Dallas Bar Association

Crain ♦ Lewis Kicks Off Equal Access to Justice Campaign with Lead Gift

By Alicia Hernandez

Crain ♦ Lewis, L.L.P. has kicked off the 2014 Equal Access to Justice Campaign with a very generous lead gift of $25,000.

Crain ♦ Lewis partners Rob Crain, a personal injury lawyer, and Chris Lewis, a criminal defense attorney, have donated more than $70,000 since 2005 to the Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefiting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. Their contributions directly benefit people in our community who cannot afford to hire a lawyer and have nowhere but DVAP to turn to for legal help.

Crain ♦ Lewis’ commitment to DVAP is a natural extension of their professional experiences. “As personal injury and criminal defense lawyers, we oftentimes find ourselves representing the underdogs—individuals who would simply be outgunned without legal representation. DVAP clients are in the same boat. Their rights are lost in the legal system if they are unrepresented,” said Mr. Crain.

The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) recruits, trains, and supports volunteer attorneys in providing free legal help to needy people in Dallas. Crain ♦ Lewis’ contribution will go a long way to helping many people in need during 2014, including people like Julie* and her son Jacob*.

Julie had primary possession of four-year-old Jacob, and shared custody of him with Jacob’s father. Shortly after meeting Jacob for the first time and spending a summer visit with the child, Jacob’s dad refused to return him to Julie and filed a complaint alleging abuse and neglect with Child Protective Services. After no finding of any wrongdoing, CPS closed the case, but Julie still could not get the father to return Jacob to her.

Julie, in desperation, asked the police to help several times, but they simply told her to stop harassing the father and that she needed to go back to court to get her child back. With limited money and nowhere else to turn, Julie came to DVAP for help.

Volunteer attorney Geri R. Wyatt accepted Julie’s case, immediately filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with a Writ of Attachment, and set the case for a hearing. The outcome was a joyous victory for Julie and Jacob. The judge granted the Habeas, the child was ordered to the courtroom, and mother and son were finally reunited after being separated for nearly eight months. Without the help of DVAP and Mr. Wyatt, Julie may have never recovered her son.

Julie’s story is one of many great examples of how attorneys make a difference in the lives of their pro bono clients. “We are passionate about protecting people’s rights and defending their freedoms” said Mr. Lewis. “Supporting DVAP clients and the volunteers who are committed to serving them is both a responsibility and a privilege for us.”

 For more information on the Campaign or the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, please contact Alicia Hernandez at (214) 220-7499 or ahernandez@dallasbar.org. Recognition levels and donor benefits are available. In addition, all individual donors at the $1000 level and above and all firm and corporate donors at the $5,000 level and above will be recognized in an ad in the Dallas Morning News on December 15, 2013 and in Texas Lawyer in January or February 2013.

 *Note – The client’s name has been changed to protect his confidentiality.

 Alicia Hernandez is the director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the DBA director of community services. She can be reached at ahernandez@dallasbar.org.

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