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 24-30). 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.
Gladys Marcos is a 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law and is from Commerce. She is president of the Immigration Law Student Association and secretary for the First-Generation Law Student Association. Marcos’ goal is to become an immigration attorney.
What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
The summer of my 1L year was when I began my pro bono work at the International Rescue Committee Dallas in its Unaccompanied Minors program. My focus in pro bono work has been on immigration. This year as a 2L, I am a student associate at the Hunter Clinic for Victims of Crimes Against Women where I have been able to continue my work in immigration law.
Why is pro bono important to you?
Pro bono work is often the only way some can access legal services. I believe that everyone should have access to legal representation. For this reason, I know that putting in my time is something that I can do to ensure accessibility for communities in need. As someone whose parents have used immigration pro bono services before, I understand the importance of pro bono work and it is now my opportunity to give back.
What have you learned from doing pro bono work?
Doing pro bono work has only strengthened my passion for service and the law. I have learned that it is a privilege to be able to provide legal services to others. Doing pro bono work has also provided clarity in legal goals.
What would you say to a fellow student who is thinking about doing pro bono for the first time?
For someone who is interested in doing pro bono services for the first time, I would encourage them to find an area they have an interest in. This can make your experience more meaningful. Pro bono work is also a great way to network, create community ties, and gain experiences that all law students need.
Share one of your favorite pro bono success stories.
I have always been active in service work, from volunteering at shelters to registering people to vote. I figured that doing pro bono work would be similar in the sense that I was helping others. It was not until I began learning about the law myself did I really understand the complexity of it. So, when I began working with unaccompanied minors, I gained a new appreciation for service. Helping a client from his first intake interview to prepping him for his asylum interview was such a great experience. Creating a lasting connection with a client through pro bono work has been one of my biggest successes.