Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans Legal Clinics

What better way to honor the National Pro Bono Celebration than to volunteer for a pro bono legal advice clinic for veterans? These clinics are at the heart of the State Bar’s Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans initiative. Local bar associations and legal aid organizations across the state have answered State Bar President Terry Tottenham’s call to assist veterans who otherwise cannot afford or do not have access to the legal services they need.

In November, to commemorate Veterans Day (Nov. 11), legal advice clinics for veterans are taking place all across the state thanks to the efforts of countless volunteer attorneys who want to give back to those who have given so much to this country.

If you would like to get involved, there are several ways you can participate: Volunteer for a morning or afternoon at a clinic, take a veteran’s case pro bono, serve as a substantive law expert for clinics, or become accredited through the VA to help with veterans’ disability benefits claims.

For a schedule of upcoming clinics or to learn more about Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans, visit www.texasbar.com/veterans.

Guest Post: Dell Inc. GC shares pro bono story

Editor's note: Lawrence Tu originally posted this piece on a blog for Dell lawyers. It is re-published here with his permission in recognition of Celebrate Pro Bono Week.

By Lawrence P. Tu, senior vice president and general counsel of Dell Inc.

I recently had the privilege of joining a group of Dell attorneys who volunteered to help staff a legal clinic run by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, which provides free legal assistance to low-income Central Texans. This is a long-standing program which Dell Legal has supported for over 5 years. The clinic itself operates twice a week, and on the third Wednesday of every month Vinson & Elkins, Dell Legal, and Austin ACC collaborate to provide legal volunteers. It was a sobering and uplifting experiencing, and it made me proud of Dell Legal’s support of this pro bono effort.

The setting was a cafeteria in a middle school located off the highway just north of downtown Austin, over-flowing with dozens of individuals (in some cases couples or entire families) spanning all ages and races. Many had brought documents, pictures, receipts and other files to plead their case. By the time we arrived at 6 PM, each person or group had already filled out a brief in-take form describing why they were there, and these forms were stacked up at the tables at the front of the room staffed by legal aid professionals. The volunteer lawyers go the tables, each is handed a case-form, briefly reviews it, and then calls out the individual’s name; they meet up and then spend as much time as is needed to move the matter forward to the next stage.  We are instructed to conduct an in-depth interview to identify and clarify the client’s issue, and then either help qualifying attendees get their cases referred to Legal Aid or Volunteer Legal Services for formal legal representation, or provide basic advice about next steps for those who do not qualify. A team of professionals from local legal aid organizations is present throughout the evening to advise and guide the volunteers on substantive and procedural questions. As we wrapped up each matter, we would return to the table for another in-take form and start the process with the next “client.” By around 8:30 PM the volunteers had worked through all the stacks of in-take forms and the room had emptied out.

In my case I teamed up with another volunteer and we dealt with cases as varied as a woman living in a rat-infested apartment looking for help to deal with an unresponsive landlord; a long-divorced woman facing eviction and whose car was about to be repossessed by creditors, who wanted to find a way to force her ex-husband to provide her with a replacement car because years ago while they were married he had totaled another car of hers; an unmarried young mother who wanted to surrender visitation rights to her son (who was living with her ex-boyfriend) on the mistaken belief that she would thereby automatically be relieved of her child support obligations (how she became saddled with court-ordered child support obligations when she was unemployed and raising three children on her own on food stamps remained a mystery); and a destitute unmarried couple looking for ways to enforce a divorce decree against the man’s ex-wife (whose whereabouts were unknown) in order to collect the divorce settlements payments she promised to make but never did.

We found that much of our time was spent trying to understand their situation. Frequently what they told us didn’t fit together, or didn’t match the documents they had with them, and it took time and patience to unravel their stories. In some cases we needed translators because they didn’t speak English. Most of these cases were heartbreaking because they involve individuals with few resources, who are living on the edge, and who have little or no understanding of the legal system which had burdened their lives or which they hoped could dramatically improve their prospects. Many of the conversations ended up focused on long-ago grievances and wrongs which could not be fixed, and frequently we discovered uninformed mistakes they made earlier in the legal process which left them with little or no recourse. As each story emerged many of us would think to ourselves: if only they had come in and gotten advice before X, Y or Z happened, we could have done something more for them.

