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 21-27). 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.
Hailee Yip is a 3L at Baylor Law School and will graduate on November 10. She is technical editor of the Baylor Law Review, president of the Baylor Public Interest Legal Society, and is a part of the Mock Trial team, Baylor Veterans Clinic, and Baylor Pro Bono Litigation and Transactional teams. Yip wants to be a prosecutor for crimes against children.
What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I have done pro bono work for the Veterans Clinic, Baylor Pro Bono Litigation and Transactional teams, the People’s Law School, and as a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, for McLennan County. I started working with the Veterans Clinic the earliest—in my first quarter of law school (summer 2016). That summer, I also trained to become a CASA volunteer. I finished with my CASA case this past February. I hope to be able to take on one more case. I started with the Pro Bono Litigation and Transactional team this past winter when I got my third-year bar card. First, I did juvenile detention hearings for juveniles who were not yet represented by counsel and then in August we prepped for a trial on a Class C misdemeanor.
Why is pro bono important to you?
I believe that the skills we are learning in law school and throughout our careers are useless if we are not using them to help others. It is really our duty in this profession to take a look around and give some help to people who need it.
What have you learned from doing pro bono?
My pro bono work has helped build my skills in client counseling, trial preparation, and courtroom skills.
What would you say to a fellow student who is thinking about doing pro bono for the first time?
Do it. It is one of the most mutually beneficial things that you can do in law school.
Share one of your favorite pro bono success stories.
We were prepping for trial on the Class C misdemeanor and I think the prosecutor wasn’t expecting the defendant to fight it. She insisted on fighting and so we were ready to go. The evening before we were supposed to go, the prosecutor called and dropped all the charges. We got a success for our client, even though we didn’t go to trial.