Foley is pleased to announce that Edmund T. Baxa, Jr., partner in the Orlando office and chair of the firm’s National Pro Bono Committee, has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Judge J C Jake Stone Distinguished Service Award by the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association. This prestigious annual recognition honors a member of the Florida State Bar who has made outstanding pro bono contributions throughout their career.
Over the last 25 years, Baxa has donated many hours to pro bono. He has served as guardian ad litem for dozens of abused, abandoned and neglected children in dependency proceedings in juvenile court. Baxa was a former recipient of the Legal Aid Society Individual Award of Excellence in recognition of this work, having handled more than 80 juvenile cases, and cumulatively donating over 725 hours of legal services. He has also provided significant counsel and support in his pro bono work for the Sanford-Burnham Research Institute, an organization that provides free legal services to non profit research institutions and universities to assist them in the development of treatments for orphan diseases.
Baxa has influenced his colleagues by actively encouraging participation in pro bono and community service activities as well as leading by example. In Florida alone, Foley attorneys contributed more than 8,500 hours of pro bono service in the firm’s previous fiscal year. The Florida Supreme Court recently recognized this support of pro bono legal services by presenting Foley with the 2011 Chief Justice’s Law Firm Commendation Pro Bono Service Award.
At the start of Baxa’s tenure, Foley embarked on a revitalization of the firm’s commitment to pro bono legal service. At the time, Foley ranked number 119 in The American Lawyer’s list of law firm pro bono practices. Baxa, determined to elevate the firm’s pro bono service, set an aggressive goal of moving Foley’s rating into Top 50 status. In the July 2010 issue of The American Lawyer, the firm had since increased to number 36, indicating that the percentage of Foley attorneys devoting hours to pro bono matters had nearly doubled in three years.
Through Baxa’s leadership and personal contributions, more justice has been achieved for the many pro bono clients the firm has served and continues to serve – people who, without that support, would have been powerless to protect their legal rights.