Bar leaders, associations celebrated for improving legal assistance to low-income Texans

Monday, July 31, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Catherine Galloway
Texas Access to Justice Commission
512-427-1892 |

Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director
State Bar of Texas
512-427-1706 |

HOUSTON—Bar associations from around the state were honored for their commitment to access to justice issues during the State Bar of Texas 2017 Bar Leaders Conference July 28 and 29 in Houston.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, liaison to the Texas Access to Justice Commission, presented Pro Bono Service and Deborah G. Hankinson awards on behalf of the Commission on July 29 at the Westin Galleria. Photos of the award recipients are available upon request. Contact Amy Starnes at

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. The Pro Bono Service Award winner receives a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 check to invest in its winning program.

The State Bar of Texas Family Law Section was recognized for its Family Law Essentials Seminars. This well-established program exemplifies the power a bar section has to increase access to justice for low-income Texans. Each year the section partners with legal aid staff to provide continuing legal education trainings across the state for family law practitioners. In exchange for the free CLE training, each attendee commits to handling two pro bono cases for the year from the local legal aid provider.

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 2017 Hankinson Award winners are as follows:

Division I (fewer than 500 members)
The Arlington Bar Association for its access to justice efforts including bimonthly legal aid clinics to help Arlington residents remedy their civil legal matters, hosting CLE panels, and organizing an annual Chili Cook-off that raises funds for the regional legal aid provider, Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas.

Division II (501 to 900 members)
The Jefferson County Bar Association for its access to justice efforts, including being an active partner in the 17-county Veteran Coalition that provides pro bono clinics and representation to Texas veterans, uniting families through attorney participation with a National Adoption Day collaboration, and launching a pilot videoconference clinic in partnership with to increase availability of legal services to rural Texans in need.

Division III (901 to 5,000 members)
The Houston Bar Association for its access to justice efforts including hosting an extensive array of monthly and bimonthly legal clinics customized to meet the needs of Harris County residents and raising $725,000 as part of its annual Harvest Celebration legal services fundraiser.


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 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, or visit