Update: This blog has been updated to correct the name of the award to the David H. Walter Community Excellence Award. The article previously listed it as the Donald H. Walter Community Excellence Award.
More than 550 members of the Austin legal community attended the 15th annual Austin Bar Foundation Gala on January 20 at the JW Marriott in Austin. The event raised funds to support and expand legal-related charitable and education programs in Central Texas, including Austin Adoption Day, free legal advice clinics for veterans, the Self-Represented Litigant Project, the Diversity Fellowship Program, and scholarships for Texas LGBT law students in conjunction with the Austin LGBT Bar Association. The foundation has also awarded more than $132,000 in grants to organizations such as CASA of Travis County, American Gateways, Austin Tenants Council, Texas Accountants, Lawyers for the Arts, volunteer legal services, and others.
Seven attorneys were honored at the gala for their contributions to the Austin legal community, and the community at large.
The Distinguished Lawyer Award, which recognizes attorneys who have practiced law for 30 years or more and have significantly contributed to the legal profession and the greater community, was awarded to Clarke Heidrick Jr., an attorney with Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody; the Rev. Joseph C. Parker Jr., senior pastor of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church; and Betty Balli Torres, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.
Randy Cubriel and Caitlin Haney Johnston, cofounders of the Cancer Law Clinic, or CANLAW, received the David H. Walter Community Excellence Award, which is presented to an attorney or judge who has recently made a significant impact in the community and raised the profile of the legal profession.
Tracy Walters McCormack, a senior lecturer and director of advocacy at the University of Texas School of Law, received the Larry F. York Mentoring Award, which is given to an Austin-area lawyer or judge who has demonstrated exceptional skill and generosity in mentoring younger members of the bar.
Richard Pena, president and CEO of The Law Offices of Richard Pena, received the Joseph C. Parker Jr. Diversity Award, which honors a firm or an individual who has led the way in bringing diversity to Austin’s legal community.