Pro Bono Leadership a Highlight of Glass Cutter Award Winner Kathleen McLeroy’s Trailblazing Career

4 Min Read By: Shazia Ahmad

Attorney Kathleen McLeroy has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the American Bar Association (ABA) Business Law Section’s Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award. The award is presented to an exceptional woman business lawyer who has made significant contributions to the profession and the Business Law Section, achieved professional excellence in her field, and advanced opportunities for other women in the profession and Business Law Section.

Kathleen paved her own path to becoming an accomplished trial lawyer. She began her career as bank loan officer where she gained business expertise and insight into a banking client’s perspective. Today, as a shareholder at Carlton Fields, P.A., Kathleen represents commercial banks, mortgage holders, property owners, insurers, and real estate developers in disputes. She has extensive experience resolving disputes as a litigator, mediator, and arbitrator. In addition, she works with judgement holders to enforce and collect domestic and international judgements. Her business acumen and legal expertise supply her clients with astute legal advice to meet their business goals and needs. Kathleen earned her MBA at Louisiana State University and JD from Washington and Lee University School of Law.

A woman with blonde hair wearing a black dress speaks at a podium in front of a dark blue curtain.

Kathleen McLeroy, 2022 Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award Recipient.

According to Law360, women constitute only 23% of equity partners at law firms—Kathleen is one such equity partner. Her hard work representing her clients and pro bono clients alike exemplifies how she has overcome hurdles within the legal profession. Her path to becoming an equity partner was no simple feat as she dedicated thousands of billable and nonbillable hours in her profession; she continues be a pillar of representation for women at the equity partner level. Her peers agree that Kathleen is a committed leader.

Kathleen’s devotion to the legal field extends beyond her clients, as she represents individuals on pro bono matters ranging from landlord-tenant disputes to mortgage foreclosure actions. Kathleen spends countless hours improving access to justice for those who cannot afford legal representation. For example, she represented an elderly client faced with excessive fees that were unrelated to the relevant loan instruments. Kathleen spent countless hours reviewing documents and understanding every detail of the case before justice could be served to her pro bono client. She worked tirelessly for thirteen months to reinstate the client’s mortgage, as the client was the head of household for her daughter; her son, who has a disability; and two grandchildren. Kathleen’s advocacy plays a pivotal role in her career within her local community and extends throughout the United States. She champions the rights of her pro bono clients and associations.

When Kathleen was the president of the Bay Area Legal Services (BALS), she increased and diversified the organization’s funding, which led to improved technology and staff. Most notably, she ran a successful campaign to raise $500,000 for the BALS’s endowment. She has also chaired the ABA Business Law Section’s Pro Bono Committee, served on the ABA Commission on Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts, and was a member of the inaugural board of directors for the Florida Justice Technology Center (FJTC). Her leadership in the area of IOLTA resulted in a Florida Supreme Court mandate—since emulated nationwide—requiring that IOLTA monies be used to fund civil legal services and be paid interest rates commensurate with those offered to non-IOLTA depositors.

While her accomplishments are evidenced by Kathleen’s numerous speaking engagements, published articles, and awards received, the arduous labor behind the scenes is not captured through the same lens. Kathleen received the Florida Bar Foundation’s 2016 Medal of Honor Award, which is the Foundation’s highest award. She has also been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine from 2011 to 2022; been noted as one of the Best Lawyers in America, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Commercial Litigation from 2019 to 2022; and received the William Reece Smith Jr. Public Service Award from Stetson University College of Law in 2017, to name only a few of her accolades. She has blazed a trail in her legal career as a litigator, mediator, and arbitrator and is the well-deserving 2022 recipient of the ABA Business Law Section’s Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award.

By: Shazia Ahmad

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