The Honorable William A. Van Nortwick, Jr.
With great sadness and hearts filled with gratitude for his many contributions, we at Southern Legal Counsel remember the life of our board member William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., who passed away Jan. 12.
Bill was as known for his dedication to ensuring access to justice as he was for his brilliance and gentle humility. As a member of our Board since 2015, his insights and involvement made us a stronger organization, and as a friend, he made us all better people.
Bill’s legal career was always dedicated to public service, whether as a judge for more than 20 years on Florida’s First District Court of Appeal or more recently as partner-in-charge of Akerman’s national pro bono program with its focus on two causes near and dear to us: education and youth development.
Bill first learned of Southern Legal Counsel as a judge on the Florida First District Court of Appeals panel that heard the State's writ of prohibition in Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Schools.
He became a monthly sustaining donor to SLC and in other ways dove into his board service. In SLC’s fundraising production of "8 the Play" at Jacksonville University, Bill played the role of Dr. Ilan Meyer, a leading expert on stigma and discrimination. In that role, Bill testified on the inequality inherent in banning gay marriage.
He was longtime chair of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, a member of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice established by Florida’s Chief Justice, and a former president of the boards of directors for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Florida Legal Services, and The Florida Bar Foundation. He also chaired The Florida Bar Business Law Section.
Bill’s extensive service to the profession and dedication to the underserved were honored by many. As an indication of his impact, he received the American Bar Association’s prestigious Pro Bono Publico Award, The Florida Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor Award, and the inaugural Florida Chief Justice’s Distinguished Judicial Service Award.
These awards were bestowed upon Bill without him ever seeking any recognition. Everything he did was out of a genuine concern for those in need.
Bill is, and always will be, greatly missed.