Articles Posted in Legal Clinic

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As an undergraduate student at Florida International University, starting my second year of college, I decided I wanted to do something productive with my summer. I had the good fortune of hearing about Lawyers to the Rescue through my brother and I was immediately intrigued by the notion of lawyers doing something to better our community.

During my high school years I learned the importance of being socially aware and engaged. As a result, I developed a commitment to serving others. This commitment now stems from a sincere desire to, somehow, make the lives of those around me better.

After graduating from high school and beginning my college years, I knew I wanted to follow a career path in law. My dilemma was finding a way to combine my dream of becoming a successful lawyer with my passion for helping others. I wanted my profession to serve not just as a means for me to make a living, but also as a way of making a difference in the lives of individuals.

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Last week I was speaking with a family friend about my desire to attend law school. She mentioned to me an organization called “Lawyers to the Rescue”. Interested, I did a quick Google search, found the website, and called Dina Aronfeld. She called me back and informed me of a legal clinic taking place on Saturday at Camillus House.

I arrived at Camillus House at 10:00 A.M. The situation was a bit chaotic until all of the legal clinic participants arrived. Then, as if mandated by some sort of natural law, a type of organization began to emerge almost instantaneously. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle of names being called out and papers being exchanged, it suddenly occurred what was really going on: these attorneys and volunteers were willingly sacrificing their Saturday morning in order to assist people who were in dire need and had no one else to turn to.

After order was established and the majority of the clients were either being helped or were waiting to speak to a specific attorney, I was allowed to sit in with Mr. Scott Kotler. After about three or four cases I told Mr. Kotler that I was surprised at how so little information or explanation could help the clients as much as it did. Mr. Kotler replied with something along the lines of: “We may not be able to give them the answer that they seek, but we can at least point them in the right direction or have them leave the room with some ‘peace of mind'”. He explained that a lot of the people seeking legal help at Camillus House genuinely sought stability in their lives, but various legal issues posed as obstacles. He stated that helping those with legal problems is not just about “lawyering” or finding direct solutions to problems… it is also about humanity and keeping aware of the fact that these people are human beings with problems just like us. He added that “sometimes they just really need someone to earnestly listen to them for ten minutes”. What Mr. Kotler said left a significant impression on me. All of the Lawyers to the Rescue attorneys Chairman and Founder, Spencer Aronfeld, Board of Directors, Scott Kotler, Santiago Cueto, Marco Britt and Jessica Laleh went out of their way to help whoever needed aid.

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Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to join Scott Kotler, Don Wilson and Spencer Aronfeld at their monthly visit to Camillus House in Downtown Miami. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but my experience that day was definitely worthwhile.

Walking into Camillus house I felt the energy radiating from everyone inside. Everybody was so positive, greeting me with a smile and thanking me for volunteering alongside Lawyers to the Rescue. Many of the staff members continuously expressed their appreciation for what Lawyers to the Rescue has done for them, re assuring me that these people really need all the help they can possibly get.

I was shadowing Scott Kotler, a very enthusiastic, and well-spoken gentleman. Scott explained to me better than any professor ever has, every dimension of each case we saw. I could not be more grateful for his teachings and words of advice I received throughout the day. It was so great to see people willing to set aside some time for their day to give back to their communities.

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I am not an attorney, scientist, teacher, architect, or of any professional association. I am just a passionately curious single mom with helping hands, and great friends. So When Lawyers to the Rescue – posted the Legal Clinic. I called Mrs. Aronfeld and said she could count on me. I thought I would support LTR, with my presence. So this Saturday I showed up.

MIND YOU THIS IS NOT JUST FOR THE LAW STUDENTS: IT IS FOR ALL STUDENTS; IN FACT, THIS IS FOR EVERYONE.

I was born and raised in Miami so Camillus House is familiar to me. However, I had never been there. The experience was awesome and powerful. There are no words that describe what I felt; but, I can only tell you that I understand Mother Teresa’s lifelong mission to help the poor and the sick. There is something to be said about being with the broken that brands your own heart. Remember, the poor are victims of injustice and oppression. The poor and the sick do not have access to the resources of the rich. The difference in the world between people is what we own, and don’t own. This is one of reasons – I support Lawyers to the Rescue, they are the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.

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Saint Thomas University School of Law Student, Domenick Lazzara describes his experience at the legal clinic:

“This weekend I had the opportunity to work with Lawyers to the Rescue at the Camillus House in Miami, Florida. While I had been invited many times by Mr. Aronfeld, I always had a prior-commitment. I can now say that the experience was well worth the wait. It is difficult to find the words to summarize how rewarding it is to use God’s blessings for the good of others. This included helping a family law attorney counsel a recovering addict in his quest to gain paternity of his daughter, serving food and water to the hungry and underprivileged, and offering an endless amount of smiles.

The most surprising aspect of this experience was the gratefulness of the people I served. It changed my traditional stereotypes of the homeless man “bothering” me on the corner asking for change. And more importantly, experiencing this in the company of successful attorneys was important for me to see. As a third year law student, it is encouraging to know that there are those amongst my soon to be profession that generally care about the world and the lawyer’s invaluable place in it. Thank you for the experience, I look forward to the next gathering.