During Pro Bono Month 2019, the Foundation is proud to recognize Florida lawyers who give their time and talent to pro bono cases. This month, we are sharing the stories of several of those lawyers on social media. Join us in thanking them for their service!
Lorraine Pitre has volunteered for 7 years with Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association. As an attorney with both Spanish and English linguistic talents, Lorraine is regularly called upon. She has participated at Citizenship Day Events on Saturdays, attended various community education events on weekends, and does Saturday phone screenings. She is always willing to learn new things and help any way that she can. When answering calls on Saturdays, she is a wealth of information for callers. She even offered to counsel one clients who has a juvenile record on employment-searching with a record.
Rebecca Wilson spent 30 years working in the IRS in Washington, DC, before retiring and moving back to her hometown in St. Petersburg. She decided to use her experience as a tax attorney to assist in Gulfcoast Legal Services’ LITC (low-income tax clinic) program. Since 2017, she has provided 400+ hours of pro bono service. As part of her pro bono work, she took part in every step of the process, from interviewing clients all the way through to finalizing OIC paperwork. She even used her Spanish language skills to converse with clients on the phone.
Kim Ashby is a force and she knows it…so does the Department of Children and Families Secretary, the department of Juvenile Justice Secretary, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program Director, and every single group home administrator her crossover child has ever been to. Despite spending birthdays and holidays in group home facilities, Kim’s children are never, ever invisible when she is appointed their GAL attorney. Kim’s advocacy extended beyond the dependency court, even before state legislation permitted it. Kim is a brilliant trailblazer for her clients and the profession. According to Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association staff, “What she has done for one crossover client has been nothing less than astounding. She fights so hard for him and he has come to depend on her. She has been the most constant adult in his life for the past few years. She doesn’t back down when she thinks something is wrong or she thinks he needs anything. She drove hours to see him on a regular basis when he was in an out-of-county placement. She is a wonderful GAL.”
Carlos Sardi volunteers for Dade Legal Aid & Put Something Back. He has represented numerous pro bono clients and says it is his utmost privilege and pleasure to help out the most needy members of his community. He gets more pleasure out of working pro bono for a client than with any other paying client in his practice. His last pro bono case involved a veteran with debt who was living in “extreme” poverty and had no one to take care of him – no family, no friends. He ran out of private retirement funds and had social security income of only $1,000 a month to live on. He was successfully placed in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and got a discharge of over $13,500 in debts.
Tim Moran began volunteering at Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida in 2009, and each year since he has donated 100+ hours of pro bono legal services. Tim participates in CLSMF’s Alternative Spring Break with UF Levin College of Law students, providing them with practical experience such as interviewing clients. He was also instrumental in the development of CLSMF’s “Each One; Teach One” bankruptcy pro bono project where experienced bankruptcy attorneys teach an attorney bankruptcy. Once they are proficient, they then teach someone else.
Irina Sadovnic volunteers for CABA Pro Bono to represent unaccompanied immigrant minors in family and immigration court proceedings and in applying for Special Juvenile Immigrant Status and asylum. She volunteered while working in private practice. She then worked as a judicial law clerk at the District Court for the Southern District of Florida but has returned to private practice at Jenovese Joblove & Battista and she wishes to volunteer again!
Chad Van Horn is a pro bono hero! He and his consumer protection law firm have continuously taken pro bono cases for Legal Aid Service of Broward County clients. He has agreed to take all of the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases for veteran clients on a pro bono basis.
Martin Himmelfarb volunteers in Gulfcoast Legal Services’ immigration unit assisting individuals and families fleeing violence in Central America, or those who have been trafficked and are seeking freedom. Martin once worked in litigation, but had to relearn the process as immigration was different from anything he’d ever done before. He began assisting with T Visas and Legal Permanent Resident cases, conducting research, interviewing clients, completing forms, and drafting briefs. His research included many tasks, from reviewing information about clients’ history, their home countries, to investigating traffickers and making phone calls tracking down criminal records. Eventually, he moved to assisting with asylum claims, which can literally save lives. The work is complicated and requires a lot of patience. He’s always willing to help on any task, big or small. Martin has logged over 550 case hours since he began volunteering.
Melody Lynch is a pro bono hero! According to Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, she demands justice and respect for her pro bono clients, and she delivers advocacy with unparalleled skill and compassion. She drove around a local street known for illegal activity in search of her child client after the child disclosed she was prostituting herself; Melody joined her GAL young adult client in the hospital when the young adult delivered her baby. Melody is currently finalizing an enhanced adoption subsidy case which will help a family adopt two pervasively emotionally handicapped children. Melody also recruits volunteer attorneys at her firm, all while operating as a shareholder. Melody is the rare combination of smart, approachable, and genuine in her love of mankind.
Jeffrey Dean is a pro bono hero! Catholic Legal Services has placed seven cases with him and he has even started taking cases in Tijuana for vulnerable clients affected by the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Asylum is an increasingly difficult form of relief to obtain but Jeff has won asylum for two families he represented pro bono, which is truly remarkable.
Aaron Labreque is a pro bono hero! Catholic Legal Services placed a case with Aaron and not only did he do a great job of representing the client, but he also took the case of his client’s cousin, pro bono. He is diligent in his preparation for hearings, goes the extra mile by staying on top of the ever-changing immigration case law, and is a creative legal thinker.