The Texas Access to Justice Commission's Pro Bono Service Awards and Deborah G. Hankinson Access to Justice Awards were presented at the Bar Leaders Conference in Houston on July 14, 2012. These awards honor the local bar associations and Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) affiliates whose attorneys contributed at the highest rates through annual State Bar dues to the Access to Justice (ATJ) Campaign.
Each year, Texas attorneys choose to contribute to the Access to Justice (ATJ) Campaign through their annual State Bar dues statements. All funds generated by the campaign are earmarked for civil legal aid. The donations of Texas lawyers play a vital role in the effort to meet the critical legal needs of poor and low-income Texans in civil matters.
This year's Hankinson awards were presented to:
• Austin Bar Association — Large City Bar Association (This is the ninth year in a row the Austin Bar has received this award.)
• Austin Young Lawyers Association — Large City TYLA affiliate
• Midland County Bar Association — Small City Bar Association
• Midland County Young Lawyers Association — Small City TYLA affiliate
Named for former Supreme Court of Texas Justice Deborah G. Hankinson, an outstanding advocate of access to justice, the awards are meant to encourage competition between local bar associations and TYLA affiliates in the ATJ Campaign.
The Pro Bono Service Award are designed to recognize organizations that have created self-sustaining pro bono projects that motivate lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance to poor Texans.
This year's Pro Bono Service Awards were presented to:
• State Bar Family Law Section — Large Category recipient
• Houston Bar Foundation — Large Category recipient
• El Paso Bar Association — Medium Category recipient
More than 6.1 million Texans currently qualify for civil legal aid. However, due to a lack of resources, only about 20 to 25 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met. To be eligible for civil legal aid, an individual must earn no more than $13,963 a year. For a family of four, the household income cannot exceed $28,813. The Texas Access to Justice Commission works to increase resources for legal aid and encourages the pro bono involvement of Texas lawyers in its efforts to expand access to justice.