July 24, 2020

Austin Bar Association and Austin Young Lawyers Association Resolution

On July 23 and July 24, 2020, respectively, the Austin Bar Association’s Board of Directors and the Austin Young Lawyers Association’s (AYLA) Board of Directors held special meetings to consider online commentary posted by State Bar of Texas (SBOT) President Larry McDougal and other SBOT officers and directors—as well as calls to action issued by the African-American Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Texas (AALS); other SBOT sections and committees; and, collectively, the presidents of the African-American Bar Associations of Austin, Dallas, Tarrant County, Houston, and San Antonio, along with the chair of the African-American Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Texas—and to decide how to respond to these things.

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the Austin Bar and AYLA unequivocally condemn racism in all forms, as stated in the June 3, 2020 statement signed by the Austin Bar’s immediate past president, D. Todd Smith, and current president, Kennon Wooten.

WHEREAS, the Austin Bar and AYLA are dedicated to maintaining and advancing the honor and dignity of the legal profession. (See Austin Bar Bylaws, Section 1.2; AYLA Bylaws, Section 1.2.)

WHEREAS, the Austin Bar and AYLA are dedicated to maintaining and advancing lawyer well-being, including though the Austin Bar’s Lawyer Well-Being Committee.

WHEREAS, the Austin Bar and AYLA are dedicated to honoring and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in and beyond the legal profession, as evidenced by, among other things: (1) the Austin Bar’s Equity Committee and AYLA’s participation therein; (2) the Austin Bar’s ongoing 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge; (3) the Austin Bar’s efforts supporting the Diversity Fellowship Program; (4) the composition of the Austin Bar’s Board of Directors, which includes the chairs (or their designees) of all Austin Bar sections, including the LGBT Law Section, as well as the chairs (or their designees) of affiliate bar associations including the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Travis County Women Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association and any other affiliate the Austin Bar’s Board of Directors decides should be represented on the Board; and (5) the composition of AYLA’s Board of Directors, which includes representatives from the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Travis County Women Lawyers Association, the Austin Asian American Bar Association, the Austin Bar’s LGBT Law Section, and any other affiliate AYLA’s Board of Directors decides should be represented on the Board.

WHEREAS, the SBOT’s mission is to “support the administration of the legal system, assure all citizens equal access to justice, foster high standards of ethical conduct for lawyers, enable its members to better serve their clients and the public, educate the public about the rule of law, and promote diversity in the administration of justice and the practice of law.”

WHEREAS, the SBOT’s Board of Directors is scheduled to meet on July 27, 2020 to discuss how to respond to the aforementioned online commentary and the creation of the SBOT Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and has invited comments for consideration during that meeting.

WHEREAS, the Austin Bar’s mission is to “enhance the legal profession, administration of justice, and our community through education, networking, and public service,” and AYLA’s purpose is to promote “justice through service to the profession and the community.”

THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the Austin Bar’s Board of Directors and AYLA’s Board of Directors stand in solidarity with the AALS, as well as the other above-referenced SBOT sections, SBOT committees, and African-American Bar Associations and, accordingly, encourage the implementation of changes like those set forth in the above-referenced calls to action, including requiring anti-racism/implicit-bias training, providing funding to the Office of Minority Affairs that is sufficient to allow it to increase programming and communication on issues regarding diversity and racial issues within the SBOT, and augmenting Texas Bar Journal content by publishing highlights and stories regarding successes and challenges related to diversity within the profession. The issues at hand extend far beyond the online commentary of late and should be addressed systemically, on an ongoing basis.

THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that—before or during the equity summit that the Austin Bar intends to host during the 2020-21 bar year—the Austin Bar will provide two hours of anti-racism/implicit-bias training. The Austin Bar will continue to provide anti-racism/implicit-bias training to its members during future bar years.

THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that, honoring the legacy of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Maya Angelou, Representative Barbara Jordan, and Representative John Lewis, the Austin Bar’s Board of Directors and AYLA’s Board of Directors will strive to lay down the burdens of hate and divisiveness, respect the dignity and worth of every human being, and move forward in our progress toward a more unified bar and an equitable, just society that is at peace with itself.

Issued this 24th day of July, 2020

Kennon Wooten , Austin Bar President

 

 

David Courreges, Austin Bar President-Elect

 

 

David King, AYLA President


Rachael K. Jones,  AYLA President-Elect

CLICK HERE to see Austin Bar Bylaws, Section 1.2; AYLA Bylaws, Section 1.2.