Local bar associations, other groups recognized for improving access to legal services

Local bar associations, young lawyer associations, and State Bar of Texas sections were recognized for their commitment to pro bono service and access-to-justice issues during the State Bar’s annual Local Bar Leaders Conference.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht presented the Pro Bono Service and Deborah G. Hankinson awards on behalf of the Texas Access to Justice Commission on July 27 at the Westin Galleria in Houston.

The Pro Bono Service Award recognizes State Bar of Texas sections and local bar organizations that create self-sustaining pro bono projects that motivate lawyers from specialized practice areas to provide pro bono legal assistance directly to poor Texans.

The following 2013 Pro Bono Service Award winners received a certificate of recognition and $1,000 to reinvest in their programs:

Small Sections or Bars (fewer than 500 members)
The Hays County Bar Association, for its Pro Bono Divorce Clinic, which provides pro bono representation for low-income Texans filing for divorce in Hays County
The Austin Lawyers Guild, for its School to Prison Pipeline Pro Bono Referral Program, which provides pro bono representation to students facing Class C misdemeanors for minor disciplinary infractions

Medium Sections or Bars (501 to 2,000 members)
The Jefferson County Bar Association, for its Veterans Initiative, which provides pro bono legal advice and representation to veterans in Jefferson, Chambers, Hardin, Liberty, and Orange counties

Large Sections or Bars (more than 2,001 members)
The State Bar of Texas Computer and Technology Section, for its mobile applications for legal services attorneys, which provide free access to state-of-the-art technology so legal aid attorneys can more efficiently serve indigent clients’ needs
The Houston Bar Association, for its Veterans Legal Initiative, which provides pro bono legal advice and representation to veterans in the Harris County area

The Hankinson award honors local bar and young lawyer associations that demonstrate a commitment to access to justice in their communities and to raising financial support for legal service providers, both locally and statewide.

The 2013 Hankinson award winners are as follows:

Division I Bar Association (fewer than 500 members)
The Smith County Bar Association, for its pro bono programs, including Settlement Week, a twice-yearly event where association members volunteer to serve as mediators to help litigants settle cases

Division II Bar Association (501 to 900 members)
The El Paso Bar Association, for its commitment to equal access to justice for the El Paso community. The association organizes the El Paso Lawyers for Patriots Free Legal Clinic and the Access to Justice Legal Fair to provide pro bono legal services and help connect community members with legal aid organizations.

Division III Bar Associations (901 to 5,000 members)
The San Antonio Bar Association, for its fundraising activities, which provided more than $105,000 for the San Antonio Bar Association’s Community Justice Program last year

Division IV Bar Association (more than 5,001 members)
The Houston Bar Association, for its Houston Volunteer Lawyers program, which offers weekly pro bono legal clinics for veterans and regular legal clinics for domestic violence victims

Young Lawyers Association
The Austin Young Lawyers Association, for increasing awareness of access-to-justice issues and providing pro bono legal aid services through programs such as the Permanency Project, which pairs volunteer attorneys with foster children


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