The Texas Access to Justice Commission, in conjunction with the Texas General Counsel Forum, has presented the legal department of Shell Oil Company with the third annual Magna Stella Pro Bono Award for its efforts to promote pro bono legal services within the organization and within the corporate structure at large.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the court's liaison for access to justice issues, presented the Magna Stella Pro Bono Award at the Texas General Counsel Forum's annual awards dinner on Thursday, November 18, in San Antonio. Thomas J. Brandt, associate general counsel, accepted the award on behalf of Shell's legal department.
Shell Oil Company's legal department has an outstanding commitment to providing legal aid services through the Houston Bar Association (HBA) and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program (HVLP). Shell attorneys have volunteered to handle pro bono cases through HVLP for nearly 25 years. The company also was one of the first corporations to become an Equal Access Champion under HBA's Equal Access to Justice Initiative, which challenges corporate legal departments to handle a certain number of pro bono cases for low-income residents annually for five years. Through this program, Shell handles an approximate average of 100 pro bono cases per year.
In 2005, Shell's legal department instituted what is now known as the "Shell-a-Thon," a dual will and legal advice clinic in partnership with the HVLP, the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast and Lone Star Legal Aid.