The Florida Bar
22 FLORIDA LAWYERS TO RECEIVE PRO BONO AWARDS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2009
CONTACT: Dorohn A. Frazier,
The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar will recognize 22 lawyers for their work on behalf of poor and indigent clients at a Jan. 29 ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.
In 2007-08, Florida lawyers provided 1,489,099 hours of pro bono services to those in need and $5,288,466 to legal aid organizations.
The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award was established in 1981. It is intended to encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor by recognizing those who make public service commitments and to raise public awareness of the substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers to those who cannot afford legal fees. President John G. "Jay" White, III, of West Palm Beach, will present the 2009 awards.
The award recognizes pro bono service in each of Florida's 20 judicial circuits and one Florida Bar member practicing outside the state of Florida. It is presented annually in conjunction with the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, which is given by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Florida. Awards recognizing pro bono contributions will also be presented for Distinguished Judicial Service, Law Firm Commendation, Voluntary Bar Association and Young Lawyer during the Jan. 29 ceremony.
By circuit, the 2009 recipients are: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, Out of State Florida Bar Member.
Shari Thieman Greene
First Judicial Circuit (Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton)
Shari Thieman Greene is a managing member in the law firm of Bordelon, Greene & Lynchard, P.L., in Gulf Breeze. The largest portion of her pro bono cases has come from her church affiliation. Referrals from her pastor and fellow parishioners have given her cases ranging from damaged property, wage refusal and domestic violence to adopted child-biological parents reunion. Ms. Greene has also done considerable pro bono work in conjunction with Legal Services of North Florida, Inc., Northwest Florida Legal Services and the Escambia Santa Rosa County Bar Association.
Twyla Lawrene Sketchley
Second Judicial Circuit (Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla)
Twyla Lawrene Sketchley is the founding and managing attorney of the Sketchley Law Firm, P.A., in Tallahassee. She focuses on the areas of elder law, probate and trust, special needs planning, public benefit eligibility and guardianship. Ms. Sketchley provides pro bono legal work through Legal Services of North Florida, the Office of Public Guardian, Inc., and through her office privately. She pays monthly visits to a local elderly center to offer free legal services and advice. She also assists in creating powers of attorney, wills, advance directives, and handling custody issues, probate, homestead, veteran's benefits, Medicaid and Medicare through the Legal Services of North Florida. Ms. Sketchley has taken on numerous pro bono cases regarding guardianship, which are distinct from others because they are often ongoing, sometimes for many years.
John Justin Kendron
Third Judicial Circuit (Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwanee and Taylor)
John Justin Kendron is a partner in the law firm of Robinson Kennon & Kendron, P.A. in Lake City. His principal areas of focus are trusts and estates, probate, wills and estate planning and guardianship. Mr. Kendron has primarily done his pro bono work by participating with Three Rivers Legal Services. Beginning in 2008, he started giving probate training seminars there. He has also conducted several information sessions on estate planning to seniors at Lake City's Lifestyle Enrichment Center.
James Anthony Kowalski, Jr.
Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval and Nassau)
James Anthony Kowalski, Jr. is in private practice in Jacksonville. He practices consumer protection litigation, including wrongful foreclosure and consumer fraud, complex personal injury, wrongful death and premises liability litigation. Mr. Kowalski has offered pro bono assistance at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, helping consumers victimized by predatory lenders. Currently, Mr. Kowalski is working on 12 cases for JALA taken from a pool of walk-in client interviews – largely composed of foreclosure cases and other consumer issues. He also mentors other private practice attorneys and has been a presenter at many conferences and seminars. He has volunteered at least 100 hours for JALA.
George Michael Germann
Fifth Judicial Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter)
George Michael Germann is in private practice in Spring Hill. The 25-year attorney's principal areas of practice include: wills and will contests, trusts, estate planning, probate, guardianship, litigation, real estate, incorporations, family law, adoptions, personal injury, and restoring rights to wards. Through the Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, he has helped clients in cases involving probate, estate and fraud in real estate.
