News Release

Texas Access to Justice Foundation 
October 17, 2022

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to open legal aid office in Uvalde with funding from Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Office will provide free legal aid for community members in need through state funding

AUSTIN, Texas –– For the first time in over a decade, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, today announced the opening of a new civil legal aid office. The new office is located in Uvalde, after the recent tragedy at Robb Elementary School increased the community’s need for free civil legal aid services. The new office is funded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, which will support and sustain TRLA’s ability to promote access to justice via state funding by providing civil legal services in Uvalde and the surrounding rural communities.  

While legal aid has always been available in this rural area, TRLA and TAJF recognized circumstances resulting from the tragedy called for TRLA to expand its presence in Uvalde to better meet the community’s needs and prioritized opening a legal office there. On September 26, 2022, TRLA and TAJF representatives met to discuss pressing community needs with local elected officials, including Uvalde 38th District Court Judge Camile Dubose, Uvalde County Judge William R. Mitchell, County Commissioner, and John Yeackle, the executive director of the Uvalde Chamber of Commerce. At the meeting, the Uvalde elected officials, TRLA, and TAJF representatives worked together to create clear channels of communication in anticipation of the new office opening.  

“Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has been on the ground in Uvalde since shortly after the Robb Elementary tragedy, providing much-needed assistance to the community,” Deborah Hankinson, former Texas Supreme Court Justice and the chair of TAJF’s board of directors, said. “As Uvalde continues to heal, the new office will provide a strong presence in Uvalde where Texas RioGrande Legal Aid can continue to provide support for families and community members in need of civil legal aid.”  

As the state’s largest funding source for civil legal aid, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation works to offer legal aid services so that all Texans can have equal access to the civil justice system. TAJF has provided funding to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and other nonprofit organizations providing civil legal aid to Texans since 1984, when the Foundation was created by the Texas Supreme Court. With TAJF funding, legal aid organizations provide assistance in civil legal matters to more than 100,000 low-income Texas families each year.  

“Throughout our 50 year history, the staff of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid proudly helps Texans achieve justice every day,” Robert Doggett, TRLA’s executive director, said. “We are thankful for the state funding awarded by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to support and focus our efforts to help the Uvalde community. Reestablishing a physical presence in Uvalde will undoubtedly improve access to our services so many desperately need.”  

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid is the state’s largest legal aid provider and second largest in the nation, serving 23,000 clients annually across 68 counties in southwest Texas. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys specialize in over 45 practice areas, including family, employment, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and housing.  

The opening of the TRLA Uvalde office is a historic and significant moment. Due to limited resources, the last time TAJF funded the opening of a new legal aid office was in the late 2000’s. It is an important expansion, particularly following the recent tragedy in Uvalde, as the need for legal aid services in remote and underserved communities is a pressing priority.  

 “The recent events in Uvalde confirmed the notion that challenges faced by rural communities are just as critical as those faced in more urban cities,” said Pete Gallego, former Congressman. “The new office in Uvalde will support the immense need of legal aid services for low-income Texans across the region, including veterans, families and victims of abuse.”    For more information or to access legal help with TRLA, visit https://www.trla.org/.  

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Texas Access to Justice Foundation 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 Texas families each year. For more information, please visit: www.teajf.org  

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Texas RioGrande Legal Aid provides free legal services to people who cannot afford an attorney in 68 southwestern counties, including the entire Texas-Mexico border. TRLA attorneys specialize in more than 45 areas of law, including disaster assistance, family, employment, landlord-tenant, housing, education, immigration, farmworker, and civil rights. Our hotline is open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (CST) Monday - Friday: (956)-996-TRLA (8752) or toll-free at (833) 329-TRLA (8752).      

 

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

 

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