UPDATE | By Texas Access to Justice Commission
Nearly a decade ago, the American Bar Association created Celebrate Pro Bono to honor lawyers’ pro bono efforts and educate the public and the legal community about how these lawyers are improving the lives of the less fortunate. Since then, during the last week of October each year, organizations across the nation and around the world have committed to spread the pro bono movement.
The Texas Access to Justice Commission joined the national effort by hosting a reception that honored lawyers who have been a member of the State Bar Pro Bono College for 20 years or more and law firms that showed significant support of the annual Access to Justice Campaign.
During the October 24 reception, State Bar Board of Directors Chair Joe Escobedo recognized four State Bar Pro Bono College members this year. Joseph Connors III from McAllen and Christina Melton Crain from Dallas were celebrated for their 20-year membership. Ned Dennis from Marshall and Bill Whitehurst from Austin were honored for their 25-year membership. Pro Bono College members perform at least 75 hours of pro bono services each year in addition to their normal work hours, without compensation.
Andrews Kurth, Baker Botts, Jackson Walker, Locke Lord, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Vinson & Elkins were presented the Champion of Justice Law Firm award because attorneys within each firm collectively contributed the highest amount to the Access to Justice Campaign.
Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, Davidson Troilo Ream & Garza, Lynch, Chappell & Alsup, Nathan Sommers Jacobs, Rusty Hardin & Associates, Scott Douglass & McConnico and Zelle were also honored for having the highest percent attorney participation in support of the Access to Justice Campaign. Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr received special recognition for the firm’s creative ingenuity in raising awareness about access to justice while raising funds for the ATJ Campaign. The winning firms raised more than $170,600 for the Access to Justice Campaign, which supports and sustains civil legal services to the poor.
Paving a way to the courthouse so that everyone, regardless of wealth or status, can have access to the courts calls for a collaborative effort. Access is made possible not only with policy changes and funding resources, but also by attorneys who choose to offer their skills and expertise pro bono to our most vulnerable community members.
The Commission would also like to take this moment to shine the spotlight on several of its Champion of Justice Society members who are also members of the Pro Bono College.
We so appreciate not only your great fiscal generosity, but the outstanding work you do by volunteering your professional expertise throughout the year and providing valuable pro bono services to members of your community.