The National Pro Bono Celebration is Oct. 25 to 31, 2009. Each weekday in October, Texas Bar Blog will feature a Texas attorney who provides pro bono services in the community. Without lawyers like these, too many of our most vulnerable citizens would go without legal representation. For more on the national celebration, visit CelebrateProBono.org.
As Texans living along the Gulf Coast can attest, hurricanes teach resourcefulness. For Galveston lawyer Jeff Kilgore, who was president of the Galveston County Bar Association when Hurricane Ike devastated the island, hurricanes can also impart lessons on how to resolve seemingly intractable legal disputes.
Kilgore, who has been practicing law for 35 years, is passionate about access to justice. He was instrumental in establishing the Galveston County Bar Association’s pro bono program and seeks constantly to persuade other lawyers to accept pro bono cases.
Kilgore is also passionate about mediation. A credentialed distinguished mediator, he has served multiple terms as president of the Mediators’ Association of Galveston County, is the current chair of the board of Galveston Mediation Services, and has been an officer of the State Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section.
When Hurricane Ike left Kilgore without an office, he made the most of the situation. Even though the hurricane had wreaked havoc on residents’ lives, he and other Galveston lawyers committed themselves to ensuring that residents’ legal needs were as unimpeded as possible. Kilgore spent countless hours coordinating with Lone Star Legal Aid, FEMA, and Galveston County Bar Association members to bring as much normalcy as possible.
He arranged to meet clients in coffee shops or gas stations that had withstood the storm. Out of necessity, he even volunteered to conduct a mediation in his car. While Kilgore’s generosity may be larger than life, his car is a Mini Cooper. When he pointed in the direction of his Mini, the two parties, who had been at each other’s throats, asked for a few moments alone. They quickly settled.
The State Bar of Texas Board of Directors recently passed a resolution honoring Kilgore for his tireless work on behalf of Galveston’s lawyers and residents following Hurricane Ike. With humility and grace, he accepted it on behalf of all of Galveston’s lawyers.