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.
Emily Buchanan is an associate of Haynes and Boone in Dallas where she practices in the Insurance Recovery Practice Group.
What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I have helped with expungement cases, intake clinics with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, and preparing wills and estate documents for a variety of pro bono clients. Lately, my passion has been focused on helping veterans in the VA hospital’s hospice unit who need to prepare their will and estate documents.
Why is pro bono important to you?
It reminds me about the reason I got into this profession in the first place. It isn’t about the status, the money, or the accolades—it’s about helping people who need it the most. My passion for pro bono matters also stems from my dad, who is a Vietnam veteran that knows the true meaning of sacrifice and service. For every veteran’s will I prepare, I see it as a small token of appreciation for their service to our country.
What have you learned from doing pro bono?
I’ve been able to connect with more people in the community and analyze legal issues that are outside of my immediate practice.
What would you say to an attorney who is thinking about doing pro bono for the first time?
It’s difficult to feel like you’re competent to take on a case in an area of law you’ve never practiced, but don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone. For me, it’s challenging to find a lot of pro bono cases in my immediate practice area (corporate insurance recovery), but I’ve found mentors who support my efforts and guide me through the process of handling estate law. Even if you do not have deep legal knowledge of a specific issue, you already have the tools you need to help a pro bono client—and you’re making a wonderful impact on someone else’s life.
Share one of your favorite pro bono success stories.
I recently helped prepare a will and related estate documents for a veteran who was in hospice care with a very limited time remaining. He and his family were so appreciative to have one less thing to worry about during an emotional and stressful time.