Local bar recognized for legal assistance to low-income Texans

Representatives of the Jefferson County Bar accept the Hankinson Award.

Bar associations from around the state, including The Jefferson County Bar Association, were honored for their commitment to access to justice issues during the State Bar of Texas 2017 Bar Leaders Conference July 28 and 29 in Houston.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, liaison to the Texas Access to Justice Commission, presented Pro Bono Service and Deborah G. Hankinson awards on behalf of the Commission on July 29 at the Westin Galleria.

The Deborah G. Hankinson Award honors bar associations and young lawyer affiliates that demonstrate a commitment to access to justice by creating initiatives that increase access to legal aid services, increase awareness of access to justice issues, or raise funds for legal aid providers on a local and statewide basis.

The Jefferson County Bar Association was the Hankinson Award winner in Division II (501 to 900 members) for its access to justice efforts, including being an active partner in the 17-county Veteran Coalition that provides pro bono clinics and representation to Texas veterans, uniting families through attorney participation with a National Adoption Day collaboration, and launching a pilot videoconference clinic in partnership with TexasLawHelp.org to increase availability of legal services to rural Texans in need.

The Pro Bono Service Award recognizes State Bar sections and local bar associations that have created self-sustaining pro bono projects that motivate lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance to low-income Texans. The Pro Bono Service Award winner receives a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 check to invest in its winning program.

The State Bar of Texas Family Law Section was recognized for its Family Law Essentials Seminars. This well-established program exemplifies the power a bar section has to increase access to justice for low-income Texans. Each year the section partners with legal aid staff to provide continuing legal education trainings across the state for family law practitioners. In exchange for the free CLE training, each attendee commits to handling two pro bono cases for the year from the local legal aid provider.