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Passing the Torch Howard Ayers, who just ended a decade as managing partner of Andrews Kurth, says he is proud the Houston-based firm maintained its culture through “a lot of lateral activity.” The biggest influx of lawyers came in 2001, when the firm merged with Houston-based Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton, creating a 350-lawyer firm. But Ayers also says Andrews Kurth made strides in broadening and deepening its practice areas over the last 10 years, improved professional development and client service, formed a women’s initiative team and hired a chief diversity officer. On July 1, Robert Jewellwas set to succeed Ayers as managing partner of the 400-lawyer Houston-based firm. Jewell, a corporate and securities partner in Houston, was elected in June to a three-year term as managing partner and chairman of a newly formed executive committee. The 62-year-old Ayers, who faces retirement at age 65, says he decided against seeking re-election to another three-year term as managing partner because “10 years is enough.” He also notes that because of his age, he wasn’t really eligible to serve another three-year term. “I will continue on and help Bob with some things that interest me, financial planning and financial management and just generally work on special projects,” says Ayers. “It seemed to be time to pass the torch. I would call this semi-retirement. I do not plan to work on a full-time basis.” Ayers says he tried to maintain his real estate practice while managing the firm but gave up his practice about eight years ago because of the time needed for management. Jewell, who has been managing partner of the firm’s Houston office, says he’s pleased Ayers will continue to work actively in firm management during the transition in leadership. Jewell says that because he wants to continue to practice law while serving as managing partner, the firm created an executive committee to have authority to make decisions when he’s too busy or out of town. Jewell says Ayers will serve on the executive committee, and the others are Mark Solomon, a corporate and securities partner in Dallas; Paul Silverstein, a bankruptcy and restructuring partner in New York; and Rex VanMiddlesworth, a commercial litigator in Austin. Jewell, 53, says he agreed to take on the managing partner job because, “I care a lot about AK and wanted to do what I could to continue to improve the place.” New Format Billed as a more user-friendly convention than in the past, the State Bar of Texas‘ 2007 annual meeting in San Antonio drew 2,399 participants, up from 1,808 attendees at the 2006 get-together in Austin, a Bar spokeswoman says. “I thought it was very user-friendly,” San Antonio solo Mark Ungersays of this year’s annual meeting. Kim Davey, the Bar’s public information officer, says the Bar used a new format for this year’s meeting, offering members an opportunity to register for both days of the June 21-22 event for $245, which covered all continuing legal education programs, breakfasts and luncheons. Bar members also could register for all events for one day of the meeting at a cost of $150, she says. Yet to be determined, Davey says, is whether the Bar made money. Mark D. White, a shareholder in Amarillo’s Sprouse Shrader Smith, says the new format was more convenient. Bar members paid one price for a package deal and did not have to keep up with separate tickets for the luncheons, because their name tags got them into those events, White says. The Bar also dispensed with handing out notebooks for each CLE course and, instead, provided flash drives – a storage device that can be plugged into a computer – containing all the CLE presented. Lynne Liberato, a former State Bar president and partner in Haynes and Boone in Houston, says the only reason she sees to have notebooks or written materials is so those attending a CLE course can follow along with the speaker. But lawyers who brought laptops to those programs were able to do that with the flash drives, she says. There were some technical difficulties, however. “My flash drive doesn’t work,” Lubbock solo Ralph Brocksays. “On the other hand, I sure don’t like lugging around big notebooks of paper and bringing them home.” One of the major attractions at the annual meeting was legal thriller author John Grisham‘s speech at the June 21 Bar Leaders’ Luncheon. Talmage Boston, a Winsteadshareholder in Dallas, has planned annual meeting luncheon programs for the past several years. Approximately 1,500 people attended the luncheon at which Grisham spoke, compared to about 300 attendees at the 2006 Bar Leaders’ Luncheon, Boston says. As part of the annual meeting, the Bar celebrated the 20th birthday of the Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, Civil Practice & Remedies Code Chapter 154, which authorizes Texas courts to refer pending disputes to ADR procedures. Birthday cakes for the ADR celebration served as centerpieces for each of the tables at the Bar Leaders’ Luncheon. Also on June 21, the State Bar’s ADR Section held its own celebration of the statute’s birthday in a room decorated with balloons and with party favors and noisemakers on the tables. The section presented the 2007 Frank G. EvansAward, which recognizes outstanding efforts to promote alternative methods of resolving disputes to two recipients this year. Evans, a former justice and chief justice of Houston’s 1st Court of Appeals, is known as the father of ADR in Texas. Former Bexar County judge and former state Sen. Cyndi Taylor Krier, a lobbyist and vice president of Texas government relations at the military financial services and insurance provider USAA in San Antonio, received the award for her efforts as sponsor of the 1987 bill that created the ADR statute. Charles R. “Bob” Dunn, of counsel at Godwin Pappas Ronquilloin Houston, received the award for his efforts to start Houston’s first neighborhood justice center in 1976. Establishment of the center was the beginning of the use of trained mediators to resolve disputes in Texas, says Mike Schless, an Austin mediator. While Grisham’s speech was the biggest attraction of the annual meeting, Boston says the June 22 luncheon and general session also drew a larger crowd than in the past. The most to attend the luncheon at the Bar’s past annual meetings was around 600 people, compared to approximately 1,300 this year, Boston says. But Unger says the real attraction for him at the annual meetings is the opportunity to see other lawyers. “I get to see a good number of people I only see one or a couple times a year,” he says.

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