Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said Wednesday that domestic abuse cases are “up quite a bit” during the past 15 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are not enough lawyers doing pro bono to help abused women and children.
The chief justice’s comments came during a webcast conducted by the Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, which celebrated the 2020 Women’s Advocacy Awards.
The Dallas-based pro bono and legal public assistance organization gave its annual Champion of Justice award to the Texas Supreme Court, which has demonstrated a significant commitment to providing access to justice for those who cannot afford a lawyer.
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas also awarded its Non-Profit Leadership award to Dallas-based Children’s Health and its general counsel, Amy Yeager. Children’s Health has a partnership with the pro bono organization.
The goal of the awards program is to raise $100,000 annually to help fund a full-time lawyer position to help those in need.
Because of the pandemic, which forced the cancellation of an in-person event, the group has only received $53,000, which mostly came from the sponsors of the awards program – AT&T, Toyota, ACC-DFW, Children’s Health and Central Market.
Awards co-chair Kelly Turner, an associate general counsel at Goldman Sachs and president-elect of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s DFW Chapter, said lawyers can still make a donation here: https://bit.ly/GiveLANWT.
The Texas Lawbook made a $200 donation Wednesday and we encourage our readers to do the same or more.
In lieu of an in-person event, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas hosted two webcast events, including Wednesday’s program, which was moderated by SMU School of Law Dean Jennifer Collins.
Collins asked Chief Justice Hecht and Amy Yeager to dish some advice to young and aspiring lawyers.
“Never give up and look for opportunities,” said Yeager, who noted she once worked at Dillards selling clothes between jobs. “You never know where your career will take you.”
Hecht said young lawyers and law students need to “work hard and build a good reputation.”
The chief justice said that one of his mentors, Patrick Higginbotham, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, gave him maybe the best advice for his career as a judge.
“Before you start a long trial, be sure to go to the bathroom,” Hecht said. “I have found that to be good advice.”
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas conducted a separate webcast on June 11 to honor two other award recipients. The organization presented Harriet Miers, a long-time partner at Locke Lord and former White House counsel to President George W. Bush, with the Louise Raggio Women’s Legal Advocate award. In addition, Kimberly-Clark Deputy General Counsel Shonn Brown was given the Business Leadership award.