2015 YLD Award Recipients

July 16, 2015

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division recognizes individuals and entities who are improving the profession and supporting young lawyers. We congratulate all of the nominees and this year’s awards recipients.

Winners include Sara Alpert;  Jane W. Muir; The Honorable Gary P. Flower, from the Fourth Judicial Circuit;  Cynthia Henry Duval, Associate Director of Career and Professional Development at Nova Southeastern; the Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Sports Committee; Jennifer Kuyrkendall; and Valerie Barnhart.

YLD Pro Bono Award
The Pro Bono Award recognizes the public service or legal aid performed by a young lawyer (under the age of 36 or one who has not practiced for more than five years in any jurisdiction) who provides outstanding contributions to those in need of legal services.  A nominee must be admitted to practice in Florida.

The term Pro Bono is derived from the phrase pro bono publico meaning “for the good of the public.” The purpose of this award is to encourage more Florida young lawyers to freely contribute their time and expertise in providing legal services to people in their community who cannot otherwise afford those services. In some instances, this will include legal services to charitable organizations which serve the poor. The emphasis of this award is on legal service to the poor.

Sara Alpert, Esq. is the recipient of the 2015 Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Award. Ms. Alpert is an associate with the Zuckerman Spaeder law firm in Tampa. Ms. Alpert deals in complex disputes and investigations involving criminal and civil litigation. Over the last year, Alpert contributed more than 250 hours of pro bono service with just two clients – Crossroads for Florida Kids, Inc. and Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. In each case, she not only represented the young clients – who dealt with everything from abuse to bedbug infestations – but also counseled them on life choices. Alpert also has been a training speaker for Crossroads pro bono attorneys and has helped recruit attorneys for Crossroads. Alpert also has been a board member of Bay Area Legal Services Inc. and served as president of the Pearl Society, a giving circle dedicated to supporting Bay Area Legal Services. She also helped organize a happy hour for the BALS Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program, producing new volunteers for BALS. She received the 13th Judicial Circuit’s 2014 Outstanding Pro Bono Service by a Young Lawyer Award. 

YLD Most Productive Young Lawyer
The Most Productive Young Lawyer Award is named for Lynn Futch, an attorney who contributed greatly to the practice of law, Bar activities, and community service in her short life.  The Award is given to a young lawyer who has worked most diligently in the past year in Bar activities and/or law related public activities and who has an excellent reputation for legal abilities and integrity.

Jane W. Muir, Esq. is the recipient of the 2015 Young Lawyers Division Most Productive Young Lawyer Award.  Ms. Muir is a partner at the law firm of Gersten Muir, and her practice focuses on business law, especially for creative, technology and social benefit organizations.  Ms. Muir is a graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Miami School of Law. She serves her community by supporting organizations that provide free legal assistance to indigent clients, and received a Pro Bono Service Award from the Dade County Bar Association for Innovative Projects in 2012. She also supports the National Parkinson Foundation. She promotes professionalism in the legal field as a member of the Dade County Bar Association, where she is serving her second term on the Board of Directors and her fourth term on the Executive Committee.  Ms. Muir is also the Vice President of the University of Miami School of Law Alumni Association for Student Affairs, and Past-President of the Coral Gables Bar Association. Her leadership in the legal profession has been recognized as a recipient of the University of Miami Law Alumni Association’s 2011 Spirit of Achievement Award, 2013 Alumni Leadership Award, and the Coral Gables Bar Association’s 2014 President’s Award. She was named to the Miami Herald’s 2014 list of “20 Under 40” Emerging Leaders in South Florida for 2014.

Outstanding Jurist Award
The Outstanding Jurist Award is given to a judge who not only has sound judicial decisions and integrity, but is also involved in Bar related activities open to the judiciary and is helpful to young lawyers.

The Honorable Gary P. Flower, County Court Judge in the Fourth Judicial Circuit is the recipient of the 2015 Young Lawyers Division Outstanding Jurist Award.  Judge Flower earned his B.S. from Jacksonville University and his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law.  Judge Flower has a reputation for making sound decisions during his service as a magistrate, hearing officer and county court judge.  Judge Flower is the past Chair of Education for the Conference of County Court Judges, Co-Department Head for the Advanced Colleges of Judicial Studies, and serves on the Video Faculty of the Florida Judicial College.  Judge Flower founded the Florida Family Law Inns of Court, a Chapter of the American Inns of Court.  Even after ascending to the bench, he is still an active participant in his Inn of Court as a mentor and example to the associate and barrister members.  Judge Flower serves his community in part by memberships on the Jacksonville Historical Society Board, the Police Athletic League Board, the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, as Assistant Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop 277, and as a regular speaker at numerous schools, civil organizations and clubs.  Judge Flower is a phenomenal example of integrity, civility and professionalism for all lawyers – especially young lawyers.

YLD Diversity Award
The Diversity Award is given to a person or entity that respects diversity and promotes diversity.  The Award reflects diversity in the pipeline and in the practice of law.

Cynthia Henry Duval, Esq., Associate Director of Career and Professional Development, and Adjunct Professor, for Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center, is the recipient of the 2015 Young Lawyers Division Diversity Award.  Ms. Duval received her B.A. from Florida A&M University and her J.D. from the University of Miami.  First as a practitioner, and now as a law school administrator, Ms. Duval’s entire professional career has been devoted to fostering diversity and inclusion, as well as promoting a more diverse workplace. In her daily work, Ms. Duval is charged with ensuring that the diverse students of NSU Shepard Broad Law Center have equal  opportunity  and  access  to  legal  internships,  and ultimately, to employment options, designed to enhance the practice of law  i n  Florida  and beyond.  Outside of her full-time work, Ms. Duval’s community service has made a remarkable impact on the diverse landscape within the practice of law here in Florida. She has spent hundreds of hours counseling prospective college and law students of all backgrounds and socio­economic levels about what it means to practice law and the importance of having diverse perspectives as part of our legal processes. Further, as President-Elect and now President of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association (GSCBWLA), Ms. Duval  has dedicated herself to ensuring that issues of importance to diverse women, law students and lawyers are given due consideration as part of the broader conversation revolving around diversity and inclusion.

Michael K. Reese Quality of Life Award
The Michael K. Reese Quality of Life Award is given to a person or entity that advances balance and fulfillment in lawyers’ lives.  The Award recognizes changes in work habits and schedules to provide more flexibility and a more meaningful existence.

The Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Sports Committee is the 2015 Michael K. Reese Quality of Life Award.  The Jacksonville Bar Association has one of the most active sports leagues in the state.  Each year, teams comprised of lawyers, clerks, judges and support staff  compete in basketball, golf, softball, and kickball, among other sports. The JBA/YLS sports leagues provide lawyers and other legal professionals of all ages an opportunity to build friendships and professional relationships outside of the office. More importantly, the sports leagues also provide a healthy outlet to relieve the stresses frequently experienced by young lawyers in a demanding profession.  The JBA/YLS sports committee also helps individuals in the legal profession connect with and participate in other sports leagues throughout the Jacksonville area. These leagues offer opportunities for social interaction with the community that Jacksonville Bar Association members serve on a day-to-day basis and are popular for young lawyers who are new to the area

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors presented their awards at the Board Meeting during Annual Convention. The Kathy Bishop Most Distinguished Board Member Award was presented to Jennifer Kuyrkendall in recognition of years of service to the board, particularly for her work on the Mentoring with the Masters Series. The Most Productive Board Member Award was presented to Valerie Barnhart for her work this year on the Continuing Legal Education Committee and her assistance to numerous other board committees.