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TALLAHASSEE CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE TO RECEIVE COMMENDATION FOR PRO BONO WORK


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2008
CONTACT:
Francine Andía Walker,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
(850) 561-5762


The City of Tallahassee City Attorney's Office has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Law Firm Commendation, an award honoring significant contributions in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis. The commendation will be presented by Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis at a January 31 ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.

Under the leadership of City Attorney James R. English, the City of Tallahassee City Attorney's Office opened 15 years ago as a municipal law office. Recognizing the importance of community involvement as a part of public service, including providing pro bono legal services, English immediately urged each employee of the office to join in that commitment.

Attorneys in the office have provided organized pro bono legal services through Legal Services of North Florida, Inc. (LSNF). The attorneys staff the LSNF telephone legal advice hotline for one week each month and provide support for the LSNF legal intake night clinic at least once each quarter of the year. In total, attorneys from the city attorney's office have provided more than 5,000 hours of pro bono services in support of LSNF.

For LSNF the attorneys provide legal advice and counsel to qualified individuals regarding a variety of legal issues. Most of the clients' issues are resolved over the telephone or during the clinic counseling session but some issues require formal legal action. In such cases the city attorneys continue to provide long-term representation rather than referring the client to other counsel.
Examples of pro bono services handled by city attorneys include one case in which a single mother paid $15,000 cash for a mobile home from a local dealer. The dealer never delivered the mobile home and would not return the client's money. One of the assistant city attorneys brought suit against the dealer, joining seven other victims of similar acts, and pursued the case to a successful outcome for the clients.

Another assistant city attorney helped the mother of a soldier fighting in Iraq who was being harassed by a creditor regarding money owed by her son. The creditor implied that she could be arrested for her son's debt. The attorney resolved the matter, ending the harassment without litigation.

One assistant city attorney has provided legal services to two immigrant clients who are members of the Hindu Temple of Tallahassee. Those clients could not qualify for legal aid assistance through LSNF because they are not U.S. citizens.

Attorneys in the Tallahassee City Attorney's Office also volunteer their time and financial resources within educational programs by volunteering to teach about Florida's justice system through the Justice Teaching Program, tutoring low-income children at Bond Elementary School, coaching mock trial teams, mentoring at risk students, and providing pro bono legal services and financial resources to Shepard's Helping Hand, an after-school tutoring program for low-income, at-risk children.

In addition, the staff participates in the city-wide United Way of the Big Bend campaigns, each year exceeding their goals. They collect and donate items for families in the community through the Holiday Sharing campaign by providing gifts of food, toys, books and holiday meals to low-income within the community and to soldiers serving in Iraq. Their donations have also completely furnished two bedrooms at the Hope Community through the Big Bend Homeless Coalition's Hope Community.

The awards ceremony, which also honors individual, circuit, young lawyer, judicial, and voluntary bar pro bono efforts, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. at the Florida Supreme Court. In addition, the ceremony will be broadcast live, unless pre-empted, on the Florida Channel (check local cable listings for the channel number) and on the Internet at http://wfsu.org/gavel2gavel.
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EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and "Association" is not part of our name. Proper reference is "The Florida Bar." Local bar organizations are properly termed "associations."

[Revised: 01-07-2008]