July 9, 2021 | News
Trial Lawyers Honor Rep. Ben Diamond and Rep. Erin Grall with the Legislative Leadership Award
The Trial Lawyers Section, one of the Bar’s oldest and largest, is honoring two lawmakers with its “2021 Legislator of the Year Award.”
Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, and Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, will be honored at a June 25 ceremony in St. Petersburg that will coincide with the section’s next meeting, said TLS Chair Wiley Hicks.
“We just feel like when someone goes above and beyond to protect the things that are important to us, that they deserve recognition above and beyond what they would get through other means,” Hicks said.
Both lawmakers are attorneys who serve on the Judiciary Committee, but that’s a coincidence, Hicks said. Over the years, recipients have come from various backgrounds but are selected for promoting the Trial Lawyers Section’s goals, Hicks said.
Established in 1967, and claiming more than 5,300 members, the Trial Lawyers Section is dedicated to assisting the courts in improving the administration of justice, promoting the art of trial advocacy before the courts, and preserving and protecting the jury system.
Grall, a Vero Beach Republican, is being honored for her role in overhauling Florida’s PIP, or personal injury protection, auto insurance laws, Hicks said.
“She was instrumental in finally getting the PIP reform bill passed, which not only hopefully makes the process fairer, but to the greatest extent possible, preserved the citizen’s ability to seek compensation and access to courts,” Hicks said.
Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat, has long been a champion of preserving access to the courts, Hicks said.
“And this year, he worked extensively with the COVID liability bill, and argued at every opportunity to make sure that it was not a limitation on a citizen’s right to access the courts,” Hicks said.
A Vero Beach native and partner at Grall Law Group, Grall earned her J.D. from Marquette University in 2003, and an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest. She was first elected to represent District 54 in 2016.
In addition to serving on the Judiciary and Appropriations committees, Grall serves on the Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee and chairs the Public Integrity and Elections Committee.
A former president of the Indian River County Bar Association, Grall has long been active in community and not-for-profit organizations. She is the past president of the Exchange Club of the Treasure Coast and in 2008 was elected to its state board where she served as district director. She is also a past president of the Junior League of Indian River and past president of Child Care Resources of Indian River.
A Pinellas County native and partner with the Diamond Law Firm, P.A., Diamond earned his J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2003, and his undergraduate from Yale University. He was first elected to represent District 68 in 2016.
In addition to serving on the Judiciary, Appropriations and Rules committees, Diamond is the ranking member of the Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee. He also serves on the Environment, Agriculture and Flooding Subcommittee.
Diamond once served as general counsel to former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, where he helped direct the state’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Great Recession. In 2014, Diamond served as legal counsel for the committee that promoted Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative.