In listing The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award winners in the February 15 News, the recipient of the award for the Ninth Circuit, John R. Dierking, was inadvertently omitted. The News regrets the error.
John R. Dierking
John R. Dierking became a member of the Bar in 1992, after a career in banking, and joined Holland & Knight in Orlando that same year. He also became a member of the Orange County Bar and the association’s pro bono panel.
As a specialist in mergers and acquisitions, Dierking thought he would accept some pro bono nonprofit incorporation work from legal aid. But his wife, Lavinia Keefer Dierking, who had become a lawyer nine years earlier, was handling Guardian ad Litem cases from legal aid, and she shared her stories about the children and their problems.
Helping children appealed to Dierking, and he accepted his first GAL case, one involving two siblings.
This past August, Dierking agreed to accept another case with two siblings. After 25 years and cases involving more than 125 children and more than 2,500 hours on closed cases, Dierking is still advocating for children who have been victims of neglect, abuse, or abandonment.
“My pro bono service as a Guardian ad Litem over the last 25 years has been and continues to be perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my practice,” Dierking said.
He isn’t put off by the challenge of accepting sibling groups, and he tries to keep siblings together.
“It is amazing to see how children — even young children — naturally assume a parental role of caring for and watching out for their younger siblings, when the parents themselves are neglecting their role,” he said.
Dierking, who earned his J.D. at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, is still with Holland & Knight, as a partner in the Orlando office and a member of the firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions Team. He received the 2007 Award of Merit and the 2017 Judge J.C. “Jake” Stone Distinguished Service Award from the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association.
He also is active in the Kiwanis Club and helped establish the Lake Eola Charter School, where he has served on the School Advisory Committee and as chair of the Board of Directors.