Case Towslee learned Friday he’d landed the highest score on the Texas Bar Exam, which took place two weeks before the statewide shutdown.
And there was more good news.
The 30-year-old graduate from South Texas College of Law Houston, who is apprehensive about public speaking, would not have to give the traditional top-scorer speech at a swearing-in ceremony for hundreds of new lawyers in Austin.
Instead Towslee, who’d started a law firm job March 30 working from home in his golf shirt and shorts, took his oath Monday via broadband from the study of his Spring home. The ceremony took place in a Zoom chatroom, with Towslee seated beside his wife together with their 9-month-old daughter Caroline, chewing a pink toy. State Supreme Court Justice Brett Busby, in his judicial robe, administered the online oath from his office in Austin. Towslee’s in-laws outside Lufkin patched into the 10-minute ceremony — and his mother and stepfather watched on another computer in the kitchen of Towslee’s Spring home.
Towslee is part of an unprecedented generation promising to uphold the Constitution via internet apps. He was one of 17 people for whom Busby, the supreme court justice, administered oaths on Monday alone. Busby posted on social media he’d be glad to offer this service for anyone eager to cross the threshold and move forward with a law career during the coronavirus pandemic.
“One of my favorite parts of the job is welcoming new lawyers to the profession,” Busby said.
Judges or a notary can administer the oath, but many make the trip to Irwin Center in Austin for the biannual ceremony attended by appeals court judges, where the top scorer on the state Bar Exam makes a speech.
Monday’s new crop of lawyers connected remotely to Busby in separate groups from Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Kansas and California. The new attorneys graduated from Harvard, Stanford, University of Texas, South Texas, Southern Methodist University, Baylor, St. Mary’s, University of Houston, University of North Texas Dallas and University of Kansas.
Nada Din, a recent UH Law graduate now based in Dallas, took the oath Monday morning along with her American Sign Language interpreter, who was at her side through law school. Din was effusive about Busby’s “heartfelt advice” and grateful to his office for addressing her communication needs.
She noted that in addition to being a Zoom-sworn lawyer, she believes she is the country’s first Deaf Pakistani-American Muslim female attorney.
Towslee is now an oil and gas associate at Locke Lord, LLP, along with his South Texas study partner, Zachary Horne, who earned the third-highest score on the exam.
The next Texas Bar Exam, which was to be the last administered by the state before switching to the Uniform Bar, was set for late July. Officials are expected to update law students this month about possible changes that may upend those plans.