LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Some students spend their spring break at the beach, skiing, or just relaxing with family. But, law students across Texas have given up their vacation to do free work for legal aid offices.
Pro Bono Spring Break is an initiative of the Texas Access to Justice Commission that brings law students into legal aid officers for hands-on experience.
MORE: Pro Bono Spring Break
Erica Lucx, a first-year student at Texas Tech School of Law, decided to give up her spring break to help others and gain experience. She has been able to draft documents, conduct client intake interviews and attend mediations.
“I think it helps impact learning, especially because some of the things I learn about in class, sitting is a lecture and learning from a professor, I’m actually seeing implemented here and seeing how those pieces work together,” Lux said.
But, it is more than just something to add to a resume.
Tamara Duncan, the managing attorney of the Lubbock branch of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, said it is a chance to show students a need in the community.
“I think anytime you can train a student to be an attorney that pro bono work is important, that will have a great impact on the community because that’s a future lawyer who will value volunteerism, that understands the crucial need for access to justice” Duncan said. “One student at a time, we can increase pro bono and volunteerism in attorneys later.”
Duncan said her office relies on volunteers, so it is helpful to have students participate in Pro Bono Spring Break.
“For everyone one person who qualifies for our services, we have to turn another away,” Duncan said. “Anytime we can get a volunteer in to come help up, that’s a tremendous asset to us.”
Duncan said legal aid and access to justice are not common-knowledge issues among students entering law school. But, she said there are consequences for a person that goes without an attorney.
“We hope to show them how dire the need for access to justice is, how many people there are out there who just can’t afford to hire an attorney,” Duncan said.
She said there are currently over five million people in Texas who qualify for legal aid, so she hopes the students will be inspired by their week to continue to do pro bono work when they become licensed attorneys.
Lux said donating her time this week was an easy decision. She said it is an opportunity to fulfill a graduation requirement and help people in need.
“I’m from Lubbock, and I live here too,” Lux said. “This was a good opportunity to give back to the community that I’m a part of.”
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas is a non-profit organization that provides free civil and legal aid to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. They work with students from Texas Tech school of law every semester.