Lt. Marc J. Soss, a lawyer from Bradenton and a U.S. Navy supply corps reservist, won a SemperComm Award, which is presented each year to active duty personnel serving at remote overseas military bases. The award is given by the SemperComm Foundation, a charitable nonprofit founded to boost the morale of U.S. service members stationed at bases. Soss won the award for his major efforts to boost unit morale while serving in Afghanistan in 2006. Assigned to Camp Clark in Khowst, Afghanistan, Soss was assigned the job of unit morale, welfare, and recreation director, something often thought of as the unit’s “movie night director.” Almost despite this idea, his service went well above arranging a movie night once in a while: Soss secured a 300-plus DVD library. He set up a regular Thursday poker tournament. He made sure birthdays got proper recognition and parties happened for each person. He pulled off delivery of television service several months ahead of schedule so that unit members could watch American television. He put together a unit pool party and barbecue, complete with hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks, and soda — a major feat in the mountains of Afghanistan. Soss pulled together equipment for a 21-person gym, vastly improving on the previous five-person facility. An avid running enthusiast, Soss arranged for secure transportation and lodging for unit members to participate in a marathon nearly an hour away. Soss also created and coordinated two marathons at Camp Clark itself: a Halloween “Boo Run” and a Veteran’s Day Run. To cap off his efforts, he managed a fundraiser for the Landstuhl, Germany, Wounded Warrior day trip program, which helps American military personnel receiving treatment at the hospital occasionally get out of the institutional setting to do something fun.
Chief Justice Fred Lewis showed his gratitude for the Florida Board of Bar Examiners at their 2007 staff appreciation luncheon on May 24 in Tallahassee. Lewis referred to the staff as “the most important people among us,” explaining that the Board of Bar Examiners is, in effect, the gatekeeper of law in Florida. “All of us,” he said referring to Florida’s lawyers, “have passed through here.” Chief Justice Lewis, along with Vice Chair Susan Meyer Judas, and Board Member Jeffry Wahlen presented awards for years of staff service. Merit awards were presented by various department directors to Tim Briley, Julie Hannon, Melissa Benn, Ruth Tabanguil, Nijinsky Dix, and Keevia Bennett. The Brandi Cawthon Alvarado Award, presented annually to the employee who best exemplifies the ideals and high standards of the Board of Bar Examiners, was presented to Tara Benton.
The Hillsborough County Bar Trial Lawyers Section recently honored several distinguished individuals at its annual Awards Luncheon presentation in May. The State Court Family Award, which recognizes professionalism, went to Donna Oakfield, judicial assistant for Judge Barbara Fleischer. Thomas Roehn of Carlton Fields was honored with the “Michael Fogarty In the Trenches Award for Civil Trial Practice.” Jay Trezevant, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was the recipient of the “James Kynes In the Trenches Award for Criminal Trial Practice.” The Herb Goldberg Award was presented to Jack F. Rudy II of Bush Ross. HCBA Trial Lawyers Section Chair Amy Farrior was presented an award by the incoming Chair Ken Turkel. Pictured from the left are Rudy, Trezevant, Roehn, and Oakfield.
Describing life as a lawyer as a marathon played out over your adult life and not a sprint, Chief Justice Fred Lewis recently swore in 26 new lawyers at a ceremony at the Supreme Court in Tallahassee. Lewis said lawyers are entrusted with awesome powers, but with that comes tremendous responsibilities. “I hope you look back at this day and remember why it is you wanted to be a lawyer,” Lewis said. “The saddest thing that I see as I travel the state and talk to my contemporaries is so many of them are becoming disenchanted. They want to become something other than lawyers.” Lewis urged the new lawyers not to permit themselves to “become so consumed with who you are, and so consumed with this thing about being a lawyer, that you don’t have balance in your professional life.” He also urged the new lawyers not to permit anyone “to suck the spark out of your life you feel today, the excitement that you have about being a lawyer, being a member of The Florida Bar.” He reminded those in attendance that lawyers are not only officers of the court, but officers of democracy. “After today the judicial system is being placed in your hands,” he said. “You have an awesome responsibility to follow through and protect the system and improve and protect our democracy.”
Justice Peggy Quince addressed the Florida A&M University College of Law hooding candidates during the school’s annual ceremony May 5 at the Mayor Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in Orlando. More than 1,200 family members and guests turned out to celebrate with the law school graduates who earned the Juris Doctor degree from FAMU. Justice Quince was the keynote speaker for the 100 candidates recognized, including 27 honors graduates.
Lisa Marie Macci participated in Law Day 2007 on behalf of the Palm Beach County Bar in Mrs. Aiasha Walker’s class at Village Academy Elementary School in Delray Beach. “We had a great time doing a mock trial of ‘The Big Bad Wolf’ and then had a question-and-answer session about lawyers, the law, judges, and the courts,” Macci said.
Landamerica recently sponsored its first Charity Trivia Challenge, which pitted teams from LandAmerica’s law firm agents against each other as well as a team from the company’s Major Transaction Group. Each of the nine teams that competed selected a charity to play for. First prize was a $5,000 donation to the winning team’s charity, second was $3,000, and third was $1,000. The winning team was from Killgore, Pearlman, Stamp, Ornstein and Squires and they selected the Orlando Breakfast Rotary Club Foundation which benefits Orange Center Elementary School. The foundation provides supplies, clothing, mentoring, and gifts to the school’s neediest students.