The Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida will name the Court Resource Center at the Orange County Courthouse for Mary Anne DePetrillo in a ceremony Sept. 19 in the first floor jury room of the courthouse.
DePetrillo, who earned her law degree at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, has been executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association for 30 years.
“I am deeply grateful for this honor, which I feel is not so much for me but for the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, its staff and volunteers,” DePetrillo said. “This organization and the people who serve it have changed so many lives by protecting the rights of the most vulnerable in our community.”
The Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association is one of 30 legal aid organizations throughout Florida that receive financial support from The Florida Bar Foundation.
“This tremendous honor for Mary Anne DePetrillo, who has been a true leader in the legal aid community, affirms the importance the Ninth Circuit judiciary and Orange County government have placed on meeting the legal needs of the underserved,” said Bruce B. Blackwell, CEO and executive director of The Florida Bar Foundation.
De Petrillo decided to become an attorney the day President Kennedy was assassinated. The turmoil of the 1960s reinforced her desire. After law school, De Petrillo worked as a legal aid lawyer for two years until the program ran out of money. While in private practice, she was an active pro bono attorney.
At 32, she realized she wanted to go back to practicing poverty law full-time and answered an advertisement for a litigation director at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, where she began in March 1984. She became executive director in 1985 and was charged with ensuring that the four-attorney organization become the best public interest law firm possible, with a strong pro bono component. Since that time, the firm has grown to 17 attorneys and 26 support staff, with more than 1,400 attorney-volunteers providing quality legal services to 20,454 low-income clients and abused and neglected children annually.
The Legal Aid Society provides legal services in the areas of family, juvenile, consumer, housing, public benefits, health, and immigration law. Legal Aid offers legal services to the community’s poor through the combined efforts of staff, pro bono attorneys and volunteers who provide advice and counsel, community legal education, information and referral, negotiation and litigation, legal representation in simple to complex litigation in state and federal court, and in administrative hearings and legislative and administrative advocacy.
The Court Resource Center at the Orange County Courthouse is a judicial branch resource that provides enhanced court services for the entire community, including attorneys, pro se litigants, and the general public.
The Center provides a comfortable environment where anyone can conduct legal research and can receive general court information. Resources available in the center, many of which are also online, include administrative orders, court forms and directories, legal research resources and referral information, and copier, computer and printer access.
The Court Resource Center is located in room 365 on the third floor of the Orange County Courthouse at 425 North Orange Ave. in Orlando, Fla.