At the Austin Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, our mission is to offer our time, talent and experience to provide assistance to those people and organizations without access to the legal profession. We will partner with each other, our private practice colleagues and members of the pro bono community to be effective advocates to those who need our help. If you are interested in helping others, but don't know where to turn, click on the above link to find out what opportunities exist. You'll find a variety of projects where you'll be able to work on issues that matter to you. Want to know more? See our FAQ and Helpful Links page to get the information you need.
- A Message From The Pro Bono Chair
- Pro Bono Opportunities
- FAQs & Links
- Volunteer Legal Services - Legal Clinic Handbook
A Message From The Pro Bono Chair
The Austin Chapter of Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) strives to provide in-house and corporate lawyers with pro bono opportunities tailored to meet their situations, skills and interests. Our goal is to support our local Austin community by providing legal services to those in need who might otherwise be neglected. We are constantly working to identify and provide pro bono opportunities, legal training, and networking opportunities where our members can meet our local Access to Justice leaders, law firms, and other corporate counsel in an effort to promote pro bono awareness and the formation of partnerships. If you have any questions about pro bono opportunities in Austin, please contact Brycellyn LaBorde, Executive Director for ACC Austin, or feel free to reach out to me directly.
Estrellita J. Doolin
Pro Bono Opportunities
EVICTION DEFENSE TASK FORCE
ACC Austin has partnered with DLA Piper, Dell Technologies, and Volunteer Legal Services (VLS) to form an eviction defense task force for Austin residents whose housing is at risk.
You can join this task force by watching the task force training recording here, then contacting Estrellita Doolin (Pro Bono Chair) or Brycellyn LaBorde (Executive Director) to be added to the task force email list.
You can also sign up for a volunteer time on our consortium's docket at https://vls.volunteerhub.com and look for the DLA/ACC/Dell Docket on the 4th Wednesday of each month. We'll be teaming up in pairs or groups of three for these dockets to help new volunteers get accustomed to the setting.
BiGAUSTIN is a nonprofit that supports small businesses and workforce development in the Austin community. BiGAUSTIN's mission is to empower underserved Texans to excel and prosper through education, counseling, and capital. BiG provides Contracts Basics and Business Law Basics courses for its clients, both of which are instructed by local volunteer attorneys. ACC member Mackenzie Sheehy is a regular volunteer and will serve as the liaison between ACC and BiGAUSTIN. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Mackenzie: Mackenzie.Sheehy@dell.com
VLS EVENING CLINICS
Helping Central Texans with Basic Legal Needs
In light of the evolving COVID-19 situations, with the currently mandated social distancing measures, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas (VLS) has made the decision to temporarily suspend its Wednesday Webb Middle School in-person clinics.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that the legal needs of Austin's underserved community have also been suspended. Far from it. To address this, VLS is shifting to "on call" and "virtual clinic" models in order to continue offering legal advice to its clients. I ask you to consider giving your time to support these. Please visit VolunterHub to sign up for an hour (or two) of "on call" time in lieu of time at the in-person clinic. VLS is currently offering two options, business hours and evening hours. After you sign up and pick your shift and preference, someone from VLS will provide you with the client information for your shift.
If you find that you can offer more of your time, VLS also has both family law and general law cases available for you. If this is something you can support, please contact Martha Contreras regarding family law cases or Gaby Posada regarding general law cases.
These are unprecedented times. I thank you for any pro bono assistance you can provide. Please feel free to contact me or our Executive Director Brycellyn LaBorde with questions.
Estrellita J. Doolin
Pro Bono Chair - Austin Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel
For more information about VLS Clinics, click here.
CASA of Travis County, Inc. recruits, screens, trains, and supervises volunteers to provide “guardian ad litem” representation for abused and neglected children to help them reach a safe and permanent home. This is a great opportunity for lawyers, paralegals and others to represent those without a voice in our legal system.
CASA volunteers are concerned community members who complete 30 hours of intensive training and donate an average of 20 hours a month to the service of one child or sibling group for a minimum of one year.
CASA volunteers monitor each child’s educational, therapeutic, placement, legal, and medical progress and work one-on-one with each child to gain trust, offer insight, and speak up for the child’s best interest. Court appointed by a judge, a volunteer advocate provides verbal and written reports to the judge including final placement recommendations. The opinions of the CASA volunteers and staff members are often incorporated into the children's service plans. CASA staff provides guidance and supervision for the volunteers as they serve child victims.
