NAVARRE — Your first clue that Nancy Lynn Carty Hartjen is not like most attorneys is that she answers her own phone. Your second? She works out of her car.

And finally, that she serves mostly first responders, teachers, military personnel and parents of profoundly disabled adult children — all folks who might not be able to pay for legal services.

"My practice is pretty much mobile," she said. "My office is my home. I go to them. I can work anywhere I need to work."

Hartjen will be recognized Thursday in Tallahasse by the Florida Bar Association for her pro bono work in the First Judicial Circuit. According to her nomination, she has given more than 1,200 pro bono hours in her 10 years in the field.

This year’s ceremony is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at the Supreme Court of Florida.

Hartjen — who once painted T-shirts and motorcycle gas tanks for a living — came late to the legal profession, although she had long dreamed of being an attorney, her nomination said. 

After the death of her husband in 2000, she dove back into her studies and eventually earned her J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island. She has been a solo practitioner in Navarre since 2008.

She acknowledges that her practice is unique. She doesn't advertise. She doesn't seek clients and doesn't need them. She has enough paying clients to support her passion for public service, including the Guardian ad Litem program.

"If somebody needs help, I'm going to do all I can to help them," she said.