Gregory Keith Showers
Sixth Judicial Circuit (Pasco and Pinellas)
Gregory Keith Showers is a partner in Kwall, Showers & Barack, P.A. law firm in Clearwater and primarily practices criminal law and personal injury law. He is also on the board of directors and is a past president at Gulfcoast Legal Services. Mr. Showers contributes many hours weekly to pro bono representation – much of it through his participation in the Gulfcoast Legal Services, the Clearwater Bar Association and the Fred G. Minnis Bar Association's pro bono programs. Additionally, he has shared his insight with civic and religious groups such as the YMCA, NAACP, minority at-risk programs and several churches.
Judith Duggan Davidson
Seventh Judicial Circuit (Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia)
Judith Duggan Davidson is an assistant public defender in Bunnell, near her home in Ormond Beach. Ms. Davidson has created her own program solely focused on pro bono work. People seeking pro bono assistance congregate at a local church, where Ms. Davidson maintains her own complete records and files on each case and provides necessary professional liability insurance – out of her own pocket. Cases that she covers vary from custody, guardianship and adoption to foreclosure and fair debt collection. Over the past 2½ years, she has given her service in approximately 400 cases. Passing out food to the needy of Flagler County on early mornings and sharing personal funds to sustain interstate trial litigants are some of her other good works.
Shannon McKenzie Miller
Eighth Judicial Circuit (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union)
Shannon McKenzie Miller is a partner in Miller & Brasington law firm in Gainesville and a resident Mediator/Arbitrator at The Resolution Center of North Central Florida. Ms. Miller has worked to help many through her pro bono assistance. Many of the cases she has handled are serious in nature, including Medicaid qualification, guardianship and representing severely disabled people who have been physically abused by parents. She has taken on estate manners, and has a special interest to the elderly and defending their rights. She has lectured on Medicaid, advance directives, guardianship, homestead and estate planning to organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association, Hospice and The National Association of Mental Illness.
Susan Voight Stucker
Ninth Judicial Circuit (Orange and Osceola)
Susan Voight Stucker is the director of Legal, Labor and Employment Law at HD Supply in Orlando. As a bar member for 23 years, her principal areas of practice are labor and employment law. Ms. Stucker began her pro bono work as a mediator with the bar-sponsored Citizen Dispute Settlement Program. This work progressed through her training by Legal Aid and becoming a Guardian ad Litem, which led to her assisting 80 children in 42 cases. She has donated more than 4,027 pro bono hours on closed cases. In her first four years alone, she accepted seven cases for 12 children amounting to more than 100 pro bono hours. Recently, she has been asked to handle more high-profile cases because of her experience.
William James Lobb
Tenth Judicial Circuit (Hardee, Highlands and Polk)
William James Lobb is a sole practitioner in Bartow. The attorney of 14 years practices marital and family law. Mr. Lobb has placed a high priority on performing pro bono work, representing clients including four children in four separate family law cases in 2008 alone. His pro bono work included speaking with the parties, witnesses and the minor children, and then preparing reports and testifying on their behalf. He contributed more than 70 hours to pro bono work in 2008.
Robert C. Josefsberg
Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Dade)
Robert C. Josefsberg is a senior partner at Podhurst, Orseck, P.A., in Miami, where his principal areas of practice are commercial litigation, criminal litigation and white-collar crime. Mr. Josefsberg has contributed a large number of pro bono hours through such programs as Put Something Back, Legal Aid Society, Dade County Bar and 11th Judicial Circuit, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., Federal Bar and B'nai Brith Bar. He donates hundreds of pro bono hours to individuals and organizations in cases of adoption, divorce, custody, visitation, guardian ad litem, not-for-profit and consumer cases.
