Laura Tucker

  • Hosted by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation Richard L. Tate Rural Justice Fellowship
  • Service location Alpine, Texas
  • Law school The University of Texas School of Law
  • Issue area Consumer Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Laura organizes clinics that address the unmet, pressing legal needs of people living in the Trans-Pecos region of far west Texas; during these clinics, TRLA offers holistic legal services to clients and establishes referral networks in remote communities.

Access to justice is an urgent issue for this rural area’s low-income population, who live across 31,000 square miles of high Chihuahuan desert. Laura will increase TRLA’s presence in hard-to-reach areas by conducting clinics that address recurring legal issues she has identified. By developing contacts in these areas, Laura strengthens TRLA’s referral networks, which connect TRLA’s holistic legal services to very rural communities.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is the only legal aid organization that provides direct services to this vast area. TRLA’s office in Alpine, consisting of just two attorneys, is still a two-hour drive for many clients. Access to justice is a pressing need for low-income residents in this area.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Laura has:

  • Connected with community leaders and advocates to identify recurring, unmet legal needs in the Trans-Pecos region
  • Researched procedures for protesting property tax appraisals and then used social media and weekly newspapers to provide information and education to low-income homeowners
  • Provided direct representation to survivors of domestic violence in the Trans-Pecos area

Next Steps

In the next year, Laura plans to:

  • Organize pro se assisted divorce clinics in areas where TRLA historically has low levels of engagement
  • Develop a needs assessment for clinic participants that will enable TRLA to provide holistic legal services
  • Further develop referral networks in rural communities where TRLA is not well-known
  • Continue representing clients in family law matters

I grew up in a small town in rural Colorado, and my previous experience living in the Trans-Pecos area inspired my decision to go to law school. Access to justice in remote areas is a unique and pressing need that I am excited to address.

Laura Tucker /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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