Partnership between Texas Access to Justice Commission, Texas Access to
Justice Foundation and international law firms results in donation of
computer hardware and software to Texas legal aid groups
AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Texas Access to Justice
Commission and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, with support from
several noted law firms, have made a major donation of technology equipment
worth $680,000 to 37 nonprofit legal aid organizations in Texas. The
donation, including computers, software and peripherals, will allow for
increased productivity, thereby enabling legal aid groups to help more poor
Texans with their civil legal needs.
Due to limited funding, legal aid organizations lacked basic technology
equipment and were working with outdated computers and software. Some
organizations did not have enough equipment for every employee.
To remedy the situation, the Texas Access to Justice Commission's
Technology Committee, composed of the chief information officers of leading
law firms, spent more than a year surveying legal aid organizations about
their technology programs, creating a technology plan to address the
deficits, and researching the costs associated with the plan through a bid
process. All the work was done pro bono.
Members of the Technology Committee include: C. Lynn McGuire, chief
information officer, Andrews Kurth LLP (Houston); J. Mark Hendrick,
director of information technology, Baker Botts, LLP (Houston); C. Kirk
Scruggs, director of information systems, Bracewell & Guiliani LLP
(Houston); Scott Preston, chief technology officer, Fulbright & Jaworski
LLP (Houston), and Dennis Van Metre, chief technology officer at Vinson &
Elkins (Houston). Additionally, Nick Altizer, chief information officer for
Lone Star Legal Aid (Houston), and Ryan Gravelle, general counsel for BSG
Alliance Corp. (Austin), also serve on the committee and donated countless
hours to the project. Jeff Edwards, of Whitehurst, Harkness, Ozmun & Brees
in Austin, serves as the Technology Committee's chair.
Committee members donated more than 1,000 hours of their time for the
project, amounting to more than $120,000 worth of pro bono assistance,
which will greatly benefit low-income Texans. As a result of the
Committee's research and recommendations, the Texas Access to Justice
Foundation opted to purchase $680,000 worth of equipment in bulk and donate
it to the legal aid offices. The Foundation purchased 124 desktop
computers, 181 laptops, 60 business-grade printers, 39 scanners, and more
than 300 licenses of Microsoft Office 2007 and other software, which will
be delivered before Christmas. If the legal aid organizations had purchased
the equipment on their own, the aggregate cost likely would have approached
"Prior to this project, many legal aid organizations were working with
very outdated hardware and software," Richard L. Tate, Foundation chair,
explained. "The Foundation is donating the new equipment to enable legal
aid service providers to improve efficiency through networking and
information sharing, automating case management systems, document storage,
and the ability to work remotely."
"With 3.9 million low-income and poor people in Texas, the need for
free legal assistance and representation is unbelievably overwhelming,"
Commission Chair James B. Sales said. "Through its dedicated work, the
Technology Committee has developed a state-of-the-art technology program
for legal services providers which will expand greatly their capacity to
help those who desperately need assistance for a wide range of legal
issues, including domestic abuse, landlord-tenant disputes, life-sustaining
service denials and other civil matters. This truly is a wonderful gift
that will keep giving beyond the holiday season."
The Texas Access to Justice Commission (http://www.TexasATJ.org) 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 for and awareness of
legal aid, including the domestic violence Protective Order Kit, the Texas
Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and http://www.TexasLawHelp.org,
an online resource for free legal information.
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.
SOURCE The Texas Access to Justice Commission
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