September 2017: Robert M. Bell, Esq.
Robert Bell is a board certified immigration attorney practicing family based immigration law and deportation defense in Hollywood, Florida.
Over the past year, Mr. Bell and his small team of attorneys have provided legal assistance for seven MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Veteran clients faced with immigration issues.
Although military service is a path to citizenship in the United States, citizenship is not automatically awarded while in service.
Bell and his team believe that a person who has risked their life to serve our country should not have to worry about their immigration status affecting their livelihood. By offering his assistance, he ensures that our Veterans receive the help that they deserve.
Thank you Robert Bell for your dedication to Justice for All! Your contributions enable us to help members of our community who otherwise might not receive legal assistance.
August 2017: Hilary Creary, Esq.
Hilary Creary began volunteering with Legal Aid as a law student intern in 1994. After becoming a licensed attorney, she volunteered to take pro bono cases. Over the past twenty years, she has taken 48 pro bono cases and has proudly represented the Caribbean Bar Association as a volunteer with the Broward Lawyers Care Advice and Counsel Hotline. She has primarily assisted survivors of domestic violence with resolving their family law issues, including obtaining restraining orders and divorces.
Creary has been practicing law since 1997. She assists clients with resolution of family law matters. She maintains a private practice, Benjamin-Wise Creary, PLLC, in Pompano.
Thank you Hilary for your dedication to Justice for All! Your contributions enable us to help members of our community who otherwise might not receive legal assistance.
July 2017: Susan Alspector, Esq.
Susan Alspector has volunteered her time for five pro bono family law cases for Veterans in 2017 alone! These cases have included a variety of family law matters including dissolution of marriage, support, and timesharing.
Susan also is an active member of the MISSION UNITED Legal Committee, which guides the group’s involvement in the legal field as it pertains to the Veterans we serve. The Committee promotes community involvement and outreach to Veterans. Susan’s dedication to both pro bono service and involvement on the Committee demonstrates her sincere commitment to Veterans in our community.
Perhaps most impressive is that Susan is a solo practitioner. Thank you Susan for your dedication to Justice for All! Your contributions enable us to help members of our community who otherwise might not receive legal assistance.
There are many ways that attorneys can support pro bono services. The Broward Lawyers Care. Advice and Counsel Hotline relies on volunteers to provide legal advice to our clients every Tuesday afternoon. Sara Sandler has worked diligently behind the scenes to help organize and recruit dozens of attorneys annually for the past several years. One of the reasons she has been successful in that recruitment is that she herself also volunteers with the Hotline.
We appreciate Sara’s support with the Hotline, as well as her on-going support through the Young Lawyers Section of the Broward County Bar Association.
Thank you Sara for your dedication to Justice for All! Your contributions enable us to help members of our community who otherwise might not receive legal assistance.
May 2017: Annabella Barboza, Esq.
The Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project at Legal Aid Service of Broward County would like to recognize Annabella Barboza for her continuing commitment to providing pro bono legal services. Ms. Barboza has assisted the VPBP with multiple Estate Planning Clinics and has provided pro bono legal assistance to our clients in the areas of real estate, probate, and estate planning. Ms. Barboza’s service to the community is a fitting testament* to her professionalism, passion, and kindness.
Thank you Annabella for your dedication to Justice for All! Your contributions enable us to help Veterans in our community who otherwise might not receive legal assistance.
Donald Fucik is a full service probate, family law, and litigation attorney. Mr. Fucik has over 29 years of legal experience.
He has been actively involved with the MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project since its inception in 2012. Mr. Fucik provides estate planning services to our Veteran clients who need final wills, advance directives, and other important documents. These services are provided at no charge and the peace of mind afforded our Veterans is priceless.
A Veteran himself, Mr. Fucik currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Broward County Bar Association (BCBA) and actively works to improve the legal climate locally for Veterans.
Thank you Don for your dedication to Justice for All! Your contributions enable us to help Veterans in our community who otherwise might not receive legal assistance.
