2004: Hon William Van Nortwick
After receiving his bachelor of arts degree from Duke University and his juris doctor degree, with honors, from the University of Florida College of Law, Judge Van Nortwick practiced law with a Jacksonville law firm prior to his appointment to Florida’s First District Court of Appeal in 1994. This court of 15 judges handles approximately 5,500 appeals annually and has jurisdiction over appeals in a 32-county area of North Florida, from Jacksonville to Pensacola to Gainesville, and over the judicial review of most actions taken by state administrative agencies.
Bill has been actively involved in professional and community organizations and is a leader in providing free legal assistance to the poor. He is a member of The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, and Jacksonville Bar Association; and a fellow of the American and Florida Bar Foundations. He has served as president of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc., Florida Legal Services, Inc., and the Florida Bar Foundation all of which are engaged in providing legal aid. Judge Van Nortwick chaired the commission which created Florida’s current pro bono rule, under which in 2003 Florida lawyers provided 1.35 million hours of free civil legal aid to persons who do not have the means to hire a lawyer; and for which The Florida Bar received the American Bar Association’s prestigious Harrison Tweed Award. He also chaired the Bar’s statewide symposium on equal access to justice, which led to the Florida Legislature providing in 2002 the first state funding for civil legal services to the poor. Bill has also served on the board of many community organizations and was the race director of the Jacksonville River run in its early years.
Judge Van Nortwick has twice received the President’s Award of Merit from The Florida Bar for his contributions to equal access to justice and has received the nation-wide Pro Bono Publico Award from the American Bar Association in recognition of his public service work.
Judge Van Nortwick also serves as a teacher of the law. He is an adjunct professor at Florida State University College of Law, teaching a course in Professional Responsibility (Legal Ethics); and is on the faculty of the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies and Stetson Law School’s Appellate Practice Workshop. He lectures frequently in other legal and judicial educational programs; and has published numerous professional articles.
In Bill’s personal time, although his knees have forced him to retire from running marathons, he enjoys underwater photography, hiking, tennis, reading, and travel with his wife, Maria. The Van Nortwicks currently reside in Tallahassee.