NAPLES – Legal Aid Service of Collier County’s Managing Attorney Carol A. O’Callaghan was named Woman Lawyer of the Year by the Collier County Women’s Bar Association (CCWBA) recently.
Legal Aid Service is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to eligible low-income clients on civil legal cases for residents of Collier County. Last year, they served more than 3,600 Collier County residents who were in need of civil legal assistance on cases that affected their health, safety or economic support.
“The award winner is chosen by the CCWBA's Board of Directors after a review of the nominations received from CCWBA members and members of the community. This year we had quite a few excellent nominees,” Kelly L. Davis, president of the CCWBA, recently told Florida Record.
The prestigious award is presented annually by the CCWBA to “a female lawyer who has excelled in her career, overcome traditional stereotypes associated with women, promoted the status of women within the profession, and/or promoted the status of women in the state of Florida.”
Despite such a great pool of candidates, O’Callaghan’s experience and passion rose to the top.
“While it was a very difficult choice with so many deserving women nominated, Carol's quiet commitment to the ideals for which the award is given were so strong and evident that the final decision was actually easy to make,” Davis said.
Davis explained the importance of this award for women attorneys helps uplift all women in the profession, which can be an inspiration for those new and seasoned female attorneys.
“In light of recent news regarding the persistent gender bias in the legal profession, one of the ways in which some commentators have suggested combating the gender bias is for women to do a better job of helping other women,” Davis said. “That is one of the hallmarks of the CCWBA's Woman Lawyer of the Year award and one of the reasons Carol was chosen to receive the 2015-2016 award.”
Davis offered some primary reasons why O’Callaghan shines as an attorney.
“Carol has grown the Legal Aid office from a staff of 12 to 25 in the time she's been the managing attorney of the office,” she said. “She continuously mentors and supports other women in their professional goals, even when that woman is leaving her position at Legal Aid to pursue other goals. Carol does these things without the expectation of recognition.”
O’Callaghan’s humbleness is commendable, Davis said, and she attributes much of her success to others.
"But it is clear that her intelligence, hard work, dedication and passion are the real reasons for all of her success,” she said.
Davis explained that she was the CCWBA's president at all times relevant to the nomination and selection process, and at the time the award was given. Her presidency concluded at the end of June, and Christen Spake is now the new president of the CCWBA.
The CCWBA is not the only organization that supports their decision in honoring O’Callaghan. The Collier County Bar Association (CCBA) is just as happy with her work.
“Carol is one of the most caring and compassionate people I know,” Lisa A. Mead, executive director of CCBA, recently told Florida Record. “She is dedicated to her work at Legal Aid and puts her heart and soul into her work for the under-served population of our community.”