One of the top personal injury lawyers in the country was named pro bono chairman of the Houston Bar Foundation. John Eddie Williams Jr. is known best for his success in several landmark cases, including the case against Chevron for the negligent death of two of its workers and against the tobacco industry, both of which resulted in significant awards to his clients.
However, he is also a noted philanthropist, which makes him the ideal person to chair the Houston Bar Foundation for 2014. It is the pro bono division of the Houston Bar Association, which funds free legal assistance and representation through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program. For people who cannot afford to pay a lawyer, this is an important resource for them, and the foundation helps many veterans as well.
When asked about the work done at the Houston Bar Foundation, Williams says they have regular clinics to grant access to people who need a lawyer. He explains that “indigent people need health care, but people need legal help, too. Whether it’s putting together a will, dealing with landlord-tenant issues. And, of course, veterans have all kinds of problems getting benefits.”
Among the public services that Williams oversees include:
- Dispute Resolution Center
- Domestic Violence Services
- Elder Law Services
- Fee Dispute Committee
- Houston Lawyer Referral Service
- Houston Volunteer Lawyers
- Saturday Legal Advice Clinics
- The People’s Law School
- Veterans Legal Initiative
The position is for one year, so Williams is nearing the end of his term. His main goal was to raise as much as he could so that they could help as many people as possible while continuing to build the endowment, which he calls a “rainy day” fund. Williams represent lawyers who care about people who have legal needs, and do what they can by donating their time and money. The Harvest Party, which is the biggest fundraising activity of the foundation, was held at River Oaks Country Club. Almost 1,000 lawyers attended the event, which brought in about $670,000 for the endowment.