National Pro-Bono Week Encourages Lawyers to Give Back in a Pandemic World and Beyond
By Lauren M. Alperstein, Esq.
As the world adapts to a new normal, while still facing the daily challenges of living in a pandemic, it is important to remember that many communities are still struggling through the lasting effects of the COVID-19 crisis. In Broward County alone, thousands of residents in our most vulnerable communities are facing eviction, bankruptcy, unemployment, and countless other legal challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Access to legal services for individuals in need is more important than ever.
In this dire time, I urge my colleagues in the legal field to take action by supporting the Legal Aid programs in Broward County during National Pro Bono Month in October and during the nationally celebrated Pro Bono Week October 24 – 30. Focused on moving forward in a post-pandemic world, this year’s National Celebration of Pro Bono, or skill-based volunteer work at no cost, recognizes the invaluable efforts of those utilizing their knowledge and expertise to help our community, and encourages others to take part in this important mission.
As lawyers, we possess a unique set of skills that should be used toward fulfilling a commitment to justice. We should strive to provide fair and equal access to legal services for all. Even while working remotely, there are still many ways to get involved and give back.
As a longtime volunteer for Legal Aid Service of Broward County (LAS), I had the opportunity to positively impact the lives of countless individuals through services such as the Advice and Counsel Hotline. The hotline provides legal counsel over the phone for people with simple cases for landlord‐tenant disputes, consumer issues, and family law matters who can complete much of the paperwork on their own but need to speak with a lawyer for basic guidance in understanding their rights. This is just one of the many ways in which those in the legal industry in Broward County can donate their time and services to help our community recover.
Since the onset of the pandemic, legal aid programs have faced more budgetary constraints and limited resources than ever before. Even through these challenges, LAS and Coast to Coast Legal Aid Service of South Florida (CCLA) have continued to provide free civil legal assistance to thousands of people in our community. LAS and CCLA receive hundreds of referrals from more than 120 local non-profit organizations. This includes low-income families, the elderly, small business owners, veterans, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and the homeless.
Every day, volunteers for these programs work tirelessly to fill this void. I invite local lawyers to join me and support our efforts by joining the Legal Aid Programs in Broward and our broader community to help make a difference and pay-it-forward through in-kind services and monetary donations. Any contribution, no matter how small, can mean the world to those struggling for access to vital legal services. For more information please go to www.browardlegalaid.org or www.coasttocoastlegalaid.org.
About Lauren M. Alperstein
Lauren M. Alperstein is an attorney with Boies Schiller Flexner LLP where she represents clients in complex family law cases and serves, from time to time, as a Court appointed Guardian ad Litem. Dedicated to public service, she gives back to the community by volunteering with Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida where she represents clients on a pro bono basis. Mrs. Alperstein was recognized as Attorney of the Year 2020 by Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida.