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Congratulations to the first two recipients of The BLS Pro Bono Award

Congratulations to John Macdonald and Maxine Long, the recipients of the first ever Business Law Section Pro Bono Award.

On June 21, 2023, John MacDonald, of Akerman, LLP, and Maxine Long, a retired former Chair of the Business Law Section, received the BLS Inaugural Pro Bono Award.

While the BLS and its members have been committed to Pro Bono for a very long time, it was not until two years ago that the Pro Bono Committee of the BLS decided to recommend that the BLS create an award recognizing the contribution of its members. Brought to fruition by the incredible efforts of outgoing Pro Bono Committee Chair, Kathleen McLeroy (who also serves as longstanding chair of the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Pro Bono and is the 2016 recipient of the Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor Award – among her many other well-deserved awards), and the support of the BLS Executive Committee, the BLS Pro Bono Award is designed to recognize a member of the Business Law Section who exemplifies the highest ideals of the profession by either (a) directly providing legal services to persons of limited means or underserved communities; (b) facilitating the access to justice and the delivery of legal services to persons of limited means or underserved communities; or (c) promoting access to justice and the delivery of legal services to persons of limited means or underserved communities.

John’s and Maxine’s contributions to pro bono are too lengthy to include here, but even this brief sampling should inspire everyone to take another pro bono case immediately! John’s contributions include his extensive work with charitable organizations, including the North Florida School of Special Education; regularly volunteering at, and partnering for projects with, the Jacksonville Area Legal Association (“JALA”), among other legal service providers; innovating projects for the BLS Pro Bono Committee; and creating the “No Case Left Behind” program at Akerman, setting a goal of placing 50 cases a year with attorneys at the firm – a goal easily exceeded by the commitment inspired by John. Maxine’s contributions include ongoing commitments to community organizations including the Dranoff International Piano Competition; chairing the Shutts and Bowen Pro Bono Practice Group until her retirement, during which time Maxine drafted the Firm’s Pro Bono Policy; her years’ long work on international child abduction cases brought under the Hague Convention for which Maxine was recognized by the US State Department; and her regular work on pro bono cases from providers throughout South Florida. Indeed, in retirement, Maxine continues to assist Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (“LSGMI”) in matters big and small. It is understandable that, while the award contemplates one recipient at a time, the Committee recommended, and the EC agreed, there was no way to choose between these two incredible individuals. In recognition of their contributions, the BLS will donate $1,000 to JALA in honor of John and $1,000 to LSGMI in honor of Maxine.

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