The Revised Texas Franchise Tax: An Overview of the New Law and Opportunities for Planning
At our March meeting Cindy Grossman will make a presentation on the new franchise tax law. The presentation will provide an overview of the revised franchise tax law, including discussion of the recently released Comptroller rules. The technical applications of the law will be addressed generally, with specific emphasis on planning opportunities to reduce the impact of the tax on taxpayers.
Cindy Grossman is with the firm of Giordani, Schurig, Beckett & Tackett, L.L.P. She is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law and a current Director of the Austin Young Lawyers Association. Her practice encompasses a wide variety of corporate and partnership transactions with federal and state tax implications.
Whether you are advising clients or simply managing your own practice, Cindy is sure to have important tax planning tips you can put to practical use. After last month’s joint meeting with the Solo/Small Firm Section, we are back to our regular meeting schedule on the third Wednesday of the month, March 19th, and back at our regular location, Winstead. TCWLA has applied for 1.0 credit hours for this CLE event.
Please register at www.tcwla.org
FROM THE PRESIDENT
I started out 2008 with a few New Year’s Resolutions. Although I treat them more like good suggestions that resolutions, but all change begins with a thought, right? As usual, by March, a lot of my “resolutions” have long since gone by the wayside, but there’s one that I’ve been trying to keep. This year, every time I have a good thought about someone else, I try to tell that person. How many times in a day do you remember something great about someone else: a kind act, a stunning ensemble, or a good job that someone did for you? But do you share it, or do you just file it away under, “they know I appreciate them” and keep it to yourself?
The thing is they probably don’t know all of those good things. What woke me up to the need for this resolution was my sister. In December, we were planning my parents’ 50th anniversary party and I sent her a quick email thanking her for her work and telling her that she did a great job on lining up cake (it was a beautiful cake). It was almost an afterthought. Nothing grandiose, just a thanks for a great job. To my surprise, she replied to my email about how much she appreciated my thanks; that she doesn’t often hear anyone say that she’s doing a good job. My sister is a substitute teacher and primarily a stay-at-home mom, undoubtedly two of the most thankless jobs. It made me sad to think about how many times I might have thought something nice about her and just never told her.
I started thinking about the other people in my life who might not get much praise either. It didn’t take much thinking to realize that’s almost everyone. So I resolved to try to tell everyone, as often as I could, when I was thinking something positive about them. I firmly believe that being positive is contagious – but for once, something contagious is healthy! If we share our admiration and praise for other people, we’re fortifying each other in a world that tends to tear us down. We all know “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” (Or the Southern version, “If you can’t say anything nice, come sit by me!”) But what about when we can say something nice. Shouldn’t there be a rule about that? If you’re like me, it sometimes feels like it takes 100 compliments to outweigh one negative comment or experience. We tend to remember the bad and forget the good about ourselves, which makes it that much more important to remind everyone of the good.
Here’s your chance to act on it: this month, TCWLA is looking for some unsung heroes in our profession. We are seeking nominations for our annual attorney awards that we give out at the TCWLA/TCWLF charity awards luncheon in May. Please nominate a woman that deserves recognition in public interest, government service, pro bono work, litigation, for outstanding achievement, and contribution to the minority community. We’ve even added a new category this year – for transactional lawyers. We’re also looking to shine the spotlight on a progressive firm/organization or government entity that is supportive of women. You can email in your nominations to Rande Herrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. But hurry! We’re deciding this year’s winners on March 13, so we need your input. Nomination forms are available on our website at www.tcwla.org. Share those thoughts that you might be keeping to yourself with others. As William Faulkner once said, “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”
In case I haven’t told you lately, I’m grateful that you’re a member of TCWLA. I’m grateful to the board for all of the time and energy that they put into TCWLA each year. Every day, you contribute something. Even just getting up and going to work every day makes it easier for the next woman lawyer who comes along. So for all that you are, and all that you do, thank you. And did I tell you that you look fabulous?
