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Texas Access to Justice Commission Receives New Funding for Law School Internship Program; Donation from Texas Legal Protection Plan will significantly expand legal aid internship participation

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Access to Justice Commission has received a $50,000 donation from the Texas Legal Protection Plan, a managed delivery system of prepaid legal services, to expand its law student internship program. A check was presented to the Commission on Friday, January 25, 2008, at the State Bar of Texas board of directors meeting at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, Texas.

The funds will be used to provide stipends for three students from each of the state's nine law schools to work at legal aid offices for seven weeks during the summer of 2008. In 2007, 14 students participated in the internship program. The unique program places students in academic internships at legal aid offices in underserved areas of the state.

"We are pleased to be able to provide funding for this important internship program at Texas law schools," Richard Geiger, chair of the Texas Legal Protection Plan board, said. "The future of legal aid services in the state is dependent upon young lawyers understanding the need and committing to be part of the solution." The Texas Legal Protection Plan is a nonprofit prepaid legal plan providing a means to make legal services affordable for its participants. Its creation was sponsored by the State Bar of Texas, and the members of its board of directors are appointed by the State Bar.

"This generous gift from the Texas Legal Protection Plan will enable a new generation of young lawyers to experience first-hand how rewarding it can be to work in the legal aid field," Commission Chair James B. Sales said. "They will have the opportunity to assist low-income Texans who desperately need help with a variety of issues, including domestic abuse, landlord-tenant disputes, life-sustaining service denials and other civil matters."

The primary goal of the Commission's internship program is to encourage more law students to help address the legal problems of underserved individuals and communities, and to educate future attorneys about those problems. There is a significant need for additional legal aid services in Texas, which ranks 42nd in per capita revenue for the provision of legal aid. Currently in Texas there are approximately 3.9 million people living below the poverty level. Due to a lack of resources, only about 20-25 percent of the civil legal needs of these low-income Texans are being met.

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 for and awareness of legal aid, including the domestic violence Protective Order Kit, the Texas Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and, an online resource for free legal information.

The Texas Legal Protection Plan ( was created in 1972 by the State Bar of Texas and is the choice for many employers who offer a group prepaid legal services plan to their employees. It is a managed delivery system of prepaid legal services with benefits ranging from telephone advice and in-office preventive services to comprehensive legal coverage. The plan is regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance and operates in compliance with all applicable provisions of state insurance laws and insurance department rules and regulations.