In this week’s edition of P.S., Baker Botts receives an award from a longstanding pro bono client, Gray Reed announces a first-of-its-kind firmwide volunteer day, Texas A&M’s board of regents elects a notable chairman and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation announces a new partnership with a bank that will help provide funding for civil legal services to Texans in need.
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The Latest Charitable Happenings
— Houston nonprofit DePelchin Children’s Center honored Baker Botts on April 26 with the Kezia Payne DePelchin Award at its annual Families for Kids luncheon, which raised more than $360,000. DePelchin is an accredited foster care and adoption agency that focuses on deploying evidence-based strategies to prevent maltreatment, preserve healthy families and bring healing to children who have suffered from trauma. Baker Botts partners Scott Janoe and Keri Brown accepted the award on behalf of the firm. Janoe serves on DePelchin’s board, and Brown serves on the board of DePelchin’s foundation.
Kezie Payne DePelchin founded the organization in 1892 after discovering three babies on her doorstep. She opened what she called a “faith home” for the children, which was put at risk of closing the following year when DePelchin suddenly died. Some of Houston’s most notable women, including Alice Graham Baker, the wife of Baker Botts founding partner Captain James A. Baker, carried out DePelchin’s mission and kept the doors open. DePelchin is Baker Botts’ longest-tenured pro bono client. A Baker Botts lawyer has served on the DelPelchin’s board throughout its 130-year history and has also provided pro bono services throughout the decades.
— On May 19, Gray Reed will close all three of its offices at 11 a.m. for the firm’s first-annual Volunteer Day. Roughly 230 attorneys and staff will spend the day volunteering at two food banks — the Dallas and Waco offices at the North Texas Food Bank and the Houston office at the Houston Food Bank. Volunteers will sort and pack boxes that are distributed to the community through the Food Bank’s programs and Feeding Network.
— Dallas Bracewell of counsel Bill Mahomes has been elected as chairman of the Texas A&M University System board of regents. Mahomes has served on A&M’s board of regents since 2015, when Gov. Greg Abbott elected him to it. Mahomes has served as vice chairman for the past two years. Until earlier this year, Mahomes was executive vice president and general counsel of Vista Bank, and he now serves on Vista’s board of directors. He also serves on the advisory board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. At Bracewell, Mahomes handles transactions involving public finance, real estate and public policy. Mahomes, who received his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M in 1969, was the first Black student to graduate there after four years in A&M’s Corps of Cadets. He is the second African American to serve as chairman of the board of regents.
“I’ve never thought that being the first was especially important, even though I understand why others mark its significance,” Mahomes said in a statement. “My perspective is always to stay focused on doing my best, making a positive impact and ensuring better opportunities for the next generation.”
— The Texas Access to Justice Foundation announced that Capital Credit Union is the newest bank to join the foundation’s Prime Partner program, which helps provide funding for legal aid services to more than 100,000 Texans per year. Members of the Prime Partner program voluntarily pay higher interest rates for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, which are a funding source for civil legal aid. Prime Partner financial institutions pay 75 percent of the federal funds target rate on IOLTA accounts.
“Every day, Texans face evictions, domestic violence situations and other economic hardships that require legal assistance to navigate, and unfortunately, many of our neighbors do not have funds to hire a lawyer,” Deborah Hankinson, the chair of TAJF’s board, said in a statement. “With the help of Prime Partners, low-income Texans will continue to receive access to basic and essential civil legal services. We are honored to welcome Capital Credit Union, a long-standing institution in Central Texas, to the Prime Partner program.”