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Glenn Ballard's Equal Access Initiative Earns 2008 Harrison Tweed Award

August 25, 2008

HOUSTON (August 25, 2008) — The Houston Bar Association's Equal Access Initiative received one of the American Bar Association's highest honors, the 2008 Harrison Tweed Award. Sponsored by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and The National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

Glenn A. Ballard, Jr. of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, who developed the Equal Access Initiative as president of the Houston Bar Association in 2006-2007, accepted the award at the joint National Conference of Bar Presidents/National Association of Bar Executives/Conference of Bar Foundations awards luncheon. “Receiving the Tweed Award is very significant, since it is a national award for the best pro bono program,” said Mr. Ballard. “I want to thank those firms and individuals who signed up as Equal Access to Justice Champions and made this possible.”

The Equal Access Initiative was implemented through a partnership of the boards of directors of the Houston Bar Association, the Houston Bar Foundation and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program (HVLP). The program recruits law firms, corporate legal departments and individuals to become “Equal Access Champions” by committing to handle a certain number of pro bono cases for low-income residents through HVLP each year for the next five years, based on the size of the firm or legal department.

The goal of the Equal Access Initiative is to directly increase pro bono representation through HVLP by 25 percent each year for the next five years. In its first complete calendar year of operation, the initiative resulted in 1,535 civil pro bono cases handled through HVLP. “We had a goal to increase the number of pro bono cases handled in Houston by 25 percent in the first year, and we actually increased this number by 50 percent,” Ballard said. “The Tweed Award is recognition of that effort.”

The Harrison Tweed Award was created in 1956 and is named for an outstanding leader in the promotion of free legal services to the poor. The award recognizes the extraordinary achievements of state and local bar associations that develop or significantly expand projects or programs to increase access to civil legal services to poor persons or criminal defense services to indigents.