Pro Bono Week Spotlight: Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP
“Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building; it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists . . . it is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.” - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr
Welcome to Pro Bono Week, here on The Core!
National Pro Bono Week is a great time to celebrate the pro bono work being done all over the country and to expand on pro bono efforts. It is a time to remind ourselves that simply having access to justice — meaning access to courts, equitable systemic processes, and good legal representation — is necessary to a fair and equitably functioning society. While representation is guaranteed in certain legal situations, there are plenty of areas where legal representation is not a right but is practically indispensible nonetheless. That is where pro bono work has to fill in the gaps, to serve the nearly 4 out of 5 Texans who have legal or other representational needs, but cannot afford a lawyer and do not have access to legal aid because those organizations are already at capacity.
Here at Texas Appleseed, our pro bono partners greatly expand our capacity and are essential to our systemic work, work that we know helps to alleviate some of the everyday social and economic burdens that Texans face. From helping to ensure that children as young as 4 years old are not being denied a valuable education by being suspended from pre-K for minor misbehaviors that should be addressed through school-based supports and interventions; to ensuring that those individuals who are attempting to effectively manage an elderly parent's or friend's money have the tools they need to understand how to do so properly.
Consequently, we would like to take this week to recognize several of the many pro bono partners that have contributed to Texas Appleseed’s work this year, and we would like to start with Scott Douglass & McConnico LLP.
Scott Douglass & McConnico is a firm composed of seasoned trial lawyers, located in Austin, TX. Texas Appleseed was ecstatic when we were able to connect with attorneys Sara Clark, Steve Britt, and Kennon Wooten about one of our newer fair financial services projects — the creation of a resource that guides municipalities in ways to encourage and allow for more access to small dollar loans at reasonable costs. Our collaboration with Scott Douglass & McConnico providing extensive research and drafting support resulted in a major Texas Appleseed publication: A Toolkit for Cities: Increasing Access to Fair, Low-Cost Loans. The toolkit offers cities actionable strategies to foster fair loans in local communities, bolstering and complementing local attempts to rein in abuses in the payday and auto title lending market in Texas.
The process of creating the toolkit was incredibly valuable work to both Texas Appleseed staff and the Scott Douglass & McConnico attorneys, as we feel any good pro bono project partnership should be. Indeed, Ms. Wooten stated, "Thanks very much for allowing me to be a part of this important project. I learned a lot, and I'm pretty sure my heart grew a couple sizes along the way." More importantly, this toolkit will help Texans all over the state avoid the debt cycle created by payday and auto title lenders.
Thank you Scott Douglass & McConnico, and Happy Pro Bono Week!!!