The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards
Recipients of the pro bono service awards gather with the justices and Bar leaders after the January 30 ceremony at the Supreme Court.
THE FLORIDA BAR PRESIDENT’S PRO BONO SERVICE AWARD
The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award was established in 1981. Its purpose is twofold: “to further encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor by recognizing those who make such public service commitments, and to communicate to the public some sense of the substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers to those who cannot afford legal fees.” This award recognizes individual lawyer service in each of Florida’s specific judicial circuits. It is presented annually in conjunction with the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award given by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
THE FLORIDA BAR PRESIDENT’S PRO BONO SERVICE AWARD RECIPIENTS
Virginia Marie Buchanan
First Judicial Circuit
Ft. Walton Beach
Virginia Marie Buchanan is a partner with Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A., in Pensacola, where she heads the Medical Negligence Department. Throughout her legal career, she has also served as pro bono counsel for the benefit of children, the elderly, military, and civilian families. In one case, she dedicated more than 80 hours to argue against the non-compete clause of a pediatrician’s contract. As a result, the pediatrician was able to remain in the area based on public necessity and has been recognized by the American Medical Association as an outstanding physician for his contributions to the uninsured and immigrant laborers.
In another case, she worked to obtain substantially higher benefits for a service member who was severely injured when his car was struck while stopped at a traffic light. Her nomination letter noted: “It is rare to have a week pass without Ms. Buchanan providing pro bono services, whether it is taking on a legal matter from start to finish or simply making a call to someone to get pertinent details to explain a legal situation to someone who cannot understand something that has happened, or writing a letter to make sure that a landlord-tenant or consumer contract is followed.”
Second Judicial Circuit
Sonia Crockett has long been a champion for children and low-income clients in North Florida. In the past three years, she has gone beyond answering calls on the Legal Services of North Florida Legal Advice Hotline and has accepted cases on behalf of LSNF. The first case involved a grandmother who had been caring for her 18-month-old grandson since his birth. The mother, who was incarcerated when the child was born, had a history of drug abuse and had agreed she would let her mother adopt the child. After leaving prison, however, she disappeared, raising the need to file a private termination of parental rights petition, which, in addition to the adoption proceedings, required 102 hours of legal work. In the past three years, Crockett also has represented eight children in four dependency cases for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. She also has served as the Guardian ad Litem Program representative on the Leon County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team.
A. Leigh Cangelosi
Third Judicial Circuit
A. Leigh Cangelosi is a solo practitioner in Branford. Her principal areas of practice include family law and guardian advocacy. She was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2000 but dedicated the first dozen years of her career to caring for her family. In January 2013, she contacted Three Rivers Legal Services (TRLS) and offered her services as a volunteer attorney. As a volunteer with TRLS, she has provided pro bono legal services to more than 20 low-income residents of the Third Judicial Circuit. Her service has included full representation in various substantive areas of law, including, but not limited to, guardian advocacy, probate matters, divorce and custody cases and injunctions for protection, as well as limited services to indigent clients by drafting wills, advance directives, and pro se family law paperwork. She has provided more than 100 hours of legal service to the low-income community.
William W. Gallogly
Fourth Judicial Circuit
William Gallogly has represented clients on a pro bono basis in a variety of matters in South Florida and in Northeast Florida for more than 40 years. For the past 16 years, he has been serving low-income persons through Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA). In recent years, in addition to his case representation commitments, he also reviews and evaluates cases for pro bono placement and serves as a mentor and guide for newly licensed attorneys. During his years of pro bono service in the Fourth Circuit, Gallogly has provided representation for hundreds of clients in a variety of areas including Social Security, probate, wills, advance directives, and guardianship. For more than two years, he has maintained office hours on site at the downtown JALA location one day a week. While there, he reviews cases, clarifies case facts, meets with clients, and consults with newly licensed attorneys who have agreed to accept pro bono cases. Through his efforts, clients are able to establish ownership of family properties through probate filings, become guardians of vulnerable relatives and loved ones, and designate trusted persons to serve as health-care surrogates and personal representatives. In the last three years alone, he has provided well more than 450 hours of pro bono assistance in direct representation and in serving as an expert resource for other pro bono attorneys.