Still, in some cases we were able to refer them to formal legal representation, and in other cases we provided them with self-help information – such as small-claims court forms and a list of help-line phone numbers – to enable them to take the matters forward on their own. Where the situation was without hope, we would honestly but diplomatically inform them that they were likely at the end of the road on that issue, and should consider moving on with their lives and leaving that in the past.

Despite their troubles and predicaments, almost all we met carried themselves with remarkable grace and composure and, regardless of the outcome or advice they received, they seemed genuinely appreciative of the time and effort we gave them and thanked us repeatedly for listening to their problems. We were later told by the legal aid lawyers that for many individuals, just the fact that someone took the time to listen seriously and respectfully to them was valuable in itself, and also because in some cases it helped them reach closure on problems that had no solutions. I also came away deeply impressed by the legal aid professionals, who brought to their jobs a mix of technical and legal skills, deep empathy, and pragmatic realism. Even with that, I imagine that their jobs must be physically and emotionally draining.

I want to thank all of my colleagues in-house and at law firms who have found the time to participate in activities such as these. For those of you who haven’t had the chance yet, I would encourage you to sign up and try it out – you will be surprised by how much you get out of it.
 

Pro Bono Profile: David Grenardo of Houston

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.

“It feels strange to be recognized for doing something that you should already be doing,” says David Grenardo. “Not much prodding needs to be done. We all just want to help people.”

When Grenardo graduated from Duke Law in North Carolina, he wanted to help people. So, when he began practicing in Los Angeles, he started doing pro bono work with the L.A. County Bar Association. He also worked for The Alliance for Children’s Rights, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, and Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law.

Grenardo is now a senior associate with King & Spalding LLP in Houston and works from Houston with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) in Austin. He is on the TCRP board, which works with attorneys in private practice on pro bono cases and is currently targeting law firms to get involved. He has received numerous awards for his pro bono efforts, including Texas Civil Rights Project Pro Bono Champion, the State Bar of California Wiley W. Manuel Award, the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program Distinguished Service Award, and Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law Pro Bono Panel Volunteer of the Year.

An ex Rice University football player, Grenardo is also on the board of The “R” Association, which helps mentor student-athletes. He tells athletes thinking about becoming attorneys that they have an obligation to help people who can’t help themselves.

Grenardo believes that “what is most important is to do something you’re passionate about – and if you are passionate about something, you can find a way to make it work.” He is passionate about civil rights and first amendment type cases. “Anytime you’re standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves, that’s a great opportunity. It’s amazing.”

When Grenardo works on his pro bono cases, he feels he is “changing peoples’ lives.” “It’s in the fight; it’s not if you win or lose,” he says. "You take the good, the bad, and do everything you can to help these clients.”

Pro Bono Profile: Chris Wrampelmeier of Amarillo

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.

For Amarillo attorney Chris Wrampelmeier, pro bono work is an imperative. “When you’re given certain blessings, it’s incumbent on you to use them wisely and help other people,” he says.

Wrampelmeier is a family lawyer with Underwood, Wilson, Berry, Stein & Johnson, P.C., where he is a shareholder and responsible for guiding the firm’s associates as they begin their careers. To that end he involves associates in a local legal aid clinic that the firm sponsors, where they gain experience outside their regular practice areas. “I have been pleasantly surprised how, to the man and woman, they thoroughly enjoy working at the clinics and are willing to do it again and again,” he related.

Early in his career, Wrampelmeier became active in the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section, serving as a course director, committee member, and now council member. He combines that service with local pro bono work, including legal clinics where attorneys earn CLE credit by agreeing to take pro bono cases. He says he loves family law, even though he once vowed it was the one area of law he would never practice. “What makes is great is that the people who do family are wonderful, both in Amarillo and around the state,” he says.

