Attorney at Law Magazine Dallas publisher P.J. Hines sat down with the Dallas Bar Association President Krisi Kastl to discuss the association and her plans during her year at the helm.
AALM: Is there an interesting story behind the founding of your association?
KK: The DBA was founded by 40 lawyers in 1873 to support and cultivate a library. Like Dallas itself, the association grew rapidly. Now the DBA calls the Arts District Mansion home. This site was built around 1890. Th e building was later leased to a funeral home and gained notoriety when the infamous Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde) was presented for public viewing in the front parlor. In 1978, the DBA purchased the mansion and restored it.
AALM: What is the association’s focus in the coming year?
KK: Reopening for in-person activities and continuing to uphold our mission have been our primary focus in 2022. This means going to every event to learn from our peers, preferably in person, but sometimes virtually, helping our community, and celebrating how far our association has come. This kind of in-person support positively impacts everyone who attends and produces tangible results that benefit the Dallas community and beyond.
AALM: How would you encourage the young lawyer to become involved in their legal community?
KK: Show up. I have often said that 90 percent of success is showing up. The DBA and its affinity bars span nearly every aspect of our community. I would encourage young lawyers to dig deep and ask themselves what drives their passionate action. Chances are there is a DBA Committee, Section, or affinity bar that is doing work in that very area. Look at our calendar and go to the scheduled events. Everything from a CLE to a community volunteer opportunity to a gala event can be a chance to learn. The connections you make as a participant can be life changing. Showing up, provides the opportunity to meet like-minded people and access the tools needed to be the change you would like to see in the world.
AALM: Tell us about the CLE opportunities offered to members.
KK: I am proud to announce the DBA is a Texas Lawyer Best of 2022 Winner as the top CLE provider in Dallas. This award celebrates our dedication to the continuing education of our 11,000-plus members. We have an extensive online CLE catalog as well as almost daily offerings for ways to continue learning. We offer over 400 free CLE programs annually either in person or virtually as well as 15 hours of free online and on-demand CLE per year for our DBA members.
AALM: How is the association involved in the local community? Any nonprofit or pro bono work?
KK: The DBA is an important advocate for our local community. Each year the association works with local charities to provide volunteers throughout Dallas. The DBA home project is the longest running whole-house sponsor for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. We provide volunteer opportunities through mentoring, law-related education, and the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, which provides thousands of hours of pro bono legal services each year.
AALM: If someone wanted to move into a leadership role, what is your first word of advice?
KK: Showing up is important in this business. By showing up you move beyond the hyperbole of promises and back up your words with action. That is where the real power comes from. I spent years doing the work that I am fortunate enough to have a staff for now. Although it was sometimes challenging, I cannot ignore those early days of simply showing up to the office daily to put in the work that yielded life-changing results for my clients. When you show up like that, your clients show up for you and that makes a real difference. The same can be said for Bar work.
AALM: Technology is always changing the face of the law. How is your association helping lawyers keep up with the changes?
KK: The pandemic certainly opened our eyes to the prevalence of communication through technology. Post-2020, there have been more ways of bridging the physical divide through Zoom meetings. Our reach has expanded far beyond the parameters of the DFW area. In addition to in-person programming, the DBA now offers hybrid and virtual only programming. The DBA Living Legend series is a pre-recorded program of interviews with legendary legal minds that are archived on the DBA’s YouTube channel. We also have an astounding repertoire of CLE courses completely available online. We look forward to continuing to use technology as we reach toward the future.
AALM: What is the main mission of your association?
KK: We are the helpers our community needs right now. The main mission of the DBA is to serve and support the legal profession in Dallas and to promote good relations among lawyers, judges, and the community. A host of charities benefit from the DBA member’s generosity. We are proud to support our diverse membership of lawyers and judges who will in turn support the city we hold dear. The DBA continues to fundraise to provide equal access to justice. I have been touched by the outpouring of support our members continually offer each other both professionally and personally.