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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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It is no surprise that it has increasingly become more difficult to get a job. Whether you have impressive credentials or if you are the average Joe trying to make ends meet. Yet, what happens to those people who are of the less fortunate bunch? I am mainly talking about men and women who, unfortunately, have criminal records following their best efforts to seek employment. Although, this may still remain an issue for some, there may be a way for many to “clear” their records, and put themselves in a better position to be employed in Florida. This process is known as Expunging (wiping out your record= clean slate) and or Sealing (closing your record= not allowing anyone to see it except those who have special jurisdiction) your criminal record.

Unfortunately, the process of expunging your records takes a considerable amount of time (about 6 months if processed correctly) and has limited “sure- fire” benefits. In other words, even if you have jumped through all the correct hoops, in the correct order, and have done all the right things… there still may be a chance that your record will still follow you around, putting a burden on your future employment opportunities. This reason is primarily because these records are public. In being public records, private companies have the ability to purchase them, catalog their contents on their databases, and even post your mug shots on their websites. With this being said, these companies do not typically keep these files up to date and can pose a conflict if found while your potential employer performs a background check.

However, with understanding the pitfalls of this process, those who meet certain criteria (those who have one offense on their record that does not interfere with any caveats) may expunge their records and potentially enjoy the comfort of not indicating that they had previously been convicted when applying for a job.

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A divorce is usually a tough moment to go through as a kid and as a parent. As a part when you’ve managed to recover from it you’ll be naturally looking into other people to start a new relationship. Of course when your kid will come to meet your new friend of partner it might remind him of previous emotions.

The way a child will react when presenting him your new partner can be very random. In some cases your child will not accept this new person. He will consider her/him as an intruder who’s entering his habits and his family.

In some cases it can get even worse. For kids who saw one of their parents leave the other one; this new relationship will sound to the child as a new separation. This parent didn’t use to be there much and now this new relations hip will get things even worst. If this parent left once will he do it twice? Following a divorce it’s important that the child has support from both parents. Not doing so can have an impact on his psychology during his teen age.

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If you want to make a difference in your community, then the best action for lawyers to take is doing community service or pro bono legal work. Lawyers to the Rescue caters to exactly the action of lawyers coming to the rescue and engaging in pro bono legal services as well as doing community service.

The website is www.lawyerstotherescue.org

In this day and age, it is of utmost importance for all of us to do what we can to make our community stronger, better and overall more pleasant. A lawyer who does community service or pro bono legal work is very well received by their community in general. There is a positive outlook on community service, but there is an even greater reward from the community when a lawyer does community service and pro bono legal work. Legal work is such a necessity for all types of people, and unfortunately it is hard for some people to afford the cost of legal services. Lawyers are able to help by donating their legal expertise to the people in their community. This is a great service they can do for themselves that will change their entire outlook on life.

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As a Miami personal injury and accident attorney, I am often asked if I am proud to do what I do? It is a valid question in light of disgraceful news regarding a few members of the Florida Bar currently imprisoned. Do a quick internet search and you can find stories about a Florida lawyer arrested for trying to kill girlfriend while wielding a sword and naked. A recently admitted lawyer was just charged with selling sex on the internet. Most of South Florida’s lawyers are still feeling the sting over the damage Scott Rothstein and his Ponzi scheme has done to our perception in society.

The not-for-profit organization, Lawyers to the Rescue has decided to do something about lawyers’ reputations. On February 28, 2012, Lawyers to the Rescue will showcase several of South Florida’s Best Lawyers at its First Annual Award for Public Service. These individuals have set the standard for their commitment to justice.

Amongst the honorees is Bennett Brummer, the former Miami-Dade Public Defender who will receive a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his nearly fifty years of service to Miami’s legal community. Current State Attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, will receive the “Lawyer of the Year Award” for her decades of service to the office of the State Attorney. Miami Dade County Judge, Scott Bernstein, will be honored for his service as the “Jurist of the Year.” John Kozyak will receive the “Humanitarian of the Year.” Jessica Laleh has only been a lawyer for a short time but will be recognized as the Young Lawyer of the Year and Domenick Lazzara a third year St. Thomas University School of Law will be recognized as the “Law Student of the Year.”

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Happy New Year!

I’d like to take this time to wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year! As 2012 has begun, you should take this opportunity to see this year as the year of new opportunities, and new beginnings! The older we get and the more time passes by, the more concerned we are with self improvement. What better way to start off the year by fulfilling your New Year’s Resolution of becoming a better citizen by engaging yourself within your community. Lawyers to the Rescue (LTTR) is always seeking pro-bono attorney volunteers to assist in our Legal Clinics the third Saturday of every month. At the clinic we help the homeless obtain the legal assistance they could not get elsewhere. The service our clients receive can be life changing, like it was for Ms. Amat-Martinez last December. Imagine being able to change someone’s life through LTTR?

Now, everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions are different, but there is one thing they all have in common: the pursuit of life-changing self improvement methods to live a healthier and happier life– free of stress and toxicity. There is something about giving back to others that makes these feelings possible, and I encourage you to take some time out of your busy schedule every once in a while to give back to the less fortunate. A sense of peace and fulfillment will overwhelm you.

