Our Work

Overview

The Supreme Court of Texas created the Texas Access to Justice Commission in 2001 with the mandate of expanding access to justice for low-income Texans.  Because there are a variety of challenges to access to justice in Texas, the Commission’s work is necessarily multi-faceted.  These are our primary areas of focus:


Policy Initiatives:  By promoting policies that remove barriers to our...More »

Policy

The Texas Access to Justice Commission focuses on removing barriers to justice for low-income Texans. Advocating for systemic change is an important part of making justice more equitable for everyone. The Commission works closely with the Texas legislature and the judiciary to formulate solutions to the problems Texans face when they can’t afford an attorney. More »

Policy

An important way that the Commission seeks to increase access to justice for low-income Texans is to address policy matters that serve as barriers to the judicial system. Sometimes issues stem from written policies, procedures, rules or legislation. At other times, they simply stem from practice patterns that have been established over the years. The Commission examines policy and procedural issues that are barriers for legal aid organizations, pro bono attorneys, or low-income Texans to moving through the civil legal system, and works to create policies that facilitate increased access to justice. More »

Legislative efforts

The Commission takes an active role in monitoring and promoting legislation to increase access to justice. In concert with the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, the Commission regularly works with Texas lawmakers on both the state and federal level to reduce the gap between the need for legal services and the resources available to serve low-income Texans. More »

Pro Se Litigants

All litigants should be represented by competent counsel. Until we can achieve that ideal, however, we must find ways to simplify our system for those who lack the money to hire a lawyer.

- Former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson

There are times in our lives where court involvement is necessary. Divorce, child custody and visitation, landlord-tenant disputes, consumer...More »

Corporate Counsel

The Commission’s Corporate Counsel Committee, chaired by Wayne Watts, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel of AT&T, develops resources to help in-house counsel become more active in addressing access to justice issues.  More »

Educational Programs

The Commission promotes a high quality of legal representation for indigent clients through training opportunities for judges, legal aid lawyers, pro bono attorneys, and court staff from all parts of the state.  We provide judges the opportunity to learn about trends in legal practices that can help alleviate the justice gap.  We train legal aid attorneys to become more effective litigators...More »

Law Schools

Law students and law schools are a critical component of increasing access to justice and ensuring low-income Texans receive assistance with their civil legal needs. Exposing law students to the civil legal needs of low-income people while they are still in school raises the likelihood that they will help low-income populations through pro bono work or employment at a legal aid office after graduation. Further, raising awareness among students about the critical shortage of funds for legal aid increases the chance that they will are more likely to contribute money and advocate for increased funding for access to justice initiatives. More »

Technology

Every day technology plays a bigger and bigger role in people's lives, including those of legal aid providers and clients. Through its Technology Committee, the Texas Access to Justice Commission explores and recommends technological solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of legal services delivery. These initiatives are a joint effort of private and public interest attorneys along with experienced information technology professionals working in both private sector law firms and legal aid offices.  More »

Pro Bono

The Texas Access to Justice Commission estimates that only 20% of people who qualify for civil legal services are able to get the legal help they need. Those who don’t receive assistance from legal aid must either attempt to represent themselves or find an attorney who will take their case on a pro bono basis.

Texas attorneys provide about 2.5 million hours...More »

Growing Funds

The Commission helps secure stable funding for legal service providers so that they have the resources and staff necessary to serve the legal needs of low-income Texans. In addition to our work advocating for state and federal funding, the Commission raises funds with the help of the legal community and the general public.  More »

Awards (amended per Commission Meeting Aug 2017)

Annual Awards

ATJ Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
The ATJ Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award was created to recognize outstanding corporate counsel attorneys who provide pro bono legal services for the poor and promote pro bono culture within the corporate framework. The award is open to any individual corporate counsel or in-house attorney in Texas and is presented annually at the...More »

Awards

Annual Awards

ATJ Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
The ATJ Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award was created to recognize outstanding corporate counsel attorneys who provide pro bono legal services for the poor and promote pro bono culture within the corporate framework. The award is open to any individual corporate counsel or in-house attorney in Texas and is presented annually at the...More »