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.
Harold Graham began his career as an engineer. He got a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University, taught chemical engineering at Vanderbilt University, and did international work all over the world. Then many years later, Graham says, his daughter who is also an attorney, persuaded him to get a law degree. Graham began law school when he was 68 years old and graduated when he was 71 as the oldest person to ever graduate from South Texas College of Law in Houston.
In his first year of law school, he started working with Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) . He enjoyed the work so much that he stayed. “The people at LSLA are outstanding people,” Graham says. Graham helps LSLA with mediation, working on cases for Harris, Brazoria, and Montgomery counties. The matters range from civil and family law to child protective services mediation and foreclosures. He does about three or four pro bono cases a month for LSLA and about four or five pro bono cases a month for the Dispute Resolution Center of Harris County. Graham recently put together a website for LSLA and wrote the script for its upcoming interactive web application for online bankruptcy and foreclosure filings.
Graham does pro bono work because he has always been a “service-oriented person” and is always for “the underdog.” He has formed a non-profit called Resolution without Litigation which focuses on mediation, working with individuals, churches, and clubs. A couple of months ago, Graham says, he “got a call from a church that had fallen apart and was without a pastor.” They asked him to come up one weekend to Indiana to mediate for them. “Other churches have now used that church’s program as a model.”
Graham is a Korean War veteran. He has been married for 57 years and has three children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. At this point in his life at age 79, Graham says, “I can do whatever I want, and I’m enjoying doing it.”