O’Rourke wins E. Robert Williams Inn of Court award
The E. Robert Williams Inn of Court annual holiday dinner last week featured 1st District Court of Appeal Judge Nikki Ann Clark as guest speaker and a presentation of the John J. Schickel Professionalism Award at Epping Forest Yacht Club in Jacksonville.
During opening remarks, Inn President Judge Ray Holley encouraged and praised the members for their volunteer efforts and contributions to the community.
“Attorneys often do not get the credit they deserve for the time, energy and money spent on improving our community,” Holley said.
He emphasized the continuing need for such service and for attorneys to do a better job of sharing these efforts with the general public.
After an introduction by Judge Ralph Humphries, Judge Clark addressed the topic of international community service from her personal experiences in holding seminars and discussions on election dispute resolution in several countries in Africa.
She urged others to perform community service, saying that “service to our community is the rent we pay to live on this planet.”
Clark discussed her experience in meeting and educating African political parties, government officials, lawyers and even Supreme Court judges on conducting fair elections. She indicated she learned that many of these nations had relatively new democracies and that “attorneys are the fuel that make democracies work especially in establishing the rule of law.”
Her previous experience as a Circuit Court judge during the George W. Bush and Al Gore election dispute permitted her to bring a unique perspective in her role as an educator.
After her speech, Clark was presented a plaque by Holley declaring her an honorary member of the E. Robert Williams Inn of Court.
Following the keynote address, the Inn and Judge Clark presented the professionalism award to attorney and member Michael John O’Rourke.
The award’s namesake, Jake Schickel, roasted O’Rourke as part of the award presentation. O’Rourke was visibly moved and expressed his great appreciation.
O’Rourke is a former Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer and current sole practitioner who represents injured workers.
He is one of the co-founders of the Inn and was recognized for his outstanding efforts and involvement in promoting professionalism and excellence within the legal profession.
O’Rourke has served in leadership roles in several related organizations, including the Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund and has published two articles in the American Inns magazine.
This year he led a delegation along with Inn members and past presidents Alan Gordon and Allison Hunnicutt to visit other American Inns in England and Ireland.
The John J. Schickel Professionalism Award is the highest honor that the Inn bestows on its members. Past honorees were attorneys Douglas Myers Jr. and Ben Samuels.
Also at the meeting, a special presentation was made to Executive Director Carla Montgomery of the Child Cancer Fund by President-elect Michael Rudolph, recognizing CCF as the sponsored charity of the Inn for the 2013-14 term.
The E. Robert Williams Inn of Court includes attorneys, judges, mediators and law students who are significantly involved in the Inn’s mission, which is to promote professionalism, provide tutelage and mentoring amongst members while playing an active part in North Florida’s legal community.