by Nancy Kinnally
After a seven-year hiatus, The Florida Bar Foundation is reinstating its popular Legal Aid Summer Fellows Program, though which law students spend 11 weeks working at Florida civil legal aid programs in projects focused on specific goals such as preventing eviction, protecting the rights of children and adults with disabilities, and addressing the unique legal needs of immigrants who are victims of violence.
The Florida Bar Foundation board was able to approve 14 Summer Fellows for 2018 thanks to generous pledges and donations, including a Contribution support revives Legal Aid Summer Fellows Program $75,000 gift from the West Palm Beach law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley P.A. and a $50,000 pledge by Florida Bar Foundation board member David Prather of Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Keen and Littky-Rubin, also of West Palm Beach.
The program begins May 14 with a three day training hosted by Akerman LLP in Miami. Trainers include Whitney Untiedt, Akerman’s director of pro bono initiatives, and Florida Bar Foundation board member Angela Vigil, director of pro bono practice at Baker McKenzie.
Trenam Law is providing a $3,000 education sponsorship to support training costs, including travel and accommodations for the fellows. Foundation board member Stephen Senn of Peterson & Myers in Lakeland is also supporting the program with a $2,500 gift.
The program was established in 1995 but temporarily suspended in 2011 due to a lack of funding. Second-year law students receive a $6,500 stipend, and third-year students receive $8,250. The fellowship offers a meaningful summer-associate type legal experience while also helping those in the community.