Connatser Family Law Donates $15,000 to DVAP Campaign
by Alicia Hernandez
Aubrey Connatser, Managing Member of Connatser Family Law, has supported pro bono legal aid since law school, and has now demonstrated her commitment to pro bono through a $15,000 gift to the Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefiting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP).
“Family lawyers like Aubrey are critical to DVAP’s success,” said Scott McElhaney, Dallas Bar Association President. “DVAP has great support from the DBA’s Family Law Section, but we always need more family lawyers who can take the difficult family law cases and run with them. Aubrey is a great example of what we need for DVAP.”
In law school, Aubrey participated in the University of Texas Domestic Violence Clinic and volunteered at the Travis County Child Advocacy Center. After graduation in 2001, she immediately became involved with pro bono legal aid to the poor through the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, where she represented family law clients, helped recruit and train volunteers, and mentored other lawyers on their pro bono family law cases. Aubrey has also served as a Co-Chair of the Dallas Bar Association’s Pro Bono Activities Committee, further imparting her knowledge and enthusiasm for both pro bono legal services and family law to the Dallas legal community.
Earlier this year, Aubrey opened Connatser Family Law. The firm provides representation in divorce, child custody and visitation, paternity, complex property settlements, premarital agreements, modifications and collaborative law. The firm supports pro bono legal aid to the poor, and its lawyers are also involved with other non-profits that help families and children in Dallas, including The Family Place, Big Thought and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
“Having access to family law attorneys is very important to DVAP clients,” said Shonn Brown, Co-Chair of the Equal Access to Justice Campaign. “While many DVAP family law cases are straightforward, others have complicated custody and visitation disputes or involve domestic violence. Family law experts make a huge difference in the lives of these clients and their children.”
Aaron Tobin, Co-Chair of the Campaign agrees. “Access to justice, whether through legal advice and counsel or going to court, is very important to the vitality of our community. People who cannot afford lawyers are lost in our justice system. Knowing your legal rights and having an advocate helps build everyone’s trust in our legal system, and DVAP, with the support of donors like Aubrey Connatser, is going a long way to build that trust.”
DVAP, a joint pro bono program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, recruits and trains volunteer attorneys to represent clients on a variety of civil matters, including consumer, housing, landlord-tenant and probate cases. However, its caseload is overwhelmingly family law with varying levels of difficulty.
To meet this demand, DVAP places pro bono cases with volunteer attorneys and provides those volunteers with mentoring and training. DVAP also has a very successful Pro Se Program, offered in both English and Spanish, through which staff and volunteers help clients handle their own family law cases. Earlier this year, DVAP, with the support of the Dallas Civil Courts, started a Pro Se Intake Clinic at the George Allen Courthouse to increase its outreach to the community. DVAP and the Dallas Civil Courts have also partnered for nearly 18 years to hold “night court” once a month to finalize uncontested family law cases for both pro se litigants and volunteer attorneys. In addition, DVAP and the Dallas Bar Association’s Family Law Section collaborate to host CLE programs and promote pro bono opportunities to all members of the Dallas legal community.
To learn more about the program and volunteer, contact Alicia Hernandez at email@example.com.
Alicia Hernandez is the director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the DBA director of community services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.