Ever since he was 8 years old, Timothy Moran knew he wanted to be a lawyer.
He didn’t want it in the same way all children talk about wanting to be lawyers, doctors or astronauts, though. Moran knew it in a way that it was what he was destined to do. In a way, he says, it was in his blood.
Born in New York and raised from middle school onward in Oviedo, Moran, 34, says he always looked up to his uncle and grandfather who were both men of the law. His grandfather, Francis Richard Moran, was a former Supreme Court Justice in the 5th district of New York, and his uncle, David Shute, was once the chief general counsel for the Sears Roebuck company.
He still looks up to them today — black-and-white portraits of each man sit high atop a bookshelf in his private law office in Oviedo.
“I grew up hearing the honor of the law and the positive change you can make in practicing law, surrounded by the examples of these great men,” Moran said. “I’ve wanted it since I was 8 years old, and it’s been everything I’ve ever wished it to be.”
A member of the Florida Bar since 2007, and owner of his private practice in Oviedo since November 2010, Moran has been working to make his family proud and upholding the values of the law, both through his practice and extensive pro bono work.
Since May 2009, Moran, a University of Central Florida graduate, has completed more than 600 hours of pro bono work throughout Florida, working to help people who could not otherwise afford legal aid in foreclosure and bankruptcy cases.
On Jan. 26, he received the 2012 Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Service Award from the Supreme Court of Florida in Tallahassee. The members of the Oviedo City Council also passed a resolution on Feb. 20 in recognition of the honor he has brought to the community.
Moran said he has one quote, by French missionary Stephen Grellet, that he lives by in his approach to practicing law. He recited the quote in his award acceptance speech in front of the Florida Supreme Court: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now … for I shall not pass this way again.”
“That is why you do pro bono work,” Moran added, “because it is the right thing to do and you shall not pass this way again.”
In the Florida Supreme Court Chambers, he received a standing ovation, judges included.
Though he was unable to physically stand himself — he was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair — in that moment, surrounded by his family and colleagues, Moran felt taller than anyone else.
“To have the privilege in front of the highest court, to be so warmly and well received was such an honor and pleasure,” he said.
Lena Smith, pro bono manager for the Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, which Moran works with to find people in need of his pro bono services, was the one who nominated him for the award.
Yearly, Smith said, the Florida Bar recommends attorneys complete 20 hours of pro bono service. Moran’s 600 hours, she said, were anything but typical and warranted of recognition.
“He has done above and beyond what most attorneys do in volunteering to help low-income clients,” she said. “He’s done all the work and was very well-deserving of the award… In spite of whatever is or has gone on in his life, he has decided to take whatever lemons that life may have dealt him and make lemonade. He’s just wonderful.”
Smith said comments she receives from Moran’s pro bono clients range from compassionate and caring, to dedicated and hardworking. “Everybody loves him,” she said.
Moran, whose law practice focuses on foreclosures, wills, guardianship and probate, said he does the pro bono work because he feels it’s his duty as a lawyer to help people in their time of need. In his mind, in guardianship, he’s helping someone with a disability; with wills, he’s granting piece of mind; probate, he’s aiding after the loss of a loved one; and in foreclosures, he’s doing all he can to help people save their homes.
For more information about Timothy Moran’s law practice, visit tmoranlaw.net
“You can’t describe the feeling you get when you help people in that way,” he said.
One case in particular sticks out to Moran when he reflects back on his 600 hours of pro bono service.
A woman had been told her mobile home was a fire hazard and unlivable, and in turn it was torn down with her selling the interest for her lot to a third-party, in return for a different mobile home placed on the same property. She ended up paying a mortgage on a home that was also of questionable construction, situated on land she no longer owned, Moran said.
She sought legal assistance when she was facing foreclosure on the newer home, and was matched with Moran through Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida.
After two years of back-and-forth, Moran was able to help the woman save her home, which she would now own free and clear. He says he’ll never forget the phone call he got from her after the case was closed, and she once again had the rights to her home. He recalls that she had one simple question:
“She asked, ‘Mr. Moran, does this mean I can plant my tulips wherever I want now?’” he recalled. “If that doesn’t tell you the value of this work I don’t know what will.”
In addition to his practice and pro bono work, Moran also participates in numerous outreach programs to help nurture the next generation of lawyers, including serving as a liaison and supervising interns with Florida A&M University’s College of Law.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I absolutely positively wake up every morning thinking I’m blessed and privileged to do the work that I do.”