The Harris County Law Library is pleased to announce a new program that helps litigants with limited means to speak with an attorney within steps of the courthouses in Harris County, Texas. In collaboration with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, volunteer attorneys and law students are now meeting with self-represented litigants every Wednesday and Friday from 9a.m. to 12p.m. at the Law Library's downtown Houston location. The Law Library provides support services to both the volunteer attorneys and limited-means clients by offering research and technology support, computers where self-represented litigants can access and create documents, and information about navigating the downtown courthouse complex.
Each Wednesday, faculty and students from Houston College of Law help self-represented litigants determine the legal information and documentation they need to represent themselves in court. The purpose of these clinics is multifaceted. Students gain professional experience and an awareness of the depth of the access to justice problems many individuals face while self-represented litigants receive assistance that makes their legal process more efficient both for them and the courts hearing their cases.
On Fridays, associates from Andrews Kurth, LLP staff clinics at the Law Library. Andrews Kurth is a Houston-based firm that is frequently recognized for its commitment to pro bono service and is listed as an Equal Access Firm by Houston Volunteers Lawyers. Additional members of Houston's legal community have pledged to staff Friday clinics at the Law Library to ensure that services remain available for those in need.
A Collaborative Effort
The initial plan to bring volunteer lawyers to the Law Library began as a collaboration between Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and the Houston Bar Association several years ago. When the Law Library joined the County Attorney's Office in 2011, plans were laid to build out a new space for the Law Library on the first floor of Congress Plaza (1019 Congress Street) complete with offices for volunteer attorneys on the lower level. With all services operational, including those provided by the volunteer attorneys, the Law Library is more useful to the residents of Harris County than ever before and has become a great resource for anyone who must go to court without an attorney.