Access To Justice Commission Update

The Texas Access to Justice Commissions Proudly Supports the Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans Initiative

April 14,2010

The need of low income Texans for legal aid is significant and grossly unsatisfied. Approximately 5.2 million people have an income low enough to qualify them for legal aid, but only 20-20% of their needs are currently being met. Adding to that burden, in the last decade, one big segment of low-income population has been growing: veterans. The number of Texas veterans is likely to continue increasing at a substantial level during the next decade as well.

Veterans face huge obstacles when coming back home from overseas. Upon leaving the military they frequently have great difficulty securing employment in the civilian world – particularly in the current economy with double-digit unemployment. They often suffer from medical ailment when they return, including both injuries we can see and injuries that we cannot, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By some estimates, veterans compose about a quarter of the homeless population today. PTSD, in those suffering from it, interferes with their lives at every level – from relationships with their families, to simply holding down a job – and increases the likelihood of running into trouble with the law.

For these reasons, the Texas Access to Justice Commission (TATJC) is very excited about State Bar of Texas President-Elect Terry Tottenham's Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans (TLTV) Initiative, which will be launched this summer. The Initiative's goal is to work with local bar associations, specialty bar associations, and veterans' services groups like the VA to develop a statewide program to provide some of the legal assistance veterans so desperately need.

The centerpiece of the program will be legal clinics modeled after the weekly clinic conducted as part of the Houston Bar Association's Veterans' Legal Initiative, where veterans can go for legal advice on any of the common legal issues plaguing them, from taxes, child custody, landlord/tenant issues, etc… A similar program was started in Dallas and others will soon be launched in Austin , San Antonio and El Paso . Your help is desperately needed because the lifeblood of these programs is volunteer attorneys. They simply cannot function without you. With a small commitment of a few hours of your time, you can make a major impact in the lives of veterans who needs your assistance.

More information about the plans for TLTV will be announced this July at the Local Bar Leaders Conference. Until then, if you are interested in receiving more information about the Initiative, you can contact TATJC at


By Brian McGiverin