Countless people become involved in legal issues, but not everyone can afford the legal help they need. In Texas,
- 5.3 million people qualify for legal aid
- 4 million of them live under the poverty level
- Less than 10% of civil legal needs for low-income-qualifying Texans are met
- For every one legal aid lawyer in the state, there are 9,800 people who qualify for legal aid.
Texas ranks 47th out of 50 in access to legal aid. There is a critical need for pro bono legal services for the less fortunate in our community. As legal professionals, it is a necessity and a privilege to give our services to those who cannot afford it.
Pro Bono Week is a time to give back.
In celebration of pro bono week and the spirit of helping our community, the HBA has compiled this list of pro bono volunteer opportunities for legal professionals.
Veterans Legal Initiative
Established in 2008 by the HBA, Houston Bar Foundation and Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the initiative offers free legal advice and representation for U.S. veterans and spouses of deceased veterans. To date, more than 400 attorneys have served over 16,000 veterans through this program.
Free legal clinics are held every Friday afternoon at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, and semimonthly clinics take place at various locations in 18 different Texas counties. Click here to volunteer for VLI. Go to www.hba.org/vli or contact Tara Shockley at email@example.com or (713) 759-1133 to learn more.
The VLI is made possible by grants from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, the Houston Bar Foundation, and the United Way of Greater Houston Veterans Services Pilot Project.
LegalLine is a public service program of the Houston Bar Association where residents of Harris County and surrounding areas call in 2x a month for brief legal advice from licensed volunteer attorneys over the phone at no charge. The program takes place on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Consejos legales, el programa para los hispanohablantes, ocurre el primer jueves de cada mes entre las 6-8 p.m. y es
copatrocinado por la Asociación Mexicana de Abogados y la Asociación Hispana de Abogados.
This program was created in 1985. Attorney volunteers have a wide variety of specialties. Between July 2017 and June 2018, LegalLine received 6,406 calls, each LegalLine session received an average of 291 calls, and 1,018 individual legal professionals volunteered.
Volunteering for LegalLine is a great way to help multiple clients within the span of a two-hour shift, and to lend your expertise to people in need. (It’s also a great team-building exercise for your firm or corporate legal team.) Learn more at www.hba.org/legalline. To sign up as a volunteer, contact Ashley Gagnon Steininger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (713) 759-1133.
Houston Bar Foundation
Want to contribute to the pro bono cause but too short on time to volunteer? Consider making a charitable donation to the Houston Bar Foundation.
Created in 1982 as the charitable arm of the HBA, the foundation supports programs that provide legal representation to indigent Houstonians, promotes community understanding of the legal system, fosters the administration of justice, and aids fellow attorneys going through difficult times.
Click here to make a donation to the HBF. You can also become a Fellow of the Houston Bar Foundation — click here to get started.
The HBF’s largest fundraiser of the year, the Harvest Celebration, is Monday, November 12. 100% of net proceeds from this event benefit programs that help disadvantaged Houstonians. You can underwrite this event by contacting Diane Cervenka at email@example.com or (713) 759-1133.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers
Houston Volunteer Lawyers (HVL) is the pro bono arm of the HBA, and has provided pro bono legal services to low-income Harris County residents since 1981. HVL receives more than 30,000 calls for help each year. Last year, HVL gave free, in-person legal advice to nearly 5,000 individuals, and represented over 1,600 cases (donating $4 million worth of time).
Change your life and someone else’s. Take a case through HVL today by going to makejusticehappen.org.
Harris County Dispute Resolution Center
The Harris County DRC has provided free mediation services to Harris County residents since 1980. Both volunteers and staff are trained in mediation to help parties reach agreement before the problem leads to a costly lawsuit or violence.
To learn more about the DRC and become a volunteer mediator, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call (713) 755-8274, or visit drchouston.org.
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