Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation
The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to develop and implement policy initiatives designed to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984 and is the largest 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 Texans each year.
ECPR has worked with the Commission and Foundation over the past three years to provide communications support prior to and during the 2009 and 2011 Texas Legislative Sessions.
ECPR works closely with the Commission and Foundation to help educate the public, legislators and attorneys throughout the state about the importance of supporting legal aid for poor Texans. Much of our efforts have focused on funding. At current funding levels, only about 20-25% of qualified legal aid cases in Texas can be handled. ECPR has provided assistance with media outreach, including feature stories, opinion editorials and editorial board meetings in key markets throughout the state. We have also coordinated press conferences at the State Capitol and helped with Access to Justice Days at the Capitol.
ECPR has significantly raised the visibility of legal aid in Texas through our media outreach program for the Texas Access to Justice Commission and Foundation. In 2008, over 700 news stories ran about legal aid as a result of our efforts. More importantly, an appropriation of $20 million was made by the Texas Legislature to address the legal aid funding crisis.