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Florida Bar Honors CLSMF Volunteer Attorney

L to R: Martha Pardo, Iris Castro, Lena Hopkins, Choung Mi Lim Akehurst, Margaret Harrell, Kimberly Sanchez

Each year, the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar give special recognition to lawyers, groups and a member of the judiciary who have freely given their time and expertise in making legal services available to the poor.

This year’s ceremony was held at on Thursday, February 7, 2019. A total of 22 lawyers from across the state will be honored during a ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court.

Established in 1981, the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards are intended to encourage lawyers to volunteer to provide free legal services to the poor. These awards recognize those who make public service commitments and to raise public awareness of the substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers to those who cannot afford legal fees.

The awards recognize pro bono service in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits, as well as service by one Florida Bar member practicing outside the state of Florida. They are presented annually in conjunction with the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, which is given by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court. Awards recognizing pro bono contributions were also presented in the categories of Distinguished Judicial Service, Distinguished Federal Judicial Service, Law Firm Commendation, Voluntary Bar Association and Young Lawyers Division.

In the most recent 12 months reported, Florida lawyers provided more than 1.58 million hours of pro bono services to those in need and more than $5.8 million to legal aid organizations.

CLSMF nominee, Choung Mi Lim Akehurst received the award in the Fifth Judicial Circuit (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties). Choung Mi has been a trial court judicial staff attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit since 2010. She was born in South Korea, grew up in New York and attended college there, then earned her J.D. at the Stetson University College of Law. She also has a master’s in law degree from the University of Turin, in Italy, and worked as a contractor for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria.

Choung Mi began volunteering with CLSMF in 2007, conducting pro se dissolution of marriage workshops in Lake County while she was a senior attorney with the state Department of Children and Families. She still conducts workshops, today working out of the Citrus County Courthouse. She was instrumental in helping develop protocols used to expand legal aid clinics and workshops using technology. Choung Mi has conducted more than 100 workshops which are now being broadcast to CLSMF offices in Palatka, Kissimmee and Orlando.