Dallas Bar Association

Payne Mitchell Law Group: Making a World of Difference

by Alicia Hernandez

Sometimes it is the simplest things that mean the most and make a world of difference.

Like name changes. Name changes certainly are not the most complex legal matters. They do not take much time and are pretty straightforward, but they can make a tremendous difference in someone’s life.

This is what pro bono attorney Victoria Neave and her client “Carter” learned during their recent DVAP case.

“Carter,” a high school football standout, was thrilled to learn that he was awarded a college football scholarship. With this scholarship, Carter was several steps closer to his dream of a college education, but his scholarship, and his dream, started to slip away when the university refused to release his funds. Dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s, the university noticed something that no one else had ever cared about—that Carter’s birth certificate had a different last name on it than the one he had been using his entire life.

When Carter was born, he was given his mother’s maiden name on his birth certificate even though Carter’s parents were married at the time. No one ever questioned his name, and it was never an issue until he was awarded his scholarship.

The university gave Carter a short time to get his name changed or forfeit the scholarship. He had to act quickly, but he and his family had no financial resources to hire an attorney to help. In stepped DVAP and Ms. Neave, who was able to work with the university and complete Carter’s name change in time for him to enroll in school and receive his scholarship. 

“This was a roadblock that could have had a tremendous impact on Carter’s life. Losing a college scholarship would have been devastating,” said Ms. Neave. “It really could have changed the course of this young man’s life. I am glad that I was there to help him keep his plans on track.”

Andy Payne and Jim Mitchell, attorneys with the law firm of Payne Mitchell Law Group, know a lot about getting their personal injury clients’ lives back on track. And with another $25,000 donation to the 2014 Equal Access to Justice Campaign, benefitting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Payne Mitchell continues its generous tradition of extending their help to DVAP clients.

With more than $125,000 contributed to DVAP in the last seven years, Payne Mitchell is one of the largest contributors to legal aid to the poor in the North Texas area, and the firm’s impact on pro bono in Dallas is extremely significant.

“It is critical for all people to have access to our legal system whether it is to get some advice or an attorney to represent them,” said Jim Mitchell. “DVAP does a great job of matching pro bono lawyers with clients and getting the legal aid to those who need it.”

“Jim and I see DVAP as our pro bono program. It is a natural extension of what we do every day,” said Andy Payne. “We feel fortunate to be able to help.”

*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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