By Emily Prestwood
On Jan. 24, Bruce Moseley, business department chairman and an assistant professor in the paralegal department at Amarillo College, traveled to Austin to receive the Pro Bono Award.
The Legal Services Corporation and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation presented the award to Moseley and five other Texas attorneys at a joint event celebrating the 30th anniversary of TAJF.
“I had no idea I qualified for the award until I got an email congratulating me,” Moseley said.
Moseley said the award is given every 14 or 15 years to legal professionals who display excellence in the practice of helping others, especially volunteering to help people who fall below the poverty line.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but part of me feels like it’s kind of sad if I donated 100 hours, that’s really not that much if I’m doing the most,” Moseley said. “But at the same time, I know people who donate hours all the time, but they don’t report it to get awards.”
Moseley said he began volunteering five years ago when he discovered that at the time, 57 percent of AC students fell below the federal poverty line.
“This was shocking to me, because you don’t have to be in poverty to not be able to afford a lawyer,” he said. “This is what really got me started in the pro bono work.”
Moseley said he thinks he received the award for the work his students do.
“I took on a lot of cases and decided to get my students involved,” he said. “After they had an assignment to volunteer, they just kept volunteering.”
Moseley said the students involved in service learning have real and practical assignments.
“They are doing paralegal work for people who need it,” he said, adding that they’ve gotten better every year.
Sarah Rackley, a paralegal major and a paralegal at Hatter Law Firm, said Moseley’s passion is completely infectious.
“He’s always looking for new ways to help students learn and be prepared for the paralegal field,” she said. “He has always done things 100 percent, and that passion that he shows is something that I want to do. He has inspired me to give back to the community.”
Adam Jenkins, a paralegal studies certificate major, indicated in an email that he first met Moseley in 2009.
“I took introduction to law taught by Bruce in the spring of 2010, and it was one of the best classes of my college career,” Jenkins said. “He has a great quote about how when he first became an attorney he felt for indigent clients because he couldn’t afford himself.”
Jenkins said by creating the assistance program, he not only is contributing to the community, but he also creates informed citizens.
“Anyone who studies the law knows ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse,” Jenkins said.
Moseley inspired him to be a better student, he said, and taught him about networking, the law and how to be employable.
“It is common knowledge in the legal field that it is half merit and half who you know when it comes to gaining employment,” he said. “When I was losing sight of my goal, he saw something in me that I had forgotten: potential. Now I am a graduate of AC, about to go into a field that is going to earn a salary well over double the poverty level.”