AUSTIN, Texas––The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) celebrated 35 years with a special event featuring renowned author John Grisham at the Fairmont Austin on October 25.
Grisham practiced law for a decade and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives before his success as a best-selling author. He is a strong believer in the importance of legal aid based on his own experiences seeing the difference having a lawyer can make in people’s lives. He is also on the Leaders Council of the Legal Services Corporation, an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.
Later in the evening, Richard L. “Dick” Tate, the Foundation’s chairman since 1999, received the prestigious Harold F. Kleinman Award, named for TAJF’s first chairman. Tate was recognized for his decades of service to the Foundation including his work defending the constitutionality of the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program, which provides millions of dollars for civil legal services for Texans with limited incomes.
“My parents instilled in me that every person is entitled to the same dignity and respect and I’ve used that as guide in helping those less fortunate obtain access to a lawyer,” Tate said. “Legal aid plays a crucial role in ensuring that vulnerable Texans have access to justice to meet their basic civil legal needs.”
Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justices Wallace B. Jefferson and Thomas R. Phillips were honorary co-hosts. Other event co-hosts included former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson, Denise Scofield, Travis Torrence, Carlos Zaffirini, Jr. and Tate.
Since TAJF’s creation, nearly $770 million has been granted by TAJF to legal aid organizations across Texas. With support from TAJF grants, nonprofit organizations throughout the state provide free or low-cost legal services for veterans, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the disabled, and others who are vulnerable.
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the largest state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to more than 150,000 Texas families each year. For more information, please visit: www.tajf.org.