Every month, TLSC hosts virtual family law clinics in rural hubs across the state. Pre-Covid, the clinics were held in community spaces like public libraries or schools. We're still holding the monthly clinics; however, we now meet with clients over the phone during their appointment time.
Almost all of Texas Legal Services Center's programs serve clients remotely, making it easier to work with rural Texans. However, this particular project set out to give rural communities their own dedicated legal clinic.
We looked at the distance from other legal aid clinics, poverty levels, median age, and population to decide which counties could be most served by a regular family law clinic. There are currently 17 clinics, but we expect to resume expansion plans post-pandemic. Clinics typically take place at public libraries, schools, and community centers.
Connecting with the Client
Under normal circumstances, a computer or iPad is set up in a private space where clients meet virtually with a TLSC attorney during their appointment time. We usually try to mimic an in-person clinic as much as possible because it helps us connect with our clients. We can see facial expressions, hand gestures, and the documents they're citing.
Having the technology already set up at a local venue lets us bypass issues around the clients' WiFi access, software application fluency, and computer/mobile access. The locations also allow clients to print documents and are usually located close to the courthouse. But because of Covid-19, most of our host locations are closed. While we offer to meet with clients via video conferencing using their own device, most choose to work with us over the phone during their appointment.
Locations — 1.) Titus 2.) Hardin 3.) Washington 4.) Wharton 5.) Anderson 6.) Frio 7.) Uvalde 8.) Kerr 9.) Llano 10.) Erath 11.) Hood 12,) Young 13.) Childress 14.) Ochiltree 15.) Gaines 16.) Reeves 17.) Pecos
Connecting with the Communities
The partnerships with our host locations are crucial to the success of the clinics. Being embedded within these central community spaces has let us be a steady, regular resource for rural areas.
Each clinic has an assigned attorney that sustains relationships with key community members like the county clerk, librarians, and social service workers. They also regularly visit the area, are familiar with the courthouse, and feel like true members of these communities.
See a full list of our rural legal aid clinic locations and learn more about the program here.