Good news: The economy is improving.
Bad news: Plenty of consumers are still working their way out of the lingering financial problems of too much debt, bad credit, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.
When consumers face these pocketbook issues, they turn to attorneys practicing consumer law to help them find better financial footing.
The Consumer Protection Law Committee will acknowledge an attorney practicing consumer law for outstanding efforts that benefit the practice of consumer law with The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award. It will be given out at the Bar’s Annual Convention in June.
First presented in 2011, the award recognizes excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law.
Last year’s winner was Victoria Butler, head of the Florida Attorney General’s Economic Crimes bureau in Tampa. Butler played a big role for Florida in hammering out a multi-state foreclosure agreement with five of the nation’s largest home-loan lenders that led to a $25 billion settlement.
In 2011, three attorneys shared the honor: April Charney and James Kowalski, Jr., both of Jacksonville, and Margery Golant, of Boca Raton.
Kowalski exposed the robo-signing of documents on behalf of lenders during the collapse of the housing market, which saw roughly 323,000 Floridians receive foreclosure notices in 2010.
Charney, of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, organized a national and statewide Listserv and monthly statewide education circuit on foreclosure defense and consumer-related matters. She also developed techniques forsuccessfully represent homeowners.
Golant was acknowledged for her vigorous defense of consumers facing foreclosure and financial distress in highly contested litigation and in volunteer training of consumers in need of assistance.
Nominations for the Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year should:
* Explain how the nominee promotes the ideals and values of consumer protection and advocacy.
* Describe the nominee’s participation in notable projects or activities advancing consumer protection (such as consumer protection casework, projects, extraordinary mentoring, extensive service on consumer advocacy groups or boards).
* Provide other examples that demonstrate the lawyer’s exemplary professionalism, excellence, character, and commitment to consumer protection.
Deadline for nominations for the 2013 Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award is Friday, April 12. Nomination forms are available at www.floridabar.org. All nominations must be submitted in writing.