September 28, 2015

Austin Bar Foundation Receives Grant from Texas Access to Justice Foundation to Expand Free Legal Clinics for Veterans

AUSTIN, TX – The Austin Bar Foundation received a $127,800 grant from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.  This grant is for a two-year period and will allow the Austin Bar to hire a part-time attorney to expand the Veterans Free Legal Advice Clinic in Travis County, and to start clinics in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, and Williamson counties.

The Austin Bar Foundation has been sponsoring the clinic in Travis County for over five years at the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic.  Approximately 2,065 veterans have received assistance at the clinics since they began. On average, Austin Bar attorneys assist 30 veterans at each clinic, held ten times a year on the second Monday of each month.  The grant will help the Foundation to meet the greater needs of veterans both in and outside of Travis County.  While the veteran population has decreased on a national level, Texas has seen an increase. There are over 130,000 veterans in Travis County and those counties in which the legal clinics will be expanded.

According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics:

  • The poverty rates for veterans is increasing;
  • The poverty rates for disabled veterans is rising faster than that of non-disabled veterans;
  • The poverty rate for veterans receiving Service-Connected Disability is much lower and shows the importance of those benefits in assisting veterans in avoiding poverty; and
  • The veteran population is also seeing increases in the number of female and minority veterans.

The goal of the clinics is to provide high-quality legal assistance to low income veterans and their families to remove the barriers that keep veterans at or below the poverty level. The assistance will come in the form of free legal advice clinics and pro bono representation. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation provides support to this program, along with the Austin Bar Foundation. The Austin Bar will partner with other local Bar Associations, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion Posts, and Veterans Services Offices in each county, taking cases and giving advice in all areas including Family Law, Landlord Tenant, Probate, Bankruptcy, and Veterans Benefits.

Attorney Douglas Lawrence has been hired to oversee the expansion of the Veterans Free Legal Advice Clinics.  Lawrence is a graduate of Indiana University and the University of Akron Law School. He is originally from Indiana and began practicing law in Cleveland, Ohio, representing the homeless in all manner of civil and criminal cases.  After moving to Texas, he continued in public service, working at non-profit agencies representing children along with the poor and the elderly.  For the past 10 years, he was lead attorney with Volunteer Legal Services, where he supervised countless legal clinics, helping low-income families with a broad range of legal issues.

According to Lawrence, “We will go where the veterans are.  We’ll set up clinics, give advice and take cases.  We will meet face to face with every veteran who needs legal assistance.  We’ll do whatever we can to help.”

The next Veterans Free Legal Advice Clinic will be held on Monday, November 9 from 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic. For more information, visit