The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support the celebration of National Pro Bono Week (Oct. 20-26). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community is doing to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals in the legal community to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. Today, we are featuring Richard Horstman for his invaluable work in the Houston legal community.
“I regret that I didn’t start doing pro bono earlier,” Horstman says.
In 2007, Horstman and Marathon Oil’s corporate legal department instituted a formal pro bono program for the company’s lawyers. As part of the effort, Catholic Charities made a presentation highlighting the legal needs of immigrant children in the United States. On Oct. 1, 2012, Horstman retired from Marathon Oil, where he was assistant general counsel for almost 35 years.
Horstman agreed to tackle a single case, and now performs nearly 230 pro bono hours a year. “I realized that I am one of the few who can do this because of my expertise as a lawyer,” he says. Horstman’s cases are complicated and time-consuming immigration. He has represented children as young as 3 spanning from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico who have been horribly abused and neglected. Horstman has helped Catholic Charities Cabrini Center to recruit pro bono counsel for clients who move out of the jurisdiction to New York, the Washington, D.C., area and Michigan. He frequently participates in Houston Volunteer Lawyers clinics.
Many of his clients have said he changed their lives and gave them hope.
Marathon Oil is a great example of how law firms and in-house corporate legal departments can implement formal pro bono efforts that strongly encourage their lawyers to get involved. If you are inspired by Marathon Oil’s pro bono program, the Corporate Counsel Section of the State Bar of Texas has numerous resources to get your corporation plugged into the pro bono community. Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) is a nationwide resource for legal departments and in-house attorneys interested in doing legal pro bono work. CPBO provides technical assistance, online services, training, surveys, research materials, onsite pro bono clinics, and confidential consultation services to in-house pro bono volunteers—all at no charge. Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources (Texas C-BAR) provides free business law services across Texas to community-based nonprofits developing affordable housing and other much-needed services in low-income communities.
Show You Care: If you are retired, an inactive attorney, or licensed in another state, and you are inspired by Horstman’s pro bono service, please contact the State Bar of Texas Legal Access Division to participate in the Emeritus Program. And now pro bono attorneys do not have to be bilingual to assist limited English proficient or deaf clients. The State Bar’s Language Access Fund makes interpreter and translator services available to you for pro bono cases.
Contact the Legal Access Division at (800) 204-2222, ext. 1855, or firstname.lastname@example.org.