Best Civil Attorney - 2005
Our award for best civil attorney usually goes to some swashbuckling plaintiffs' lawyer who's racked up a big win. But let us now praise one who toils in a megafirm, defending public-minded corporate giants against all-but-frivolous suits (as defense lawyers would put it). Jim Sales has done a lot of that in his 45-year legal career, but he's done a lot more: He's been a longtime leader in the fight to get big-firm lawyers to do more pro bono work, and he spearheaded the drive to get the State Bar to provide help to attorneys experiencing substance abuse. He's now a main force behind the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which helps provide legal representation in civil cases to people who can't afford it. The legal profession in Texas is a lot better off because of Jim Sales.