President's Message: The Future - By Samuel E. Bassett

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Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

One challenge of life is to grapple with the reality that your time on Earth will pass, sooner or later. As the saying goes, “None of us are getting out of here alive!” In the context of our professional lives, this is also true even if we go on to other things after we leave the practice of law.

One of my goals as President is to cultivate young leaders in the criminal defense bar. This past week, we announced the winner of the 2015 Charles Butts Scholarship in the amount of $5,000 for a third-year law student with a demonstrated interest in criminal defense. This year’s winner, Allison Arriola, is a St. Mary’s law student with many accomplishments in her tenure as a law student. As those on the executive committee can tell you, the competition for this scholarship was fierce. We had twenty-one (21) applicants, and I would have been comfortable awarding the scholarship to almost any of the applicants. In fact, more than one executive committee member asked the question, “Can we give out more than one scholarship?” Congratulations to Ms. Arriola, and we look forward to awarding the scholarship to her at our February Board meeting and President’s trip to New Orleans. If you haven’t signed up, join us for some Federal Law CLE, a renewing of the TCDLA spirit, and perhaps a cocktail or two in the French Quarter.

What is apparent to me from reading the applications is that the future of a zealous criminal defense bar in Texas is bright. It is remarkable to me how many young law students see the need for the ideals of our Constitution to be carried out through zealous criminal defense. Another remarkable reality that I learned in reading the applications is the amount of indebtedness that can accompany a law degree in the 21st century. Many of the applicants report a student loan debt exceeding $100,000 for their college and law school education. Even more remarkable to me is that many of those same applicants intend to work in the area of indigent defense through either Public Defender offices or doing a majority of court appointment work. This attitude is inspiring to me.

My urging for all of you more experienced lawyers is to take a young lawyer or law student under your wing. The energy, enthusiasm, and idealism can rekindle your professional soul. We all need this from time to time.