Richard Warren Mithoff and Joe Jamail.
Richard Warren Mithoff and Joe Jamail. ()

To honor his longtime friend Joe Jamail, a well-known Houston trial lawyer who died in 2015, Richard Mithoff has established an endowment to help fund free legal services for Texas veterans.

Mithoff, founder of Mithoff Law in Houston, said he launched the Joe Jamail Endowment for Veteran Legal Services with a $100,000 donation in May. He said other lawyers and judges have contributed sincethen, and funding has now exceeded $400,000—close to his $500,000 goal.

Mithoff said Jamail, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps before becoming a lawyer, had a particular interest in providing legal services for veterans.

“In the last several years before his death, this is something he talked about. He talked about equal access to justice and veterans,” said Mithoff, who worked with Jamail for more than a decade beginning in the early 1970s.

Jamail is best known for winning the $10.5 billion verdict in 1985 in Pennzoil v. Texaco, which was then the largest-ever verdict.

Through the Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF), the Jamail endowment will provide grant money to existing nonprofits that provide free legal services to veterans. The most common services needed relate to such civil legal matters as medical care issues, legal issues related to disabilities, family law matters and denial of benefits.

Texas has the second-highest number of veterans in the country.

The TAJF currently funds 15 nonprofits that provide free legal services to more than 8,000 veterans a year.