Lan T. Nguyen, Shortt & Nguyen, Houston, TX
After immigrating to this country as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, and enduring many hardships in that transition, including time in refugee camps and separation from her father who was imprisoned for 10 years in a re-education camp, Lan Nguyen attended college and then obtained both a JD and MBA from University of Houston. Since her admission to the Bar in Texas in 1984 she has made enormous contributions to the legal (and other) needs of low income individuals and families in the Houston area.
Nguyen donates hundreds of hours as a pro bono attorney each year, despite also maintaining a legal practice with her husband. She has been a driving force of the Houston Bar Association's outreach to the Asian American community and a committed volunteer through its Volunteer Lawyers Program. She mentors less experienced lawyers to help make them better able to assist their pro bono clients. She also set up a LegalLine program specifically for Vietnamese residents, co-founded an annual Asian Will-a-thon to provide estate planning documents to indigent Vietnamese, and coordinated a monthly Vietnamese Radio talk show to assist the community with their legal problems. She has translated legal handbooks into Vietnamese, set up legal clinics for the poor in the Asian community, and represented many individuals pro bono in their legal cases.
Nguyen has also done pro bono legal work through the Houston Area Women's Center and through AdvoCourt for Kids, a grant recipient of the ABA Child Custody Pro Bono Project, in which she acts as a children's advocate in divorce and custody proceedings. She has also served as a resource for its volunteer lawyers and for its board of directors.
Nguyen has been the recipient of many awards recognizing her unique pro bono contributions, including the 2007 Houston Bar Award for Outstanding Contribution to Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program by an Individual and the 2007 State of Texas Pro Bono and Legal Services Award. She has established a reputation for never turning down a pro bono case when asked to provide assistance.