Stanley Morris Krawetz
Twelfth Judicial Circuit (DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota)
Stanley Morris Krawetz is in private practice in Sarasota. An attorney for 43 years, his principal area of practice is family law and he is also a family law mediator. Mr. Krawetz has primarily contributed his pro bono services through Legal Aid of Manasota, where he has volunteered since January 2007, with an intake time of more than 800 hours. Every week he gives one full day toward assisting clients with family issues. Legal Aid of Manasota has stated that this pro bono contribution from the last two years exceeds what most attorneys donate in their careers. Additionally, he has given legal advice on last minute petitions, powers of attorneys for grandparents, child support information for single mothers, and unlimited hours of counsel and advice to clients regarding family law. He also recruits new attorneys to donate pro bono hours.
Scott Alan Stichter
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough)
Scott Alan Stichter is a partner in the law firm of Stichter, Reidel, Blain & Prosser, P.A., in Tampa. His principal areas of practice are bankruptcy and insolvency law. Mr. Stichter contributes his pro bono services in a variety of ways. Both the Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program and Bay Area Legal Services' AIDS Project have benefited from his expertise. Over the years, he has donated more than 115 hours to 19 low-income residents in bankruptcy and debt-related matters, along with over 60 general intake hours and other pro bono hours. He has assisted a nonprofit charity that was forced to close its operations, in which he eliminated the expected bankruptcy and led the agency in matters to repay their debt.
Todd Clifford Brister
Fourteenth Judicial Circuit (Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington)
Todd Clifford Brister is a sole practitioner in Panama City. His principal areas of focus are probate, foreclosure defense and general practice. Starting before he began his own practice, Mr. Brister became a volunteer attorney at Legal Services of North Florida Inc. in June of 2007, where he has drawn up estate instruments such as wills, powers of attorney and living wills. For staff attorneys, he has drafted motions, contacted and interviewed clients and done research. He has also assisted in handling an assortment of family-based issues including guardianship, dissolution of marriage, adoption, landlord-tenants, social security, probate, and small claims. Notably Mr. Brister's pro bono work has helped to keep 19 families facing foreclosure in their homes. From June 2007 through September 2008, Mr. Brister contributed 1,212 pro bono hours.
Thomas Carlton Gano
Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Palm Beach)
West Palm Beach
Thomas Carlton Gano is a solo criminal practitioner in West Palm Beach. As an attorney for 25 years, his principal area of practice has been criminal defense. Mr. Gano's pro bono efforts began alongside his wife, while volunteering at homeless shelters where he answers legal questions. The plight of illegal immigrants is something that he took an interest in, leading him to a case involving a man at an outreach program who was falsely accused of rape, and eventually cleared of all charges because of Mr. Gano's pro bono assistance.
Albert Lewis Kelley
Sixteenth Judicial Circuit (Monroe)
Albert Lewis Kelley is owner of Albert L. Kelley, P.A. in Key West and Winter Park/Orlando. He has practiced law for 18 years as both an attorney and mediator. His areas of practice include: corporate law, business law, contracts, copyrights, trademarks, entertainment law, real estate, landlord/tenant, civil, litigation, appeals and mediation. His pro bono caseload is far-reaching, but typically involves individuals in critical, high-priority situations. He has also helped in the cases of an ex-convict receiving a pardon, dismissal of foreclosure on a single dad, preparing a will and reviewing a power of attorney for a client, and even providing a translator, setting up a financial program for a widow and her surviving children, and locating and recommending an attorney to handle a potential wrongful death case.
Heidi Davis Knapik
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Broward)
Heidi Davis Knapik is a shareholder in the Fort Lauderdale office of Gunster, Yoakley and Stewart. She has been a member of its Environmental and Land Use Department over the last 11 years, practicing in the areas of land use and development, zoning, real estate and environmental law. Ms. Knapik supports The Pantry of Broward, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that works with the elderly poor providing resources for senior citizens and grandparents raising grandchildren. Ms. Knapik's assistance enabled The Pantry to get the necessary land-related approvals to open, four months before the final entitlement was scheduled. She has volunteered more than 170 pro bono hours to The Pantry since May 2008. In addition to The Pantry, she has provided pro bono assistance through Legal Aid Services of Broward County, Inc.
