News / Events

PUT SOMETHING BACK PRO BONO AWARDS

Bankruptcy Pro Bono Award

During the past year, Chad Van Horn,Esq., of Van Horn Law Group, P.A., hasrepresented over 20 pro bono clients in avariety of bankruptcy proceedings. Fromassistance with personal bankruptcy,student loans, and extraordinary medicaldebt, Van Horn Law Group is there tohelp restore peace of mind to PutSomething Back clients in financialdistress. "The overall improvement of ourcommunity starts with giving our citizens- people who make up the foundation ofour community - equal access to the legalsystem," said Mr. Van Horn, who is alsoan active supporter of Big Brothers andBig Sisters.

Child Advocacy Pro Bono Award

Anthony S. Hearn, Esq., President ofAnthony S. Hearn, P.A., which provides insurance coverage litigation representation, is the outstanding child advocacy pro bono attorney. In addition to handling cases, Mr. Hearn championed#WeTri4Kids, a fitness challenge to benefit Dade Legal Aid's Children's Legal Collaborative and Arts forLearning Miami, a nonprofit dedicated to arts education for children in our community. This campaign raised $50,000 for these two organizations that provide innovative programming and legal advocacy for children and youth.

Family Law Pro Bono Award

Patricia Mesa, Esq., of Patricia Mesa P.A.,a 2013 graduate of FIU College of Law,has handled over a dozen Family probono cases for Put Something Backincluding Divorce, Visitation, Paternity,Guardian ad Litem and Child Custody. During the pandemic, she opened herown firm and dedicates most of her timeto pro bono work and serves as a mentorto other attorneys. An asset to PutSomething Back, she provides passionate,zealous representation to all her clientsand has developed a pristine reputationfor zealous advocacy and professionalintegrity.

Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono Award

Kassia Fialkoff, Esq., an Associate at Duane Morris LLP whose practice is 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 at the height of the pandemic. She spent over 100 hours interviewing parties to the proceedings, coordinated time-sharing for the minor child, attended numerous hearings, and prepared lengthy reports throughout the case. Many thanks to Ms. Fialkoff and Duane Morris LLP for their deep commitment to pro bono work.

Guardianship Pro Bono Award

Fred Hochsztein, Esq., a Partner atHochsztein and Harrison-Jolly, P.A., with38 years of legal experience, practices inall aspects of Guardianship, EstatePlanning, Real Estate, Probate and BakerAct cases. This past year, he devotedmany hours to Put Something Backaccepting without hesitation severalextremely challenging matters involvinga Minor Settlement, Guardianship for agrandfather over his grandson after themother’s sudden death, and ProbateAdministration for clients whose lovedones passed from COVID-19. He gives hisall to performing pro bono work and doesso with compassion and integrity.

Housing Pro Bono Award

Tammi A. Calarco, Esq., an Associatewith Simon, Schindler and Sandberg LLPand active Board Member of the MiamiDade Bar and Mentoring Committee ofMDFAWL, has taken the legacy offounding partner Tobias Simon to heart. A true leader and collaborator, Ms.Calarco has successfully representedmultiple low-income tenants in Evictionsfavorably resolving their issues andprotecting clients and their familiesduring the pandemic. A role model andleader, she is always ready, willing, andable to assist and makes a difference!

Patent Pro Bono Award

Joycelyn Brown, Esq., Managing Partnerof IPS Legal Group PA, dedicates asignificant amount of time to communityservice and helping others. She providespro bono legal services to Patent clientsand was recognized by the United StatesPatent and Trademark Office forperforming over 50 pro bono hours lastyear. “I aim to help people who have apassion for innovation and invention butdon’t have means to share their ideaswith the world,” said Ms. Brown, amember of the Miami Dade Bar and PastPresident of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr.Bar Association.

Rising Star Pro Bono Award

As a Fellow with Class V of Dade LegalAid's Leadership Academy, Adam C.Finkel, Esq., of The Haggard Law Firm inCoral Gables, has risen to the occasionwhenever called upon to serve. Hisparticipation has led him to pro bonoappointments, new networks andleadership roles. He is a Member of theMiami Dade Bar Board of Directors andwill receive the Cystic FibrosisFoundation 40 Under 40 OutstandingYoung Professionals of South Florida. Welook forward to his continuedinvolvement for many years to come!

Probate Pro Bono Award

Randi P. Spallina, Esq., a passionateMember of the Bressler Amery & Ross,P.C. Firm Pro Bono Committee, acceptedsix Probate Administration cases for avariety of Put Something Back clientsthis year. “I am honored to receive thisrecognition and so grateful for theopportunity to help clients in need. Probono work is crucial to the strength ofour communities and much needed herein Florida. I am grateful that Bresslerencourages pro bono work and willcontinue to do my part to positivelyimpact the lives of pro bono clients andmarginalized communities. I look forwardto continuing to work with PutSomething Back!”

