Anais Taboas joined The Florida Bar Foundation Nov. 7 as its new South Florida Pro Bono Program Officer and is working out of space donated by Akerman LLP in its Miami office. A statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide greater access to justice, the Foundation is based in Maitland, where it has 15 staff members.
Taboas, who had served as pro bono coordinator and staff attorney at Florida Rural Legal Services in West Palm Beach and Ft. Myers, will be focused in her new role on fostering pro bono collaborations and partnerships in Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
“I am committed to working with and on behalf of low-income communities and promoting equal access to civil justice, and I know that commitment is shared by many in the South Florida legal and social services communities,” Taboas said. “I am looking forward to helping form stronger alliances among the many partners and potential partners working to expand pro bono and increase its impact in South Florida.”
Taboas has a passion for pro bono that began in law school at the University of Maryland, where she participated in a clinic serving families and children dealing with re-entry issues for juvenile offenders. As a legal aid attorney she has worked with survivors of domestic violence, and while in private practice she helped families facing foreclosure.
Taboas will engage stakeholders including Foundation grantees and other legal services and pro bono providers, law schools, law firms, Florida Bar sections and committees, and voluntary bars to create and expand pro bono initiatives. And she will seek to develop rural/urban partnerships to assist residents and workers in rural pockets of South Florida by utilizing resources in nearby urban areas.
“Her experience in both urban and rural areas will be extremely beneficial as we continue to move forward in our Florida Keys Pro Bono program,” said Ericka Garcia, the Foundation’s statewide Director of Pro Bono Partnerships. “And she will work to bring a new level of collaboration to pro bono efforts throughout South Florida.”
Akerman is supporting the Foundation’s statewide Pro Bono Partnerships program with the office space and through its own far-reaching pro bono initiatives.
“Akerman is focused on strengthening community partnerships and pro bono services to increase access to justice and positively impact the lives of the less fortunate,” said William A. Van Nortwick Jr., partner-in-charge of Akerman’s Pro Bono Program and a recipient of the Foundation’s Medal of Honor Award. “We view the Foundation as one of our great partners, and we are delighted to help further its mission by providing office space in the center of downtown Miami.”
Akerman also has provided conference room space for meetings of the Foundation’s grantees, as well as continuing legal education appellate training for legal aid lawyers.
“We are grateful for their generous support,” Garcia said. “It was vital to the establishment of this new position and will be vital to our ongoing efforts.”
Whitney Untiedt, Akerman’s director of pro bono initiatives, is looking forward to partnering with Taboas.
“Akerman has always been a strong supporter of the Foundation’s mission of service,” Untiedt said. “Miami is fortunate to have Anais on board as the Foundation’s local representative. Her experience in developing pro bono programming across the state will help us to continue strengthening our service models.”
Florida’s Children First, a Florida Bar Foundation grantee, recently presented Akerman with its 2016 Champions for Children Award, recognizing the firm’s lawyers throughout Florida who serve as Guardians ad Litem or lend appellate practice expertise to advance the cause of children’s rights.