Executive Director's Perspective: Getting It Right - By Melissa J. Schank

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Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

—Oprah Winfrey

December was a very productive month. We had our quarterly board meeting in Fort Worth, and the board voted to redo our board terms to allow for nine new board positions to be available each year. This year we had a limited number of board spots open as we worked to correct this ongoing issue. All of the applicants were qualified, and the Nominations Committee struggled to make their selections. We want to congratulate our slate for 2019: Secretary-Elect David Guinn and the two new incoming board members, Lisa Greenberg and Chad Van Brundt. The membership will vote on everything above at our annual members board meeting in June at Rusty Duncan (June 13–15, 2019). With the quality of applicants who applied this year and the number of positions that will open up next year (nine), we urge everyone to reapply next year.

The Membership Committee also met in Fort Worth. Congrats to the committee lead by Carmen Roe, Monique Sparks, and Nathan Miller; they are halfway to achieving their goal of increased membership this year. We hope everyone will continue to renew their mem­berships. Did you know you could save 10% if you sign up for auto-renew? Call us today at 512.478.2514 to get started. And if you know a new lawyer or new member, reach out to them and offer up some camaraderie, welcoming them to our TCDLA family. It can be scary out there alone. We are also here at the home office to assist our members and to give you an update on all the member benefits—such as walking you through the TCDLA app or our various listserves. The Membership Committee continues to come up with new ideas to increase member services—look for these in the coming months. If you yourself have any recommendations, email them to Miriam at mrendon@tcdla.com.

Our Nexus Committee also met to discuss new seminar topics and venues. If you have any suggestions, send them to Kerri Anderson-Donica at kerri@kerridonicalaw.com. And the Legislative Committee met to work on our legislative strategies and goals for this coming session. If you know a legislator on a personal level, let our lobbying team know by emailing legislative@tcdla.com. All told, we have more than 30 committees staffed by volunteers working endlessly to improve the criminal justice system for our members. Visit our website and look under the “Contact” tab to see if there is a committee you would like to join.

In other news, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Education Institution presented Nneka Akubeze $5,000 as the 2018 recipient of the Charles Butts Memorial Scholarship. Nneka is a 3L law student at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. She attended the Sexual Assault seminar, board dinner, and board meetings—where everyone had the pleasure of getting to know her and hearing her compelling thoughts on what she sees as her role in our criminal justice system. These are just a few of the good works TCDLEI does with your donations!

In other developments during the quarterly meeting, we heard that our mentor program with TIDC, HCPDO, and TCDLA had an overwhelming number of qualified applicants. We look forward to selecting 25 candidates from throughout the state of Texas. Once the mentors are contacted and make the commitment, they will undergo extensive training before mentee applications are sent out.

As we begin a new year, we’d like to encourage any lawyers who’ve practiced for five years or less to apply to attend the Tim Evans Texas Criminal Trial College this March. TCTC is a powerful hands-on training concentrating on everything you need to know for criminal defense. This program is limited to 80 attorneys, so get your application in today. Ask anyone who attended—it is an exceptional program that everyone raves about.

With a new year’s fresh start, we hope to set goals for increasing membership, improving our seminars and attendance, and producing the best criminal defense publications while keeping all of our members up to date with new legislation and relevant topics. Remember: We have, among other groups, a stellar Strike Force ready to assist members in need, an Ethics Committee to answer your questions pronto, and an Amicus Committee to fight for you.

I hope everyone is beginning the year with a bang—though here are a few suggestions to help you start off your year stress-free:

  • Put yourself at the top of the list
  • Do a yearly review of what worked well and what . . . not so much
  • Finish what you started
  • Be realistic
  • Focus on what you want
  • Spend time with friends
  • Tell a different person each week that you love them.