April 20, 2009

Contact: Meg Meo, Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations, 512-494-2867 or

Texas Access to Justice Foundation Announces 25th Anniversary Gala; Texas is Facing Critical Shortage of Legal Aid Funds

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Access to Justice Commission will host a 25th Anniversary Gala benefiting the Texas Access to Justice Foundation on Wednesday, May 27, at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin. The gala celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, which funds legal aid programs throughout the state. Host committee chairs for the gala include prominent Texas attorneys who are donating their time for the effort: Joseph D. Jamail, Jamail & Kolius; Charles W. Matthews, Exxon Mobil Corp.; Harry M. Reasoner, Vinson & Elkins LLP, and Richard L. Tate, chair, Texas Access to Justice Foundation. Sponsorships and individual tickets are available for purchase.

The evening will include CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin as the keynote speaker and Austin's own Marcia Ball as featured entertainment. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:15 p.m.

"As the number of poor and low income Texans seeking legal help is increasing at an astonishing rate, correspondingly, the financial resources necessary to provide legal assistance have declined at an equally alarming rate," James B. Sales, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, said. "This fundraising gala represents a meaningful way for Texas lawyers and the business community to support efforts to make access to the justice system a reality for all citizens regardless of status or economic conditions."

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, which is the primary funding organization for legal aid in Texas, receives a significant amount of its funding from Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and uses this money for grants to legal aid providers across the state. The Foundation has granted more than $200 million to legal aid organizations during its 25-year history. However, as interest rates have plummeted, legal aid funding has declined precipitously, making fundraising efforts such as the 25th Anniversary Gala particularly critical and urgent.

"The gala will provide guests an evening of entertainment, but at the same time it will help increase awareness of the critical funding shortage for legal aid in Texas," Richard L. Tate, Foundation chair, said. "Poor Texans deserve the same access to justice as those of us who are more fortunate. This gala is one way the Texas legal community is working together to provide that access to civil legal services, which will help low-income Texans with issues such as domestic violence and housing matters."

Early sponsorship sales have been successful, though additional sponsorships are needed and available. Top-tier sponsors include: ExxonMobil, Jamail & Kolius, Vinson & Elkins LLP, AT&T, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, State Bar of Texas Construction Law Section, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Company.

For more information about sponsorship opportunities and tickets to the event, visit or call 512-320-0099, ext.107.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the primary 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 approximately 100,000 Texans each year.