MAITLAND, Fla. – Miami civil rights attorney Randall C. Berg Jr. has been selected to receive The Florida Bar Foundation’s Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award.
The award is named for the Foundation’s first executive director in recognition of her contributions to the Foundation, the national IOLTA movement and access to justice. The award recognizes individuals who, over their careers, have achieved meaningful, effective and lasting increases in access to civil justice for the poor in Florida.
Berg founded and has served since 1978 as executive director of the Florida Justice Institute (FJI), a nonprofit, public interest law firm that conducts civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of prisoners’ rights, housing discrimination, disability discrimination, and other areas that impact the lives of Florida’s poor and disenfranchised. Based in Miami, FJI handles major, systemic civil rights litigation throughout Florida.
“Randy is an individual of vision, grit, and imaginative problem-solving talents, which he has dedicated exclusively to ensuring access to justice for the poor, the marginalized, the illegally discriminated against and the disaffected,” U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz wrote.
Berg established and directed the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He previously established and directed the Public Interest Law Bank (now known as “Put Something Back”) for the Dade County Bar Association. He was a consultant to the American Bar Association and the Legal Services Corporation for establishing other pro bono programs nationwide and worked for years to develop the nation’s first Interest on Trust Account (IOTA) program in Florida. Berg assisted nationwide in establishing IOTA programs, known in other states as IOLTA programs, and defending the constitutionality of the funding mechanism as executive director and founder of the National IOLTA Clearinghouse and later as Legal Counsel for the National Association of IOLTA Programs. IOLTA has since been responsible for generating more than $4 billion nationwide, primarily to fund legal services for the poor.
Berg is past chairman of the Corrections Committee of The Florida Bar, past President and Legal Panel Chair of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, and is an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law.
In his early career, Berg served as a naval officer. He decided to become a public interest lawyer in his sophomore year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because civil rights attorneys were “making a difference.”
The Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award, which is sponsored by Holland & Knight, will be presented at The Boca Raton Resort & Club June 22 during The Florida Bar Foundation’s Forty-First Annual Reception and Dinner.