Miami attorney John W. Kozyak, a founding partner of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton in Miami, is the recipient of the 2015 Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award, the highest statewide pro bono award. The award was presented during a Jan. 29 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida in Tallahassee. The award commemorates the late Miami lawyer Tobias Simon, who was well known as a tireless civil rights attorney, a crusader for prison reform and an appellate authority.
The award is intended to encourage and recognize extraordinary contributions by Florida lawyers in making legal services available to people who otherwise could not afford them, and to focus public awareness on the substantial voluntary services rendered by Florida lawyers.
Kozyak is co-chair of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton’s bankruptcy practice. A 1975 graduate of Washington University School of Law, Kozyak is consistently rated as one of Florida’s top bankruptcy attorneys. Best Lawyers in America has named him as one of its “Bet-the-Company” litigators in Florida for the past six years.
As the recipient of the 2015 Tobias Simon Award, Kozyak honors the legacy of Simon.
Alan T. Dimond, president of The Florida Bar from 1992 to 1993, said of Kozyak: “He has stood for every cause and been on the right side of every issue for years and years, giving back to this community far more than the community could ever give him.”
Kozyak’s signature contribution to his community and his profession is the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation (www.kmmfoundation.org) and the associated annual Minority Mentoring Picnic.
The picnic, which celebrated its 11th year in November 2014, has grown into an event that welcomes thousands of people to Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah. They include minority law students from all over the state, and even some from out-of-state, as well as lawyers and judges. It’s a place where the students can find mentors, network with Florida’s legal community and enjoy great music and food.
Mentors help students with everything from course selection to finding out what an attorney’s daily meetings are like. The relationships can last well beyond a student’s time in law school. A young woman whom Kozyak mentored has gone on to a successful career, but Kozyak still considers her to be a member of his family and her children to be like grandchildren.
The Tobias Simon award was created in 1982 and is believed to be the first of its kind in the country conferring recognition by a state’s highest court on a private lawyer for voluntary, free legal services to the poor. A permanent plaque listing the names of all award recipients hangs in the lawyers’ lounge of the Supreme Court in Tallahassee.