Lawyer snapshot: Jim Kowalski Jr.

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  • | 12:00 p.m. April 21, 2014
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Name: Jim Kowalski Jr.

Age: The big 5-0

Family: Wife, Suzette; son, Zach, 15; and daughter, Jaden, 10

Pets: Rain, the wonder dog (rescue from the Jacksonville Humane Society); Carbon the bearded dragon; two fish; and two box turtles that live on the porch, of which Rain is the only one who really knows who I am

Education: BA from UC Berkeley; JD from University of San Francisco

Admitted to the Bar: 1989 California and 1990 Florida

Employed by: Jacksonville Area Legal Aid as executive director since December 2012

Field of practice: Nonprofit legal services. JALA handles an enormous variety of work for low-income and at-risk residents of Region II (17 counties, including Duval, Clay, Nassau, St. Johns and Baker counties).

Professional organizations: The Jacksonville Bar Association and St. Johns County Bar Association

Community involvement: Current member of the First Coast Child Protection Team Advisory Council; National Association of Consumer Advocates; past board member of Compassionate Families Inc. (a Jacksonville nonprofit dedicated to assisting the families of homicide victims); and past vice chair of the Mayor’s Victim’s Assistance Advisory Council.

How did you become involved?

I started working with JALA many years ago, when part of my private practice work intersected with JALA’s work on consumer issues and that expanded to co-counseling with JALA on certain cases and to teaching with JALA attorneys, to the point where I realized that I had rather fully integrated my pro bono work with my private practice. JALA conducted a national search for its next executive director when Michael Figgins moved to Oklahoma to run that state’s legal services office and I decided to apply.

How can someone else become involved?

There are almost unlimited ways to contribute to Jacksonville’s vibrant nonprofit community, whether through JALA or elsewhere. The Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida is a great resource, as is the United Way. JALA offers opportunities to co-counsel, to teach, to volunteer — however you want to integrate nonprofit work into your life, JALA can help. Ultimately, whatever you do comes right back to help you, by providing stronger local businesses, better places for people to live and work, better schools — all the ways that we help make our local economy stronger. Kathy Para, JALA’s pro bono coordinator, can be reached at (904) 356-8371, extension 363.

What have you learned/achieved through the experience?

It all comes back around — karma is 100 percent.

What was the last book you read or are reading?

Currently reading “Riptide Ultra-Glide” by Tampa author Tim Dorsey. If you really want to find out what makes Florida unique, read Tim Dorsey, Randy Wayne White or Carl Hiaasen.



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