Joseph M. Mason, Jr.
Fifth Judicial Circuit
Joseph M. Mason, Jr., is in private practice in the firm McGee & Mason, P.A., practicing real estate development and litigation law. He provides pro bono services through Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida Inc. and the Legal Advocacy Center of Central Florida. Since 1994, Mason has provided more than 1,000 hours of direct pro bono assistance to low-income clients. In response to the foreclosure crisis, he participated in Florida Attorneys Saving Homes. He provided legal advice, pro se assistance, and full representation to clients. His pro bono assistance has included homeownership issues, contractor fraud, denial of insurance coverage, and one case of complex real estate litigation that involved a fraudulent deed to a home that extended for more than six years. In 2000, he was appointed to the board of directors of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida and served as board president from 2002 until 2004. When Withlacoochee Area Legal Services merged with Central Florida Legal Services and Greater Orlando Area Legal Services to form Community Legal Services in 2004, Mason continued to serve on the board of directors. He also serves on the board of directors of the Legal Advocacy Center, the sister organization to Community Legal Services.
Jessica L.C. Rae
Sixth Judicial Circuit
Jessica Rae is a full-time children’s attorney at the Community Law Program in St. Petersburg, with her primary areas being child welfare and dependency law. She volunteers as well with Guardian ad Litem in Seminole County. At Florida’s Children First in January 2011, she began representing five siblings who were declared dependent in another state, brought to Florida to visit relatives, and then left with them. One of the children was an undocumented immigrant and two were about to graduate high school but had no support or assistance to attend college. The family lives more than one hour away from Rae’s home, yet she has represented them continuously since then, sorting out the legal status of the dependency proceedings in the sending state, helping the oldest child enroll in community college, and arranging to obtain the necessary documents to help the undocumented child obtain legal status. Rae also has partnered with Florida’s Children First to develop and conduct in-person trainings for volunteer attorneys around the state. Her efforts in preparing and presenting “Dependency 101” have enabled hundreds of lawyers to have the building blocks for representing children in dependency proceedings.
David J. Rodziewicz
Seventh Judicial Circuit
David J. Rodziewicz is a private practitioner focusing on employment law, business law, and civil litigation. On Oct. 25, 2011, one month after becoming a licensed attorney, Rodziewicz joined the pro bono panel of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida. He began to volunteer at weekly legal advice clinics in the Daytona Beach office, where on Feb. 29, 2012, he met with a 90-year-old client whom he began representing full-time. A roofer had damaged her house but would not honor the warranty. Rodziewicz contacted the roofer’s insurance carrier and was able to negotiate a settlement so that the client received $13,000 in damages. Since accepting his first case in February 2012, Rodziewicz has provided legal advice, pro se assistance, and full representation to more than 100 clients in contract disputes, employment discrimination, wage claims, and employees’ rights. He has volunteered more than 200 hours with Community Legal Services since accepting his first pro bono case. In 2012, Community Legal Services began a pilot project using a Web-based portal for pro bono referrals. Rodziewicz was one of the first attorneys to participate. He also conducts free legal advice clinics at Tomoka Christian Church and Salty Church in Ormond Beach.
Nancy E. Wright
Eighth Judicial Circuit
Nancy Wright is a sole practitioner in Gainesville, focusing on Medicaid home and community-based services for adults and children with disabilities. Recently, she co-counseled with Southern Legal Counsel in a class-action challenge to agency notices reducing funding under the new iBudget Waiver administered by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. After a preliminary injunction was granted, settlement resulted in an agreement to reinstate services, abate pending hearings, and send amended notices to all members of the class. While working at Three Rivers Legal Services, first as a volunteer and then as a staff attorney, Wright discovered the difficulty that disabled individuals and their families faced in accessing services to which they were entitled. She left Three Rivers to passionately pursue advocacy for persons with disabilities, and her pro bono work has primarily involved clients who are developmentally disabled and/or “medically complex.” Her legal advocacy involves obtaining services through Medicaid for many individuals who have faced serious reductions in services.
Joseph L. Amos, Jr.
