The Veterans Legal Initiative (VLI) is an important part of the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans (TLTV) partnership honoring our veterans for their service. VLI is a partnership of the Houston Bar Association, HVL and the Houston Bar Foundation. Launched in 2008, more than 22,000 low-income veterans in a multi-county area have been served. Pro bono attorneys assist veterans with legal issues specific to their military involvement including discharge upgrades, disability compensation, VA pension and benefits along with all other civil legal issues handled by HVL volunteers and staff.
HVL, along with Lone Star Legal Aid, University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law and the Earl Carl Institute at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, created the Eviction Defense Coalition. This special unit works collaboratively to assist Harris County residents facing eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn.
A pilot program with the Harris County Courts at Law, this program is focused on providing access to justice to qualified clients with evictions by having an attorney available to represent them for free on the day of court. Four law firms have agreed to provide attorneys for EDAP during this pilot phase. At this time, day of representation is limited to evictions in County Court at Law.
Family law cases are by far the greatest number of requests received by HVL. Pro bono attorneys provide legal assistance with divorce, child custody, support and other family law matters. Thanks to the many years of experience and expertise possessed by HVL staff attorneys in the Family Unit, pro bono attorneys can count on very knowledgeable mentors as they handle family law cases.
HVL helps with disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including audits, appeals, collection matters, and federal tax litigation. Clients can also receive help responding to IRS letters and in correcting IRS account problems. The Low Income Tax Clinic is funded in part by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) but HVL is independent from the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court, or any other government, both Federal and State, agency. A taxpayer’s decision to use the services of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic does not affect his or her rights before the IRS.
A partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), the Medical Legal Partnership integrates legal services into health care delivery. This partnership helps address the patients’ social needs and tackles the broader social determinants of health in the community. Although all civil legal issues handled by HVL are offered to the patients at TCH, the one seen most frequently is the need for guardianship of a child who has turned eighteen and is incapable of making medical decisions.