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Foundation to honor Miami lawyer and St. Petersburg legal services leader

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Miami attorney David B. Rothman has been selected to receive The Florida Bar Foundation’s 2023 Medal of Honor Award, the Foundation’s highest honor. Kimberly L. Rodgers, executive director of Community Law Program in St. Petersburg, will receive the 2023 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award.

The Florida Bar Foundation will present the Medal of Honor, Curran Distinguished Service Award, and other awards during its 2023 Annual Award Ceremony and Breakfast June 22 at The Boca Raton during The Florida Bar Annual Convention. Tickets are available here.

David B. Rothman

David Rothman

David Rothman

Rothman, founder of criminal defense firm Rothman & Associates in Miami is being honored for his “dedication, commitment, and tireless volunteer work” on behalf of numerous Bar and legal organizations, and his “steadfast integrity while representing those facing criminal charges, as well as lawyers facing disciplinary action.”

“David is consistently a strong voice, to lawyers young and old, for the notion that we must keep the prestige and honor in our profession intact,” wrote Jason B. Blank, of Haber Blank and chair of The Florida Bar Criminal Law Section, in his nomination of Rothman. “That begins with an ethical practice from day one and the consistent support of the Bar’s members through volunteering and engagement with the Bar. David’s consistent perseverance to better our profession is felt day in and day out in ways that our members never even realize.”

Rothman, who earned his law degree from the University of Florida, served as an assistant state attorney in Miami-Dade County prior to entering private practice. Since 1995, he has been an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law. He served as the chair of Innocence Project of Florida in 2013-14 and of The Florida Bar Criminal Law Section in 2014-15.

“David Rothman is truly a champion of our profession and is deserving of this award,” Warren W. Lindsey of Lindsey, Ferry and Parker said in a letter supporting Rothman’s nomination. “He personifies and lives the adage of performing good deeds while no one else is looking and with no expectation of recognition.”

Rothman has supported many causes that benefit the courts and the Bar by lobbying and building relationships behind the scenes, according to the Foundation. His efforts are impactful even if not in the limelight. Most recently, on behalf of the Criminal Law Section, he worked alongside the Board of Governors Disciplinary Procedures Committee to propose a rule requested by the court relating to emergency suspension for lawyers charged with a felony.

“David’s ability to quickly work through his existing relationships to open the necessary doors and accomplish the goal of modifying the proposed language to protect the Constitutional rights of lawyers today, and in the future, is exactly the sort of work that makes him so valuable to our profession,” Blank said. “This type of dedication is where the saying, ‘Not all heroes wear capes,’ comes from.”

Rothman served on the Foundation’s board from 2011-17 and previously served on The Florida Bar Board of Governors from 1999-2011, where he chaired its Disciplinary Review Committee for more than 10 years. He is a past president of the Dade County Bar Association and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Rothman has inspired many lawyers to follow in his footsteps by serving and leading.

“Watching him lead, I was impressed with his incredible institutional knowledge, his selflessness and consideration for all opinions, his patience, and his desire to teach and mentor others,” said Michelle Suskauer, a past president of The Florida Bar who served with Rothman on the Board of Governors. “He was the very first to call and welcome me to The Florida Bar family. His passion for our profession and for the Bar was immediately evident. I knew at that time I wanted to  ‘be like David’ and lead the [Disciplinary Review] committee with the same fervor and care that he exhibited.”

A board-certified criminal trial lawyer, Rothman received the Dade County Bar’s David W. Dyer Professionalism Award in 2014 and the Criminal Justice Award in 2017. Two years later, he was awarded FACDL’s highest honor, the Steven M. Goldstein Criminal Justice Award.

“David has indisputably become the lawyer to whom other lawyers turn when faced with ethical issues,” said West Palm Beach lawyer Scott N. Richardson. “His advice is always sound, and he is a passionate and aggressive advocate for those he represents. David has shown that he is among the best of the best, and someone who is universally respected by all parties: judges, opposing counsel, and lawyers on the same side.”

The Medal of Honor Award, sponsored by Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, is presented each year to a member of The Florida Bar who has demonstrated his or her dedication to the objectives of The Florida Bar as set out in the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar “to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence.”

Kimberly L. Rodgers

Kimberly Rodgers

Kimberly Rodgers

Rodgers, who has led Community Law Program in Pinellas County since 2004, will receive the Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award for serving and leading Community Law Program, “where her unwavering belief in fairness and equity, her inspiring work ethic, and her zeal for protecting client rights have led to lasting and positive change in her community.”

After earning her law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1998, Rodgers worked as a law clerk for the city of St. Petersburg and the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. She opened her own family law firm in 2000 before becoming the executive director of Community Law Program (CLP).

“Under Kimberly’s watch, CLP has grown, thrived and continues to expand at a time when funds are at a premium and needs are overwhelming,” wrote lawyer Lynn E. Hanshaw in her nomination of Rodgers. “Her ability to inspire others has allowed her to recruit some of the best in the legal world, who she guides and motivates despite low pay and a staggering case load.”

CLP serves more than 3,500 clients each year through programs that help families with children avoid eviction, survivors of domestic violence obtain injunctions, and foster children who have outgrown the system. Their lawyers also protect elderly homeowners from fraudulent reverse mortgage practices, provide bankruptcy, family law, probate and housing rights advice clinics, and assist Pinellas residents with voting rights restoration, driver license issues, and expungement of records.

“Her tireless efforts on behalf of the indigent community are singular and remarkable for her energy and compassion for the underdog sets her apart in the legal community,” Judge Lorraine M. Kelly said in a letter supporting Rodgers’ nomination. “Her real-life experiences and deep service to our community illustrate her heart of wisdom and insight that make her stand out in the league of attorneys who have dedicated themselves to representing indigent people.”

Outside of her CLP work, Rodgers supports her community volunteering on the boards of the Homeless Leadership Alliance of Pinellas as secretary, the School Advisory Committee of Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School, CASA Pinellas, and Lighthouse of Pinellas.

“Under Kimberly’s leadership, CLP implemented the Community Counsel Program, which provides legal assistance for eligible community-based nonprofit organizations,” Jeannine Smith Williams, St. Petersburg chief assistant city attorney, said. “The program provides pro bono transactional services to organizations that are working to better the economic and social conditions for low-income residents in distress. I have personally witnessed her incredible involvement and dedication to our great city and the community at large.”

In 2017, Rodgers was recognized with the Kay B. Myers Pro Bono Coordinator Award by the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association. She has previously been named the “INSPIRE! Iconic Woman of the Year” by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and received the Christina Ippolito Award for Outstanding Contribution in Family Law.

“Kimberly is committed to the goals and vision of CLP and to the needs of the overall St. Petersburg community,” said Melissa R. Byers, executive director of the St. Petersburg Bar Association. “She continually displays compassion, respect, and discernment in establishing programming and initiatives that provide support and create change in the lives of those seeking a hand up not a hand-out.”

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