TALLAHASSEE — St. Johns County attorney Jay S. Grife has been
recognized as this year’s winner of the Florida Bar President’s
Pro Bono Service Award for the 7th Judicial Circuit.
According to the nomination letter from Legal Aid, as stated
in the St. Augustine Record, Grife is reported to have volunteered
more than 495 hours to pro bono cases since 2014.
“That’s in addition to the 480 hours he has spent doing client
intake interviews for the St. Johns County Legal Aid Consumer Pro
Bono Program, often working into the evening,” The Florida Bar
As The St. Augustine Record stated,
if Grife typically charges at $300 per hour, for an attorney with 20
years of experience, he has given more than $290,000 in legal
Grife, 67, who runs a medical-malpractice and health-law office
out of St. Johns, said he never got into the work for the type of
recognition that he recently received, according to the report by the
St. Augustine Record.
Before his career as an attorney, Grife had a career as a
physician and podiatric surgeon, but retired after his health
wouldn’t allow him to continue, according to The Florida Bar. In
1995, he earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin
College of Law, more than 20 years after he had earned his Doctor of
Grife's pro bono work focuses on a different area than his law
practice. Instead, he works on consumer finance and banking matters
that affect low-income residents in St. Johns County.
Megan Wall, managing attorney at the St. Johns County Legal Aid
Office, told the St. Augustine Record that the work that Grife does
involves the disadvantage who get caught up with “unscrupulous
creditors or collectors.”
According to her, it’s important work and says that many law
offices wouldn’t touch the small debt disputes because they too
time-consuming, not winnable or don’t produce a profit; however,
she said that Grife doesn’t care and will take the cases that are
winnable and win them.
One such case involved a 94-year-old woman was puzzled as to why
her home was in foreclosure. The Florida Bar news
release said that Grife found that one of the woman's relatives
had fraudulently obtained a reverse mortgage on the house and that
the bank, which claimed the woman no longer lived there, was getting
foreclosure papers delivered to her address. Grife was able to save
The Pro Bono Service Awards were established in 1981 with the
intention to encourage lawyers to provide volunteer legal services to
the poor by recognizing those who make public-service commitments,
according to The
Florida Bar. It is also designed to raise public awareness of the
substantial volunteer services provided by Florida lawyers to those
who can’t afford the legal fees involved.
In a recent 12-month period, Florida lawyers provided around 1.7
million hours of pro bono services to those in need as well as nearly
$5.4 million to legal-aid organizations.