"King of Torts" billionaire lawyer Joe Jamail is among the wealthiest practicing attorneys in the country. He's made his name and money as a litigator of personal injury cases, winning no fewer than 55 settlements of $1 million or more. In the 1980s, he represented Pennzoil against Texaco in a seminal case. Jamail won $10.53 billion for Pennzoil and pocketed a cool 20% in fees, allegedly.
Jamail clearly has won but you could also say the state of Texas has won, as over the years Jamail has given out hundreds of millions towards charitable causes, with the Lone Star State getting most of it. Here are four things to know about Jamail's philanthropy.
1. The University of Texas Has Jamail's Name Written All Over It
We mean this literally, too. There's the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, the Joe Jamail Field at Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium, the Joseph D. Jamail Center for Legal Research, the Lee Hage Jamail Academic Room, and the Joseph D. Jamail Pavilion, to name a few.
At least $50 million has gone to University of Texas over the years, with one of the largest beneficiaries being UT School of Law, where Jamail's funds have created four endowed chairs, an endowed library, and several endowed excellence funds. The transcripts from Jamail's legendary Pennzoil case are housed within the Tarlton Law Library for students to study. This is a case of exceptional alumni loyalty — Jamail got his B.A. and his J.D. from University of Texas.
What's worth emphasizing here is just how diverse Jamail's grantmaking to Texas has been, with at least $600,000 going to the colleges of Nursing, Fine Arts, Communication, Education and Africa Studies over the years.
2. The late Lee Jamail's Influence
Jamail recalls the influence of his late wife of 57 years, Lee Jamail, on his philanthropy. Lee suggested that they start giving some of their money away and in 1986 the couple established the Lee and Joseph D. Jamail Foundation. Since its founding, the outfit has given more than $233 million.
Before she passed, Lee had a distinguished philanthropic and civic career in her own right serving on boards such as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the development board of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and on the Board of Governors of Rice University.
3. Other Schools and Universities Have Seen Money As Well
In 2013, $50,000 went through the foundation to St. Thomas University in Houston, and at least $166,000 went to Rice University. This isn't the first time Jamail's money has found its way to Rice either. In 2010, Jamail gave $1 million to Rice University's Baker Institute of Public Policy. In 2012, the outpatient center at Baylor College of Medicine was named the Lee and Joe Jamail Specialty Care Center. Baylor has been modestly supported by Jamail since at least 2002.
Jamail's money has also gone to elementary and secondary schools in Texas. These include in recent years the Post Oak Montessori School, St. Pius X School, St. Francis Episcopal and San Marcos Baptist Academy, from where Lee graduated. In 2011, Jamail gave $1 million to San Marcos Academy to build an events center in Lee's name.
4. Jamail Has Been Supportive of the Texas Community
In recent years, funds have gone to the Houston Parks Board, Houston SPCA, Contemporary Arts Museum, Texas Music Project, and Alley Theatre. Jamail is also interested in justice and law, where outfits like Texas Access to Justice Foundation, and Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, have received recent support. In health, money has gone to the AIDS Foundation in Houston, and to a juvenile diabetes oufit in Houston.
This is a funder that has its footprint throughout this region, with even a $2.7 million skate park in Houston's fourth ward bankrolled by Jamail. Oh, and Jamail was once stopped under an overpass by a woman claiming to be a long lost relative. Jamail knew she wasn't, but gave out $100 bills to her anyone else who was around. Nice.