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Pro Bono Attorney of the Month: Clyde W. Davis

by Kathy Para, The JBA Pro Bono Committee Chairwoman

Clyde W. Davis became involved in pro bono work for two reasons: as a young lawyer he recognized older lawyers’ involvement in pro bono, and, as a professional, he considered it a spiritual duty to use his time and talent to assist the community.

Davis, a practicing attorney at Davis, Martin & Bernard, still diligently pursues the professional duty of “using our talents to assist everyone, not just those who can pay our fees.”

He credits his personal religious beliefs and explains that he does not think it is enough “to just drop a dollar in the offering plate at church.”

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and the 4th Judicial Circuit celebrate Clyde Davis this month because of his continued commitment to community involvement and pro bono representation.

He has served nonprofit organizations in several capacities, including board membership and legal representation such as administration, property issues and litigation.

He has handled dozens of cases for JALA and accepts direct referrals from school teachers, ministers, law enforcement and other community members in need.

Pro bono representation can be experienced in many ways, but Davis said he considers it part of his faith journey. His personal commitments are the foundation of each case, but said he particularly enjoyed resolving a case involving the control of a large, historic cemetery.

In the matter, Davis said he learned about the deceased’s particular religious denomination and how to resolve challenges of respecting long-standing tradition while ensuring administrative compatibility with continually changing laws.

Davis said he recognized that “the long-term continuity of the church and cemetery was just as important as winning the particular law suit.” His respect for history and tradition seems to be an important part of his community involvement.

Davis currently works on civil matters, including family law, real estate, probate, corporate, construction and more.

He also is the port attorney for the Ocean Highway and Port Authority of Nassau County.

Growing up in Nassau County, attending the University of Florida for undergraduate and legal studies and working for the State Attorney’s Office has given Davis small-town experience — he said he remembers when there were only four traffic lights, three in Fernandina and one in Callahan — and invaluable role models. Davis explains that a young lawyer could not have asked for a better boss than Ed Austin of the State Attorney’s Office.

When he started his own practice, pro bono involvement hardly was a question. After more than 30 years of practice, Davis said he could not imagine a law practice that does not have a solid pro bono facet.

According to Davis, “the real pleasure in being an attorney is the satisfaction that comes from helping others solve the problems that life hands out — whether that person can pay us in cash or not.”

Davis said he enjoys outdoor activities and has a great interest in cultural history, “especially the unpublished kind.”

He is adventurous in both work and leisure, and obviously very generous with his community involvement.

We thank Clyde Davis and all other pro bono attorneys who volunteer to ensure a strong system of justice that is available to all, not just those who can pay for representation.

For anyone interested in pro bono involvement throughout the 4th Circuit, please contact Kathy Para, chairwoman, The JBA Pro Bono Committee, kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.com.

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