CASA’s intense personalized advocacy often uncovers critical information about a child’s situation and brings it to light in court. The foster care system is overwhelmed by the number of children in its care, forcing social workers to carry large caseloads and provide limited opportunities for the one-on-one attention that every child in the system deserves. CASA volunteers are able to meet with the children frequently and are able to share information with DFPS for a greater level of care. The regular contact with the child allows the CASA volunteer to build a relationship, make sure all the child’s needs are met, and assure the child is in a safe, permanent home. For more information about working with CASA, please contact Bridget Brannon at CASA.Bridget@gmail.com.
PRO BONO FAMILY LAW
No greater legal need exists in Central Texas than for lawyers to represent those attempting to stabilize and protect their families. And, there is possibly no greater sense of professional satisfaction for a lawyer than when making a difference in the life of a family in crisis.
Organized family law related pro bono organizations that you can contact about volunteering include:
- Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas (VLS): Provides legal representation to low-income families. VLS additionally provides training and support (including mentoring), and malpractice insurance to lawyers. (512) 476-5550
- Family Eldercare: Assists elderly and disabled individuals in obtaining Guardianships and short-term money management assistance. (512) 450-0844
- Texas Advocacy Project (formerly Women's Advocacy Project): Provides general assistance through a hotline and legal consultations. (512) 476-5377
- Capital Area AIDS Legal Project: Provides general civil legal assistance to low-income individuals with AIDS and HIV. (512) 406-6173
Family law related volunteer opportunities are available through these organizations, as well as many other legal service agencies in the greater Austin area.
LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS
Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) provides free legal and accounting services to arts nonprofits and artists from all creative disciplines, including visual artists, musicians, actors, dancers, film makers and writers. Over 600 attorneys and accountants donate their time to artists and nonprofit organizations who are unable to afford professional services. Without TALA, their problems would remain unresolved and their interests unrepresented.
TALA services include lawyer and accountant pro bono assistance, dispute resolution services, educational programs for the artistic and business community, publications, and a resource library. Programs are designed to help artists apply legal and accounting concepts for their benefit.
Pro bono opportunities include providing advice on:
- Non-Profit Organization Incorporation & Tax-Exempt Status
- Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Review
- Estate Planning for Artists
- Copyright and Trademark
- Arts-Related Landlord/Tenant Issues
- Demand Letters
- Dispute Resolution / Arts Mediation
REFUGEE SERVICES OF TEXAS
RST Austin primarily serves newly arrived refugees with their initial resettlement into the local community. As started in our Austin office, the Survivors of Trafficking Empowerment Program (STEP) provides services to both domestic and foreign survivors of trafficking. RST Austin also offers comprehensive supplementary programs designed for long-term integration and ongoing support. Visit our about page to learn more!
- Resettlement Services
- Survivors of Trafficking Empowerment Program (STEP)
- Job readiness training and placement
- Legal Services
- Medical Case Management
- Social Adjustment Services
- Refugee Youth Mentoring Program
- Central American Minors Refugee Program Application (CAM-AOR)
- Community Wellness
- Refugee Cash Assistance
- English as a Second Language
For more information visit https://www.rstx.org/locations/austin.html.
- What if I'm not Texas licensed?
In most situations, you will be paired with a Texas-licensed attorney. The teamwork will help give better advice to the client, and you’ll get a networking opportunity!
- What if I don't have malpractice insurance?
Volunteer Legal Services, Texas C-BAR and the Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts have malpractice insurance that covers its volunteers.
- What if I’m not a subject matter expert in the areas needed?
Don't worry. Resources and experts are available if you need to step back and ask questions. However, you'll be surprised how much you can help with just basic legal knowledge and common sense. Plus, it’s a great way to expand your own knowledge base and network.
- I want to help, but I do not know what to do.
See the links below or contact Estrellita Doolin or Brycellyn LaBorde at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Hollie Toups, Pro Bono Volunteer Coordinator, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas at email@example.com.
- Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas
- Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources
- Advocacy Inc. (Special Needs Clinics)
- Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts
- ACC/VLS Eviction Defense Presentation and Resources
For a very thorough listing of organizations in the Austin area (and all of Texas) that provide pro bono legal assistance, please see www.texasatj.org and click on the Find Legal Assistance link.