Pro Bono Volunteers Needed in the Rio Grande Valley

Across the Rio Grande Valley, residents are struggling to rebuild after heavy rains have caused damages to their homes and property. Many of them are now faced with pressing legal issues including problems with a landlord or mortgage company, filing insurance claims, applying for FEMA benefits, or replacing important legal documents. And many of them cannot afford the high cost of getting legal help.

Our advocates are overwhelmed by the number of Rio Grande Valley residents who need legal help in the aftermath of the floods and we can’t do it alone.

You can help. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) is currently looking for pro bono attorney volunteers willing to represent low-income individuals with their legal problems related to the floods.

TRLA advocates will provide support and malpractice insurance to all volunteers. Time commitment varies, but our attorneys will discuss the commitment with you before you take a case so you know the work involved.

If you are interested in becoming a pro bono volunteer and playing an important role in the recovery process for Rio Grande Valley residents in need, please sign up with TRLA.

Success Story: Crossing State Lines

Ruth’s daughters meet for the first time

When Ruth’s husband left her and their daughter in California to move to Texas, she knew her marriage was over. So she filed for divorce in her home state without the help of attorney.

Ruth’s husband also filed for divorce — but in Texas. And he didn’t tell the Texas judge about the divorce case in California. When the judge gave him temporary custody of his daughter, it didn’t take long for him to bring the child back to Texas. Confused by the legal proceedings in both states, Ruth turned to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) for help. Continue reading

Attorney Recognized with Community Service Award

Loza received the Community Service Award at the Hispanic Issues Section Reception

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) attorney Richard Loza has been awarded the Pete Torres, Jr. Community Service Award from the Hispanic Issues Section of the State Bar of Texas.

The award was presented yesterday, June 18th, at the Hispanic Issues Section reception held during the State Bar’s Annual Meeting. The award is given to an individual or organization who has demonstrated a history of service and commitment to the Hispanic community. It is named after Pete Torres, Jr., the first Chair of the Hispanic Issues Section. Continue reading

Success Story: Pursuing Higher Education and Helping Others

Krystal shares a moment with her daughter at her college graduation.

Krystal had aged out of the foster care system determined to build a good life. So she got into college and started pursuing her degree. But shortly into her education, she encountered a problem with her financial aid. Her school’s financial aid office had contacted her claiming that they miscalculated the support she needed by $1300. They demanded she repay the money before she could continue going to school or have her transcript released to another institution. Not knowing what to do, Krystal turned to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)’s Foster Youth Justice Project for help. Continue reading

Legal Aid Helps Victims of Central Texas Floods

TRLA advocates help disaster victims at St. John’s Catholic Church in San Marcos.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) has activated its disaster assistance hotline and advocates have begun conducting free legal clinics in response to the devastating floods that hit Central Texas over the Memorial Day holiday.

In the aftermath of the flooding, residents can encounter a variety of legal issues including denials of insurance claims, problems with a landlord or mortgage company, and price gouging.  Residents may also need legal assistance to replace copies of important legal documents, apply for disaster assistance through FEMA, or obtain disaster-related unemployment or public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security. Continue reading

Attorneys Honored with Pro Bono Award

Lauren Joyner (left) and Claire Antonelli (Right) at the 2015 Law Day Gala

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) attorneys Claire Antonelli and Lauren Joyner have been honored by the Hidalgo County Bar Association (HCBA) with the John E. Cook Pro Bono Award.

The award was presented Friday, May 15th at the HCBA Law Day Gala. The award is presented to a bar association member who has done exceptional pro bono work by providing free legal services to the poor.  Antonelli and Joyner were recognized for coordinating pro bono legal efforts to help with the influx of undocumented immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley in 2014. Continue reading

Easy-to-Understand Court Orders Improve Outcomes and Save Money

An evaluation of a test project in Texas and California has shown that plain language court forms can save money in court costs and increase protections for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking, particularly among low-income and Spanish-dominant individuals.

The evaluation, done by NPC Research, reviewed pilot projects in Travis County, Texas and Sonoma County, California and found that the use of easy-to-understand legal documents reduces the number of no-shows at important court hearings and contempt filings in cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. In Texas, this resulted in an estimated savings of $4,600 per case and saved both court and county resources. Continue reading