News / Events

A WORD FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

10/18/2020

OCTOBER  BRIEFS FROM DADE LEGAL AID - SPEEDING LAWFULLY BIKE CHALLENGE TO BENEFIT DADE LEGAL AID IS ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2020 at10 am

Message from Karen J. Ladis, Executive Director

Speeding Lawfully" is a socially distanced bike challenge for all ages and activity levels that will take the place of Dade Legal Aid’s annual Patently Impossible Project, since it just isn’t possible to hold the Patently Impossible competition in person this year. Thankds to event chair Jaime Rich Vining, Esq., who came up with this great idea!  “While pivoted due to the global pandemic, 100% of the proceeds from the event will help Dade Legal Aid that represents low income children and families impacted by COVID-19,” said Vining.  “Dade Legal Aid and Put Something Back Pro Bono Project provide critical access to justice to low-income residents of Miami-Dade County,” said Vining, Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee of the Dade County Bar Association.  For over  a decade, Vining has been creating fundraisers and handling pro bono cases for the organization.  This year, Vining decided “shifted gears” to host this virtual event to support the non-profit law firm that has been serving the unmet legal needs of the community since 1949. 

“Put Something Back is the cornerstone of the pro bono efforts by Miami lawyers.  The program has served thousands of clients for decades.  As a former President of the Dade County Bar Association, I am very proud of this program and the work of Dade Legal Aid,” said Steven Davis, Partner, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and Member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

Dade Legal Aid staff and pro bono attorneys handle thousands of cases annually in the areas of family law, domestic violence, probate, guardian ad litem, child advocacy, bankruptcy, housing and consumer law. "The demand for our services has never been greater,” said Karen Ladis, executive director of the agency. “Our staff, pro bono volunteers and clients are facing new challenges navigating the “new norm.”  We have been working remotely for months continuing to provide a safety net of civil legal services to those severely impacted by COVID-19– the elderly, the disabled, survivors of sexual assault and human sex trafficking, unaccompanied minor children, veterans and others.”  Thanks to the combined efforts of the bar association and its leadership, supporters, participants and many local voluntary bar associations, law schools, members of the legal community, Dade Legal Aid continues fulfilling its mission to protect children and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, families in crisis facing evictions, foreclosures and bankruptcy, and other vulnerable populations. For more information about Speeding Lawfully or registering for a pro bono case, please visit www.dadelegalaid.org or email  jrv@friedlandvining.com.                        

WHAT:          A Virtual Bike Race to Benefit Dade Legal Aid

CHAIR:          Jaime Rich Vining, Esquire

WHEN:          Sunday, October 25, 2020, 10:00 am

THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS: Dade County Bar Association, Intellectual Property Committee, Young Lawyer Section, IBERIABANK First Horizon,  Corsearch, Bast Amron, Bilzin, STROOCK, Ser & Associates, Rasco Klock, Miami-Dade FAWL, First Family Law American Inns of Court, Haitian Lawyers Association, St. Thomas University School of Law, Foster-Morales Sockel-Stone, Phipps Reporting, Steven Davis, Freddi Mack, Cole Scott & Kissane, Hollub Homes,South Miami Kendall Bar Association, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr, Bar Association, The South Asian Bar Association of Florida, The LAB Miami, and more…

REGISTER:  http://www.dadelegalaid.org/register-for-the-2020-virtual-bike-race-challenge/

09/28/2020

SEPTEMBER  BRIEFS FROM DADE LEGAL AID

Message from Karen J. Ladis, Executive Director

In September, we saw a spike in family law, housing and domestic violence cases caused by the pandemic, unemployment and other issues facing our community's low income residents.  We are addressing the influx of cases by streamlining intake processes.  Clients seeking pro bono services through our Put Something Back Pro Bono Project can apply online and request assistance from one of our virtual kiosks from virtually anywhere.  The pro bono attorney team at Dade Legal Aid is comprised of Bruce Levine, with over 28 years of experience coordinating pro bono disaster relief efforts, Nikki Weisburd, with over 15 years of representing older foster youth and coordinating child advocacy efforts for the agency, and Stephanie Grosman, a seasoned family lawyer who handles family law cases, serves as a GAL, and mentors new attorneys accepting pro bono cases.  Rounding out the team are Jessica Zuvic, a dedicated paralegal and professional who performs an inordinate amount of tasks necessary to refer, monitor and close thousands of cases each year,  Jason Sotelo and Yasminne Rayo, former Americorp VISTA Fellows with the agency who conduct client intake and process referrals, and Samantha Napoles, who updates records, closes cases and credits attorneys for their pro bono services.  October is National ABA Pro Bono Month (although every month is pro bono month at Put Something Back!) and we will be featuring some of our outstanding staff attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants who are working hard to provide services to those in need of critical assistance with nowhere else to turn to for help.  Stay tuned for more updates and stay safe!

