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Pro Bono Service Awards

Pro Bono Awards logoEach year, the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar honor and recognize lawyers, groups and members of the judiciary who have freely given their time and expertise in ensuring access to justice for those who otherwise could not afford it.

The 2024 awards will be presented Jan. 18 at the Supreme Court of Florida. The ceremony will be livestreamed on The Florida Channel.

Nomination Process

Honorees for the annual pro bono awards can be nominated by legal aid groups, fellow lawyers or anyone else who knows of exceptional pro bono service provided by a lawyer, judge,  voluntary bar or law firm. For circuit awards, honorees are recommended by circuit committees and approved by The Florida Bar president. A committee of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of The Florida Bar chooses the YLD honoree. The Chief Justice’s Pro Bono Advisory Committee recommends the remaining honorees to the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, who makes the final decision.

Nomination Forms

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2024 Pro Bono Awards. The nomination deadline has passed.

Pro Bono Service Award Recipients and Categories

Presented by the chief justice to a lawyer to recognize extraordinary contributions in ensuring the availability of legal services to the poor. Named for the late Miami civil rights lawyer Tobias Simon, the award represents the Supreme Court’s highest recognition of a private lawyer for pro bono service. All current recipients of The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Awards are considered for this prestigious award, as are direct nominees who have demonstrated exemplary pro bono service over the course of their careers.

Tobias Simon Award Past Recipients

2024 Jamie Billotte Moses Orlando
2023 Timothy Allen Moran Oviedo
2022 Raymond F. Brady Gainesville
2021 Anthony C. Musto Hallandale Beach
2020 Mary Ann Etzler Orlando
2019 Patricia A. Redmond  Miami
2018 Stephen M. Todd  Tampa
2017 Mark Olive  Tallahassee
2016 Bruce B. Blackwell  Winter Park
2015 John W. Kozyak  Miami
2014 Karen Meyer Buesing  Tampa
2013 Jeanne Trudeau Tate  Tampa
2012 Rosemary E. Armstrong  Tampa
2011 Robert G. Kerrigan  Pensacola
2010 Robert C. Josefsberg  Miami
2009 Russell E. Carlisle  Fort Lauderdale
2008 Sylvia Hardaway Walbolt  Tampa
2007 Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte  Tallahassee
2006 Katherine Warthen Ezell  Miami
2005 James M. Vanderplas  Indian Rocks Beach
2004 Edward M. Waller Jr.  Tampa
2003 Jacqueline Marie Valdespino  Miami
2002 Maurice Wagner  Deltona
2001 Gerald Israel Kornreich  Miami
2000 Victor Manuel Diaz Jr.  Miami
1999 Daniel Frederick Wilensky  Jacksonville
1998 Vance Edwin Salter  Miami
1997 James M. Russ  Orlando
1996 Richard Craig Milstein  Miami
1995 Leon Blakely Cheek III  Fern Park
1994 Allan Howard Terl  Fort Lauderdale
1993 Nancy S. Palmer  Maitland
1992 Steven Mark Goldstein  Tallahassee
1991 Alexandra delaVergne St. Paul  Bradenton
1990 Howard W. Dixon  Miami
1989 Herbert Lee Allen Jr.  Orlando
1988 Jean Gillespie Booher  Fort Lauderdale
1987 Steven Lauren Seliger  Quincy
1986 Roderick Norman Petrey  Miami
1985 William J. Sheppard  Jacksonville
1984 Neil Chonin  Coral Gables
1983 Philip John Padovano  Tallahassee
1982 Ira J. Kurzban  Miami

This award is given to an outstanding attorney for each of the state’s 20 judicial circuits and to an outstanding attorney among the out-of-state Florida Bar members.

Recipients of the 2023 President’s Awards follow. See an index of President’s Pro Bono Service Award Recipients by Year dating back to 1982.

