Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pro Bono Committee: The Thirteenth Judicial Circuit 2015 Pro Bono Service Award Winners

By Rachel May Zysk

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Lawyers have a license to practice law, a monopoly on certain services. But for that privilege and status, lawyers have an obligation to provide legal services to those without the wherewithal to pay, to respond to needs outside themselves, to help repair tears in their communities.” On April 23, 2015, at the Eighth Annual Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Awards Ceremony, the following were honored for responding to needs outside themselves in order to serve our community: attorneys Frederique B. “Dika” Boire, Isabel “Cissy” Boza Sevelin, and Sarah Lahlou-Amine; paralegal Robin Todd; the law firm of Open Palm Law; and the nonprofit legal organization the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association. The award nominations were submitted to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Rosemary Armstrong. The ceremony was hosted by the committee, the Bay Area Legal Services Volunteer Lawyers Program, and the Hillsborough County Bar Association.

Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Jimmy Kynes Pro Bono Service Award

Fredrique B. “Dika” Boire has been practicing law in Hillsborough County for 30 years, until recently in private practice as a board-certified marital and family law attorney and as a certified family law mediator. Throughout her long career, Boire has represented indigent clients, mentored other volunteer attorneys, created pro bono programs, and served in leadership positions to further the public good. 

Boire is a former chair of the HCBA Marital & Family Law Section. During her term, the section developed the General Masters program that is now referred to as the General Magistrate program. For 10 years, she chaired the Bench/Bar Program that resolved problems between lawyers and judges. She was instrumental in setting up an interdisciplinary committee to represent people involved in custody cases when a judge needed an attorney or mental health professional to help the court in deciding custody. The services were performed pro bono or at a reduced rate, depending on the party’s finances. She has provided hundreds of pro bono hours representing poor and working poor clients in family law and juvenile matters. She also assisted in launching the Guardian Ad Litem Program in the Family Law Division and served as a Guardian Ad Litem herself. Moreover, a significant amount of her mediation cases were performed pro bono.
Boire has unfailingly used her legal skills and indefatigable passion to benefit the Tampa Bay community and is a deserving recipient of the 2015 Jimmy Kynes Pro Bono Service Award.

Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Lawyer

Isabel “Cissy” Boza Sevelin is a sole practitioner whose entire practice consists of providing pro bono service to clients. Prior to opening her pro bono practice, Sevelin was a federal judicial law clerk for nine years with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. 

Sevelin has donated her time in the areas of family law, domestic violence, and dependency, and by drafting advance directives. She volunteers for the Bay Area Legal Services’ Volunteer Lawyers Program, working at the Domestic Violence Assistance Project clinic and on the Case Referral Panel. She is also extensively involved with the nonprofit organization Are You Safe Inc., whose mission is to provide legal and social services to victims of domestic violence, and the nonprofit organization Crossroads for Florida Kids Inc., representing children in dependency proceedings, including those charged with delinquencies. Further, Sevelin serves as a volunteer teen court judge through the Juvenile Diversion Program and as a Guardian Ad Litem in dependency court.

In 2014, Sevelin donated 863 hours of pro bono service to indigent members of our community. 

Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Young Lawyer

Sarah Lahlou-Amine is an attorney at the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, practicing in the areas of state and federal appellate litigation, commercial litigation, and insurance coverage litigation. 

Lahlou-Amine has contributed more than 600 hours of legal pro bono service in less than nine years of practice and has spent hundreds more hours in the administration of a variety of pro bono programs, including through her roles as chair of the Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section’s Pro Bono Committee, co-chair of the 13th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee’s Law Firm Subcommittee, co-founder of the Tampa Bay Pro Bono Partnership, former chair of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Appellate Practice Law Section’s Pro Bono Committee, former chair of Fowler White Boggs’ Pro Bono Committee, and informal mentor to countless attorneys around the state who have come to rely on Lahlou-Amine to connect them with pro bono projects that fit their personal interests.

A self-dubbed “pro bono matchmaker,” Lahlou-Amine truly enjoys recruiting other attorneys to tap into the profound value of helping others the way she has done since her days as a young law student at Stetson University College of Law, where she contributed to a variety of pro bono projects and earned the William F. Blews Pro Bono Service Award. 

Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Paralegal

Robin Todd is an immigration paralegal at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and the project administrator for the Tampa H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection) clinic. Founded in New Orleans in 2004, Project H.E.L.P. was launched in Tampa in July 2014 to service the legal needs of the growing number of homeless men and women. Since its inception, Todd has been the backbone of the clinic, which has helped more than 100 clients in less than a year. 