Throughout his career Wrampelmeier has handled pro bono cases through Legal Aid of Northwest Texas. The organization named him pro bono attorney of the year in 2001 and 2004.

Wrampelmeier says most of his pro bono clients are very grateful, but receiving thanks is not why he does the work. “Deep in all of our hearts we believe everyone should have the same chance, start at the same line, and pull ahead or fall back due to their own skills or faults - not their economic circumstances,” he says. “Sometimes people just need a level playing field.”

 

National Pro Bono Celebration: Oct. 25 - 31, 2009

The annual National Pro Bono Celebration is an effort to showcase the difference that pro bono lawyers make to the nation, the justice system, the community, and the clients they serve.

Each weekday this month, this blog has featured Texas pro bono lawyers and their work.

For details on the national celebration, visit CelebrateProBono.org. For information on Texas events and activities, see the website of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.

In recognition of the celebration, the State Bar of Texas board of directors passed a resolution commending the Texas legal community for its pro bono work and encouraging all bar members to contribute. Read it here.

Pro Bono Profile: Harold Graham of Pinehurst

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.”

Pro Bono Profile: Herb Everitt of Amarillo

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.

Herb Everitt strives to handle at least two to three legal aid cases a year. He says he learned in law school that there is a great need for pro bono lawyers. Everitt considers himself a service-oriented person and feels that pro bono is “what lawyers should do.”

Over the years, Everitt has handled numerous pro bono cases and served at many legal aid clinics. He also helps out through his own law practice, working pro bono for clients for whom he sees a need. Everitt served for three years on the board of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas (LANWT) in Amarillo, soliciting volunteer lawyers and raising funds for the clinics. He also volunteered at a legal aid office in Houston for about five years.

Over the past year, Everitt has been working with the LANWT teaching the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Legal Aid Divorce Clinic, which is held every three months and averages about 10-15 cases each. Volunteer attorneys walk clients through all of the court documents they will need for an uncontested divorce with no children. The goal of the clinic is to ensure clients they have appropriate paperwork when they go to court.

Everitt says he appreciates the State Bar’s Legal Services Fee (LSF) fund that helps raise money for legal services to the poor. Yet his belief is that “if every lawyer would do pro bono, there wouldn’t be a need for the fund.” Everitt also handles a lot of court-appointed criminal and family law cases. He feels that counties should require lawyers to do two pro bono cases in order to be eligible for court-appointed ones.
 

Pro Bono Profile: Sharon Steckler of Rosenberg

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.

For family lawyers, “attorney and counselor” requires an emphasis on “counselor,” a role that Sharon Steckler relishes. In her pro bono work this often means giving clients the sense that they deserve better than an abusive relationship.

“Some of them are so beaten down by the abuse that they have no self esteem, so you try to raise them up,” said Steckler.

Steckler recently closed her private practice but is far from retired in any sense. She is an active volunteer with Fort Bend Lawyers Care (FBLC), where she serves as treasurer, answers calls on its LegalLine, and works at the Women’s Legal Forum to counsel battered women on their legal issues and rights.

Steckler also handles complex pro bono cases for FBLC. One of the most rewarding, she recalls, involved a young Nigerian woman whose abusive husband withheld support for her immigration to the United States as a way of controlling her. With Steckler’s help the woman was able to live on her own. The woman’s mother was so appreciative that she made Steckler a Nigerian tribal dress. “I truly treasure that,” said Steckler.

The return she receives from pro bono work is more often not material, but just as gratifying. “The best feeling, particularly with cases that involve spousal or child abuse, is having truly helped someone who without your efforts would be facing a very unfortunate situation,” she said.

Steckler’s outlet from the difficult issues of family law is serving as a judge in dog shows around the country and the world – she was recently invited to judge a show in Australia in 2011. She judges boxers and Doberman pinschers in junior showmanship and serves as treasurer of the American Boxer Club and legal counsel to the American Boxer Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to researching health issues affecting boxers. “It’s fun,” says Steckler. “A real change of pace.”

