I attended the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting here in Austin last week. Here are some highlights:

Happy 10th Anniversary, Adaptable Lawyer Track!

This year marked the tenth iteration of the Adaptable Lawyer track, a tech-oriented program started by Professor Mike Maslanka, Rocky Dhir, and Mark Unger, with many others contributing.

I was around for the first Adaptable Lawyer session when the Annual Meeting was held in Fort Worth in 2010 and wrote about it here. I highly recommend this track to anyone interested in learning about the modern-day business of law and technology trends affecting law practice.

The Science of Speaking

Noah Zandan’s keynote was a great way to kick off the Adaptable Lawyer track. He talked about the secrets of effective communication that he and his company, Quantified Communications, have learned from processing a whole lot of data.

My big takeaway: Presenters focus almost entirely on their script or the content of their slide decks. But the listener won’t remember that. Content is only 11% of effective communication. Passion, presence, presentation style, and expertise are more important.

Because He’s Dan Rather

Dan Rather’s keynote at the Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon was exceptional. The guy was on the scene when President Kennedy was assassinated and succeeded Walter Cronkite as CBS News anchor.

What a career he’s had. And he’s still relevant today.

Law Alumni Reception

At the St. Mary’s Law Alumni reception, I enjoyed hearing from newly-named Interim Dean Vincent Johnson. Then-Professor Johnson advised me in the early 1990s when I was considering judicial clerkships to follow law school. I’ve never regretted taking his advice.

I also got to say hello to Professor Linda Schlueter, who taught my first-year legal writing course. I made sure to thank her, since legal writing is how I’ve made my living for over two decades now. She got me off to a good start.

We Have a New State Bar President

Our new President, Randy Sorrels of Houston, set the tone for his term. He wants to eliminate the negativity that has swirled around the bar for the past few years. He has some practical ideas for how to make Texas lawyers’ lives better.

Asha Rangappa

Former FBI Agent and current CNN contributor Asha Rangappa gave a riveting keynote at Friday’s general session luncheon. Her discussion of Russian intelligence tactics—attack with misinformation and create chaos and dissension from within—was eye-opening.

Contract Lawyering

Ethics Opinion 577 interprets Disciplinary Rule 1.04(f) in a way that makes solo and small firm lawyers’ lives harder. The ethics committee blesses upcharging contract paralegal time, but not contact lawyer time, at least not without disclosing every detail of the arrangement. Awkward.

One potential solution is to use Lawclerk, one of this year’s convention vendors. Using a secure online platform, this company match lawyers who need help with attorneys to work on projects in a paraprofessional capacity, thus avoiding ethics issues.

Tech Tips

Don Cruse’s presentation on emerging technologies in appellate practice and the /60 Apps in 60 Minutes/ and /60 Tech Tips/ presentations were interesting and informative. I just need to be careful about testing out all the apps and tips so I don’t disappear down the technological rabbit hole.

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