Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans Raises $560,200

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Catherine Galloway
Texas Access to Justice Commission | (512) 427-1892

Media Note: Photos from the event are available on Flickr

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Access to Justice Commission with its co-sponsor, the State Bar of Texas, honored veterans throughout the state at the Champions of Justice Gala Benefitting Veterans last night at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin.  More than $560,200 was raised to help provide civil legal services to low-income Texan veterans.

More than $3 million has been raised by the event since its inception. Proceeds are distributed by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and dedicated to the provision of civil legal services for low-income Texas veterans. These services assist in addressing legal issues related to marital problems, difficulties in getting medical or disability benefits, wrongful foreclosures, or other situations that may arise due to a veteran’s absence during military service.

Keynote speaker for the evening was the Honorable James A. Baker III. Secretary Baker has held senior government positions under three U.S. presidents. He served as 61st U.S. Secretary of State and Chief of Staff to President George H.W. Bush, and Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Treasury to President Ronald Reagan. His record of public service began in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford. He is a senior partner in the law firm of Baker Botts L.L.P.

"Secretary Baker gave an insightful speech, bringing to the forefront the challenges we face as Americans,” said Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, liaison to the Commission and emcee for the evening. “His sage words affirmed our continuing commitment to protecting low-income veterans.”

This year’s James B. Sales Boots on the Ground award was given to Efrén C. Olivares, Director of the Racial and Economic Justice Program at the South Texas Civil Rights Project. Mr. Olivares has litigated and won a number of important cases, supervised and mentored a high achieving legal staff, and shed light on outrageous violations of his clients’ rights. His work has had a profound impact on many low-income Texans and dramatically expanded TCRP’s ability to help others.

The gala also served as the official launch of the Joe Jamail Endowment for Veteran Legal Services, an endowment fund created by Houston attorney Richard Mithoff in honor of the late Joe Jamail, longtime supporter of the gala and stalwart advocate of legal services to the poor in Texas. The Endowment was created to ensure that Texas veterans who quality for legal aid have fair and equitable access to the justice system.

Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans
Gala co-chairs include prominent Texas attorneys who are donating their time for the effort: Jerry Clements, partner with Locke Lord in Austin, Randall Ebner, General Counsel for Exxon Mobil Corporation in Irving, David McAtee II, General Counsel for AT&T, Inc. in Dallas, Richard Mithoff, of Mithoff Law in Houston, Hon. Patrick Mizell, partner with Vinson & Elkins in Houston, Reagan Reaud, of Privateer Capital Management in Austin, and Wayne Watts in Boerne, Texas.

Major sponsors of the event included: AT&T, Exxon Mobil Corporation, H-E-B, Robert Lee Jamail, Locke Lord, LLP, the Reaud Foundation, Richard Warren Mithoff, Vinson & Elkins, LLP and Wayne Watts.

Texas Legal Aid
More than 5.3 million Texans qualify for civil legal aid, but only 10 percent of the legal needs are actually met due to inadequate funding resources.  Since its inception in 2001, the Texas Access to Justice Commission has steadily championed efforts to increase financial and pro bono resources to improve access to civil justice for vulnerable Texans. Legal aid organizations help more than 100,000 Texas families each year.


The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit