Thursday, February 5, 2009

Texas Legal Assistance to Military Personnel (LAMP)

The Texas legal community supports several Legal Assistance to Military Personnel-related projects. 
Operation Enduring LAMP (Legal Assistance to Military Personnel) is a program of the State Bar of Texas whereby volunteer lawyers provide pro bono legal assistance to members of the Reserves and National Guard called to active duty, and their families. This program helps with a wide range of legal issues, from probate and trust matters to employment questions.

Legal assistance may also be provided to family members in communities beyond the reach of an active duty legal assistance office. The State Bar's Texas Lawyers Care program and the Military Law Section staff this program, and Col. Bryan Spencer serves as the LAMP Director.

The State Bar provides a free four-hour CLE training with a course book to upgrade local attorneys skills in law not normally found in their practice. The subjects cover the new Service Members Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App §§501-596) signed by President Bush on December 19, 2003, (formerly the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, (38 U.S.C. §§4301-4333), Military Estate Planning, and Military Benefits. The State Bar also recruits volunteer instructors.

At a minimum, legal assistance involves counseling, telephone calls, and letter writing for signature by the client or the attorney. The client pays any out-of-pocket expenses. Local bars often provide meeting space. Local attorneys who agree to do this work pro bono provide legal assistance at the Centers/Armories on a routine basis, or in the attorney’s individual office, as appropriate.

Operation Enduring LAMP also provides pro bono Texas probate for service members who die while on active duty. This assistance includes routine probate, but not trusts and more complex probate work. Court costs, if not waived by the probate judge, are to be paid by the survivors.

Attorneys are encouraged to volunteer for either the probate or general legal assistance pro bono programs. Reserve Judge Advocates may receive points for this legal assistance.

CLE programs can be initiated by contacting Bryan Spencer at 800-204-2222 ext. 1857. Questions can be directed to LAMP Director Col. Bryan Spencer at the above number or 512-415-9176 or by e-mail at

Military personnel and their family members are provided assistance with their legal problems typically through the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office on each base, post, or installation. Volunteer registration of lawyers, paralegals and other legal support staff is key to the success of the LAMP program. TLC staff will receive requests for assistance and will relay these requests to volunteers.

Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans is a State Bar of Texas program to develop and assist pro bono legal clinics throughout the state for military veterans who otherwise cannot afford or do not have access to the legal services they need. The program was a major initiative of 2010–11 State Bar of Texas President Terry Tottenham.
Texas lawyers interested in helping veterans can learn more here.

The Texas Veterans Legal Assistance Project (VLAP)
is a Texas Legal Services Center statewide project to expand the availability of legal assistance to low-income Texas Veterans and their families, with a focus on outreach to the disabled Veterans who live in rural areas of the state. There is no charge for the service, which is provided by telephone to eligible Veterans, at 1-800-622-2520, Option 2.

 The "One on One Assistance to Reservists" program, a joint effort between the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program and the Houston Bar Association, offers help on topics such as Estate Planning, Probate, Wills, Issues arising from SSCRA and USERRA.

Active duty service members may wish to go first to Armed Forces Legal Assistance's nice online database to "locate active duty legal activities offering general legal services within the continental United States". A query for the state of Texas is here

The Findlaw website has a city-by-city list of lawyers interested in representing active-duty military personnel, military reservists, and veterans here.

Anyone with more information on these or other programs, please add them in a comment below. The purpose is service!

See also State-by-state list of LAMP programs


Anonymous said...

FROM: Sam Prince

I am sending this to you for your own information and to pass on in the event you know of anyone who might be interested.

In the next 18 months, we must find sources of funding to compensate for a potential loss of revenue of between $2 million and $2.5 million due to present interest rates (approximately 15% to 18% of our current budget) we have been told to expect effective September 1, 2010.

Every Legal Aid program in Texas faces a similar predicament. Around the U.S., many, if not most Legal Aid programs have already faced this revenue loss. We in Texas are, relatively speaking, in a somewhat fortunate position in this respect.

Annually, approximately 75% of our clients are women, many who are single mothers with children. When we intercede in a family’s legal problem, the solution is often far less costly to our client and the community than when the problem boils over into a crisis. It may cost us only $250 to $500 to prevent a family of four from becoming homeless. If they become homeless, it will cost the community between $15,000 and $40,000 in benefits and social services to rehabilitate them until they are once again in a home of their own.

So if you know of anyone who might be interested in either supporting Legal Aid or recognizing our honorees, please pass this along.

Thank you very much,
Samuel M. Prince
February 27, 2009

Anonymous said...

I desperately need help,the VA has shuffled me around for 2 yrs ignoring my severe abdominal pain complaints and now they did a colonoscopy and I have colon cancer,bad too. I looked for a new mexico office and there isn't any,so I commented here. My name is Willard Hoffman,575.434.8616. I'm currently a disabled veteran and in a bad way thanks to the VA,please help

Vincent Foster said...

I am in need of assistance in filing a Motion and Order to terminate withholding, as well as get clarification on the retirement pay that my ex spouse will receive since the decree does not state the formula that is used to get that amount. I currently have limited funds and the cost I am being told is 350 dollars just for the Motion. If anyone might be able to assist I would greatly appreciate it because I am currently stationed in Georgia which is making this a difficult challenge. Thank you!

Vincent Foster said...

I am a service member that filed for divorce in Coryell County Texas in 2004. I am looking for assistance in filing a Motion and Order to terminate withholding, as well as get clarification on the retirement compensation stated in my decree. I have been quoted $350 dollars for the Motion and currently do not have the funds available to afford that. If anyone knows of any assistance I might be able to receive or someone that could assist me I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!


Woods Law Group, PLLC said...

This is really good info, sharing this with my friend who just got out of the military recently, I think he will find this very useful