Pro Bono Profile: Raquel West of Beaumont

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.

Pro Bono Profile - Ryan Solis of McAllen

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.

Once a week, Ryan Solis travels from McAllen to Raymondville to a small office he set up to do pro bono work and meets with as many people as he can in one evening. The cases typically deal with civil litigation, personal injury, commercial disputes and more recently divorce. Solis offers services in Spanish and says that about a third of his cases are with Spanish speaking clients.

Originally from Raymondville, Solis chooses to do pro bono work for residents of Willacy County because growing up there he knew families and friends who lacked the means by which to obtain legal aid. “I saw first hand the urgency and also the lack of resources for legal assistance,” said Solis.

Solis finds it rewarding to help people who are not familiar with the legal system and help put things in perspective for them. There are times when Solis sees a client on more than one occasion. “The people I help may need assistance with a will and then return because they need help with a real estate matter,” said Solis.

When asked what motivates him to do pro bono work Solis said, “It may sound cliché but it’s rewarding in and of itself. I enjoy helping people.” People, he says, who would otherwise not have access to legal aid.

Solis makes his home in McAllen but has a private law practice, Law Office of Ryan C. Solis, in Edinburg. He established his law practice almost a year after graduating from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2005.

Outside of his practice and pro bono work, Solis is involved with Friends for Hope which is an organization in the upper Rio Grande Valley that raises funds for the Vannie E. Cook Cancer Clinic. He also enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, Rebecca, also an attorney, his sons Tyler, 10 and Asa, 4 and daughter Helena, 20 months. One of his outdoor activities is coaching Asa’s soccer team. “I’m enjoying that very much,” says Solis of his coaching duties, “even though there are times when the boys are interested in everything but what’s going on in the game.”

Pro Bono Profile: Judge Migdalia Lopez of Brownsville

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.

Judge Migdalia Lopez of the 197th District Court of  Cameron County has done pro bono work since she began practicing law. Lopez, who has a masters in social work, says the need is always there so it is part of her everyday routine. She was appointed to the Texas Access to Justice Commission (TATJC) from 2004-2007 because of her pro bono work.

Helping children is Judge Lopez’s passion. She is a past chair of the Juvenile Dept. in Cameron County and a former member of the school board. The Governor’s Office recently appointed her to a term on the Juvenile Probation Commission. Lopez believes that more resources should go toward helping juveniles, and that to prevent crime, the starting point is in helping them. Lopez related that she once took three juveniles with her to Corpus Christi to participate in a triathlon, so that they could see that they could accomplish something and be proud of the work they did – and they were.
 
Judge Lopez related that the local legal community is committed to those in need. She often asks local bar associations and individual attorneys for help with pro bono cases, and always gets a great response. She also hears a lot of foreclosure cases, and asks attorneys to help out in cases where she sees a real need.

Lopez is one of the judges for the Cameron County pro bono divorce clinic. They just started their first clinic in Willacy County recently, and she is the only judge for that clinic. The clinics in Willacy are held every third month, and they have 10 to 15 cases every clinic. She says there is a “great need” for pro bono there, and the clinic makes the handling of the cases more efficient.

Pro Bono Profile: Jeff Actkinson of Farwell

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.

Jeff Actkinson
had no idea he would return to his hometown to practice law. But as soon as he joined Aldridge, Aycock, Actkinson & Rutter, L.L.P., he knew exactly what was expected of him — to represent the legal needs of anyone who walked through the door.

Farwell (pop. 1,364) is an agricultural community on the Texas-New Mexico border.  It is equidistant from the Plainview and Amarillo offices of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, each of which is 80 miles away. “We take everything they send us,” Actkinson said.

The firm’s commitment to pro bono started with the brothers who founded the firm 70 years ago. It became further ingrained under the leadership of Actkinson’s father, Johnny, and Charles Aycock, a former president of the State Bar of Texas.

For Jeff Actkinson, the firm’s youngest partner, accepting pro bono and reduced-fee cases has always been a way of life. Asked to name his most memorable pro bono case, Actkinson paused. “They’re all people who need help and they all need the same amount of help,” he said.

