We love advocates. We love patient advocates and community advocates and we love advocates for justice. We’ve talked to you about Marcy Kurtz, who is not only an advocate for justice, but has started a non-profit for Uterine Cancer called Peach Outreach and then there is Dr. Mehta, who advocates for better patient care from his fellow Doctor’s. Advocates are all around us. Some are born and others are made, but they all have one thing in common and that is a passion for what they are doing and a firm belief in their cause. Ellyn Haikin Josef was born with a purpose; to help people to have access to justice.
Advocate for Justice
Ellyn Haikin Josef has always been fascinated by the effects of poverty and racism and how it never seemed fair that some people were privileged and wealthy while others were not. She noticed how the rich got richer and that the gap continued to widen between the rich and the poor. She realized that those that had nothing needed a voice, and she was going to be that voice. At an early age she asked her parents to pay for her friend’s braces, when her friend’s parents couldn’t afford them. She was always an advocate for justice.
Ellyn is so bright. Yes, she is smart, but she is bright. Blindingly bright. She shines in her enthusiasm, passion and feelings, and you can’t help but want to be around her, basking in her words and smile. She brings you in and makes you want to be a better person. Ellyn is effervescent and also a force to be reckoned with, because she knows what she is doing, who she is and where wants to go in her life. She is a woman who has it all. A career that she loves, a husband she adores, a wonderful family and children she is proud of, and on top of it all, she is out to save those that can’t represent themselves.
Pro Bono Justice
Ellyn Haikin Josef coordinates and manages Vinson & Elkins’ pro bono initiatives. This means that she is in charge of the entire firms pro bono activities and committees and that she is the driving force behind development of local, national, and international pro bono projects. Vinson & Elkins is the first Texas based firm to have a full time pro bono counsel, and each attorney at the firm commits to 50 hours of pro bono work a year. The firm donates up to 30,000 hours a year and most of the cases come from outreach organizations.
When the pro bono program was put into place, it was a purist program, but now it serves a greater purpose. It has been found that pro bono work is great for professional development, business development and reputational public relations. The program that Ellyn runs is successful because she is like a matchmaker. She takes a case that comes in and matches it with an attorney that is a good fit and then a partner from the firm. Because Vinson & Elkins is such a large firm there are a ton of resources available to help those in need that can’t afford to help themselves.
Ellyn Josef – Advocate for Justice
At first, Ellyn thought that pro bono world would feel selfish because of how good it makes her feel, but that hasn’t stopped her from putting some very powerful programs into place through her work at Vinson & Elkins.
Virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic
Started in 2011, the Virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic was created to serve Houston’s low-income residents. The clinic is held on a quarterly basis to help underprivileged clients on a variety of matters including consumer law, family law, and tax issues.
Vinson & Elkins – Texas Children’s Hospital Guardianship Project
Partnering with Texas Children’s Hospital in 2009, this collaboration is used to assist families in obtaining legal guardianship over their incapacitated adult children.
Houston Alumni and Youth (HAY) Center
The HAY Center provides pro bono legal support to youths in foster care. Ellyn and V&E attorneys work to ensure their smooth transition towards future independence.
V&E’s Veteran’s Initiative
The V&E’s Veteran’s Initiative is dedicated to assisting veterans and servicemen with their legal needs on a pro bono basis.
In Ellyn’s own words…
Doing pro bono and public service work is important but doesn’t have to be the primary focus to make an impact. There’s always room for help. There are a million organizations. Be a child advocate. Got Texas Children’s Hospital. Go to a clinic at a community center and volunteer. Our community needs our elbow grease. We all come with a set of skills can be put to good use.
We love how Ellyn Haikin Josef is an advocate for Justice and has put her skill set to the best use! She is an example of how to create change every day.