Todd has been instrumental in ensuring that the clinic is fully staffed with volunteer lawyers and staff. She attends nearly every weekly clinic, monitoring intake, client process flow, and time allocation. After each 90-minute clinic, she diligently completes follow-up paperwork and confirms that client files are properly updated and maintained. She donated 75 hours of pro bono time to Project H.E.L.P. in its first six months.

When asked why she contributes pro bono services, Todd told the following story of a homeless woman who attended Project H.E.L.P.’s very first clinic:

"One of our first clients that day, on leaving, told us how grateful she was to those of us that were there to help her. She continued, telling us that it was obvious that we were important, and how moved she was that we made time for someone like her. She began to cry, saying that no one ever saw her because she was homeless, and now she was finally seen by someone, someone who was important.  What an eye-opening moment for all of us that were there."

Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Law Firm

Open Palm Law was founded in 1994 by attorney Joryn Jenkins. The law firm’s mission is to provide affordable, ethical, creative, and caring legal services. In June 2012, Jenkins founded the Pro Bono Project for the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay (later renamed the Next Generation Divorce Pro Bono Project), offering free collaborative divorce services to qualified clients who otherwise might not have been aware of the less stressful alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. 
In 2014, the firm’s attorneys and staff contributed nearly 300 hours of pro bono legal services to indigent individuals. Open Palm Law’s attorneys and staff also work with Bay Area Legal Services and other organizations that offer pro bono divorce services to train and mentor their staff and volunteers on the collaborative divorce practice. 

Outstanding Pro Bono Service by an Organization

The Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association formally launched its Pro Se Assistance Clinic in August 2013 with the mission of assisting the thousands of pro se debtors and creditors who are required to navigate the bankruptcy process within the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. This has been critical in the Middle District, which has been the second- or third-busiest bankruptcy court in the country in recent years.

The clinic is staffed by experienced members of the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association who generously volunteer their time and offer free, on-site, one-on-one information and guidance to each pro se debtor or creditor seeking a consultation. It is open three days per week for a total of seven hours. The TBBBA and its volunteers provide all necessary funding, coordination, and administrative oversight to operate the clinic. In the past 12 months, TBBBA members have volunteered more than 375 hours to the Pro Se Assistance Clinic and have seen more than 300 pro se creditors and debtors. 

The Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee commends the service of the 2015 award recipients.

2015 Lapel Pin Recipients
100 or more Pro Bono Hours
Keith T. Appleby
Rosemary E. Armstrong
Lisa Beggs
Adam Bild
E. Kelly Bittick Jr.
Jake C. Blanchard
Fredrique B. Boire
Christopher Branton
Stuart Bromfield
Karen M. Buesing
Joseph Anthony Caimano Jr.
Tiernan Cole
Melissa Cordon
William B. deMeza Jr.
Lawrence J. Dougherty
Jillian Estes
Thaddeus Freeman
Elizabeth Lynn Hapner
Jourdan R. Haynes
Harley Herman
Michael J. Hooi
Scott L. Horvat
George B. Howell
Joryn Jenkins
David T. Knight
Sarah Lahlou-Amine
Joseph H. Lang Jr.
David J. Lisko
Thomas M. Little
James A. Manzi Jr. 
Michael P. Matthews
Stephanie M. Miles
Kelli Mitchell
Anne-Leigh G. Moe
William Edwards Muñiz
Edward J. Page
Jo Ann Palchak
Amanda Elizabeth Reagan
Randall O. Reder
Scott L. Robbins
Brent Rose
Craig Rothburd
Jack Michael Rosenkranz
Daryl Lee Saylor Jr.
Isabel “Cissy” Boza Sevelin
J. Michael Shea
Olin G. Shivers
Allison Willis Singer
Patrick W. Skelton
Jeanne T. Tate
Stephen Mark Todd
Zilia C. Vasquez
Miriam Velez-Valkenburg
Sylvia H. Walbolt
Nicholas E. Williams
Mamie Wise
Katherine Yanes
Rachel May Zysk

