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

Attorney Stephen M. Todd (photo) of Tampa, who says his pro bono legal work has helped him understand that life is about serving others, is the recipient of the 2018 Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, the highest statewide pro bono award. The award will be presented by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga at a Jan. 25 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida in Tallahassee.

Todd’s dedication, compassion and support when dealing with his clients can be captured in an encounter with one teenager. It was the foster child’s 17th birthday, a milestone that triggers case management plans and decisions. It also was only the second assignment for Angela Rauber, an attorney at Crossroads for Florida Kids, and she had read the teen’s file with pessimism. But Todd walked out of the meeting and exclaimed, “Wow! What a bright future that young man has.”

Todd became a trusted adviser to the young man, and Rauber learned what an extraordinary lawyer he was.

Todd’s service has gone in four main directions.

Crossroads for Florida Kids: Through Crossroads, Todd has represented a baby boy, a young teen girl, and five older teen boys, most of whom also were charged with delinquencies. Even if the clients ran away or committed crimes, Todd stood by them, giving them a constant positive presence in their lives.

Guardian ad Litem: Todd has served as a GAL for more than 20 children since 2007. Each case had special challenges; one involved seven children in one family, others have dealt with violence or sexual abuse. He helped one teen launch a fledgling musical career and prevented the expulsion of a bullied client after a school fight. Todd is now a Master GAL, a new program in which new guardians are assigned to more experienced guardians.

Hillsborough County Bar Association Mentoring Program: Abraham Shakfeh was one beneficiary of this program, when Todd took him under his wing. “There were so many things I didn’t know about the practice of law,” Shakfeh recalls. Four years later, Todd still remains “on call” for questions from his protégé.

Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office: Todd approached the management staff at the County Attorney’s Office with a recommendation to organize a Hillsborough County Attorney intake night at Bay Area Legal Services. Several of the attorneys in the office volunteered to take training and handle intake for one night in November. Now, the office plans to make this an annual event.

During his 27 years as a member of The Florida Bar, Todd has donated more than 2,000 hours of pro bono service.

Todd earned his J.D. in 1990 from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and was in private practice from 1991 to 2000. Since 2000, he has been a senior assistant county attorney in the Office of the County Attorney.

The Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award commemorates the late Miami lawyer Tobias Simon, who was a tireless civil rights attorney, a crusader for prison reform and an appellate authority. The award is intended to encourage and recognize extraordinary contributions by Florida lawyers in making legal services available to people who otherwise could not afford them, and to focus public awareness on the substantial voluntary services rendered by Florida lawyers.

This year's awards ceremony, which also honors other individual, law firm, voluntary bar, 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."