Foundation funds 14 law students through Summer Fellow Grant Program

Front Row, L-R: Doga Meric, Alaina Upman, Abigail Adkins, Hanna Elmasry, Crystal Serrano, Mavic Francisco and Marina Millson. Back Row: Brittany Woodman, Kelly Hawk, Bianca Baez, Junie Cazeau, Foundation Grants Program Officer Kate York, Foundation Pro Bono Program Officer Claud Nelson, Amika Jeffries, Foundation board member and Baker McKenzie’s Director of Pro Bono Practice Angela Vigil, Daniela Sirimarco, Akerman’s Director of Pro Bono Initiatives Whitney Untiedt and Anum Shakir.

Fourteen law students will have the opportunity to work in civil legal aid programs this summer through The Florida Bar Foundation’s Summer Fellows Grant Program.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for these students,” said Kate York, the Foundation’s grants program officer. “It’s a great way to develop their awareness and passion for legal services throughout Florida. Each student will bring their own unique perspective, as well as the knowledge learned in their training, to their civil legal placements.”

The 14 fellows, chosen out of 71 applicants, attended a three-day interactive Boot Camp training in March at the Miami law office of Akerman LLP. The fellows were taught skills such as persuasive speaking and client interviewing techniques. After research on the legal aid organization at which they were placed, the fellows also gave speeches about each organization.

The Foundation was able to restart the Summer Fellows Program after a seven-year hiatus thanks to donations and pledges. The firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley P.A. gave $75,000, and Florida Bar Foundation board member David Prather of West Palm Beach firm Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Keen & Littky-Rubin pledged $50,000.

Below is a list of the summer fellows, programs and projects:

  • Southern Legal Counsel, Gainesville

Abigail Adkins, FAMU College of Law, will work on a community economic development project, that reforms systems of inequality to improve opportunity among vulnerable populations.

  • Florida Legal Services, Newberry

Amika Jeffries, Stetson University College of Law, will work on the preservation of affordable housing, combating barriers for people with criminal histories and survivors of domestic violence.

  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida, Tampa

Anum Shakir, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, will work on civil rights and immigrants’ rights program advocacy.

  • Bay Area Legal Services, Tampa

Alaina Upman, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, will work on the Senior Home Preservation Program (SHOPP) to assist seniors with legal services that preserve homes.

  • Community Law Program, St. Petersburg

Marina Millson, University of Florida Levin College of Law, will work on eviction defense, criminal records expunction/sealing and the Residential Eviction Access to Justice Collaborative.

  • Legal Aid of Manasota, Sarasota

Mavic Francisco, Stetson University College of Law, will work on the Medical Legal Partnership project, which reduces racial health disparities by creating a system through which lawyers and doctors work together on patient issues.

  • LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Orlando

Bianca Baez, Florida State University School of Law, will work on the Community Economic Justice project, which mobilizes trains, and deploys attorneys and others to provide free, bilingual disaster relief legal assistance.

  • Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Orlando

Hanna Elmasry, Stetson University College of Law, will work on removing barriers to employment and increasing economic opportunities for low-income workers.

  • Catholic Legal Services, Miami

Junie Cazeau, NOVA Shepard Broad College of Law, will work on a Community and Economic Development initiative to help immigrant victims of violence.

  • Legal Services of Greater Miami

Nazli Doga Meric, University of Miami School of Law, will work on the Disaster Legal Assistance Project, which helps neighborhoods with damage from Hurricane Irma recover.

  • Americans for Immigrant Justice, Miami

Daniela Sirimarco, NOVA Shepard Broad College of Law, will work on the Family Defense Program, which helps immigrant clients through community education, legal screening clinics and representation.

  • Disability Independence Group, Miami

Kelly Hawk, Stetson University College of Law, will work on FamiliesCan!, which addresses specialized needs of families who have a child with a disability, or who are headed by a parent with a developmental disability.

  • Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Plantation

Crystal Serrano, University of Florida Levin College of Law, will work in the Consumer Unit, which improves family financial health and helps maintain housing stability within low-income communities.

  • Three Rivers Legal Services, Lake City

Brittany Woodman, University of Florida Levin College of Law, will work on the Long-Term Recovery Project, which helps Hurricane Irma survivors with legal issues such as housing and public benefits.