Dallas Bar Association

President’s Council: E. Leon & Debra Carter Donate $30,000 to EAJ Campaign

by Alicia Hernandez

On the last day of 2013, Leon Carter quietly slipped into the Belo Mansion to personally deliver a check for $30,000 for the Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefitting DVAP, a personal gift from him and his wife Debra for a cause they believe in.

“It has always been my dream to be a lawyer. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love every day,” said Leon Carter. “While our profession does good in so many ways, it has always been my belief that a person is not judged or measured by the profession he/she is in, but by what he/she gives back to the community. That is why Debra and I decided to give to Equal Access to Justice.”

Even though the President’s Council level gift was not expected, the way Mr. Carter gave it did not surprise the Campaign’s leadership at all. “Leon truly believes that his gift comes from the giving itself,” said Aaron Tobin, Co-Chair of the 2014 Equal Access to Justice Campaign. “He does not seek publicity or accolades for anything he does and receives much satisfaction from just writing the check, with no fanfare whatsoever.”

The “giving itself” will go a long way in helping less fortunate people in Dallas get access to justice. Every day, Dallas citizens are denied access to the basic rights to which they are entitled under the law simply because they cannot afford a lawyer. Equal access to justice can make all the difference in whether people get to keep their homes or live on the streets, are protected from domestic violence, can secure child support for their children, or can defend themselves from fraudulent consumer practices.

Known in the Dallas legal community as a top-notch commercial litigator, trial attorney, and the ultimate professional, Mr. Carter has a strong commitment to community service. He has been active in the Dallas Bar Association, and he has served on the Boards of Camp John Marc, Vickery Meadows Learning Center, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Martin Luther King Center, and the Volunteer Center of Dallas County.

He decided to become a lawyer when he was a child after his late mother told him that a lawyer had helped to change segregationist Jim Crow laws. He wanted to be a part of that kind of change, a change for equality, and supporting DVAP today is a natural extension of the desire for equality for all, including those who cannot afford an attorney.

Leon has been married to Debra Carter for over 30 years, and they have a son and a daughter. Debra is also active in the Dallas community. “As Debra always says,” said Leon, “we have been blessed to be a blessing to others.”

 Not only will the Carter’s support of DVAP help many, many clients in the coming year, the assistance extends to the volunteers who provide the pro bono representation. Donors make it possible for volunteer attorneys to receive mentoring support, training, and malpractice insurance coverage from the DVAP, all of which are essential to a successful pro bono program.

“It is inspiring to have Leon and Debra Carter supporting our program because I see a lot of similarities between the Carters and our volunteers,” said Michelle Alden, Managing Attorney for DVAP. “Our volunteers are committed to community service and making sure that their pro bono clients’ rights are protected regardless of their income. Our volunteers, who tend to be very humble, serve with no expectation of thanks.”

For more information on the Campaign or the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, please contact Alicia Hernandez at (214) 220-7499 or ahernandez@dallasbar.org.

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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