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State Bar of Texas Corporate Counsel Section

Grants

Over $400,000 and growing
 
The Corporate Counsel Section began awarding grants in 1997 and since that time has awarded $437,876, primarily to pro bono legal service providers. All funds for these grants come from sources other than member dues, which are dedicated to providing member benefits. Primary among the sources of revenue for grants is the annual Corporate Counsel Institute, co-sponsored with the University of Texas CLE program. Following a rigorous application and review process, the Section awarded $44,500 in grants during 2014 to the following pro bono legal services providers in Texas to support their efforts to develop and/or maintain programs that focus on providing volunteer and training opportunities for in-house and other corporate counsel.

Texas C-BAR/Legal Assistance to Microenterprise Project ($10,000) 
 
The Section is pleased that it has been able to partner with Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources (“Texas C-BAR”) since 2002. Texas C-Bar is a project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which has a service area covering 68 counties in southwestern Texas. Texas C-Bar has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to form the Legal Assistance to Microenterprise Project (“LAMP”). It is the only project of its kind in Texas, providing free business law services across the state to low-income micro-entrepreneurs and community-based nonprofits serving low-income communities.
 
Texas C-Bar has built an innovative pro bono business law program for transactional attorneys throughout the State of Texas that works to meet the needs of in-house counsel.  With assistance from the Section and other sponsors, Texas C-Bar has recruited 280 of the state’s corporate law departments and law firms to participate in referrals, conducted 375 legal education workshops and numerous clinics and has developed a legal resource library with over 520 model legal documents.

Volunteer:  Attorneys accepting referrals from Texas C-BAR/LAMP can participate in small business pro bono legal clinics that provide microenterprise and small business owners with free one-on-one legal consultations. Clinics, which will be held this year in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Austin, are scheduled for weekday evenings, the most convenient time for both volunteers and clients. The pro bono opportunity is limited in time and scope which allows for easy planning and follow-through by in-house volunteers. The clinic model also creates an opportunity for an entire law department to engage in a team building opportunity and “adopt a clinic,” staffing it entirely.
 
Texas C-Bar/LAMP provides unique transactional opportunities for corporate counsel. The types of legal matters referred include:
  • legal counsel and advice in starting and organizing a new business;
  • drafting, reviewing and/or negotiating contracts such as leases, loan documents, and vendor agreements and formation documents;
  • legal advice regarding business permits and licenses and other applicable laws and regulations; and
  • referral to micro-lenders, entrepreneurial training and technical assistance programs.
Learn more:  http://www.texascbar.org or 512-374-2713.

The Beacon's Cathedral Justice Project ($10,000)
 
The Section is pleased to provide a grant for the second year to the Cathedral Justice Project (“CJP”) of The Beacon, an outreach program of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. CJP provides a full range of pro bono civil legal services to the homeless and those transitioning from homelessness in the Houston metropolitan area. The primary criteria used by CJP in accepting cases are whether the matter limits access to jobs, housing, income or healthcare. Applicants must be homeless or in an unstable housing condition with an income below 125% of the federal poverty level. Since 2007 when it was established, CJP has closed over 3500 cases and provided legal advice to hundreds more. Matters range from disputes in small claims court to complex constitutional law questions raised in federal courts.
 
In 2013, with the assistance of the first grant from the Section, CJP developed the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Program, which is designed to allow in-house counsel and law departments to control the scope of their involvement and lessen the potential for conflict with their business obligations when providing pro bono legal services. CJP recognizes that in-house counsel may not have the same flexibility and resources to provide legal services as outside counsel may have. In order to address these time concerns, CJP has developed a program which has the following key elements:
  • A cloud-based file management system, accessible anywhere at any time;
  • Client interface will be available remotely through videoconferencing;
  • Cases will be offered through the system and will list the services requested;
  • An attorney or law department has the option to accept full representation responsibility or to provide limited services (e.g., research and briefing, drafting pleadings, discovery, mediation);
  • CJP retains case management responsibility, with a CJP attorney assigned to each case; and
  • All case files are digital and maintained in the system, with full access by the corporate team and CJP.
Volunteer:  It is easy to participate in providing legal assistance through the cloud-based case management system anywhere and at any time. While the recipients of services live in the Houston metropolitan area, volunteers can reside anywhere, including areas of the State where opportunities to provide pro bono legal services may be fairly limited. Legal assistance is needed in the following areas: public benefits, including veterans benefits, housing law, employment/labor law, disability/ADA, wills and estates, identification issues, consumer law, municipal violations, elder law, and health law.

