Today, the Texas Access to Justice Commission presented St. Mary’s University School of Law with the 2009 Law School Commitment to Service Award. According to the Commission, this award recognizes the law school that has most distinguished itself by actively educating its students about access to justice issues, thereby carrying forward one the finest traditions of the legal profession in Texas. The Commission identifies St. Mary’s University School of Law’s commitment to the provision of legal services to the poor as “truly exceptional.”
“Teaching students to serve their community is the best education – both Catholic and legal – we can provide,” said Charles E. Cantú, dean of St. Mary’s School of Law. “The Center for Legal and Social Justice faculty, staff and students are truly deserving of this accolade as their service and commitment to providing legal services to the poor and disenfranchised of San Antonio and South Texas is truly outstanding.”
St. Mary’s Center for Legal and Social Justice provides a supportive learning environment for law students who, under the supervision of a faculty member, are the attorney of record for indigent clients not adequately served by other providers. The faculty balances a rigorous teaching agenda while working with law student volunteers to service the needs of clients in three practice areas – civil, criminal, and immigration and human rights.
In addition to the Center’s work, St. Mary’s law students are involved in a number of pro bono and community service programs throughout the year such as the Wills Clinic, the People’s Law School, Ask-a-Lawyer and the Restorative Justice Initiative.
The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created by The Supreme Court of Texas to coordinate services for people who seek legal representation but may not be able to afford it. The Commission works to reduce barriers to the justice system for low-income Texans.