Ninth Judicial Circuit
Joseph L. Amos, Jr., is shareholder with Fisher Rushmer Werrenrath Dickson in Orlando, concentrating his practice in the areas of professional liability, personal injury, products liability, and insurance litigation. Admitted to The Florida Bar in 1990, Amos then joined the local voluntary bar and the pro bono program at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association. He was quickly drawn to the Guardian ad Litem Program and what he could do to help children. Since 1991, he has helped 176 children, including 11 children he currently assists. He has donated more than 1,800 hours on his closed cases. In 2012, the Legal Aid Society gave Amos its highest recognition for pro bono work: the Judge J.C. “Jake” Stone Distinguished Service Award. For the past five years, recognizing the important connection between law, justice, and literacy, Amos has been a volunteer for the Adult Literacy League. The organization provides free education to adults and children who need help learning to read.
J. Davis Connor
10th Judicial Circuit
J. Davis Connor is a partner and shareholder at Peterson & Myers, P.A, and practices in the firm’s Lake Wales office. He is a commercial trial attorney licensed in Florida, California, and North Carolina. Connor is also fluent in Spanish and his bilingualism is featured prominently in his practice. Connor has been quietly involved in handling innumerable pro bono matters for years. These have been mainly under the radar, because they often come to him through his personal contacts rather than through one of the legal services organizations. Most notably, recently Connor litigated an estate case, representing The Care Center – a not-for-profit that organizes and allocates the largest part of the charitable funds for poverty relief in the Lake Wales area. It had been designated as a beneficiary by an elderly woman who revised the terms of a trust before her death. The case presented the issue under the new Florida Trust Code of whether the gifts of multiple beneficiaries can be considered separately for the purpose of determining the legal effects of undue influence. In April 2013, at a court-ordered mediation prior to a bench trial, the case settled, with The Care Center receiving $842,926.15. Connor expended well in excess of 200 hours of attorney time pro bono on the case.
11th Judicial Circuit
David Mangiero is a partner in the law firm of Palmer, Palmer & Mangiero in Miami. His practice includes wills and trusts, estate trust and guardianship administration, probate, trust and guardianship litigation, special needs trusts, Medicaid planning, and real estate. Since 2006, Mangiero has provided more than 1,000 hours in pro bono legal services to the Guardianship Program of Dade County, Dade Legal Aid/Put Something Back, and to his clients. Mangiero has served as a member of the board of directors for the Guardianship Program of Dade County since 1997. GPDC is a private, nonprofit agency that acts as public guardian for indigent adults who are adjudicated incapacitated. Since 1997, Mangiero has provided approximately 3,000 hours of pro bono service, and he supports the program by soliciting and obtaining donors for fundraising events and making personal contributions. Mangiero assists clients of Dade Legal Aid/Put Something Back with guardianships, Medicaid planning and special needs trusts, serves as a guardian ad litem and has been court-appointed to represent indigent clients in determinations of incapacity and to handle emergency temporary guardianships. He also provides financial support and recently helped to fund a position for an associate.
12th Judicial Circuit
Michael Harshman is certified in Family Mediation and Circuit Civil Mediation and board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is currently a member of the Najmy-Thompson law firm in Lakewood Ranch. Harshman began his involvement with Legal Aid of Manasota, Inc. in 2011. Within three years, he has accomplished an extraordinary amount of pro bono work, devoting more than 1,100 service hours to clients in need. He has seen more than 100 clients and has helped people facing foreclosure, divorce, custody matters, paternity, and victims of domestic violence seeking orders of protection. He has also provided free mediation services to indigent families in both the areas of foreclosure and family law. Harshman has been an effective advocate for victims of domestic violence in Sarasota and Manatee counties. He advocates on behalf of the abused and indigent residents who have few legal options because of financial hardship. In the past three years, Harshman has been awarded a pro bono intake award from Legal Aid of Manasota and the Florida Supreme Court gold pin for over 100 hours of pro bono services in one year.