March 2017: Dia T. Colbert, Esq.
The March Attorney of the Month is Dia T. Colbert, with The Colbert Law Firm in Davie.
Ms. Colbert accepted four Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases from Broward Lawyers Care in the time span of less than 9 months. A Chapter 7 discharge releases individual debtors from personal liability for most debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any collection actions against the debtor.
Ms. Colbert helped these four clients resolve disputes with debt collectors, restoring financial stability to them and their families.
When Colbert finished work on one case, she immediately requested a new assignment. Three of her clients had medical debt and were at risk of garnishment. One client was homeless and her driver’s license was suspended as a result of her inability to afford to pay fines in court. Another client, a social worker, was having 25% of her salary garnished, putting her at risk of losing her apartment and her car.
Thank you, Dia Colbert, for your devotion to Justice for All! Your contributions enabled us to help members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
February 2017: Cristina Sabbagh, Esq.
The February Attorney of the Month is Cristina Sabbagh, an associate with Schlesinger Law Offices, P.A.
Ms. Sabbagh recently handled two cases for Ryan White clients seeking assistance with their Last Will and Testaments. The first client came to Legal Aid because she wanted to ensure that her property distribution wishes were clear and documented, as she was in a serious relationship but unmarried.
Shortly after the case was placed with Ms. Sabbagh for pro bono assistance, the client called Legal Aid to express how thrilled she was with the service her attorney provided to her. And as the ultimate compliment, she referred her boyfriend for similar service. Sabbagh graciously agreed to take on the second case pro bono and completed a similar estate planning service, efficiently and satisfactorily.
In addition to quick and competent legal work completed on behalf of two low-income clients, Ms. Sabbagh did so during the busiest time of the year – during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday months.
Thank you, Cristina Sabbagh, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
January 2017: Andrea Keiser, Esq.
The January Attorney of the Month is Andrea Keiser, Esq., an associate with the law firm of Dunay, Miskel & Backman, LLP. As a former Legal Aid attorney, she was eager to introduce her new firm to our Holiday Adopt A Family project.
The firm was matched with a client who had become responsible for her two younger siblings when their mother died in October; they were facing their first Christmas without their mother. Adding to the stress of an already difficult situation, the transition left the siblings homeless in December.
Learning this, Andrea, together with support from her firm, arranged and paid for a hotel room while the family awaited Housing. This act of kindness alone was reason to rejoice, but the Holiday giving and spirit didn’t stop there. Andrea personally went to the hotel to set up a Christmas tree and place the wrapped gifts from the firm under the tree. She kept in close touch with Legal Aid about the housing situation and helped to coordinate a smooth transition into the family’s new home. Going above and beyond in their dedication and selflessness and exuding the truest spirit of the Season, Andrea Keiser and the law firm of Dunay, Miskel & Backman LLP, saved a family from being homeless during the Holidays and hopefully forever.
Thank you, Andrea Keiser, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
December 2016: Alan A. Pascal, Esq.
The December Attorney of the Month is Alan Pascal, Esq., Chief Branch Discipline Counsel, Fort Lauderdale Office of The Florida Bar.
Mr. Pascal is a long-time supporter of LAS and CCLA. He has volunteered with Broward Lawyers Care for nearly twenty years, during which time he has provided legal assistance to upwards of forty clients. He served as chair of the 17th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee for two years and is a proponent of the Broward Lawyers Care Advice and Counsel Hotline. Each December, Pascal and his team at The Florida Bar volunteer to provide coverage for the Hotline for each Tuesday of the month.
Alan Pascal’s dedication is admirable, and his enthusiasm and advocacy help bring attention to the need for others to volunteer their time.
Thank you, Alan Pascal, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
November 2016: Robert Murphy, Esq.