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I am practicing a motorcycle accident injury lawyer in Florida for over twenty years and I was less than thrilled to see that the USA Network recently announced their show, “Suits,” will be returning next summer with all new episodes. The show centers around the offensive and idiotic premise that a high-powered lawyer named Harvey Spector decides to forgo hiring Ivy League law graduates in favor of a high school dropout con artist, Mike Ross, with the hopes of passing him off as his protege and associate.

Apparently Ross has super-human memory and is able to work at all hours of the night and day. That seems to be enough for Spector who misrepresents to his partners, judges, opposing counsel and clients that Ross is a licensed attorney.

The show is nothing more than frightening and dangerous to our system of justice. The reputation of lawyers has been rocked by scandal after scandal as former prominent members of the Bar, especially here in Florida, are currently behind bars for one thing or another. It undermines our credibility with juries who are already distrusting of lawyers and think that they are often playing by their own rules, manipulating juries with fancy suits and ten-dollar words.

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Since the founding of Lawyers to the Rescue, many Honorable South Florida volunteer Attorneys have successfully put the organization’s missions into action. Lawyers to the Rescue‘s legal clinics for the homeless at Camillus House have helped the homeless receive legal assistance that they would not have been able to receive elsewhere. Most recently, one of Lawyers to the Rescue’s Board of Directors and volunteer attorneys, the admirable Criminal Law Attorney Scott F. Kotler, used his expertise to aid a South Florida homeless woman to obtain almost $6000.00 recovered from the Florida Department of Revenue. The client was Ms. Christina Amat-Martinez, a Cuban refugee who has been living in various shelters around South Florida since the passing of her husband. She had reached out to Scott Kotler during one of Lawyers to the Rescue’s legal clinics at Camillus House in downtown Miami. Scott Kotler, along with his legal assistant, Katherine Boyle, worked vigorously with state officials to make sure Ms. Amat-Martinez case was successful.

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Kotler expressed, “As Ms. Amat-Martinez walked into the clinic, something struck me about her. She came in with an optimistic smile and a heart full of hope.” Through the screening, Kotler found out that Ms. Amat-Martinez had migrated from Cuba over thirty years ago with her husband, fleeing their oppressive government. Her husband worked in construction while she took care of the house for twenty- five years. Unfortunately, after the passing of her husband who had left her little money, she soon found herself homeless and out on the street. She believed there was some unclaimed money lost during the process of her husband’s passing, and reached out to Kotler for assistance in getting it back. “At first thought, this mission was short of impossible. We had nothing to go on to find her missing claim.” Kotler had trouble finding Ms. Amat-Martinez’s information, but through some in depth investigation, he and his legal assistant, Katherine Boyle, were able to locate information about her claim and found $6000.00 being held by the State. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Amat-Martinez, with Kotler’s help, was able to sign some paperwork and clear some legal hurdles. The check was sent to his office and was presented to her at Mr. Kotler’s office.

“Ms. Amat-Martinez was very poised and well kept. This wasn’t a person who was out on the street due to mental illness or drug addiction. This was a woman who was just down on her luck. What’s so great about her story is here is this woman who’s homeless through no fault off her own; she held onto the last bit of hope she had and through some miracle knew she could allocate the funds back into her hands.” From the beginning, Kotler knew there was something unique about this woman and her case. He rolled up his sleeves and took the initiative to change this womans’ life forever.

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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 remember my first flight like it was yesterday. The bright yellow rays of the sun blinding my eyes, the fight against gravity raising my tiny body above my seat. I had not a clue that I was being taken away from my paradigm of reality, shifted into a new world. The Third World.

The landing was rough. Rocks flew directly onto the airplane windows like hail and orange dirt left an imprint on my site. Nicaragua did not have much maintenance or upgrading done to the infrastructure at their airport. I was picked up by some aunts and uncles I was meeting for the first time. We drove out of the airport, into the streets of good old grief. At 7 years old, I was astonished by what I was seeing. Children my age were walking around barefoot, stepping on broken glass and old cigarette filters, clothing torn to pieces as if they’d been attacked by an animal, and their faces smeared in a mixture of sweat and dirt. At such a tender age, I was not able to fully grasp what was going on or where I was. I thought maybe it was just another world, a fake world, like the opposite of Disney maybe. But the more time I spent there, the more I realized, that sadly, this was REAL.

The older I got, the more curious I grew. I would constantly ask myself “how is this real? Why is this happening? Who did this? How can I change this?”. As crazy as this may sound, but at that age, I somehow knew there was something greater I could do to change this issue. I need to thank my parents for this experience, for without it I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life right now. I am pursuing law school to study International Law, as I feel strongly about helping unfortunate children and their families come out of their impoverished conditions. Every human being in this world is entitled to their basic rights; the right to food, to shelter, to health care and education, the right to pursuit a better, and happy life. I want to help make this happen for those children I saw starving and begging in the streets.