News Release

Texas Access to Justice Foundation 
May 2, 2011

Texas Access to Justice Foundation Presents Prime Partner Awards to Four Lubbock-Area Banks

Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson Presented Awards at State Bar Board of Directors Meeting

Lubbock, Texas—The Texas Access to Justice Foundation awarded four Lubbock-area banking institutions—BBVA Compass Bank, First Bank & Trust, PlainsCapital Bank, and Security State Bank—with the Prime Partner Award for their outstanding contributions to civil legal services. Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson presented the awards to the executives of each bank on Friday, April 29, during the State Bar of Texas board of directors meeting.

The four recognized banks have participated in the state’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program and have been designated as Prime Partners—institutions that go above and beyond by paying one percent interest on IOLTA accounts. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation receives a significant amount of funding from IOLTA accounts and uses the funds for grants to legal aid service providers across Texas. Prime Partner banks, which pay interest at higher rates on IOLTA accounts compared to other banks, have a direct, positive impact on the amount of money available to help low-income Texans with their civil legal issues.

Bank representatives in attendance included: John Richardson, senior vice president of Security State Bank; Abel Castro, First Bank & Trust; Keith Larremore, PlainsCapital Bank in Lubbock; and Tom Hodges, branch retail executive of BBVA Compass in Lubbock. Prof. Larry Spain of Texas Tech University School of Law, who serves as chair of the State Bar’s Legal Services to the Poor in Civil Matters Committee, provided an introduction of award winners and described the recent efforts of the State Bar of Texas in passing a resolution urging participation in the Prime Partner Bank program.  Lubbock County Bar Association President Judge John Akard also spoke of the efforts of the local bar association and those in need of legal aid.

“With 5.7 million Texans who qualify for legal aid, it is crucial that legal aid service providers have the resources they need to supply quality legal assistance to those who desperately need it,” Betty Balli Torres, executive director of the Foundation, said. “Through the efforts of our Prime Partner Banks, we continue to significantly increase the Foundation’s ability to aid low-income Texans seeking protection from devastating domestic violence, assistance with housing and foreclosure issues, access to earned benefits and other basic civil matters.”

Lubbock-area legal aid organizations that receive funding from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation include Disability Rights Texas (formerly known as Advocacy, Inc.), Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Legal Aid Society of Lubbock and Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project.

In 2007, The Texas Access to Justice Foundation’s IOLTA revenue was more than $20 million, but due to historically low interest rates, that figure fell by nearly 73 percent in 2010.  By paying higher interest rates, Prime Partner banks help mitigate the decline in funds available for legal aid organizations. 

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TThe Texas Access to Justice Foundation (www.teajf.org), 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 more than 100,000 Texans each year.

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

 

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