JALA honors Hyde, others

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  • | 12:00 p.m. November 20, 2006
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by Liz Daube

Staff Writer

More than 150 attorneys and officials made for the best turnout ever at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s annual Equal Justice Awards reception Thursday night.

The River Club reception gathered and recognized local attorneys and firms who have supported JALA by contributing money, pro bono service hours or other advocacy efforts. Kevin Hyde, attorney and chair of City Council’s Finance Committee, received the Equal Justice Award. Hyde, an attorney with Foley & Lardner, worked with JALA to pass the first city ordinance to regulate payday lending in 2005. (Although courts later struck down the ordinance, Congress recently passed a similar interest rate cap for loans to military members.)

Michael Figgins, executive director of JALA, reminded donors of the reasons why their help is needed to help Jacksonville’s poor receive legal assistance.

“The justice system is not fair, it is not accessible,” said Figgins, who estimated 80 percent of people seeking help from JALA are turned away because of a lack of attorneys to handle the cases. JALA takes about 6,000 cases a year and currently employs 32 attorneys.

Other award recipients included:

• Special Recognition Award: Evelyn Mew

• Pro Bono Service Awards: Tracy Carlin, Patricia Dodson, James Kowalski Jr., Dominic MacKenzie, Reese Marshall, Shawn Pope and George “Buddy” Schulz

• 100 percent Firm Participation Awards: Abbott Law Firm, Andersonglenn, Farah & Farah, Foley & Lardner, Ford & Harrison, Liles Gavin Costantino & George, Kelly B. Mathis P.A., Milton Leach Whitman D’Andrea Charek & Milton, Pajcic & Pajcic and Terrell Hogan

• JALA Outstanding Staff Awards: April Charney, Karen Weaver and Virgil Bachtold

photos by Liz Daube