The Smith County Young Lawyers Association (“SCYLA”) has been honored with two Awards of Achievement by the American Bar Association — Young Lawyers Division for the 2011-2012 year.
The ABA-YLD Awards of Achievement program provides an opportunity for attorney organizations to submit their best public service and bar service projects in their communities for evaluation and recognition by a jury of their peers.
SCYLA received the top award in the Service to the Public category among all young lawyers groups nationwide with 800 or fewer members for its “Smith County National Adoption Day Celebration” held in November 2011 at Discovery Science Place downtown. The annual event is intended to be a celebration of adoption, newly-adopted children, and their “forever families.” The reception is an exclamation point at the end of what can often be a long adoption process. A goal of SCYLA is for each child and family to feel like they are beginning life after being “officially adopted” with support and recognition from the community. To coordinate the Adoption Day celebration, SCYLA works closely with the Department of Family and Protective Services, local adoption agencies, and Judge Carol Clark of the Smith County 321st District Court.
SCYLA also received an award in the Comprehensive category for the totality of all their young lawyer activities and events throughout the year. SCYLA is responsible for several community events every year that seek to show the community as a whole the role that attorneys and other legal professionals play in our society, as well as providing charitable services to the county. SCYLA provides an opportunity for young lawyers in Smith County to serve their community and their profession, and begin to build the foundation for a long and successful practice.
In addition to the Smith County National Adoption Day Celebration, the Comprehensive award recognized the impact of several other events and activities that SCYLA organized in 2011-2012: SCYLA hosted a free showing of the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” in downtown Tyler at Liberty Hall on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, with a brief presentation beforehand discussing the importance of the message of equality and the significance of the film. The Association also furnished a small collection of children’s books to the Tyler Public Library in order to create the foundation for a Children’s Law Library. The books provided all addressed topics such as the legal profession, the creation of laws, the judicial branch of the government, U.S. Presidents, and other well-known attorneys and judges. In late spring, SCYLA held a Crawfish Boil and Live Music event at Lake Tyler. At a Lecture Series hosted by the Smith County Bar Association, SCYLA took part in the introduction of legendary Fifth Circuit Justice Reavley at the newly-opened Liberty Hall on Constitution Day. SCYLA also organized a small program about pre-law studies and law school and provided more than half of the volunteer judges at the Texas High School Region 7 Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Smith County Bar Association in February.
“The SCYLA Board worked very hard this past year to put a special emphasis on giving back to the community in practical and meaningful ways. “But, without the community, many of our events couldn’t have even happened. We owe a special thanks to Judge Carole Clark and Mandy Bryan of the DFPS for being the driving forces behind our Adoption Day Celebration, as well as to Smith County Judge Joel Baker, who volunteered his time to speak at our event last year. Other community leaders helped with many of our events, so we definitely tip our hat to Tyler and Smith County for all of the support we have received.”
Current SCYLA President Bryan Campbell and the Board of Directors are already in the planning stages for numerous events to be held during the 2012-2013 year, including a National Adoption Day celebration in mid-November, a project benefiting Smith County Veterans, and several others. For more information about SCYLA, visit http://affiliates.tyla.org/scyla.