The Texas Access to Justice Commission (TAJC) kicked off Pro Bono Week yesterday with a reception honoring law firms and individual attorneys that support access to justice efforts in Texas.
Governor Rick Perry and the Supreme Court of Texas both issued proclamations designating this week as Pro Bono Week in Texas. TAJC’s annual reception, held at the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, started off the week by celebrating the supporters of TAJC’s Access to Justice Campaign, as well as those who support access to justice throughout the year by providing pro bono legal services.
Jenny Smith, the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s TAJC liaison, said every person deserves access to the courts.
“If we as lawyers don’t provide that, no one will,” she said.
According to Peggy Montgomery, former general counsel to Exxon Mobile and Sustaining Member of the Champion of Justice Society, attorneys need to commit with their time, but it is just as important that they commit with their money.
Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman presented awards to the Pro Bono College 20-year members and Champion of Justice law firms, noting that while some 5.6 million Texans qualify for legal aid, existing programs are currently only able to meet the needs of 1 in 5 low-income Texans.
20-Year Pro Bono College Honorees
Mr. David Lee Spiller of Spiller & Spiller in Jacksboro and Ms. Terry Lynn Velligan of Houston were honored for 20-year membership in the Pro Bono College. The Pro Bono College recognizes attorneys who have far exceeded the state Bar of Texas’ aspirational pro bono goal by providing more than 75 hours of pro bono service every year.
This year’s Access to Justice (ATJ) Campaign has raised more than $1.1 million from more than 8,270 attorneys across the state. Awards were presented to 16 Champions of Justice Law Firms.
Firms recognized for raising the highest dollar amount were Vinson & Elkins, Norton Rose Fulbright, Andrews Kurth, Baker Botts, Kelly Hart & Hallman, and Jackson Walker, with honorable mentions awarded to Locke Lord, Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Firms receiving awards for achieving 100% participation were Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, Beirne Maynard & Parsons, Davidson Troilo Ream & Garza, Naman Howell Smith & Lee, Nathan Sommers Jacobs, and Zelle Hofmann Voebel & Mason, with Vinson & Elkins receiving an honorable mention.