Karrat named Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award winner
Anthony J. Karrat, executive director of Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Legal Aid Service of Collier County, will receive the 2021 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award.
The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s Virtual Award Ceremony on June 17.
For devoting a lifetime to ensuring the civil legal rights of low-income communities and his strong and steady leadership, professionalism, and integrity leading the charge for those individuals and families who would otherwise have no voice and no access to the judicial system, Karrat will be awarded the Foundation’s 2021 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award.
“Tony is a relentless, tireless advocate for the poor,” wrote former Florida Bar President Jesse H. Diner in a letter supporting Karrat’s nomination. “Unstoppable and compassionate, he has been the face of Legal Aid Service of Broward County for the past 45 years. His life’s work evidences total devotion to improving the lives of so many. Tony’s selfless and unassuming manner belie his depth of dedication to the administration of justice for all.”
Karrat is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the George Washington University Law Center. After three years at Seattle Legal Services, Karrat joined Legal Aid Service of Broward County as a branch office supervising attorney before being named executive director in 1976. Under his direction, the program has grown from a three-attorney office with a $250,000 budget to a regional law firm of 73 attorneys with a budget of $12 million.
In 1981, Karrat worked with the Broward County Bar Association to create Broward Lawyers Care (BLC), a pro bono program administered by Legal Aid Service of Broward County. Since then, more than 5,000 Broward lawyers have donated their time, and more than 19,000 clients and families have received legal assistance. In 2011, the BLC Advice Hotline was established to provide telephone advice and counsel.
Karrat oversaw the merger of his program with a one-attorney legal aid program in Collier County in 1981. Legal Aid Service of Collier County now has 12 lawyers with offices in Naples and Immokalee.
In 2011, faced with an influx of veterans returning from war, Karrat realized that they and their families had substantial needs for legal services in Broward County. Working through the United Way/Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project and the United Way’s Operation Sacred Trust, more than 9,000 veterans have been served in areas such as family law, eviction, foreclosure, benefits and legal matters surrounding homelessness and rapid rehousing.
In 2020, Karrat was honored by WPLG-ABC Local 10 with the prestigious LIFEtime Award at their My Future, My Choice Annual LIFE Awards.
“Though his achievements have been many over the years, Tony’s single greatest achievement is that he, through his leadership and dedication, has given a voice and legal access to thousands of individuals and families who would otherwise have been silent and without legal remedy,” wrote Legal Aid Service of Broward County’s development director, Melisa Malone, in her nomination of Karrat. “This is Tony’s legacy.”
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company is the Medal of Honor Award Presenting Sponsor. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the Foundation’s award ceremony will be held virtually. Registration is open now at https://thefloridabarfoundation.org/annual-dinner/.