I recently attended my first meeting of the Texas Access to Justice Commission as an official commissioner. This organization is charged with assisting low income and poor Texans who are in need of civil legal services. The effort to provide civil legal services is done both through legal service providers, as well as through pro bono attorneys. The statistics, however, are somewhat staggering:
1. There are 5.1 million Texans who qualify for legal aid;
2. Currently, Texas ranks 43rd in the nation in per capita revenue for civil legal aid;
3. There is one legal aid lawyer for every 11,512 Texans who qualify for legal aid;
4. In Texas, it is estimated that only 20-25% of civil legal needs of low income and poor residents are being met;
5. To qualify for legal aid, an individual must not earn more than $13,537.00 per year. A family of four must not earn more than $27,562.00 per year.
The Commission was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 2001 to coordinate legal aid services for the poor and low income constituents. Since that time, the Commission has sought to increase resources for legal aid and developing policy initiatives to increase access to the legal system for Texas’ most vulnerable residents. I am honored to be a part of this commission and you can read more about the commission on its website at http://www.texasatj.org/