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ST. LUCIE COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION TO RECEIVE STATEWIDE PRO BONO AWARD


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2012
CONTACT:
Dorohn A. Frazier,
The Florida Bar
TELEPHONE:
(850) 561-5764
E-MAIL: dfrazier@flabar.org



St. Lucie County Bar Association is the recipient of the 2012 Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award. The award, which recognizes a Florida voluntary bar that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis, will be presented at a Jan. 26 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady.

St. Lucie County Bar Association consists of 132 attorneys who practice law in and around Florida's Treasure Coast. Over the past two years, the bar association attorneys have given hundreds of volunteer hours, assisting more than 300 needy residents with legal matters through the local legal aid organization Florida Rural Legal Services (FRLS). They have accomplished this by taking cases, providing advice at clinics and providing legal education seminars to the public.

The Association's strong commitment to pro bono and the local community accelerated when the economic climate changed in recent years. Under the direction of immediate past president James T. Walker, the association appointed a pro bono liaison to work with FRLS to place cases, plan "Ask-A-Lawyer" events and spread the word about the increased need for pro bono service providers throughout the legal community.

The association also established the St. Lucie County Bar Association Judicial Liaison Committee, which was formed for the purpose of planning a 19th Circuit Bench Bar Conference. The committee set as a goal to increase the number of attorneys providing pro bono legal services through Florida Rural Legal Services. The association agreed to waive the $300 conference registration fee for any attorney willing to accept a pro bono case or assist at two legal advice clinics. FRLS recruited 150 attorney volunteers through the conference.

In addition to providing pro bono legal services to low income, elderly, and disabled individuals through FRLS, attorneys from the St. Lucie County Bar Association have also provided countless hours of pro bono services privately.

The attorneys of the St. Lucie County Bar Association have accepted cases in all civil legal areas. In a 2011 case, one of the attorneys from the association represented a local non-profit focused on city redevelopment. The organization works to bring new businesses and revitalize low-income areas. The non-profit encountered a legal problem and would not otherwise have been able to afford an attorney. The organization is receiving highly skilled ongoing representation pro bono.

Another example is a member who started his own pro bono foreclosure project. This attorney meets with clients at the FRLS office on a regular basis to assist with foreclosure matters. Attorneys who volunteer at the "Ask-A-Lawyer" events also regularly accept cases for further representation where needed. It is not uncommon for some of the members of the St. Lucie County Bar Association to have as many as four or five FRLS pro bono cases at a time.

Under its current president, Jennifer R. Kuczler, the association is planning a charity mixer in partnership with the Sailfish Chapter of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants to collect money and canned goods for the Treasure Coast Food Bank and Sarah's Kitchen, which feeds the hungry at four local sites. The association hopes to make this an annual fundraising event.

This year's awards ceremony, which also honors individual, circuit, law firm, young lawyer and judicial pro bono efforts, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 26, at 3:30 p.m. at the Supreme Court of Florida at the Supreme Court of Florida and will be webcast live from http://wfsu.org/gavel2gavel. The program will be rebroadcast taped-delayed on the Florida Channel at a later date. Check local cable listings for details.
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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: 07-08-2012]