Karen Meyer Buesing
13th Judicial Circuit
Karen Meyer Buesing is a shareholder at Akerman LLP in Tampa. For more than 30 years, she has counseled and represented management in employment law matters. Buesing has made a significant impact on the Tampa Bay area by providing pro bono legal services to the poor and through her leadership and involvement in diverse community activities. In 2013, she logged more than 180 hours of pro bono service. Buesing was instrumental in founding the Prosperity Campaign of Hillsborough County to spread the word about available tax credits for the working poor, including the Earned Income Tax Credit. The campaign arranged for volunteer tax preparers to assist in filing for the tax credits and worked closely with local banks to provide an opportunity to maintain checking accounts. The dollars had been available for years but never claimed, largely because of a lack of awareness. During its first year, the Prosperity Campaign captured more than $11 million in EITC dollars for the working poor in Hillsborough County. More than six years ago, Buesing took in the first of several homeless youth who lacked stable homes. Since then, she and her husband have taken in five children, arranging for education, medical care, transportation and providing food, clothing, shelter, and a loving home. Two of them still live with her family today and attend college.
Susan V. Carroll
14th Judicial Circuit
Susan V. Carroll is the principal in her law firm Carroll Law, P.A., in Panama City, established in 1996. Over the course of her legal career, Carroll has consistently represented individuals who were unable to pay for their family law matters. She is known in her community as someone who will meet with clients at no cost and then help by representing them or by identifying another pro bono attorney. Carroll has been actively involved in the local First Saturday Legal Clinic, which she has co-chaired. Because of a large volume of family law cases, she is often the last to leave the clinic so that she can fulfill her commitment to meeting the needs of those who come seeking help. Carroll typically devotes up to 15 hours a quarter to pro bono cases. She has not always counted the time she has spent on pro bono work according to her nominator who said, “She has said the pro bono cases are just something she does, not for any recognition or for any reporting purposes. She does them just because it is the right thing to do.”
Amy U. Hickman
15th Judicial Circuit
Amy U. Hickman is a partner at Hausmann & Hickman, P.A., in Palm Beach. Her principal areas of practice are family and adoption law with a focus on reproductive law. Hickman is a founding board member of the Florida Adoption Council, a fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and a member of the board of directors of the Children’s Home Society of Florida, South Coastal Division. Before founding Hausmann & Hickman, P.A., Hickman was an attorney with the Juvenile Advocacy Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, where she represented children in state and federal court. Hickman has participated in the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s Pro Bono Panel since 1998. She is known for providing financial support to Legal Aid, representing numerous children and logging hundreds of pro bono hours. She also received the Pro Bono Award for Child Advocacy from the Legal Aid Society in 2013. Through the Family Law Section, Hickman advocates to improve and reform Florida’s adoption laws. She has been recognized by the Family Law Section and awarded the chair’s Visionary Award for her outstanding service.
David Van Loon
16th Judicial Circuit
David Van Loon is a managing partner with Koenig Highsmith & Van Loon, P.A., where he practices real estate, probate and trust administration, tax and estate planning, civil and commercial litigation. Van Loon has a strong passion for education, having been a high school teacher before becoming a lawyer. Much of his pro bono work is with the families of students and student athletes, helping them with financial matters and with the juvenile justice system. Some of the families have struggled because of the economic downturn – facing loss of jobs and mortgage foreclosures. Many struggle with daily life in homes headed by single parents who have two or more jobs, making it difficult to spend the time they would like with their children. Those children then sometimes wind up in the juvenile justice system. Van Loon not only provides free legal services to these families but also has developed programs to address basic needs of food and clothing for them as well. He has helped approximately 25 to 30 people and in the past year and spent more than 100 hours serving indigent clients in numerous foreclosure defense cases.
Stephen B. Moss
17th Judicial Circuit
Stephen B. Moss is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Holland & Knight. He practices in the areas of development law, hotel development and operations, title insurance and business law. Two years ago, United Way of Broward County tapped Moss to help them create a comprehensive program to support the area’s military service members, veterans and their families. As a former Army company commander in Vietnam, Moss was a natural choice for this role. Launched on Jan. 30, 2013, Mission United is a partnership between United Way of Broward County and the American Red Cross. Moss worked more than 550 pro bono hours in 2013 getting the program off to a good start. The Veterans Pro Bono Project represents the legal aspect of Mission United, which is administered through staff at Legal Aid Service of Broward County. Since its launch, the project has addressed approximately 445 requests for assistance and of those, more than 150 were handled by volunteer attorneys, who provide free civil legal services to income-eligible military members, veterans and dependent family members in the areas of family law, consumer law, housing, Veterans Administration benefits, transactions, probate/wills/estate planning and advance directives.
