Lawyers must fulfill their duty to society

Providing services pro bono or helping to fund legal aid for the poor is a fundamental tenet of justice.

Op-Ed (Texas)

Jack Balagia
Houston Chronicle
March 15, 2016

Tags: Access to Justice, Justice for All, Pro Bono

Organizations mentioned/involved: Texas Access to Justice Commission (TATJ)


Last year, the Houston Volunteer Lawyer Program provided legal advice to nearly 5,000 people, and more than 3,000 lawyers participated, donating $4 million in time. Many of the law firms and corporate law departments in Harris and neighboring counties are involved in this effort, and 26 solo practitioners have been recognized as Equal Access Champions for their participation in pro bono service.

Yet more help is needed. Today, volunteer lawyer organizations in Texas receive many thousands of calls for legal services from people who cannot afford lawyers and who qualify for legal aid. Three out of four indigent Texans who need legal services in non-criminal matters do not have access to professional legal help.

Without legal aid, indigent people must fend for themselves through a system that is complicated even for those of us trained to navigate it. Many find themselves stuck in a thicket of legal issues, from landlord/tenant, debtor/creditor or family law disputes, to immigration problems and spousal abuse, to veterans seeking access to their military benefits.