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Founded in 2001, the Texas Family Law Foundation's mission is to improve the family law practice and jurisprudence of the state of Texas.

JoAl Cannon Sheridan: Legislative Report

I was fortunate to have been raised in a family that has a long-standing tradition of being politically/legislatively active.  However, even with such a history, nothing I’ve done in the past equals the satisfaction I felt in being a part of the Texas Family Law Foundation Legislative efforts during the 2007 legislative session.

As members of the Foundation’s legislative “team,” we reviewed hundreds of proposed family law-related bills and submitted written reports to the other members for purposes of testimony for Legislative hearings.  Numerous Foundation members traveled to Austin on several occasions to testify, meet legislators and discuss key issues important to Texas family lawyers.  Many members of the legislative committee dedicated specific weeks during the session to be ‘on the ground’ in Austin to testify on those bills as they came up for hearing, some in the wee hours of the night, and all members participating did so on their own dime.

The experience was not only memorable, it was extremely positive and effective.  Many groups work for years to achieve any recognition or credibility with members of the legislature and their staffs.  However, the hard work of the Foundation, supported by our very experienced and knowledgeable lobbyist (Steve Bresnen) and support staff (Annie Landmann and TTLA staff members), resulted in members of the legislature contacting the Foundation for opinions and drafting assistance, and even mentioning the Foundation from the legislative floor as a particular bill was being considered.  I especially enjoyed the personal interaction with the legislators and their staffs and felt that our efforts were well received.  I was particularly encouraged by the legislators’ willingness to allow us to assist in drafting actual bills to address our concerns and issues while still keeping the basic intent of the legislation intact.

Just as in any legislative effort, there are victories and losses.  We experienced both, although we thankfully achieved more victories than defeats.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have been a very small part of something so important to the day-to-day practice of Texas family lawyers, and more importantly, the clients we serve.  I would encourage any family lawyer interested in the preservation of the integrity of the laws affecting our family law practice to join the Foundation and become actively involved in our legislative efforts. 

JoAl Cannon Sheridan
Ausley, Algert, Robertson & Flores
Austin, TX