The 14th Annual Robert J. Beckham Equal Justice Awards celebrated the first director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid at a ceremony Tuesday at The River Club.
Paul Doyle has served as the director of The Florida Bar Foundation's Legal Assistance for the Poor, and Law Student Assistance Grant Programs since 1991. His history with legal services to the poor includes being the first director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
Kent Spuhler was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Spuhler is the executive director of Florida Legal Serivces, but his career began at JALA under Doyle. Spuhler remembered how Doyle had a way of letting passionate lawyers pursue justice and reined them in when they needed it.
"He quietly told me once that sometimes incremental change has success when these broad sweeping ideas you folks are having aren't going to work. That was his leadership style with us as new lawyers," said Spuhler.
The Equal Justice awards were created by JALA in 1999 to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy in the legal community through the Equal Justice ceremony. The award has been presented to an individual or organization that has done the most to promote the cause of equal justice for low-income people.
The president of the JALA board of director also presents awards to recognize people and organizations who have given their assistance to JALA during the president's term. The 2013 honorees were recognized by President Renee Harrell They were: Circuit Judge Hugh Carithers; Renu Heda; JALA attorney Kimberly Martyn; attorney Tom Slater, Pajcic & Pajcic; Florida Coastal School of Law Professor Lois Ragsdale; and the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.