Seated at a table full of members of the legal community at The Jacksonville Bar Association’s annual Law Day Luncheon, Financial News & Daily Record Managing Editor Karen Brune Mathis was unaware that she would be one of the organization’s latest award winners.
The American Bar Association established the “Liberty Bell” award more than 30 years ago to recognize the work of a non-lawyer in support of the legal community.
Each legal organization is able to set up its own criteria for selecting award winners and The JBA board of governors serves as the selection committee.
Its criteria for selecting recipients includes demonstrating a significant commitment to the legal community; promoting a better understanding of the law; encouraging greater respect for the law and courts; stimulating a sense of civic responsibility; or contributing to good government in the community.
The JBA President Michael Freed discussed how Mathis accomplished many of the award’s goals as managing editor of the Daily Record.
“There are so many non-lawyers that support our legal community, that support an understanding of what the third and co-equal branch of government does,” said Freed.
“(Mathis) is the managing editor of the Daily Record and for the short period of time she has been in that position, a good publication has gotten even better. If you read the Daily Record you will see that there is a sensitivity, a creativity, there is a thoroughness, there is an unbiased approach that she takes,” said Freed.
The JBA has presented the award since 1988 and there has been one two-time winner.
“(Daily Record Publisher) Jim Bailey is the only two-time award winner. Well deserved, and, to some extent, a product of our bad record-keeping,” said Freed with a smile.
The two-time award winner also praised the managing editor he hired in 2010.
“Karen is one of those early risers and she can’t wait to text something exciting to me that happened between 4 and 5 a.m. and let me know first thing in the morning. It is a tremendous responsibility to try for perfection on a daily basis with the deadline like we have. I’m very proud of her,” said Bailey.
“I’m honored by this recognition from The Jacksonville Bar Association,” Mathis said.
“The leadership and teamwork at the Daily Record is the true recipient of this award. We strive daily to break news and to be accurate, balanced fair and thorough in all that we do,” she said.
“We are privileged that The JBA recognizes our efforts and has chosen to honor us for them,” she said.
The Liberty Bell award is the latest addition to Mathis’s list of honors, which include being chosen as a 2008 Women’s History Month honoree by the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women, a 2004 Women of Distinction award by Girl Scouts of Gateway Council and the 1993 Media Advocate by the U.S. Small Business Administration for dedicated support of small business.