Pro Bono: Fourth Circuit honors volunteers

Attorneys with 20 or more hours of pro bono service are recognized at the Presentation of the Pins.

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Attorneys in the 4th Judicial Circuit who performed at least 20 hours of pro bono service in the past year were recognized by the judiciary April 19 at the Duval County Courthouse.
Attorneys in the 4th Judicial Circuit who performed at least 20 hours of pro bono service in the past year were recognized by the judiciary April 19 at the Duval County Courthouse.
Special to the Daily Record
  • The Bar Bulletin
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On April 19, attorneys in the 4th Judicial Circuit who contributed 20 or more hours of pro bono service were honored for their commitment in promoting access to justice.

Conducted annually at the Duval County Courthouse, the William A. Van Nortwick Jr. Presentation of the Pins Ceremony is a luncheon where attorneys are recognized by their peers as well as by members of the judiciary.


This event is named for the late William A. Van Nortwick Jr., a well-respected Jacksonville attorney and retired member of the judiciary.

The ceremony is organized and hosted by the 4th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Circuit Judge Steven Fahlgren; and the Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, co-chaired by Laura Boeckman, Office of General Counsel for the city of Jacksonville, Samantha Howell, Three Rivers Legal Services pro bono director, and myself, director of pro bono at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. 

The event would not be possible without the assistance of Duval County Courthouse administration and this year’s sponsors: Akerman, Jacksonville University School of Law, Marks Gray, McGuire Woods, Farah & Farah and Spohrer Dodd.

From left, Circuit Judge John Guy, Circuit Judge L.E. Hutton, Circuit Judge Lester Bass, Duval County Judge Dawn Hudson, Circuit Judge Angela Cox and Jacksonville Bar Association Executive Director Craig Shoup.

Akerman is deserving of special recognition for covering the costs of the lapel pins for the entire 4th Circuit, the only circuit in the state that had a private sponsor for the pins.

Along with their lapel pin, each attorney received a letter of appreciation from the state Supreme Court.

Fahlgren, the program’s emcee, encouraged attendees to remain committed to pro bono work through local legal aid organizations such as JALA and Three Rivers. 

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. In 2016,  the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association presented her with the Spirit of Giving Award for her dedication to educational outreach and for her public service.

Circuit Judge Steven Fahlgren, Three Rivers Legal Services Pro Bono Coordinator Krizia Gonzalez-Colon, Akerman attorney Mariana Munoz and Circuit Judge Lester Bass.

In 2020, The Florida Bar awarded her the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award, an award presented to an active judge who best exemplifies strength of character, service and competence as a jurist, lawyer and public servant.

Howard was awarded the Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award in 2022, an award presented by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court to recognize outstanding and sustained service to the public, especially as it relates to the support of pro bono legal services.

Given Howard’s years of public service, including her pro bono work while in private practice, it was a privilege to have her honor those gathered.

“Each of you has given selflessly of your time and your talent to help those in need and each of you has made a difference in our community, a difference that matters and makes our community a better place. And each of you gives our profession a better chance to achieve the promise of equal justice to all,” Howard said in her keynote address.

Former Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Director of Pro Bono Kathy Para, attorney Lisa DiFranza and JALA Director of Pro Bono Aaron Irving.

“My own experiences with pro bono brought me into contact with new people who enriched my life and helped me learn more about my community and the plight and challenges many face which were quite different than my own life path. I think the lessons that I learned from my pro bono experiences made me a better person and I hope a better lawyer.” 

Howard was presented a gift of thanks by Fahlgren on behalf of the 4th Circuit Pro Bono Committee.

After the luncheon and keynote address, honorees present were greeted by a receiving line of federal and state judiciary.

Your pro bono efforts make not only our circuit but also our state a better place.

For those interested in getting involved with pro bono work, visit where you can find several volunteer opportunities, including cases awaiting placement. Alternatively, send an email to [email protected] if you have additional questions or interests.



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