The State Bar of Texas Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee announced its 2023 Pro Bono Excellence award winners.
Hillary Holmes, of Houston, received the Frank J. Scurlock Award; Monique Lopez-Hinkley, of Fort Worth, received the J. Chrys Dougherty Award; Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, or DVAP, of Dallas, received the Pro Bono Award; Julie Stanger, of Houston, received the Pro Bono Coordinator Award; Courtney Smith, of Houston, received the Pro Bono Support Staff Award; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, of Houston, received the W. Frank Newton Award.
The Frank J. Scurlock Award—Hillary Holmes
The Frank J. Scurlock Award honors an individual attorney in good standing who has provided outstanding pro bono work. Holmes has been actively involved with the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, or HVL, program since getting her law license and joining the Houston Bar Association in 2003. She worked as an associate attorney for several years, during which time she gained extensive experience handling an array of cases. She quickly earned a reputation for being a meticulous and skilled lawyer, and her clients soon began seeking her services in all areas of law. She is currently serving as treasurer of the Houston Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Houston Bar Association that funds HVL, in addition to many other legal assistance, relief, and advocacy programs.
Chrys Dougherty Award—Monique Lopez-Hinkley
The J. Chrys Dougherty Award recognizes an outstanding legal services staff attorney. Lopez-Hinkley is the managing attorney of the Fort Worth office of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. She is responsible for 22 lawyers and the medical legal partnership with My Health My Resources, or MHMR, of Tarrant County; the partnership with the Center for Transforming Lives; the partnership with One Safe Place; the Expungement Expo with the district attorney and pro bono attorneys from the L. Clifford Davis Legal Association; the collaborative legal clinics and pro bono programs with the Tarrant County Bar Association; her office’s Equal Justice Volunteer Program; and coordinating pro bono cases with the Driver’s Licenses Restoration Project.
Pro Bono Award—Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
The Pro Bono Award honors a volunteer attorney organization that has made an outstanding contribution toward guaranteeing access to the legal system by the poor. DVAP has stood out as an essential contribution toward ensuring access to the legal system for the poor over the years. DVAP has invested in partnerships, such as collaborations with volunteer lawyers, private firms, corporations, and even the public sector. This group utilizes a confidential online platform to connect clients to volunteer lawyers experienced in civil law issues such as housing, domestic violence, and consumer matters. Through these relationships, DVAP has assisted more than 10,000 Dallas residents in either resolving their legal issues or presenting legal representation in cases in court.
Pro Bono Coordinator Award—Julie Stanger
The Pro Bono Coordinator Award is presented to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the delivery of, and access to, legal services for the poor. This individual also serves as the pro bono coordinator for a volunteer attorney organization or group, local bar association, law firm, law school, corporate legal office, governmental law department, or legal services organization. Stanger is a dedicated member of the legal community and is known to bring law firms and in-house attorneys together for pro bono efforts. She is an active member of the Houston Bar Association and the Houston Volunteer Attorneys.
Pro Bono Support Staff Award—Courtney Smith
The Pro Bono Support Staff Award recognizes the exemplary contributions of non-attorney volunteers such as paralegals, administrative assistants, interpreters, and other support staff who work on pro bono projects. Smith is an active participant in pro bono work and regularly contributes her paralegal skills to cases assigned through the Houston Volunteer Lawyer Program and other organizations. Smith regularly seeks out pro bono opportunities and has averaged 32 hours annually during the past five years.
Frank Newton Award—Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Houston
The W. Frank Newton Award recognizes the pro bono contribution of attorney groups whose members have made an outstanding contribution in the provision of, or access to, legal services to the poor. The Houston office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher encourages its attorneys to choose their own pro bono projects and offers unlimited one-to-one billable credit for attorney hours billed to pro bono matters. In 2022, six newly licensed attorneys opened four new pro bono matters and collectively contributed 694 hours to 26 pro bono projects across their first months. Across the entire Houston office of 62 attorneys, the firm aided on over 85 different pro bono projects in 2022.