FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2018
Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1706, or (512) 427-1706
State Bar of Texas receives national award
improving legal services to low-income Texans
AUSTIN — The State Bar of Texas was presented a prestigious 2018 Harrison Tweed Award on Friday at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The Harrison Tweed Award recognizes bar associations that have made extraordinary efforts to improve the availability of civil legal services or indigent defense services to people living in poverty. Named for an outstanding leader in the promotion of free legal services to people living in poverty, the award was created in 1956 by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).
The State Bar of Texas was honored for the sum of its legal services efforts, including disaster response efforts after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017, several pro bono assistance programs, and the creation of the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator.
“We are honored to receive a 2018 Harrison Tweed Award,” State Bar of Texas Executive Director Trey Apffel said. “The State Bar of Texas works every day to assure all citizens equal access to justice, which is a key part of our mission.”
Here are just a few of the programs for which the bar was honored:
In April 2017, the State Bar of Texas launched the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator (TOJI). TOJI’s goal is to expand access to justice for low- and moderate-income people while assisting new lawyers in establishing practices that serve the unmet legal needs of low-income Texans. The at-capacity program offers training and mentorship to 30 lawyers over 18 months while requiring that they provide at least 100 hours of pro bono services. To date, those 30 lawyers have spent approximately 3,800 hours serving more than 475 clients of modest means and 1,660 hours serving 125 pro bono clients. They have provided Texans an access-to-justice monetary benefit totaling more than $712,400.
The State Bar, in conjunction with the ABA’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, also operates TexasLegalAnswers.org, a free, online legal advice clinic that allows low-income Texans to obtain answers to civil legal problems from anywhere and on any web-enabled device. Being an online clinic, Texas Legal Answers also removes traditional hurdles that might prevent a lawyer from offering pro bono assistance in his or her community. In its first year of existence, more than 600 lawyers volunteered and answered more than 5,530 civil legal questions.
In times of disaster, the State Bar of Texas serves as a clearinghouse for disaster legal resources for the public and attorneys. The bar operates a toll-free hotline — answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese — that efficiently sends callers to their local legal aid agencies to receive assistance. In the first six months after Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coastline, the hotline received 7,282 calls for assistance.
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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, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @statebaroftexas, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/statebaroftexas, or visit texasbar.com.