Message From the Chair
– Jonathan J. Bates

I am extremely honored and excited to begin my year of service as the Chair of the greatest Section in the State Bar of Texas.  Let’s begin the new State Bar-year, with a quick “State of the Section” update.

As I write, hope is on the rise, accompanied by the arrival of the long-awaited joys of summer.  While we anxiously return to vacation plans, group barbecues and open swimming pools, I am pleased to report that the State of our Section is strong!

During the unique challenges of the past year, we were blessed to have the right leader for such a difficult time.  Kristal Thomson led us with innovation, determination, strength, conviction, and poise.  Thank you, Kristal, for your leadership during a year of many firsts … and hopefully some lasts.

Similarly, the committee chairs, Council members, and Officers embraced the new technology and met more often than ever.  While there are too many to name here individually, please know that they worked tirelessly and relentlessly to advance the Section’s critical committee work.  Many thanks to our outgoing Council members, Rick Robertson and Leigh de la Reza, for their years of dedicated service!

As you know, the uncertainties of the year created many challenges for our CLE programs.  Despite repeated rescheduling and virtual pivoting, our Course Directors presented the highest quality educational content, which remains the best in the country.  For a job so well done, we owe our thanks to those Course Directors: Chris Wrampelmeier, Leigh de la Reza, Jacque Smith, Cindi Barela Graham, Jim Mueller, Anna McKim, Natalie Webb and Patrick Wright.

I am very excited to announce the roll-out of phase one of the brand-new Section website and logo.  Please point your browser to https://sbotfam.org/ and see the new look for the Section.  When you see them, please take a moment to thank Kristal Thomson and Christi Lankford for their great work on this excellent new site.  Plans are in place for subsequent development phases, including exciting presentations of Section history.

While on the subject of Section history, I’d like to thank our new Archives subcommittee – Lon Loveless, Aimee Pingenot Key and Kevin Segler – for their excellent work this year compiling and archiving photographs, writings and other memorabilia, which memorialize the important history of Texas family law and this Section.

When you visit the Section website, be sure to visit the virtual bookstore and check out all of the stellar books and resources, which you are accustomed to seeing for sale at our live courses.  Because of the quality and convenience, sales on our online bookstore have been booming, and we look forward to the virtual store’s continued growth in the future.  Of course, the Section’s team of authors and committees remain hard at work bringing you the cutting-edge resources that you need to maximize your practice.

Speaking of live courses, we are unbelievably close to the return of the LIVE Advanced Family Law Course in San Antonio on August 2-5, brought to you by Course Directors Joe Indelicato and Aimee Pingenot Key.  This live event will follow the TexasBarCLE safety guidelines (which may be found on its website) and the protocols required by host hotels.  The evolving situation is being monitored and will be updated as circumstances dictate.  For now, please know the expectation is that there will be a limitation on registration and the available room block.  While that specific number is still being determined, please don’t delay!  Register and get your room ASAP so that you don’t miss out on this long-awaited return to some measure of normalcy and our being together again in person.

Also live this year will be the New Frontiers in Marital Property Course, held October 14-15 at the new Austin Marriott.  Course Director Hon. Scott Beauchamp has lined up an excellent roster of speakers and cutting-edge property topics that you will not want to miss.

As this new year begins, I am excited to welcome incoming Council Secretary Lisa Hoppes and incoming Council members Aimee Pingenot Key, Nicole Voyles Marrs and Lisa Richardson.  I know they are ready and excited to continue their work for the Section.

Yes, there remains plenty of work to be done this year.  We welcome you to roll up your sleeves and be a part of the work of the Section.  If you are interested in becoming part of the team, please contact me, a Council member or Officer.  One great place to become involved is as a speaker with the Pro Bono programs, led by Pro Bono committee chairs Lon Loveless and Tammy Moon.  They would welcome hearing from you to help in that important work of the Section.  Also, please contact our Section Booth Coordinator Jacque Smith to sign up to help at the Section Booth during the Advanced Course.  It is a great way to meet people and learn more about the Section.

At this time in 2019, we focused on refinement of “how we have done things” historically.  In 2020, of course, we were forced to learn how to do many things differently.  Now, let’s commit ourselves to creating a hybrid of both – building upon the great history of this Section, the recent hard lessons learned and the new opportunities created.

As you can see, the State of our Section is strong and our future is bright!  I look forward to working together this year for the betterment of this great Section, Texas family lawyers and Texas families.

Jonathan J. Bates
Chair, Family Law Section

*This message originally appeared in the Spring Section Report.