by Angela Morris (Texas Lawyer, January/February 2019 issue)
A new era is on the horizon for Texas law graduates taking the bar exam—but many current and prospective law students might not know anything about it.
The Texas Supreme Court has approved a recommendation to replace the Texas bar exam with the Uniform Bar Examination, effective in February 2021. It’s a big deal, because reciprocity will allow graduates to transfer UBE scores to 34 other states. Another perk is the fewer topics and essay questions than the existing Texas bar exam.
“Most law students are so focused on the normal day-to-day of law school that they don’t pay much attention to the bar exam. They just know the bar exam is hard and they’ll have to take it one day,” said Femi Aborisade, president of the student bar association at The University of Texas School of Law in Austin.
Texas law graduates would no longer face the Texas bar exam, and instead take a test with fewer essay questions that could qualify them for a law license in 29 states, if the Texas Supreme Court accepts a recommendation from one of its task forces.
In a report this week, the Task Force on the Texas Bar Examination, which the high court created in June 2016, said that Texas should ditch the Texas bar exam in favor of the uniform bar exam, which still includes the multistate bar exam, but supplements those tests with a new online test focusing on Texas law.
The Texas Supreme Court has changed the state’s disciplinary procedural rules to give attorney disciplinary counsel the power to subpoena lawyers who are under investigation, and create new guidelines for imposing sanctions.
The Texas Legislature called upon those changes to the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure last year when it passed the State Bar of Texas’ Sunset review bill. The changes are slated to become effective for any grievance filed on or after June 1.
PDF: State’s Disciplinary Rules Now Allow for Subpoena of Lawyers Under Investigation _ Texas Lawyer
Most people already know about judicial Twitter sensation Don Willett, the Texas Supreme Court justice whom the U.S. Senate confirmed in mid-December for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
But here’s a lesser-known voice in the Twittersphere from the Lone Star State’s highest court: Justice Jeffrey Brown’s Camry. That’s right. His Toyota Camry @CamryofJustice.
The 14-year-old car with the Twitter handle “Camry of Justice” has belonged to Brown since he bought it at CarMax in Houston in 2012. Dubbed the “CoJ” for short, the XLE model “with a sweet V6” (according to its Twitter bio) could be the only car owned by a judge on Twitter. Tweeting from the Camry’s perspective since 2014, Brown writes about his journeys across Texas to meet with lawyers, to speak at legal education seminars or to appear at campaign events. The car, which just crested 212,000 miles, is so beloved on #appellatetwitter that lawyers on the road ask Brown about it first thing when they see him, and seem disappointed if he has flown to his destination rather than driven the Camry.
PDF: In the Persona of His Toyota, Texas High Court Judge Tweets Away _ Texas Lawyer
The new year has brought a new procedure for changing attorney disciplinary rules and the referendum process that gives lawyers the vote on rule changes.
The Texas Supreme Court and State Bar of Texas have appointed members to the new Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda, which the Texas Legislature created last year in Senate Bill 302. That legislation—the bar’s sunset review bill—also spelled out a new way for the committee to draft rule changes, take feedback from lawyers and seek approval from the state bar and supreme court.
PDF: New Disciplinary Committee Members Appointed by SCOTX and State Bar _ Texas Lawyer