by Nancy Kinnally
In recognition of 45 years of providing free legal services to clients ranging from Guantanamo detainees to a St. Petersburg organization that feeds the hungry, Sylvia H. Walbolt will receive the highest honor bestowed upon a lawyer by the legal profession in Florida.
The Florida Bar Foundation will present Walbolt, a shareholder with Carlton Fields in Tampa, with its Medal of Honor Award June 25 at the organization’s 33rd annual reception and dinner, to be held in conjunction with the Florida Bar Annual Convention at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Walbolt’s wide-ranging pro bono work also has included obtaining a settlement for the widow of a migrant worker killed in a trailer fire, helping exonerate the wrongly convicted in death penalty cases, and successfully challenging the inhumane conditions of prisoners in Florida’s “close management,” or solitary confinement system.
Known statewide and nationally for her legal skills and commitment to pro bono, Walbolt was called upon numerous times by Chief Judge Hatchett of the Eleventh Circuit Court as well as the Florida Supreme Court for assistance in pro bono matters. She also has served as chair of the Access to Justice Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the board of the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Walbolt is a former president of The Florida Bar Foundation and recipient of the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, given annually by the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court to the attorney in Florida who has given the most outstanding pro bono service.
The Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor Award Program was established in 1977 to recognize outstanding achievements by members of The Florida Bar in duty and service to the public, improvement of the administration of justice and advancement of the science of jurisprudence in Florida. The award can also be bestowed upon non-lawyers whose accomplishments warrant The Florida Bar Foundation’s highest recognition.