The American Bar Association is giving the 2012 Harrison Tweed Award to the San Antonio Bar for its Community Justice Program (CJP), which offers civil legal clinics for indigent Texans. Hutton and CJP leaders will accept the award on Aug. 3 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.
“We’re excited. Any time you get that kind of national recognition, it’s obviously really good for the program,” Hutton says. He thinks the CJP winning the award is “indicative of the work the San Antonio lawyers put into pro bono efforts.”
The CJP is a partnership between the San Antonio Bar and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. Hutton explains the 10-year-old program involves multiple monthly legal clinics that bring together volunteer lawyers, judges, district-clerk personnel, bailiffs and notaries.
“Everything you need to transact business is handled. . . . It’s a great coordination effort,” Hutton says.
Robert Stein, chairman of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants, says the committee chose the San Antonio Bar to receive the award because the CJP is a collaborative effort between a bar association and a local legal-aid provider, it serves people well by offering evening-hours clinics and it successfully encourages lawyers to volunteer year after year.
“Things like that seemed to us to make a program that would both serve people well and could be a model for programs in other places: in Texas and outside. Those were things we found very attractive,” says Stein.
The committee and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association give the award to state and local bar associations that develop or expand programs to increase indigent legal aid and criminal-defense services, according to the ABA website.
-- Angela Morris