50-99 Pro Bono Hours
Jacqueline N. Acosta
Adam Alaee
Herbert Ray Allen II
Jacqueline Ambrose
Amy Bandow
Michael Barnett
Bernard A. Barton Jr.
Noel R. Boeke
Amanda Chafin
Amanda Chazal
Thomas Danahy
Jonathan Z. DeSantis
Philip A. Diamond
Bill W. Dolence Jr.
Amy Drushal
Lisa Esposito
Scott D. Feather
Daniel Fischetti
Jaret J. Fuente
Christopher L. Griffin
Katherine L. Heckert
Hugh Higgins
Benjamin H. Hill III
Carol Hinds
Craig Jorgensen
William Jung
Cristin C. Keane
Dominic Kouffman
Alissa A. Kranz
Nathaniel M. Lacktman
Robert W. Lang
Ellen K. Lyons
Anne C. McAdams
Fredrick H.L. McClure
Marian McCulloch
Melinda McLane
Kathleen S. McLeroy
Patrick K. Meehan
A.J. Musial Jr.
Kevin J. Napper
Jennifer E. Neubauer
Samantha Orender
Norman Palumbo
Terri Parker
Tylerr Parramore
Andrew E. Peluso
Sandra G. Porter
Shaun Puri
Robert Marshall Rainey
Roger D. Schwenke
Albert P. Silva
Lakeisha Simms
David B. Singer
Debra Smietanski
Traci Stevenson
Blake A. Taelman
Janae Thomas
Colin Thompson
Hon. Barbara Twine-Thomas
Michael Tyson
Dane R. Ullian
Lauren Valiente
Joseph H. Varner III
James R. Wiley
Mark Wolfson

20-49 Pro Bono Hours
Deborah Adles
Sara Alpert
Onchantho Am
Scott Anderson
Michael D. Annis
Dale Appell
Lynwood Arnold
Raz Axente
Lori Y. Baggett
Douglas Baker
Sean Becker
George Bedell
Mike Bedke
Cecilia Bidwell
Dana R. Blunt
Eric Boles
Michael Broadus
Nancy Browder
David P. Burke
O. Kim Byrd
Alex Caballero
Patricia Calhoun
Michael Califano
Lauren E. Catoe
Marina Choundas
Robert Cochran
Jeanne Coleman
Phillip Colesanti
Matthew J. Conigliaro
Lewis Conwell
Kami Corbett
Shane T. Costello
Chris S. Coutroulis
Kirk Crowder
Victoria Cruz-Garcia
Thomas Curran
Wilhelmina Curtis
Heather DeGrave
Katelyn Derosiers
Michelle Drab
Fentrice D. Driskell
Megan Ellis
Katie Everlove-Stone
Keith Fendrick
Megan Flatt
Helen Fouse
James Giardina
Robert H. Gidel
Michelle Gilbert
Karla F. Gonzalez-Acosta
Robert Grammig
Rachel Greenstein
Richard B. Hadlow
Eric Hall
Matthew F. Hall
R. Reid Haney
Lynn Hanshaw
Marcos Hasbun
Donald E. Hemke
K. Tyler Hill
David Hoffman
Ronald Holliday
Laura Howard
Dennis Hudson
Tyler J. Hudson
Michelle Hutt
Thomas Hyde
Rebecca Jensen
Rachel Jones
Cathy Kamm
Stephanie Kane
Bradford D. Kimbro
Donald R. Kirk
Robert Kline
Julia Knight
Douglas Knox
Gary Koch
Edward F. Koren
John J. Lamoureux
Casey Lennox
Walter C. Little
Karen Lloyd
Kate Lucente
David L. Luikart III
William J. Malachowski
Paul Maney
Lilly McCarty
Kevin P. McCoy
Paul A. McDermott
George J. Meyer
Victoria F. Oguntoye
Jason J. Quintero
Anthony J. Palermo
Adriana Paris
Rinky S. Parwani
Maria Pavlidis
J. Trumon Phillips
Gary Lee Printy Jr.
David R. Punzak
Mark Rankin
Angela Rauber
David Rauscher
Mark Robens
Hardy L. Roberts III
Jane Sabotta
Lawrence Samaha
Gary Sasso
William Schwarz
Carly Self
Ella Shenhav
Kevin Shuler
Timothy J. Sierra
Tori C. Simmons
J. Scott Slater
Christopher Smart
Jennifer Soberal
Jan Soeten Jr.
Nicole Soto
James Spoor
Scott A. Stichter
Amy Stoll
Charles L. Stutts
Ed Suarez
Dona Suplee
Stephen J. Szabo
David L. Theyssen
Natalie Thomas
James Thorpe
Wes Tibbals
Kimberly Van Bibber
Elizete Velado
Kristopher J. Verra
Roland Waller
Bethanne R. Walz
Hon. Laura Ward
Janelle Weber
Dirk Weed
Martha Irene Weed
Randolph J. Wolfe
Katelyn Wright
Barbara Yadley
Gwynne A. Young