April 10, 2018

Berg & Androphy Earns Prestigious Harris County Bench Bar Award for Fifth Ward Pro Bono Program

Berg & Androphy Earns Prestigious Harris County Bench Bar Award for Fifth Ward Pro Bono Program 

Berg & Androphy has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Award in the small-size firm category.  The Houston Bar Association and the Harris County judiciary established the award program to recognize outstanding pro bono service by law firms, corporations and individual attorneys.

Several years ago, Berg & Androphy brought Michelle Alexander to Houston to speak about her epochal book, The New Jim Crow, which has been recognized nationwide as having created the bipartisan criminal justice reform movement.  Her book and powerful speech inspired Joel Androphy to establish a pro bono program at Berg & Androphy that provides zealous representation in criminal cases for Black youth and other people of color in Houston’s Fifth Ward.

Androphy met Rev. Harvey Clemons  of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in 2015 at his Temple’s High Holiday services. Rabbi Steve Gross, in his efforts to solidify community relations, invited Rev. Clemons to speak.  Rev. Clemons described the issues in his community and efforts to improve the lives of its residents.  After his inspiring sermon, Androphy and Rev. Clemons formed the law firm’s pro bono program.

Since that time, lawyers, paralegals, and staff at Berg & Androphy have provided hundreds of hours each year assisting our Fifth Ward pro bono clients.  For example, after a year-long battle, Berg & Androphy successfully represented an Iraqi/Syrian refugee accused of robbery.   Likewise, the work Berg & Androphy is doing has garnered the attention of national and community leaders, such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.   Berg & Androphy and Rev. Clemons brought these leaders together in public and private sessions to explore how Harris County can reform its criminal justice system.

Berg & Androphy’s goal is to level the playing field and eliminate to the extent possible the well-documented, racially motivated convictions and sentences that make a successful life for the young children of color an impossibility.  For many, prison life has taken the place of high school, college, and graduate school.

The annual Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards Ceremony will take place on April 30, 3018 at the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Harris County Civil Courthouse.  In addition to being recognized at the ceremony, Berg & Androphy will be included on a special permanent plaque display in the lobbies of the Harris County Civil, Criminal, Family, and Juvenile courthouses.