Corporate CounSel pro Bono
Stand up for your community. Stand out in your profession.
Access to Justice for All Texans The Commission is grateful that Corporate Counsel in Texas are a vital access to justice partner. Every day Corporate Counsel in Texas choose to play a major role in ensuring access to the courthouse for all Texans—regardless of economic circumstance. – Harry M. Reasoner, Chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission
Corporate Counsel Recognize the Need •● In Texas, it is estimated that only 20 to 25 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income families are being met. •● There are 5.7 million Texans who cannot afford basic civil legal services. • Currently, Texas ranks 39th in the nation in per capita revenue for civil legal aid. • There is one legal aid lawyer for every 11,512 Texans who qualify for legal aid.
Examples of Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Involvement • ●
Represent community-based nonprofits in their work to transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy communities
Participate on local pro bono advisory boards
Serve on speaker panels regarding business matters related to non-profits
Accept pro bono civil law cases, e.g., landlord tenant, guardianship, immigration
To Inquire about pro bono opportunities in your area, contact ATJmail@texasbar.com
Corporate Commitment Corporations in Texas are promoting legal services within their organization and within the corporate structure at large. Corporate attorneys provide legal advice to low income Texans through partnerships with legal services programs, law firms, and other corporate counsel. Partnerships are facilitated through Texas chapters of the Association of Corporate Counsel pro bono committees.
PROFILE: CenterPoint Energy CenterPoint Energy’s legal team has been working with the Houston Bar Association’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program for over 12 years. • Recent support includes the sponsorship of three Drive-Time Legal Clinics, ● where low-income residents were given the opportunity to receive legal advice and counsel after regular work hours, allowing them to receive much-needed civil legal help without missing work. • CenterPoint attorneys also recently participated in “A Day of Giving,” where ● organizations conducted free legal clinics for low-income residents at multiple locations throughout Harris County.
Pictured with Justice Harriet O’Neill, Scott Rozell accepting the Magna Stella Pro Bono Award on behalf of CenterPoint Energy.
“CenterPoint Energy’s legal department is committed to pro bono service. Our small but dedicated legal department has been taking pro bono cases through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program since 1992. We have a designated pro bono coordinator who helps facilitate our involvement in these clinics and cases, and to maximize our impact on the community, we also partner with firms on pro bono projects. Pro bono work is at the heart of corporate and legal professional responsibility – our pro bono service builds access to justice for low-income Texans who do not have the ability to pay for the civil legal representation that they desperately need. – Scott Rozzell (Executive Vice President and General Counsel for CenterPoint Energy)
PROFILE: Peggy Montgomery ● • Developed and coordinated pro bono activities with non-profit
Peggy Montgomery pictured at an HBA HVLP legal clinic.
legal service providers in Texas ● • Served as Board Chair and Member of the Houston Bar Association’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program ● • Involved in Association of Corporate Counsel Houston Chapter’s Board and member of its Pro Bono Committee. ● • Participated in clinics, will-a-thons and legal lines
I am proud to be an attorney for the Exxon Mobil Corporation as the company's strong sense and support of public service has allowed me to use my legal skills to help poor and low-income Texans access much-needed civil legal services. Not only do I find pro bono work extremely rewarding, but I believe commitment to doing pro bono arises out of the personal and professional responsibility of being a licensed member of the legal profession. As I assist those less fortunate I hope I am making a difference in their lives, but I know the experience has made a difference in mine. – Peggy Montgomery, (retired) ExxonMobil Counsel
Resources for Pro Bono Corporate Counsel ● •
What support is available for attorneys who accept pro bono cases? o
Association of Corporate Counsel: Pro bono committees of the Association of Corporate Counsel can facilitate corporate counsel’s involvement in pro bono.
See http://www.acc.com and go to the Texas Chapters respective webpage to find out more.
Partnering for Pro Bono connects corporate counsel and firm attorneys with pro bono clients. Visit www.TYLA.org/PartneringforProBono to help those clients in need.
Malpractice insurance: The State Bar of Texas provides malpractice insurance coverage for attorneys who volunteer with an approved legal services provider. Ask your provider whether they offer malpractice insurance.
Free training: Many volunteer attorney programs offer substantive law and ethics training for volunteers handling pro bono cases.
Paralegals: The Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas offers paralegal assistance to attorneys working on pro bono cases. For more information, pro bono attorneys should contact the Paralegal Division at www.txpd.org/default.asp.
Court reporters: The Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA) can provide court reporting services for pro bono cases. To learn more, pro bono attorneys should contact TCRA at www.tcra-online.com.
How do I set up a pro bono program at my company? o
TexasLawyersHelp.org: This website contains resources for pro bono attorneys to assist in the representation of low-income clients. See www.texaslawyershelp.org/corporatecounsel.
Corporate Pro Bono: This website provides information for in-house lawyers and companies interested in starting or expanding an organized pro bono program. Visit www.cpbo.org.
Pro Bono Institute: This institute provides information, training and consulting to large law firms and corporations interested in pro bono. See www.probonoinst.org.
Center for Pro Bono: The Center provides technical assistance, planning advice, and materials to a wide range of constituents in the field, including corporate counsel. To learn more, visit www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono.
The Texas Access to Justice Commission, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 2001, is charged with developing and implementing initiatives designed to expand access to, and enhance the quality of, justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission works in tandem with the Court, the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and other access to justice partners.