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.