Recognition Gala on Friday, February 22nd at the Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront. Florida Bar President Gwynne A. Young was the evening’s special guest speaker. With nearly 100,000 members, the Florida Bar is the third-largest mandatory state bar association in the United States.
A shareholder with the prestigious law firm of Carlton Fields, Ms. Young has an impressive record of pro bono support, most recently spearheading efforts to generate much-needed funding for legal aid programs. During her remarks, Ms. Young quoted the great jurist Learned Hand who said, “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice.” Underscoring the importance of funding for legal aid programs, Young said, “Florida and our nation are facing a crisis in funding for legal services to the poor. I do not exaggerate when I say we teeter on the brink of a two-tiered justice system: one for the haves, and one for the have-nots.”
But the news is not all bad. Ms. Young applauded the efforts of Brevard attorneys, whose pro bono contributions through BCLA’s Pro Bono Program were 5% higher than last year.
The evening’s main purpose was to recognize Brevard County attorneys who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono contributions. Attorney Michael G. Howard was recognized as Brevard’s “Attorney of the Year.” Over the pasttwo years, Mr. Howard has provided ongoing legal representation to a dozen indigentindividuals in employment law, housing, and consumer cases. Additionally, he conducts monthly consumer law clinics at Legal Aid’s office which have servedover 100 clients.
The Merritt Island law firm of Caruso, Swerbilow & Camerota received the Law Firm Award. The firm has been providing assistance through BCLA since the program’s inception in 1970. In the past year alone, they provided over 300 hours of pro bono assistance in difficult family law cases involving extensive litigation and complicated issues of custody support, and visitation.
The Brevard County Bar Foundation and Allender & Allender were the gold sponsors for the event. Other major sponsors included: Caruso, Swerbilow & Camerota, Cloney & Cloney, Dean Mead, Kim & Bud Deffebach, Matt’s Casbah, GrayRobinson, Kenneth F. Tworoger, The Law Office of Michael G. Howard, Nance Cacciatore, and Robert and Shelley Johnson.