Appellate practice training series: Pro bono attorneys supporting legal services staff attorneys

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  • | 12:00 p.m. June 13, 2011
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by Kathy Para

JBA Pro Bono Committee Chair

Pro bono attorneys of the First District Appellate Inn of Court along with attorneys from The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section and The Jacksonville Bar Appellate Practice Section are currently offering a seven-part appellate practice CLE training series to legal aid staff attorneys and pro bono attorneys.

This series is designed and presented by private, pro bono attorneys in support of legal services attorneys and the clients they serve.

It is intended to expand and deepen the legal tools used by attorneys serving low-income and underserved clients.

The training series covers various appellate topics including: preservation of error, preliminary appellate procedural issues, preparing the record from appellant and appellee perspectives, putting together an effective brief, oral arguments, and motions for rehearing.

“What’s so significant about this is that private, pro bono attorneys are teaching legal services staff attorneys how to develop appellate practice skills. They are helping low-income and vulnerable persons by helping us become better advocates,” states Kim Martyn, deputy director for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

About 30 participants including JALA attorneys and other legal service agency staff attorneys, Florida Coastal School of Law professors, pro bono attorneys and law students have signed up to participate in the seven-session series. The series began April 14 and is scheduled to conclude in October. Sessions are held monthly.

Ben Weaver, who is a member of the First DCA Appellate Inn of Court and one of the pro bono attorney presenters, describes the creation of this seven-part teaching-learning series.

“This pro bono teaching opportunity was developed in response to a presentation made to the First District Court of Appeal Inn of Court in October 2010. The presentation was made by members of the Inn and legal aid representatives to other members of the Inn to discuss pro bono appellate opportunities in North Florida and the needs of our legal services organizations,” said Weaver.

“The teaching opportunity offers the appellate attorneys who volunteer to teach a session the chance to help fulfill every lawyer’s responsibility to see that the justice system works by sharing their knowledge pertaining to appeals with lawyers who work in the trenches representing members of our society who cannot afford a voice in the justice system,” he said.

In addition to Weaver, these appellate attorneys have agreed to be volunteer presenters during the series: Bryan Gowdy, Stuart Williams, Lynn Drysdale, Michael Korn, Craig Feiser, Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Cristy Russell, Michael Tanner and Martin Lawyer. Refreshments for each session are sponsored by West, a Thomson Reuters business.

“We are delighted to have formed this partnership with the Appellate Inn of Court, The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section, and the Appellate Section of The Jacksonville Bar Association. This training series provides our trial attorneys the opportunity to expand as well as to refine their practice. The chance to learn from attorneys of this caliber makes this training series one-of-a-kind. This course will allow JALA to provide broader legal representation for those most in need in our community,” said Alison Graham, director of advocacy for JALA.

In addition, 12 CLE hours are being requested from The Florida Bar.

The benefits to be received through this program by attorneys and clients alike are obvious. This event is a partnership of organizations and attorneys from various segments of the legal profession working together to combat injustice. It provides a model for pro bono efforts in other communities through collaboration and education.

Attorneys interested in finding a pro bono opportunity that is both rewarding and manageable should contact Kathy Para, chair, Pro Bono Committee, The Jacksonville Bar Association, at [email protected]; 356-8371, ext. 363.



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