11th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Bertila Soto to Receive Distinguished Judicial Service Pro Bono Award
Judge Bertila Soto, of the 11th Judicial Circuit serving Miami-Dade County, is the recipient of the 2024 Distinguished Judicial Service Award. The award, which honors outstanding and sustained service to the public especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services, will be presented by Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz in a January 18 ceremony streamed live by the Supreme Court of Florida.
Judge Soto has been at the helm of many of Miami-Dade County’s most effective initiatives aimed at promoting greater access to justice for vulnerable residents.
Throughout her 25 years of service on the bench, she has championed numerous initiatives to advance pro bono opportunities for Miami’s attorneys, law firms and law students. From 2013 to 2020 she served as chief judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit. In that time, she helped recruit more than 3,000 new attorneys to handle pro bono cases for indigent clients of the Dade Legal Aid Put Something Back pro bono project.
In addition to promoting pro bono service directly, Judge Soto has long been a champion of initiatives aimed at enhancing public access to the courts and ensuring that every member of the 11th Circuit is served fairly and compassionately by the justice system. Examples include the establishment of a Unified Children’s Court, and the merging of former juvenile divisions to improve the court’s ability to fairly and efficiently decide these often complex and interrelated cases.
Judge Soto also supported the creation of G.R.A.C.E. Court in the Unified Children’s Court Division, a court devoted to the treatment and rehabilitation of minor victims of human trafficking – the first of its kind in the nation.
Note: Support of pro bono legal services by members of the bench is an activity that relates to improvement of the administration of justice. Accordingly, a judge may engage in activities intended to encourage attorneys to perform pro bono services, including, but not limited to participating in events to recognize attorneys who do pro bono work, establishing general procedural or scheduling accommodations for pro bono attorneys as feasible, and acting in an advisory capacity to pro bono programs.
This year’s ceremony, which also honors Individual, Circuit, Voluntary Bar, Law Firm, Young Lawyers Division and Distinguished Federal Judicial Service pro bono efforts, takes place at the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, January 18, at 3:30 p.m. Watch it live on Facebook, WFSU: Gavel to Gavel and the Florida Channel.