ATJ Pro Bono Champion
Photograph by Brandy Routh.
Richard Cahan is the owner of the Law Office of Richard Cahan in Round Rock, where he focuses on estate law, landlord law, probate law, and will and trust law. He spends free time volunteering for Texas Legal Answers (texas.freelegalanswers.org) giving his expertise on landlord-tenant issues. Cahan has answered nearly 100 questions so far.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your upbringing, and career.
I moved a lot as a kid—to South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington, with a lot of time in the Smoky Mountains with my grandfather. I was a band geek at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, Washington, playing trombone. I grew up with my grandfather, the local handyman, and learned a lot from him. My practice focuses primarily on eviction and landlord/tenant issues, so my grandfather’s teachings help me understand repair issues and be able to advise landlords and tenants on how to correct situations.
When did you decide to become a lawyer?
I thought I was going to be a teacher of the Russian language and/or music. I was in Russia on a semester abroad and Eric Stewart (an attorney out of Corpus Christi now) was in the same program in Moscow. He was on track to go to law school at that time. He said I would be a good attorney. A few years later my father actually went to law school. My wife and I decided on a new adventure in Kentucky to be near my parents. My dad ended up being a year ahead of me in law school and graduated in 2009—he passed the bar exam in Ohio the next year and passed away in 2011 at the age of 55.
How many questions have you answered, and how much time do you devote to Texas Legal Answers?
I wish I could give more time but I am trying to balance work and life. TLA for me is fun and a wind-down type thing. I think from what I saw, I have answered 100 questions.
What sorts of questions do you typically get?
Landlords stressed from tenants not paying for many months or tenants stressed about landlords entering without notice or not fixing things.
Do you take on pro bono cases outside of Texas Legal Answers?
When I first found myself on my own, I went to Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas. They gave me a landlord/tenant case and I have been there ever since. I liked their periodic clinics and would like to get back to going to those.
Why should new attorneys do pro bono work?
It’s the best way to learn a new area. Take a pro bono case and call pretty much any attorney in the field and they will be happy to help you figure it out.TBJ
The ATJ Pro Bono Champion is a quarterly feature highlighting the work of an attorney chosen by the Texas Access to Justice Commission. Recipients represent diverse practice and geographic areas and are selected based on their volume of and length of time spent on pro bono work. To learn more about pro bono work in Texas or to get involved, go to probonotexas.org.