Holland & Knight Partner Named Among Most Influential Floridians

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 01:00

Holland & Knight partner Martha Barnett was recently named one of the 174 "Most Influential Floridians" by Florida Trend magazine. Ms. Barnett was the first female lawyer and partner at Holland & Knight and currently chairs the firm's Directors Committee.

Ms. Barnett has been an officer in the American Bar Association (ABA) for more than a decade, culminating in a term as president in 2000-2001. The magazine focuses on her work with the ABA, including her participation in the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, during which she helped influence the conference's platform on women's rights.

In compiling their list, Florida Trend consulted hundreds of people throughout the state, from heads of major companies to executive assistants to public relations professionals and government officials. Their main objective was to identify people "whose influence seemed to transcend the boundaries of their jobs."

Ms. Barnett has served the firm in many leadership roles, including executive partner of the Tallahassee office, chair of the Public Law Department and as a member of the Director's Committee. She has served the State of Florida in numerous gubernatorial appointments including the Chair of the Florida Commission on Ethics. She was a member of the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and the 1998 Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Her practice focuses on public policy law, with special expertise in state and local taxation and governmental/ administrative law.

Attorneys for Holland & Knight LLP have negotiated an agreement with the California Department of Health Services that will enable 53 Californians with profound speech disabilities to be able to speak. The agreement will allow these individuals, who all are recipients of California Medicaid, or Medi-Cal, to receive specialized "speech generating devices," or SGDs, that will give them this ability.

This agreement resolves a lawsuit between Medi-Cal and these individuals over the amount Medi-Cal is willing to pay for these devices.

"Individuals who need speech-generating devices are the most vulnerable members of our community," commented Zachary Potter, a Chesterfield Smith Fellow within Holland & Knight LLP's Community Services Team, and the plaintiffs' pro bono attorney. "Without the ability to communicate, people are trapped in solitary confinement within their own bodies and, as a result, are unable to speak up for themselves when they are in pain, when they are hot or cold, or hungry or thirsty, or for any other matter. As a result of this settlement, our clients, and over 50 others who need SGDs, will be able to speak to their friends, family, care providers and others by the end of the week."

Last fall, California cut the Medi-Cal payment rates for this type of equipment by 20 percent. As a result, many companies that manufacture and distribute SGDs stopped shipping their products to Medi-Cal recipients, reporting that they could not operate in California at the new rates.

For the past eight years, Holland & Knight has partnered with Pinellas County Head Start by providing books, financial resources, educational programs and volunteer hours through its innovative Opening Doors for Children program. Holland & Knight has announced that it has been nominated for the National Head Start Association 2005 Corporate Award, having won the award at the regional and state levels.

The firm's contributions include: distribution of 3,840 books to children at the McCabe Center (value: $11,521); donation of 240 volunteer hours each school year by law firm staff; financial assistance for field trips, holiday programs, educational supplies and parent programs; planning and funding for annual beach picnic and backpacks for four-year-old "graduates;" donation of more than $5,000 in resources, including nap blankets, book bags and classroom supplies; development and implementation of "Parent Participation," an incentive program that provides rewards to parents who read to their children at home; annual holiday party with gifts for McCabe Center staff, children and parents hosted at Holland & Knight's St. Petersburg, FL office, and funding of local theater company to conduct stimulating educational outreach programs for Head Start children.