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John T. Berry presented with Stetson’s Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Public Service Award


John T. Berry, legal division director of the Florida Bar, was presented with this year’s Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Public Service Award. Stetson established the prestigious public service award for Wm. Reece Smith Jr. more than two decades ago.

(L-R): Wm. Reece Smith Jr. III, John T. Berry and Stetson Law Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz.

(L-R): Wm. Reece Smith III, John T. Berry and Stetson Law Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz.

Berry is an expert in judicial education, ethics and professionalism who established professional development programs for the Florida Bar and State Bar of Arizona. He served as liaison for the State Bar of Arizona to the ABA Ethics 2000 Commission and ABA Multijurisdictional Practice Commission.

Stetson Law students and faculty attending this year’s Inns of Court Banquet on Feb. 13 in St. Petersburg celebrated the life of Wm. Reece Smith Jr., the lecture’s namesake and a legendary lawyer, who died on Jan. 11.

Smith, a longtime distinguished professorial lecturer and member of Stetson’s Hall of Fame, left behind a legacy of service to the legal profession. Smith founded Florida Legal Services and advocated for legal representation for the poor, served as president of the International, American and Florida Bar Associations, and was a member of the Carlton Fields law firm since 1953.

“A great attorney and an even greater human being, William Reece Smith Jr. embodied the values of Stetson University College of Law as much as any of our legendary leaders,” said Stetson Law Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz.

Nationally recognized trial lawyer Bruce Ross, of Holland & Knight LLP, presented the Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture at the Inns of Court Banquet. Ross is spearheading his law firm’s efforts to assist the Mickey Rooney Elder Abuse Project in providing free legal assistance to elder clients who have been exploited. Ross is included among the Best Lawyers in America for Trusts and Estates and among the Top 100 Attorneys by Worth Magazine and Who’s Who in Law.

Bruce Ross presented the Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture.

Bruce Ross presented the Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture.

The Annual Inns of Court brings together prominent lawyers, experienced teachers and law students to exchange ideas, experiences and education. The adopted Stetson Inns of Court tradition has its roots in England.