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Recent law school graduates and experienced lawyers wanting to leave large firms or government jobs and go out on their own will find help is just a mouse click away, thanks to an initiative the State Bar of Texas is set to launch today. By clicking on a new Starting Your Law Practice icon that will appear on several State Bar Web sites — including www.texasbar.com and www.texasbarcle.com — lawyers will have access to an electronic catalogue of resources that a 27-member task force has gathered, evaluated, categorized and cross-referenced in the past several months. The resources include articles, books, practice manuals, course materials and videos. “It’s mainly an organizational tool,” Julene Franki, director of the State Bar’s Professional Development Division, says of the program. Kelly Frels, State Bar president and a senior partner in Bracewell & Giuliani in Houston, appointed the Starting Practices Task Force in October 2004 to sift through available resources and to create a centralized, comprehensive collection of information that lawyers might need to help them hang out a shingle. The task force includes representatives from Texas law schools, the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, the State Bar’s Law Practice Management Committee, and various Bar sections and departments. Frels says the Bar needs to help solo practitioners and attorneys in small firms, because they don’t have the resources that large firm lawyers, corporate counsel and government attorneys have. “What the Bar’s trying to serve is an unserved population of lawyers,” Frels says. According to the State Bar Research and Analysis Department, 21 percent of all attorneys in the Texas bar are solos; 13 percent work in firms with two to five lawyers; and 4 percent work in firms with six to 10 attorneys. State Bar statistics show that only 11 percent of the attorneys in Texas work for firms with more than 60 lawyers on staff. Frels asked Houston solo James E. “Jimmy” Brill to chair the task force. Brill is a former chair of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section and founder of Solos Supporting Solos, an informal organization of Houston attorneys who have met monthly since 1994 to exchange information about running a small practice. GETTING HELP Brill says that by clicking on the Starting Your Law Practice icon, an attorney will have access to approximately 600 different resources in 12 different categories, such as indispensable resources, where to practice, technology, mentors and professional development. While much of the information is available for free, lawyers will have the option to purchase some materials, such as books, if they are interested, he says. Task force member Gisela Bradley, director of the State Bar’s Law Practices Management Program, says the “must reads” for attorneys seeking to start a practice can be found under the indispensable resources category, which provides a list of the top 10 resources. “If you don’t go anywhere else, you look at those for your questions about starting a law practice,” Bradley says. Brill says the first item listed as indispensable is Jay Foonberg’s book, “How to Build a Law Practice.” A hot link on the Web site will take an attorney to Amazon.com where a description of the book is provided, he says. Another key category, Brill says, provides lawyers information about where to practice. It provides county-by-county Texas demographics so lawyers can find out about population and the number of lawyers in a particular locale. He says more specific information will be available about the largest counties in Texas. Through this program, Brill says, lawyers also can learn about 19 practice areas. State Bar publications will be available for practice areas ranging from estate-planning and probate to family law and even general practice, he says. He says, for example, an attorney interested in starting a family law practice can find an order form for the Bar’s Family Law Practice Manual through the program. The program also has information on how to become board certified in family law, he says. Franki says the program will highlight Texas Bar CLE programs, including the New Lawyer Program and nuts-and-bolts courses on a number of practice areas. Users can learn about the various programs and courses and sign up for those they find interesting, she says. Brill says the program has a dynamic response feature that enables users to rate the resources online so that the Bar will know which materials are helpful and which should be deleted. “Everything we have on here will be automatically peer rated,” he says. Describing the program as “invaluable,” Brill says, “We really think this is going to be a premier thing. It may not be the best thing the Bar ever did, but it will be high up there.”

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