by Michelle Alden
(Left to right) (First): Jeff Patterson, Melissa Dorman Matthews, C. Vernon Hartline, Jr., Stephanie Roark, Larry Grayson. (Middle): Kyle Dreyer, Wendy May, Jeff Cox. (Back): Pryce Tucker, Brian Rawson, Tom Jacks, and Scott Edwards.
The Dallas Bar Association is pleased to announce that Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer, LLP (HDBD) is the kickoff donor for this year’s Equal Access to Justice Campaign, with a generous contribution of $30,500. The firm has a long history of supporting pro bono in Dallas through the Campaign. Including this gift, the firm has donated more than $93,000 to legal aid for the poor since 2007. The Equal Access to Justice Campaign is the annual fundraising campaign which supports the activities of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP). The firm’s gift makes it possible for DVAP to continue to provide and enhance legal aid to the poor in Dallas, keeping the doors to the courthouse and our overall justice system open to many more people in our community. Since 1982, DVAP has recruited and trained pro bono lawyers to provide free legal aid to the poor in Dallas. Last year, a 16 member staff supported over 3,000 volunteers in their efforts to volunteer at legal clinics and advise and represent clients.
HDBD focuses on general civil litigation defense, which includes product liability litigation, personal injury defense, commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, labor and employment law, and a variety of other areas, but the lawyers make the extra effort to support the communities in which they live and work. The firm’s Charitable Giving Committee is made up of Jeff Patterson (Managing Partner, Dallas), Brian Rawson (Dallas), Ann Hennis (Corpus Christi), and Peter Blomquist (Houston), and they have created a firm culture that prides itself on responding to the needs of their communities by investing the time, energy, and resources to ensure a lasting impact. Recent charitable work by firm employees includes going door-to-door in Houston to help fellow Texans devastated by Hurricane Harvey, supporting victims of sexual abuse in the Coastal Bend area, providing emergency school supplies for displaced grade-schoolers in Dallas, and ensuring that homeless veterans in Texas have access to free legal services. HDBD spearheads initiatives that provide financial support to charitable and civic organizations involved in health and social welfare, community, arts and culture, education, and legal advocacy activities. “Though our firm primarily represents large corporations, we are steadfast in our belief that all members of society are entitled to strong legal representation, especially those who cannot otherwise afford it,” Brian Rawson said.
The justice gap in Dallas County is daunting. In a country based on justice for all and access to our court system, over 25 percent of Dallas County residents live near the poverty level, and 42 percent have slim hope of being able to afford an attorney. With annual poverty incomes of $31,375 for a family of four, justice is a luxury for low and moderate income families. “DVAP’s efforts towards closing the justice gap cannot be overstated. We have seen first-hand the impact that DVAP has had on those in need in our community. Contributing to this cause was an easy decision for us; we are proud to kick off this year’s Campaign,” added Jeff Patterson.
The commitment of Dallas attorneys and the DBA to the Equal Access to Justice Campaign is impressive. Since 1997, the DBA and Legal Aid have joined forces to raise money for the program, with Dallas lawyers donating almost $13 million. DVAP is pleased to announce that Julia Simon, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of Mary Kay, Inc., is serving as the Honorary Chair for this year’s Campaign.
DVAP is a joint pro bono program of the DBA and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas. The program is the only one of its kind in Texas and brings together the volunteer resources of a major metropolitan bar association with the legal aid expertise of the largest and oldest civil legal aid program in North Texas. For more information, or to donate, visit www.dallasvolunteerattorneyprogram.org.
Michelle Alden is the Director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. She can be reached at email@example.com.