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This article was originally published on April 28, 2011.

Houston Pro Bono Attorney Network enjoys unprecedented growth in 2010, 2011

Since the first quarter of 2010, Houston’s Pro Bono Attorney Network has grown from 83 individual attorneys at 13 law firms to 188 attorneys at 20 firms—an incredible growth of 227%. This increase represents not only the strength of support from the Houston community for Tahirih’s mission of providing justice to immigrant women and girls in need, but also the dedication of Tahirih staff to providing outreach and education on the needs and challenges faced by immigrant women and girls to the Houston community.

During the first three months of 2011, Tahirih staff members conducted extensive outreach to continue to expand the network. They met with physicians, medical anthropology students, attorneys, immigration practitioners, business and community leaders, law enforcement, and community health providers at locations from churches, universities, and law firms to raise awareness of Tahirih Houston’s work and client needs.

Outreach topics focused on various elements of Tahirih’s work, including a general overview of the unique needs of immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, working with survivors of trauma and violence, the value of pro bono work, and specific Continuing Legal Education (CLE) trainings on how to administer the particular forms of relief available to women like Tahirih’s clients, such as T visas, U visas, and VAWA self-applications.

The effect of this outreach is not limited to the strong growth of the Houston branch of Tahirih’s Pro Bono Attorney Network or to the approximately two-thirds of Tahirih clients that are represented free of charge by members of that network. These efforts are also reflected in the strengthened Pro Bono Medical Network in Houston. Tahirih Advisory Council of Houston members David and Morgan Shin have spearheaded growth of the medical network, which is a vital unit that provide medical and mental care to Tahirih clients.

Tahirih’s educational outreach and trainings have raised awareness about the unique needs and struggles of immigrant women and girls in Houston fleeing severe forms of violence. These forums continue to ensure that the public and those working on issues of gender-based violence, such as law enforcement, domestic violence shelters, medical health professionals, and immigration service agencies, are informed and ready to provide a high standard of care to Tahirih’s clients and women in similar circumstances.