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Texas Access to Justice Foundation Awards More Than $24 Million to Nonprofits Across the State for Legal Aid to Poor

An additional $350,000 in law student loan grants will be awarded to Texas

public interest attorneys

AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) has announced that its 2008-2009 allotment of grants, totaling more than $24 million, will be distributed to 40 nonprofit organizations throughout Texas that provide civil legal aid to the poor.

TAJF was created by the Supreme Court of Texas and is the largest Texas funder for legal services to the poor. The board of directors is appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas and the State Bar of Texas; TAJF has awarded nearly $207 million in 24 years of existence. TAJF collects and administers several funds including: Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA), Basic Civil Legal Services (filing fees, fees assessed to out-of-state attorneys practicing in Texas, and other public funding), crime victims' funds and private donations.

Each year, TAJF grantees help more than 100,000 low-income individuals with their civil legal needs. With the help of grants from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, public interest lawyers give free legal advice and representation to low-income Texans with civil legal problems, such as landlord-tenant issues, family law matters, employment law, access to earned benefits and consumer issues. Unlike the criminal justice system, low-income Texans facing civil legal problems are not guaranteed an attorney. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, Texas is the eighth-poorest state in the country, with 3.9 million Texans living below the poverty level.

"Many times, access to a lawyer can be a lifesaver to low-income families," Betty Balli Torres, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, said. "As the number of poor Texans continues to increase, it is imperative that we provide them the civil legal representation they need and deserve." To qualify for legal help from a program which received an award, an individual normally cannot earn more than $13,000 per year. A family of four must earn less than $26,500 per year. A list of the nonprofits receiving awards for the 2008-2009 grant year is at the end of this press release.

Law Student Loan Re-Payment Grants

In 2008-2009, student loan grants totaling $350,000 will be distributed to 80 public interest lawyers participating in the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program. These funds, up to $400 per month per lawyer, will help to offset cumbersome law school debt. This is almost double the number of 2007-2008 beneficiaries, due to additional funding for the program from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation. These attorneys carry an average student loan debt of $79,374. Their average monthly loan payments total $613, while their average yearly salary is less than $43,500. Public interest staff attorneys from 21 Texas Public Interest organizations are currently receiving assistance.

For more information about the Foundation and the work it supports can be found by visiting

Texas Access to Justice Foundation Grantees for the

2008-2009 Grant Year


Austin Advocacy, Inc. $1,178,443

Austin Catholic Charities of Central Texas 80,297

Austin Equal Justice Center 94,607

Austin Oficina Legal del Pueblo

Unido, Inc. - Texas Civil Rights Project 594,901

Austin Political Asylum Project 241,333

Austin Southern Disability Law Center 109,142

Austin Texas Advocacy Project, Inc. 215,608

Austin Texas Legal Services Center 1,339,796

Austin Volunteer Legal Services of

Central Texas 208,206

Beaumont Catholic Charities of Southeast

Texas 47,991

Dallas Catholic Charities of Dallas 249,769

Dallas Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program

with the Dallas Bar Association Community

Service Fund 118,168

Dallas Legal Hospice of Texas 181,762

El Paso Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services 230,278

El Paso Las Americas Refugee Asylum Project 83,207

Fort Worth Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas 5,010,203

Fort Worth Texas Wesleyan School of Law 40,000

Harlingen Casa de Proyecto Libertad 202,034

Harlingen Pro Bar - ABA Fund for Justice

& Education 40,121

Houston Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse 337,386

Houston Boat People SOS, Inc. 80,838

Houston Cabrini Center for Immigration

Legal Services 184,599

Houston Cathedral Justice Project 100,000

Houston Fort Bend Lawyers Care 48,598

Houston Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program 268,913

Houston Lone Star Legal Aid 4,636,426

Houston NAACP - Houston 139,753

Houston South Texas College of Law 72,136

Houston Southeast Texas Legal Clinic 33,988

Houston Thurgood Marshall School of Law 59,985

Houston University of Houston 136,218

Houston YMCA International 165,777

Lubbock Legal Aid Society of Lubbock 144,622

San Antonio Catholic Charities of San Antonio 190,043

San Antonio Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. 87,721

San Antonio Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education 68,415

San Antonio St. Mary's Immigration Clinic 104,011

San Juan Oficina Legal del Pueblo

Unido, Inc. - South Texas Civil Rights

Project 269,381

The Woodlands Montgomery County Women's Center 77,700

Weslaco Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. 6,686,724

Law Student Loan Repayment Program 350,000

TOTAL $24,509,100

Betty Balli Torres, Executive Director

800.252.3401, ext.102, or Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link. Betty Balli Torres

SOURCE Texas Access to Justice Foundation
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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