30th Annual Pro Bono Award Winners
Dade Legal Aid proudly recognizes its 2020-2021 Pro Bono Honorees who unselfishly donated their time, talent and resources to assisting others in need through our Put Something Back Pro Bono Program. Since the pandemic, over 2,500 cases have been assigned to pro bono attorneys. Thank you to every attorney, firm, individual, and supporter for truly making a difference during these unprecedented times.
Chad Van Horn
During the past year, Chad Van Horn, Esq., of Van Horn Law Group, P.A., has represented over 20 pro bono clients in filing a variety of bankruptcy proceedings. From assistance with personal bankruptcy to student loans to extraordinary medical debt and beyond, Van Horn Law Group is here to help restore peace of mind to Put Something Back clients in financial distress. "The overall improvement of our community starts with giving our citizens - people who make up the foundation of our community - equal access to the legal system," said Mr. Van Horn, who is also an active supporter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Anthony S. Hearn
Child Advocacy Award
Anthony S. Hearn, Esq., President of Anthony S. Hearn, P.A., which provides insurance coverage litigation representation, is this year’s outstanding child advocacy pro bono attorney. In addition to handling cases, he championed #WeTri4Kids, a fitness challenge to benefit Dade Legal Aid’s Child Advocacy Project and Arts for Learning. Through his year-long campaign, $50,000 was raised for these organizations that provide arts programming and legal advocacy for our community's children.
Erik C. Alexander, V.P. Truist Wealth Legal Specialty Group
Community Service Award
Mr. Alexander is a Miami native with over 27 years of private banking experience and decades of community service. In addition to supporting Dade Legal Aid’s mission, his profound record includes devoting countless hours serving on the Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America, South Florida Council, and on the Disaster Workforce for the American Red Cross where he aids in disaster and humanitarian relief. We are extremely grateful for your constant support.
Family Law Award
Patricia Mesa, Esq., of Patricia Mesa P.A., has handled over a dozen pro bono cases for Put Something Back including Divorce, Visitation, Paternity, Guardian ad Litem and Child Custody. A 2013 graduate of FIU College of Law, Ms. Mesa serves as a mentor to other pro bono attorneys and has developed a pristine reputation for her zealous advocacy and professional integrity. During the pandemic, she opened her own firm and dedicated most of her time to pro bono work. A valuable asset to Put Something Back, she provides passionate, zealous representation to all of her clients.
Mary Lou Rodon
Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Award
Mary Lou Rodon, Esq., of Rodon Law, PA received Florida Bar President Dori Foster Morales’ Pro Bono Service Award for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit presented at the Tobias Simon Awards Ceremony earlier this year. A true champion of children’s cases and pro bono legal services, no children’s case or cause is too difficult for her to handle. Ms. Rodon has been serving the community for over 30 years helping indigent members of our community.
Guardian ad Litem Award
Ms. Fialcoff, Esq., an Associate at Duane Morris LLP who practices in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Banking Litigation and Creditors’ Rights matters, was appointed to serve as a pro bono Guardian ad Litem “GAL” in a complex family case involving domestic violence during the height of COVID-19. In this capacity, she volunteered over 100 hours as GAL interviewing all parties to the proceedings, coordinating Time-Sharing, and attending hearings to help make a determination as to the best interests of the child. At the conclusion, she prepared an extensive Report and Recommendations for the Court. She, along with the members of Duane Morris LLP, handle a variety of cases and are deeply committed to pro bono work.
Mr. Hochsztein, a Partner at Hochsztein and Harrison-Jolly, P.A., with 38 years of legal experience, practices in all aspects of Guardianship, Estate Planning, Real Estate, Probate and Baker Act cases. This past year, he devoted many hours to Put Something Back accepting without hesitation several extremely challenging matters involving Minor Settlement, Guardianship for a grandfather over his grandson after the mother’s sudden death, and Probate Administration for clients whose loved ones passed from COVID-19. He gives his all to performing pro bono work and does so with compassion and integrity.
Tammi A. Calarco
Ms. Calarco, Esq., an Associate with Simon, Schindler and Sandberg LLP and active Board Member of the Miami Dade Bar, has taken the legacy of founding partner Tobias Simon to heart. A true leader and collaborator, Ms. Calarco has successfully represented multiple low-income tenants in Evictions favorably resolving their issues and protecting clients and their families from eviction during the pandemic. She is always ready, willing, and able and makes a difference!
Alexander D. Maza
Outstanding Law Student Award
Mr. Maza, a second-year law student with St. Thomas University School of Law, volunteered over 180 hours during his summer internship at Legal Aid assisting with client intake, referring cases to pro bono attorneys, conducting legal research, and updating status of ongoing pro bono cases. The work that he performed was exceptional, and we are honored to present him with the Outstanding Law Student Award.
Ms. Brown, Managing Partner of IPS Legal Group PA, dedicates a significant amount of time to community service and helping others. She provides pro bono legal services to Patent clients regularly and was recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for providing over 50 pro bono hours last year. “I aim to help people who have a passion for innovation and invention but don’t have means to share their ideas with the world,” said Ms. Brown, a member of the Miami Dade Bar and past President of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association.
Randi Perry Spallina
Ms. Spallina, Counsel at Bressler, Amery and Ross, P.C., assists individual and corporate clients in both simple and complex matters. Passionate about her community, she accepted six significant Probate Administration cases for a variety of Put Something Back clients this year stating, “I am honored to receive this recognition. Pro bono work is crucial to the strength of our communities and much needed here in Florida. I am grateful that Bressler encourages pro bono work, and I will continue to do my part to positively impact the lives of pro bono clients and marginalized communities. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help clients in need and look forward to continuing to work with Put Something Back!”
Honorable Celeste H. Muir
Richard C. Milstein Pro Bono Excellence Award
Judge Muir, a longtime supporter of Dade Legal Aid, made a lasting impact serving as a judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit for 35 years. In 1982, she became the first woman President of the Dade County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section. In 2008, she received the Judge Maria Korvick Judicial Award from the Dade County Bar Probate-Guardianship Committee and in 2012 she received the Award of Recognition from the Coral Gables Bar Association. In 2014, she received The Justice Harry Anstead Professionalism Award from the Miami Dade Trial Lawyers Association. Like Mr. Milstein, who this prestigious award is named after, her commitment to professionalism and pro bono knows no bounds. Congratulations and thank you for your many years of dedicated service!
Rising Star Pro Bono Award
Through the opportunity to participate in Dade Legal Aid's Leadership Academy, Mr. Finkel, of The Haggard Law Firm in Coral Gables, rises to the occasion whenever called upon to serve. His participation has led him to pro bono appointments, new networks and leadership roles. He recently joined the Miami Dade Bar Board of Directors and will receive the 40 Under 40 Outstanding Young Professionals of South Florida from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We Iook forward to his continued pro bono involvement with Dade Legal Aid.
Idalberto De Armas, Sr. V.P., First Horizon
Terry Biddulph Citizenship Award
Last year, we lost one of our biggest supporters and champions of pro bono -Terrence Biddulph of IberiaBank now known as First Horizon. Terry spent over 35 years attending and promoting Dade Leal Aid events and was a true friend to everyone he encountered. To honor his legacy, we proudly present Idalberto “Bert” De Armas with the inaugural Terry Biddulph Citizenship Award. Bert, a Senior Vice President at IberiaBank, has over 35 years of financial planning and banking experience and has supported Dade Legal Aid for years. Like Terry, Bert is always there to lend a helping hand and has been the benefactor of many initiatives such as Battle of the Legal Bands and Speeding Lawfully Spin Challenge. We are so grateful to him and to Terry for their many years of service to our community.