The obligation for attorneys to perform pro bono services was the theme Friday when the Federal Bar Association Jacksonville Chapter announced its 2015 Spirit of Giving Award recipients.
Former 1st District Court of Appeal Judge William Van Nortwick, member of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, was the keynote speaker.
He said the Internet gateway the commission is developing to help people access self-help and pro bono representation is slated to be used next year in a pilot program in Clay County.
Eventually, he said, Florida will be the first state in the U.S. to implement a statewide system to connect clients with all legal-aid providers.
“The gateway will put more people in the system, so more lawyers will be needed,” said Van Nortwick.
The Federal Bar honored two of its own for their pro bono service.
Susanne Weisman, immediate past president of the chapter, was recognized for her work with the Federal Pro Bono Committee Pro Se Legal Assistance Subcommittee.
Also recognized was Assistant Federal Public Defender Maurice Grant. He began his career 25 years ago as a public defender in the 4th Judicial Circuit and moved to federal court in 1999.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard said Grant was unanimously nominated for the award.
She also said for the past eight years, the federal judges have selected the award recipients, but this year, the attorneys nominated and selected the recipients.
“These are two obvious choices and we wholeheartedly agree,” Howard said.