Alumni receive Florida Bar Pro Bono Awards at the Florida Supreme Court
Three Stetson University College of law alumni, Dan B. Hendrickson J.D. ’87, Jo Ann Palchak J.D. ’05 and Erica K. Smith J.D. ’07, will receive the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Awards at a Supreme Court of Florida ceremony on Jan. 25.
“I have to acknowledge my professors who instilled the spirit of pro bono in me at Stetson University College of Law,” said Palchak. “Professor of Law Luz Nagle and Professor of Law Dorothea Beane regularly encouraged us to help the indigent and marginalized in society. Associate Dean Stephanie Vaughan summoned the advocate in me. Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Bruce Jacob took a page out of his personal history and the history of the legal profession to underscore the right to counsel in legal proceedings. It is an honor to be given this award and there is much yet to do.”
Hendrickson, of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, spent his life in public service, first as an aide in a state hospital and then organizing community services in Appalachia. He began his long career as a public defender in 1989 mostly representing Baker Act and other mental health clients, before retiring in 2014. Hendrickson donates at least 1,000 hours a year in pro bono services, devoting his time to numerous veterans projects since retirement. In 2015, he created the Tallahassee Veterans Legal Collaborative and helped create the legal services program for the North Florida Homeless Veterans Stand Down, coordinating the program for the past five years.
Palchak, of the 13th Judicial Circuit, has donated approximately 5,500 hours of pro bono service in almost 12 years of practice. While she was still a law student at Stetson, she donated pro bono service to the immigration office of Gulf Coast Legal Services. As an attorney in private practice, Palchak has contributed approximately 200 hours of pro bono service every year, sometimes exceeding 1,000 hours. Palchak worked on an Innocence Project case for more than eight years; served as Attorney ad Litem to children through Crossroads for Florida Kids and direct appointment; joined other lawyers in bringing a federal lawsuit to ensure the rights of migrant workers; and represented a federal inmate who was being denied AIDS medication. She regularly donates her time advocating for children, the victims of domestic violence and the homeless.
Smith, of the 6th Judicial Circuit, volunteers with the Community Law Program in St. Petersburg, and as a Guardian ad Litem. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in college, Smith was an honors program student at Stetson who was forced to drop out of law school for a year because of illness. After graduating from law school, Smith became a Guardian ad Litem to two teen mothers, and served as a visiting Guardian ad Litem, making monthly visits to 12 children and volunteering to take one case involving five children. Smith has been involved in approximately 20 cases involving children in the dependency court system who were abused, abandoned or neglected.
The awards were established in 1981 to encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor by recognizing those who make public service commitments and to raise public awareness of the substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers who cannot afford legal fees. Florida Bar President Michael J. Higer will present the 2018 awards, recognizing pro bono service in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits as well as service by one Florida Bar member practicing outside the state of Florida.
The Hallisky & Davis law firm, co-founded by alumna Deborah M. Hallisky B.A. ’75, M.B.A. ’78, J.D. ’97, will receive the 2018 Law Firm Commendation at the annual Pro Bono Awards ceremony. The commendation honors significant contributions in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga will present the commendation on Jan. 25 at the Supreme Court of Florida.
Read more about these awards from the Florida Bar.
Post date: Jan. 10, 2018
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