Texas Bar Sunset


Bar Deunification Endeavors

According to the National Center for State Courts, in 1992 reportedly nearly all civil defendants in the U.S. had legal counsel whereas nowadays that figure is reportedly around 25%. (Source in .pdf format). Why? Is it not time to finally separate the Texas Bar's attorney discipline functions from its potentially corrupting trade association activities? For example, how does it not represent a (corrupting) conflict of interest for the Texas Bar to profit so much from educating about attorney ethics while simultaneously issuing disciplinary rules & opinions, interpreting and selectively enforcing them, and even restricting who can offer competing CLE courses and under which circumstances? The mutual admiration society known as the Texas Bar peddles Continuing Legal Education / CLE courses to the tune of over $13 million annually while profiteeringly pontificating about how "unethical" so many different kinds of attorney conduct supposedly are. The self-enriching Texas Bar even peddles advertising on the same website where it posts (mudslinging) attorney disciplinary information that it also generates. Other conflicts of interest are touched upon in these reform proposals regarding the Texas Bar. Do Texans, who have an increasingly hard time attracting affordable lawyers to their cases & causes, not deserve better than the presently "unified" Bar status quo?

Interestingly enough, the U.S. Supreme Court has been reviewing petitions for writ of certiorari on behalf of (involuntary) members of state bar associations thus far from Wisconsin (Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin [SupremeCourt.gov] / Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin [Scotusblog]) and North Dakota (Fleck v. Wetch [SupremeCourt.gov, cert denied] / Fleck v. Wetch [Scotusblog]). News of the status of such petitions is available at those links. There are those who have preferred that the Court focuses on Wisconsin's Jarchow case, for factual background reasons explained (for example) in this WSJ article. Stay tuned. Meanwhile rather similar petitions have been working their ways through courts in Louisiana (Boudreaux v. Louisiana State Bar / Boudreaux v. Louisiana State Bar Association), Michigan (Lucille Taylor v. State Bar of Michigan), Oklahoma (Schell v. Gurich), Oregon (Crowe v. State Bar of Oregon); elsewhere there: (Gruber v. Oregon State Bar), Texas (McDonald v. Sorrels), and elsewhere in Wisconsin (File v. Kastner) too. They are all part of a growing pursuit to have the courts remedy the longstanding "unified bar" problem there and wherever it remains, nationwide. Might you be aware of similar endeavors elsewhere? If so, please let us know.

As for here in Texas, on March 6th, 2019, three (involuntary) members of the Texas Bar sued the leadership of the State Bar of Texas in Federal District Court in hopes of no longer having to pay annual dues to a bar association whose trade association functions do not warrant mandatory membership, much less its annual subsdizing. Here is some of the latest news regarding that case:


The plaintiffs in McDonald v. Sorrels filed that lawsuit pursuant to new U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence referred to here by Texas Bar president Joe Longley in his letter to the Texas Attorney General's office (hereinafter: OAG). In that letter Joe requested the OAG's opinion regarding whether or not the Texas Bar is operating legally in light of such jurisprudence.   That new caselaw includes: Janus v. State, County and Municipal Employees, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (June 27, 2018), and more recently Fleck v. Wetch, 868 F.3d 652 (8th Cir. 2017), vacated and remanded [in light of Janus], 2018 WL 6272044 (Dec. 3, 2018).   President Longley’s request's identification tag with the OAG for the relevant inquiry is:   RQ-0265-KP, which is available at:  https://www2.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opin/opin_recent.php .  The OAG has since filed an amicus brief in support of the abovementioned involuntary members, which is available here.

Anyhow a day-by-day report of the most recent filings & developments in the 3 abovementioned Texas Bar members' federal case (McDonald v. Longley, before Judge Lee Yeakel) is available here, while the initial lawsuit is available in .pdf format below.

Newsflash 2020: Victorious plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME requests that the U.S. Supreme Court require a refund of previous years' annual dues payments.

Janus v. AFSCME (2020) / Janus v. AFSME (2020) (alternative source)

Previously: Class action lawsuits are increasingly emerging in the growing pursuit of compulsory dues-refunds.

The initial complaint in McDonald v. Longley is readily & freely viewable (in complete form) on this page in Microsoft's browser (for example). One may scroll up and down the pages by (for example) touching a page with your cursor and moving your cursor up & down. If you use Google's Chrome browser, however, please click the blue "open" button (a bit far, below) and the document should save to your hard drive in a folder of your choosing. If you use a cellphone to try to view this, you might (perhaps) want to view this on a desktop computer instead.

In case you have trouble downloading the lawsuit, it is also available on Pacer, as well as on CourtListener here.

Case 1:19-cv-00219

(U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, with Judge Lee Yeakel)



Remarkable, is it not?


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