Mertella Burris is the supervising attorney for the Homeless Legal Rights Project at Legal Aid Service of Broward County. Mertella came to Legal Aid as an Equal Justice Works Fellow supported by the Florida Bar Foundation and Greenberg Traurig and has dedicated her time and talent to defending the rights of homeless and indigent persons.
Since accepting the position of supervising attorney in 2000, Mertella and her team have helped thousands of homeless clients gain access to justice in multiple areas of law including civil rights, family, immigration, and public benefits (food stamps, and social security disability predominantly). A devoted and tireless advocate, Mertella has represented clients in Federal, Circuit and County Courts advocating extensively before the Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, and the Appeals Council.
Mertella is actively engaged in the community and is often commended and highly regarded for her tenacity, dedication, compassion and intelligence. In May 2017, she received an award from the Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida. She volunteers for numerous food drives, memorial events and the annual Homeless Count. She extends herself personally to her clients, community partners and associates alike, and she is always available to them.
Mertella has been an active member of the Florida and Broward County Bar Associations. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Public Interest Law Section of the Florida Bar and is Treasurer of the Ardenne High School South Florida Alumni Association. She is a former Vice Chair of the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership Homeless Providers and Stakeholders Council; Scholarship Chair and Treasurer of the TJ Reddick Bar Association; and former board member of the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership. Mertella is also an accredited attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She also enjoys mentoring law students.