In 1992, Bruce Levine visited Miami following Hurricane Andrew to start his legal career in public service and never left. He was recruited by Karen Josefsberg Ladis to lead the agency’s “We Will Rebuild” Hurricane Relief efforts via the first grant they acquired from the Knight Foundation. Levine spent the next few years focusing his efforts on contractor fraud, FEMA and insurance cases. Upon successful completion of the grant, he became a full time Staff Attorney joining Put Something Back, the Official Pro Bono Program of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, where he has been screening and pairing clients in need with a cadre of attorneys and law firm supporters ever since. As Project Coordinator, he recruits and mentors attorneys, supervises volunteers, helps clients in need and matches them with lawyers seeking to perform pro bono work. “It is very fulfilling to help underprivileged people who have nowhere else to turn. Many of our clients are elderly, victims, veterans, wheel chair bound and do not speak English so we do everything we can to help them. Our goal is to give assistance, from counsel and advice to brief services to referrals to attorneys willing to take their cases,” said Levine, whose has been with Put Something Back for 25 years.
The project handles hundreds of cases each month thanks to Assistant Coordinator, Jessica Napoles, who is instrumental in placing approximately 1,200 pro bono cases annually. “The numbers are extremely high, and, with additional resources and staff, we could refer more clients to lawyers,” said Napoles. “During the Florida Bar renewal period (May – July), we recruit on average over 300 new attorneys and refer them cases. We are truly blessed to work with so many dedicated and generous individual attorneys and law firms and are thankful for the opportunity to make a difference.”
Another key staffer, Vicky Dopico, has handled client and attorney inquiries, organized CLE trainings, clinics and workshops and corresponded with donors and supporters for the past 25 years. “Thanks to many partnerships, from DCBA to SMKB to BBA and others, we are able to train on cutting edge topics while achieving our goal of developing new attorney volunteers for the escalating numbers of clients in dire need,” said Dopico. The team hopes that expanded staff, technology and creative partnerships will help PSB to eventually achieve its goal of 100% participation by all attorneys in Miami-Dade. To take a case visit on line at www.dadelegalaid.org, or email the type of case you will accept to PSB@dadelegalaid.org