I got an email this week that caught my attention. Steve Fischer is seeking 5000 signatures to be placed on the ballot for Texas Bar President. Bar elections are something I usually ignore. I check the candidates at the last minute, see if I know anyone, or if someone is local, and as a final tie breaker if someone went to Texas Tech law school.
In my experience most candidates are UT/SMU Big Law types. Steve’s email indicated that he wanted to be the voice of the small firm/solo practicioner. Steve kindly agreed to an interview on issues I find important. Steve has earned my signature and I hope you will support his efforts.
If you want to support Steven and/or sign the petition (you have to a licensed Texas attorney) email Steve at Fish2026(AT)aol(DOT)com
Here is a Q&A with 2010 Texas Bar Presidential hopeful- Steve Fischer.
Licensed in 1983, practiced in El Paso, Odessa, Denton, Huntsville, and Rockport. President of Aransas Area Bar Assn. 2006-current. Former Willacy County & District Attorney. Served on three state bar committees, published four Texas Bar Journal Articles (three on Attorney Demographics).
HAve graduate degrees in law, public administration, and criminal justice, and taught at three Texas colleges.
2. Why do you want to be bar president?
A. My son Huey (who won the 1st Texas Bar Video Journalism Award) had been planning on a career in law but commented “No one likes attorneys” on several occasions and now has shifted his focus. He would have made a great and ethical attorney. This public perception hurts and offends me personally (see policy changes).
B. I also want to see small and solo firms, represented as well as criminal and family attorneys. Together these are among the largest portions of the bar, yet we are ignored at the leadership level.
C. I enjoy talking to people and groups and frankly I’ve experienced some “burnout” in my practice. This would be new and refreshing.
3. Any specific policy changes? What is your platform?
A. Have the Bar actively counter the sleazy ads most of which are out-of-state and basically say “Have you or a loved one been stricken with [insert debilitating disease)? Call X attorney” A counter ad campaign will at least show most attorneys do not approve of this.
B. Elevate the position and status of small firms and family and criminal practitioners. An example would be having the bar give regional awards such as “court-appointed attorney of the year” as court-appointed counsel work under the worst conditions for the lowest pay.
4. How can the bar better serve solo/small firms?
In a way that’s putting the cart before the horse, once we have some leadership positions and focus on our type of practice, we can study this. For one though, judges need to understand that we can’t be everywhere at once and at their beck and call, and there ought to be specific rules and rights for court scheduling published and adhered to statewide.
5. UNT law is scheduled to open in Dallas. Can the market support another graduating class of attorneys?
I’ve authored 3 Texas Bar Journal Articles on Texas Attorney Demographics and could give a complex and detailed answer. Let me say this, there are big cities in Texas with an overflow of attorneys, and small areas in need of more practitioners. There ought to be education as to what the overall employment situation might be in the future. Are prospective attorneys interested and knowledgeable in alternative areas if law practice or are they all planning to sign up for criminal appointments in our metro areas? There is a much greater need in Texas for good math/science teachers as well as nurses, than there is for attorneys. I am somewhat biased though as I received an MPA from UNT and believe they would do a fine job hosting any school.
6. How do you asses the current state of criminal justice in Texas?
We are about the same as most other states. Although I have defended more years than I have prosecuted, I am personally of the opinion that few of my clients (and there was a period when I was trying (defending) two murder trials a month) are ever really remorseful. I am in favor of the death penalty, although I would change both its procedure and administration.
7. Finally, I’m a member of the NORML legal committee. Do you support legalizing the responsible adult use of marijuana?
I favor a system like Denver has enacted where prosecution of small amounts of marijuana is the absolute lowest enforcement priority. Our economic and criminal justice resources are much better spent pursuing other crimes. I’ve written editorials on this too.