With 20 committees, it's EASY for like-minded members to share interests!
In fact, serving as a member of one of the various committees offers tremendous opportunities for growth. For example, attorneys can:
• PARTICIPATE in the development and maintenance of SABA's webpage (Technology committee)
• WORK with judges and other attorneys to improve the efficiency and performance of the county court system, gaining valuable knowledge while doing so. (County Courts committee)
• HELP plan and organize the annual Judge Anees A. Semaan Criminal Law seminar. (Criminal Law committee)
• PARTICIPATE in the development of local rules (District Courts committee)
• HEAR and decide fee disputes between attorneys and clients (Fee Dispute committee)
• SERVE as an investigator and advocate for fellow attorneys involved with disputes with physicians (Medical-Legal Liason committee)
• INVESTIGATE and prosecute complaints against individuals practicing law without a license (Unauthorized Practice of Law committee)
Are you already a member of the San Antonio Bar Association? Would you like to get more involved? Click here to sign up for one or more of our active committees!
The District Courts committee strives to improve the quality of practice of the district courts in Bexar County by addressing issues of concern to the judiciary and the attorneys who practice in District Court. This committee currently is working with judges and other attorneys to determine whether to revise the local rules in the light of new changes in the Rules of Civil Procedure. The District Courts committee meets on the first Thursday of each month at noon, usually at the SABA offices. Please contact the chair for more information. A copy of each meeting's agenda is also available upon request from the chair.
The Community Justice Program Pro Bono Committee strives to coordinate, expand, and strengthen pro bono activities by licensed attorneys in Bexar County. This committee will be charged with supervising and coordinating ongoing efforts to ensure adequate staffing and resources; in addition to exploring and implementing new opportunities for pro bono service opportunities as resources are available. With the assistance of this committee, the San Antonio Bar Association in partnership with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and St. Mary’s Center for Legal and Social Justice will continue to provide free neighborhood-based legal services to individuals who may not otherwise have access to the legal system. Currently, ongoing projects include the monthly CJP clinics, CJP Advanced, the Wills Clinic, San Antonio Haven for Hope Criminal Defense Clinic, the Non-Profit Clinic, Special Education Clinic and our newest clinic, the San Antonio Veterans Clinic. The committee meets at noon on the first Monday of August, October, December, February, April, June.
The Community Relations committee's goal is to educate the public and to build public trust in the legal profession. This committee acts as a liaison between attorneys and the public in several ways. First, the committee maintains a Speakers' Bureau that consists of various topics that may be of interest to the community or profession, and attorneys who are willing to speak on these topics. The committee also assists various groups in finding particular speakers. Not only are attorneys given an opportunity to speak and make contacts with community organizations, but the committee also publicizes these speeches. Second, the committee has established a Media Response Team to develop a relationship with members of the media and to inform them about the activities and efforts of the Bar Association and its members. The Media Response Team provides the media with contacts in the legal profession for commentary on legal issues, responds to inaccurate media reporting, encourages public service and charitable- and community-oriented projects in the legal community, and then publicizes these positive endeavors.
Continuing Legal Education
Chair: Judge Larry Noll
The Continuing Legal Education Committee monitors the continuing legal education needs of lawyers that belong to the San Antonio Bar Association. It coordinates monthly CLE programs as well as develops periodic Bench and Jury Trial seminars. It also disseminates information concerning all other CLE programs taking place in Bexar County. Committee members are responsible for developing ideas, securing speakers and topics for future CLE programs as well as organizing monthly and annual programs.
The County Courts Committee assists with the management of the county court system, and works with various judges and attorneys to improve its performance and efficiency in both civil and criminal matters. For example, in the past year, this committee has assisted in developing two auxiliary courts to handle excess cases and guilty pleas, and recently assisted in implementing a new dismissal docket. In the upcoming year, the committee plans to work with the Bexar County legislative delegation to lobby the legislature to approve three new county courts for Bexar County. The committee has recently included a survey in the Subpoena to gather advice from Bar Association members on improving the county court system, and also hopes to coordinate with the district attorney's office to improve the efficiency of misdemeanor filings.
The Criminal Law Committee promotes the practice and education of defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges in our local criminal justice system. This committee addresses all issues affecting the practice and procedure of criminal law for the Bar. There are currently defense and prosecution subcommittees. A subcommittee of the Criminal Law Committee also plans and produces the oldest criminal law continuing legal education seminar in Texas, the A.A. Semaan Criminal Law Seminar established in 1961.
The Federal Courts Committee assists the federal courts in addressing the problems and challenges facing the federal judiciary, and makes recommendations for improving the federal court system and the interests of attorneys who practice in federal courts.
