December 21, 2014

Trendsetters: Pro-Bono Work

Keeping the faith: These attorneys are making a difference one hour at a time.

Mike Vogel | 10/1/2009
 Shari Thieman Greene

Bordelon Greene & Lynchard / Partner
Navarre and Gulf Breeze

Five years as a banker before law school: “My parents suggested people do better if they take some time off first.

I thought it was great advice.”
Roots: “I’m kind of a small-town girl at heart.”

Law school: 1998, University of Nebraska

Diversions: The beach, bicycling,
reading legal thrillers

[Photo: Ray Stanyard]

Every year, real estate and construction attorney Shari Thieman Greene gathers 20 lawyer and paralegal volunteers to staff a pro bono clinic at the church she attends in Navarre. Greene herself donates 50 to 100 hours a year giving legal advice on everything from domestic violence to refused wage cases. This year, she was one of 21 recipients of the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award.

One of six kids in a blended family, the Albuquerque native grew up in Iowa after her parents took jobs as psychology professors at Iowa State. She came to Florida six years ago after falling for a military man, James “Jamie” Greene, who was transferred to Florida. A partner at Bordelon Greene & Lynchard, Greene, 41, is teaching a class at the University of West Florida in contracts and business entities and is active at her church, St. Sylvester.

Faith underlies her pro bono work. “I think a lot of it comes from being a Catholic Christian, and we are called to serve one another. We’re stewards. Everything we have is a gift from God.”

 Rhoda Bess Goodson
Cobb Cole Partner Daytona Beach

Making a Better Place

Rhoda Bess Goodson, a teacher and insurance adjuster before she attended Florida State University law school, did pro bono from the start of her career. Primarily a domestic relations lawyer, she chairs a Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida campaign that’s raised $300,000 toward a goal of $1 million. Goodson is a Rotary Club president and is “like the philanthropy engine in this community,” says Community Legal Services spokesman Larry Glinzman. Says Goodson, 59: “I’ve been very blessed to have a comfortable life and a successful career. It’s important you give back to the community and make it a better place.”


 Randy McGrorty
Catholic Charities
Legal Services
Executive Director
Miami
Business As Usual

Federal law prevents federally subsidized legal services from representing most illegal and undocumented aliens on immigration issues, so that work falls to organizations such as Catholic Legal Services, founded by attorney Randy McGrorty 16 years ago at a Little Haiti church. The 32-person, eight-lawyer immigration group has helped nationals from more than 100 countries.

McGrorty says 2010 will be tough as foundations with shrunken portfolios cut giving, but topmost on his mind is disappointment. “We had fully anticipated the Obama administration would reverse the Bush administration policy toward Haiti. Absolutely 100% no change. In some ways, they’ve gotten worse. It’s very baffling to all of us,” says McGrorty, 46, who had hoped for a deportations halt, temporary work authorizations and releases from detention.

Tags: Politics & Law, Trendsetters, Government/Politics & Law

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