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.”