The State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting 2018 is right around the corner! On June 20th lawyers from around the state will descend upon Houston for two days jam packed with networking opportunities, CLE sessions, and knowledgeable speakers. Whether you are in corporate, real estate, or general practice, the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting has plenty of CLE sessions that will spark your interest. 

While looking through the meeting event guide, there were a few sessions that caught our eye. As an attorney at a small to mid sized firm, you won't want to miss these.


Client Relations

Claude E. Ducloux, National Director of Education, Ethics and State Compliance, LawPay |  Friday, June 22  9:30-10:15AM  |  Room: Houston 4

One of the most well-attended practice sessions each year is Claude Ducloux’s presentation on “Client Relations: Building Strong and Effective Relationships” at 9:00 a.m. on Friday June 22 in the Law Practice Track. Statistically, fewer than 20% of legal malpractice claims are based upon unintentional lawyer errors. Most are driven by lawyers who have mishandled the Attorney-Client relationship. 

Ducloux has long preached that the secret to any successful practice is to create strong initial client relationships built upon trust and reasonable expectations between the lawyer and client - skills which are often overlooked by law schools. This presentation focuses on the problem-solving role lawyers occupy in society, and observing the need to acknowledge a client’s desire for understanding. The initial relationship then is further subserved by vibrant, careful and candid communication, and accepting the lawyer’s responsibility to serve as the client’s fiduciary. The presentation features numerous communication techniques, the importance of lawyer billing, as well as the modern issues of cyber security and social media.

Ducloux, who is Board-Certified in both Civil Trial Law and Civil Appellate Law, has a long legacy of bar service, including serving as President of the Austin Bar, and Chair of the Board of Legal Specialization, State Bar College, and Texas Bar Foundation. He now speaks nationally on office management topics. The State Bar of Texas honored him in 2011 with their highest award for lifetime contribution to CLE, the Gene Cavin Award.  


10 Perks & Pitfalls of Starting a Practice

Erich M. Birch, Birch Becker & Moorman LLP;  Joshua D. Massingill, Joshua Massingill, Attorney at
Law, PLLC; Jessica Vittorio, The Law Office of Jessica Vittorio, PLLC  |  Friday, June 22 10:15-11AM  |  Room: Houston 4


Thinking of starting your own practice? Not sure where to start? Another cant miss session is, "10 Perks & Pitfalls of Starting a Practice", a panel featuring three Texas attorneys who bring unique perspectives to managing a private practice for both new and experienced professionals. The session will address general areas of caution to be aware of when opening or managing a practice, as well as benefits and perks to opening or managing a practice. Speakers will discuss choice of entity/formation, client management issues, document retention and filing issues, how to effectively utilize technology, and basic business logistics (including marketing/advertising, and renting office space). This is a great session for anyone contemplating opening a practice, or for current private practitioners who may have questions related to issues that they have encountered.

Having experienced these perks and pitfalls themselves, Erich M. Birch, Joshua D. Massingill, and Jessica Vittorio, will be your tour guides on the journey to starting a practice.

Jessica Vittorio is the Managing Attorney of The Law Office of Jessica Vittorio, an Adjunct Professor of Business Law, and host of a weekly business related podcast. She received her B.A. from Southwestern University, and earned her J.D. from Baylor Law School. Her practice is based in Dallas, TX and focuses on providing startups and small business owners with the insight and experience they need to properly grow their business. Jessica is active in the startup and entrepreneurial community throughout Texas, and regularly helps to advise companies on formation, fundraising, M&A, governance, and other daily operational issues. Jessica is a strong believer that  by understanding a company’s philosophy and values she can empower her clients to establish and grow their business in ways that will enable future success. In addition to her work within the business community, she also serves on the Board of various organizations, and is an active member of the Law Practice Management Committee of the State Bar of Texas.

Erich Birch is a Lawyer, mediator and arbitrator at Birch, Becker & Moorman, LLP. He received his B.E. from Vanderbilt University, and earned his J.D. from the University of Houston. Erich is on the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas, and currently serves on the Nominations & Elections Committee, the Professional Development Committee, and serves as Advisor to the Intellectual Property Law Section. He is the Past Chair of the Alternate Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar, and serves on the Council of the Solo & Small Firm Section of the Bar. He formerly served on the Board of the Texas Association of Mediators. 

Joshua Massingill is the Principal Attorney at Joshua Massingill, Attorney at Law, PLLC. He received his B.A. from Abilene Christian University, and earned his J.D. from Pepperdine University. Joshua serves on the Texas State Bar’s Law Practice Management Committee and the Success-Werx Board of Advisors. 


