Pro Bono

Pro Bono

Great values are at the core of a great law firm. Jackson Walker’s award-winning pro bono program demonstrates its values and commitment to representing clients of limited economic means who would otherwise be unable to afford legal services. We work directly with several pro bono legal service providers that refer cases to us, such as Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Texas CBAR, CitySquare, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, and Catholic Charities, all of which share our goal of improving the law and the legal system to help ensure equal access to justice by all members of society.

Engaging in public interest legal service also provides valuable experience for our attorneys and gets them further engaged with the community. We have found that attorneys who are regularly active in pro bono service tend to develop well-rounded, engaged lives, and often end up being leaders within the firm and the community. We are quite proud of the fact that the firm spends over 10,000 hours on pro bono causes every year.

jackson-walker-attorney-thumb-KilpatrickBrian“In a society governed by the rule of law, attorneys have an obligation to make sure the legal system works, especially for the disadvantaged. Our attorneys understand their responsibilities to the community and the legal profession, and work hard to ensure access to justice for all people. I am very proud of my colleagues and the millions of dollars of legal work that they donate every year for the less fortunate and unjustly treated in our society.” – Brian A. Kilpatrick, Partner and Chair of Pro Bono Committee.

Recognition and Leadership

The firm has a comprehensive Pro Bono Policy that is administered by a multi-office Pro Bono Committee comprised of partners and associates from our offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Brian A. Kilpatrick has served as the Pro Bono Committee Chair since 2008.

  • Along with Nancy Hamilton and Audra Welter, Chip Babcock is a recipient of the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Kristi Couvillon Pro Bono Award, which is presented annually to attorneys who handled significant cases for the TCRP. The JW team successfully defended an internet publication sued for libel by a judicial candidate concerning comments made regarding the candidate’s qualifications for office.

  • Mary Emma Karam has been twice-named “Pro Bono Champion” by The Public Interest Committee of the American Health Lawyers Association for her dedication to providing pro bono services in the health law field. The AHLA noted her commitment to improving the lives of so many who are least able to afford necessary legal services but who need them the most.

  • Brian Kilpatrick has regularly represented pro bono clients for over 20 years. Most recently he represented a mother in a contentious child custody case in which she had been deprived her parental rights after representing herself in a prior action. After several months of discovery and pretrial hearings, the court modified its order in a manner consistent with the client’s wishes and the best interest of the children.

  • Kurt Nondorf provides significant pro bono services to Covenant House Texas (CHT). Since 1983, CHT has been providing abused or abandoned, homeless and runaway youth a safe haven from the dangers of street life and abuse. By giving these youths necessary skills, training, and emotional support, CHT creates positive life alternatives and the opportunity to develop into self-sufficient adults.

Partnerships & Initiatives

Legal Representation

Jackson Walker’s pro bono work encompasses a broad range of topics and clients and touches all of our practice areas. Some examples of the types of pro bono matters we regularly handle are:

  • Representation of low income individuals through various legal aid organizations in family law, consumer and estates matters. Examples of these organizations are Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, and the Community Justice Program in Bexar County.
  • Acceptance of federal court appointments in criminal and civil rights cases.
  • Service as a guardian ad litem or court appointed special advocate for children brought into protective care.
  • Seeking asylum in the United States on behalf of individuals fleeing persecution from other countries.
  • Assisting non-profit organizations in transactional and other legal matters


Jackson Walker regularly hosts CLEs presented by legal aid organizations, with a goal of recruiting firm attorneys to take pro bono cases on the topic presented.

As examples, the Houston office has hosted training on “How-to Handle A Guardianship Case,” which was presented by Houston Volunteer Lawyers in partnership with the Texas Children’s Hospital Medical-Legal Partnership Program. The Dallas Office has hosted training on “How to Handle Your First Divorce” and “How to Prepare a Will” in conjunction with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program of the Dallas Bar Association. The Austin office has hosted similar training presented by Volunteer Services of Central Texas. The goal for these training presentations was to teach, encourage and recruit attorneys to the pro bono causes.

Financial Contributions

In addition to the gift of time, the firm and its attorneys make regular financial contributions to organizations that support pro bono legal service. The Texas Access to Justice Commission has repeatedly named Jackson Walker a “Champion of Justice” law firm because of the overwhelming generosity of its attorneys making individual contributions to the Justice For All Campaign, which supports legal services to the poor through grants distributed to more than 30 nonprofit organizations —volunteer lawyers programs, legal aid offices, law school clinics, local bar association projects, and family violence shelters.


Jackson Walker and its individual attorneys have received numerous accolades and awards over the years for pro bono service in the communities in which we live and work. A handful of examples of such awards include:

  • Texas Access to Justice Commission’s “Champion of Justice” Award
  • Harris County Bar Association’s “Bench-Bar Pro Bono Award”
  • Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas’s “Covington Award for Pro Bono Work in Central Texas”
  • Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program’s “Bronze Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service”
  • Houston Bar Association’s “Equal Access Champion”
  • Dallas Bar Association and Legal Services of Northwest Texas “Equal Access to Justice Platinum Sponsor”
  • American Health Lawyers Association “Pro Bono Champion Award” – Mary Emma Karam.
  • Texas Civil Rights Project’s “Kristi Couvillon Pro Bono Award” – Chip Babcock, Nancy Hamilton, Audra Welter

Legal Service Organizations

American Bar Association – Pro Bono

Catholic Charities (Immigration cases)

Houston Volunteer Attorney Program

Human Rights First (Asylum and immigration cases)

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Legal Aid of Northwest Texas

Pro Bono Institute (Georgetown University)

Pro Bono Net

State Bar of Texas – Pro Bono

Texas C-Bar

Texas Law Help

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas

US Department of State Hague Convention Attorney Network (International child abduction cases)

As we work to create light for others,

we naturally light our own way.

More information on Jackson Walker