Executive Director’s Perspective: Growth - By Melissa J. Schank

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Saturday, August 24th, 2019

The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.

—Michel Legrand

Despite the heat advisories of another Texas summer, TCDLA warriors got down to business on several fronts. In July and August your ambassadors on the Membership Benefits Committee have been working to make renewals simple and busy securing new member benefits. You should check out the member benefits page on the website, as it’s being updated as new items are added.

The Legislative Committee—Allen Place, Shea Place, and David Gonzalez—have worked nonstop this session to fight for our members. They have written a detailed 200-page legislative update and cheatsheet exclusive for our members, available online in the members-only section of the website. The Legislative Update webinar exceeded all expectations in attendance. If you missed it or would like to watch it again, you can find it in the members-only section of the website—or you need CLE credit, look on the website under the tab for online CLE.

The Executive Committee has been working in response to numerous requests, reformulating policies, and brainstorming how to grow our organization. Did you know there are 101,587 lawyers in Texas? And of those, some 15,000 practice criminal defense. It is so important for TCDLA to grow to be able to leverage our numbers and be heard when we need to agitate for our platform, for policy changes, or for needed legislation. We must speak with one loud voice and remain #tcdlastrong. If you know a new lawyer or colleague who is not a member, reach out to them—or let me know. We want to assist in any way to ensure all criminal defense lawyers are part of TCDLA.

As part of our own self-examination, the staff recently participated in a retreat wherein members were tasked with making individual presentations, which involved each of them creating PowerPoints with video and attendant handouts. Subsequent brainstorming showed we are ready to implement changes immediately. We have a great plan mapped out for a successful year! Have I told you: TCDLA has an amazing staff. You can see who they are on page 4, or you can find out more about them under the Contact tab on the website. Do not hesitate to call any of them for any assistance needed—we are here to serve you!

On another front, I had the opportunity for a second year to meet with the executive directors from state criminal defense lawyers organizations. Ironically, the executive directors are all women. I found the training re-energizing, empowering—and it provided a wealth of information for improving all our state associations. I also attended the State Justice Criminal Network put on by NACDL. I enjoyed particularly testimonials given of the work of so many nonprofit groups to improve prison systems and address the challenges of our clients.

As summer grinds to its end, plan on attending one of our upcoming TCDLA events. Voir Dire, coming to Austin September 12–13, offers a completely new format, featuring hands-on interaction and instruction. If you need a scholarship, we have some available! November 5–6, Stuart Kinard DWI returns to San Antonio, and December 5–6 in Dallas, Heather Barbieri and Jeff Kearney will be hosting Defending Those Accused of Sexual Offenses. Register now!

Do remember as summer turns to fall (and time spins on faster and faster) to take a moment to take care of yourself. To that end, I personally look forward to the next gathering of family and friends. I recently went on a personal retreat and was reminded to take time to talk to people—rather than being consumed by details and some quest for perfection—and build real relationships.