Forty-two South Florida voluntary bar associations will receive The Florida Bar’s Group Professionalism Award during its annual convention this week in Boca Raton.
The bar associations are being recognized for a joint program to boost civility in the legal profession. Presidents of various voluntary bar associations in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, along with chief judges in the three circuits, signed a resolution vowing to promote civility and follow the standards of professional courtesy in court.
The “Got Civility” project was spearheaded by Adam Rabin, former president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association; Garrett Biondo, former president of the Dade County Bar Association; Deborah Fitzgerald, former president of the Broward Bar Association; Larry Corman, president of the South Palm Beach County Bar Association; Vivian de la Cuevas-Diaz, former president of the Cuban American Bar Association; and Greg Weiss, former president of the Martin County Bar Association.
The six presidents will pick up the award along with a check for $1,000 on Thursday at The Bar’s judicial lunch. They plan to reinvest the money in the project.
“We are very excited to have received the award, and we are even more fueled during the coming year to take the effort to the next level,” Rabin said.
The award is one of several to be handed out at the annual gathering. The highest awards from the outgoing president will be announced Friday.
Another award goes to Senior Broward Circuit Judge Joel Lazarus, a 20-year judge, who will receive the Florida Law-Related Education Association award for running the Broward County mock trial competition. He helped start the state competition among high school students in pre-law programs in 1993. He also has served as adviser to Fort Lauderdale High School’s pre-law magnet program. Lazarus also pays his own way to Orlando to judge the final competition annually.
“I like working with young people,” Lazarus said.
Michelle Mason, associate dean at Florida International University’s law school, will receive The Bar’s Law Faculty Professionalism Award. FIU law dean Alex Acosta said the award is well-deserved. Mason, who started at the law school when it first opened, always emphasizes professionalism in her students, he said.
“She has been in the forefront at making sure professionalism is front and center,” Acosta said. “She tells students on the first day of law school, ‘your career begins today, not when you graduate.’ She contributes in innumerable and profound ways to our community.”
Col. Joseph A. Bradshaw Jr., director of legal affairs of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, will receive the Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award, which is given to the top government lawyer in the state. He began his career with the sheriff’s office 27 years ago as a deputy and is now is in charge of dispensing legal advice to the department’s 4,000 employees.
Other South Floridians receiving awards at the convention are:
• H. Scott Fingerhut of H. Scott Fingerhut P.A. in Coral Gables, who will receive the criminal law section’s award for outstanding leadership
• State Senator Joe Negron, R-West Palm Beach, who will receive the Senate Leadership Award from the trial law section
• Leonard E. Mondschin, a Miami solo attorney, who will receive the member-of-the-year award from the elder law section
• Nova Southeastern University law critical skills instructor Raul Ruiz, who will receive a Law-Related Education Association Award for his work with the school’s mock trial competition before the Florida Supreme Court
• State Senator Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, and state Representative Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, who will share the Legislator of the Year award
• Judge Susan Harrell Black of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and state Circuit Judge Robert K. Rouse Jr. of Deland, who will share the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award.
• The Fort Lauderdale office of Hinshaw & Culbertson, which will receive the Young Lawyers Division Diversity and Gender Sensitivity Award
• Circuit Judge Robert Paul LeBlanc of Orlando, who will receive the Young Lawyers Division Outstanding Jurist Award.
About 3,000 lawyers are expected to attend the convention at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.