A Miami-Dade lawyer, a Broward lawyer and a federal court bankruptcy judge based in Broward will be celebrated for their pro bono work at a Jan. 19 ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.
Miami-Dade’s Brett Barfield (Touro College) and Broward’s Richard Hussey (University of San Diego Law School, 1981) are among the 21 recipients — one for each Bar district, plus an out-of-state attorney — of The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards.
Chief Judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of Florida Laurel Isicoff (University of Miami School of Law, 1982) will receive the Chief Justice’s Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award.
Barfield’s expertise for Holland & Knight, business litigation on domestic and international commercial disputes, would seem to prepare him well for his ace pro bono subject: litigation under The Hague Convention on international parental child abduction.
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The Bar says last year, “Barfield spent more than 380 hours on pro bono work, most of it on three cases in which children were secretly removed from a parent’s legal custody.”
Hussey, a sole practitioner in Fort Lauderdale, does most of his pro bono work in an area many lawyers find too dangerous and psychologically damaging to do for any fee — marriage disintegration, child custody and visitation cases.
“In many of those cases, Hussey represents survivors of domestic violence, helping them to resolve their family law and housing issues,” the bar notes.
Isicoff’s honor graces a judge, either still on the bench or retired, “for outstanding and sustained service to the public, especially as it relates to the support of pro bono legal services,” according to the Florida Bar.
Among the ways Isicoff encourages pro bono work among lawyers appearing in her court is to put those doing such work atop the the motion calendar hearings, letting them take care of their business first. She prominently praises pro bono work in a monthly notice appearing near her courtroom’s entrance.
Isicoff used to teach a clinical St. Thomas University law school course in which students, under the guidance of attorneys, give pro bono help to people in bankruptcy cases. Four South Florida law schools now have such programs and Isicoff mentors students in them.
Last year, she organized a Pro Bono Bankruptcy Summit for the district.