Holland & Knight attorney Robert Beckham is this year’s recipient of the Equal Justice Award, the highest honor given by Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA).
“Bob’s recognition in this area is long overdue,” said Chad Roberts, president of JALA’s board of directors. “Bob is a legendary trial lawyer, but equally legendary in his lifelong commitment to worrying about the plight of the ‘little guy.’ Countless lives have been enriched by the time, skill and resources he has given to JALA’s clients over the course of many years.
“If a young lawyer is looking for an example for a career in law to emulate and be proud of, he or she should come out and meet Bob Beckham to hear his story.”
Beckham said Roberts informed him of the award, which came as a surprise.
“I am still a little overwhelmed,” said Beckham, who has been an attorney for 52 years and with Holland & Knight the past 11. Beckham said he’s won awards in the past, but nothing like the Equal Justice Award. “One of the things that attracted me to the firm, even one this big, was the caliber of dedication the firm has to community work and pro bono work.”
This is the ninth year JALA is recognizing a local attorney for their work providing legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. Since 1999, JALA has honored the individual or organization who has most assisted JALA staff in accomplishing their mission of serving low-income people in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
Beckham will be honored during a reception Friday night at The River Club where Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida, will be the keynote speaker.
Seven other attorneys as well as the firm of Pappas, Metcalf, Jenks & Miller will receive awards for their pro bono service. Three law firms will be recognized for having 100 percent attorney participation in JALA’s 2007 fundraising campaign. Attorneys who have supported JALA by contributing money or pro bono services are invited to attend the reception, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
“Bob is a gentleman; he has a big heart and maintains a low profile, working behind the scenes to help people in need,” said attorney Buddy Schulz, a long time friend and colleague at Holland & Knight.
Part of Beckham’s pro bono service includes representing clients for the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to using DNA testing to exonerate people who were wrongfully convicted.