustinTX.JPG
Texas Law Center has the offices of the State Bar of Texas
TypeLegal Society
HeadquartersAustin, TX
Location
  • United States
Membership
95,437[1]
Websitehttp://www.texasbar.com

The State Bar of Texas (the Texas Bar) is an agency of the judiciary under the administrative control of the Texas Supreme Court.[2] It is responsible for assisting the Texas Supreme Court in overseeing all attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas. It is the fifth largest organization of lawyers in the United States. Unlike the American Bar Association (ABA), the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) is a mandatory bar. The State Bar is headquartered in the Texas Law Center at 1414 Colorado Street in Austin.[3]

Membership[edit]

The State Bar of Texas is composed of those persons licensed to practice law in Texas and is an "integrated" or "mandatory" bar. The State Bar Act, adopted by the Legislature in 1939, mandates that all attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas be members of the State Bar.[4][5] As of 2018, membership in the Texas Bar stood at 103,342.[6]

Purpose[edit]

The purposes of the State Bar of Texas, as documented in the State Bar Act legislation that created it, are:[7]

  1. to aid the courts in carrying on and improving the administration of justice;
  2. to advance the quality of legal services to the public and to foster the role of the legal profession in serving the public;
  3. to foster and maintain, on the part of those engaged in the practice of law, high ideals and integrity, learning, competence in public service, and high standards of conduct;
  4. to provide proper professional services to the members of the state bar;
  5. to encourage the formation of and activities of local bar associations;
  6. to provide forums for the discussion of subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and the relationship of the state bar to the public; and
  7. to publish information relating the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and the relationship of the state bar to the public.

The organization provides continuing legal education, courses for attorneys, and processes complaints against Texas attorneys by clients and other members of the public.

The State Bar publishes the Texas Bar Journal, which serves not only as a trade publication, but also is also the official organ through which all Texas attorneys are advised of rule changes by the Texas Supreme Court and other official matters.[8]

Mission[edit]

"The mission of the State Bar of Texas is to support the administration of the legal system, assure all persons equal access to justice, foster high standards of ethical conduct for lawyers, enable its members to better serve their clients and the public, educate the public about the rule of law, and promote diversity in the administration of justice and the practice of law."[9]

Governance[edit]

On a day-to-day basis, the State Bar is run by an executive director, currently E.A. "Trey" Apffel III. The operations of the Bar are overseen by an elected board of directors made up of volunteers. State Bar members also elect as the president, who serves a one-year term as president-elect before taking office. The current president of the State Bar of Texas (2019-2020) is Randy Sorrels, a plaintiff's personal injury lawyer from Houston.[10] In addition to electing their Bar leaders, Texas attorneys have voting rights on some policy matters through the instrument of referendum.

Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct[edit]

The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct are promulgated by the Texas Supreme Court.[11] These rules "set forth principles to which attorneys should aspire and rules to which they must conform".[12] Along with the court rules and Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, the most current version of the disciplinary rules is posted on the Texas Judiciary's website.[13]

The attorney disciplinary rules are enforced by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline (CLD),[14] which prosecutes attorney misconduct in district courts and/or through 17 district grievance committees throughout the state, consisting of appointed volunteers.

The Commission is composed of 12 members: six attorneys appointed by the president of the State Bar and six public members appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Prosecutions are handled by the Commission's Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

The most severe disciplinary penalty is disbarment. Lesser sanctions are time-limited suspensions, which may be probated or probated in part. Appeals may be taken to the Board of Disciplinary Appeals (BODA) and ultimately to the Texas Supreme Court. Sanctions decisions are published in the Texas Bar Journal. Conviction of a serious crime will entail mandatory discipline.

In Fiscal Year 2018-19 the Commission for Lawyer Discipline successfully resolved 589 complaints through the imposition of 414 sanctions and collected $430,598 in attorneys’ fees.[15]

A Texas attorney's public disciplinary history (if any) and current license status can be looked up on the SBOT website through a search by name or license number (Texas Bar Number), which must appear on all court filings by an attorney.


History[edit]

Although lawyers have had statewide organizations in Texas since the 19th century, the State Bar of Texas began its formal existence on April 19, 1939, when Governor W. Lee O'Daniel signed House Bill No. 74, titled the State Bar Act of 1939. From that point onward, membership in the State Bar of Texas was a prerequisite for the practice of law in Texas.

In July 1963, Gene Cavin was hired as the first full-time Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Director, greatly expanding the course material for professional development.

In 1976 the Texas Law Center, located at Fifteenth and Colorado Streets in Austin, TX, became the permanent headquarters for the Texas State Bar. [16]

Sections of the State Bar of Texas[edit]

Administrative & Public Law; African-American Lawyers; Alternative Dispute Resolution; American Indian Law; Animal Law; Antitrust and Business Litigation; Appellate; Asian-Pacific Interest; Aviation Law; Bankruptcy Law; Business Law; Collaborative Law; Computer & Technology; Construction Law; Consumer and Commercial Law; Corporate Counsel; Criminal Justice; Entertainment and Sports Law; Environmental and Natural Resources; Family Law; General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm; Government Law; Health Law; Hispanic Issues; Immigration and Nationality Law; Individual Rights and Responsibilities; Insurance Law; Intellectual Property Law; International Law; James C. Watson Inn of Former Officers and Directors; Judicial; Justice of the Peace; Juvenile Law; Labor and Employment Law; Law Student Division; LGBT Law; Litigation; Litigation - Sustaining; Military Law; Municipal Judges; Oil, Gas, and Energy Resources Law; Paralegal Division; Poverty Law; Public Utility Law; Real Estate, Probate & Trust; School Law; Taxation; Women and the Law; Workers' Compensation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ State Bar of Texas Department of Research and Analysis, State Bar of Texas Membership: Attorney Statistical Profile (2012-13).
  2. ^ "State Bar Act" (Texas Government Code § 81.011)
  3. ^ "State Bar of Texas - Contact Us". texasbar.com. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  4. ^ "State Bar Act" (Texas Government Code § 81.051)
  5. ^ "State Bar Act" (Texas Government Code § 81.102)
  6. ^ SBOT Department of Research and Analysis. "State Bar of Texas Membership: Attorney Statistical Profile (2018-19)". Texas Bar. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "State Bar Act" (Texas Government Code § 81.012)
  8. ^ "State Bar of Texas". texasbar.com. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  9. ^ "State Bar of Texas - Our Mission". texasbar.com. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  10. ^ "State Bar of Texas | President". www.texasbar.com. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (effective Feb. 26, 2019)" (PDF). Texas Judicial Branch. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  12. ^ David J. Beck, Legal Malpractice in Texas (1991), p. 115: "The new Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct set forth principles to which attorneys should aspire and rules to which they must conform. An attorney must not violate these Rules, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another, regardless of whether such violation occurred during an attorney-client relationship".
  13. ^ "Texas Judicial Branch - Rules and Forms". txcourts.gov. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "Commission for Lawyer Discipline". texasbar.com. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  15. ^ State Bar of Texas. "SBOT Commission for Lawyer Discipline Annual Report 2018-2019". Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Elliott, William D. (June 15, 2010). "State Bar of Texas". tshaonline.org. Retrieved December 21, 2019.

External links[edit]