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Retaining Texas Justice: $500 Million in Free Legal Help

PHOTO: Attorneys across Texas are being recognized for providing about $500 million worth of legal services to low-income residents each year. Photo credit: Stuart Seeger/Flickr.
PHOTO: Attorneys across Texas are being recognized for providing about $500 million worth of legal services to low-income residents each year. Photo credit: Stuart Seeger/Flickr.
October 24, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - This is National Pro Bono Week, and while it will soon come to a close, the dramatic need for affordable legal services in Texas is a real struggle that continues each and every day.

Attorney Harry Reasoner, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, says with around five-million people in poverty in the state and millions more living paycheck-to-paycheck, being able to balance the scales of justice is vital in situations that can change people's lives.

"Like domestic abuse, divorce, child custody, wrongful denial of medical care to veterans, and if they can have the help of a lawyer, it can be the difference between winning and losing," says Reasoner.

Attorneys statewide provide more than two-million hours of free legal or indirect services to low-income Texans each year, the equivalent of about a half-billion dollars in pro bono work.

Despite that substantial amount of free legal help each year, Reasoner notes it's still greatly outstripped by the need for access to justice.

"Four out of five people who qualify and have legitimate needs for legal help are turned away simply because of the lack of resources to give them the help they need," he says.

Those wanting more information on low-cost legal services that are available and eligibility requirements can contact the State Bar of Texas or the Texas Legal Services Center.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX