The Austin Young Lawyers Association was honored this past weekend by the American Bar Association with two first place awards for best public service project and best overall programming for young attorneys. The awards were presented at the ABA’s annual conference in Chicago, where AYLA competed against young lawyer groups from other mid-sized cities of 800 to 2,000 young attorneys. Last month, the Texas Young Lawyers Association honored AYLA with awards in the same categories.
The public service award recognizes AYLA’s “Permanency Project,” which pairs attorney volunteers with foster children who are in the permanent managing conservatorship of the State of Texas. While foster children in Travis County are provided attorney representation during contested proceedings, their representation ends once a permanent order terminating or removing their parents’ rights is entered. As a result, the children are often left without the support and advocacy of an attorney to help them find permanent homes that are well-suited for their needs.
“The Permanency Project and this award exemplify the many good things that Austin lawyers are doing for our community, ” said AYLA president Kennon Wooten. “Foster children already have many hurdles to overcome in their lives. Attending court without an attorney should not be one of them.”
The project was conceived and implemented by local attorneys Katie Fillmore and Adam Schramek, who worked closely with the Travis County judiciary during each step of the process.
AYLA hopes that the recognition by the American Bar Association will encourage more attorneys to sign up to volunteer for the Permanency Project and will increase overall support for the AYLA Foundation, which provides both monetary and non-monetary support for many nonprofit organizations throughout Austin.
The Permanency Project is open to Austin attorneys of all ages and welcomes new volunteers. Attorneys interested in volunteering for the project can find more information and training material on AYLA’s website at www.ayla.org.
The Austin Young Lawyers Association is a nonprofit, voluntary association operated for charitable and educational purposes, represents approximately 1,000 attorneys in the Austin area.