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.”