Volunteer of the Month – December 2018
Martha Johnson is a sole practitioner and mediator.
1. How did you get involved in pro bono?
After I passed the Iowa Bar in January 1994, I started volunteering at our local legal services office. The Executive Director, Robert Oberbillig, had been a long-time friend and he encouraged me to sign up. I worked two or three times a month on their intake call line and clinics. I handled intakes on cases ranging from landlord-tenant law to bankruptcy law to family law to whatever else came to me. When I was admitted to the Texas Bar in November 2007, it was just natural for me to start volunteering for DVAP.
2. Why do you do pro bono?
I do pro bono because it is the right thing to do. I have a quote attributed to John Adams in my office – it reads, “There are only two kinds of people of any value in this world – those with a commitment and those who require a commitment of others.” I always aspire to be one of those two kinds of people, and pro bono allows me to achieve that aspiration.
3. What impact has pro bono service had on your career?
Pro bono has always had a positive impact on my legal career. Here in Texas, it has allowed me to learn the ins and outs of Texas law through the DVAP clinics, bar association programs and trainings, and the excellent support of the DVAP staff.
4. What is the most unexpected benefit you have received from doing pro bono?
I don’t know that is was unexpected, but getting to know the clients and learning their stories has widened my perspective of the world. They are always grateful for my advice. I bond with my clients. They know that I care about them and I know that they appreciate what I do for them. There is always good work to do and you just continue to accept the call when it comes. Pro bono always gives back more than it takes!