The Texas Access to Justice Commission, in conjunction with the Texas General Counsel Forum, presents the award. Karen Lukin (pictured), a senior counsel and pro bono coordinator at Marathon, says she accepted the award on behalf of the company’s legal department during the TGCF’s annual awards dinner Nov. 8 in San Antonio.
Lufkin says her company established its pro bono program, recently renamed Marathon Oil Co.’s Pro Bono Legal Services in Honor of Dick Horstman, in 2008 to encourage its attorneys and staff to provide free legal services to persons unable to afford such services. She says the program is named for Horstman, Marathon’s former general counsel who asked Marathon to start the pro bono initiative.
“A lot of us were doing pro bono work anyway, but it was not anything that was organized,” Lufkin says.
Lufkin says Marathon’s attorneys and staff provided 970 hours of pro bono work in 2008. The number of pro bono hours provided by Marathon personnel has increased steadily over the years, reaching 1,486 in 2011, she says.
Most of the Marathon employees’ pro bono work is done at Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program clinics or in assisting low-income individuals in need of legal assistance, Lufkin says. She says Marathon attorneys also act as general counsel for The Women’s Home in Houston.
Lufkin says Marathon has 28 attorneys and 37 staff members. She says attorney participation in the pro bono program averages 75 percent to 80 percent annually and that, on average, 65 percent to 70 percent of the staff assist the attorneys in representing clients.
According to Lufkin, from July 2010 through June 2011, the Marathon attorneys handled 52 pro bono cases, including the work they performed for clients through the Will-A-Thon sponsored by the Houston Bar Association and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program.
Lufkin says the pro bono effort is a way of giving back. “This is a way to give back to people who are in desperate situations with no way out without getting some kind of legal assistance.
-- Mary Alice Robbins
Robbins is an Austin-based freelance writer and a former Texas Lawyer senior reporter.