The local legal community began its annual celebration of the practice of law with The Jacksonville Bar Association’s Law Day Luncheon Wednesday by welcoming American Bar Association President William Robinson III and The Florida Bar President Scott Hawkins.
President Dwight Eisenhower established the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day, which was subsequently codified (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 113).
Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
The 2012 Law Day theme is “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom” to draw attention to a lack of adequate financial support for U.S. legal systems.
“What does that assertion mean to you, to me and to our fellow citizens? It simply means that our courts need sustainable funding and I applaud the organized Bar in this great state for its work in leading to the recent decision in the Legislature, for the first time in a long time, to assure that our courts in Florida have sustainable funding,” said Robinson.
“It is fundamental to the freedoms we enjoy in this state and in this country,” said Robinson.
Shortly after the event, Mayor Alvin Brown signed a proclamation declaring May 1 as Law Day in Jacksonville.
Also a part of the annual Law Day celebration is the presentation of the Financial News & Daily Record “Lawyer of the Year” and The JBA “Liberty Bell” awards.
Holland & Knight partner George Gabel was named “Lawyer of the Year.”
“This room is full of community volunteers trying to make Jacksonville a better place to live, which is a hallmark of those who are in the legal profession,” said Gabel.
The award recognizes the recipient’s “determined dedication, tireless efforts and continuous commitment to (their) community.”
The JBA presents the Liberty Bell Award annually to an individual or group that has promoted better understanding of the rule of law, encouraged greater respect for law and the courts, stimulated a sense of civic responsibility, or contributed to good government in the community.
The 2012 recipient was Daily Record Managing Editor Karen Brune Mathis.
“If you read the Daily Record you will see there is a sensitivity, there is a creativity, a thoroughness, there is an unbiased approach that she takes and does a tremendous job of representing our legal community on a daily basis,” said Michael Freed, president of The JBA.