What About Judges?
Judges can play a role in synthesizing needs in the local community with needs in the legal
profession. Sometimes paying attention to small details can make a big difference in the system.
Every court is different, but some common ideas can be useful.
1. Use Veterans Court, Mental Health Court, and Drug Courts to help train young lawyers.
2. Develop a list of lawyers who will serve as pro bono attorneys.
3. Consider appointing younger and older attorneys to team together in a mentoring relationship.
The American Inns of Court are taking the lead in doing this with positive results.
4. Work with local bar associations to set up a system of pro bono representation.
5. Remind pro bono lawyers to set up limited scope agreements so that they are not stuck with a
case forever. The State Bar has an effective Limited Scope Representation Subcommittee with
forms that conform to the appropriate ethical requirements.
6. Encourage pro bono systems that leverage technology so that busy attorneys can participate
with a minimum investment of time.
7. Work with law students and law schools to encourage pro bono work and the concept of service.
8. Understand that pro bono is not appropriate for every case, but can be especially useful in
certain areas, such as housing, employment, civil rights and health care.
9. Provide leadership and encouragement when the programs lose momentum in the face of
10. As local dispute resolution centers grow in importance, consider appointing attorneys for pro
11. Support the Texas Bar Foundation that helps fund these programs.
12.Consider allowing pro bono attorneys to go to the front of the line on big dockets.
13.Become part of the conversation to rethink a final semester or year of law school to provide
practical legal experience in the pro bono context.
Probononeeds in the community are vast, andmost probono litigants havemultiple, interconnected
issues to solve, but the problems are not insurmountable. Judges are in a position to help narrow
the focus of needs and make some changes in the system to match up the needs of litigants and