Pro Bono Spring Break with Texas Access to Justice Commission

April 6, 2018

This Spring Break, six Texas A&M University School of Law students volunteered with the Texas Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Spring Break program. The law students collaborated with law professors and attorneys ​to help low-income Texas families resolve legal issues.
Texas A&M Law students participating in the 2018 Texas Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Spring Break program:
• Jennifer Marks — LANWT, Abilene
• Uriel Martinez — Texas Advocacy Project, Austin
• Ashley Graves — LANWT, Fort Worth
• Jose Robles Jr. — LANWT, Fort Worth
• Fernando Gomez — RAICES, Fort Worth
• Timothy Azevedo — LANWT, Waxahachie

Each year, the Texas Access to Justice Commission program allows law students throughout the state of Texas to receive training and supervision from law faculty members, practicing attorneys and legal services staff.

“I decided to participate in this pro bono event because it is a much better use of my Spring Break than sleeping in until noon every day,” 1L Fernando Lira Gomez said.

“It was a great opportunity to give back to the community, help a nonprofit, learn in a real-world environment and meet some new attorneys and law students from around the state,” Gomez said.

Gomez worked with RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services).

Fernando-L-gomez1L Fernando Lira Gomez
“My experience this week has been extremely positive. The lawyers are friendly, approachable and are more than happy to teach. In a few days, I have learned about the immigration field, received some hands-on experience with writing, interacted with clients, translated for a couple of clients, prepared for trial and worked on an asylum application ​that will be going to trial,” Gomez said.

Gomez believes that the knowledge he gained during spring break was invaluable.

“The experience is helpful, because it has shown me just how natural it is to interact with clients. I think for a lot of law students with no legal experience, working with clients can be intimidating, simply because the lawyers are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers,” Gomez said.  

Gomez believes, however, that law students should not be intimidated because the supervising attorneys are very supportive.

“You get great experience and work with helpful lawyers. Aside from that, you get to see the vital role that lawyers play in people’s lives and just how much difference a good lawyer can make,” Gomez said.

Gomez is proud of the experience and the difference he’s made by volunteering. 

“Some of these families have escaped horrible situations. An experience like this truly reinforces your passion for the law,” Gomez said.
Timothy-Azevedo2L Timothy Azevedo at ​LANWT, Waxahachie
2L Timothy Azevedo, who worked with the Legal Aid of Northwest Texas in Waxahachie, agrees.

“I enjoyed the work as well as meeting the great attorneys and staff here. I have assisted with a divorce trial and with research and writing for an appellate brief. You really can’t ask for better substantive experience, especially with only being here a week,” Azevedo said.

After working with Legal Aid of Northwest Texas this Spring Break, 3L Jose A. Robles is deliberating on which field of law he should pursue.

“I am seriously considering practicing family law when I pass the bar. I feel that this week was a step in the right direction,” Robles said. “I had the privilege to sit in on some hearings, mediations and intakes, and it was very rewarding seeing the practice of law in effect,” Robles said.

Jennifer-Marks3L Jennifer Marks at LANWT, ​Abilene
3L Jennifer Marks worked with Legal Aid of North West Texas in Abilene. “I watched the attorneys make a difference in indigent people’s lives, by helping them with serious family law matters,” Marks said.

To participate in the Texas Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Spring Break program, contact the student affairs office or visit the Texas Access to Justice Commission Pro Bono Spring Break website.

pro-bono-spring-break-2018-lanwt3L Jose A. Robles (on left, in suit) and 2L Ashley Graves (center, in white) with attorneys at LAWNT, Fort Worth

- Article by Tyra Kelly, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law