Attorney Maureen Kuzik McCutchen spends her days navigating the nuances of probate law as a senior partner at Mills Shirley, a law firm in Galveston.
When she’s not behind the desk, McCutchen volunteers for Special Olympics Texas, Junior League of Galveston County and the Spanish Grant Civic Association, among others.
“Organizations like to have a lawyer on the board, in case there are legal questions, but this work brings me so much joy,” she said. “It’s almost impossible to have a bad day when you’re doing something positive for someone else.”
Last year, McCutchen was recognized by the Galveston branch of Lone Star Legal Aid for handling the most contested cases.
The longtime islander’s pro-bono efforts are not limited to underserved people. She also is a passionate animal advocate, said Marte Hersey, of the Galveston Island Humane Society, who nominated McCutchen to be a Daily News Everyday Hero.
“I’ve always loved dogs,” McCutchen said. “Because I adopted mine from the Galveston Island Humane Society, I knew the staff and volunteers have big hearts.”
What appealed to her most was the organization’s drive to find each animal a loving forever home; sadly, that’s not a given at all shelters, she said.
After joining the humane society’s board in 2010, McCutchen went on to serve as its president in 2014.
She continues to offer counsel and to participate in benefits throughout the year, including the Surf Dog Competition, which takes place each July.
“I enjoy bringing dogs from the shelter to local events because it gives people a chance to see their true personalities,” McCutchen said.
“For an animal, being at the shelter can be a stressful experience, because it’s loud and they’re in cages,” she said.
“But, when you take them out into the community, you start to see what makes each one special.”
McCutchen has three rescue dogs: Miley, Liza and Sadie.
“Sadie and Liza were both foster failures,” she said. “They were both terrified at the shelter, so I brought them home to try to make them more adoptable. They liked it so much they refused to leave.”
McCutchen admits to hounding her friends and family to volunteer for the shelter and to adopt, when possible.
“There’s a saying that I take to heart: Adopting a shelter dog won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that dog.”