08/28/2020

AUGUST BRIEFS FROM DADE LEGAL AID

Message from Karen J. Ladis, Executive Director

We are experiencing a huge influx of family law and domestic violence clients due to COVID-19.  Our staff attorneys and secretaries are working hard and continuing to provide their services remotely, focusing on the increasing numbers of new clients that are adversely impacted each week. We receive over a 100 new applicants a week in need of civil legal services with nowhere else to turn for assistance. 

We are preparing for an increase in eviction and foreclosure cases once the moratorium is lifted. We are working with the bankruptcy bar and the Eleanor and A. Jay Cristol UM Law Bankruptcy Clinic to prepare for the influx in cases. The clinics are taught remotely and going well and we are also examining proactive methods to work with landlords to assist people once the moratoriums are lifted.  

Last month, our Family Law Department processed 123 new applications.  Our Domestic Violence Department assisted 72 new clients. Put Something Back referred over 100 cases in all areas of civil law including contracts, liens, collections, probate, family law, bankruptcy and consumer cases.

This year’s YLS Back to School Drive was a big success.  We received 50 backpacks and supplies and distributed them to our clients.  We are excited that the YLS is partnering with us on our upcoming events and helping to fill client needs.  We are also planning a Speaker’s Bureau with the local Veterans Affairs hospital.

Our Juvenile Delinquency Webinar with the Haitian Lawyers Association, Virtual Family Law Clinic featuring Marck Joseph, and Venture Law Clinic have all been successful so far.  We continue exploring new partnerships and innovations in order to increase access to justice for those in need.

On October 25, we are holding a virtual bike challenge.  Join us as we shift gears and hold “Speeding Lawfully Bike Challenge” sponsored by the Intellectual Property Committee of the DCBA along with co-sponsors DCBA YLS, MDFAWL, SMKB, HLA, FACDL, and many others.  Please contact Stephanie Grosman or Jaime Vining for more details. STAY SAFE!

07/16/2020

JULY BRIEFS FROM DADE LEGAL AID

Message from Karen J. Ladis, Executor

I hope you are staying safe and well during this crisis. The pandemic is impacting the legal community like never before. With local lockdowns and curfews, now more than ever, we are experiencing a surge in requests for our help with Family Law, Domestic Violence, Probate, Evictions, Collections & Bankruptcy matters. Our in-house staff and pro bono team are committed to doing everything we can to meet the increased needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct legal representation has a tremendous impact on the quality of life for Miami-Dade's indigent population. Now is the time to step in to volunteer to handle one of our pre-screened cases for a low income resident facing financial uncertainty, eviction, divorce or domestic violence. Please let us know if you and your firm are able to assist a low income client and donate your resources to help us achieve access to justice for all. Thank you to the many attorneys and firms for generously donating their time and firm resources to help us provide free legal assistance to disadvantaged indidviduals, families and nonprofits during these difficult times. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our participants.

This week, we say farewell and thank you to Hayley Goodman, HOPE Summer Fellow, 2L, University of Miami School of Law. Throughout the summer, Hayley has assisted the Guardianship Department with client interviews, drafting pleadings and legal research and has attended vitrual hearings, remote meetings and office events. We are so grateful to her and to UMHOPE. 

