Two UT alumni recently donated $1 million to the School of Law’s Pro Bono Program.
Richard and Virginia “Ginni” Mithoff first contributed $1 million in 2009 when the program was established. The couple recently gave another gift of $1 million to expand the program’s membership and provide more pro bono work.
Eden Harrington, director of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, said the school was fortunate to get the first donation from the Mithoffs.
“The law school wanted to create a pro bono program that was school-wide,” Harrington said. “The pro bono program was created in 2009, and they helped launch the program.”
According to Harrington, the program’s goals are to increase access for people who are underserved, help build professional skills for law students and encourage the members of the program to participate in pro bono work throughout their careers.
“[The Mithoffs] are our key supporters and most generous supporters,” Harrington said. “They’re not the only people who supported the program, but they helped create the program with their first gift. Their second gift supports meaningful endowments and activities.”
Richard Mithoff, also a board member of the University of Texas Law School Foundation, said the original goal was to create one of the finest pro bono programs in any law school, and he believes it has become just that.
“The program is designed to give professional, real-world work experience but also to provide legal work to those who cannot help themselves,” Mithoff said. “The program covers immigration issues [and] landlord-tenant issues. The students can work alongside lawyers and help people who need help.”
Mithoff said he tries to lead by example, in the same way that Judge William Wayne Justice inspired him.
“I encourage the lawyers in our firm to take on pro bono matters like addressing the rights of children and addressing other issues related to those who cannot help themselves,” Mithoff said. “When I went to work with [Judge William Wayne Justice], he was still handling segregation cases and civil rights issues. Judge Justice was an inspiration for me and putting together this endowment for this pro bono program.”