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.
Raquel West is chair of the Jefferson County Bar Association (JCBA) Family Law Section and a solo practitioner. She does pro bono work through the JCBA and Lone Star Legal Aid, the agencies through which pro bono in her area are coordinated. West has never turned down a pro bono case.
West tries to always have one complex pro bono case or several non-complex pro bono cases, so she usually has at least two or three active pro bono cases at a time. Cases include divorces, custody, and protective orders. West is currently working on a national adoption day case, in which a grandmother wants to adopt her grandchildren in coordination with the National Adoption Day ceremonies.
West says she does pro bono because, throughout her years as an attorney, when she goes to court she sees how difficult it is for someone without an attorney to represent themselves. She sees an unfairness and imbalance in that. “Everyone needs representation,” West says. Many times these people are not involved in criminal cases, so they do not qualify for a court-appointed attorney.
West gets great satisfaction in helping pro bono clients because she sees how much they truly appreciate being helped. “It is very rewarding,” says West. Currently, West is working with a ”repeat customer” who still qualifies for legal aid and needed additional help so she came back to request West’s help. West said she finds it extremely rewarding that the client wanted to keep her as her pro bono attorney.