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 Beaumont sole practitioner David E. Grove, pro bono work makes up an important part of his practice. He’s volunteered with the Jefferson County Bar Association Foundation’s Pro Bono Program for more than nine years, and this year, the foundation recognized his efforts by presenting him with the Mickey Mehaffy Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award.
His practice focuses mainly on criminal defense along with some family law and mediation work. He usually maintains four to five pro bono cases at a time and sees the work as an opportunity to expand his legal knowledge into new areas as the need arises, just as he did when he first started taking family law pro bono cases.
“Before I was doing more family law [in his practice], pro bono cases gave me a way to do things I hadn’t done before,” Grove said.
Balancing his regular caseload with the pro bono work can be a challenge but Grove seems to take it in stride. “It’s definitely something you have to try to work around,” he said, adding that pro bono cases are like everything else. “Some cases take longer to get through. You just have to balance it.”
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Ike, Grove and other Jefferson County-area attorneys focused on helping people affected by the natural disasters. The hurricanes provided particular challenges to completing cases, though, due to people being dislocated because of the storms. “It can make it difficult to finalize a case if you can’t find the person.” But the storms also provided opportunities to help in unexpected ways. “We found out that many disaster first responders in our area didn’t have wills, so we had several lawyers doing wills for them.”
It’s this chance to give back to the community that means so much to Grove. “A lot of times the only things people hear about lawyers are the bad things, but there are many things lawyers do to give back to the community. With pro bono work, we just have to keep doing it. The more people you can get involved, the better it’s going to be.”