18th Judicial Circuit
Gary Siegel has been in general practice in Sanford for 36 years following a year serving as an assistant attorney for Seminole County. He is recognized as an outstanding leader in the area and has been a driving force behind many of the programs of the local bar association. He has accepted pro bono cases from the Seminole County Legal Aid Society for many years. Throughout his career, Siegel has represented many indigent clients in matters involving disputes with the Internal Revenue Service, in family matters and in landlord-tenant cases and he has drafted many wills pro bono. One of his many contributions has had important statewide impact. While serving in the Florida Senate from 1992 to 1994, he chaired the Select Committee on Juvenile Justice Reform, which created the Justice Reform Bill of 1994. That legislation was the catalyst for sweeping reforms in Florida’s juvenile justice system including providing judges with increased options when dealing with juvenile delinquency and dependency matters.
Maria Frances Caldarone
19th Judicial Circuit
Maria Frances Caldarone is the founder of the Law Office of Maria Caldarone, where she has a bankruptcy and general law practice. She has been a member of The Florida Bar for 22 years. Most of those years were spent working in the home building and real estate sectors. Currently along with her private practice, pro bono bankruptcy project and her other community service activities, Caldarone is participating in a professional guardianship training program. She hopes to combine public and private guardianship programs to her practice. In 2009, Caldarone volunteered to provide advice to low income clients at an Indian River County Bar Association’s Ask-A-Lawyer event. She agreed to represent multiple clients pro bono with filing for bankruptcy. Approximately 10 clients later, she decided she should start her own bankruptcy project. Over the past four years, Caldarone has provided hundreds of hours of pro bono service through Florida Rural Legal Services. She has assisted hundreds of clients with bankruptcy advice and provided full representation with bankruptcy where applicable. She has discharged millions of dollars worth of debt for those who otherwise could not afford an attorney.
Timothy G. Hains
20th Judicial Circuit
Timothy G. Hains has practiced as an attorney in Florida since 1974 and is currently a partner with Quarles & Brady, LLP, in Naples. Quarles & Brady has been a leading local firm in supporting and promoting legal aid and pro bono service. As Hains began to wind down his caseload, he and his firm approached Legal Aid Service of Collier County in 2012, offering services as a pro bono attorney. From January through October of 2013, he handled 12 pro bono cases. He continues to handle ongoing cases. Hains is an effective ambassador for pro bono service in Southwest Florida, using his skills and talents to give back to the community and champion the causes of the less fortunate in Collier County. Hains volunteers primarily through Legal Aid’s Collier Lawyers Care Pro Bono Program. He has accepted pro bono cases in areas of high need including wage garnishment and collections, real estate, landlord-tenant law, wills and estates and other housing law matters. Hains also for many years has volunteered at pro bono legal clinics, including the annual Law Week Clinic held jointly each April by Legal Aid and the Collier County Bar Association.
William Fletcher McMurry
William Fletcher McMurry is owner and managing partner at William F. McMurry & Associates in Louisville, Ky., where his principal areas of practice are personal injury, medical and legal negligence and sexual abuse. He has been practicing law in Kentucky for 32 years. McMurry has given many hours to pro bono service over the course of his years of practice. In 2006, five members of the Imperial Klans of America (Ku Klux Klan) beat a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent. When the Southern Poverty Law Center called McMurry to donate his time to serving with Morris Dees and the Center as local counsel for the young man in a suit against the Imperial Klans of America and its leader, McMurry gladly accepted the task. The two-year donation of time to this young man’s cause was not only significant for the extent of its duration, but more importantly for the courage it took to participate in the first place. Other pro bono work by McMurry includes volunteering to represent a young woman whose confidential HIV status had been purposefully and illegally revealed by agents of her health care provider.