MIAMI, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Deepening its philanthropic and pro bono commitment to its many communities, Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients across the Americas, today announced that Hon. William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., a Florida First District Court of Appeal Judge and a renowned champion for equal justice and pro bono legal services, will join Akerman as partner-in-charge of the firm's national pro bono program and member of the firm's Appellate Practice. Judge Van Nortwick will join the firm's Jacksonville office upon his retirement from the bench in January 2015.
"Judge Van Nortwick's arrival will mark the next chapter in Akerman's important tradition of doing good and giving back," said Andrew Smulian, Akerman Chairman and CEO. "We made an institutional pledge this year to achieve even greater impact in our communities by intensifying our volunteerism and pro bono legal service, with a particular focus on education and youth development programs. Judge Van Nortwick has been at the center of some of the most innovative and influential pro bono programs in the legal industry, and we are immensely proud to have him join our firm."
As partner-in-charge of Akerman's Pro Bono Program, Van Nortwick will help expand the firm's pro bono efforts with an emphasis on achieving impact within education and youth development, areas of philanthropic focus for the firm. This will build upon the firm's recent "Give Back" campaign, launched during Foster Care Awareness Month in May 2014. This year, Akerman became the first law firm to partner nationally with the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association and its local CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) programs. Hundreds of Akerman lawyers and staff across the country collectively pledged thousands of volunteer and pro bono hours in support of CASA's mission to promote volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children in the foster care system.
"Akerman's culture is extremely impressive, with the firm's lawyers and staff centered around core values of loyalty, generosity, and collaborative innovation," said Judge Van Nortwick. "I look forward to joining Akerman and helping expand the firm's pro bono efforts so that those most in need have access to justice from some of the most capable and committed lawyers in the country."
Van Nortwick is the immediate past chair of the Florida Supreme Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services and is a member of the Special Commission on Access to Justice by The Florida Bar, designed to solve the equal justice crisis and create innovative ways to provide the poor and middle class access to legal services. He previously chaired The Florida Bar/Florida Bar Foundation Joint Commission that led to the creation of Florida's current pro bono rules. He is a former president and board member for the Florida Bar Foundation and he also served as a director and two-term president of both Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Florida Legal Services.
Van Nortwick has received significant recognition for his commitment to promote equal access to justice. He is the recipient of the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award and he is the first recipient of the Florida Supreme Court Distinguished Judicial Service Award. Van Nortwick also has been honored with The Florida Bar Pro Bono Award for Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit, the Thurgood Marshall Award for Florida's Second Judicial Circuit, the Robert Beckham Equal Justice Award from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, and twice has received The Florida Bar President's Award of Merit.
A Distinguished Appellate Jurist
Van Nortwick was appointed as judge in 1994 after twenty-four years in private practice involving both appellate and transactional matters. As a First District Court of Appeal Judge, Van Nortwick participated in a number of high-profile cases. He adds important depth to Akerman's national trial team and enhances the firm's strength in complex commercial and administrative appellate matters. Van Nortwick will be the fourth former appellate court judge to join Akerman's nationally recognized Appellate Practice in recent years, which includes Hon. Gerald B. Cope, Jr., former Chief Judge of Florida's Third District Court of Appeal; Hon. James Joanos, former Chief Judge of Florida's First District Court of Appeal; and Hon. Joseph Hatchett, former Florida Supreme Court Justice and former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Van Nortwick has been active in many professional organizations throughout his career, including the Florida Supreme Court Professionalism Commission, the American Bar Association Judicial Division Ethics and Professionalism Committee and the Florida Court Education Council. He currently serves as chair of the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar and past chair of the Florida District Court of Appeal Performance and Accountability Commission. Van Nortwick also teaches the law, serving as an adjunct professor at Florida State University College of Law, teaching Professional Responsibility; a visiting professor at University of Trento Law School in Italy; and the Appellate Associate Dean of the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies. He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his juris doctor with honors from the University of Florida, where he served as executive editor of the Law Review.
About Akerman LLP
Akerman LLP is a leading transactions and trial law firm known for its core strengths in middle market M&A, within the financial services and real estate industries, and for a diverse Latin America practice. With more than 600 lawyers and government affairs professionals and a network of 20 offices, it is ranked among the top 100 law firms in the United States by The National Law Journal NLJ 350 (2014). Akerman also is ranked among the top 50 law firms for diversity in The American Lawyer's Diversity Scorecard (2014).
SOURCE Akerman LLP