About Our Succession Planning Initiative

Conor Jensen

The discipline of law practice is changing. In Texas, regional offices of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel encountered an increase in demand to address situations in which lawyers had died or were otherwise “absent” from law practice. The development echoed findings of the ABA National Task Force on Lawyer Wellness. The trends are not unique to Texas; the scope of the issue is national. Texas centralized calls to CDC Special Projects and formed a pilot program. In time, patterns emerged. The most difficult scenarios involve sudden cessations and “prospective cessations.” Some lawyers intended to cease practice; others didn’t. Some lived through personal crises; others didn’t. Lawyer suicides alone left scores of matters pending with no lawyer at the helm. In 2019, the State Bar formed a Succession Planning Workgroup to confront these issues. Considering the experience of the pilot program, it became apparent that the challenge of cessations is not so much an issue for classic lawyer discipline, as it is for the discipline of law practice. Most calls involve deceased attorneys, and in those cases, the grievance system affords an inadequate remedy. Additionally, law practice technology and markets for legal services are quickly evolving. With the advent of COVID-19, the …

I could really use a low-cost legal research tool. What are my options?

Conor Jensen

The State Bar of Texas is the first and only bar association to offer its members free access to both Casemaker and Fastcase. Get access to Texas Supreme Court opinions, Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, U.S. Supreme Court opinions, and additional information. Access both Fastcase and Casemaker through your My Bar Page account here or your TexasBarCLE account.

What would really help my practice is to participate in a lawyer referral service. How could I do that?

Conor Jensen

The Lawyer Referral and Information Service fields 5,000-6,000 calls per month and serves 246 counties across Texas. Each call is screened to make sure LRIS is sending qualified referrals to panel members. Panel members agree to provide all LRIS referred callers an initial consultation of 30 minutes for no more than $20, a fee which the lawyer keeps. After that, if you and the client agree to work together, your standard fees apply for the services(s) you provide. On any referral from LRIS that results in a case that generates attorney fees of $500 or more, 10% of the total fees are to be remitted back to LRIS. You must be a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas, and all members of the LRIS must also carry professional liability insurance for a minimum of $100,000. LRIS does not include the counties of Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Jefferson, Nueces, Tarrant, and Travis, as these counties are covered by local referral programs. Find out more about LRIS here.

I have an ethics question. Is there someone I can talk to for advice?

Conor Jensen

The Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office maintains a toll-free Attorney Ethics Helpline from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. This service is for Texas attorneys who have questions about their ethical obligations to clients, courts, and the public under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The Helpline number is (800) 532-3947.

I want to begin a private practice and I’ve got nothing yet. Where do I start?

Conor Jensen

Starting a practice involves many considerations. Visit our Starting a Practice page for resources that address some of the common issues you might face in starting a practice. For a quick overview, you might also want to watch this program from TYLA’s Ten-Minute Mentor series: “Starting Your Own Practice.” “So You Are Starting Your Own Practice?” from TexasBarCLE’s Practice Tips series provides a more in-depth discussion.

Background

Conor Jensen

The State Bar of Texas established the Law Practice Management Program in 1995. The program initially served solo and small firm practitioners on questions of day-to-day practice. The program has since evolved to address new and emerging challenges in contemporary law practice. A wide community of professionals inform the work of the program. The lawyers most closely involved are members of the Law Practice Management Committee, a standing committee of the State Bar of Texas. The Committee’s mission is to promote the efficient, ethical management of the delivery of legal service; the viability of practice at reasonable prices; and the management knowledge and skills of the members of the Bar.        Meet the Committee The State Bar Legal Resources Division operates the daily activities of the program. Bar professionals assemble resources, educate, and field questions from members, their staff and families, and the public. The Division also manages the Texas Bar Practice website. About Us