Pro Bono Profile: Quanah Parker

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.

In 25 years of pro bono service with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT), Quanah Parker has represented low-income clients in every one of the seventeen counties served by the Abilene LANWT branch office. He knows more than most the challenges faced by low-income families in rural areas of Texas. Pro bono service is a lifeline for these Texans who live a long distance from many services.

“Quanah’s commitment to pro bono services and the clients LANWT serves has opened the doors of justice for individuals and families who otherwise could not afford an attorney. He is truly a role model for attorneys interested in doing pro bono work,” said Lupe Elizondo, Pro Bono Coordinator for the Abilene office.

In addition to accepting pro bono referrals, Mr. Parker serves as a mentor and co-counsel on pro bono cases, volunteers at LANWT legal clinics, and participates in CLE seminars for pro bono and legal aid. Lupe Elizondo said that Mr. Parker’s strong commitment to pro bono has made him a reliable partner for LANWT and its low-income clients. “He routinely accepts pro bono referrals and has accepted every pro bono referral by the Abilene pro bono program since 1991,” Elizondo said. 

Pro Bono Profile: Nancy Hui

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.

Nancy Hui has been a very active volunteer with Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) in Houston since she was admitted to the bar in 2004. In the Consumer and Home Protection Units, she has assisted twelve low-income clients through trial preparations and court appearances in complex cases, one of which involved eleven defendants, lasted six years, and ended finally in a favorable settlement for her client. These clients could not have afforded an attorney, and Ms. Hui’s pro bono service allowed them to successfully navigate complicated legal procedures and protect their rights.

Although Ms. Hui’s job in medical research requires long work weeks, she takes advantage of whatever time she can manage to help her pro bono clients. She also tries to find other ways that she can assist LSLA – by translating documents for Chinese-speaking clients, for example. “I believe attorneys belong to a privileged group who are in a position to help those in need. Every day we see those who needed legal help but just could not have access to it due to their financial situation. It is only right for us to do what we can to help them out. It is the right thing to do,” she said. 

Besides pro bono, Ms. Hui’s other passion is her two dogs, and just like her, they are long-time volunteers. The dogs serve as therapy dogs and visit nursing home residents every month – like master, like dog!

Pro Bono Profile: Michael Stukenberg

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.

For more than 18 years, Michael Stukenberg has served on the pro bono panel of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) in Corpus Christi. In that time, he has never turned down a request from TRLA to assist a client. He has served many in his community, including non-English speaking clients and a local homeless coalition seeking to obtain articles of incorporation.

It is this continued connection to his community, including individuals and families without much money, that has motivated Mr. Stukenberg in his pro bono service. “I have always felt that it was part of our mission and duty as lawyers to offer our services to the broader community, and I have found the volunteer lawyer program at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid to be a wonderful way to do that,” he says. “I spend most of my professional time helping people who have much pass their wealth on to their heirs in ways that minimize taxes and complications. Our professional rates have gotten so high that we have effectively priced ourselves out of the market for those with less means. Thus I don’t get much of an opportunity to work with the less fortunate except in a volunteer capacity.”

In addition to his individual pro bono service, Mr. Stukenberg has coordinated his law firm’s participation in TRLA’s pro bono program. In this partnership between law firm and legal aid, he sees value for everyone involved. “The clients are always very appreciative and you feel so wonderful that you have been able to help make their life a little easier in some small way.  I also find that I frequently learn something new that I can apply in my practice - so it’s a win-win. It’s a great program and I’m proud and grateful to be a participant.”

Pro Bono Profile: Prof. Larry Spain

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.

Larry Spain, Professor of Law at Texas Tech University, has taken hundreds of pro bono cases with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT) since he began volunteering with them in 2001. Speaking of his service, Professor Spain says he believes pro bono is both a professional obligation of every attorney and an absolute necessity for low-income families in need. “For those who are aware of the tremendous unmet need for critical legal services for those individuals unable to afford counsel, every lawyer’s contribution is necessary to realize the ideal of equal access to justice,” he says. Limited resources force legal aid offices in Texas to turn away half of the eligible clients who come to their offices seeking help, and pro bono attorneys are the only ones with the training and license to fill that gap.

At Texas Tech School of Law, Professor Spain serves as the faculty sponsor for three student organizations supporting legal services to low-income Texans: the Student Public Interest Initiative, Volunteer Law Student Association, and Family Law Society. In the evenings, Professor Spain contributes hundreds of hours to legal clinics held monthly by LANWT. And when he’s not providing advice to low-income clients, he’s organizing an annual CLE program by law school faculty for legal aid and pro bono attorneys, serving as chair of the Bar’s Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee, or serving on the Law School Advisory Committee of the Texas Access to Justice Commission.

Through it all, Professor Spain is motivated by the students he teaches: “The satisfaction of impacting the lives of individual clients in a positive and lasting way on a matter which is of utmost importance to them is a reward in and of itself. More importantly, as a faculty member, I hope to serve as a role model to law students of the importance of pro bono service and the ethical obligation they have to contribute their services on a pro bono basis throughout their professional career.”