The Texas Access to Justice Commission, in conjunction with the Texas General Counsel Forum, raised $48,583 for civil legal services during the 2nd annual Charity Golf Classic held Nov. 14 in San Antonio. This year’s event almost doubled the amount raised during last year’s inaugural tournament. The proceeds will be donated to the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.
Legal aid organizations funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation help more than 100,000 low-income Texas families each year with their civil legal needs. Many need help with critical civil legal issues impacting their very existence such as spouses and children of domestic abuse; elderly wrongly denied life-sustaining prescriptions; veterans wrongly denied critical medical care, disability and other benefits; and families whose homes were wrongly foreclosed upon. However, due to a lack of resources, only about 20 to 25 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met.
The Commission also presented AT&T with the annual Magna Stella Pro Bono Award during the Texas General Counsel Forum event. The Magna Stella Pro Bono Award recognizes corporate legal departments that promote pro bono legal services within their organization and within the corporate structure at large.
With attorney participation in more than 38 different programs across the nation, 13 of which are in Texas, AT&T’s legal department stands as a strong champion in reducing barriers for Texans who need access to justice. In 2007, under the leadership of Wayne Watts, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, what started as a spark to help those less fortunate has become a long lasting flame.
Every year, AT&T holds a kick-off event in each of its five regions that features the wide range of pro bono opportunities available and encourages attorney involvement. Attorneys can assist with everything from providing legal advice on a legal hotline to handling asylum and immigration cases to collaborating with local law firms to handle cases. Not only does AT&T give of their time, they also financially support legal services providers by sponsoring events such as the Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Women’s Advocacy Award, the Human Rights Initiative’s 5K Run, the Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans, and the Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas annual fundraiser. They also fund Public Interest Internships at the SMU – Dedman School of Law and provide Excellence in Pro Bono Scholarships at three Texas law schools.