A skeptic hears Kit Wyatt say he became a lawyer to help people and thinks, “Yeah, yeah.”
But why else would a real estate attorney do pro bono (free) work helping tenants resolve spats with landlords? Or take on Child Protective Service cases at the request of the courts? Or deliver Meals for the Elderly and send goods to flood victims in Niger?
“When it comes down to it,” Wyatt said, “we’re all in this together. … I guess it’s just ingrained in me to help the less fortunate when I’m able to.”
Though he’s practiced law only five years, Wyatt, 30, has impressed his peers. An attorney with Massey Balentine, he’s been elected to the boards of the county’s bar and young lawyers associations. He won the latter organization’s President’s Award in 2015 and the 2014 Rising Star Award from Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.
That honor resulted from his leading local roundtables regarding tenant/landlord issues and other pro bono work.
While that sort of legal work is within his “wheelhouse” – Wyatt resolved tenant issues while clerking at Texas Tech’s student legal services in law school – his CPS cases are not.
He takes those on precisely because they are beyond his comfort zone … and because he’s a true believer in the notion that everyone deserves legal representation. While he often works toward the best interests of the children – “that’s what the case is all about” – he has also represented parents.
“They have rights, too,” he said. “When they need someone in their corner fighting for them, I’m glad to do it.”
Visiting his CPS clients has also broadened Wyatt’s perspective of his hometown. His upbringing, he notes, was vastly different than that of a CPS child.
“I was aware of that growing up,” he said, “but I didn’t know to what extent. You have children who have no food. They have homes with holes in the walls. It’s eye-opening to see the conditions of our fellow people.”
Such experiences have bolstered Wyatt’s resolve to help in his community. The Boy Scouts nurtured that in him as he worked his way toward Eagle Scout, learning about service and respect for others along the way.
Today, he likens his Sunrise Rotary Club membership to “adult Boy Scouts.” He joined for the networking, but quickly grew to appreciate the service … and the 7 a.m. gatherings, meaning he doesn’t have to carve out time elsewhere from his day.
He continues his parents’ example of delivering Meals for the Elderly.
“It is an absolute highlight for them to chat with you as you deliver their meal,” Wyatt said. “I get the warm fuzzies after I deliver meals … and know that I’m out there making a difference.”
That seems to be particularly true of the Central High Class of 2005. Four of Wyatt’s classmates join him as 20 Under 40 honorees this year.
“Maybe we’re hitting our stride and we’re the next group to make a difference,” he said.