Goldstein – Van Nortwick Award for Excellence

This competitive award recognizes a project of significant impact work undertaken by a FFLA grantee. To be eligible, the project must affect a substantial number of poor persons, address an important poverty-law issue, involve a significant commitment of grantee program resources and staff, and reflect legal work which is of a high professional level.


Florida Justice Institute accepts the 2018 Goldstein Award.

The Steven M. Goldstein Award for Excellence was established by The Florida Bar Foundation (now FFLA) board of directors in 1995 to honor the memory of Steven M. Goldstein. Goldstein, a former legal services attorney and professor of law at Florida State University College of Law, was a tireless advocate of the legal rights of the poor and disadvantaged and was respected nationally for his dedication to upholding the constitutional rights of those with unpopular causes. At the time of his death in 1994, at the age of 49, Goldstein was chair of the legal assistance for the poor grant committee and about to become secretary-treasurer of the Foundation. For many years, he served as the touchstone by which we measured the significance of our mission and its progress.

In 2019, the award was renamed the Goldstein – Van Nortwick Award for Excellence. Goldstein was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1995. Twenty years later, in 2015, the Medal of Honor was awarded to former Foundation president William A. Van Nortwick for his decades of leadership involving pro bono and legal services. Bill and Steve knew each other for years, meeting first as Foundation board members in 1990. They became fast friends and even running and fishing buddies. They made board meetings interesting, often taking opposite sides on important legal aid issues. Yet, they had the utmost respect for each other.

On January 12, 2019, Bill passed away. Bill and Steve both were wholly committed to improving Florida’s justice system and did so with grace and passion. The newly-named award honors the life, legacy and friendship of two champions whose commitment to those less fortunate while remaining true to the highest principles of our judicial system helped create the touchstone by which we measure excellence.

Goldstein – Van Nortwick Award Recipients

2022Community Law Program and Bay Area Legal ServicesThe Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program combined mediation, legal assistance, rental assistance navigation, and housing navigation services in a holistic setting to help tenants financially impacted by COVID-19 avoid homelessness.
2022First Runner-up: Florida Health Justice ProjectThe Enforcing Medicaid Rights of Former Foster Youth Project worked to reform, statewide, the Department of Children and Families’ flawed eligibility determination process for young adults who, because they have aged out of foster care, remain eligible for Medicaid until their 26th birthday.
2022Second Runner-up: Americans for Immigrant JusticeAIJ’s COVID in Immigration Detention litigation was an effort to obtain the release from ICE custody of immigrants, with the initial focus on persons with comorbidities for whom detention conditions threatened their lives on a daily basis, holding ICE accountable to its obligations under the CDC guidelines.
2020Florida Legal ServicesChallenging the systemic inadequacy of mental health treatment for thousands incarcerated in the Florida Department of Corrections’ inpatient prison units
2020First Runner-Up: Florida Health Justice Project, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and special counsel Disability Rights FloridaUsing a medical-legal partnership and a multi-prong advocacy approach to attain relief for thousands by reforming Florida’s flawed Medicaid “ex parte review” process
2020Second Runner-Up: Florida Justice InstituteRequiring the state to identify, test, evaluate and treat the estimated 20,000 Florida prisoners with Hepatitis C, likely preventing hundreds of deaths from liver failure, alleviating the suffering of hundreds more and ensuring that the disease cannot be spread further throughout the state when prisoners are released
2018Florida Justice InstituteRequiring Florida's prisons to be accessible for prisoners with physical disabilities
2018First Runner-Up: Jacksonville Area Legal AidStrengthening senior home ownership against wrongful reverse mortgage foreclosure practices
2018Second Runner-Up: Florida Legal Services, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Legal Services of Greater Miami joint projectNutrition security for Floridians with disabilities
2016Florida Legal ServicesMedicaid Waiver HMOs for the Chronically Ill
2016First Runner-Up: Florida State University Public Interest Law CenterProtecting Chronic and Seriously Ill Children from Losing Health Services
2016Second Runner-Up: Southern Legal CounselAccess to Courts for Indigent Litigants in the Sixth Judicial Circuit
2014Southern Legal CounselRemedying due process violations by Florida's developmental disabilities Medicaid waiver program
2014First Runner-Up: Florida Legal Services Florida Institutional Legal Services ProjectEstablishment of due process rights for people with developmental disabilities
2014Second Runner-Up: Legal Services of Greater Miami IncThe Consortium Project
2012Florida Legal ServicesChallenge to Governor Rick Scott's Suspension of Florida's Administrative Procedures Act
2012First Runner-Up: Southern Legal Counsel Inc.Statewide Litigation to Establish a Program to Transition Medicaid Recipients in Nursing Homes into the Community
2012Second Runner-Up (tie): Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida Inc.Challenge to Sanford Housing Authority's Proposed Demolition of Affordable Public Housing
2012Second Runner-Up (tie): Florida Justice Institute Inc. and Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc.Challenge to Public Housing Authority's Illegal Denial of Section 8 Housing Assistance
2010Florida Equal Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, and Florida Legal ServicesA Challenge to the City of Lake Worth's Use of Selective Code Enforcement
2010Runner Up: Florida Legal Services Migrant Farmworker Justice ProjectChallenging Minimum Wage and Employment Law Violations
2010Runner Up: Gulfcoast Legal ServicesObtaining Justice for Homeowners Victimized by Foreclosure Rescue Scams
2008Florida Institutional Legal Services and Florida Justice InstituteVulnerable State Prison Inmates Project
2008Runner Up: Legal Aid Service of Broward CountyCode Enforcement Advocacy
2008Runners Up: Florida Institutional Legal Services and Southern Legal CounselRight to Treatment Issues of Florida's Civil Confinement of Sex Offenders
2006Florida Legal Services, Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, and the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar AssociationPrescription Drug Access Project
2006Runner Up: Legal Services of North FloridaAccess to School Entrance in Leon County for Homeless Children and Youth Project
2006Runner Up: Legal Services of Greater MiamiCuban-Haitian Entrant Project
2003Florida Justice Institute, Inc. and Florida Institutional Legal Services, Inc.Close Management Project
2003Runner Up: Central Florida Legal Services, Inc.Daytona Beach Housing Authority Project
2003Runners Up: University of Miami School of Law, Children and Youth Law Clinic and Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach CountyOlder Foster Youth Advocacy Project
2001Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Florida Justice Institute and Florida Legal ServicesNaturalization Collaborative Project
2001Runner Up: Florida Institutional Legal ServicesGood Time Credit Project
2001Runner Up: University of Miami School of Law and Children and Youth Law ClinicFoster Children's Mental Health Rights Project
2001Runner Up: Florida Legal ServicesTitle Loan Project
1999Florida Legal ServicesMigrant Farmworker Justice Project
1999Runners Up: Legal Services of Greater Miami and Dade County Bar AssociationSociety Villa Fair Mobile Home Park and Fowler's Mobile Home Park Project