Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Gladys Marcos

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.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Fernanda Palacios Herrera

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.

Fernanda Palacios Herrera is a 3L at St. Mary’s University School of Law and her hometown is San Juan Buenaventura, Mexico. She is a Pat Tillman Scholar, a member of the Immigration Law Student Association (former vice president, 2020- 2021), the Hispanic Law Student Association, former social chair (2020-2021) for the Public Interest Law Foundation, and a student attorney for the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. After law school, Palacios Herrera plans to practice immigration law.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?

I have been active in pro bono since 2012. While in undergrad, I helped organize free legal clinics for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients and volunteered at citizenship drives and free legal clinics in Austin. In 2018, while working at Refugee Services of Texas, I collaborated with the University of Texas Immigration clinic to organize free Temporary Protected Status renewals.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Kevin Sheneberger

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.

Kevin Sheneberger is a 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law and is originally from Long Beach, California. He is currently working with other SMU Law students to launch a student organization at SMU, in partnership with the Systemic Justice Initiative at Harvard Law School and the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University Law School, focused on education, activism, and institutional collaboration to confront and transform unjust systems within the justice system, legal profession, and legal education process. Sheneberger plans on practicing criminal defense law, with a specific focus on wrongful convictions and the rights of the accused and incarcerated.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I had the great honor of clerking for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas this past summer, with its Community Revitalization Project, or CRP. The project engages in a range of legal work focused on empowering citizen groups in historically marginalized and underprivileged communities. Given the breadth of CRP’s efforts, I was able to participate in meaningful work touching on everything from zoning ordinances, environmental regulation, and community education to Community Reinvestment Act enforcement and Community Development Block Grants.

Why is pro bono important to you?
The opportunity to practice law is a great honor and privilege, but historically, that privilege has been inaccessible for a vast portion of the population due to significant barriers to access, influence, and equal opportunity. While great efforts have been undertaken to reverse these patterns, the legal profession still struggles to overcome its lack of diversity, or to adequately advance women and people of color. I think it is incumbent on anyone who has been granted access to such an elite and impactful field of work to carry out the responsibility such access entails with reverence and duty to those whose voices and agency have been traditionally denied.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Colleen Collins

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.

 Colleen Collins is a 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law and is originally from Crestview, Florida. She is very involved with the pro bono program at SMU and is in charge of the donations to the Association of Public Interest Law, as well as a student extern in the government and public interest class. Collins is also a graduate assistant for SMU’s Women and LGBT Center, the secretary for OUTLaw, and the vice chair of administration for the SMU Dedman School of Law Board of Advocates. She plans on practicing something social justice-related in the criminal law sector but would love to pursue capital habeas litigation.

 What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?

While I have always been involved in community service and volunteer work, I have been doing pro bono legal work since my 1L year. The summer after my 1L year I interned with the Federal Public Defender of North Florida’s Capital Habeas Unit and fell in love with capital habeas litigation. I also try and take any opportunity to serve the community and engage in pro bono work whenever possible.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Skyler Schoolfield

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.

Skyler Schoolfield is a May 2021 graduate of Baylor Law School and a native of Aledo. While at Baylor, she was a member of the Baylor Public Interest Legal Society, Criminal Law Society, Phi Alpha Delta, Mock Trial team, Moot Court team, and Baylor Law Review. Schoolfield also served as a student ambassador.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?

I took every pro bono opportunity that was presented to me, so I did a little bit of everything. I participated in the Veteran’s Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Estate Planning Clinic, and Trial Advocacy Clinic at Baylor Law. I also was involved with the Baylor Public Interest Legal Aid Society and through that helped with Adoption Day and People’s Law School. Each spring break I participated in Access to Justice Pro Bono Spring Break at NorthWest Texas Legal Aid, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, and the Texas Advocacy Project. I also worked with Texas Law Help and Greater Waco Legal Services.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: Rosa M. Peterson

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.

Rosa M. Peterson is a 3L at St. Mary’s University School of Law.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I am involved in multiple pro bono projects here at St. Mary’s and have been since the middle of my first semester of 1L year. I have had the honor of participating in workshops with varying focuses including expunction, veterans’ rights, pro se divorce, wills, psychiatric advance directives, alternatives to guardianship, ID recovery, and immigration.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Maddy Dwertman

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.

Maddy Dwertman is a senior associate of Baker Botts in Austin.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been engaged with pro bono work since I started practicing law in 2014. My pro bono practice is largely focused on representing asylum seekers and other individuals seeking humanitarian protection in immigration court, as well as in appellate proceedings and before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In addition to direct representation, I’ve also assisted nonprofit legal service providers with drafting comments to several proposed regulations regarding the immigration system. The other piece of my pro bono practice is focused on transgender rights. I regularly assist members of the trans community with name and gender marker changes, and I am currently co-counsel in a federal court case challenging the constitutionality of a state statute that bars transgender people from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Omar Itani

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.

Omar Itani, a 3L at UNT Dallas School of Law and a native of Dallas, is the first in his family to go to college and law school. He participates in a variety of engagements. Itani is vice president of the American Muslim Law Student Association, a member of UNT Dallas College of Law Board of Advocates, a UNT Dallas College of Law Community Engagement Program Ambassador, and a member of the Bell Nunnally Business Law Forum. He plans on practicing business law after law school.

What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been focusing my efforts on community education, specifically in consumer arbitration matters. I present information about arbitration to inform community members about keeping themselves protected from predatory arbitration agreements. I’ve been working on the Community Arbitration Project since December 2020. I also did pro bono work with Census 2020, where I led a team of callers to reach out to those who had not yet filled out their Census form. Our outreach program contacted thousands of community members.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Emily Buchanan

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.

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Posted inLaw SchoolsNewsPeoplePro Bono

Pro Bono Spotlight: David Joseph “D.J.” Deutch

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.

David Joseph “D.J.” Deutch is a 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law and is originally from Sydney, Australia. Before coming to law school, he worked for the United Nations in the Middle East on issues of economic development and human rights law. Deutch is currently externing with the federal public defender’s office in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. He plans on practicing criminal law and working as a public defender. Deutch holds a master of public administration from Columbia University.

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