The State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the American Bar Association, and others proudly support National Pro Bono Celebration Week (October 22-28). Pro Bono week is an opportunity to educate the public about the good work the legal community does to improve the lives of vulnerable Texans and to encourage more individuals to get involved in pro bono support of the legal system. During the week we will feature stories of pro bono volunteers.Since 2004, Brit Inman Swanson has worked as an attorney for students in the Office of Student Legal Services at Texas Tech University.
What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I have been involved as a volunteer at Legal Aid of Northwest Texas since my third year of law school in 2002. My first job out of law school was working as an attorney in LANWT’s Plainview office. I worked there for a year, then went on to my current job at Texas Tech University. I have been volunteering at LANWT’s for nearly 14 years.
Why is pro bono important to you?
There is an access to justice issue and there is a lot of misinformation out there, in spite of, or perhaps due to, the ability to Google anything. Ensuring that everyone has access to justice is very important to the function of our society.
What have you learned from doing pro bono?
When doing pro bono work you learn firsthand that knowledge is power. Volunteering provides me with the opportunity to impart knowledge to individuals to enable them to regain a semblance of power and take back some control of their lives.
What would you say to an attorney who is thinking about doing pro bono for the first time?
It is a great way to learn about different areas of the law, develop your skills, and meet people who will be directly impacted by your expertise and gift of time. You will also meet colleagues who share your interests and can develop a network of attorneys that can assist you when tackling difficult legal issues.
Share one of your favorite pro bono success stories.
I don’t have a particular client that comes to mind, rather the recurring thought that how educating people about their rights in an effort to prevent injustice is critical. Groups like LANWT and its volunteer attorneys provide an invaluable service to those who otherwise would not have been able to acquire legal assistance.