HOLLYWOOD – Seminole Tribe of Florida General Counsel Jim Shore has received a national award from the American Bar Association for his legal work and career achievement in the areas of environment, energy and natural resources. According to the organization’s website, he is the first General Counsel from an Indian tribe to win the award.
The Government Attorney of the Year Award for 2020 was presented to Shore by the American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources at its virtual fall conference. The award recognizes exceptional achievement by federal, state, tribal or local government attorneys. Recipients are deemed to have made significant accomplishments or demonstrated recognized leadership in the environment, energy and natural resources legal areas.
Throughout his tenure as Seminole Tribe General Counsel, Shore has worked to preserve natural resources and protect water rights critical to the future of the members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. His ongoing focus includes the impact of Everglades restoration and Lake Okeechobee water management on the Brighton and Big Cypress Seminole reservations.
Shore grew up on the Brighton Seminole Reservation and graduated from Stetson University and Stetson Law School, becoming the first member of the Seminole Tribe to practice law. He was named Deputy General Counsel of the Seminole Tribe in 1981 and General Counsel in 1982. He is a member of the Florida Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, which makes it possible for him to argue a case before the high court.
In a video introduction for the awards ceremony, attorney Michelle Diffenderfer, president of Lewis, Longman & Walker, cited Shore’s “incredible listening skills and a penchant for knowing just what to do at the right time.” Diffenderfer has represented the Seminole Tribe on environmental issues and worked closely with Shore for decades.
“When you Google Jim Shore, you will find all the accomplishments that the tribe has achieved over the years, and Jim right there alongside the tribe’s leaders, helping guide decisions, listening to leadership and doing the due diligence to ensure that the tribe made great choices,” Diffenderfer said. “One of Jim Shore’s early accomplishments in the environmental arena was the negotiation and approval of the tribe’s Water Rights Compact with the State of Florida in 1987. Today, it is still the only water rights compact with an Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River.”
In accepting the award, Shore said, “I am humbled to be chosen. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has a proud group of Indians who have never backed away from a fight to preserve our sovereignty and protect the rights of our tribal members.”
“We negotiated a water compact with the State of Florida,” Shore said. “The compact allows the tribe to quantify water rights, water usage, drainage and the value of these rights is it allows the tribe to participate in the state’s permitting system off the reservation, with a mechanism in place that allows both the state and the tribe to be able to work things out without impacting one or the other’s resources.”
The 2020 awards of the American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Resources were presented in late October as part of the section’s fall conference, which was held virtually due to concerns over Covid-19. Click here to see the award video.