Houston Bar Foundation Funded ProgramsHouston Bar Foundation Memorial Donation Form (PDF)
Houston Volunteer Lawyers
The Houston Bar Foundation provides an annual grant to Houston Volunteer Lawyers, a service of the Houston Bar Association. Houston Volunteer Lawyers uses these funds, which represent approximately one-third of its operating budget, to provide critical legal services to low-income Houstonians. The Houston Bar Association established Houston Volunteer Lawyers in 1981 to fill a gap in the provision of legal services to those people who could not qualify for traditional legal aid programs because they were working to support their families. In reality, however, their income would not cover even their most basic legal needs, such as child custody, landlord/tenant issues and probate matters. Through Houston Volunteer Lawyers, volunteer private attorneys handle cases pro bono for eligible, low-income clients.
2012 was an important year for Houston Volunteer Lawyers. Among other things, Houston Volunteer Lawyers launched a one-of-a-kind online Volunteer Portal, adopted a new name, slogan, logo, and website, created the first medical-legal partnership in Houston in conjunction with Texas Children’s Hospital, expanded its many existing programs to provide legal aid to a diverse group of individuals in Harris County and the surrounding areas, and made significant process changes to provide clients with more efficient and robust legal aid.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers received 29,625 calls for assistance in 2012, and provided in-person, one-on-one legal advice to 4,459 applicants at no charge. Over 1,000 of the persons helped in 2012 were United States veterans or spouses of deceased veterans. In addition, Houston Volunteer Lawyers assisted 7,704 pro se litigants at the Harris County Family Courthouse.
In 2012, 1,508 volunteer lawyers logged 14,164 hours on pro bono cases through Houston Volunteer Lawyers, and an additional 1,936 hours volunteering at legal advice clinics. At a rate of $200 per hour, the time donated by Houston Volunteer Lawyers volunteers represents a benefit to low-income persons seeking legal assistance of $3,220,000.
Administration of Justice Scholarship Program
In 1994, the Houston Bar Foundation established annual scholarships to provide continuing education that is directly related to the administration of justice in Harris County. Grants have been made for both individuals and groups for continuing education programs. According to court administrator Jack Thompson, this is the only continuing education grant of its kind for court coordinators.
Lawyers Assistance Program
The Houston Bar Foundation provides limited temporary financial assistance to attorneys who qualify and are approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors as being in need of financial assistance.
Historic Document Preservation Project
The Houston Bar Foundation partners with the Harris County District Clerk’s Document Preservation Project to accept donations for preserving historic cases and documents from the courts, dating to the early 1800s. The project has enabled the county to preserve hundreds of judicial records of interest to historians, the bar and the general public, and to make them available through 21st century technology.