In January, Actkinson began serving as Parmer County Attorney, a position Aycock once held, in addition to his general practice, which consists primarily of real estate, personal injury, and agricultural law. 

Actkinson attended Texas Tech University for both undergraduate and law school. When he sat down with his father to discuss the offers he had received, his father asked if he had considered his firm and if he’d be interested in talking with the partners.

“Dad certainly didn’t put any pressure on me,” Actkinson said. “I didn’t even know it was an option.” Actkinson and his wife, Robbie, who also grew up in Farwell, considered what life would be like in the big city. “Coming home is absolutely the best thing we could have done,” he said.

Pro Bono Profile: Phil Phillips of Arlington

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.

Phil Phillips got his start in pro bono work before he was even an attorney. Thirty years ago, as a third-year law student, Phillips went to his local bar association and got his first taste of the real world through pro bono cases. Now, Phil takes about six pro bono family law cases a year, in addition to preparing qualified domestic relation orders (QDROs) for clients of the Law Clinic at Texas Wesleyan School of Law.

Phillips, who’s considered an expert on QDROs in Tarrant County, says he appreciates the pro bono cases that he handles, because unlike some of the cases he handles in his regular practice at the Law Office of Cochran & Phillips in Arlington, his pro bono cases are simple and mostly uncontested.

Phillips, who served on the board of West Texas Legal Services Corp. from 1986 to 1990, says pro bono cases help keep him grounded. “I did get kind of tired of knocked-out, dragged-out custody cases,” he says. “Pro bono work and doing QDROs helped me cope.”

Just as Phillips got a jumpstart on his legal career through pro bono work, he says more law students should take advantage of the opportunities pro bono can provide them. “Too many people are getting out of law school and don’t have the skills and experience that it takes to practice law. But there are a lot of things that law students can do to help licensed attorneys who want to provide legal aid to the poor.” 

Pro Bono Profile: Lisa L. Taylor of Harlingen

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.

Pro bono work is “life-changing” for clients, says Lisa L. Taylor, a director on the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA) board and past president of the Cameron County Bar Association (CCBA). Lisa became interested in doing pro bono work after finding that the need for decent pro bono service in the Rio Grande Valley was “unfathomable,” especially with the Valley’s proximity to the border of Mexico. She participated in a Community Justice Program (CJP) in Bexar County and liked it. So she helped the Cameron County Bar Association with the founding of their CJP in 2005. The CJP is a night court where attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals come together to help indigent persons with pro bono divorces. The program has handled hundreds of uncontested divorces since its creation.

Before the CJP, according to Taylor, the pro bono program in Cameron County was ineffective. One person was in charge, and there was no screening process. “We were lucky if we got 10 to 15 pro bono cases in a year,” she said. Without a screening process, there were numerous problems and more refusals to clients seeking pro bono. The Cameron County CJP fills the need for help with divorce cases, which TRLA is unable to cover, because it handles mostly emergency and violence-related cases.

The Cameron County CJP is volunteer-only with no funding. The Cameron County Bar Association coordinates groups of volunteers for the clinics. Taylor and her CJP colleagues also ask law firms to participate in certain clinics and provide initial training and mentoring needed for attorney volunteers. The CJP clinics are run by TRLA and the CCBA in the UT-Brownsville building, and they meet every other month, with rotating judges overseeing the clinics. The CJP holds 5 sessions a year and an average of 10-15 cases per session. It recently expanded to Hidalgo and Willacy counties.

Taylor is a former member of the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section council and was on the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section’s Practice Manual and Legislative committees. She received an award for distinguished service, the Cameron County Bar Association Paula Waddle Distinguished Service Award for 2008-2009.

Taylor appreciates being in a position to help and do pro bono work and says the best thing about it is helping clients and encouraging other lawyers to do more pro bono, whether it is volunteering more through the CJP, doing pro bono through their own practices, or spreading the word to other attorneys to do more pro bono.