The Florida Bar News
July 15, 2012
YLD gives $100K to the Foundation
By Annie Butterworth Jones
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division presented a $100,000 charitable gift to The Florida Bar Foundation at its June meeting at the Annual Convention, a gesture intended to offset the potential loss of legal aid attorney positions throughout Florida and the resulting impact on legal services availability to the poor.
Unlike previous donations given by other sections of the Bar — including the Trial Lawyers Section and the Family Law Section, which both requested their gifts be used to support children’s legal services — the $100,000 gift from the YLD is unrestricted in its scope.
“There is no specific purpose associated with the gift,” said Sean Desmond, immediate past YLD president in an email to Jane Curran, executive director of the Foundation. “However, the YLD is interested in continuing to work with the Foundation to develop new ongoing sources of funding to help sustain the Foundation in the future.”
At its May board meeting, YLD board members voted unanimously to donate some of the division’s CLE revenue to the Foundation. This initiative — suggested by former YLD president and Foundation board member Jewel White — coincided with the board’s year-long effort to ensure every YLD Board of Governors representative became a Foundation fellow. Florida Bar Foundation fellows pledge $1,000 to the Foundation payable over five years; government, nonprofit, and young lawyers have the option of extending the $1,000 membership pledge over a 10-year period.
The Florida Bar Foundation is the only statewide organization that provides funding for legal aid and promotes improvements in addressing the civil legal needs of the poor. Principle support for the Foundation’s charitable activities comes from Florida’s IOTA program; revenue of which has fallen 88 percent since 2008 due to interest rates. The loss in revenue has resulted in the loss of legal aid attorneys and a significant reduction in legal services grant funding.
“Our revenues have dramatically reduced in the last couple of years because of the recession, said Mickey Cummings, immediate past president of the Foundation.
“It has impacted and adversely affected almost all of our programs. We are planning to use this $100,000 to cover some of the law school loan reduction plans for legal services attorneys. It is a real problem for them, at the pay scales they’re at, to get those loans repaid, and it helps our grantees keep really qualified people. Those are the people that are in the trenches doing the work every day.”
The YLD and the Foundation have a long-standing partnership, said Desmond, adding he hopes that partnership will continue long into the future.
“If it were not for the Foundation and what they have done and stood by this board in getting our Affiliate Outreach Conference off the ground, we wouldn’t have what we have right now,” he said. “The AOC has become our keynote, premiere function, and if it weren’t for the Foundation stepping in and matching our grant funds each year and giving us credibility around the state, we wouldn’t have had these successful conferences.
“As we are now in a ‘plus’ situation, it gives us great joy to help the Foundation.”
The Florida Bar Foundation is continuing to accept Bar members’ charitable contributions — specifically through its recent “Now” campaign — on its website. Donations to the “Now” campaign can be made by credit card and paid over time.