Learn more:  http://www.cjphouston.org or 713-220-9780.

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas ($10,000) 
 
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (“HRI”) represents immigrant survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, torture, persecution, and other human rights violations. HRI is building a stronger Dallas/Fort Worth community by helping to lift immigration barriers for those who have suffered severe human rights abuses and are seeking refuge in the U.S. Founded in 1999, HRI now serves more than 300 immigrant clients each year, representing them in their immigration cases and offering supplemental social service case management to help ensure day-to-day survival pending resolution of the legal case. There are two major legal programs: the Asylum Program and the Women & Children’s Program. Clients are rigorously screened. The Asylum Program offers free legal representation to persons who are unable to return to their home country due to fear of certain harm or death. These persons must prove their well-founded fear of persecution to an asylum officer or immigration judge. Without representation, only 16% of applicants who file for asylum are granted status. Therefore, representation by a lawyer plays a crucial role for these individuals. The Women & Children’s Program serves victims of violent crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault and child abandonment. There are program, such as Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) Self Petition, U-Visa and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”), which provide protections that lead to immigrant status in the U.S. The legal work is largely non-adversarial and completed outside of immigration courts and has an excellent success rate.
 
HRI has a successful model of working with law firms and has proposed a plan to work with corporate counsel by scheduling in-house CLE for prospective corporate partners. Recognizing that most volunteers do not have immigration law expertise, HRI offers seminars with CLE and ethics credits that provide an overview of all of the types of cases HRI offers. HRI will work with currently engaged law firms to help create partnerships with new law departments and in-house counsel.

Volunteer:  The time commitment for pro bono work with the Women & Children’s Program fluctuates between 30 and 60 hours. Cases in the Asylum Program generally require a time commitment between 50 to 100 hours. For this program, volunteers should share the workload by working in teams. Volunteers have flexibility in choosing their program and their partners, which allows in-house counsel to get involved without fear of over commitment. Training is available to attorneys in Dallas and Houston for basic asylum representation and it can take place in either location. Training is available in Dallas for representing children seeking immigration relief in the U.S., women who are victims of domestic violence, and U-Visa victims of criminal activities. 

Learn more:  http://www.hrionline.org or 214-273-4334. 

Tahirih Justice Center ($7,500)

Tahirih’s mission is to protect low-income immigrant women and children who demand freedom from gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation, rape, torture, trafficking, honor crimes, forced marriage, widow rituals and domestic violence. In addition to immigration legal services, Tahirih offers comprehensive case management, public policy advocacy and education support to improve the lives of women and girls fleeing gender-based violence and persecution in Harris County and surrounding areas. Tahirih recognizes that training, technical assistance and mentoring are necessary in order to ensure the success of volunteers. Training will be offered at least three times this year and technical assistance and mentoring of volunteers will be on-going.

Volunteer:  In-house counsel have the opportunity to not only partner with the staff of the Center by handling a pro bono matter for full representation, but also volunteer in a one, two, or three day clinic setting. They will be provided information regarding the various forms of legal relief that can be provided (similar to those outlined above for HRI – VAWA, U visas and SIJS, plus T visas for victims of trafficking). They will also be given sample documents and briefs, strategies for preventing re-traumatization of clients, plus on-going mentorship and support. Opportunities for entire law departments are available.

Learn more: 
http://www.tahirih.org/houston or 713-496-0100.

Texas Access to Justice Commission – Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award ($1,000)

Established by the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the Access to Justice Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award is open to an individual corporate counsel in Texas. The Commission seeks to recognize an outstanding corporate counsel attorney who actively provides pro bono legal services for the poor and promotes this pro bono culture within the corporate framework. The funds are donated to the pro bono services provider of the award recipient’s choice. In 2014, the award was presented to Christopher Stidvent of Dell.
 
Other recipients of the Corporate Counsel pro Bono Award since its inception are:
 
2013   Robert Rodriguez, Advanced Micro Devices, and Monica Karuturi, LyondellBasell Industries
2012   Mark Vockel, Dell Inc.
2011   Gary Kennedy, American Airlines
2010   Karen Lukin, Marathon Oil
2009   Peggy Montgomery, ExxonMobil  

Learn more:  http://www.texasatj.org/awards.

