Texas Access to Justice Commission
November 18, 2011

Contact: Kimberly Schmitt, kschmitt@teajf.org or 512-320-0099, ext. 104

American Airlines, Inc., Presented with Magna Stella Pro Bono Award

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Access to Justice Commission, in conjunction with the Texas General Counsel Forum, presented the Legal Department of American Airlines, Inc., with the fourth annual Magna Stella Pro Bono Award.  The Magna Stella Pro Bono Award was created in 2008 to recognize corporate legal departments that promote pro bono legal services within their organization and within the corporate structure at large. 

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don R. Willett presented the Magna Stella Pro Bono Award at the Texas General Counsel Forum’s annual awards dinner Nov. 10 in San Antonio.  Marjorie Powell, senior attorney at American Airlines and the Legal Department's pro bono coordinator accepted the award on behalf of the department.

“American Airline’s Legal Department has made an outstanding, ongoing commitment to pro bono work in serving the legal needs of low-income Texans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Harry M. Reasoner, Chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, said. “The support of pro bono programs by great companies such as American Airlines provides critical leadership in the efforts to provide access to justice for the millions of Texans who cannot afford to hire lawyers.”

Attorneys at American Airlines have long participated in a variety of pro bono activities.  In 2005, under the leadership of General Counsel Gary F. Kennedy, the Legal Department instituted a formal Pro Bono Program to encourage and facilitate the pro bono activities of its lawyers.  Nearly 100 percent of the American Airlines attorneys participate in the pro bono program and the amount of pro bono hours has continually increased.  The volunteer attorneys and staff routinely provide legal help at the West Dallas Legal Clinic, in addition to other area clinics, and they handle a variety of pro bono cases through the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas among others. 

The American Airlines Legal Department also partners with Kelly, Hart and Hallman in Fort Worth to participate in National Adoption Day and has collaborated with Haynes and Boone to assist in asylum cases and in coordinating legal services for the Dallas Veterans Clinic.  They also host pro bono training events and invite in-house attorneys from other local companies to participate and hold several fundraising activities for the Campaign for Equal Access to Justice.

American Airlines’ General Counsel Gary F. Kennedy received the Access to Justice Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award in June and was featured in an interview with the Texas Bar Journal.

 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 legal matters for low-income Texans. The Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.