The Texas Access to Justice Commission honored Gary F. Kennedy - senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer of American Airlines - with the ATJ Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Award on Thursday, June 23, during the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht, the Court's liaison for access to justice issues, presented the award to Mr. Kennedy for his contributions in providing pro bono legal services to the poor while promoting a pro bono culture within American Airlines. In 2009, Mr. Kennedy led the American Airlines legal department to adopt 10 hours of mandatory pro bono legal aid annually, an uncommon policy within corporate legal departments.
"Through Gary Kennedy's leadership and guidance, the American Airlines legal team has made a significant impact in helping provide access to justice to the more than 5.7 million Texans who qualify for legal aid," Justice Hecht said. "We applaud his efforts and hope that more corporations follow his lead."
The American Airlines legal department tackles various pro bono projects, such as creating wills for the elderly, helping with veterans' cases, and providing attorneys to local legal aid providers, among other initiatives.
In addition, the department works closely with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program helping to enhance pro bono legal services to the poor in the Dallas region through recruitment, training and support of volunteer attorneys. The company also assists Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, a nonprofit legal aid provider, with pro bono programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
"Gary Kennedy is the only Fortune 100 corporation chief legal officer, to our knowledge, who is aggressively encouraging his fellow general counsel and private law firms to do what he has done - ensure that every lawyer under his supervision make at least a minimal contribution to equal access to justice by providing and supporting legal aid to the poor," Errol Summerlin, chief executive officer of Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, said.