Kelly Hart Partner Recognized for Pro Bono Efforts


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Kelly Hart Partner Recognized for Pro Bono Efforts

  1. 1. Kelly Hart Partner Recognized for Pro Bono Efforts © 2014 The Texas Lawbook. By Brooks Igo Staff Writer for The Texas Lawbook (June 13) – Five years after creating Kelly Hart & Hallman’s pro bono program, Fort Worth litigation partner Shauna Wright is being recognized for her commitment to public service. She was recently named the winner of the State Bar of Texas’ 2014 Pro Bono Coordinator Award. Wright said she developed a passion for serving the public during her 11-year tenure as a prosecutor for the State of Florida, where she led Clay County’s Special Victims Unit eight of those years. With Wright as the Pro Bono Coordinator at the firm, Kelly Hart has increased annual pro bono hours by 200 percent, including more than 2,600 hours in 2013. “This award was won by the people who have followed and jumped on the train,” she said. “A coordinator is nothing without volunteers. They have done the work.” Shauna Wright (Kelly Hart) and Don Reid (Hillwood Properties), prepare for a family law trial for a pro bono client. Kelly Hart hosted an in-house CLE for lawyers who were interested in taking a case. Photo courtesy of Glen Ellman. Two projects Wright has jumpstarted at the firm are efforts with Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans (TLTV) and Tarrant Volunteer Attorney Services (TVAS), which she co-chairs. The firm has hosted three veterans’ clinics and two family law clinics through TVAS during the past year. “Shauna is a vital part of the pro bono network in Tarrant County,” Patricia Graham, executive director of the Tarrant County Bar Association, said in Wright’s nomination for the pro bono award. “She continues to build the bridges between the legal community and Legal Aid of North West Texas to ensure all low income and disadvantaged citizens have access to justice.” In two weeks, more than 40 veterans are scheduled to meet and receive free legal assistance at an upcoming TLTV veterans’ clinic, which will be staffed by Kelly Hart lawyers and summer clerks. Wright says the firm makes an effort to get summer clerks involved in its pro bono projects. “It’s an opportunity for us to show that as a lawyer, this is what we do,” she said. “It’s a great way to get to know your interns and helps us to measure whether they would be a good fit for the firm.” The University of Texas School of Law graduate said the first and most important thing to do to build a successful pro bono program is to get firm or company leadership on board. After working for a year and a half to get TVAS’ first family law clinic up and running, Wright remembers firm managing partner Dee Kelly, Jr. walking in and taking a case. “When your managing partner shows up and takes a case at the first clinic, that sends a message to the firm and community,” she said. “Kelly Hart’s leadership has never hesitated to make pro bono a part of its fabric.” Wright says the firm is taking on more corporate pro bono matters, such as helping a company achieve nonprofit status. She believes there is a common misconception that all pro bono work is litigation-related. Kelly Hart lawyers are currently rewriting the bylaws for United Community Centers, Inc., a 100-year-old Fort Worth charity. Another example of a corporate pro bono project the firm is handling is helping a church work through an oil and gas lease. “We want to be broad and meet people where they are,” she said. “There are front line service providers that need help on the corporate level.”