PRO BONO SPOTLIGHT DECEMBER 2022
The Pro Bono Spotlight features attorneys chosen by the Texas Access to Justice Commission or the State Bar of Texas for their exceptional commitment to pro bono work. Find pro bono opportunities, support, and inspiration at probonotexas.org. Opinions expressed on the Texas Bar Blog and in the Texas Bar Journal are solely those of the authors. Have an opinion to share? Email us your letters to the editor or articles for consideration at firstname.lastname@example.org. View our submission guidelines at texasbar.com/submissions.
Interview by Will Korn
Photo courtesy of Tameika Johnson
Tameika Johnson, a volunteer pro bono attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid in Waco, believes in the importance of providing affordable legal representation to those in need. She spoke to the Texas Bar Journal about how handling pro bono cases has expanded her legal knowledge in areas she doesn’t work in every day, and how working with Lone Star Legal Aid has served as a conduit to maximize her reach in her community.
What kind of pro bono do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I have been a pro bono attorney volunteer with the Waco branch of the Lone Star Legal Aid office for approximately four years. I primarily handle family law cases.
Why is pro bono important to you?
It’s important to help your community. No one should be denied proper legal representation due to an inability to pay.
What have you learned from doing pro bono?
Currently, I work in the area of corporate compliance, which includes multi-state taxation. I work mainly with insurance agencies. I am about to earn my master’s degree in accounting, and I will be taking the CPA exam in the near future. I have learned a lot of new things from my current position. By doing pro bono work, I have increased my legal knowledge and experience in areas that I do not work in every day. Even better, in volunteering with a place like Lone Star Legal Aid, you can always request to take on other areas of the law.
Share one of your favorite pro bono success stories.
I recently helped my church with a legal matter. It was something similar to a non-family law case I had handled with Lone Star Legal Aid. I was able to quickly research the matter and create the legal documentation. By handling it pro bono, I was able to save my church time and money. It felt really good to help people who have helped me in my life.
What would you say to an attorney who is thinking about doing pro bono for the first time?
I highly advise that you do it. If you are a recent graduate or are returning to the legal profession, they will provide mentorship. It’s a terrific way to gain experience with clients and the law. Personally, I learn more by doing, and volunteering will help you learn in a real-life context.
How do you manage your time between your normal work and pro bono work?
I schedule my pro bono cases around the peak tax filing periods and my classes.
In your experience, what is one of the biggest misconceptions about pro bono work?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that there will be no one to help you if you have any questions. In my experience, I have received a tremendous amount of help. If you are concerned about your lack of experience, you can tell them that up front. The more you volunteer in a certain area, the less help you will need over time.TBJ