This week is the National Pro Bono Celebration. Each day this week, Texas Bar Blog will feature Texas attorneys who provide pro bono services in their communities. The service of these attorneys, and the hundreds of pro bono attorneys like them in Texas, ensures access to justice for many of the most vulnerable Texans. For a list of Pro Bono Celebration events in your area, click here.
At a pro bono opportunities panel in 2006, Michelle Reed was deeply moved by the stories of ProBAR, an organization that provides pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas. That panel inspired her to volunteer with ProBAR, and since then she has served as the primary attorney on four pro bono cases and has won asylum grants for all of her clients.
“When I met Meredith Linsky, Director of ProBAR, at the Bar Leaders Conference, she impressed me greatly with what everlasting benefit we can provide to asylum seekers. Since then, each person I have helped has helped me appreciate the safety and freedom of the United States, and each has caused me to renew my promise to always help people who are often at the lowest time in their life. In the end, it is really community lawyering that makes a difference—one case at a time,” Ms Reed said.
Counsel at Akin Gump in Dallas, Ms. Reed contributes her pro bono services because she believes that attorneys are obligated to use their skills and license to serve those less fortunate. Meredith Linsky says that Ms. Reed’s passion is evident to everyone she works with. “She is a highly skilled lawyer who puts in the time and effort to prepare her cases with care and precision. Besides her skill as a lawyer, what makes Ms. Reed special is the genuine kindness and compassion she shows her clients. She is visibly moved by their stories and humbled by their gratitude,” Ms. Linsky said.
Ms. Reed has also supported and inspired the pro bono service of others. At ProBAR, she has served as an attorney mentor to associates on several asylum cases. And although her practice and responsibilities as a mother of three small children keep her very busy, she makes sure to take time for pro bono as an example to her children. “When I started practicing seven years ago, I was so busy with my billable work that I didn’t know how to keep up,” Ms. Reed said. “I decided right then that I would simply always commit to carrying at least one active pro bono matter at all times – a promise I kept even through two maternity leaves. That way, I would always know that my hard work was paying off.”