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Texas State Bar Releases 63,000 Lawyer E-Mail Addresses to Law Student

Posted Aug 20, 2010 12:58 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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The State Bar of Texas is feeling some heat after officials released the public e-mail addresses of nearly 63,000 lawyers to a law student.

Marni von Wilpert, a student at Fordham University School of Law in New York City, requested the e-mail addresses while a summer law clerk at the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin to contact lawyers about proposed amendments to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, the Texas Lawyer reports. When State Bar executive director Michelle Hunter rejected her request on grounds the disclosure violated the Texas Government Code, von Wilpert filed suit. The State Bar then voluntarily released the e-mail addresses, according to the publication. The State Bar of Texas is a mandatory bar association.

At issue is whether the e-mail addresses are subject to the Public Information Act. However, a state bar official noted to the publication that it would be costly for the bar to try the suit.

While one Texas-licensed attorney told the Texas Lawyer that he didn’t mind having his business e-mail released, another disagreed with the state bar’s actions.

“I don’t think the bar should have agreed to it without consulting with the attorneys [bar membership] and waiting for a judge to order them to do it,” Colorado City solo Pat Barber told Texas Lawyer.

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