2024 President's Pro Bono Award Recipients

Kendra LaNata Condon 1st Judicial Circuit (Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties)
Ryland Terry Rigsby 2nd Judicial Circuit (Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties)
Elika Otoya Stimpson 3rd Judicial Circuit (Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties)
F. Susannah Collins 4th Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval and Nassau counties)
M. Taylor Tremel 5th Judicial Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties)
Kit Van Pelt 6th Judicial Circuit (Pasco and Pinellas counties)
Donato J. Rinaldi 7th Judicial Circuit (St. Johns, Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties)
Amy Milford Abernethy 8th Judicial Circuit (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties)
Dorothy J. McMichen 9th Judicial Circuit (Orange and Osceola counties)
Grant Lyons 10th Judicial Circuit (Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties)
Alvin D. Lodish 11th Judicial Circuit (Dade County)
Neil T. Lyons 12th Judicial Circuit (DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties)
Gilbert M. Singer 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County)
Todd Clifford Brister 14th Judicial Circuit (Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties)
Matthew Zimmerman 15th Judicial Circuit (Palm Beach County)
Tom Woods 16th Judicial Circuit (Monroe County)
Jonathan W. Taylor 17th Judicial Circuit (Broward County)
Eric C. Boughman 18th Judicial Circuit (Brevard and Seminole counties)
Jessica M. VanValkenburgh 19th Judicial Circuit (Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties)
Andrea Smith 20th Judicial Circuit (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties)
Blake Lynne Bruce (Out of state)

Presented by the chief justice, this award recognizes an active or retired federal judge for outstanding and sustained service to the public, whether through legal or civic service or a combination of them, especially as it relates to the support of pro bono legal services.

Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award Past Recipients

2024 Hon. Beth Bloom and Hon. Robin L. Rosenberg, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
2023 Hon. Judge Emeritus A. Jay Cristol, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida
2022 Hon. Marcia Morales, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
2021 Hon. Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
2020 Hon. Karen Sue Jennemann, U.S. Bankruptcy judge, Middle District of Florida
2019 Hon. Roy B. Dalton Jr.
2018 Hon. Patricia Seitz, Miami
2017 Hon. Laurel Myerson Isicoff, Miami
2016 Hon. Catherine Peek McEwen, Tampa

Presented by the chief justice, this award is given for outstanding and sustained service to the public, especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services.

Distinguished Judicial Service Award Past Recipients

2024 Hon. Bertila Soto, 11th Judicial Circuit Court
2023 Hon. Ronald Ficarrotta, Chief Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit Court
2022 Hon. Bonnie J. Helms, 16th Judicial Circuit
2021 Hon. Barbara Twine Thomas, 13th Judicial Circuit Criminal Division
2020 Hon. Lisa Davidson, 18th Judicial Circuit
2019 Hon. Nina Ashenafi-Richardson
2018 Hon. Vance E. Salter, Miami
2017 Hon. Virginia Baker Norton, Jacksonville
2016 Hon. Cynthia L. Cox, Vero Beach
2015 Hon. Ashley B. Moody, Tampa
2014 Hon. Emily A. Peacock, Tampa
2013 Hon. Claudia Rickert Isom, Tampa
2012 Hon. James M. Barton II, Tampa
2011 Hon. Susan G. Sexton, Tampa
2010 Hon. Nikki Ann Clark, Tallahassee
2009 Hon. John Robert Blue, retired, St. Petersburg
2008 Hon. Michael Francis Andrews, Clearwater
2007 Hon. Lauren L. Brodie, Naples
2006 Hon. Charles A. Francis, Tallahassee
2005 Hon. William A. Van Nortwick Jr., Tallahassee

This statewide award, presented by the chief justice, recognizes a law firm that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the provision of pro bono legal services to individuals or groups that cannot otherwise afford the services. This award recognizes extraordinary commitment on the part of a law firm to provide access to the courts for all Floridians.