Tips for Wellness

Bree Buchanan, State Bar of Texas, Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program  |  Friday, June 22 11-11:30AM   | Room: Houston 4

Mental illness and addiction—including depression and alcohol abuse—have been shown to be significantly more prevalent among attorneys than in the general population. The most recent study on this topic, sponsored in part by the American Bar Association, found that lawyers are nearly twice more likely than the general population to abuse alcohol and that nearly fifty percent of lawyers will experience depression symptoms at some point in their careers.

Being aware of the problem is one thing, addressing it is another. During this session, Bree Buchanan will provide tips on implementing simple wellness strategies to help you manage the stress that comes with the practice of law. 

Bree Buchanan, J.D., a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, practiced law in the public and private sector with a focus on representing both adult and child victims of family violence. As the Director of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, Bree helps provide recovery solutions for lawyers, law students and judges who are experiencing substance use or mental disorders, as well as strategies to boost well-being and resiliency in the profession. Bree Buchanan is the Co-chair of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being and co-authored the task force’s report, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change,”.


Motivating & Managing Employees in Small Firms

Debra L. Bruce,  Lawyer-Coach LLC  |  Friday, June 22 2-2:30PM  |  Room: Houston 4

Every employer struggles with aspects of motivating and managing an employee at some point. Lawyers have the additional dimension of ethical rules to contend with. In a brief half-hour session Debra L. Bruce will highlight lawyers’ ethical duties to manage employees and point out the differences between the Texas Disciplinary Rules and the ABA Model Rules.

During her session Debra will cover a few key concepts like, one surprising mistake that almost all law firms make in their efforts to motivate lawyers in the firm and a critical distinction many lawyers fail to identify when an employee’s performance does not meet their expectations. She will go on to describe three important principles for keeping lawyers motivated and engaged in their work; as well as the key to retaining top employees while inspiring better client service.

Debra L. Bruce is President of Lawyer-Coach LLC, which provides executive coaching and training for lawyers on leadership and management, team effectiveness, productivity and business development. Capitalizing on her 18 years in law practice and 19 years coaching, she helps lawyers adapt effectively to the unprecedented changes occurring in the legal industry today. Debra serves on the Law Practice Management Committee of the State Bar of Texas and the editorial board of the ABA Law Practice magazine. She was also the first lawyer in Texas to be credentialed by the International Coach Federation.


Something is Phishy: Cyber Security Scams & How to Avoid Them

Reginald A. Hirsch, Law Office of Reginald A. Hirsch; Shawn E. Tuma,  Scheef & Stone, LLP  |  Friday, June 22 4-4:30PM  |  Room: Houston 4

The cost of data breaches for US companies exceeds $6 million, not including loss of reputation or negative media or customer attention. Imagine how devastating the impact can be, particularly for a small firm with fewer resources to manage the cyber or reputational risk. Clearly, a data breach is disruptive, but it is not time to reach for the panic button.Defense is the best offence. By preparing for a data breach before it occurs, you can easily reduce the chances of a major catastrophic event.   

Reginald A. Hirsch and Shawn E. Tuma will provide you with the tools to defend your law firm in the event of a major cybersecurity breach during their session on Friday, June 22 at 4:00 PM. After reviewing some of the major cyber threats for lawyers, they will take you through the steps to creating a data breach response plan, as well as policies and procedures to help prevent a breach from happening in the first place.

As a council member of the State Bar of Texas, Computer and Technology Section, Reginald Hirsch, has spoken on numerous occasions regarding the topic of cyber security. In addition several other articles and speeches, Reginald is the author of "Privacy Rights in a Public Society: Protecting Your Client and Yourself from Invasions of Privacy" and "Using Technology in Your Practice".

Shawn Tuma is an experienced cybersecurity and data privacy attorney who has been widely recognized as an international thought-leader and subject matter expert in cybersecurity and data privacy law. Shawn Tuma was named “Cybersecurity – Lawyer of the Year – USA.” by Lawyer Monthly and Finance Monthly 



If you're going to the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting 2018 the sessions listed above can't be missed. In addition to CLE credit, you will hear from industry leaders who are paving the way for the legal profession. You won't want to miss this opportunity to meet these legal experts face to face. Their presentations will provide you with the essential tools and knowledge to help your practice excel and reach its goals. Each one of the sessions listed above also provides critical risk management information to help you and your firm avoid legal malpractice claims.


Don't have a chance to catch these sessions in person?  

No worries! We will be doing a recap blog post after the conference is over so you don't have to miss out on any of the action. Additionally, keep an eye out for tweets during the conference highlighting some of the best things we've learned. Join us on Twitter