Lawyers lauded for Bar service
At the General Assembly at the Bar’s Annual Convention on June 23, outgoing Bar President Bill Schifino presented the following awards:
President’s Awards of Merit:
“I’m giving this award to Lorna Brown-Burton to thank her for her tremendous support of Florida’s entire legal profession and all of the Floridians we serve,” Schifino said.
“Lorna has been on the Board of Governors since 2012, and, for the past five years, she has been a tireless worker on every committee, subcommittee, and project she has been appointed to.
“I want to especially commend Lorna for her leadership as chair of the Bar’s Citizens Advisory Committee for the past two years. She has re-energized the committee and has helped our Bar leadership fully utilize and appreciate the contributions of this group.
“She has also been amazing as the board liaison to the Voluntary Bar Committee for several years and her advocacy for their concerns has been unwavering. In addition, she has been board liaison to the pro bono legal services committee.”
A second President’s Award of Merit was presented to Paul SanGiovanni.
“Another tireless worker on behalf of the legal profession, Paul was elected to the board in 2011. He hit the ground running that year and hasn’t stopped!” Schifino said. “He has been one of the most active and energetic members of our board, particularly during my year as president.
“This year, Paul chaired the Budget Committee with great diligence at every step of the way. He focused on making sure that Bar programs are financially prudent, cost-efficient, and effective.
“He served on the Program Evaluation Committee and had an integral role in ensuring that the programs and services we provide to members are helpful to them in their practices.
“Paul also was a member of the Communications Committee, and he and others led the effort to redesign our website to make it truly state of the art.
“He served on the Special Committee on Gender Bias, and as board liaison to the Diversity and Inclusion, and Member Benefits committees.
“In everything Paul does, his passion for the Bar and for justice are evident. His energy level is always at top speed, and he is, above all, a really good person.”
The third President’s Award of Merit was presented to Scott Westheimer.
“I’m sure you all have picked up on the pattern by now of these award recipients being tireless workers on behalf of our Bar. Scott is another,” Schifino said.
“He has had four very busy years on the board since he was elected, and he quickly rose to serve on the Executive Committee and as this year’s chair-elect of Communications.
Scott has not only worked very hard —also serving on the Program Evaluation, Disciplinary Review, and Strategic Planning committees — he has been a great resource and sounding board for me.
“Several of the projects that Scott has had a hand in this year are the re-launch of Lawyers Advising Lawyers, enhancements to member benefits and the Practice Resource Institute, and the new website redesign.”
G. Kirk Haas Humanitarian Award:
Kirk Haas was a member of The Florida Bar who practiced law in Miami until his untimely death in 1987. He was recognized by many for his humanity and legal ethics as well as his skill and his professionalism. The G. Kirk Haas award was established in 1998 by then-Bar President Edward R. Blumberg, to recognize a Florida Bar member for his or her meritorious service to our profession.
The award recipient is selected annually by the Bar president, and the recipient then selects a Florida law school and a scholarship is awarded to a second-year student who demonstrates an exceptionally high degree of integrity, ethics, professionalism, and a concern for others.
“My selection for the 2017 Kirk Haas Award is Carl Schwait,” Schifino announced. “Carl has been on the board since 2005, and his contributions to our profession are so numerous I could go on all day.
“He has an unending commitment to the legal profession, our system of justice, and the citizens of our state. This year alone, he served on four Board of Governors committees: as chair of Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics — a position he has held six times, on the Executive Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee.
“Carl recently retired from practice, but not from the law. He is a beloved professor at the UF College of Law and remains a leader in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
“Like Mr. Haas, Carl possesses an exceptionally high degree of integrity, ethics, professionalism, and a concern for others.”
Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., Award:
Established in 2012, this award honors and recognizes the legacy and attributes of Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., who served as executive director of The Florida Bar from 1961-1980. After his death in 2011, a special committee convened to develop recommendations to honor him, and this award was created for extraordinary service to The Florida Bar or to a local bar.
“My selection for the 2016 Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., Award is Michael A. Doubek, executive director of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association,” Schifino said.
“In their nomination, the officers of this bar said that this award was quote ‘made for Mike.’ In his over 15-year tenure, he has quietly and confidently ‘raised the bar’ in every possible way, they said.
“Mike, the bar officers said, is the definition of a servant leader. His nomination came with 14 letters of support from judges, community leaders, and every president of the Bar association since 2002.
“First Circuit Judge Ross Goodman, a past member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors, in his letter, said: “In many respects, Mike has become the face of the association, and has played an instrumental role in increasing the visibility and credibility of the bar with its members, the general public, and more specifically each of the judges in the circuit. He has always conducted himself in a positive and respectful manner, promoting a positive image of the judicial system and those who serve it.”
Tony Boggs Excellence in Discipline Award:
This award is given by the president of The Florida Bar to recognize dedication, integrity, intellectual excellence, and extraordinary work in and on behalf of the lawyer discipline efforts of The Florida Bar. It is named for Tony Boggs, who worked for the Bar in lawyer regulation for 27 years, overseeing thousands and thousands of lawyer discipline cases.
“My selection for this award is Mary Ann Morgan,” Schifino announced.
“As a member of our board since 2009, Mary Ann has served on almost every board committee, and this year she served as chair of the very important Disciplinary Review Committee.
“The ‘DRC’ — as we call it — oversees the prosecution and appeals for disciplinary violations by Florida lawyers, recommends policy on lawyer regulation and discipline matters, and reviews and makes recommendations on disciplinary actions that require review of the Board of Governors or for which a board member requests discussion.
“Mary Ann has been a member of this committee the entire time she has been on the board. In addition, she is a past chair of the Ninth Circuit Grievance Committee. Mary Ann also served this year on the Executive Committee. Most importantly, Mary Ann provides a stabilizing influence and guide for all of us. Mary Ann: Keep us grounded.”
Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award:
Each year, the Government Lawyer Section recommends, and the president of The Florida Bar presents, the Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award. This year the recipient is Richard Jay Weiss.
“Mr. Weiss has spent 39 years representing, counseling, and advocating for numerous governmental entities. He presently focuses his practice on governmental and municipal law and provides advice and guidance to numerous governmental agencies while practicing at the Ft. Lauderdale firm he helped establish,” Schifino said.
“After the Florida Supreme Court held in 1980 that §768.28, Florida Statutes, did not prevent a public employee from being sued individually for negligence, Mr. Weiss successfully guided the passage of a subsection which protects government employees from being named in a routine negligence suit.
“His focus on providing legal counsel to municipalities has led to his serving more than 50 in various capacities.
“He shares the same goals of all great public government attorneys: to provide great service to the citizens of the state of Florida.”
Weiss said: “I am honored by this award and accept it on behalf of my partners and other colleagues who assist me in representing our local governmental clients.”