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.
Jim Hunter knows how fortunate he is. As a volunteer with the Cameron County Community Justice Program, he takes on family law cases. A current client is a terminally ill woman whose husband abandoned her and their three children. “When I look at the problems she has, I know that mine pale in comparison,” says Hunter, a partner in Royston Rayzor in the Rio Grande Valley. “As attorneys, we have been blessed with law degrees and great careers — we have a duty to help people.”
Hunter, who practices maritime, commercial and injury litigation, is serving as the 2009–10 president of the Cameron County Bar Association. He says he is using his presidency as a way to get more attorneys in Cameron and Willacy counties on board to do pro bono work. “My mantra this year is to get lawyers to understand how fortunate we are and that we have an obligation not only to our clients and to the public, but to our profession, to improve the perception of lawyers.”
Hunter plugs pro bono wherever he goes and has been successful in recruiting many attorneys to participate in the Community Justice Program. The beauty in the program, he says, lies in the resources offered to volunteer attorneys not familiar with family law. “The nice things about the program is that we have mentors,” he says. “They make it as easy as possible. We have had lawyers who have never taken a family law case and they end up taking more because they have such a wonderful experience in the program.”