Rio Grande Valley to Celebrate National Pro Bono Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
Cynthia Martinez
512.374.2764
cmartinez@trla.org

WESLACO, Texas – October 26, 2009 – The Rio Grande Valley legal community will come together this week to offer free legal aid to low-income Texans in need of a divorce as part of the National Pro Bono Celebration.

Sponsored by the American Bar Association, the annual National Pro Bono Celebration showcases the difference that pro bono lawyers make to the justice system.  The celebration lasts from October 25 through October 31 and is dedicated to encouraging private attorneys to donate pro bono hours to low-income residents in need of legal help.

In the Rio Grande Valley, private attorneys and legal aid organizations are coming together to mark the week at free divorce clinics in Hidalgo and Willacy counties.  The Community Justice Program (CJP), a partnership between local bar associations and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), is organizing the clinics.

“Pro bono attorneys play a key role in providing services to people who need help and cannot afford an attorney,” said CJP coordinator for Hidalgo and Starr counties Martha Hernandez. “Without their help, we would have to turn away half of the people that come to us.”

At each clinic low-income clients in need of a divorce will be paired with a volunteer attorney who will help them with the legal process at no cost.  Attorneys will work with a judge and other court officials to provide clients with legal assistance until their divorce is finalized.

Added Mary Lou Vasquez, CJP coordinator for Cameron and Willacy counties, “These clinics are amazing examples of the great way that private attorneys give back to the Rio Grande Valley.  Without their support, there would be a lot of people in need.”

The CJP will be hosting its clinic in Hidalgo County on October 27 at 5:30pm at the Hidalgo County Courthouse with Judge Juan Partida.  The Willacy County clinic will occur on October 29 at 5:30pm at the Willacy County Courthouse with Judge Migdalia Lopez.  Media are invited to attend.

The Community Justice Program (CJP) is a joint project between local bar associations and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) aimed at providing free legal services to low-income Texans.  It currently has projects in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.

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