Presidents Column: Our Volunteers Make Us Strong

Respecting Our Independent Judiciary and the Role of Lawyers

For a decade, DBA leaders counted on Karen McCloud. On April 9, we lost Karen after a lengthy illness. She will be dearly missed.

The May edition of Headnotes has a wonderful article about Karen and her achievements. Karen served as President of the Dallas Women Lawyers Association, the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, and the J.L. Turner Legal Association. She would have been President of the Dallas Bar Association in 2022. But what really made Karen special was her friendship. She befriended so many people in the DBA, and in doing so, enriched their lives.

Karen served as Chair of the Judiciary, Judicial Investiture, and Lawyer Referral Service Committees, Chair of the Solo & Small Firm Section, and as Board Advisor to the Family Law Section, just to name a few. If there was a project that needed to be done, you could be confident that it would be done on time and well if Karen was involved. DBA members loved Karen because they knew how much she cared.

Karen was passionate about the Equal Access to Justice Campaign, benefitting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. She co-chaired the 2017 campaign. But we counted on her to help raise money every year—because she would not take no for an answer when it came to helping the poor. She also did things behind the scenes, such as selling raffle tickets at bar events. Volunteers like Karen make the DBA the best local bar association in the nation.

The COVID-19 crisis has challenged the DBA in many ways. Our volunteers and members will need to step up the rest of this year and probably continuing into 2021 to enable us to do the important things we always do for the membership and the community at large. Here are some examples:

  1. Bar None and Evening With Walter Isaacson. Martha Hardwick Hofmeister has directed Bar None for 35 years, and Tom Mighell has produced it for 25 years. Many of the cast members have performed year after year. They are dedicated. The proceeds from the show go to the Dallas Bar Foundation, which funds the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarship. The Hughes Scholarship was founded in 1981 for the purpose of increasing diversity in the Dallas legal community. Bar None normally runs for four nights in June. This year’s show has been postponed, as has the Dallas Bar Foundation’s Evening With dinner with Walter Isaacson. This will be a very lean year, so we need our members to contribute to the Dallas Bar Foundation to help fund the Hughes scholarships. Even if the show does not, the purpose of the show must go on!
  2. DBA Home Project. David Fisk and Mike Bielby have done a great job chairing this committee for the past few years. The DBA Home Project has built over 25 houses with Habitat for Humanity. Normally, it takes about three months to build a habitat home at the cost of approximately $80,000. This year, the project was suspended after the first build day. We do not know when construction will resume. Not surprisingly, our fundraising is running behind normal. Your gifts to Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity that are sent to Dallas Home Project ( will make a huge difference this year.
  3. Equal Access to Justice Campaign. Each fall, we use the EAJ Campaign to raise money to benefit the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. It is the most important thing that we do because DVAP is the only way hundreds of thousands of people in the Dallas area gain access to the legal system. Our Chairs this year are Rocio Christina Garcia Espinoza, Vicki Blanton, and Meyling Ly-Ortiz. They were huge contributors to the sixth straight million-dollar campaign last year. This year promises to be an even greater challenge. Here are some ways for you to help:
    • Proceeds from the Golf Tournament benefit the EAJ Campaign. The Golf Tournament was postponed from April to October 27. Please participate! Even if you are not a good golfer, you will have a great time and the proceeds go to a great cause. Please contact our chairs, Steve Aldous and Brad Monk, and they can answer any questions.
    • Proceeds from the Bench Bar Conference also benefit the EAJ Campaign. At this time, Bench Bar is scheduled from September 23-25 in Horseshoe Bay outside of Austin. We are working on a contingency plan to take Bench Bar virtual in case we can’t go to Horseshoe this year. Regardless of whether we meet in person or virtually, we need our members to support the EAJ Campaign through this event.

Lastly, we need your help with the Campaign. We always need volunteers to help call people. Out of our 11,500 members, we normally have about 700 contributors. We can, and should, do better! When one of our volunteers calls, emails, or texts you, please give. Even $10 makes a difference. We need your support more than ever in 2020 to help those who are in need.

With the continued help of our volunteers and members, we are going to make it through this crisis with a stronger and even better bar association. Thanks for all you do for the DBA and the Dallas community!


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