The Power of Pro Bono: Honoring Our Volunteers

Every year Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) works with hundreds of private attorneys who selflessly volunteer their time to provide their services at no cost to low-income clients. In a tough economy, TRLA’s services have been in high demand and these attorneys are a key resource to meeting that demand.

In the spirit of recognizing their commitment and saying “thank you” TRLA works with partner domestic violence shelters to select ten pro bono attorneys to honor at our annual Legal Access to Rural Shelters Conference in San Antonio.

This year’s winners of the Private Attorney Involvement Awards are symbols of the commitment that Texas lawyers have to low-income clients in need.

Sydney Stuart
SafePlace (Austin) & Hope Alliance (Round Rock)

Sydney Tye Stuart has been a Texas attorney for over twenty years. She began her career as an assistant district attorney in Dallas County where she helped to implement the first state-level securities and investment fraud prosecution unit in the United States. Sydney then moved into the private sector to pursue civil litigation, later specializing in healthcare and insurance law. As the mother of two young children, she opted out of litigation, enjoying several years of legislative and general counsel positions in the insurance industry. Although her journey has been a circuitous one, she brings a unique skillset to the practice of family law, and is committed to the welfare and happiness of her clients.

Seferino Trevino
Friendship of Women (Brownsville) & Family Crisis Center (Harlingen)

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Seferino Trevino has devoted over twenty years of his life to serving the Rio Grande Valley’s legal needs.As a graduate of the University of Texas Pan American and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Trevino currently focuses his work on both family and criminal law in the Rio Grande Valley.

Anna Markowski Smith
Amistad Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center (Del Rio)

A Val Verde County attorney for the last seventeen years, Ana Markowski Smith was one of the founders of the family violence shelter in Val Verde County. In addition to criminal prosecution duties, Ms. Smith represents Val Verde County officials in civil matters. While attending the University of Houston Law Center, Ms. Smith worked full time as a legal assistant for the firm formerly known as Bracewell and Patterson. After law school she moved back to Del Rio to work for now US Magistrate Victor R. Garcia. Recognizing a need for low cost representation, Ms. Smith takes on a handful of low income divorce clients each year. She also provides training to law enforcement regarding domestic violence issues. As a mother of two daughters, 12 and 4, Ms. Smith is committed to the empowerment of women and children and will continue to advocate on their behalf.

Pedro G. Nieto
Southwest Family Life Center (Honda and Uvalde)

Currently practicing in Uvalde, Texas, Pedro Nieto is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. He has been
practicing in Texas since 1978.

Lucila L. Camarena
Center Against Family Violence (El Paso)

An attorney with the El Paso County Attorney’s Office, Lucila Camarena is a graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law. She has been a licensed attorney in Texas since 1998.

Robert A.Weber
Hill Country Cares (Kerrville)

A native of the east coast, RobertA.Weber is currently a family and criminal law attorney in Kerrville, Texas. Educated in New Jersey public schools, at the University of Pennsylvania, and at Cleveland-Marshall Law School, Weber began his career working in human resources for almost forty years before becoming a small business owner. He began practicing law in 2005 and has been handling pro bono cases for Texas RioGrande LegalAid since that time.Weber has been married for fifty three years and is a proud grandfather of seven.

George Altgelt
Casa de Misericordia (Laredo)

George J. Altgelt was born in Austin in 1973 to parents who were organic gardeners, fervent environmentalists, and political activists. He was raised by his mother in Austin and Wimberley and moved to the family ranch in San Ygnacio in 1990. He graduated from Zapata High School and earned a degree in political science from Texas A&M International University. He is a 2004 graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law. He is married to Rosa Elia Gonzalez de Altgelt and they have two daughters, Emily Ixchel, 5, and Joyce Amanda, 1-1/2. Altgelt is a former Webb County Assistant District Attorney and prosecutor and also worked for the Webb County County Attorney’s office before establishing a private practice with his former St. Mary’s classmate Forrest Cook. He practices law with the firm of Nguyen and Del Barrio.

Rita Hecker Anderson
Crisis Center of Commal County (New Braunfels) & Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center (San Marcos)

Rita Anderson is currently a family law attorney in Austin, Texas. A graduate of Florida International University and St. Mary’s School of Law, she has been licensed to practice in Texas since 2002.

Kristine Cuello
Family Justice Center (San Antonio)

Born and raised in San Antonio, Kristine was educated at Ursuline Academy. She received her BA at the University of
North Texas. Wanting to see if life existed outside the state of Texas, she attended Valparaiso University School of Law in Indiana for law school. Realizing that it did not, she returned to San Antonio to begin her practice. In 2007 she joined TRLA as a volunteer attorney at the Bexar County Family Justice Center. Kristine also volunteers at the Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center as an intake worker and mediator.

Steven Kidder
Mid-Coast Family Services

Steven Kidder is an attorney in private practice in Victoria, Texas. He has been a licensed attorney since 1987 and is primarily engaged in the practice of family law. In addition, Mr. Kidder has also served as the presiding judge for the City of Victoria Municipal Court since 2003. A 1987 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, Mr. Kidder began his legal career clerking for a personal injury law firm in his hometown of Victoria, Texas. Since that time he has continued to devote his career to serving the Texas coastal areas through his work with organizations such as Coastal Bend Legal Services, the Robstown Law Center, and the Victoria Law Center. He has managed his own legal office since 1999.

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