It’s National Pro Bono Week again! In celebration, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, Texas Access to Justice Foundation, and the State Bar – Legal Services Support Division would like to spotlight a few star pro bono volunteers from across the state.
Frank Maldonado (pictured in the back row and far left) with a group of low-wage construction worker-clients after Frank had helped them recover over $63,000 in wages that their employer had failed to pay over a period of several months.
Maldonado, a volunteer paralegal with the Equal Justice Center, is a retired career army officer, school teacher, and Austin City departmental manager whose illustrious career includes more specifically:
- Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Army, where he served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and later commanded various units, including an airfield in Germany;
- Taught middle school and high school in Austin; and
- Served as Manager of Operation and Maintenance for the City of Austin Aviation Department, helping to manage construction of Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
In his retirement, Maldonado became interested in civil legal services for the poor, so he completed the Paralegal Studies Program at Austin Community College. During this time, he volunteered extensively with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, where he continues to volunteer weekly in addition to his work at the Equal Justice Center.
In June 2010, Maldonado joined the Equal Justice Center as a volunteer paralegal intake coordinator. He now works 20 to 30 hours per week as a volunteer paralegal directing EJC’s intake process, and interviews new clients every day, in Spanish and English, before meeting with EJC attorneys in a weekly intake review to analyze and determine how EJC can best handle their claims. He supervises interns and volunteers who assist him in the intake process. He assists EJC attorneys in direct legal representation in active cases. Maldonado comments regularly to the staff at EJC that he “just loves talking to people,” and realizes that it is helpful and satisfying simply to orient people to the legal system and explain their rights and options. However, his work often accomplishes so much more because it is the first step in recovering unpaid wages for the working men and women that EJC serves. Not only does he fulfill a vital professional role at EJC, but he also motivates the rest of the staff with his unwavering enthusiasm, cheerful disposition, and grandfatherly poise and wisdom.