Emily C. Jones, former director of Texas Lawyers Care, the State Bar’s legal services/pro bono support, and former director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, passed away early this morning after a five-year battle with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Known as a feisty and strong-spirited advocate for access to justice initiatives in Texas, Emily committed her entire career to helping low-income Texans gain access to legal assistance. More than that, Emily led by example — even while facing personal health obstacles — inspiring other Texas attorneys to do pro bono work.
Emily began her career as a legal aid attorney, working with East Texas Legal Services right out of law school. She later went into private practice as a civil rights attorney. Emily left law for a while, teaching at the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the State Bar in 1996 as a program attorney with Texas Lawyers Care and became the second executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 2001. In addition to her duties as director of the Commission and Texas Lawyers Care, Emily continued taking pro bono cases. She retired as director of Texas Lawyers Care in May 2008 and as director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission in December 2008 due to health reasons. In May, the Texas Access to Justice Commission honored Emily with the inaugural Emily C. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award for her work. The award recognizes an outstanding individual whose extraodinary spirit — like Emily’s — and demonstrated commitment to legal services has improved society and inspired others.
Plans for Emily’s memorial service are pending.
UPDATE: A memorial gathering for Emily will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Texas AFL-CIO building (1106 Lavaca St. in Austin, near the corner of Lavaca and 11th streets). For more information, visit Emily’s Caring Bridge website at www.caringbridge.org/visit/emilyjones/journal.