Monday, May 2, 2011

MAY 6, 2011 Miami-Dade PRO BONO AWARDS Preview

Dade County Bar Association & Dade County Bar Association Office Of Public Service Today announce those slated for honors of 22nd ANNUAL RECOGNITION LUNCHEON.

Small Firm of the Year Award – Gerald I. Kornreich, Kornreich & Associates

Mr. Kornreich, of Kornreich & Associates, has devoted nearly 500 hours on 35 family law and child custody cases.  In addition to handling these and other matters, he is a driving force behind the Annual View from the Bench Family Law Seminar which generates over 100 volunteer attorneys each year.

Consumer Advocacy Award- Erik Kardatzke
When clients are being harassed by creditors, Mr. Kardatzke, a dedicated consumer rights attorney,  takes the lead in defending consumers against debt collectors.  He has handled over 30 collection cases this year for indigent debtors in desperate need of assistance providing 200 hours of free legal services.

Domestic Violence Advocacy Award- Stewart Marcos Cooke
This year, Legal Aid staff attorneys represented over 1,300 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Services include counsel and advice, direct representation and enforcement of restraining orders.  Legal Aid often calls upon volunteer attorneys to represent victims of abuse at permanent injunction hearings.  Whenever Mr. Cooke receives those calls for help, the word “No” is not in his vocabulary.

Large Law Firm of the Year Award – Hogan Lovells US LLP
The lawyers of the Miami office of Hogan Lovells US LLP are serious about giving back to the community.  Last year alone, they provided 2,446 pro bono hours while supporting significant causes from Miami-Dade to the U.S. Supreme Court. They are a national firm with about 40 lawyers in its Miami offices.  Their local commitment to pro bono work is evidenced by a culture of giving back to the less fortunate members of the community by way of  handling cases, staffing clinics and participating in projects protecting those in greatest need. 

Attorney of the Year Award – Bruce A. Weil
A partner with Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Mr. Weil is a long-time pro bono provider who spends hundreds of hours of his time taking a variety of pro bono cases.  Many clients praise his work and to quote one of them “I do not know what I would have done without Mr. Weil.  He truly embodies what pro bono means, he is kind and giving and seeks no recognition in return.”

Richard C. Milstein Excellence Award- John Sutton
Mr. Sutton has not allowed anything to get in the way of his pro bono participation and has been an active member of Put Something Back for many years.  He has handled 36 cases totaling 690 hours of his time while giving 100% to the less fortunate of this community.  Whether he is advising clients or recruiting other attorneys to take pro bono cases, Mr. Sutton is the finest example of Access to Justice for All.”  He shows true talent for recognizing unfair situations and leads others by example.  Legal Aid praises him for his commitment to Legal Aid and for helping the most vulnerable population in the community.  It is an honor to him the recipient of this year’s Richard C. Milstein Excellence Award.

Innovative Project Award – Jaime Rich Vining, DCBA Intellectual Property Committee, Partner Friedland Vining
As Chair of the DCBA Intellectual Property Committee, Ms. Vining and her Co-chair and distinguished Committee launched the Patently Impossible Project, an innovative event which engaged intellectual property, corporate and maritime lawyers to participate in a race to assemble a patented invention.  The event was so successful that Ms. Vining has agreed to make it an annual benefit for Legal Aid.

Bonnie L. Cooper Probate & Guardianship Award – Robert  S. Moschell and J. Eric Virgil
Legal Aid recently lost Bonnie Cooper, one of its biggest supporters and to honor her memory, this year’s Probate & Guardianship Award is named after her.  While so many are truly deserving of this award, two exceptional individuals Robert Moschell and Eric Virgil are the first recipients for equally  devoting an exceptional amount of time to keeping all probate and guardianship lawyers updated. 

Pro Se Clinic Award – Bankruptcy Bar Association and American College of Bankruptcy
Legal Aid wishes to recognize the Bankruptcy bar association of the Southern District of Florida and the American College of bankruptcy for implementing Pro Se Debtor clinics for indigent clients of Legal Aid.  At the clinics, attorneys provide advice on  bankruptcy issues and so far over 300 clients have received assistance.  Special credit goes to Ileana E. Christianson, GrayRobinson and James Fierberg, Akerman Senterfitt, Bankruptcy Bar Pro Bono Co-Chairs  and to Patricia Redmond, Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and Member of its Pro bono committee along with the Honorable Laurel M. Isicoff, United States bankruptcy judge, for their hard work and creativity in making the clinics a huge success.

Special Recognition goes to Outstanding Sponsors: Sabadell United Bank-Terry Biddulph , Daily Business Review - Sookie Williams and VERITEXT Court Reporting and Deposition services - Joshua Coller. Legal Aid counts on all members of the legal community for their support and SPECIAL THANKS TO the above for their generous SUPPORT OF LEGAL AID.

For over 60 years, Legal Aid & its award winning pro bono program have served thousands of clients unable to afford an attorney.  Each year, countless individuals, law firms, bar associations and  other professionals provide thousands of hours of pro bono representation to the indigent of this community in all areas of law.

Legal Aid faces a grim forecast for the coming year due to significant declines in IOTA, Local, State and Federal funding.  Since 2008, Legal Aid lost over $525,000 dollars from its main source of revenue, Miami-Dade County.  At the same time, they face  record breaking numbers of clients seeking services.  There is no other legal provider of such civil legal services in Miami-Dade. Undaunted, Legal Aid provides extraordinary services to so many in need.  They cannot continue to fill the gap without the support of attorneys, firms, local bar associations and the entire legal community.  Legal Aid needs help now.  If you want to contribute, please sign up today at


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