ATJ Update

ATJ Update

In first year, Grapevine judge becomes Champion of Justice
By: Andrew McLemore, Program Coordinator, Access to Justice Commission, State Bar of Texas

During 26 years as a North Texas attorney, Alan C. Wayland met many times with potential clients who couldn’t afford any legal help.

Now that he’s the municipal court judge for the City of Grapevine, Wayland sees even more low-income Texans who don’t get the legal aid they deserve.

“There’s a lot of people that are hurting and need assistance, but they can’t afford to do it on their own,” he said. “And why shouldn’t we attempt to help them as a legal community?”

That’s why he decided this year to join the Champion of Justice Society, created by the Texas Access to Justice Commission to recognize those who support civil legal aid by giving $250 or more.

Before donating $1,000 and becoming the society’s newest Guardian member, Wayland joined the 7.5 percent of licensed Texas attorneys who donated a combined $1.16 million to civil legal aid last year.

This year, the 2015 Access to Justice Campaign wants to double attorney participation to 15 percent.

“I was shocked at how few attorneys give to this,” Wayland said. “Usually when people are faced with a legal need, it’s because they’ve been taken advantage of for so long, they’re at their rope’s end… Who’s going to help them if not us?”

But the reality is that millions of Texans don’t have access to justice. Not because they don’t believe in it or don’t deserve it. It’s simply because they can’t afford it.

Those Texans include the mother whose son was stolen by her estranged boyfriend. The veteran evicted by an exploitive landlord. The elderly woman denied health care for her breast cancer.

The funding raised by the Texas Access to Justice Commission helps these Texans though legal aid offices, faith-based service providers, law school clinics, and respected nonprofit organizations that have the resources and staff to serve the civil legal needs of low-income Texans.

Your support makes a difference.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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