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Pro Bono Hero: Judge Thomas B. Smith

Judiciary Spotlight

Hon. Thomas B. Smith, Magistrate Judge

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Orlando Division)

Judge Smith has been an active member of the Business Law Section for many years. He is currently the Federal Judicial Chair of our State and Federal Court Judicial Liaison Committee, assisting our members in the exchange of information and ideas on business law issues affecting the practice in state and federal
courts in Florida.

When asked to give his two cents on pro bono, Judge Smith explained the typical scenario in his court. “It may surprise you to learn that we do not see many pro bono attorneys in our court,” Judge Smith said. But, he typically sees pro bono lawyers when a pro se plaintiff files a lawsuit that appears to have merit and the person clearly needs help. The court will ask the Federal Bar Association to solicit a volunteer to take the case and barring a conflict that lawyer assumes the role of plaintiff’s counsel. When this happens, Judge Smith says that it is a great help to the plaintiff and the court. He also thinks the attorneys on the other side
of the case feel more comfortable working with a lawyer rather than with a pro se party. Judge Smith further explained that lawyers who accept these cases frequently put in significant hours. In fact, the last case Judge Smith was involved with where a pro bono attorney was appointed went to a jury verdict.

Thank you Judge Smith for providing us your perspective on pro bono work!!

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