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Young Lawyers Division hands out awards.

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division handed out six awards during the 50-Year Member and Awards Luncheon at the Bar's recent Annual Meeting, and the Bar's Law Related Education Committee handed out an additional three -- all while honoring the 152 members who joined the Bar in 1952.

Elizabeth G. Rice, immediate past president of the YLD, and current President Juliet Murphy Roulhac presented the following awards during the ceremony:

* Moot Court Award: Stetson University College of Law won the championship round of the Robert Orseck Moot Court Competition, defeating Nova Southeastern University. Other law schools in the competition included the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Miami, and Barry University. Stetson students Kristy Harrington of Orlando and Stephanie Zimmerman of St. Petersburg, and their coach, Professor Lawrence Rosenthal, were presented with an award for their final round win.

* Outstanding Jurist Award: 13th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Manuel Menendez, Jr., was honored as the YLD's Outstanding Jurist for his excellent reputation for sound judicial decisions and an unblemished record of integrity as a lawyer and judge

Menendez has served as a judge since 1983, when he was appointed by former Gov. Bob Graham. Menendez was selected by his peers to serve as chief judge in 2001 -- a time of instability in the circuit and a time during which several judges in the circuit resigned. Through his efforts, and in a very short time, "his leadership has brought renewed respect to the local judiciary," wrote the circuit's YLD Board of Governors in their nomination letter.

* Lynn Futch Most Productive Young Lawyer Award: This award is given annually to a young lawyer who has worked diligently in the past year in Bar activities or other law-related activities and who has an excellent reputation for legal abilities and integrity.

Diego "Woody" Rodriguez of Orlando was honored with the Lynn Futch Award for his work on the board of the Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association, having chaired or significantly participated in every committee in the section.

"With Woody, participation is not merely attendance at meetings," wrote fellow Orlando lawyer and YLD board member Jamie Billotte Moses in her letter nominating Rodriguez. "Rather, Woody takes on major tasks and accomplishes them both timely and professionally. I truly believe that every event the Young Lawyers Section puts on has been enriched and improved by Woody's participation."

In addition to his work with the Orange County Bar, Rodriguez was recently elected president of the board of directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida, and he has been recognized as a potential future leader in the American Bar Association, winning a scholarship for minorities designed to encourage his attendance and participation at ABA events.

* Most Outstanding Public Service Project by a Local Bar Young Lawyer Section, Division, or Committee: The Young Lawyers Section of the Palm Beach County Bar Association was honored with this award for its Adopt-A-School project. The project was initiated in 2001 by YLS member Alicia Trinley after the bar association's executive committee discovered that a local school, surrounded by some of the country's wealthiest individuals, had more than 75 percent of its students on the Federal Aid Meal Plan and bussed many students in from some of the poorest areas of Palm Beach County.

The goal for the project was to help the school get back on its feet while inspiring other community businesses to adopt similarly situated schools in the county, through a two-phase plan: 1) distribute back-to-school supplies, and 2) adopt particular classrooms within the selected school. This past year, the YLS adopted the entire fifth grade and passed out school supplies to more than 200 children, funded and organized a field trip to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, held a Read-With-Me Literacy Day, a Career Day, and hosted an entire slate of Law Week events. Future goals for the project include "Student of the Month" and "Citizen of the Month" to reward students for positive behaviors.

* Diversity Award: The 11th Judicial Circuit Office of General Counsel was honored with this award for the circuit's demonstration of the highest morality and respect for all persons and diversity, for efforts and allegiance to creating diversity, and for promoting a more diverse workplace.

In the letter nominating the Office of General Counsel, statistical data is offered that demonstrates dedication to diversity -- at present the racial and gender makeup of the office includes 71 percent female, 25 percent black, and 17 percent Hispanic attorneys.

As part of the award, the Bar's YLD made a monetary donation to the Office of General Counsel's charity of choice -- the Dade County Young Lawyers Horizons Project.

* Michael K. Reese Quality of Life Award: This award is presented to the person who through humanitarian respect advances balance and fulfillment in lawyers' lives by redefining current work habits and schedules to provide more flexibility and a more meaningful existence. In the letter nominating Vicki L. Sproat for the award, the executive committee of the Lee County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section called her "a true role model in the legal community as a person who ably balances the demands of work, family, and community involvement."

Sproat joined Henderson Franklin in Ft. Myers in 1980, becoming the firm's first female attorney and eventually becoming the firm's first female stockholder. She has served as the supervisor of the summer associate program for seven years, served two terms on the executive committee, and she continues to improve the quality of life in the practice of law through her work on the firm's Employment/Benefit Policies Committee, where she played a significant role in developing a maternity and adoption policy.

Sproat is also active in her community, having served for many years on the board of directors of the United Way of Lee County, and currently serving on the board of directors of the Foster Care Council of Southwest Florida and the Human Resource Management Association of Southwest Florida. As a mentor for the Lee County Association for Women Lawyers, Sproat sets an outstanding example for new attorneys by balancing her busy professional life with her full personal life.

As part of the award, the Bar's YLD made a financial contribution to Sproat's charity of choice. She chose to have the money divided between the United Way of Lee County and the Foster Care Council of Southwest Florida.

Law Related Education

Sonya Hoener of Jacksonville, chair of the Bar's Law Related Education Committee, presented awards to three Florida judges and two attorneys during the awards ceremony to recognize their outstanding work in educating Florida students and restoring public confidence in the legal system.

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge Kevin Emas was honored for his regular work with students and teachers in Dade County teaching about the courts and the Constitution. This past year, he assisted Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis in a classroom presentation at Miami Senior High School and assisted with training teachers in a local Justice Teaching Institute.

Fifteenth Circuit Judge Peter Blanc was presented with an LRE award for his work with teachers to sponsor local training about the court system. He gets a large number of court officials involved in the delivery of the program and helps connect the legal and education communities.

The third LRE award was presented to Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Lenderman and attorneys Elise Winters and Renee Bauer for their work on a project Lenderman started in 1997 handing out the Bar's "Legal Guide for New Adults" pamphlet to every high school junior in Pinellas County. Winters, Bauer, and Lenderman organized a team of 113 lawyers and judges to visit 161 11th grade classes to hand out and discuss the pamphlet, and the team reached more than 5,100 students this year alone.
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Author:Brown, Amy K.
Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Aug 15, 2002
Words:1296
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