The Fee Dispute committee serves as an arbitration panel consisting of attorneys and members of the lay public who meet to resolve fee disputes between attorneys and their present or former clients. Parties who appear before the Fee Dispute Committee must voluntarily submit their issues to binding arbitration. A complainant completes a fee dispute packet and is assigned an attorney advisor who advises of the process and a complainant's rights in choosing binding arbitration. Matters are resolved in one afternoon hearing. Committee hearings provide an inexpensive forum where complainants and attorneys obtain resolution of their fee dispute. Committee members derive satisfaction from delivering prompt, tangible results to participants while gaining valuable insight into attorney-client relations and the public perception of the delivery of legal services. Attorney members may draw upon this knowledge to educate their own clients about the nature and extent of the work they perform and the value of such services when setting a fee. Public members learn of the scope and process of legal representation.
This committee reviews the operation of the JP and municipal courts and fosters communication between attorneys and the judiciary. It also works to make the court system more efficient by making recommendations for improvement.
Law Day U.S.A.
Chair: Judge Ed Prado
The Law Day committee plans and promotes Law Day activities, which include a luncheon featuring a nationally prominent speaker and activities designed to educate the public about its rights and responsibilities under the legal system.
The Lawyer Referral Committee administers the San Antonio Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service and seeks to improve the availability and quality of legal services available from the service. The committee is currently seeking to establish comprehensive screening of the attorney applicant’s qualifications and more closely determine their areas of competency in order to provide a quality referral to those seeking assistance from the service. The Committee is also attempting at this time to secure low-cost malpractice insurance coverage on referrals made through the Lawyer Referral Service for attorneys who do not participate because of their inability to comply with the legal malpractice coverage requirement.
This committee advises the Bar and Bexar County commissioners on operation of the county law library. This year's focus is providing services to pro se litigants and examining how the library can take advantage of changing technology in the world of legal research tools.
The Medical Legal Liaison Committee is a joint committee of the San Antonio Bar Association and the Bexar County Medical Society. Comprised of attorneys and physicians, the Committee focuses on issues that jointly impact the legal and medical professions, and the Committee endeavors to resolve actual or potential conflicts between attorneys and physicians. The Committee is comprised of attorneys and physicians who are interested in improving relations between the legal and medical professions and in resolving conflicts that arise between the members of these two professions. The education, training, and experience of its membership enable the Committee to promote cooperation between attorneys and physicians and to provide advice and assistance regarding issues that jointly impact the legal and medical professions. Through its resources, the Committee may make recommendations to the San Antonio Bar Association and the Bexar County Medical Society in an effort to educate and assist members of the legal and medical professions.
The mission of the Membership Committee of the San Antonio Bar Association is to observe trends in membership; to continually develop new and innovative ways to draw new members; and to address the static and changing needs of its current membership.
The San Antonio Bar Association Mentoring Program starts its fifth year in August 2013 with a new chair, Christine Reinhard. This program is for young lawyers and is different from the Texas Lawyer Assistance Program (TLAP). Mentoring consists of two programs, a group program and a one-on-one Program. Group programs are usually held each month and focus on practice areas such as criminal law, employment law, family law, oil and gas law and probate law. The focus is also on professionalism and ethics. The one-on-one program involves one mentee and one or more mentor, who develop their mentoring relationship as would any mentee and mentor outside of a formal program. The chair matches mentees to mentors upon the request of a mentee. Potential mentees and mentors should ask the chair about how to get involved by sending an email to Christine Reinhard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Military Liaison committee promotes professional and social interaction between active-duty military legal officers and the civilian bar. The committee annually updates the roster of local Army and Air Force legal officers and personnel, provides military legal points of contact for use by civilian attorneys, and hosts a military law CLE seminar. The committee also plans a Spring social mixer to promote professional and social relationships between the military and civilian legal communities.
The Publications committee serves as the editorial board for the Bar's bimonthly magazine, the San Antonio Lawyer, and the Bar's monthly newsletter, the Subpoena. Member duties include selecting topics, soliciting and authoring articles, and editing and proofreading articles for publication.
The Technology committee advises and assists the San Antonio Bar Association staff and board on the use of technology in the day to day operations of the bar. The committee has consulted on the concept, design, implementation and content of all of the San Antonio Bar websites and has co-developed TechLawSA, the full day CLE devoted to the use of technology in the practice of law. This program is a tri-partnership between the San Antonio Bar Association, St. Mary's Law School, and the Computer & Technology section of the State Bar of Texas.
The Unauthorized Practice of Law committee is a committee formed by state legislation that investigates complaints by consumers and others concerning individuals who are practicing law without a license. Once a complaint is received, an individual member of the committee writes a cease-and-desist letter, conducts the investigation, and oversees any resulting litigation. Although the committee attempts to resolve complaints informally at a meeting held during the investigation, the committee does have the authority to sue these individuals and to obtain temporary and permanent injunctions. This committee does receive some state funds to aid in its investigations.