The 2019 election cycle is about to start for the State Bar of Texas.
After interviewing six president-elect applicants, the State Bar’s Nominations and Elections Subcommittee voted Aug. 29 to recommend the nomination of Jeanne C. “Cezy” Collins of El Paso and Larry P. McDougal Sr. of Richmond.
The State Bar board will consider the recommendation when it meets in Austin on Sept. 28.
Collins has been the general counsel for the El Paso Independent School District since her appointment in 2013 and previously was a partner in Kemp Smith. Prior to that, she was an assistant El Paso County attorney. She has served on the Board of Disciplinary Appeals.
Collins did not immediately return a phone call for comment but noted issues she considers priorities in a letter to the subcommittee, including relevance.
“I believe the State Bar needs to re-examine, refine and perhaps even redefine its relevancy to our members,” Collins wrote in the letter.
She also cited a need for the bar to find the best ways to communicate with its members.
“I would like to work with the Bar to create a tool kit for local, specialty and minority bar associations to effectively communicate the benefits of membership and to listen to lawyer concerns,” Collins wrote.
McDougal is a criminal defense attorney with the Law Office of Larry P. McDougal, a father-and-son firm. He serves as the District 5 Grievance Committee chair. Prior to practicing law, McDougal was a police officer, sheriff’s deputy, prosecutor and municipal judge.
In his letter to the subcommittee, McDougal wrote, “Should I be elected by the membership, I would like to take all the resources of the State Bar of Texas and find ways to make the life of lawyers less stressful.”
McDougal said in an interview that he supports the issuance, probably by the Texas Department of Public Safety, of an annual access badge to allow lawyers easy access to courthouses. But he said there probably would be pushback by sheriffs and county commissioners.
“The problem is they don’t want to lose local control,” McDougal said. “It’s going to take legislation to get it done.”
If the bar board approves their nominations, Collins and McDougal will appear on the ballot in April 2019 along with any certified petition candidates. Under bar rules, potential petition candidates can begin collecting signatures on Sept. 1 and must submit them to the bar’s executive director by March 1.
To appear on the ballot, a petition candidate must have signatures from at least 5 percent of the bar membership. As of Dec. 31, 2017, the official count was 102,044 attorneys, according to Lowell Brown, the bar’s communications director.
Getting on the ballot as a petition candidate is not easy.
“You have to do it all within 180 days, so it’s a task,” said State Bar President Joe Longley of Austin, who secured his place on the ballot by petition.