Baylor Law School has once again received a grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to fund its Veterans Assistance Clinic. The monthly clinic provides local veterans with legal advice and counsel from law students, faculty members and local attorneys.
Baylor Law's Veterans Assistance Clinic launched last year with the help of a $22,000 grant from the foundation. The clinic will receive the same grant amount this year.
"We are so grateful that the Texas Access to Justice Foundation decided to fund our clinic again for this upcoming year," said Bridget Fuselier, a professor at Baylor Law and director of the clinic. "These funds will make it possible to continue on with the work we have done in the past year to serve veterans in our community and encourage law students to engage in meaningful pro bono and community service."
During its first year of operation, the clinic was held at various locations around the county before settling into its permanent home at the Veterans One Stop Center at 2220 Austin Ave. in Waco.
Fuselier said the clinics have enabled veterans to receive private advice and counsel with an attorney and a law student. That experience helps Baylor Law students learn how representing a client works. Fuselier added that while some of the veterans' issues can be resolved with some simple advice and guidance, others might be more complicated and require legal representation. In such instances, law students will partner on the cases with a local volunteer attorney, providing students with the opportunity to assist with the legal work. Fuselier said the experience not only helps the community, but also inspires law students to value public service.
Last December, the clinic also received a $10,000, one-year grant from the Texas Bar Foundation.
Recently, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation announced grants to 11 nonprofit organizations, totaling more than $426,000, which will help fund legal aid for low-income Texas veterans. With these grants, public interest and pro bono lawyers will be able to provide legal representation to Texas veterans with basic civil legal problems such as denial of benefits or disability, family law matters arising from deployment, and other issues that may arise due to a veteran's absence from home during military service.
The Texas Access to Justice Commission -- through its Champions of Justice Gala --raised more than $340,000 in 2013 from law firms and corporate sponsors. Now in its fourth year, the Champions of Justice Gala has raised more than $1.4 million for veterans' legal services. Along with funding from the gala and additional support from the foundation, the Military Law Section of the State Bar of Texas also donated funds to support the grants to selected nonprofit organizations.
The nonprofits receiving grant awards include:
- Baylor Law School, Waco
- Cathedral Justice Project, Houston
- Community Justice Program, San Antonio
- Fort Bend Lawyers Care, Richmond
- Houston Bar Foundation, Houston
- Jefferson County Bar Foundation, Beaumont
- Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Fort Worth (also includes North Texas, Panhandle)
- Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston (includes East Texas)
- Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido Inc., Austin, South Texas
- Tarrant County Bar Foundation, Fort Worth
- Texas Legal Services Center, Austin (statewide)
"These legal aid programs will provide civil legal services for those who have served our country and deserve our attention," said Richard L. Tate, chair of the board of directors of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.