April 12, 2024
Serving those who serve: Florida attorneys' pro bono law project aids active duty military

Economic Backbone: Law

Serving those who serve: Florida attorneys' pro bono law project aids active duty military

Vanessa Caceres | 7/19/2023

Commercial litigation attorney Josh Roberts of Holland & Knight in Jacksonville recalls one of his first pro bono cases around 2008, when he helped an active-duty member of the Navy regain custody of his six-year-old son. The client had divorced his wife, who suffered from an addiction. He would pick up his son, only to find the ex-wife passed out on the sofa and his son neglected.

The sailor reached out a few years later to thank Roberts for changing his life for the better — and Roberts has remained a committed member of the Holland & Knight team that outside of their regular duties provides free legal assistance to active-duty military members and vets.

Working with initiatives such as the American Bar Association’s Military Pro Bono Project and the Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (GI Law), attorneys with the Florida law firm have logged 36,900 hours of pro bono services for active-duty military personnel and veterans valued at more than $24 million since 2016.

In a military-heavy city like Jacksonville, it seems there’s never a shortage of need for legal help.

Jake Bohn, also a commercial litigator with the firm, attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was in the Army for seven years as a field artillery officer before going to law school at the University of Georgia. He also did a tour in Afghanistan.

One of the things that drew him to join Holland & Knight in 2021 was the firm’s military pro bono work — which he finds rewarding and says adds a sense of humanity to the job.

A recent case both he and Roberts worked on was for a sailor who had paid thousands of dollars to an auto shop to make repairs to his car, only to have the car sit there unrepaired for a year – including when he was deployed. The firm got a judgment to collect the money he’d paid to the repair shop.

“When you focus on serving the country, often in dangerous situations in foreign lands and with limited access to communications, it can make an average issue snowball,” Roberts says.

Tags: Government/Politics & Law, Feature, Economic Backbone: Law

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