The voluntary bar association pro bono service award: presented by the Chief Justice.


The purpose of the Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award is to recognize, when appropriate, a voluntary bar which has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis.

Central Florida Bankruptcy Law Association

The Central Florida Bankruptcy Law Association is the recipient of the 2014 Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award. The award recognizes a Florida voluntary bar that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis.

The Central Florida Bankruptcy Law Association is a nonprofit organization that supports the collegial and professional practice of bankruptcy law in the Orlando Division of the Middle District of Florida. This is done through continuing education and service to the bench, bar, and community. CFBLA serves all bankruptcy practitioners in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, and Brevard counties.

The Bankruptcy Pro Se Assistance Clinic is a project of the association. Opening in July 2012, the clinic is the result of a partnership with the Orange County Bar Association Bankruptcy Committee. The clinic is located at the George C. Young Federal Courthouse in Orlando and is staffed by experienced bankruptcy attorney volunteers who offer free, on-site information and guidance to debtors and creditors who are representing themselves in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Lawyers meet one-on-one to help pro se litigants understand the bankruptcy process. They assist in preparing court documents and offer limited case specific advice. The CFBLA's website ( also offers many forms and publications that may be needed in a bankruptcy case.

Since its opening, 93 attorney members of the CFBLA have volunteered their time to staff the clinic. They have consulted with nearly 400 pro se individuals and volunteered more than 500 hours. The Bankruptcy Pro Se Assistance Clinic receives an average of 30 requests for assistance each week. More than 2,100 requests have been received since July 2012. CFBLA solicits volunteer attorneys on its website. They are asked to counsel pro se debtors and creditors during the clinic's hours of operation. The minimum time commitment is one hour, but at least a two-hour commitment is encouraged. Each counseling session is 30 minutes. If a person needing help is unable to travel to the clinic to meet in person with an attorney, volunteer members of the CFBLA will offer assistance through email or telephone calls. Generally, the clinic is first-come, first-served, with priority given to those persons who have requested an appointment in advance or to those on a deadline.


The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award was established in 1981. Its purpose is twofold: "to further encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor by recognizing those who make such public service commitments, and to communicate to the public some sense of the substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers to those who cannot afford legal fees." This award recognizes individual lawyer service in each of Florida's specific judicial circuits. It is presented annually in conjunction with the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award given by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.


Virginia Marie Buchanan

First Judicial Circuit Ft. Walton Beach

Virginia Marie Buchanan is a partner with Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P. A., in Pensacola, where she heads the Medical Negligence Department. Throughout her legal career, she has also served as pro bono counsel for the benefit of children, the elderly, military, and civilian families. In one case, she dedicated more than 80 hours to argue against the non-compete clause of a pediatrician's contract. As a result, the pediatrician was able to remain in the area based on public necessity and has been recognized by the American Medical Association as an outstanding physician for his contributions to the uninsured and immigrant laborers.

In another case, she worked to obtain substantially higher benefits for a service member who was severely injured when his car was struck while stopped at a traffic light. Her nomination letter noted: "It is rare to have a week pass without Ms. Buchanan providing pro bono services, whether it is taking on a legal matter from start to finish or simply making a call to someone to get pertinent details to explain a legal situation to someone who cannot understand something that has happened, or writing a letter to make sure that a landlord-tenant or consumer contract is followed."

Sonia Crockett

Second Judicial Circuit Tallahassee

Sonia Crockett has long been a champion for children and low-income clients in North Florida. In the past three years, she has gone beyond answering calls on the Legal Services of North Florida Legal Advice Hotline and has accepted cases on behalf of LSNF. The first case involved a grandmother who had been caring for her 18-month-old grandson since his birth. The mother, who was incarcerated when the child was born, had a history of drug abuse and had agreed she would let her mother adopt the child. After leaving prison, however, she disappeared, raising the need to file a private termination of parental rights petition, which, in addition to the adoption proceedings, required 102 hours of legal work. In the past three years, Crockett also has represented eight children in four dependency cases for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. She also has served as the Guardian ad Litem Program representative on the Leon County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team.

A. Leigh Cangelosi

Third Judicial Circuit Branford

A. Leigh Cangelosi is a solo practitioner in Branford. Her principal areas of practice include family law and guardian advocacy. She was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2000 but dedicated the first dozen years of her career to caring for her family. In January 2013, she...

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