from the editor By Anna M. Archer U.S. District Court
A Transformative Year:
Anietie Akpan METRO
Brooksie Bonvillain Boutet Shipley Snell Montgomery
Kimberly Chojnacki Baker Donelson
Elizabeth Furlow Baker Botts
The Houston Lawyer
Andrew Pearce BoyarMiller
Koby Wilbanks Murrah & Killough
8 May/June 2021
Finding Your Voice
hange is hard. And we have had a lot of it. Everything changed last March when our firms, businesses, and even courthouses shut down. There were growing pains—more for some than others—but we figured out how to work from home, and most of us became pretty good at it. We may have learned how to sew face masks, bake bread, or make craft cocktails at home. We made our dining rooms, kitchens, or living rooms into fully functioning home offices. Some of us learned how to home school or had bonus time with older children whose colleges also shut down. It wasn’t the easiest time, but we adjusted, and finally, we could say, “we got this.” Now, most of us have been vaccinated. The courthouses are open, jury trials are resuming, and people are returning to the office. It doesn’t look the same as it did when the pandemic started, though; we have changed, and being forced to stay home has in many ways caused an awakening. We’ve learned that sometimes working from home is better than working from the office. We don’t have to spend an hour and a half a day commuting or worry about what we are wearing to do a good job. We can go to meetings—sometimes more meetings than before the pandemic—without ever leaving our home office chair. We can do depositions, enter into multi-million dollar agreements, or attend court hearings from the same spot. With this new knowledge, some Houston lawyers are not going back to the office even though it is now safe to do so. Many are only going in some days. And some are returning full time as if the pandemic never happened. Except, it did. And we are tired. The commute is exhausting. The days seem longer. And we may wonder how we maintained this lifestyle before all of this started. It all comes down to—change is hard, and there has been a whole lot of it in the last year. Be kind to yourself during this transition and know that you are not alone. We are transforming as a nation, and we are navigating this change together. Sometimes words evoke a feeling, and Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem feels like what we’ve all experienced: We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter ....
When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid The new dawn blooms as we free it For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it If only we’re brave enough to be it This is my last issue as editor in chief of The Houston Lawyer, and I have spent this year not only finding my voice but encouraging other Houston lawyers to do the same. I have many people to thank, including all the authors of articles in this “transformative year” issue who have documented this moment in time for future generations. I would also like to thank Bill Kroger (the 2020-2021 HBA President), who used his leadership position to author a new chapter for the HBA amidst the unexpected chaos this bar year continued to provide, and Tara Shockley (the managing editor of The Houston Lawyer), for the infinite wisdom, guidance, and friendship she has offered me during my term as editor in chief. Tara celebrated her 40th anniversary with the HBA this year, and the impact she has made on the lives of Houston lawyers is immeasurable. Additionally, thank you to Anietie Akpan, who is the current articles editor and the incoming editor in chief, for keeping everything organized and on track this year. While I am not ready for my term to end, I know The Houston Lawyer is in good hands. Finally, thanks to the associate editors and the entire Editorial Board. You have all played a role in educating Houston lawyers, inspiring important conversations among your colleagues, preserving the history of the Houston Bar, and documenting the issues Houston lawyers have faced this year, and you should be proud of your work. We started the year with issues focusing on COVID-19 and racial justice—topics that will define the year 2020 long after we are gone. Our work will be part of that history. We now conclude the bar year by not only reflecting back on this very challenging year, but looking forward to how what we have experienced will impact the future. It is my greatest hope that the words on the pages of this journal during this extremely challenging year inspired Houston lawyers to author a new chapter, be brave, and be the light.