Local Holland & Knight partner George A. “Buddy” Schulz won this year’s prestigious Justice Raymond Ehrlich Award. Florida Coastal School of Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA) presented the award to Schulz during a February event at the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville.
The SBA selects a recipient who “embodies professionalism and humanitarianism and integrity in the Jacksonville community.” The award is given in the name of Ehrlich, a retired state Court Chief Justice, serviceman and well known civil trial lawyer who died in 2005. On the Supreme Court, Ehrlich was “known for his clear and definitive decisions,” according to his obituary.
Past winners of the prestigious award include U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Tjoflat, Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince and local attorney Wayne Hogan. The award is in its fifth year.
Schulz, a board-certified trial lawyer who served as a naval officer in Vietnam and earned his law degree from the University of Florida, was active in the formation of Florida Coastal School of Law’s shadow initiative. He is past chairman of Holland & Knight’s litigation department and chairs the firm’s public and charitable service departments. In this
capacity, Schulz coordinates the firm’s pro bono and community service work. He has been a member of the Florida Bar’s Civil Rules and Evidence Code committees and as chairman of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. He has been practicing law since 1973 and serves as a volunteer to the Guardian Ad Litem Program and as a trustee emeritus of the University of Florida College of Law.
Schulz said it was difficult to express what he was feeling at the time he received the award. Schulz worked next door to Ehrlich at Holland & Knight for 10 years following Ehrlich’s retirement from the Florida Supreme Court. He said he learned from Ehrlich daily.
“Most of all he was a man of honor and humility, and for those who knew him well, a man of immense humor — he always seemed to have a quip or a funny story for the occasion,” Schulz recalled. “We would often ask him a serious legal question or for his conscientious advice, and he would remind us that he was forced by law to leave the court at the mandatory retirement age of 70 — so we shouldn’t expect much from a man who had been determined to be ‘constitutionally senile.’”
Schulz regularly received significant counsel from Ehrlich during their time together at Holland & Knight.
“The day I remember most was the one when I came to him for advice on a personal ethical issue,” Schulz said. “He gave me sound advice and as I was leaving he said, ‘Always remember that your reputation is who people think you are — your character is who you are.’”
Schulz is proud Florida Coastal holds Ehrlich out as an example of influence and is pleased to be recognized in his name.
“By highlighting Ray Ehrlich, the gentleman and the gentle lawyer, and recounting his incomparable achievements, Florida Coastal School of Law plays an important role in encouraging and ensuring that future generations of lawyers will follow his example as civil and courteous practitioners of the profession of law,” he said.