More than a year after Hurricane Irma ravaged the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm, many low-income Keys residents continue to struggle with hurricane-related and other legal issues that have impacted their economic stability.
In December, pro bono volunteers from Akerman LLP and Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (LSGMI) boarded the Justice Bus to Marathon to provide free legal assistance to residents during a one-day intensive legal clinic. They were joined by lawyers representing the Monroe County Bar Association. LSGMI currently receives Foundation grant funding for Children’s Legal Services, Community Economic Development and Pro Bono Transformation.
“It’s a fact that many residents of the Florida Keys are still struggling post Hurricane Irma with various legal issues including FEMA, family law issues, employment issues, and housing,” said LSGMI’s Pro Bono Advocacy Director Jayme Cassidy.
During the five-hour clinic, the pro bono volunteers assisted 30 families with a range of legal issues, from a Korean War veteran rebuilding his home on his own, to a Coast Lawyers travel to Florida Keys on Justice Bus for hurricane clinic Guard employee struggling with a difficult family situation.
“Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough resources in the Keys to assist every low-income family facing legal issues,” said Whitney Untiedt, Akerman’s former director of pro bono initiatives.
“The time and expense to travel to Miami to meet with pro bono lawyers can be an insurmountable hurdle for many of these families. The Justice Bus was borne of the idea that justice is best served when lawyers come into the community to meet with people facing legal challenges.”