During the General Assembly at the Bar’s Annual Convention, outgoing Bar President Gwynne Young honored the following lawyers with President’s Awards of Merit:
Sandra Fascell Diamond, a partner at Williamson, Diamond, and Caton in Seminole, a Board of Governors member representing the Sixth Circuit, and former chair of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section.
“Early last year, after seeing misinformation and watching experiences in other states, Florida Bar leaders determined the need to step up efforts to educate the public, the media, and Bar members on the importance of merit selection and retention, including why Florida has merit retention elections and why judges would be on the November ballot,” Young said.
“I asked Sandy to serve as chair of the steering committee to oversee all of the activities of The Vote’s in YOUR COURT through the November election. Sandy not only stepped up to the challenge, she led the charge to develop and implement this important program.
“She consistently provided thoughtful analysis and demonstrated good judgment and common sense in addressing issues as they arose and in crafting the responses. She is an excellent writer and editor and our published materials were greatly improved by her input. In August, The Florida Bar will receive the national LexisNexis Community and Educational Outreach Award for the program.
“Sandy also served with distinction on the Board of Governors’ Executive, Strategic Planning, Program Evaluation, and Legislation committees. She was a valued advisor to me — someone I knew I could trust to give me solid advice on tough issues and problems.”
John M. Stewart, former president of the Young Lawyers Division (2006-07), a member of the Board of Governors representing the 19th Circuit, serving on the Communications, Budget, Strategic Planning, Program Evaluation, Disciplinary Review, Investment, and Legislation committees.
“During the past year, John chaired the board’s Program Evaluation Committee, which completed eight thorough Bar program evaluations and a total of 16 major accomplishments,” Young said.
“His extraordinary leadership was key to all of those evaluations and accomplishments. Throughout, John demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the work of the committee, and his strong communications and negotiations skills were key to developing creative solutions to myriad challenges. He ensured that due process was afforded to every group and individual in every review, and his dedication to improving Bar programs is evident in all of the results.
“In the words of the staff liaison to the committee, ‘John was able to fully mobilize the resources and energies of the committee members, and he led through dedication and hard work, not by authority.’
“John possesses strong character and immense integrity. He is committed to doing what he believes to be right and best for the Bar, even when it is not easy or popular.”
Haas Humanitarian Award
Paul C. Doyle received the award for meritorious service to the legal profession.
“For 40 years, Paul Doyle has been a powerful leader in the quest for justice,” Young said.
“After being in private practice, he worked in the general counsel’s office of the City of Jacksonville, where he focused his work on improving opportunities for families in public housing. From that point on, this Harvard Law graduate embarked on his life’s work of leading local, state, and national movements to expand access to civil legal assistance for the poor and disadvantaged.
“In 1990, The Florida Bar and The Florida Bar Foundation formed the Joint Commission on the Delivery of Legal Services to the Indigent in Florida to determine how best to employ the large increase in IOTA funds that were becoming available in Florida. Not surprisingly, Paul was called on to staff and lead this historic undertaking,” Young said.
“After the joint commission issued its groundbreaking report in 1991, Paul joined The Florida Bar Foundation staff, where he has worked for the last 22 years.
“At the Bar Foundation, Paul has shepherded the Foundation and its 30-plus grantees through sweeping changes brought about by the restrictions Congress placed on the Legal Services Corporation in the 1990s, and through ups and downs in revenue from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts Program.
“He has responded to identified needs by creating new grant programs designed to help recruit and retain legal services attorneys and to provide for the special legal needs of children, among other innovative solutions.
“Through his widely respected and admired leadership at the Bar Foundation, Paul has helped The Florida Bar fulfill its own vision, as represented by the commitment its members make in their Oath of Admission to ‘never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed.’
“For that and for a lifetime of service, we owe Paul our deepest gratitude and are pleased to present him today with the G. Kirk Haas Award.”
The recipient selects a Florida law school and a scholarship is awarded to a second-year student who demonstrates an exceptionally high degree of integrity, ethics, professionalism, and concern for others.
Marshall R. Cassedy Award
Darlene L. Kelly, executive director of the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation.
“Darlene’s career has been devoted to service to the Bar and the profession,” Young said. “Before joining the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation in 2005, Darlene worked for The Florida Bar, served as executive director of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, and worked in development and alumni affairs for Stetson College of Law.
“As executive director of the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation, Darlene took over a capital campaign in its early stages and raised in excess of $4 million to build the 17,200-square-foot Chester Ferguson Law Center. She then oversaw the construction of the building. Completed and opened in 2008, the center features two floors with conference rooms, a conference center, a lounge, and a lecture hall. The facilities are available for rental by lawyers and community groups.
“Darlene also expanded the foundation’s annual community charitable fundraising event, the ‘Law and Liberty Dinner,’ into the signature legal event of the year in Hillsborough County.
“With her leadership, the event has brought in such notable speakers as Sen. Fred Thompson, author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Duke’s Coach K.
“Since its inception, the event has raised significant dollars to support the foundation’s programs and to help fund legal services for the poor,” Young continued.
“Darlene was instrumental in helping the foundation secure its appointment to administer the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program for Hillsborough County, providing a true service to those who have been impacted by the foreclosure crisis, both lenders and citizens. The foundation continues to administer this program. The revenue generated by this program has placed the foundation in a strong position and will ensure that the foundation will be able to continue to serve the public, the courts, and the profession.”
Established in 2012, this award honors and recognizes the legacy and attributes of Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., who served with great distinction as executive director of The Florida Bar from 1961-1980.
Cassedy died on December 5, 2011, and shortly thereafter, then-President Scott Hawkins appointed a committee to develop recommendations to honor him.
In addition to the award being presented to a local bar, a Bar executive, or to staff members who have provided extraordinary service to the Bar or to a local bar, a permanent commemorative plaque has been placed in the Bar’s headquarters recognizing Cassedy’s role in raising funds and managing construction of the headquarters building.