Chief Justice's Law Firm Commendation Award Past Recipients

2024 Gedeon & Morales Law Group
2023 Bilzin Sumberg
2022 Ausley McMullen
2021 Novey+Gonzalez, LLC.
2020 The Starr Offices of Pinellas County
2019 Foley & Lardner LLP
2018 Hallisky & Davis
2017 Immigration Law Group of Florida, P.A.
2016 Duane Morris LLP
2015 Akerman LLP
2014 Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Prosser, P.A.
2013 Clark & Washington, P.C.
2012 Fisher, Butts, Sechrest Warner & Palmer, P.A.
2011 Foley & Lardner, LLP
2010 Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A.
2010 Hunton & Williams LLP
2009 Fishback, Dominick, Bennett, Stepter, Ardaman, Ahlers, Bolton & Langley LLP
2008 City Attorney’s Office, City of Tallahassee
2007 Hogan & Hartson LLP
2007 Messer & Messer
2006 Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns LLP
2005 Barrett & Barrett
2004 Kozyak, Tropin & Throckmorton, P.A.
2003 Carlton Fields
2002 Markowitz, Davis, Ringel & Trusty, P.A.
2001 Podhurst Orseck Josefsburg Eaton Meadow Olin & Perwin, P.A.
2000 Fisher & Sauls, P.A.
1998 Thirteenth Judicial Circuit
1997 The Broward County Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender
1995 Fowler, White, Gillen, Boggs, Villareal and Banker, P.A.
1994 Steel Hector & Davis
1993 Wooten, Honeywell & Kest, P.A.
1992 Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon
1991 Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentelo, P.A.
1991 Fine Jacobson Schwartz Nash Block & England
1990 Holland & Knight
1985 Thomson, Zeder, Bohrer, Werth, Adorno & Razook

Presented by the chief justice, this award recognizes a voluntary bar association that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services on a pro bono basis to individuals or groups that cannot otherwise afford the services. This award also recognizes an extraordinary commitment to provide access to the courts for all Floridians.

Chief Justice's Voluntary Bar Association Award Past Recipients

2024 Lake County Bar Association
2023 Haitian Lawyers Association
2022 The Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association
2021 CABA Pro Bono Legal Services
2020 Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers
2019 Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association
2018 George Edgecomb Bar Association
2017 Jacksonville Bar Association
2016 Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association
2015 Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers
2014 Central Florida Bankruptcy Law Association
2013 Tampa Bay Hispanic Bar Association
2012 St. Lucie County Bar Association
2011 Tallahassee Women Lawyers
2010 Seminole County Bar Association
2009 Dade County Bar Association
2008 Cuban American Bar Association
2007 Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida
2006 Hispanic Bar Association, Stetson College of Law
2005 Clearwater Bar Association
2003 Indian River County Bar Association
2002 Jacksonville Bar Association
2001 St. Petersburg Bar Association
2000 Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida
1999 Collier County Bar Association
1998 Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers, Inc.
1997 Jacksonville Bar Association
1996 Counsel for Cuban Detainees
1995 Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association
1994 The Legal Aid Foundation of the Tallahassee Bar Association, Inc.
1993 Put Something Back, A Joint Project of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and Dade County Bar Association
1992 Orange County Bar Association
1991 Hillsborough County Bar Association

With more than 26,000 members, the Young Lawyers Division includes all lawyers in good standing under age 36 and all new Florida Bar members of any age for their first five years in practice. The award is given to the division member who best exemplifies the highest ideals of public service.

Visit the YLD Website for Application Information

Young Lawyers Division Service Award Past Recipients

2024 Michaèl’s Déborah Saint-Vil Miami
2023 Irina Shabetayev Fort Lauderdale
2022 Tremaine L. Hemans Miami
2021 Fay Olga Pappas Winter Park
2020 Belkis Plata Jacksonville
2019 Tori Simmons Tampa
2018 Allison M. Stocker Jacksonville
2017 Jennifer Edwards Largo
2016 Elisa J. D’Amico Miami
2015 Sara Alpert Tampa
2014 Laura E. Ward Tampa
2013 Rebecca Lauren Sosa Miami
2012 Timothy Allen Moran Oviedo
2011 Rachel May Zysk Tampa
2010 Monica Miller Evans Tallahassee
2009 Carin Manders Constantine St. Petersburg
2008 Heather Pinder Rodriguez Orlando
2007 Mac Richard McCoy Tampa
2006 Joseph F. Summonte Jr. Sarasota
2005 Melanie Emmons Damian Miami
2004 Thomas Alan Zehnder Orlando
2003 Laurel Francis Moore Tampa
2002 Lawrence Howard Kolin Orlando
2001 Jacqueline Hogan Scola Miami
2000 Steven H. Malone West Palm Beach
1999 Scott Edmonds Ray Miami
1998 Karen Josefsberg Ladis Miami
1997 Michelle Anchors Tallahasssee
1996 Robert Lowery Hamilton Orlando
1995 Cheryl Ada Elizabeth Little Miami
1994 A. Bryant Applegate Orlando
1993 Robert Alan Williams Tallahassee