THE YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION OF THE ORANGE COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION TO RECEIVE STATEWIDE PRO BONO AWARD
The Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association is the recipient of the 2019 Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award, which will be presented by Chief Justice Charles T. Canady at a Feb. 7 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida. The award 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.
The Young Lawyers Section of the OCBA has 750 members, who must be under the age of 35 or practicing law five or fewer years.
Over the past two years, the Young Lawyers Section has planned and presented a signature pro bono service event: Wills for Heroes.
The YLS recognized that there was a great need for estate planning by firefighters, emergency medical personnel, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and members of the armed services. The YLS further recognized that its members had the legal skills to fulfill this need.
With help by a grant from the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar, the YLS held its inaugural Wills for Heroes event in April of 2017. There were more than 30 volunteers and more than 80 “heroes” served. A year later, the second Wills for Heroes event drew more than 50 volunteers and served more than 100 people. For 2019, the Young Lawyers Section will have its hands full: There already is a waiting list of more than 200 people for the April event.
Planning for the Wills for Heroes starts months in advance. At the event, members of the Young Lawyers Section, along with volunteers from the Orange County Bar Association’s Estate, Guardianship & Trust Committee and others, help attendees create a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney. Witnesses and notaries ensure that the documents are properly executed. Other volunteers greet attendees, set up refreshments (attendees are offered breakfast, snacks and lunch, depending on their appointment time) and provide other logistical support.
LaShawnda K. Jackson, president of the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association and a past president of the OCBA Young Lawyers Section, noted the rapid growth of the event and said, “This is something that they’ve owned as their project.”
This year’s awards ceremony, which also honors individual, circuit, law firm, young lawyer, state judicial and federal judicial pro bono efforts, is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7, at 3:30 p.m. at the Supreme Court of Florida. The ceremony will be streamed live at http://wfsu.org/gavel2gavel as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/floridasupremecourt.