News Release

Texas Access to Justice Commission
Texas Access to Justice Foundation
 
November 4, 2011

State Bar of Texas Gives $1.75 Million for Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Providing Assistance to Lawyers Working in Texas Legal Aid Offices

AUSTIN, Texas – The State Bar of Texas has announced a contribution of $1.75 million, over five years, to support the Texas Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program (SLRAP) that ensures lawyers will continue to be able to work at Texas legal aid programs.   State Bar President Bob Black made the announcement during a Pro Bono Week luncheon in Austin, Oct. 24, hosted by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, administrator of the SLRAP.  

“We’re trying to help young or new lawyers who have significant student loans and help address the access to justice issues that exist in the state for so many of the poor,”  State Bar President Bob Black, said.    The generous contribution from the State Bar of Texas is the largest donation made by a state bar association to a SLRAP program in the country.  With this support from the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation expects to continue funding qualified applicants through approximately 2013.  

Currently, 126 legal aid lawyers receive support from the Texas Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program.   On average, these recipients carry over $86,000 in law school debt.   The average starting salary for a legal aid lawyer is approximately $46,000.   The average monthly loan payment for these attorneys is $676 and the maximum monthly payment through the SLRAP is $400.

The Texas Access to Justice Commission first created the SLRAP in 2003 to encourage and enable recent law school graduates—facing thousands of dollars in law school debt—to work for Texas legal aid organizations that are often unable to pay competitive salaries.  

“The money will take a considerable amount of stress off of my husband and me.  We’re both lawyers who have chosen paths in which we feel like we can use our skills and training in ways that serve those marginalized by society.  But now that we have a child, we feel the financial impact of our decision in a different way.”  Kristin Zipple-Shedd, SLRAP recipient and staff attorney at Catholic Charities in Houston said.

Currently in Texas, one legal aid lawyer is available for approximately every 11,152 Texans who qualify. To be eligible for legal aid, an individual must earn no more than $13,613 a year. For a family of four, the household income cannot exceed $27,938.  

Recent law graduates that would like more information on the SLRAP, coordinated by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, can visit www.teajf.org for more details and program deadlines for 2012.

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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 Commission has created several initiatives to increase resources and awareness of legal aid. For more information, please visit www.TexasATJ.org.

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (www.teajf.org), 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 more than 100,000 Texans each year.

The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system.

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

 

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