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 Elaine McAnelly for her invaluable work in the Houston legal community.

Elaine McAnelly recently retired after 23 years in the legal department of JPMorgan Chase, at the end of which she was vice president and assistant general counsel. It came as no surprise that when McAnelly retired from Chase this year, she would not be idle for long. After taking a Spanish immersion trip/class in Guanajuato, Mexico, as a longtime pro bono volunteer of Houston Volunteer Lawyers, she reached out to see how she could use her new Spanish skills to do some good for those in need of legal aid.


What evolved was more than anyone expected. McAnelly dove into her new role representing Houston’s poorest in matters of family law with the zeal that lawyers’ professional cannons ask them all to strive for. In just a few short months, McAnelly not only learned new areas of law and mentored other volunteer attorneys, she also personally handled family law cases and made a point to do so for Spanish-speaking clients.

McAnelly helped hundreds of Houstonians, who probably don’t even know that they had the privilege of being represented by a lawyer as decorated as McAnelly. Houston Volunteer Lawyers, too, is privileged to have had her aboard. She is now volunteering at Houston Volunteer Lawyers’ clinics every other Wednesday and will continue representing individual clients on a pro bono basis as a retired, but tireless, lawyer.

When asked why she does pro bono work, McAnelly said, “We honor the legal profession when we do the humble work of representing low-income individuals through pro bono programs. We don’t receive fame or notoriety; however, the rewards are plentiful.”

Show You Care: If you are retired, an inactive attorney, or licensed in another state, and you are inspired by McAnelly’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