Today’s guest blogger, Kathy Para, is President of the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association, Member of the Equal Justice Conference Host Committee and a Jacksonville Resident.
The ABA and the NLADA invite us to take a deep breath of fresh air in beautiful Jacksonville, Florida. We all know too well the plight of the poor and the challenges they face daily. We are on the front line doing our best to improve legal services by being more efficient, recruiting more volunteers, and utilizing current tools more efficiently. At the same time, we’re all being asked to do more with less. In these times the Equal Justice Conference (EJC) is a breath of fresh air. The ABA and the NLADA have put together a line up of dozens of workshops and networking opportunities to educate and rejuvenate us and I am privileged to be one of many who are excited about welcoming you to Jacksonville, Florida for this great event!
During the conference, your local EJC Host Committee invites you to visit the Host Committee’s and Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association’s “Welcome!” table in the vendor fair. Here you will be able to pick up information about our statewide “One” Campaign to encourage pro bono service and “One” Campaign treats (limited supply so come early). Your local EJC Host Committee, along with The Jacksonville Bar Association, invite you to the annual “Paws and Laws” party at the Jaguars stadium, Everbank Field, West Club. From 5:30 – 11:00. The event will include a reception and wine tasting, presentation by the NFL Jaguars, dinner, open bar, casino night, and live music. Shuttles will transport you to and from the Hyatt.
Now, as a Jacksonville resident, I’m especially pleased to welcome you to our fair city! If you have not already, visit the Equal Justice Conference website, and on the left panel click on “Things to See and Do in Jacksonville”. If your visit is going to be very short and you do not expect to get away from downtown, be sure to take a few minutes to walk out onto the Northbank Riverwalk just outside the Hyatt. You will have a beautiful view of the river and will immediately get an idea of how important the river is to us. The Northbank Riverwalk is walker/runner friendly and connects our artsy Riverside neighborhood with Metropolitan Park (a large urban park next to our sports complex and public television station). At the Hyatt, you will also be very close to the center of downtown, Hemming Plaza, where our fantastic Museum of Contemporary Art and our Main Library are located.
If you are staying after the conference, and have some time before you depart, here are some easy suggestions: Walk the Riverwalk going west and you will end up at the Riverside Arts Market. It is held every Saturday and is located under the Fuller Warren Bridge. You will enjoy great food vendors, live entertainment, and a chance to browse local art. Take a water taxi (ask the Concierge to point you in the right direction for water taxi pick-up) across to the Southbank Riverwalk and go to the Museum of Science and History and River City Brewing Company for lunch or dinner. Then, there are always our beautiful beaches (about a 30-minute drive from downtown), the Jacksonville Zoo, and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. We expect temperatures to be in the mid 80’s and on the river and at the beach there is always a breeze. The ABA, NLADA, your Host Committee, the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association, and The Jacksonville Bar Association are happy to offer the Equal Justice Conference and to give us all a chance to take a deep breath of fresh air.