￼￼Laurie M. Higginbotham
￼Save the Date
Friday, April 4, 2008
TCWLA will be hosting a full day advanced training course for court appointed advocates on Friday, April 4, 2008, at the offices of Winstead PC, located at 401 Congress Avenue, Suite 2100. The cost will be $80 for TCWLA members and $100 for non-members. The panel at this year’s lunch will feature Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, Fourth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Alma Lopez, and the Hon. Darlene Byrne (126th Judicial Civil District Court (Travis County)). The panel will again be moderated by TCWLA board member, the Hon. Orlinda Naranjo (419th Judicial Civil District Court (Travis County)). Registration is now available on our website at www.tcwla.org. If you have any questions, please contact Paige Castañeda at email@example.com, Cameron Vann at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rande K. Herrell at email@example.com.
￼2008 Judicial Reception
TCWLA’s annual Judicial Reception is always a great event for TCWLA members and members of the judiciary. This year was no exception. Guests dined on exquisite cuisine at the legendary Green Pastures restaurant while enjoying music by local pianist, Andrew Grainger. The TCWL Foundation also presented scholarships to two deserving UT law students. This annual event has become one of the “can’t miss” dates of the year in the Austin legal community for practitioners and judges alike. If you missed it, we hope you make it next year.
Special thanks to our generous sponsors:
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP
Scott, Douglass & McConnico, LLP
Andrews Kurth LLP Bishop, London & Dodds, P.C. Brown McCarroll, LLP Clark, Thomas & Winters, PC Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, LLP
Res Ispa Litigation Support Vinson & Elkins, LLP Winstead PC
Alexander Dubose Jones & Townsend, LLP Archuleta, Alsaffar & Higginbotham, PC Cantey Hanger, LLP DLA Piper US, LLP Hann & Platt, LLP The Sharp Firm Whitehurst, Harkness, Ozmun & Brees, PC
Printing by Rainmaker
￼TRAVIS COUNTY WOMEN LAWYERS’ FOUNDATION
2008 Application for Legal Services Grant Program
After many years of giving grants to non-profit organizations protecting the legal rights of women and children, in December 2002 TCWLA established a nonprofit Foundation. The TCWL Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The purpose of the Foundation is to “support, promote and encourage activities for the furtherance of justice and equal opportunity for women, families, and children.”
DEADLINE: MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2008
Instructions: Please complete the application and return it, along with a copy of the organization’s IRS verification of exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In order to be considered to receive funds, the application must be completed. If necessary, please attach additional sheets to the application.
Criteria for Awarding Grants:
1. The organization applying must be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
2. The program for which the grant is requested must provide direct legal services to women and/or children in the Central Texas area.
3. TCWLF prefers to fund a specific aspect of an organization’s project, rather than merely contribute to a general operating budget.
Please contact Rande Herrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. with questions about applying or go online to www.tcwla.org to download the application.
￼Color of Justice Paves the Way for a More Diverse Future
Approximately 50 minority students from local Austin high schools, including Lanier, Gonzalo Garza, Akins and Austin High, recently had the opportunity to participate in the Color of Justice program, a program started by the National Association of Women Judges to introduce minority students to a diverse group of minority judges, lawyers, and law students whose stories illustrate the many career options available in the law and judiciary.
The program was held on February 15th at UT Law’s Eidman Courtroom.
Travis County Women Lawyers Association was excited to join with the NAWJ, UT Law’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Law and the Austin Bar Association, as well as sponsors, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLC and Winstead PC, to bring this wonderful opportunity to the students. This half-day event featured two panel discussions with speakers sharing their personal experiences and encouraging the students to pursue a career in law. The intent of the program is to inspire minority high school students to consider the law as a career, and to aspire to be a judge as well as a lawyer.
The first panel, titled “The Color of Justice: Making a Difference,” was led by several esteemed judges, including Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright, Judge Fortunato “Pete” Benavides of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Gisela Triana of the Travis County Civil District Court and Judge Wilford “Wil” Flowers of the Travis County Criminal District Court. The panel was moderated by Bea Ann Smith, former justice for the Third Court of Appeals.
The second panel, titled “Law as a Career: Preparing the Way” was led by a mix of legal professionals, including Karen Kennard of the City of Austin’s Attorney Office; Bill Hopkins of Brown McCarroll LLC; Vinh Tran of the Law Office of Vinh M. Tran; Daniel Rodriguez, UT Law Professor and Stephanie Kolmar, a UT Law student. Rande Herrell, an assistant Attorney General and President Elect of TCWLA was the moderator.
