“I feel like I’m visiting your home every time I read a post,” I told Andrew Tolchin, the founder of the “Texas Lawyers” (TL) Facebook Group. “Visiting my home is precisely what it is supposed to feel like—like you are in my living room,” he replied. Andrew describes TL as a “judge-free online legal community for actively-licensed lawyers who see value in online communication by and between lawyers in a closed group environment.”
Andrew and I went to law school together twenty years ago. Since then, our paths never crossed until two years ago when he contacted me on Facebook and invited me to join TL. Now I check-in almost daily, and am fascinated by the TL community and Andrew’s gracious moderation of it. Over the last two years (and probably like every other member), I’ve invited many other lawyers to join—friends, co-counsel, clients, even opposing counsel—pretty much anyone who I think would appreciate or benefit from the TL community.
And what a community it is! Daily topics include practical tips for transactional and trial practice, including suggestions for structuring an entity to buy and flip houses, handling overly-aggressive opposing counsel, and balancing ethical obligations with zealous representation. New lawyers post about getting ready for (and losing) their first trial, and over a hundred members respond, including some of Texas’s most talented and seasoned trial lawyers, giving advice, comfort, and encouragement. TL members also request and provide recommendations for process servers, law office technology, and local attorneys who specialize in specific practice areas all over the United States. TL is a resource, with posts and responses from lawyers at all levels of experience and law firm structures. Members also often crowdsource tasks and substantive legal or procedural questions.
There are affiliate TL groups as well, including the raucous TL Lounge, Politics for Lawyers, and groups for specific practice areas. It’s not all business: “Meme Friday,” is a weekly thread which reliably elicits a torrent of hilarious memes; there are popular threads with pictures of members’ “beasts” (including their office-sharing dogs and cats); members discuss their side-hustle (I adopted the dog pictured above, “Judge,” of course, from a member’s animal rescue posts); and polls, usually posted by the TL pot-stirrers, launching discussions that continue for days. Members discuss a variety of hot-button topics like racial and gender discrimination and workplace sexual harassment, from personal and legal perspectives. The kicker: unlike much of online discourse, members’ comments are usually honest, genuine, and kind. On those rare moments when members cross a line, other members call them on it, and an apology usually follows. Andrew will often chime in, thanking the members for their participation, candor, and open discussion. In other words, TL is the antithesis of what many lawyers perceive (and experience) in their profession and among their fellow practitioners.
If you are not yet a member, what are you waiting for? Aren’t you ready to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Texas lawyers? And for those who already belong, I look forward to hanging out with you soon in Andrew’s living room.