To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel :
"Texas Synergy" is what we called it when all four Texas Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) of America Chapters recently got together to discuss various initiatives we could together undertake to create some synergy among us. Representatives from the Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston ACC Chapters attended the meeting, which was hosted by the law firm, Jackson Walker LLP, in its Austin, TX offices.
The size of the State of Texas and its large uninhabited areas are considered a challenge to the chapters. The representatives discussed how to be more inclusive of corporate counsel in the areas of the state in which there is no chapter, such as in the south, in what is called "the Valley," in far west El Paso, and in the large Texas panhandle. Nonetheless, these areas have corporations and in-house counsel supporting them. The representatives in attendance at the Texas Synergy meeting decided to divide the state into four regions, each to be served by one of the existing ACC Chapters until such time as new chapters are formed in these far-reaching areas. The San Antonio ACC Chapter was given all the counties south of San Antonio in the Valley and west all the way to El Paso.The Dallas ACC Chapter will serve the northern part of the state, including the entire Texas panhandle. The populous upper Gulf Coast counties are the Houston ACC Chapter's responsibility, and the central counties are the Austin Chapter's.
One of the ways that it is hoped we can serve corporate counsel in these underserved communities is to reach out and do a road show that would be taken to some of these communities with a goal of informing corporate counsel about the value of ACC membership. A substantive legal topic could also be presented to provide continuing legal education credit. Another way to support ACC members in these areas while at the same time supporting our chapter goals would be to sponsor and host pro bono activities, especially in the Valley, where there is a great need for pro bono services. Hosting webcasts on issues of interest to Texas corporate counsel was also considered by the Texas Synergy meeting attendees. If any corporate counsel reading this letter (whether residing in an area where there is a nearby chapter or not) would like to assist the chapters facilitate the implementation of any of these ideas, please contact the Houston ACC Chapter's administrator at Kathleen@amchouston.com or (713) 839-0808.
In the area of pro bono, the Chapter representatives thought that together, more could be done to signal a state-wide commitment to pro bono by in-house counsel.Ideas were discussed ranging from having Chapter pro bono representatives bond together to discuss initiatives, to funding a pro bono internship in the Valley, to further investigating the idea of the State of California's mediation model for pro bono services by in-house counsel.
Finally, the group discussed ways of increasing membership in their chapters. Seeking information about the in-house counsel community from the Texas State Bar records appeared to be the most promising.
The ACC Chapters hope to meet regularly to continue the dialog that was started and thus fuel the "Texas Synergy" that was created by this meeting.
Irene Kosturakis, Houston Chapter
Jennifer Wuamett, Austin Chapter
Jeffrey Walker, Dallas Chapter
Reagan McCoy, San Antonio Chapter