Consumer fraud attorney Robert Murphy is a trial lawyer who practices in the areas of consumer litigation in Florida and across the country. In over 25 years of practice, he has actively litigated cases under almost every aspect of the federal and Florida consumer protection laws.
A long-time friend of Legal Aid, Murphy has been very instrumental in directing a number of cy pres awards to Legal Aid Service of Broward County. In a class action settlement, the parties and the court seek to deliver all settlement monies to class members. However, some settlement monies simply cannot be delivered to class members. This is when a legal aid organization can be designated as recipient.
This month, Murphy was instrumental in directing a cy pres award of $12,326 to Legal Aid Service of Broward County.
In addition to leveraging cy pres awards, Murphy regularly takes pro bono cases, is an active mentor and advisor to Legal Aid consumer attorneys, and sponsors scholarships for these attorneys to attend consumer law conferences and trainings.
Robert Murphy’s generosity and commitment to legal aid programs has indeed improved the life of thousands of low income people in Broward County.
October 2016: Lindsay Massillon, Esq.
October is National Pro Bono Month and we celebrate by selecting Lindsay Massillon as the October Attorney of the Month.
For the past several years, Lindsay has led an initiative whereby the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the Broward County Bar Association challenges other voluntary bar associations in the county to provide volunteers for the Broward Lawyers Care Advice and Counsel Hotline. Over 700 clients are served annually through the Hotline. By reaching wide into the community, Lindsay has brought pro bono opportunities and awareness to people who might not otherwise have become involved.
Lindsay also has been an advocate of National Pro Bono Month activities in Broward County, having initiated a breakfast meeting in conjunction with the 17th Judicial Circuit’s Pro Bono Committee to recognize pro bono attorneys each October. She also participated in the Lawyers in Libraries project created by the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association in 2013 to celebrate National Pro Bono Month.
Lindsay doesn’t just recruit others to do pro bono work; she volunteers her own time as well. In the past three years, Lindsay has provided advice and counsel to 34 clients on housing and consumer debt collection issues.
Massillon is a 2011 graduate of the Shepard Broad Law Center of Nova Southeastern University, and is an associate with the Law Offices of Charles Eiss, P.L. in Plantation.
Lindsay Massillon is an incredibly dedicated attorney who truly embodies the spirit of “Access to Justice for All.” Her hard work has impacted literally thousands of people in Broward County.
September 2016: Alejandro Larrazabal, Esq.
The September Attorney of the Month is an associate at the firm of Velasquez Dolan Arias, P.A. Alejandro Larrazabal has been involved in pro bono work for most of his career and has provided life changing assistance to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Recently, Larrazabal helped a client with the reinstatement of her rent assistance subsidy. The client was receiving rent assistance from the local Housing Authority for herself and her two minor children. Their landlord terminated the lease early with just seven days’ notice, forcing the client to move. The client contacted the Housing Authority before she moved as is required, but could not reach anyone by phone. She then sent a written notice to the Housing Authority which was received the day after she moved.
The Housing Authority terminated the client’s subsidy for failure of proper notification before moving and the hearing officer failed to consider mitigating circumstances at the hearing and affirmed the termination. Without the subsidy she was unable to afford to rent elsewhere and became homeless. Mr. Larrazabal filed a case to appeal the decision of the hearing officer. He was able to negotiate a settlement and the Housing Authority agreed to restore the client’s housing benefits. Mr. Larrazabal’s work allowed the client and her two children to avoid homelessness and be able to afford to rent a new home.
Mr. Larrazabal is also representing a Legal Aid client on a pending appeal. The client obtained a permanent restraining order against her ex-boyfriend for protection against stalking, which he appealed. Mr. Larrazabal is assisting the client to keep the order in place.
