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November 15, 2023
Contact: The Honorable Lora J. Livingston, Ret.
Texas Access to Justice Commission | 512-427-1855

Texas Access to Justice Commission Recognizes Outstanding Contributions

AUSTIN — Each year since 2009, the legal aid community has recognized Pro Bono Week in an effort to inspire increased participation in pro bono activities by the legal community as a whole. Pro Bono Week occurred from October 23-29 in 2023, and Gov. Abbott issued a special declaration noting it as such in Texas. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its own proclamation recognizing October 23-29 as Pro Bono Week and commending the efforts of Texas lawyers in their commitment to pro bono services.

The Texas Access to Justice Commission celebrated pro bono week by highlighting the contributions of some of Texas’s most ardent pro bono advocates. At the New Lawyer Induction ceremony, the swearing-in ceremony for all Texas lawyers who recently passed the bar exam, Justice Brett Busby presented two prestigious awards on behalf of the Texas Access to Justice Commission.

The first award, the 2023 Law Student Pro Bono Award, a recognition of exceptional commitment to pro bono work, saw an incredible number of nominees this year. Struggling to choose just one recipient, the Commission decided to honor two remarkable students for their outstanding contributions:

  1. Justin Atkinson, University of Texas School of Law

  2. Shayla Hoang Nguyen, Texas A&M School of Law

Both students exhibited exemplary commitment to pro bono service and have demonstrated an unyielding passion for helping those in need. To acknowledge their remarkable efforts, each student received a well-deserved stipend.

The 2023 Law School Commitment to Service Award, recognizing a law school's significant impact on its community and its commitment to instilling in its students a passion for pro bono work, is traditionally a challenging decision due to the exceptional commitment of all Texas law schools. However, this year, the committee, after extensive deliberation, chose to honor the University of Texas School of Law. The law school's unyielding dedication to public service and its extensive influence on its community truly set it apart.

At its Access to Justice reception later in the day, with much of the Supreme Court in attendance, the Commission was able to recognize the contributions of attorneys who have consistently exceeded the State Bar’s aspirational goals for pro bono work to address the substantial unmet legal needs of the underprivileged. Membership in the Pro Bono College, which was established by the State Bar in 1992, requires attorneys to enroll annually after completing a minimum of 75 hours of pro bono services. The following attorneys have been doing this for decades, and their efforts represent an amazing commitment to improving their communities:

  • Joseph A. Connors III (25 years)

  • Mary Jo Holloway (20 years)

  • Kurt A. Malmquist II (25 years)

  • Edward L. Piña (20 years)

The Texas Access to Justice Commission is delighted to celebrate the exemplary commitment of students, law schools, and attorneys who are making a profound impact on access to justice and the legal needs of the underprivileged across Texas. Their exceptional dedication to service demonstrates the legal community's ongoing commitment to improving the lives of those in need.


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 and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit

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