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Oct 31, 2018

Iona School Student to be Honored by Texas Bar

On October 31, 2018, the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas will induct James C. Harrington as a Texas Legal Legend in the Eidman Courtroom at the University of Texas School of Law.

A native of Lansing, Michigan, Harrington began his higher education at seminary at Pontifical College Josephinum in Michigan, where a summer internship exposed him to the plight of migrant farm workers. He developed a passion for social work, and went on to obtain a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Detroit, followed by a law degree from the University of Detroit Law School.

Harrington’s career as an advocate for social justice began immediately after law school as a staff attorney for the South Texas Project, a creationof the

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), designed to fight the geographic exclusion of colonias (poor, rural Hispanic communities) from local water districts and to support workers’ unions organizing in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. After ten years of litigation and advocacy work in that position, he accepted a position in Austin, Texas as Legal Director for the Texas Civil Liberties Union (TCLU), the state affiliate of the ACLU. In 1990, Harrington founded the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and worked as its Executive Director until 2016. By the time he retired, TCRP had grown to six offices and forty staff around Texas. TCRP’s litigation program was strengthened through summer law student interns, post-graduate law fellowships, and partnerships with law firms that provided pro bono associates to work oncases.

Harrington has handled a myriad of civil rights cases during his career—many civil rights precedent- setting—including cases involving grand jury discrimination, voting rights, free speech and assembly, immigration, capital punishment, police misconduct, student rights, privacy, racial and ethnic discrimination, the recognition and application of civil rights based on the Texas Constitution (as opposed to the federal), and the rights of persons withdisabilities.

Harrington has also authored several books: Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Democracy in Turkey and also The Texas Bill of Rights: A Commentary and Litigation Manual. Most recently he has co-authored, Three Mystics Walk into a Tavern: A Once and Future Meeting of Rumi, Meister Eckhart, and Moses de León in MedievalVenice.

Throughout his years as a powerful litigator for social justice causes, Harrington has encouraged and mentored the next generation of lawyers as an instructor and adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Texas State University Honors, University of Texas Extension, University of Texas International Student & Scholar Services, St. Mary's University Law School, and St. Edward's University.

Harrington’s relentless advocacy for equality, his professionalism, and his mentorship of young lawyers make him a fitting recipient for the title of a “legal legend” in Texas.

Texas Legal Legends is a project of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas. Its purpose is to memorialize the stories of many legendary lawyers who have practiced in Texas, and to use those stories to enhance the public’s understanding of the historical importance of law students and lawyers making a difference – not just a living. Legends like Jim Harrington are prime examples of lawyers who have spent their professional careers serving others and taking on challenges that are much bigger than themselves.


Harrington began the Texas Civil Rights Project in 1990 and has worked as a human rights lawyer for more than 40 years. He’s now using that experience to educate and inform the Hispanic community of St. James Episcopal Church, Austin, TX having formed Proyecto Santiago almost two years ago. The goal was to inform bilingual and Spanish-speaking members of the congregation alike on consumer information, how to interact with the police and government agencies, and addressing community problems.