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July 24, 2023
Contact: David Bristow
Program Developer
Texas Access to Justice Commission

Texas bar associations celebrated for improving legal assistance to low-income Texans

Houston — Bar associations from around the state of Texas were honored for their commitment to access to justice issues on July 22 during the State Bar of Texas 2023 Local Bar Leaders Conference in Houston.

Terry O. Tottenham, a commissioner on the Texas Access to Justice Commission and past president of the State Bar of Texas, presented the Deborah G. Hankinson Awards on behalf of the commission during the conference.

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

The 2023 Hankinson Award winners are:

  • Division I (fewer than 500 members): The Jefferson County Bar Association

The Jefferson County Bar Association was selected for its full-time pro bono program that provided legal services to over 100 community members; a Veterans Legal Initiative that provided pro bono services to veterans; a National Adoption Day collaboration program that provided for adoption services at reduced costs; and its Second Chance SETX program, which seals criminal records or offers expunctions in Jefferson, Hardin, and Orange Counties.

  • Division III (2,000+ members): The Austin Bar Association

The Austin Bar Association was selected for launching, developing, and sustaining numerous pro bono programs, such as their Adoption Day, CANLAW clinic for helping cancer patients with end-of-life planning, their Self-Represented Litigant Project supporting litigants on the uncontested civil docket, and their Veterans Initiative that has helped over 6,000 veterans since its inception. Their DEI committee supports diversity in the legal profession and compiles resources and information for historically disadvantaged individuals to aid their efforts to access the justice system. They support the operations of Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas and operate the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, which offers reduced-fee attorneys for eligible applicants.


Additional media contact: Rebecca Johnson, Public Affairs Director, State Bar of Texas,

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, like us on Facebook at or visit

The State Bar of Texas is a public corporation and an administrative agency of the judicial department of state government 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, or visit

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