Roland C. "Rollie" Goss: An Unmatched Commitment

By Kathryn Alfisi

June 15, 2016

Roland GossFor Roland C. "Rollie" Goss, a managing shareholder of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A., pro bono work is a rare opportunity to really see the impact his work can have on the lives of others. In Goss' case those lives include the many children he has helped through his work in the area of foster care, adoptions, and custody cases.

The D.C. Bar will recognize Goss' two-plus decades of pro bono work with the Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award on June 15 at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting. The award honors exemplary individual service in providing direct legal services to low-income individuals in the District.

"I was surprised. There has to thousands of members of the D.C. Bar who do pro bono work every year, and as far as I'm concerned, this award is just a testament to the thousands of hours that all the attorneys provide to different legal services organizations and individuals in our community," Goss said.

At work, Goss primarily handles the defense of class actions and other complex litigation and arbitration matters, reinsurance disputes, reinsurance contracting and counseling. However, he began doing pro bono work involving children early on in his career by serving and chairing on review panels for Miami's foster care system.

"I was struck by the need of so many children who are in that kind of process who are born without some of the basic advantages that so many of us take for granted in terms of having stable, loving families and support," he said.

In the District of Columbia most of Goss' referrals have been from the Children's Law Center. Judith Sandalow, the center's director, said that Goss is one of the most seasoned guardianship and adoption attorneys at the center and at the D.C. Superior Court and that his "commitment to abused and neglected children and their adoptive families is simply unmatched."

"The cases that I do day-to-day are basically about money, but these pro bono cases I take are about peoples' lives, particularly children who are born though no fault of their own with parents who have alcohol or drug problems, or with developmental or physical delay issues, and all sorts of other problems that are unfair," Goss said. "When you see that you can try to help address those kind of issues and help them be with a loving family who gives them the support and nurturing that helps them turn around and overcome those issues, that's just an amazing thing to be able to do as a lawyer. It's a real gift."

In addition to his own pro bono work (he completed 195 pro bono hours in 2015), Goss is happy to help others get involved, whether it's supervising on a first pro bono case or advising lawyers how to decide what type of pro bono work they would like to do.

"Most people have passions in their lives and things that really appeal to them. I tell them what they need to do is find the passion in your life that intersects with your legal skills and available pro bono opportunities and pursue that," he said.