Tallahassee, Florida – The Florida Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization & Education (BLSE) recognized the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program Thursday for promoting Board Certification in Juvenile Law among attorneys who represent abused and neglected children and their families within the state dependency system.
To encourage its own and other attorneys to pursue the lengthy, demanding certification process, the GAL Program has used incentives since last year, when The Bar first established the category of Board Certification in Juvenile Law. At that time, the GAL Foundation agreed to pay the $250 application exam fee for two attorneys each from the GAL Program, the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel, which represents parents in dependency court.
Additionally, the GAL Program began giving its attorneys time off to prepare their applications for certification, as well as a salary increase once they achieved it.
“We also offer pro bono opportunities, because they help other attorneys get certified,” GAL Executive Director Alan Abramowitz said.
“We value the hard work, professionalism and dedication to excellence that are necessary to attain board certification,” attorney Steve Rubin of Boca Raton, who chairs the BSLE, wrote to Abramowitz in notifying him of the award. “It is an honor to be further singled out as a leader among those Florida Bar members who are known as experts and specialists.”
State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples and herself board certified in real estate law, agreed. “Expanding the number of attorneys certified in juvenile law will help the vulnerable children we are charged with protecting,” she said.
In 2017, 95 Florida attorneys achieved their certification in Juvenile Law; ten percent of them work for the Guardian ad Litem Program.
“We have amazing attorneys fighting for kids, and we encourage them and all attorneys in juvenile court to strive for excellence,” Abramowitz said. “Certification is the path that gets us there.”
The Board of Legal Specialization & Education will honor the GAL Program with the 2018 Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention on June 14 in Orlando.