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GiVE Back: V&E Pro Bono Blog

Pro Bono Hero: Zach Howe

V&E associate Zach Howe shares his experience in a Texas appeals court representing a client in a case arising out of a divorce proceeding.

V&E represented Client M in a case arising out of a divorce proceeding in which she was made sole managing conservator of her two minor children, and Plaintiff S was made possessory conservator and awarded a possession schedule for the children that was more restrictive than the standard possession order. The trial court concluded that standard possession was not in the children’s best interests because, among other things, Plaintiff S had abandoned Client M during the pregnancy of each child and had not been present for most of their lives. Plaintiff S appealed to the First Court of Appeals in Houston and argued that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to award him a standard possession order for the children. V&E associate Zach Howe represented Client M on appeal, including briefing the case and presenting argument on March 21, 2017.  On May 18, 2017, the court of appeals issued a unanimous opinion affirming the trial court’s decision. Zach has now also helped Client M obtain further assistance from Houston Volunteer Lawyers to resolve the remaining issues in the trial court.

Zach reflects on his experience with his client:

“Representing M was a rewarding experience. V&E Appellate Counsel Cathy Smith graciously helped me find the case through the Houston Bar Association’s pro bono program, and it quickly proved to be invaluable to my growth both professionally and personally.  Professionally, I was able to brief and argue a case in a Texas appeals court and to interact regularly with the client — unique experiences for a young attorney.  Personally, the representation allowed me to help someone who was clearly in need. M used most of her savings and her family’s savings to pay for representation in the trial court, and could not afford appellate counsel.  She feared that an adverse result in the appellate court would harm not only her but also her children. Not surprisingly, the appeal was a trying event for her. Going through the appellate process without the assistance of a lawyer would have been overwhelming, and understandably so. I was glad to be able to help lessen the stress by guiding her through the appeal, and ultimately to help her obtain a favorable result.”

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Authors

Ellyn Haikin Josef Pro Bono Counsel

Zachary J. Howe

Zachary J. Howe Associate