An Anniversary to Celebrate: Texas Appleseed

One of the great things that lawyers and law firms do – too often overlooked by those who criticize them – is donate large amounts of pro bono time to perform legal work for disadvantaged Americans. 

But there are also entire organizations dedicated to pro bono work. One such organization is Texas Appleseed, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Over its relatively brief history, the group has played a significant role in achieving these major reforms:

  • Abolishment of a school truancy law in 2015 so that skipping school is no longer a crime that sometimes even put kids in handcuffs or behind bars.
  • Adoption of a law in 2013 that stopped schools from issuing misdemeanor tickets to children for misbehavior, a crime that sometimes led to $500 fines for those who often couldn’t afford it.
  • The Michael Morton Act in 2013, a revamp of criminal discovery procedures that is named for a man who was wrongfully convicted.
  • The Fair Defense Act in 2001, which improved the ability of indigent criminal defendants to retain lawyers. 

Texas Appleseed is an offshoot of the Appleseed Foundation, created by the Harvard Law School class of 1958 to organize the private bar to work for the public good.

Founding board member Mike Lowenberg, general counsel of Gardere Wynne Sewell in Dallas, told Texas Lawyer, “We've had an impact that I think has gone beyond a lot of other organizations seen as liberal or conservative, or plaintiffs’ lawyers or defense lawyers."

Texas Appleseed says its pro bono contributions were valued at $1.5 million in 2014 and $2 million in 2015. 

Just another example of how lawyers are making the world a better place. Happy Anniversary, Texas Appleseed.


Posted: 4/6/2016 8:07:39 AM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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