The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Solo and Small Firm Section announces 2020 Roffino Pro Bono Award grant recipients

Top Stories

Pro Bono Award PhotoLegal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., is this year’s winner of the Solo & Small Firm Section’s L. Michael Pro Bono Award and has received a $4,000 grant in recognition of its Partners for Equal Justice campaign and Justice Bus program.

Finalists Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., in Stuart and the Cuban American Bar Association in Miami each received $2,000. Because the section’s 2020 Annual Meeting was virtual, the winners will be recognized during a presentation ceremony in June 2021 during The Florida Bar Annual Convention.

The annual L. Michael Roffino Pro Bono Award — previously known as the Bill Jacob Award — is given to the pro bono organization in Florida that has created the best pro bono service program during the past year. Originally named the Bill Jacob Award in honor of the section’s first chair, it was renamed in 2004 after the untimely death of former section Chair L. Michael Roffino.

The Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association each year nominates five programs for consideration. The Solo & Small Firm Section’s Awards Committee selects a winner and two finalists. To date, the Solo & Small Firm Section has awarded $164,500 to deserving Florida pro bono organizations.

According to Awards Committee Chair Gerald “Jerry” Curington, the committee selected Legal Services of Greater Miami because of the innovation and reach of its programs.

“We always have a tough time choosing winners from the exceptional pro bono initiatives that are nominated,” said Curington. “Florida’s pro bono service organizations and volunteer attorneys are truly making a difference in the lives of Floridians who otherwise would not be able to afford access to legal assistance.”

The Partners for Equal Justice campaign was a friendly competition that encouraged partners at law firms to lead by example and accept at least one direct representation pro bono case. In the first year, more than 50 law firm partners accepted the challenge, 41 law firms participated and 395 families gained access to justice. The Justice Bus program helped families in Marathon, the hardest hit area after Hurricane Irma. Legal Services of Greater Miami provided on-demand CLE training for volunteers and coordinated a four-hour, round-trip bus trip. A year after the hurricane, the program served 30 families who were still in need of hurricane-related legal services.

Pro Bono Advocacy Director Jayme M. Cassidy said, “On behalf of Legal Services of Greater Miami, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude for recognizing and appreciating our pro bono work. It is an honor to receive the L. Michael Roffino Pro Bono Award. The Florida Pro Bono Association is full of zealous advocates and it is truly amazing to be singled out.”

The section honored runner-up Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. for its new Veterans Clinic and its Drive to Work Project, which provides legal assistance with reinstating suspended drivers licenses. The Cuban American Bar Association was honored for its annual pro bono legal services to more than 1,200 clients in domestic violence, dependency, human trafficking victims’ representation, and immigration/citizenship cases.

Learn more about the L. Michael Roffino Award and its previous recipients on the section website’s awards page.

News in Photos