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Hearne honored as Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year

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Hearne honored as Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year

Special to the News

Miami attorney Jeffrey Hearne is being honored with the 2018 Florida Bar Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award for his commitment to tenants’ rights and advocacy, mentoring young attorneys, and working on projects to benefit consumers across Florida.

Jeffrey Hearne Hearne was nominated by fellow attorneys, executive directors of legal aid organizations, and state Sen. José Javier Rodriguez, a member of the Bar’s Consumer Protection Law Committee.

“I’m honored to receive this award,” Hearne said, “especially because the previous award recipients are attorneys I respect and admire.”

The award was presented at the Annual Convention of The Florida Bar in Orlando on June 15.

Hearne began working in the Housing Unit at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. (LSGMI) after graduation from the University of Texas School of Law. He advanced to senior attorney before becoming advocacy director of the Tenants’ Rights Project. Now director of litigation, Hearne is considered an expert, having managed hundreds of cases in federally subsidized housing and eviction defense.

“There are more than 500,000 extremely low-income tenants in Florida,” Hearne said. “Because affordable housing is in such demand, tenants often put up with poor conditions or abusive landlords. Having spent 17 years at Legal Services of Greater Miami representing tenants in all kinds of legal matters, I can unfortunately attest that tenants’ rights are not always valued or protected in Florida. This award from The Florida Bar is a recognition, not just of my work, but of the importance of tenants’ rights and the need for strong tenant protections in Florida.”

As an adjunct faculty member in the J.D. program at the University of Miami School of Law, Hearne became the director of the Tenants’ Rights Clinic, which allows law students to litigate for low-income tenants or represent them in administrative hearings. Hearne supervises and mentors these students, while educating them on landlord-tenant law.

S. Nicole Bates, legal counsel for the Hialeah Housing Authority, commented on Hearne saying, “Jeffrey will not hesitate to exhaust all avenues available to him in order to most skillfully and thoroughly act on behalf of his client’s best interests.”

For more than 10 years, Hearne co-chaired the Housing Umbrella Group of Legal Services, leading and directing about 175 public interest law attorneys and law school professors to provide legal services to low-income individuals. Hearne has served as legal panel chair, vice president, and president of the Miami Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Hearne received the National Housing Law Project’s Housing Justice Award in 2016 and is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Housing Justice Network.

This is the eighth year the award, created to recognize excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law, has been given by the Consumer Protection Law Committee of The Florida Bar.

Christen Petruzzelli is an intern with the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department. She is going into her senior year at Florida State University majoring in English. She plans to go to law school after graduation.

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