Mr. Larrazabal’s practice focuses are on personal injury litigation, appellate matters, and commercial litigation. Mr. Larrazabal serves as Chairman of the Hispanic Committee of the Broward County Bar Association and is a member of the Appellate Practice Section and Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar. Thank you, Alejandro Larrazabal, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
.August 2016: Todd Clarke, Esq
Todd Clarke is the Vice President and General Counsel for JM Family Enterprises and has worked closely with the MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project at Legal Aid since 2013. In addition to serving on the Legal Committee for the Veterans Pro Bono Project, he also volunteers as a pro bono attorney to help Veterans with various legal issues.
Recently, Clarke helped a Veteran recover over $1400 that had been erroneously charged to the Veteran.
Clarke joined JM Family in 2004 after working as a trial lawyer for six years in Colorado and Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University and a law degree from the University of Denver.
In addition to his pro bono legal work Clarke also volunteers with the Justice Teaching Program, an initiative sponsored by the Florida Supreme Court that pairs legal professionals with state schools to educate students on the justice system.
Thank you, Todd Clarke, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
Mr. Reinfeld and his associates at Reinfeld & Cabrera, P.A. have shown themselves to be true supporters of Veterans and their families, especially those in need of assistance with Wills, Advanced Directives, and Probate. Mr. Reinfeld has helped Veterans and their families secure various estate planning documents which in turn gives them peace of mind. This is because they know that their loved ones will be taken care of when they pass away.
Recently, Mr. Reinfeld helped an elderly Veteran, who had just lost his wife, secure a living and final will. This instrument (in part) ensures that the Veteran will be buried next to his wife when he passes. It also provides for him to be taken care of by his children if he were to lose mental capacity. The Veteran now has peace of mind in his twilight years. Mr. Reinfeld is a true advocate for Veterans in our community!
Thank you, Alan Reinfeld, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
Click here to volunteer to help a low-income Veteran in need of legal assistance, by providing advice or representation or call 954.358.5643.
Judith S. Schwartz, Esq., has advised over eighty low-income clients through the Broward Lawyers Care (BLC) Advice and Counsel Hotline since January. The Advice and Counsel Hotline addresses topics such as landlord-tenant, consumer, and family law issues. Attorneys like Schwartz volunteer their time to educate clients about their legal rights. Schwarz has assisted clients facing garnishment, debt collections, eviction, illegal lock-outs, withholding of security deposits, and foreclosure of their rental units. She also has advised tenants facing uninhabitable conditions such as mold, rat infestations, sewage leaks and plumbing issues, roach infestations, and broken air conditioning units, smoke detectors, water heaters and refrigerators.
Judith Schwartz has been a transactional practitioner since 1982. Her private practice, the Law Office of Judith S. Schwartz, centers around assisting clients with resolution of consumer debt problems and related financial issues, real estate, small business and bankruptcy matters.
Thank you, Judith Schwartz, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
Over the past year and a half, Lorraine Hoffman has advised over seventy-five low-income clients through the Broward Lawyers Care (BLC) Advice & Counsel Hotline. The Hotline addresses topics such as landlord-tenant, consumer, and family law issues, and attorneys like Lorraine volunteer their time to educate clients about their legal rights. Specifically, Lorraine has assisted clients facing garnishment, debt collections, eviction, withholding of security deposits, and foreclosure of their rental units. She also has advised tenants facing uninhabitable conditions such as collapsing ceilings and walls, bed bugs, mold, flooding, sewage leaks, rodents, roach and insect infestations, fire and electrical hazards, termites, plumbing problems, and malfunctioning air conditioning units and appliances.
Hoffman is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law. She has volunteered for many years with the Legal Aid, helping to conduct in-person intake interviews for clients seeking assistance from our Landlord-Tenant Unit. She also teaches business law at Florida Atlantic University.
Thank you, Lorraine Hoffmann for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
Louis Reinstein, Esq. graduated from Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad School of Law in 2006 and is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro & Ramsey, P.A. He focuses primarily in the firm’s general liability, appellate, and insurance coverage practice areas. Reinstein is an active member of the community and is a frequent presenter at educational events.