Sincerely yours,

 
Karen J. Ladis 
Executive Director 

06/26/2020

JUNE BRIEFS FROM DADE LEGAL AID
 
Message from our Executive Director
Karen J. Ladis
 
As we complete another month of WFH due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we are experiencing a spike in cases for those that are severely impacted in our community. We are continuing to work diligently remotely in order to protect our staff, our clients and the public during these uncertain times.  While our doors are presently closed to the public in order to prevent the spread of the virus, you may still reach us virtually for assistance throughout the pandemic online or by phone. We are doing our best to serve our clients while reducing the spread of the virus, and appreciate your patience while we navigate unchartered waters.  In the meantime, we remind everyone to wear face masks and practice social distancing at all times. Everyone's cooperation is needed during this difficult time. Though Legal Aid offices remain closed, we receive many requests for assistance and are available for intake via a variety of online platforms. If you area client and need assistance, please fill out an online application for assistance.  If you are an attorney and are able to accept a pro bono case from us at this time, we need volunteer attorneys to handle family law, domestic violence, immigration, human trafficking, children's, housing and probate cases from Something Back Pro Bono Project. 
 
Last week, we participated in the Florida Bar Virtual Convention which was inspiring and engaging and filled with seminars, luncheons and important meetings. It was amazing to connect with hundreds of participants virtually and share ideas and our visions for the upcoming year. In addition, our Dade County Bar Association also changed leadership roles for the upcoming year and has held a series of virtual meetings.  I look forward to attending and participating in local and state bar meetings and bringing the voice of Legal Aid and public sector attorneys to the forefront this year to improve access to justice for low income Floridians.
 
This week we say farewell and thank you to outstanding summer fellow, J'douna Pierre, a Kozyak Summer Fellow from Florida International University Law School, who will be clerking with Colson Hicks for the remainder of the summer.  We are happy to still have two interns to assist our busy attorneys,Yanina Onyewenjo, from Florida International University Law School, and Hayley Goodman, HOPE Summer Fellow, University of Miami School of Law, who will continue volunteering with us through the summer. 
 
Please remember Dade Legal Aid/Put Something Back and help us to be able to continue to serve those in need of free civil legal assistance by accepting a case, donating 20 hours, or contributing $350 to Dade Legal Aid. Click Here to accept cases and/or make your donation to help the civil legal aid delivery system.Thank you very much.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Karen J. Ladis 
Executive Director 

05/22/2020

MAY BRIEFS FROM DADE LEGAL AID
 
Message from our Executive Director
Karen J. Ladis
 
Over the past few months, our community has been affected by COVID-19 in ways none of us could have ever imagined. Throughout the pandemic, our staff have continued working remotely and been a beacon of hope for those in our community who are victims and voiceless, with nowhere else to turn for assistance. Though Legal Aid offices remain closed to ensure the safety of our employees, clients and community, we are here for our clients using a variety of online platforms and by phone. Many attorneys and law firms have asked us how you can help us during this crisis. We encourage you to join us by accepting a case from Put Something Back Pro Bono Project and give struggling residents hope and dignity.
 
To address the increasing numbers of clients facing unemployment and evictions, we created a Legal Helpline in partnership withthe  University of Miami School of Law Eleanor and A. Jay Cristol Bankruptcy Clinic and the Bankruptcy Bar Association for the Southern District, Dade County Bar Association and Arts Business Council, Inc.  Through this helpline, lawyers and law students are providing critical help for low-income clients, including nonprofits, artists and startups, with COVID-19 problems related to unemployment, the CARES Act, collections, evictions, domestic violence, intellectual property, and taxation. We also created a website to guide residents in need of additional resources www.dadecountyprobono.org.
 
This month, we welcomed our virtual Summer Fellows, J'douna Pierre, a Kozyak Summer Fellow from Florida International University Law School, Yanina Onyewenjo, a law student also from Florida International University Law School, and Hayley Goodman, a HOPE Summer Fellow from University of Miami School of Law. We held a virtual Happy Hour so that our staff could meet each of these impressive students and are excited that they've joined our team and will be doing important work remotely!
 
As you renew your Florida Bar Annual Membership Dues Statement and Pro Bono Reporting Form, please remember Dade Legal Aid/Put Something Back and help us to be able to continue to serve those in need of free civil legal assistance. Attorneys may fulfill The Florida Bar Pro Bono Reporting Requirement by accepting a case, donating 20 hours, or contributing $350 annually to Dade Legal Aid and reporting your participation to the bar. Click Here to accept cases and/or make your donation to help the civil legal aid delivery system.Thank you very much.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Karen J. Ladis. 
Executive Director 

