The Florida Bar will recognize 22 lawyers, including one from Marianna, for their work on behalf of low-income and disadvantaged clients at a January 30, 2020 ceremony at the Supreme Court in Tallahassee.
The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards are intended to encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor. The annual awards recognize those who make public service commitments and raise public awareness of the volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers.
In a news release, the Bar noted that LaDray Brandan Gilbert provided as many as 300 hours of pro bono work each year in and around his native Marianna. In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018, Gilbert provided pro bono services to residents of Jackson County and surrounding areas.
“Despite being displaced for more than 30 days from his own home, Gilbert continued to support others by providing pro bono legal advice to homeowners and renters displaced without insurance, officials wrote. “He made referrals for local resources, provided guidance on how to apply for FEMA assistance, and explained the FEMA appeal process. He negotiated with landlords on behalf of residents to reduce rent and terminate leases, some without penalty, and advised landlords on their rights, roles and responsibilities to tenants after a natural disaster and the liabilities of uninhabitable property.”
Gilbert is the managing attorney of The Gilbert Firm, P.A. in Marianna, Florida and has represented clients throughout the United States for more than a decade in his practice.
Nicholas Joseph Youtz, “demonstrated overwhelming compassion and volunteerism as he helped his neighbors in desperate need,” after Hurricane Michael, officials wrote.
Youtz and others gave of their time in rescue and recovery efforts despite the storm’s effects on their own families and businesses. Armed with his pro bono experience and a network of volunteer attorneys, Youtz and the managing attorney at Denise Hallmon Rowan & Associates, P.A., went to work providing legal assistance to their community.
Together, Youtz and Denise Rowan helped coordinate a landlord-tenant legal clinic to address the unprecedented housing crisis that resulted after the storm. The clinic grew to include Legal Services of North Florida as well as many local attorneys who volunteered their time to address the myriad issues facing Bay County residents after the devastation of their homes and businesses.
Youtz has helped implement an online application and referral service with the hope of matching more volunteer attorneys to clients in need.