A New Way to Help
The State Bar of Texas teamed with Paladin to create an online pro bono portal that connects lawyers with those in need.
Written by Adam Faderewski
The State Bar of Texas partnered with justice technology company Paladin to launch an online portal designed to help attorneys find pro bono opportunities to help Texans in need. The free portal, which went live in January, can be found at pbtx.joinpaladin.com and provides a centralized hub for volunteer attorneys and law students to search and sign up for pro bono opportunities in Texas.
“Texas lawyers are committed to assisting Texans in need and this portal provides an easy, centralized search feature that helps volunteer lawyers statewide find the perfect service opportunities,” said Trish McAllister, director of the State Bar’s Legal Access Division and executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission.
Kristen Sonday, Paladin co-founder and chief operating officer, said the impetus for launching Paladin in 2016 came from frustration that she and her co-founder, Paladin CEO Felicity Conrad, had in accessing pro bono work. “Felicity experienced the problem herself, finding it hard to find pro bono because things move so quickly across the pro bono ecosystem,” Sonday said. “She wanted to find a way to centralize pro bono activities in one place to be able to sort and filter.”
Paladin contacted the State Bar of Texas in 2019 when the platform started seeing an influx of inquiries about pro bono-related work for clients in Texas. “I have been so impressed by the Legal Access Division of the State Bar of Texas’ whole approach to pro bono and their forward thinking to find new and creative ways to increase pro bono efforts,” Sonday said.
Attorneys can access the public portal for free and can find pro bono work by filtering through a number of criteria, including community, type of work, or specific area of the law. On the portal, attorneys can fill out a short form and immediately be put in contact with legal service organizations, Sonday said.
“Something that is a little bit unique—thinking about the network component—is that it is a great way for attorneys and legal service organizations to connect,” Sonday said. “We also think of it as pro bono infrastructure for all types of groups to connect and find all different types of opportunities to increase engagement across the board.”
The company offers free versions of its platform to legal service organizations, which can manage and track pro bono interest in real time. Texas legal service organizations also are able to post their opportunities on a nationwide Disaster Relief Pro Bono Portal led by the American Bar Association. Sonday said legal service organizations should get in contact with Pro Bono Texas at firstname.lastname@example.org to help set up an account on the portal.
Attorneys and law students can find more information about pro bono opportunities, mentors, and resources at probonotexas.org.TBJ