July 20, 2015
Contact: Lowell Brown
Communications Division Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1713, or (512) 427-1713

Local bar leaders, associations to be recognized for improving legal assistance to low-income Texans

AUSTIN — Local bar associations from around the state will be applauded for their commitment to access to justice issues during the State Bar of Texas’s annual Bar Leaders Conference in Houston.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman will present the Pro Bono Service and Deborah G. Hankinson awards on behalf of the Texas Access to Justice Commission on July 25 at the Westin Galleria.

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. Sections and local bar organizations are categorized according to membership size — small, medium, and large — and compete against similarly sized groups. 

The 2015 Pro Bono Service Award winners will receive a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 check to invest in the winning program. Winners include:
Medium Sections or Bars (501 to 2,000 members)

  • The Smith County Bar Foundation in recognition of its Volunteer Attorney Program, which recruits attorneys to handle complex family law cases.

Large Sections or Bars (more than 2,000 members)

  • The Tarrant County Volunteer Attorney Services in recognition of its Guardianship Pilot Project, which assists parents seeking to retain guardianship of their disabled adult children.

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 2015 Hankinson Award winners are as follows:
Division I (fewer than 500 members)

  • The Houston Lawyers Association for legal assistance and education provided to the community regarding voting rights and helping citizens register to vote.  The association has also focused on educating the elderly about legal issues surrounding real property and estates.

Division II (501 to 900 members)

  • The El Paso Bar Association for its Patriots Free Legal Clinic, which assists veterans and military personnel with disability claims and appeals, benefits, and family law, probate, labor and consumer law issues; and its ATJ Legal Fair, which offers one-on-one consultations and presentations about landlord/tenant, consumer, and child support issues to community members.

Division III (901 to 5,000 members)

  • The Austin Bar Association for its Veterans Initiative, in which attorneys meet with veterans at legal clinics held at area VA outpatient clinics; its annual adoption day, and its Travis County and Family Courthouse advocacy.

Young Lawyer Affiliate

  • The Dallas Association of Young Lawyers for its quarterly legal clinics, the protective orders and legal representation orchestrated through its Lawyers Against Domestic Violence committee, and its Big Give Back project, which offers legal seminars and one-on-one legal advice to Dallas residents.


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 and 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

The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, visit

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