Join us in supporting justice for all—now and forever:
Get involved with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program!
Justice should never be out of reach of those living in poverty. There is less than one full-time legal services attorney for every 7,100 Dallas citizens living in poverty. That means that if you filled AT&T Stadium to its maximum capacity, you’d have 11 attorneys to service them. And if each client received a single 30 minute session, it would take those attorneys nearly 5 months of round-the-clock work, with no breaks, just to meet with everyone.
That’s where DVAP comes in. The Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) is a joint initiative of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. Since its founding in 1997, DVAP has become the largest and most comprehensive provider of free legal aid to the poor in Dallas. DVAP provides access to justice by recruiting, training, and supporting over 3,000 volunteer attorneys each year who take meaningful time from their “day jobs” to provide pro bono legal aid to low-income people in Dallas County.
The Justice Forever Fund
The Justice Forever Fund is the next step in ensuring access to justice in Dallas. Currently, legal aid programs around the nation face a crisis over how to pay for the services they provide. Committed volunteers provide their legal services free of charge; however, funds are needed to coordinate clinics, recruit volunteers, train and mentor volunteers, and oversee the thousands of cases that DVAP handles each year. Rather than waiting for the next round of funding cuts, the Justice Forever Fund is an endowment fund that strives to seek and maintain long-term funding to secure legal aid to the poor in Dallas through DVAP. The Justice Forever Fund will be used solely to support DVAP by creating and maintaining long-term funding so that pro bono legal aid to the poor in Dallas will continue, even if traditional funding methods shrink or cease to exist. The Justice Forever Fund has already secured key partnerships with AT&T, Hunt Consolidated, Inc. and Vistra Energy, among others, but Dallas has a long way to go to reach the Fund’s goals.
Statistics in Support
· DVAP serves 4,000 people in Dallas annually with free legal advice and clinics.
· Child support, custody, paternity, access to health care, visitation rights, and benefits programs are some of the issues DVAP addresses to help its clients.
· Women and children make up more than 75% of DVAP clients.
· Half of all client applicants are employed.
· To qualify for DVAP services, a family of four must have an annual income at or below $32,187.
· DVAP’s legal advice and intake clinics meet 13 times per month in various neighborhoods in Dallas County.
· DVAP hosts a Veterans Legal Clinic for veterans and their families.
· Additional advice and intake clinics include the South Dallas Clinic at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, the Garland Legal Clinic at the Salvation Army in Garland, the West Dallas Clinic at the West Dallas Multipurpose Center, and the East Dallas Clinic at the Grace United Methodist Church.
· In 2018, 2,118 people were represented by DVAP’s volunteer attorneys, who provided 13,717 hours of pro bono service, which amounts to over $2 million in donated time at the conservative hourly rate of $150 per hour.
One Story Behind the Statistics
Many people in Dallas County suffer violence and threats at the hands of their partners. This violence becomes even more dangerous when there is a child in the home. “Maria,” a young mother, was beaten by her boyfriend, who slammed her head into a steering wheel and threatened her with a gun. Maria was injured but managed to escape, get her child and seek help from the police. She also sought legal assistance from DVAP. With the help of a DVAP volunteer attorney, Maria got protective and conservatorship orders that limited her boyfriend’s access to her and their child. Both Maria and child have been able to move on with their lives and are safe now with court orders in place.
What Can I Do?
· Support DVAP by giving to the annual Campaign for Equal Access to Justice: HTTP://WWW.dallasbar.org/dvapcampaign.
· Give to the Justice Forever Fund and spread the word. Interested in GIVING? contact Alicia Hernandez at AHernandez@dallasbar.org or 214-220-7401.
· If you are a lawyer, volunteer TO Staff a Clinic or take on a pro bono case. Interested in volunteering? Contact Mariséla Martin at MartinM@LANWT.ORG or 214-243-2243.
· For further information, contact Michelle Alden at ALDENM@LANWT.ORG or 214-243-2234.