Also, as part of the program, UT Law Student, Stephanie Kolmar recieved a $1,000 “Access to Justice Scholarship” given by the NAWJ for her demonstrated and passionate commitment to the achievement of equality of opportunity and access in the justice system. This scholarship was presented by Justice Dale Wainwright.
The program was spearheaded by Judge Elisabeth Earle, District Director for the NAWJ and TCWLA Board Member Elizabeth Branch. TCWLA would like to thank all panel members and sponsors for making this year’s program a true success. 5
￼Court Appointed Advocate CLE – 7.25 Hours Rent this DVD now or watch online (coming soon!)
TCWLA sponsored, and filmed, a CLE titled “What You Need to Know to be a Court Appointed Advocate” on May 21, 2007. The CLE covered the nuts and bolts of representing children and parents in CPS cases, as well as teaching the participants about available services for clients with mental illnesses and other disabilities, ethical considerations, mediation of CPS cases, attorney general and DRO cases, and guardianships. The CLE lunch portion featured a judicial panel, in which the following Texas judges and former judges participated: the Hon. Craig Enoch (former Texas Supreme Court Justice), the Hon. Eva Guzman (14th Court of Appeals, Houston), and the Hon. Darlene Byrne (126th Judicial Civil District Court (Travis County)). The panel was moderated by TCWLA board member, the Hon. Orlinda Naranjo (419th Judicial Civil District Court (Travis County)).
Viewing of this DVD qualifies for 7.25 hours of CLE credit with the Texas Bar, including one hour of Ethics, and counts towards the 30 hour training requirement in Travis County.
Rental fee: $100 plus shipping & handling for DVD rentals
For questions concerning the rental of this DVD, please contact Paige Chappell at
￼￼2008 TAKE YOUR DAUGHTERS TO WORK DAY
This is your opportunity to volunteer on Travis County Woman Lawyers Association’s award winning program by serving as a mentor, even if it’s only for one day. TCWLA has scheduled their premier program, “Take Your Daughters to Work Day”, on Thursday, April 17, 2008 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This program reaches out to young girls in the fifth grade at Norman Elementary School located in East Austin. The principal, teachers, and counselors will select twenty (20) girls who have good attendance and grades to participate in the program. This will be our 2nd year to have a mock trial where the State seeks a protective order on a dating violence claim. The past five years our mock trial involved a DUI.
In the past, the TYDTW program has received the following two awards from The Texas State Bar: “Outstanding Partnership” and “Certificate of Achievement”.
If you wish to participate in planning the event or helping on the date of this event, please contact the Chair, Judge Orlinda Naranjo, at 854-4023 or email her at email@example.com. We always need help with drivers. 7
Please join TCWLA at a Meet and Greet for the UT Women’s Law Caucus on Wednesday, March 26th from 6-8. This is a wonderful opportunity for Travis County women lawyers to socialize with women law students and to share their experiences in the practice of law. The event will be held at the home of TCWLA member, D’Ann Johnson, in her historic home known as “The Old School”, located at 1604 E. 11th Street. For more information, please contact board member Liz Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 565-4464.
￼The Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association and Foundation’s Annual Grants and Awards Luncheon will be held May 15, 2008 at the Hilton Downtown Hotel.
Please mark your calendar and join us in celebrating local women lawyers in our community and to help provide financial assistance to area non-profits who help women and children in need. This year the master of ceremonies will be Roxanne Wilson, a local attorney, writer and reality celebrity from the Apprentice.
All proceeds will benefit future grantees of the Foundation.
￼Meet Your Board Member
Name: Molly Leder Hepkin Position: Website Chair
I recently left my full-time job to spend more time with my daughter, Vanessa. I am going to be doing some contract and part-time work. Prior to this, I worked for the Texas State Teachers Association. I advised and represented public school employees in their employment related issues.
I grew up in Denver, Colorado and ended up in Austin when I went to the University of Texas for law school. I met my husband, David Hepkin, my last year of law school and decided to stay in Austin. Vanessa is our first child and she is 17 months.
Why am I involved in TCWLA? Well, because it is a great organization of course! I joined TCWLA for the education it provides, for the community service and involvement, and to meet other attorneys. I like that TCWLA members are not all new attorneys and they are not all experienced attorneys, but a really good mixture of the two, which gives a somewhat newer attorney like myself a good perspective of different career paths.