Laurel Myerson Isicoff
United States Bankruptcy Court
Pro Bono Award Nomination Guidelines
The 2019 Chief Judge’s Pro Bono Bankruptcy Award
The Chief Judge’s Pro Bono Bankruptcy Award is an annual award created to recognized and honor one outstanding bankruptcy practitioner each year who has contributed to making access to justice a reality for those in need by going above and beyond handling pro bono bankruptcy cases for the indigent in the Southern District of Florida.
REQUIREMENTS: One Award Recipient will be selected annually. In order to be considered for this award, the candidate must have excelled in providing bankruptcy pro bono legal services in the Southern District of Florida as follows:
- The recipient must have made significant accomplishments in improving access to justice in the insolvency and bankruptcy field.
- The recipient must be admitted to the Southern District of Florida and be a member of The Florida Bar for a minimum of five years.
- The recipient must have provided distinguished pro bono service, either in a single outstanding case or achievement, or must have provided distinguished pro bono services consistently over a considerable period of time for multiple activities or cases. The fact that a single achievement may have occurred before the year of recognition is not material.
- The accomplishments must arise from voluntary activities rather than for services rendered to a client as a paid professional or for those that were not undertaken on a voluntary basis.
- This award is limited to private attorneys and or members of law firms who are not compensated for their pro bono work and excludes members of the judiciary, legal services paid staff attorneys, and the academic community.
- Please submit a brief narrative describing how the candidate meets the criteria for the Chief Judge’s Pro Bono Bankruptcy Award. The narrative should specify the pro bono work done by the candidate, including those who have benefitted from such work. Please do not include names or personal information of any clients in order to protect their confidentiality.
- Supporting information should include the nominee’s biography, including principal areas of practice, the number of years practicing law, time spent on pro bono activities, other public service contributions, educational background, bar association activities and supporting documents.
- Please submit at least one (1) letter of support but no more than three (3) letters of support from other individuals or organizations who are aware of the candidate’s pro bono contributions.
- Self-nominations will be considered.
Please send nominations to Chief Judge Isicoff by mail or email LMIsicoff@flsb.uscourts.gov no later than September 30, 2019.
Pro Bono Service
There are many ways to serve your community by providing pro bono services. Pro Bono isn’t just limited to taking a case. Here is a list of different pro bono opportunities:
- Take a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Case
- Mentor a student clinic team (usually a chapter 7 case or adversary proceeding) at one of our three participating law schools in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties
- Mentor a non-bankruptcy lawyer who is doing a bankruptcy case pro bono
- Represent a creditor in an adversary proceeding (many times a discharge action involves domestic support obligations)
- Represent a debtor in an adversary proceeding (usually a discharge action or objection to exemptions)
- Represent a debtor at a 2004 examination
- Represent a creditor at a 2004 examination
- Represent a debtor for an MMM mediation
- Staff a pro se clinic (usually 2 hours)
- Help with intake at a legal services provider
- Take a Low Bono (reduced fee case)
As you can see, you can volunteer for a couple of hours, a couple of weeks or a couple of years. Additionally, you can receive up to three credits toward your bankruptcy CLE requirements necessary for admission to appear before the Bankruptcy Court.
Please contact Judge Isicoff if you want to sign up and she will pass your name along to the appropriate contact person.
Recognition of PRO BONO Volunteers
Dear Fellow Members of the Florida Bar,
As Chief Judge of the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, I am thrilled to join U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz and Third District Court of Appeal Judge Vance Salter in urging you to participate in pro bono through the use of an amazing new resource-online access capabilities to sign up for pro bono opportunities through Florida Pro Bono Matters. Those of you who know me know how passionate I am about pro bono. We have an access to justice crisis in Florida and the bankruptcy court of the Southern District of Florida ranks as having one of the highest percentages of pro se filers in the country. We need your help.
But we are all aware that it has sometimes been difficult to find an opportunity that either fits your time constraints, your professional capabilities, or your passions. This new interactive website will make it possible for you to find that perfect opportunity whenever you go looking for it. Need help? As this website develops it will also include resources and mentors (as well as provide you with the opportunity to mentor someone else).
Those of you who are active in pro bono matters in the bankruptcy courts know that we have set up referral systems in our courts. Many of you also probably know the bankruptcy court allows up to three credits of our local admission requirements to be satisfied by taking a pro bono case or mentoring someone else who wishes to take a pro bono bankruptcy case. This new opportunity will only enhance the system we now have, and, with your help and participation, as we develop and improve this resource, we will ultimately have a seamless system in place for all pro bono information.
I continue to be grateful for all that you do support pro bono efforts in Miami-Dade County and the Southern District of Florida. I am honored to join Judge Seitz and Judge Salter in introducing you to this tremendous opportunity. Together we will make something good happen! Thank you again.
Very truly yours,
Laurel Myerson Isicoff
Chief Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court