MORE THAN 25 YOUNG LAWYER SECTIONS and divisions throughout the state made presentations in the annual competition for grant funding from The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division at its annual Affiliate Outreach Conference in Daytona Beach last month. Pictured, from left, are Ethan J. Wall, president elect of the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section; Suzette L. Russomanno, president of the Dade County YSL; Leanna Lalla, of the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section; Jacquelynne Regan, of the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division; Jennifer Grosso, of the Sarasota County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division; Matthew Welch, AOC event co-chair; Paige Greenlee, The Florida Bar YLD president; and Katherine Hurst Miller, AOC event co-chair.
YLD recognizes ‘outstanding’ local affiliate projects
By Megan E. Davis
A total of 27 local young lawyers divisions and sections made presentations in the annual competition for grant funding from The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division’s Affiliate Outreach Conference in Daytona Beach last month.
While individual awards have not been announced, all projects are expected to receive a portion of the more than $40,000 in funding available.
“We heard about programs benefitting children who want to read, children who want to play, children learning math and science, and children learning civics,” said Katherine Hurst Miller, co-chair of the conference, at the awards presentation. “We heard about helping people who don’t speak English or don’t understand our legal system in English. We heard about helping youth expunging nonviolent crimes off their records, helping people transition back into the workforce, helping men, women, and older veterans. It was amazing, the work you plan on doing and have done. You inspire our board, older lawyers, people who want to become lawyers, so a huge pat on the back and thanks to the affiliates that presented.”
The Hillsborough County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division took home the event’s top honor, the Outstanding Florida Young Lawyer Affiliate of the Year award, for its extensive community service, pro bono work, and membership programming.
The division raised more than $15,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay over a period of three years through its annual Cornhole for a Cause tournament.
“We have enjoyed working closely with the YLD for more than three years in support of our mentoring programs,” said Amy Neff Hollington, senior director of events for the agency. “The commitment of the YLD to Big Brothers Big Sisters is crucial to maintaining our organization’s programs and to positively impact the lives of children in our community and we are grateful to have them as a valued partner.”
The ABA also honored the division for its efforts in the events with an Award of Achievement.
In partnership with Bay Area Legal Services, the Hillsborough young lawyers began holding an evening clinic for family law clients that were unable to visit the agency’s clinic during its normal business hours because of work conflicts or because they couldn’t arrange for transportation or child care.
Volunteers helped clients complete forms for a variety of family law matters, including establishing paternity, divorce, child support, and reinstatement of drivers’ licenses.
“The participants were very appreciative of the service offered and the YLD volunteers were enthusiastic in their endeavor,” said Nancy M. Lugo, interim pro bono manager for the agency.
The division also received a Shining Star Award from Hillsborough County Schools for its participation in Law Week, which included mock trials, classroom presentations, courthouse tours, and essay contests in an effort to educate school children about the law and legal system.
Two additional community service projects, Holidays in January and Steak and Sports Day, provided days of activities, food, and gifts for foster children.
The Hillsborough young lawyers also holds numerous programs for its members, including judicial shadowing, a state trial court seminar, and opportunities for mentorships.
The YLD honored the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section with two awards for Most Outstanding Public Service Project by a Local Bar Young Lawyers Section, Division, or Committee; and Most Outstanding Member Service Project by a Local Bar Young Lawyers Section, Division, or Committee.
To assist a growing number of Miami-Dade County residents with legal needs due to the foreclosure crises and economic downturn, the section held a Community Law Day.
The one-day event allowed residents to seek free legal advice from attorneys for a variety of matters, including landlord and tenant disputes, foreclosure, disability benefits, and immigration issues.
The second award recognized the division for its monthly, two-hour Lunch with the Judges program, which invites judges to meet with small groups of young lawyers to answer questions and to educate the lawyers about local expectations and procedures.
Both the Sarasota County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and Palm Beach County Young Lawyers Section received the President’s Award.
The Sarasota County YLD plans to create a multimedia presentation for schools to incorporate into the curriculum of a newly mandated civics course.
In 2010, Florida passed the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education Act, requiring all seventh-graders in the state pass a one-semester civics course to advance to the eighth grade. Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, an end-of-course exam will account for 30 percent of students’ grades in the course. In the following school year, students will be required to pass the exam to advance to the eighth grade.
Through a detailed account of Bush v. Gore, the presentation will target multiple state-mandated benchmarks for the course. Those benchmarks require students analyze the outcomes of significant Supreme Court cases, including Bush v. Gore; illustrate the structure and function of government; identify the roles of branches of government and separations of power; illustrate the voting process; and examine the impact of the media.
The presentation will be made available to teachers throughout the state to include in their civics courses for years to come.
Palm Beach YLS
The Palm Beach County YLS plans to partner with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County to create a joint client intake program.
Due to significant budget cuts, the society only has enough funding to open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Through the program, the section plans to staff the clinic from 5-8 p.m., to assist clients who are unable to visit during normal business hours.
Members will also be encouraged to take on some of the cases they learn about while volunteering on a pro bono basis.
Additionally, the program plans to create a website with a searchable database of clients in need of pro bono services, such as those the agency does not have the capability to help or those who do not qualify as indigent but are still in need.
The Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division took home the Gold Award for Best Presentation for its proposal to host a Big Bad Wolf’s Halloween Party for children in the Women’s Residential and Counseling Center in downtown Orlando.
The division plans to buy costumes for about 40 children and organize trick-or-treating, games, and prizes.
The division also plans to hold an education workshop relating to the law, critical thinking, and oral advocacy skills through a mock trial of the Big Bad Wolf.
The Dade County YLS received the Outstanding Presentation Award for its proposal for a Service Juris Day.
The section plans to organize a host of one-day service projects for members to complete for nonprofits throughout Miami and Dade County.