Cy Pres: Impact on Justice

Cy pres awards are funds in class action cases that, for a variety of reasons, cannot be distributed to class members or beneficiaries who were the intended recipients. Under the cy pres doctrine, courts can distribute these residual funds to appropriate charitable causes.

How Cy Pres Makes a Difference

Throughout the country, cy pres awards (ranging from thousands to millions of dollars) have been utilized to fund vital civil legal services.

In Texas, a cy pres award was used to fund a major initiative aimed at increasing legal resources available online at www.TexasLawHelp.org. With the award, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation partnered with the Travis County Law Library to develop legal information and self-help forms related to issues facing low-income Texans, as well as implement a broad-based public education campaign statewide.

In addition to special projects, Cy pres awards can also be used to fund operational costs for legal aid organizations, allowing them to provide desperately needed basic civil legal services in their communities.

The legal community has a special responsibility to ensure all Texans have meaningful access to justice, and cy pres awards can make a substantial contribution toward that effort.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation – An Ideal Choice for Cy Pres


Real Impact: Through the work funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, more than 100,000 low-income Texans have been assisted with their civil legal needs, including more than 10,000 victims of domestic violence, 8,000 people with disabilities and 10,000 elderly individuals.

Stewardship: The Texas Access to Justice Foundation grants millions of dollars each year to approximately 40 nonprofit organizations throughout the state. The Foundation board of directors makes grant decisions based on administrative and programmatic aspects of the applicant organizations, ensuring funds are applied to areas of greatest need without duplicating efforts. Foundation staff monitor each grantee to ensure compliance with funding restrictions.

Diverse Partnerships: In addition to working closely with legal aid organizations, the Foundation has forged collaborative relationships with the Supreme Court of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Commission, the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Office of the Attorney General, the Texas Legislature, and other groups, to further the mission of justice for all.

How Can You Help

If you are involved in a class action case and are unable to distribute all the funds, consider the Texas Access to Justice Foundation as a cy pres recipient. When a cy pres award is channeled to the Foundation, you can rest assured the funds will be used in a manner consistent with the intent of the award. And you can make a significant difference in the lives of Texans who desperately need free civil legal assistance for safety, shelter and peace of mind.

For more information about the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and cy pres, contact Betty Balli Torres, executive director, at 512.320.0099, ext. 105 or bbtorres@teajf.org.

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