Legal Aid Service of Broward County’s Executive Director Retires after 46 years at the Helm
Legal Aid Service of Broward County (LAS) announced the retirement of long-time Executive Director Anthony J. “Tony” Karrat, effective January 31, 2022. Karrat has served at the helm of the organization for the past 46 years, overseeing all programs for both Broward and Collier Counties. In honor of Karrat’s incredible, unmatched contributions to the community, Legal Aid Service of Broward County established the Anthony J. Karrat Endowment Fund to memorialize Tony’s remarkable legacy and ensure that his work to serve the community will live on in the future. This endowment will be utilized to support “impact advocacy,” which is advocacy that not only addresses an individual’s legal problems but also seeks to address the root cause of these issues.
For almost five decades, Tony has been an extraordinary leader for Legal Aid, truly devoting his time and expertise to ensure the organization fulfills its mission of helping our most vulnerable and underserved in our communities. While we’re saddened to see him leave us, we will be forever grateful for his invaluable leadership as Legal Aid would not be the successful and vibrant organization it is today without Tony. He leaves a solid foundation for the future. – Douglas Reynolds, Chairperson, LAS Board of Directors
During the annual For the Public Good Gala fundraiser on December 1, 2021, Karrat received an Excellence in Justice Award, and the organization announced the creation of the Anthony J. Karrat Endowment Fund. Most recently, he was honored by the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park with the Diversity Honors Award. Additionally, he has been recognized by WPLG-ABC Local 10 News with their prestigious LIFEtime Award and received the Florida Bar Foundation’s 2021 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award for his tireless work over the past four decades to ensure low-income communities have access to the judicial system. He also is a recipient of the 2021 Russell E. Carlisle Advocacy Award presented by Legal Aid Programs in Broward County.
Karrat joined Legal Aid in 1975 as a branch office supervising attorney prior to being named Executive Director in 1976. Under his leadership, Legal Aid has grown from a three-attorney office with a $250,000 budget to a regional law firm of 73 attorneys with a budget of $12 million. The program has significantly impacted low-income communities in Broward and Collier Counties, assisting in a broad scope including housing conditions for the poor, protecting victims of domestic violence, and helping the homeless, elderly, children, veterans and individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.
In 1981, Karrat, in partnership with leaders of the Broward Bar Association, helped establish Broward Lawyers Care (BCL), the recognized pro bono program operating in Broward County. BCL enables more than 1,230 private attorneys to donate services to the poor each year. Since its inception, over 4,240 Broward lawyers have participated and roughly 18,450 clients and families have received assistance through the program’s 36-year history.
In 2004, he oversaw the merger with the then one-attorney Legal Aid program in Collier County, which is now a fifteen-attorney program with offices in Naples and Immokalee. Through Karrat’s efforts and expertise spanning a 50-year career, LAS successfully adapted its scope of services to meet the ever-changing needs of the community, with the goal of helping clients navigate legal issues and build self-sufficiency.