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 20-26). 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.
Taylor McConnell is a clerk for the Hon. Christine A. Nowak, of the Eastern District of Texas. He is a recent graduate of Baylor Law School. At Baylor, McConnell was an officer for the Baylor Military and Veterans Legal Society and the Leadership Engagement and Development, or L.E.A.D., counsel. When his clerkship ends, McConnell is unsure what area of law he wants to pursue but will continue his dedication to helping others.
What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I tried to do as much pro bono work as I could throughout my 2L and 3L years. I worked monthly at the Heart of Texas Veterans One Stop, represented juveniles at initial detention hearings, and drafted wills for veterans and first responders.
Why is pro bono important to you?
I value pro bono work for a couple reasons. I know the legal process can be intimidating and helping those who need it is incredibly rewarding. Also, it’s a great learning experience—you get to work along side practicing attorneys who share a passion for making a difference.
What have you learned from doing pro bono?
I think I learned one of the most important lessons doing pro bono work—no matter how many cases you have, always remember that what you’re working on is likely your client’s only case. It’s not always about whether you win or lose, it’s often about showing your client that there is someone who cares and will fight with them.
What would you say to an attorney who is thinking about doing pro bono for the first time?
Thinking about doing pro bono work? Do it! Do as much as you can, and try as many different types of pro bono as you can. Instill in yourself a culture of putting others first and you just might find that you too are benefiting from it.
Share one of your favorite pro bono success stories.
I don’t know that I have a favorite success story. But I did get to draft reciprocal wills for a military veteran and his spouse. I was able to meet with the clients at our monthly veterans clinic and I worked on their case all the way through the signing of their wills. I was even one of the signing witnesses. As a military veteran myself, it was an incredible feeling to know that they were taken care of!