In October 2014 Louis Reinstein volunteered to help an honorably discharged U.S. Army Veteran. The Veteran sought the assistance of the MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project in August 2014. This veteran’s sole source of transportation was a vehicle given to him by his father. The vehicle needed repairs and was towed to a mechanic. Due to suspicious criminal activity, the vehicle was stolen while in the mechanic’s possession. In October 2014, pro bono attorney Louis Reinstein volunteered to help this veteran. For over two years, Attorney Reinstein pursued and won a recorded judgment lien.
Thank you, Louis Reinstein, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped a Veteran who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
Tara Intriago graduated from Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad School of Law in 1993 and has been practicing law for over 20 years. During that time she has assisted a total of 18 pro bono clients through Broward Lawyers Care. In the past 18 months she has provided pro bono legal representation for five different clients, helping three Veterans and two victims of domestic violence to restore their driver licenses.
One of the clients was cited for running a red light while she was evading her batterer; the batterer was stalking her by following her car. Another client was a homeless Veteran who was cited for failure to have car insurance. The Veteran could not afford the insurance at the time.
Many clients such as these cannot afford to pay the court costs associated with minor traffic offenses and end up having their driver licenses suspended for failure to pay the fees. This then affects their ability to keep a job and earn income. By assisting these vulnerable clients with the restoration of their driver licenses, Intriago helped them maintain employment and kept them on a path to economic stability and self-sufficiency.
Thank you, Tara Intriago, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped numerous clients who otherwise might not have received legal assistance
Scott D. Owens, Esq., of Scott D. Owens, P.A. is the February 2016 Attorney of the Month. Mr. Owens served as a co-counsel alongside Legal Aid Service of Broward County (LAS) attorneys in a class action lawsuit representing homeowners being sued by their lender. The homeowners were served with foreclosure lawsuits containing a notice stating that they had thirty days to file a written response disputing the debt. However, state court pleading deadlines require a response within twenty days. The class action suit against the law firm representing the lender alleged the use of “deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt” and that they violated federal law by attaching a notice containing an incorrect deadline.
Significantly, in an order denying the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the Court held that, “A promissory note is considered a debt…and if a promissory note is secured by a mortgage, the promissory note is still considered a debt.” The Court ruled that “foreclosure actions that also seek to collect on underlying promissory notes are considered debt collection activities” under federal debt collection law.
The Court ruled in favor of the homeowners and LAS will share in the attorney’s fees that were awarded. Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida was selected as the cy pres recipient for the class action settlement.
In 2015, Mr. Owens’s class action work on behalf of consumers led to the recovery or establishment of funds totaling more than $40 million dollars. Owens is a member of the LAS and CCLA Board of Directors and has been instrumental in directing a significant number of cy pres awards to the organizations. He serves as a mentor to LAS and CCLA attorneys, donating countless pro bono hours to assist clients who might otherwise not receive representation.
Charles Fox Miller, Esq. and Lauren Alperstein, Esq. share the January 2016 Attorney of the Month recognition. Along with the support of their firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, they provided pro bono legal assistance to a Veteran who served in the military for over twenty years. When the Veteran came to Legal Aid, he had used almost all of his savings to pay an attorney to represent him in a complex divorce. He ran out of funds and was unable to pay his attorney to continue to represent him in the ongoing case. In March 2014, attorneys Miller and Alperstein accepted the Veteran’s case and Boies, Schiller & Flexner generously advanced litigation related costs for the next two years that the case continued. The case went to trial twice and finally concluded in December 2015. With the support of both attorneys and their firm, the Veteran was able to conclude a difficult matter, successfully transition his family and focus on becoming self-sufficient.
Thank you Charles Fox Miller and Lauren Alperstein for your devotion to Justice for All! The Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project is fortunate to have attorneys like these who are willing to dedicate their time and efforts to help members of our community who cannot afford private legal assistance. Because of their contributions, a veteran who otherwise might not have received legal assistance was able to get his life back on-track.