News Release

Texas Access to Justice Foundation
May 11, 2010

Tyler Banks Recognized for Supporting Legal Services to the Poor

Local banks receive the Prime Partner Award from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation

AUSTIN, Texas  The Texas Access to Justice Foundation presented the Prime Partner Award to the Bank of Tyler and BBVA Compass on May 7 for their support of legal services to the poor as Prime Partners in the state’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.  Prime Partner banks, which pay interest at higher rates than other participating banks, have a direct, positive impact on the amount of money available to help low-income Texans with their basic civil legal issues.

Accepting the awards on behalf of their financial institutions at the Law Day Luncheon of the Smith County Bar Association were Seaborn M. Nesbett, executive vice president, of the Bank of Tyler; and W. Hank Baker, senior vice president, of BBVA Compass in Tyler.   Texas Access to Justice Foundation Executive Director Betty Balli Torres presented the awards to the bank executives at the luncheon. 

“Being a local bank makes us aware of our commitment to our community.  The Bank of Tyler is delighted to pay interest that is higher than other banks to help increase funding for legal aid to low-income Texans in Smith County,” said Seaborn M. Nesbett, executive vice president, of the Bank of Tyler.

“BBVA Compass is proud to have received the Prime Partner Award from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.  The mission and vision of BBVA Compass is to work toward a better future for people.  By supporting the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program and others like it, we are able to accomplish our goal,” said Hank Baker, BBVA Compass senior vice president and trust manager. 

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation receives a significant amount of its funding from IOLTA accounts and uses this money for grants to legal aid service providers across Texas, including Lone Star Legal Aid and Advocacy Incorporated which provide services in Smith County. IOLTA funding has dropped 73 percent since 2007, and Prime Partner banks help to mitigate the decline in revenue available to fund legal aid.

“We are pleased to recognize the efforts of these local banks – that go above and beyond the requirements – for helping increase funding for legal aid to low-income citizens in the Smith County area who so desperately need help,” said David Hudson, President, Smith County Bar Association.

Bank of Tyler and BBVA Compass join Lindale State Bank as another Prime Partner in Smith County.

Nearly 5.3 million Texans qualify for legal aid and resources continue to outpace demand.  Legal aid programs help those who desperately need assistance for a wide range of legal issues, including domestic abuse, landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosures, life-sustaining service denials and other civil matters. 


The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the leading 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.


Kimberly Schmitt
512-320-0099, ext. 104





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