04/14/2020

Dade Legal Aid is operating remotely in an effort to keep our community safe and healthy. While physically distant, we remain virtually connected and committed to protecting the vulnerable going above and beyond to ensure the safety of our staff and clients. Our dedicated Guardianship Department Attorneys, Wendy Robbins, Esq., Juanita Cendan, Esq., and Kristen Feuer, Esq., are diligently preparing for and efiling various pleadings, documents, and annual plans for 800+ cases. Staff are processing new client applications for services, conducting hearings and meetings via phone and Zoom, returning calls and inquiries, as well as contacting clients and doctors of Wards in order to continue providing zealous representation during these challenging times. The team is also handling emergency matters and completing cases remotely including obtaining Final Hearings for Incapacity and Guardianship and submitting Orders through CourtMap.
 

Our Child Advocacy Project Coordinator, Nikki Weisburd, Esquire, has also been extremely busy during this period of working remotely monitoring the changing graduation requirements for Miami-Dade Public Schools impacting Foster Youth to make sure they will graduate on time. Our team is advocating to get expenses covered for youth who lost their part-time jobs so they will still have some income, working with doctors to obtain coverage for children who are being denied treatment although they qualify for services, and finding a new placement for a youth who was on the run. We have actively contacted our Child Advocacy pro bono attorneys for updates on their cases and are grateful for the requests for new cases from attorneys throughout the community.

To support our legal advocacy, please consider a charitable donation to the Dade Legal Aid Fund at The Miami Foundation (EIN #650350357). You may donate online on our website at the Donate tab or via check, credit card, or stock via mail or wire transfer to The Miami Foundation, 40 NW 3 Street, Suite 305, Miami, FL 33128 with special instructions that the designation is for the Dade Legal Aid Fund.

All Donors receive a Charitable Letter for Tax-deductible purposes. If you or your firm have time and want to volunteer remotely, please email us at psb@dadelegalaid.org or Click Here. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Karen J. Ladis. Esq.
Executive Director

04/06/2020

Dear Colleagues and Supporters of Dade Legal Aid,
 
We hope this email finds you safe and well during these unprecedented circumstances. We are in our fourth week of working remotely using various virtual platforms to remain connected with each other. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we immediately initiated a Legal Helpline staffed by pro bono attorneys to provide answers to those seeking information regarding bankruptcies, collections, evictions, finances, foreclosures and unemployment benefits. If you have time to volunteer, our clients are facing new challenges and need your assistance now more than ever.
 
Please visit the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Website for important updates from Chief Judge Soto, and information about Zoom, the format for court proceedings until further notice. If you are currently handling a Put Something Back case, please let us know if you need assistance or a seasoned mentor with decades of experience by clicking here. To provide a case update on an active pro bono case, or if your assigned case is now closed, please click here. If you are interested in accepting a case, please click here or email psb@dadelegalaid.org.
 
We are so grateful to you, our supporters and volunteers, who help to make free civil legal services possible to those in need. Your dedication and commitment are inspiring! As the world grapples with the effects of COVID-19, Dade Legal Aid continues to empower and engage our entire legal community to make a difference in meaningful ways. We are committed more than ever to our mission, and are here for you and with you.
 
Warm regards,
 
Karen J. Ladis. Esq.
Executive Director

03/17/2020

Dear Volunteers and Firms:

Thank you for being ready, willing and present to serve our community during this crisis. Dade Legal Aid is following guidance issued by the authorities to reduce the threat of COVID-19 and we are taking all necessary precautionary measures to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff, families, clients, and volunteers, including having the lobby, stairwell, and all common areas professionally cleaned and purchasing the necessary PPE. In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to protect all parties involved, and in accordance with the guidelines of the CDC, we continue to work remotely and will remain accessible to our clients, the courts, stakeholders, each other and the community via email and phone. As the courts are closed, please reschedule all upcoming in person meetings and appointments. We will continue to evaluate the situation and remain fully available to our clients and the legal community remotely until further notice.

Please take all preventative measures to minimize the further spread of the virus during these unchartered times and follow best practices for preventing exposure and illness. Although we are physically closed, please stay up to date with notifications and recommendations from the CDC and WHO or visit our Covid - 19 page for additional resources. I hope you and your families remain safe and well, and that I will see you soon!

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone for your support and cooperation. We appreciate you and hope to see you soon.

Karen Ladis, Esq.
Executive Director