It truly is impressive what The Jacksonville Bar Association through its members can and does accomplish for the benefit of our community.
In December, through the leadership of Rose Marie Preddy, our members provided Christmas gifts to 500 low- or no-income senior citizens. Participating lawyers and their families were provided a wish list of modest requests (mostly necessities) of their assigned senior.
Most participants chose to make the deliveries with their families. Others provided their gifts to a designated Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer, who made the deliveries. Many lawyers chose to provide gifts to several seniors.
As a true testament to the commitment of our members to serve, the program was oversubscribed — within a day of announcing the program, all 500 senior packets were distributed to JBA members, including law students.
We provided gifts and holiday joy to 500 of Jacksonville’s neediest residents for whom Christmas would have been just another day without our members.
Another successful program during the holiday week was the joint JBA/Jacksonville Area Legal Aid “Homes for the Holidays” phone bank broadcast during the First Coast News evening news hours.
Volunteer lawyers answered questions from viewers regarding home foreclosures and other consumer debt and finance questions. The phones rang nonstop as our lawyers successfully provided guidance and direction to many in need but without ready access to formal legal counsel.
This initiative was an extension of our already successful “Ask-A-Lawyer” program, through which our members, with law student mentees, spend a morning in one of the community centers throughout the city for 15-minute consultations on myriad legal topics.
During 2011, we were able to provide efficient guidance to hundreds of indigent citizens so that they could better navigate the legal system.
I want to personally recognize Tom Harper of the Harper Gerlach employment law firm who is a regular participant in Ask-A-Lawyer programs and other The JBA and community initiatives.
Tom, a seasoned member of the legal community, humbly answers most calls for volunteers despite his busy law practice and other obligations. He demonstrates what we each should believe and put into practice: we owe it to our profession and our community to give back of our time, our talent and our treasure.
Participate in our annual meeting — an important tradition
Our annual meeting and dinner, this year as usual preceded by golf and tennis tournaments at Deerwood Country Club, is an important tradition. It will be held May 17.
Long before my time, every lawyer in town (albeit a much smaller group than our current membership) attended the annual meeting. It served as a time to mingle with old friends, diffuse tensions from contentious litigation or negotiations during the year, and otherwise reinforce the collegiality of our legal community.
It has continued to serve as a wonderful opportunity for all those dynamics. Frankly, however, attendance has been down from what it should be for an organization that exceeds 2,000 members for an event that is free (and exclusive) to members. We need to change that this year.
The JBA is an organization for all of its members and the annual meeting needs significant participation to be the event that it once was. So, I’m calling on all lawyers, all judges, older and younger, those who have not been regular attendees, those who have attended regularly, and those who have stopped attending — to calendar the May 17 Annual Meeting as a must-attend event. I personally promise you a memorable evening, with tasteful entertainment to re-invigorate what it means to be a Jacksonville lawyer. I look forward to seeing you there.
Sign up for CLE at Sea Cruise. Let’s make it a new tradition
On Feb. 24, The JBA will set sail from Jacksonville on a three-day Carnival Cruise and our first CLE at Sea. The cruise will include one afternoon of entertaining and informative CLE (4 hours of credit), leaving the remaining time for rest, networking and social activities.
It is an affordable (about $300) and unique way to earn CLE credit and to build relationships with lawyers from all practice areas.
It is not too late to sign up. Contact Kendra Rhodin in The JBA office ([email protected]) for booking information.