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January 8, 2018
Mark Hohmeister, [email protected],
The Florida Bar

The George Edgecomb Bar Association, the largest predominately African-American voluntary bar association in the Tampa area, is the recipient of the 2018 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 by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga at a Jan. 25 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida.

The George Edgecomb Bar Association serves as a model for pro bono service by a voluntary bar, not just reaching out to the community it serves but also going out to churches and community centers in order to find people in need.

Since 2004, the major outreach effort of GEBA has been its Legal Redress Workshop, held in predominately minority neighborhoods, and even at a local community college, in Hillsborough County. The workshops offer legal counseling to an underserved indigent population, helping to fulfill the bar’s mission of empowerment.

Through its workshops, GEBA offers opportunities for lawyers to provide residents with legal education and limited pro bono legal services. As many as 100 people have attended. In 2017, the workshops also included 15-minute, one-on-one counseling sessions on many areas of the law.

The workshop model also uses volunteer lawyers to lead classes, typically lasting 55 to 90 minutes, on a legal topic, with a portion of the time dedicated to answering questions from those in attendance. The workshops also connect citizens with existing pro bono resources.

GEBA also provides complimentary breakfast and lunch at the workshops, and the lunch usually features a presentation on a topic with broad appeal to the audience.

GEBA estimates that it has contributed almost 2,000 hours to its 16 workshops from 2004 through last year.

The George Edgecomb Bar Association ( was founded in 1982, in memory of the late George E. Edgecomb, the first African-American county judge in Hillsborough County. The current president of GEBA is Theresa Jean-Pierre Coy; she also has served as the co-chair of the Legal Redress Workshop.

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, Jan. 25, at 3:30 p.m. at the Supreme Court of Florida. The ceremony will be streamed live at as well as on Facebook at

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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."