Thomas S. Leatherbury While Thomas S. Leatherbury was attending law school, he helped secure special education placement for a child with autism. It was his first pro bono case. Now a partner in the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins, Leatherbury devotes hundreds of hours to pro bono cases each year and educates young lawyers on the rewards of helping others in need. How did you first get involved in pro bono work and what motivates you to continue? I was very involved in the legal services clinic when I was at Yale Law School. I represented patients at one of the three large mental hospitals in Connecticut. I had some incredible professors who led by example, especially Steve Wizner. And at V&E, it’s part of our culture. The leadership and commitment of Harry Reasoner and others continue to motivate me. How do you identify clients? We work regularly with some of our pro bono partner organizations, including Texas Appleseed, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the Texas Civil Rights Project, American Gateways, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Human Rights Initiative. Because of my experience in First Amendment and media law, pro bono clients who need help in this area usually find me or are referred to me. What is most enjoyable about pro bono work? Solving real problems for people and organizations that otherwise might not have access to our justice system. What is the most challenging aspect? Knowing that, no matter how much pro bono work you do, there are still many, many more people who need lawyers to help them. How has pro bono work evolved? I think what’s changed the most is how much more we know about the unmet needs for legal services, whether it’s in the immigration, family, criminal, or civil courts. What do you want other lawyers to know about pro bono? You’ll be hooked after donating just one or two hours, and you can find about any type of work that you want to do.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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