News

NOMINATIONS FOR PRO BONO SERVICE AWARDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 14, 2018
CONTACT: Mark Hohmeister, mhohmeister@floridabar.org

The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE: 850-561-5764

FLORIDA BAR OPENS NOMINATIONS FOR PRO BONO SERVICE AWARDS

The Florida Bar has issued a call for nominations for the annual pro bono service awards, which honor lawyers, judges, law firms and associations that have contributed extraordinary pro bono service. The deadline for most nominations is Nov. 1, 2018, while nominations for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Service Award is Aug. 31.

Pro bono publico means “for the public good,” and pro bono legal service is just one way that attorneys do their part to help make their communities better.

The Florida Bar is proud of the thousands of its members who spend their free time and donate out of pocket each year to assist people who otherwise couldn’t afford legal representation or have their voice heard by the justice system.

In 2016-17, the last year reported, Florida Bar members collectively contributed more than $5.5 million to legal aid organizations and donated nearly 1.6 million hours of free legal service.

Every year, in a ceremonial session of the Florida Supreme Court, more than two dozen lawyers and judges are honored by the court and The Florida Bar for the free legal assistance they have provided. For each of these members of The Florida Bar, as well as a law firm and a voluntary bar association, this honor underscores a professional commitment to service and acknowledges the many hours of pro bono work performed to help children, victims of human trafficking, the elderly, refugees, the poor and countless others who wouldn’t be able to afford the legal assistance they so badly need.

The 2019 pro bono service awards ceremony will be held at the Florida Supreme Court at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7.

The road to this annual ceremony begins now, with the call for nominations.

The Florida Bar and the Supreme Court invite nominations from legal aid groups, civic organizations, fellow lawyers and regular citizens who know of a special lawyer, judge, law firm or voluntary bar that has freely given of time and expertise in making legal services available to the poor.

Nominations must be received by Nov. 1, 2018. (There is a smaller window for making nominations for the Young Lawyers Division honor; they are due by Friday, Aug. 31.) Nomination forms are available at https://www.floridabar.org/ProBonoAwards for the following award categories:

The Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award: Presented annually by the chief justice to a lawyer to recognize extraordinary contributions in ensuring the availability of legal services to the poor. Named for the late Miami civil rights lawyer Tobias Simon, the award represents the Supreme Court’s highest recognition of a private lawyer for pro bono service. All current recipients of The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Awards are considered for this prestigious award, as are direct nominees who have demonstrated exemplary pro bono service over the course of their careers.

The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award: This award is given to an outstanding attorney for each of the state’s 20 judicial circuits and to an outstanding attorney among the out-of-state Florida Bar members.

The Law Firm Commendation: This statewide award, presented by the chief justice, recognizes a law firm that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the provision of pro bono legal services to individuals or groups that cannot otherwise afford the services. This award recognizes extraordinary commitment on the part of a law firm to provide access to the courts for all Floridians.

The Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award: Presented by the chief justice, this award recognizes a voluntary bar association that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services on a pro bono basis to individuals or groups that cannot otherwise afford the services. This award recognizes an extraordinary commitment to provide access to the courts for all Floridians.

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Service Award: With more than 26,000 members, the Young Lawyers Division includes all lawyers in good standing under age 36 and all new Florida Bar members of any age for their first five years in practice. The award is given to the division member who best exemplifies the highest ideals of public service.

The Distinguished Judicial Service Award: Presented by the chief justice, this award is given for outstanding and sustained service to the public, especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services.

Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award: This award, presented by the chief justice, recognizes an active or retired federal judge for outstanding and sustained service to the public, whether through legal or civic service or a combination of them, especially as it relates to the support of pro bono legal services.

Nominees’ pro bono service contributions may be cumulative. Consideration is not limited to the events of the immediate past year.

For additional information, contact public information coordinator Mark Hohmeister at The Florida Bar, 850-561-5764, or mhohmeister@floridabar.org.