Message from the Chair

As we attempt to resume our normal lives following the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe it is imperative that lawyers take every opportunity to reconnect in person with our professional colleagues and friends.

According to the latest American Lawyer’s Annual Mental Health Survey, when it comes to overall levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, 2021 saw a slight decline compared to 2020 but did not quite drop to pre-pandemic levels. About 35% of respondents said they suffered from depression in 2021. Although that is a decrease from the 37% in 2020, it still is a slight increase from the 31% who said they suffered from depression in 2019.

The survey also found that anxiety levels followed a similar pattern. Anxiety levels were at 67% for 2021, down from the 70.7% reported in 2020 but above the 2019 level of 64%. Overall, the number of respondents who felt mental health and substance abuse in the legal industry were “at crisis levels” was up about 3 percentage points (44%) compared to 2019 (41%) and 2020 (41.7%).

To address the needs of its members, the State Bar of Texas provides resources and solutions for lawyers dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues. The premiere State Bar program is Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (or TLAP). TLAP provides 24/7 confidential phone support, recommended therapists, support from local peers, funding for treatment, after-care support, and educational programs.

But we must all take the initiative and help each other out by recognizing signs of substance abuse and mental depression and then doing something about it. If you see a colleague in distress, you should visit with that individual privately and really ask how they are doing and offer ways to help. Or, if you observe a lawyer who has violated an ethical standard that raises a substantial fitness question and that lawyer is impaired by drug or alcohol dependency or by mental illness, Rule 8.03 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct allows a report to an approved peer assistance program—such as TLAP—rather than reporting to a disciplinary authority. TLAP can then reach out and help.

To learn more, you can receive FOR FREE one (1) hour of legal ethics CLE by clicking on this link and watching the online program entitled “Just Ask: How We Must Stop Minding our own Business in the Legal World” produced by TexasBarCLE.

The Section is also doing our part to reconnect our members and provide ways in which to have more frequent and healthy personal interactions. In June 2022, the Section held its first in person annual meeting since the onset of the pandemic. At the annual meeting, we had outstanding MCLE presentations followed by the IP Section luncheon where Kathi Vidal, the recently appointed Director of the USPTO and Hope Shimabuku, the Director of the Texas Regional Office of the USPTO, offered their insights on upcoming issues and initiatives facing the USPTO and the IP bar.

At the annual meeting, the IP Section also recognized Gale R. “Pete” Peterson as this year’s recipient of the Tom Arnold Lifetime Achievement Award. I was honored to receive the Fritz G. Lanham Trademark Award. We also expressed our gratitude to Michael Locklar, the immediate Past Chair, for his long and distinguished service to the Section. Craig Stone received the Chair’s award for his outstanding service to the Section. The IP Section’s Diversity Scholarship was awarded to Jessica Henry attending St. Mary’s University Law School and Nicholas Wang attending The SMU Dedman School of Law. Dr. Corey Clark won this year’s Inventor of the Year Award.

At the annual meeting, members of the IP Section also elected the following slate of officers and new Council members:

2022-2023 Section Officers

Devika Kornbacher, Chair-Elect, Clifford Chance

Craig Stone, Treasurer, Phillips 66

Nick Guinn, Secretary, Gunn, Lee & Cave PC

Erin Choi, Newsletter Officer, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

 Julie Bell, Website Officer, Gunn, Lee & Cave PC


2022-2025 Council Members

Christine Pompa, YETI Coolers

Chris Joe, Buether, Joe & Counselors LLC

Carlyn Burton, Osha, Bergman, Watanabe & Burton LLP


I am confident that our recently elected Section Officers and the entire IP Council will provide new and innovative ways in which our members can reach out and reconnect with one another.

For example, last month, members of the IP Section, USPTO personnel, and lawyers from Texas Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (TALA) participated in the IP Section’s Pro Bono Tour.

Fifteen lawyers from the IP Section traveled to Laredo and San Antonio to make presentations, participate in group sessions, and offer one-on-one counseling to approximately 75 inventors, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.

And on February 23-24, 2023, we are scheduled to have an in-person Advanced IP CLE program at the Hotel Laura in Houston, Texas. We hope you will plan to attend.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Go often to the house of thy friend for weeds choke the unused path.” During this bar year, let’s all commit to making a special effort to reconnect in person with our professional colleagues and friends.

Best Regards,

Joseph F. Cleveland, Jr., Chair
Intellectual Property Law Section
State Bar of Texas