August 26, 2014

WELCOME INCOMING PRESIDENT JUDGE ELISABETH EARLE

The Austin Lawyer recently talked with Judge Elisabeth Earle about her newest role as the president of the Austin Bar. Enjoy excerpts of that discussion below.

AL: What led you to become involved in the Austin Bar and why?

Judge Earle: I began working at the State Bar of Texas during high school, answering phones and stuffing a never-ending amount of envelopes. Those relationships and experiences gave me the desire to pursue law as a profession. During law school, I began participating in local bar activities as a law student liaison. I observed the unique role the Bar can play by improving the delivery of quality legal representation, building relationships between attorneys, and improving the public’s understanding of the legal profession.

What would you tell lawyers who question the importance of local bar activities?

Why did we decide to go to law school and enter the practice of law? And why did each one of us decide to make Austin our home? We are all extremely blessed to live in a city like Austin, Texas, and we owe it to our beloved profession and our neighbors to support one another in our work. The Austin Bar Association provides the support and the resources for each of us to give back to a profession that allows us to call this incredible city home.

What’s your advice to anyone who wants to get involved with the Bar but is worried about managing time?

Each of us is juggling a career, family, friends, finances, etc. Sometimes we just can’t imagine adding another commitment to our plate. I share your concern and recognize that we all have important responsibilities, but I also believe that becoming involved with the Austin Bar, serving on a committee or volunteering at an event, will provide such a benefit to you that you will wish you had become involved earlier. I bring my family with me to some of the Austin Bar’s projects. My daughters deliver donated food and holiday baskets to families in need and my husband has volunteered with the Legal Build project.

Is there anything in particular that you learned during your year as president-elect that will help you in your year as president?

Be prepared for the unexpected. Last year the Austin Bar had opportunities to collaborate with Travis County to improve the provision of legal services to indigent defendants charged with criminal offenses, to provide legal services to victims of natural disasters, and to continue our search for a new home for the Austin Bar. There’s always something new happening at the Bar.

What do you look forward to this year as President of the Austin Bar?

I look forward to building on the incredible work of my predecessors who have made the Austin Bar the respected, essential organization that it is today.

What do you enjoy most about being a criminal judge?

In my role, I have the privilege of working with prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants, and the public to address issues that tear at the heart of our society. We address criminal behaviors with an eye toward punishing the guilty, and preventing recidivism in the future. More importantly, however, our courts seek to address the long-term causes of criminal activity. Whether they are caused by drug and alcohol abuse, or mental illness, we are working to change behaviors. This has a direct benefit to the defendant, to society, and to the taxpayer.

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