Attention CJP volunteers! We have entered into new territory this year by transitioning to eFiling. We appreciate all of our volunteers very much and thank you all for helping us to make this transition, but we need your help, please! We have two requests of you to help the CJP make this shift.
First, when you come to a CJP clinic, please bring all of your eFiling provider’s information with you including the site or access location of your provider, your username/logon and your password. Prior to the clinic, please set up a “waiver” account with your efiling service. You can do this in the same place you set up your payment method within your efiling provider. This allows for filing fees and court costs to be waived by the District Clerk when the case is filed. Setting this up prior to the clinic will ensure a smooth and quick filing on the evening you volunteer.
Finally, to keep our files up to date and comply with the requirements of our Federal funders, we kindly ask that when working on a CJP case you remember to let us know when a case has been filed by including the email@example.com email address in the field for courtesy copies in your eFiling provider’s system, or you can email us the cause number and style information when you receive it. We thank you for being a CJP volunteer! If you have any questions about eFiling CJP cases, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Justice Program (“CJP”) is a collaborative effort by the San Antonio Bar Association and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to provide free neighborhood-based legal services to individuals who may not otherwise have access to the legal system. It is alarming to realize that fewer than 20 percent of low-income residents of South Texas can obtain access to legal assistance when faced with a civil problem. That means that four out of five people arrive at the courthouse door to find that they cannot afford the price of admission. Through our volunteers’ generous donation of their time, the CJP is striving to make a difference in those numbers.
TRLA toll-free - 1.866.988.9996
TRLA San Antonio office - 210.212.3700
Wesley Community Center - 210.924.5194
The mission of the Community Justice Program is to support legal representation for indigent residents of San Antonio. A closely related purpose is to provide local attorneys with the opportunity to engage in pro bono work within a comprehensive and efficient clinic setting. The participation of attorneys and volunteers helps open the doors of the Courthouse to those in need. The CJP asks each volunteer to please come back each year and "Just Take One" pro bono case. With this motto and each case an attorney takes through the CJP, that many more Bexar County residents have received the important legal help they needed but could not afford. We welcome individual attorneys to volunteer, and we highly encourage firms or legal organizations to “adopt” a clinic night each year and send as many attorneys as they can. Knowing that we can count on a firm’s yearly participation allows us to ensure that we can continue operating clinics on a regular schedule.
• Alamo Area Paralegal Association
• Association of Corporate Counsel South/Central Texas
• AT&T Legal Department
• Attorney General of Texas HEROES Project
• Bexar County Court Reporters Association
• Bexar County District Clerks Office
• Bexar County Women’s Bar Association
• Bexar County Women’s Bar Foundation
• Catholic Charities
• Catholic Lawyers Guild
• Christian Legal Society
• JP & Municipal Courts Committee
• Mexican American Bar Association
• San Antonio Bankruptcy Bar Association
• San Antonio Bar Association District Courts Committee
• San Antonio Bar Association Elder Law Section
• San Antonio Bar Association Family Law Section
• San Antonio Bar Association Construction
• Law Section
• San Antonio Bar Auxiliary
• San Antonio Bar Foundation
• San Antonio Black Lawyers Association
• San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
• San Antonio Legal Secretaries Association
• San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association
• San Antonio Young Lawyers Association
• South Texas Organization of Paralegals, Inc.
• St. Mary’s Center for Legal & Social Justice
• St. Mary’s University School of Law
• Texas Veterans Commission
The CJP accepts uncontested civil matters including divorce, name changes, simple landlord/tenant disputes, probate matters and wills. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid prescreens each client before they come to the clinics to determine their eligibility for our program. Each client must be below certain federal poverty guidelines in order to be accepted by TRLA.
Currently, the CJP holds several types of legal clinics or “court” in various locations. The family law clinics are held at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and the Wesley Community Center. These clinics provide complete legal service for uncontested civil matters (mostly simple, uncontested divorces) including attorneys, district clerks, notaries, interpreters, support staff, and judges (all working on a volunteer basis). The first neighborhood clinic met at the Carver Academy on San Antonio’s east side in October of 2002. This clinic was relocated in June 2007 to the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) offices near downtown. The second CJP clinic opened on San Antonio’s west side at St. Mary’s University’s Center for Legal and Social Justice in April of 2003. On January 24, 2006 the CJP opened its third clinic on San Antonio’s south side at the Wesley Community Center.
The clinics at St. Mary’s Center for Legal & Social Justice are our Wills Clinics, which provide wills and ancillary documents for low-income individuals. We are pleased to have recently added two new, different kinds of clinics. The Veterans Clinic at the Audie L. Murphy Veterans Hospital serves indigent veterans in an advice-only setting about a wide variety of legal issues. This clinic also prepares wills for the veterans. The Special Education clinic is an advice-only clinic for parents of special needs children that are trying to understand their rights when navigating the school system.
To date, we have matched more than 6,000 pro bono cases to volunteer attorneys.
What to expect as a CJP Volunteer
The program is designed to allow attorneys from any area of practice the opportunity to participate. This is possible because of dedicated mentors who are assigned to each clinic. These mentors are experts in their area of practice and guide the attorneys through their cases from start to finish and are available at the clinic as well as via phone and email afterwards.
There is an Attorney Information Handout packet that comes in each case file. This provides useful and valuable resources for completing your case. The client case file will have all of your initial pleadings drafted for you, as well as a pro bono retainer agreement, case information sheet and the affidavit of indigence which waives all filing and service fees as well as court costs. We strive to have every document you will need ready for you in your file. You will be able to file your case that night at the clinic with our district clerks and paralegals are on hand to make any necessary changes to your document.
One of our judges will review your packets and case files with you page by page in an orientation the night of the clinic. We have every sample document that you might need throughout your case and an army of people to assist with any aspect you may need help on.
Through Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, each attorney is covered by a $1 million errors and omissions policy. As a CJP volunteer, you are also entitled to receive 5.0 free hours of CLE (which includes 1.0 hour of ethics). Our clinics begin at 5:30 p.m. and are usually finished no later than 7:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted as an afternoon clinic, and refreshments will be served.
TexasLawHelp.org offers free legal forms and civil legal information to Texans who cannot afford legal help. Learn about your rights, available self-help resources, and organizations that provide free and low-cost legal aid.