Melanie Freeman Chase
Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Brevard and Seminole)
Melanie Freeman Chase is a shareholder at Chase/Freeman, P.A. law firm in Lake Mary. She is the founding shareholder and her principal areas of practice are business litigation and property rights. Ms. Chase's pro bono service is chiefly done through The Seminole County Bar Association Legal Aid Society, where she currently serves as president and previously has been secretary/treasurer and chair of the Compensation Committee. She used her business law expertise to assist the "Adopt a not-for-profit organization," a partnership with social service agencies that act as safety nets to poor people who have relocated. She has also assisted Meals on Wheels, drafting contracts and other documents for its hurricane relief assistance program. Ms. Chase volunteers time and legal support on the advisory board for children aging out of Florida's foster care; and volunteers on the board that ensures available and affordable housing in Seminole County, with preventative legal tips to the poor. Her total pro bono assistance accounted for more than 120 hours in 2008 alone.
Harry Charles Greenfield
Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Brevard and Seminole)
Harry Charles Greenfield is a sole practitioner in Merritt Island. He has been practicing law for 25 years and his principal areas of practice are family law and civil litigation. One pro bono program in particular that has benefited greatly from his service is the Brevard County Legal Aid. Circuit Judge Bruce Jacobus of the 18th circuit described a primary residential custody battle, which he said was one of the most difficult cases he has ever seen of its kind, and that Mr. Greenfield's preparation and professionalism was exceptional. He represented a mother in an action in which the father sought a change in primary residential custody, and on her behalf Mr. Greenfield also sought enforcement of child support. Mr. Greenfield's pro bono assistance helped to establish her custody and set a child support amount from the father. In addition to that case he contributed 400-plus pro bono hours to helping those others.
Mark Edward Hill
Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie)
Mark Edward Hill is a partner in MacWilliam, McCain & Hill, P.A., in Vero Beach. Mr. Hill's areas of practice are: family law, workers' compensation, Social Security disability, real estate, wills and probate law. Mr. Hill has known the value of pro bono service for many years, working with Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., and The Indian River County Bar Association, in which he now serves as Secretary and Board of Directors Officer. At Indian River County Bar Association he acted as a pro bono liaison, placing cases with pro bono attorneys and recruiting attorneys for pro bono cases. He has also handled a number of cases himself, and has spearheaded legal education seminars and training for non-family lawyers to encourage them to take pro bono family law cases. In the last two years, he has contributed more than 200 hours of pro bono legal services through multiple programs.
Jean M. Finks
Twentieth Judicial Circuit (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee)
Jean M. Finks is a sole practitioner in Punta Gorda. Her principal areas of practice are guardianship, estate planning, probate and residential real estate transactions. Early in her career she accepted a few legal aids cases, but most of her pro bono clients have directly called upon her and she has rarely turned them down. Presently, nearly 40 percent of her guardianship cases are pro bono. Many of these cases involve impoverished relatives (grandparents, siblings, aunts, etc.) who are guardians over their loved ones ranging in ages from infants, to teenagers, to mentally challenged adults. Many of their parents are imprisoned, drug-addicted or deceased. Her assistance has been essential in getting benefits for clients including military pensions and health benefits. She also contributes her legal expertise to local Law Day activities, at mall answer desks and radio call-in shows, and to other programs for public schools and adult caregivers.
Michael J. Willis
Out-of-State Florida Bar Member
Michael J. Willis is a co-founder and managing partner at Willis & Willis, PLC in Kalamazoo, Mich. His principal areas of practice are estate planning, estate and trust administration and litigation, estate tax minimization, elder law, Medicaid planning, real estate and corporate law. Mr. Willis not only participates in pro bono programs, but also manages two area pro bono clinics: The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission and Willis & Willis PLC Pro Bono Clinic. The clinics are held one Friday each month and are designed to both serve the community and its' poor. Mr. Willis has handled everything from wills, quit claim deeds, property disputes and missing wills, selling of property, trespassing issues and numerous other issues. Their firm has taken on more than 150 pro bono cases anually at The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.
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