Former Legal Services of North Florida Executive Director Kris Knab is the 2017 recipient of the Tallahassee Bar Association’s Martha Barnett Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. The award was established to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women lawyers from Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit, and honors an outstanding lawyer who has achieved professional excellence and who has been an advocate or mentor for the advancement of other women lawyers.
Tallahassee Bar Association President Sean Desmond and 2016 Barnett Award recipient Judge Nina Ashenafi-Richardson presented the award in April at the Tallahassee Women Lawyers – Tallahassee Bar Association joint membership meeting.
“Martha Barnett has been a leader and role model to many in the legal profession,” said Tallahassee Bar Association President Sean Desmond. “This award is intended to recognize successful women lawyers who have gone above and beyond to improve and enhance the practice of law for other women lawyers.”
Knab served as Legal Services of North Florida executive director for 22 years. She is credited with building Legal Services of North Florida from one small office in Leon County to one of the most respective legal services agencies in the country. The organization now provides legal representation and counsel to 7,000 families annually.
According to Knab’s nominator, “She devoted her life throughout her 38 years with LSNF to the cause of civil legal assistance for the poor. Under her leadership, the five offices of LSNF covering 16 counties provided outstanding legal services to indigent clients in a wide variety of civil cases. Kris was the rock that held the organization together through budget cuts and other challenges throughout her service.
“Kris went to law school in the 70s when women were still relatively new to the profession. By establishing herself as an articulate, capable professional, she inspired numerous women to pursue a law degree and enter public service. She hired and mentored many women who devoted themselves to serving the poor and improving the service delivery system in North Florida.”
Knab has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Public Service and the Jack McLean Champion for Legal Services Award. She is a member of the Tallahassee Bar and Tallahassee Women Lawyers associations, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and the Florida and American bar associations. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University.
Background. Martha Barnett is a past president of the American Bar Association, the first woman chair of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates and Holland & Knight’s first female partner. Ms. Barnett was among the recipients of American Lawyer magazine’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Awards.