Texas Access to Justice Commission – Champions of Justice Gala Benefiting Veterans ($5,000)

The 2014 Gala was held on May 13th in Austin; the State Bar underwrites this event, so all proceeds are dedicated solely to programs providing civil legal services to veterans. TAJC provides grants to organizations that provide legal services that address legal issues that may arise due to a veteran’s absence during military service, such as marital problems, difficulties in getting medical or disability benefits, wrongful foreclosures, and other situations.

 
Texas Minority Counsel Program ($1,000)

The TMCP was created in 1993 with the mission of increasing opportunities for minority and women attorneys who provide legal services to corporate and government clients, and to expose those organizations to the talent found in the minority and woman lawyer community. The TMCP is a client development, networking, and CLE event for diverse attorneys in Texas that is held each year in a different locale within Texas.


1997-2014 Grants

2014:
$10,000 Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
$10,000 Human Rights Initiative of North Texas
$7,500 Tahirih Justice Center
$10,000 Cathedral Health Ministries Cathedral Justice Project
$5,000 Texas Access to Justice Foundation (Veterans’ Gala)
$1,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
$1,000 Texas Minority Counsel Program
$44,500 Total 2014
 
2013:
$5,000 Texas Access to Justice Foundation (Veterans’ Gala benefitting Texas Veterans)
$5,000 Casa Marianella
$8,000 The Beacon a/k/a Cathedral Health & Outreach Ministries
$5,000 Texas Legal Services Center
$5,000 Tarrant County Bar Foundation
$6,076 C-BAR/LAMP (Legal Assistance to Microenterprises Project)
$500 Texas Minority Counsel Program
$2,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
$36,576 Total 2013
 
2012:
$10,000 Texas Access to Justice Foundation (Veterans’ Gala benefitting Texas Veterans)
$3,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission (Internship Program)
$1,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
$1,000 Justice For All Calendar
$500 Texas Minority Counsel Program
$9,000 Texas C-BAR
$7,000 Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
$4,000 Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
$35,500 Total 2012
 
2011:
$10,000 Texas C-BAR
$8,250 Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program
$7,750 Texas Young Lawyers Association
$3,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission (Internship Program)
$1,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission (Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award)
$30,000 Total 2011

2010:
$10,000 Texas C-BAR
$8,275 Texas Legal Services Center
$4,500 9 Texas law schools
$3,225 Justice For Children
$2,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission (Internship Program)
$1,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission (Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award)
$1,000 State Bar of Texas (Justice for All Calendar)
$30,000 Total 2010

2009:
$9,000 Texas C-Bar
$4,500 9 Texas law schools
$3,000 Texas Legal Services Center
$3,000 Justice For Children
$3,000 ProBar
$2,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission
$1,000 TAJF Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award
$25,500 Total 2009

2008:
$6,000 Texas C-Bar
$5,500 Texas Access to Justice Commission
$4,000 Texas Legal Services Center
$3,000 Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA)
$2,000 Texas Access to Justice Commission
$20,500 Total 2008

2007:
$6,000 Texas C-Bar
$6,000 Justice For Children
$4,500 9 Texas law schools
$3,000 Advocacy, Inc.
$19,500 Total 2007

2006:
$6,000 Texas C-Bar
$6,000 Advocacy, Inc.
$3,000 Texas Legal Services Center
$15,000 Total 2006

2005:
$5,000 Texas C-Bar
$5,000 Texas Legal Services Center
$5,000 Justice for Children
$4,500 9 Texas law schools
$1,000 Justice for All Calendar
$20,500 Total 2005

2004:
$5,000 Texas C-Bar
$5,000 Texas Legal Services Center
$10,000 Total 2004

2002:
$10,000 Resolution Forum, Inc.
$3,500 Texas C-Bar
$13,500 Total 2002

2000:
$36,000 Resolution Forum, Inc.

1999:
$49,800 Resolution Forum, Inc.
$5,000 TALA
$54,800 Total 1999

1998:
$25,000 Resolution Forum, Inc.

1997:
$17,000 Resolution Forum, Inc.
$3,000 TALA
$500 TALA
$20,500 Total 1997
     

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