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March 1, 2014
Amanda Jacobsen and Kayla Hathaway

AMANDA JACOBSEN, left, portrays a client seeking legal services while Kayla Hathaway plays the part of an inexperienced lawyer who just opened her own firm. The play occurred during the Volusia County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s grant request presentation at The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Outreach Conference in Tampa. Volusia County, one of more than 30 young lawyers sections and divisions to make grant presentations, requested funding to hold a lunch and panel discussion on the peaks and pitfalls of the life of a new attorney, with a focus on lawyers who hang out their own single after law school.

YLD awards $50,000 to local affiliates for service projects

By Megan E. Davis
Associate Editor

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division awarded nearly $50,000 to fund projects proposed by young lawyer sections and divisions throughout the state.

At the YLD’s annual Affiliate Outreach Conference in Tampa in January, more than 30 sections and divisions requested funding for a variety of initiatives.

Each project received funding of between $500 and $5,000, and the YLD presented awards to several affiliates following the proposals.

“We recognize that there are lots of people out there doing really great things with small dollars and small resources, as well as lots of big things happening at our larger affiliates,” said Melanie Griffin, YLD president. “We were just blown away by the applications and what each of you are able to accomplish.”

An award for best grant application went to the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers Young Lawyers Section.

This year, CFAWL plans to launch a new project called Empowering Present and Future Women Leaders: A Partnership With PACE Center for Girls.

PACE, which stands for Practical Academic Cultural Education, is a nonprofit operating 17 nonresidential delinquency prevention programs throughout Florida for girls ages 12-18 who are identified as dependent, truant, runaway, delinquent, or in need of academic skills.

The organization seeks to intervene and prevent school withdrawal, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and welfare dependency by providing education, individual attention, therapeutic support services, and volunteer service projects.

CFAWL’s project includes three parts, the first of which is to freshen up PACE’s Winter Park center by painting three classrooms and five offices.

Volunteers also plan to hold an onsite presentation and small group discussion, allowing the girls to interact with and learn from local professional women.

Finally, the young lawyers plan to organize a joint service project with the girls, in which they will assemble comfort and toiletry kits for guests of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida.

“You’re helping women not only in the legal profession, but also in the community,” Griffin said of CFAWL’s proposal. “You’ve created just an incredible comprehensive program to service the PACE center and are doing a lot to benefit the community.”

The YLD honored the St. Petersburg Bar Association Young Lawyers Section and Volusia County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division with best grant presentation awards.

The St. Petersburg YLS asked for funding for the construction of pergolas to cover and shade the picnic area where students at Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg eat lunch.

Academy Prep is a tuition-free private school for fifth- through eighth-grade students that is located in one of St. Petersburg’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods and serves almost exclusively minority students.

Due to funding restraints, students have no cafeteria and eat lunch in an outdoor picnic area where the hot sun beats down on them in warm weather and silk worms fall from trees during other seasons.

The Volusia County YLD plans to hold a lunch and panel discussion on the life of a new attorney, with a focus on lawyers who launch their own practice after law school.

The luncheon, to be provided to attendees at a discounted rate, seeks to address mistakes new attorneys make because of lack of experience.

Both the Clearwater Bar Association Young Lawyers and CFAWL young lawyers received gold awards.

Clearwater young lawyers requested funding to partner with a local homeless or domestic violence shelter to create a “reading retreat” for children residing there.

The reading retreat is set to include furniture, bookshelves, and books to make an inviting area for children to find solace and spend time reading in one of the shelter’s common areas.

Once completed, the division plans to hold a “celebration of reading” event at the shelter, which will include a story time and reception. Every few months, volunteers will restock the books and host additional story times.

“This is just such a meaningful project, and we’re so proud of you,” Griffin said, as she presented the award to the Clearwater young lawyers.

Griffin presented the President’s Award to the Tallahassee Bar Association Young Lawyers Section.

The section plans to create ThunderDome Tallahassee, a cohort training program in family law to solve an unmet need for pro bono services to low-income residents of Leon County.

Lawyers participating in the new program will be asked to take pro bono cases during a nine-month period in which they will be supported with family law education, group discussions, and leadership development.

Finding that young lawyers or attorneys with little family law experience are reluctant to take on pro bono cases, the new program is designed to help participants tackle cases while beefing up their skills and supporting each other.

“Especially in civil practice, we don’t necessarily have the skill set necessary to serve those constituents, so they’ve created this CLE program where you get CLE for taking a pro bono case and they’re teaching you how to do your case, whether it’s guardian ad litem, foreclosure, bankruptcy, whatever it is,” Griffin said. “That is just really cool that you’re encouraging pro bono services across the state. That is so important.”

[Revised: 05-04-2015]