Public Information Brochure
The Houston Bar Association’s 11,000-plus member attorneys have a continued commitment to serving the legal profession and the community.
Established in 1870, the Association’s purpose was to maintain high standards in the legal profession and provide legal education for Harris County attorneys. Today the HBA, the fifth-largest voluntary bar association in the nation, still adheres to those basic principles, but has expanded its goals to include public service and better access to legal services for all citizens in the Greater Houston area.
HBA continuing legal education and professional development programs for attorneys are second to none. HBA members contributed 45,768 volunteer hours to community service projects last year.
The HBA is a non-profit organization supported solely by member dues. In 1982, the HBA established the Houston Bar Foundation, its charitable arm through which many of the HBA’s community service projects are funded.
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Did you know?
- The Houston Bar Association is a voluntary organization that helps members develop their professional and personal skills through education, networking and service.
- The Houston Bar Association is an information and resource service for both its members and the public. If you have a question about legal services or the administration of justice, we will try to answer your questions or direct your call to someone who can provide the answers you need. While the Houston Bar Association has no attorneys on staff and cannot give legal advice, we may be able to refer you to an appropriate program for help.
- The Supreme Court of Texas licenses attorneys and the State Bar of Texas, through the Commission on Lawyer Discipline, governs attorneys, including investigating complaints and handling discipline. For more information, call the State Bar Grievance Committee at (713) 758-8200 or their toll-free number, 1 (800) 932-1900.
The Dispute Resolution Center offers citizens free alternatives to legal action. Services include community-based mediation, court-ordered mediation, arbitration, and moderated settlement conferences. Trained mediators and moderators bring together persons on both sides of an argument and help them reach an agreement before the problem leads to a costly lawsuit or violence. If you have a problem or lawsuit, you may be able to resolve it through the DRC.
Houston Lawyer Referral Service can recommend a competent attorney who will set up an initial consultation for a reduced fee. Citizens can then decide if they would like to continue the services of that attorney at the attorney’s regular fee scale. For income-eligible citizens, HLRS has a panel of attorneys who agree to handle cases on a reduced fee scale. HLRS maintains a large panel of attorneys who handle all types of cases.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono service arm of the Houston Bar Association, links Houston-area residents with private attorneys who volunteer their time. Qualified applicants include low-income veterans, victims of abuse, disabled children, and everyday Houstonians who cannot afford the legal help they need. HVL also sponsors semi-monthly walk-in legal clinics, and help for self-representing family litigants at the Harris County Law Library.
The HBA offers free handbooks that answer questions on elder law, family law, and consumer law. Digital copies of the handbooks are available on the HBA website. You can also contact the HBA office to have a printed copy mailed to you or reserved for pickup.
Many times, citizens need answers to legal questions or simple legal advice that can be given over the telephone in just a few moments. Or, citizens may need a referral to other legal or social service agencies. On the first and third Wednesdays of each month, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., volunteer attorneys answer telephone calls from the public. On the first Thursday of each month, the Mexican-American Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association answer Spanish calls during Consejos Legales, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Call (713) 759-1133.
Click here for a list of other free legal hotlines in Texas
Volunteer attorneys provide advice and counsel to veterans at a Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic held every Friday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. No appointment is necessary. Legal advice also is available at some residential facilities for veterans and legal advice clinics are held on certain Saturdays each year in 18 counties. If veterans need further legal assistance, they may be referred to a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers.
For more than 15 years the Houston Bar Association has partnered with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center for blood drives within the legal community.
HBA members and support staff from law firms and corporations throughout the city have donated more than 350,000 coats, articles of clothing for children and adults, and disposable diapers, as well as over $180,000 in monetary donations, through annual drives. The items are distributed to homeless and needy citizens through local shelters, missions and agencies.
The Houston Bar Association partners with Communities In Schools Houston on the Summer Legal Internship Program, which provides high school students internships and employment opportunities at Houston law firms, corporate legal departments and public legal institutions.
The HBA Fee Dispute Committee sets up panels of attorneys and lay persons that arbitrate disputes between attorneys and clients involving legal fees, at no cost. Submit complaints online or via mail.
Each year, the HBA collects funds and recruits volunteers for the construction of homes through Houston Habitat for Humanity. To date the HBA has funded and built 22 homes.
The HBA partners with the Houston Alumni and Youth (HAY) Center to provide legal education and support programs to youth who are aging out of the foster care system. HBA members also donate items and volunteer at special events such as an annual Holiday Party.
Since 1986, the Fun Run has contributed over $1,484,651 to The Center for Pursuit, which provides education, job training, socialization, and health care to developmentally-disabled persons. A family event open to the public, the Annual HBA John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run features a certified, sanctioned 8K course, a run for children and a family walk.
Volunteers from the legal community organize events to pick up trash, mow, weed, plant trees and beautify public areas, including local parks and conservatories.
Each year, this committee organizes a drive to collect gently-used books for all reading levels for distribution to hospitals, literacy groups, veterans’ facilities and social service agencies. The program also recruits volunteers to participate in reading enrichment programs at schools.
This program develops and distributes helpful materials for legal organizations that employ individuals with special needs. In addition, the program provides legal services and other support for special-needs individuals and their families, such as help with guardianship cases.
Attorneys, along with their families and law firm staff, volunteer to serve as judges, timekeepers, scorekeepers, and “buddies” for the special-needs athletes who compete in events such as volleyball, softball, basketball, track and swimming.
The Interprofessional Drug Education Alliance (IDEA) is a partnership between the HBA and the medical community. Teams of lawyers and medical professionals visit local schools each fall and spring to educate 5th graders on the legal and medical consequences of substance abuse.
Believing that an informed electorate is vital to the efficient administration of justice, the HBA asks its members to respond to two polls concerning the judiciary. A preference poll before general voting in election years, and a judicial evaluation questionnaire in non-election years, gives HBA members the opportunity to evaluate the performance of judges based on various criteria.
A partnership of the HBA, the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Houston Police Department provides information to youth who have been placed in the deferred prosecution/non-petition program. Each partner discusses its role in the juvenile justice system at programs attended by youth and their parents. Another component of this program provides legal services to seal juvenile records for qualified individuals.
This program has reached over 40,000 students in 44 years of service, giving them the opportunity to learn about and participate in the judicial process. Working with school districts throughout the area, HBA staff and law students help young teens prepare a “mock trial,” assuming the roles of judge, jurors, attorneys, defendants, witnesses, and other court personnel.
This section of the HBA website provides information and resources for kids, teens, adults and educators. The webpages include information on safety, basic advice and legal resources for issues such as bullying and driving, and links to information about the government, law as a career, and law-related education games.
May 1, Law Day USA, was declared by Congress in 1958 as a national day of celebrating the rule of law in our society. The HBA plans a number of special events to educate and involve citizens in this annual event. Activities include poster, essay and photography contests in local schools; legal education programs for children and teens; and extended hours for the LegalLine program.
The Houston Bar Association provides attorneys willing to speak on legal topics to schools, churches and other community groups without charge. Programs include presentations on the Importance of Jury Service for high school classes. Submit your request for a free speaker at least three weeks in advance of the event.
Teach Texas is a judicial civics program that sends teams of judges and attorneys into 7th grade classrooms to present information and activities that cover the development of the judicial system in Texas.
The HBA produces a wallet-sized card that provides helpful telephone numbers for teens in crisis. The cards have been distributed for free to middle and high schools in the Houston area for the past 29 years.