‘This is an opportunity to give back’: McCleskey attorneys once again make a difference for those who need help through Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
“To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality.” – John Locke
A few years ago, a government agency in the area made a decision to end aid to a severely handicapped person. The case was picked up by an attorney with the McCleskey Law Firm as part of the volunteer work they do every year with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas clinics.
After two years, they reversed the decision.
In January, McCleskey attorneys Garrett Couts, Kathleen Davidson, Will Griffis, Abel Reyna Jr., John Shanklin and Michael Uryasz volunteered with the legal aid organization and once again helped many lives for people who cannot afford to hire an attorney.
The attorneys at McCleskey are passionate about volunteering their time each January.
“Not only is it one of the few things we all do together as a firm, but at the same time, we are helping people who can’t afford the help they need,” said Reyna.
Couts said: “This is an opportunity to give back. We encounter legal needs of every shape, size, facet, and complexity (or simplicity). I may not be able to assist with them all, but I can at try to assist with those within my purview. We are all biblically called to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and to aid those in need. This is one unique way lawyers can do that,” he said.
Christina Richey, Equal Justice Volunteer Program coordinator, has been working with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas since 2009. She appreciates McCleskey’s involvement throughout the years.
“McCleskey is the law firm that hosts our January evening clinics. January has four clinics in total, one hosted by the Texas Tech University SPII (Student Public Interest Initiative) program, the others are hosted by McCleskey,” Richey said.
The clinics McCleskey does are vital for people in dire need of legal aid.
“The evening clinics are held for people needing access to legal help. These individuals may not be able to come in for an office appointment during work hours, due to loss of wages,” Richey said.
“Our applicants have no income or very little income,” Richey said.
Over the years McCleskey has volunteered with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, they have represented people in cases ranging from family law to renter issues to wills.
While some cases might seem fairly straight-forward, each is making an impact.
“In my time as a volunteer with Legal Aid, I’ve seen circumstances where a person is entitled to property or income that may not be much to most of us, but it is enough to provide food or shelter for the foreseeable future,” said Shanklin.
“It could be this person has fallen through the cracks in a government program, or maybe they have rightfully inherited property but don’t know how to access it because of a language barrier, a disability, or some other circumstance. Not only is it gratifying to help the less fortunate and get them moving forward again, but, on many levels, it helps our community as a whole,” he said.
Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas offers this kind of free legal service to low-income residents in 114 Texas counties. Their Lubbock office is one of 16 around the state.
For the attorneys, helping is as much of a blessing to them as it is for those they serve.
“I have learned a lot through this experience,” said Couts. “Whether it’s soft skills in dealing with clients or exposure to new areas of the law, it is a way for me to see what legal issues people are facing on a daily basis. I am currently working on a case which I took pro-bono from the clinics. My client is the living definition of kindness, and I am happy to be helping her with her legal issue.”
Kathleen Davidson has helped for more than six years.
“Having a chance to help other people – I can answer questions they may have, questions they may have been lingering over, explain various family matters and process – it’s helping to give them chance to have a better life,” she said.