Pro Bono Net would like to recognize the thousands of volunteer lawyers who make a huge difference for those in need. We are celebrating Pro Bono Week, October 25-31, by honoring those dedicated volunteers. Each day we are spotlighting a pro bono volunteer in the community on our organization’s website in the Volunteer Profile section. To kick off the week, we are starting with Alicia A. Handy of Latham & Watkins in Houston, TX.
Alicia A. Handy is an Associate at the Houston Office of Latham & Watkins LLP. She is a member of the Environmental Transactions Practice and her practice focuses primarily on environmental, land and regulatory matters within the oil and gas industry. Ms. Handy has maintained an active pro bono practice that has included landlord-tenant and immigration matters, and a criminal appeal before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
Why do you feel it’s important for you to do pro bono work? What motivates you?
I think it is important to do pro bono work because people should not be denied access to an attorney simply because they lack financial resources. The U.S. legal system is complicated enough for those of us who have attended law school, and the complexities often make it insurmountable for those who are trying to go it alone.
In addition to the ethical aspects of pro bono engagement, my personal experiences have shaped my views and understanding of the role of race and poverty on a person’s every day experience. I have spent countless hours listening and talking to family members about what it means to be black (or any minority) and/or poor in the U.S. I also went to school in one of the most segregated school districts in New York, which also had a high rate of student poverty. I have lost family, friends, classmates to drugs, prison, HIV/AIDS, and violence, some of whom were honor students, from “good” families, and seemed to have everything going for them. My experiences have shaped my perspective and have motivated me since the start of my legal career to do pro bono work.
What do you see as some of the most important area of need? What kind of cases does your firm/company prioritize?
The justice gap is wide and it’s hard to say where the need is greatest.
My firm works on matters across the public interest spectrum. In Houston, where I am based, we handle a number of immigration, estate planning, transactional, and veterans matters. We are also starting to handle more clemency and criminal justice matters.
So it is obvious that the need is overwhelming, but so is a busy work day: how do you find the time?
There’s no easy answer to this one. For me, pro bono engagement is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be a lawyer – it is important to me, it is important to my practice and it is important to this profession. If it is important enough to you, you find the time.
|Latham & Watkins has a long-standing commitment to providing pro bono legal services, financial support and volunteer time to those most in need within our communities.Latham’s dedication to pro bono work is a source of pride and reflects a fundamental part of the firm’s culture. Each year, our lawyers and professional staff take on matters in nearly every area of public interest law, including veterans’ rights, asylum and immigration, domestic violence, Holocaust reparations, anti-human trafficking, prisoners’ rights, microfinance and social entrepreneurialism, children and civil rights.|
Once again we wish to thank all of the volunteers that continue to make our mission of increasing access to justice a reality. Come back each day this week to view the next Volunteer Profile spotlight!
Interested in volunteering? Check out our “Volunteer Tools” page to learn about the range of resources we have at Pro Bono Net to help mobilize and engage pro bono volunteers, or start searching for opportunities right now by using our national Pro Bono Opportunities Guide!