After a successful pilot in Miami-Dade County, FloridaProBonoMatters.org, a new website that enables pro bono attorneys to search for local pro bono cases that suit their interests, is being rolled out statewide.
The Florida Bar Foundation, which has funded and overseen the development of the site, held training sessions in June for legal aid and pro bono program staff in Central and South Florida to learn how to display their pro bono cases. The Foundation also held receptions to introduce the site to area lawyers. The next training sessions and receptions are scheduled for August 24 in Tampa and September 13 in Jacksonville.
Ashley Hamilton of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a member of The Florida Bar’s Business Law Section, was among the first lawyers to take a case through the website.
In practice for two years in Miami, Hamilton had previously worked on two pro bono cases before finding her third on FloridaProBonoMatters.org.
“As a junior attorney at a big law firm, I look forward to opportunities to do pro bono work to connect with people and learn skills that I might not otherwise hone until later in my career,” Hamilton said. “The new Florida Pro Bono Matters website is progressive in that it provides lawyers autonomy to pursue their passion.”
She signed up to help a single mother with a tax controversy because she thought it was an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
“Florida Pro Bono Matters brings me back to the reason I and many of my colleagues went to law school — to help people — in a tangible and accessible way,” Hamilton said. “I would encourage anyone thinking about getting involved to log on and find a pro bono opportunity that fits their interest.”
Vivian Chavez, director of operations for Legal Services of Greater Miami, said FloridaProBonoMatters.org helped the organization recruit eight new volunteer attorneys in just the first two months.
“It’s a great tool to educate volunteers who might not have known what our organization is about or what kinds of cases we handle,” Chavez said. “And because the new website is married to our case management software, posting a case is a breeze.”
By September, the Foundation will have trained the remaining 28 legal aid and pro bono programs that receive Florida Bar Foundation funding to add cases directly from the case management software to which the Foundation helped them migrate several years ago.
The following month, during the American Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Week in late October, the Foundation will launch a media campaign to drive Florida lawyers to the site. Meanwhile, lawyers in Central and South Florida can search for pro bono cases at www.FloridaProBonoMatters.org.
For more information about the Tampa and Jacksonville receptions, contact Ericka Garcia, the foundation’s director of pro bono partnerships, at [email protected].