by Alicia Hernandez
Aubrey Connatser, of Connatser Family Law has once again given $30,000 to the annual Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefitting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP). A donor since 2006, Connatser Family Law, a boutique family law firm, has donated more than $100,000 to the Campaign.
Impressive? Definitely. Thankful? Certainly. Stunned? Some people are wondering why an attorney and her firm would give so much and ask for so little in return?
We can tell you. Aubrey believes in our justice system. She believes that all people having access to a sound, fair, and democratic way of resolving disputes is a cornerstone of our democracy.
“A person’s ability to pay should not be the determining factor when access to our justice system is necessary to protect a child or right a wrong,” said Aubrey.
For Aubrey, access to justice is about the individual as well as the broader societal impact of access to justice. It is about her clients who have suffered years of domestic violence. It is about her clients who child needed support to pay the bills. It is about clients who just need to move past a failed marriage peacefully and move on with the rest of their lives.
It is about all her clients—pro bono or not. However, it is also about your clients. It is about all individuals in the court system and those who may need the court system someday. It is about businesses, both for profit and non-profit, needing a system to resolve disagreements when trying to work things out informally has failed. It is about making sure our citizens can seek and obtain results from our system of justice.
It is about advice, counsel, and understanding one’s legal rights. It is about making sure people do not fear or mistrust our justice system, or find it so financially inaccessible that the system is biased against them from the start. It is about having lawyers fight for them in our established and trustworthy system so people can enforce and protect their rights. It is about freedom and equality for all and not just a privileged few.
“Access to justice should be a right and not a luxury,” said Aubrey. “Each day we witness the victimization of so many across the globe by unjust legal systems. I believe it is our duty as practitioners to ensure those most vulnerable in our society are not marginalized or ignored because of their lack of resources.”
For DVAP, it is about the thousands of clients who ask for and receive help every year. It is about the more than 2,500 clients who were represented by pro bono attorneys in 2015. It is about the hundreds of additional clients who received advice and counsel. It is about every DVAP client who has received services from the program since its start, and the thousands of Dallas lawyers who have supported access to justice by representing DVAP’s clients.
For Dallas, it is about the more than 600,000 people (25 percent of the Dallas County population) who automatically qualify for free legal help because they live so close to the poverty level. One person’s divorce, one person’s eviction, one person’s consumer problem, is not just someone else’s problem. When that person needs legal advice, needs to understand their rights, needs to have a judge rule on their case, their problem is our problem—making sure they can do this while preserving access to justice for all.
Thank you Connatser Family Law: Aubrey Connatser, Mike DeBruin, Abby Gregory, Christine Leatherberry, and Alissa Castro, for your commitment to the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the Equal Access to Justice Campaign.
The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program is a joint pro bono program of the Dallas Bar Association 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.
To learn more or make a gift, contact Alicia Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-220-7499.
Alicia Hernandez is the director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the DBA director of community services. She can be reached at email@example.com.