The Sky Lounge was fragrant with the smell of blackened shrimp and Baldwin County grits and filled to overflowing with lawyers, their families and guests attending the 17th Annual Volunteer Lawyers Program Pro Bono reception honoring this year’s Pro Bono Award Winners.
The nomination process for the Alabama State Bar Pro Bono Awards is open to the bar and the community at large. Each year the committee receives many outstanding nominations, making it extremely difficult to select just one recipient in each category.
Here are the winners of this year’s awards, which were presented earlier in the day at the Bench & Bar Luncheon:
- Royal Dumas, Montgomery, Alabama – Albert Vreeland Pro Bono Award to an individual who demonstrates outstanding pro bono efforts, through the active donation of time, to the civil representation of those who cannot otherwise afford legal representation in and acceptance of pro bono cases.
- Warren & Simpson, P.C., Huntsville, Alabama – 2013 Law Firm/Group Award to a law firm or other organization. Derek Simpson and his partner Barton Warren organized and underwrote the first Access to Justice Bash, an organized fundraising event on behalf of the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program, which has now become an annual event which has not only provided much needed support for the program but has also created invaluable community awareness of the need for increased access to justice and the good work our volunteer lawyers are doing.
- Virginia A. Lemon, Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law – Law Student Award. Virginia is a recent graduate who led the Jones Public Interest Law Foundation (JPILF) as its student president. The JPILF works to raise money for stipends to support students with unpaid summer jobs in public interest and public service law offices, as preparation for careers of service. She logged nearly 400 hours in the public interest law program and was also recognized for her efforts with Faulkner Law’s 2012-2013 Distinguished Public Interest Award. Faulkner Law led the state in the number of students who sign the Pro Bono Pledge last year.
- Jefferson County District Court Mediation Program, J. Payne Baker, Jr., Director – Mediation Award. The Jefferson County District Court Mediation Program, which started in 2000, is one of the longest-running volunteer mediation programs in the state, providing effective conflict resolution delivered by qualified, dedicated volunteers. The program provides pro bono mediation services to pro se parties on the small claims docket. Since most mediation sessions are arranged on the day of trial, mediators are available at docket call. Baker estimates that volunteer mediators donated a total of 450 pro bono hours in 2012.