Richard C. Milstein Pro Bono Excellence Award

Judge Muir, a longtime supporter of DadeLegal Aid, made a lasting impact servingas a judge of the Eleventh JudicialCircuit for 35 years. In 1982, shebecame the first woman President of theDade County Bar Association YoungLawyers Section. In 2008, she receivedthe Judge Maria Korvick Judicial Awardfrom the DCBA Probate-GuardianshipCommittee and in 2012 she received theAward of Recognition from the CoralGables Bar Association. In 2014, shereceived The Miami-Dade Trial LawyersAssociation Justice Harry AnsteadProfessionalism Award. Mr. Milstein, whothis prestigious award is named after forhis commitment to pro bono andprofessionalism, will present the award. Congratulations and thank you for yourservice!

Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Award

Congratulations to Mary Lou Rodon, Esq., ofRodon Law, PA, recipient of the 2021 FloridaBar President’s Pro Bono Service Award for theEleventh Judicial Circuit.

Robert Shevin Public Service Award

Cynthia Stafford, Esq., Staff Attorney, began at Legal Aid over 20 years ago as a Domestic Violence intern, then joined the staffas an Attorney to implement Legal Aid’s Miami Beach Domestic Violence Collaborative bringing the first legal and socialservices program to victims of domestic violence on Miami Beach. She was elected to the Florida Legislature in 2010 and spentthe next 8 years in public service as a State Representative in the Florida House of Representatives. She was re-elected to fourconsecutive terms, serving as a Legislator until 2018 when she was unable to run again due to term limits. As a Legislator, Ms.Stafford was House Minority Policy Chair and on the Appropriations, Policy and Judiciary Committees (Ranking Member). In2012, the Mary Kay Foundation awarded a grant in recognition of Ms. Stafford to the Miami Rescue Mission to support housingand services for domestic violence victims and their children. In 2013, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar honored herwith the Legislator Award for her efforts on behalf of Florida’s families throughout the legislative session. In 2018, Lotus HouseShelter for Homeless Women and Children honored Ms. Stafford with the Leadership Award for her efforts in the Legislature. Ms. Stafford has returned to her home at Dade Legal Aid as a Domestic Violence Attorney. She was born and raised in LibertyCity and earned her J.D. from St. Thomas University School of Law. Ms. Stafford also teaches at Miami-Dade College School ofjustice. She is a true visionary leader and agent of change.

Johnnie M. Ridgely President’s Award

Karen Josefsberg Ladis joined the Legal Aid Society of the Miami-Dade Bar “Dade Legal Aid” in 1991 to be the coordinator ofPut Something Back Pro Bono Project, the official pro bono project of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit and Dade County BarAssociation Legal Aid Society “Dade Legal Aid.” In January 2014, she became the Executive Director upon Sharon Langer’sretirement. For the past three decades, she has worked tirelessly to provide greater access to justice for thousands of low-incomeindividuals and families in need of civil legal assistance. In 1990, upon graduation from University of Miami School of Law,Ms. Ladis worked in private practice and immediately joined the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. Sheserved on the Bulletin Committee, eventually becoming Editor, and has remained an energetic and dedicated member of theassociation ever since. Throughout the years, Johnnie Ridgely was one of Ladis’ greatest mentors, guiding her to become a rolemodel, bar leader, and voice for the less fortunate. Ladis fondly recalls life lessons and skills she learned from Mrs. Ridgely overthe years, such as how to write a press release or prepare a judicial profile for The Bulletin. Ladis is active in numerousvoluntary bar associations and serves on The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. In recognition forher commitment and service to the bar, bench and community, Ladis has been awarded with numerous awards, notably in1998, Ladis was awarded The Florida Bar YLD Pro Bono Service Award for Outstanding Public Service and in 2006, she wasawarded the DCBA inaugural Robert L. Shevin Public Service Award.

Terrence Biddulph Citizenship Award

Last October, we lost one of our biggest supporters and champions - Terrence Biddulph of IberiaBank First Horizon. “Terry” spent over 35 years attending and promoting Dade Legal Aid and PutSomething Back events and was a true friend and supporter to everyone he encountered. To honor his legacy, we proudly present Idalberto “Bert” DeArmas, Senior Vice President, Iberiabank First Horizon, with the Terrence Biddulph Citizenship Award. Mr. DeArmas has over 35 years of financial planning and banking experience and has supported Put Something Back and the legal community for years. Bert is always there to lend a helping hand to support initiatives such as Battle of the Legal Bands and Speeding Lawfully Spin Challenge. We are so grateful to him and to IberiaBank First Horizon for their exceptional commitment.

Community Service Award

Erik C. Alexander, Vice-President, TruistWealth Legal Specialty Group, is a Miaminative with over 27 years of private banking experience and decades of community service. In addition to supporting the mission of Dade Legal Aid and Put Something Back, his service includes devoting countless hours on the Board of Directors of 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 truly grateful to Mr. Alexander and Truist for constant support and participation in probono recruitment seminars, programs and events.

Outstanding Law Student Award

Alexander Maza, a second-year law student at St. Thomas University School of Law, volunteered 180 hours during his summer internship at Put Something Back assisting with screening and referring pro bono cases, 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.

Gallery

DSC_2397 DSC_2395 DSC_2364 DSC_2353 DSC_2339 DSC_2337 DSC_2333