June 2016: Judith Schwartz, Esq.
Judith S. Schwartz, Esq., has advised over eighty low-income clients through the Broward Lawyers Care (BLC) Advice and Counsel Hotline since January. The Advice and Counsel Hotline addresses topics such as landlord-tenant, consumer, and family law issues. Attorneys like Schwartz volunteer their time to educate clients about their legal rights. Schwarz has assisted clients facing garnishment, debt collections, eviction, illegal lock-outs, withholding of security deposits, and foreclosure of their rental units. She also has advised tenants facing uninhabitable conditions such as mold, rat infestations, sewage leaks and plumbing issues, roach infestations, and broken air conditioning units, smoke detectors, water heaters and refrigerators.
Judith Schwartz has been a transactional practitioner since 1982. Her private practice, the Law Office of Judith S. Schwartz, centers around assisting clients with resolution of consumer debt problems and related financial issues, real estate, small business and bankruptcy matters.
Thank you, Judith Schwartz, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
May 2016: Lorraine Hoffman, Esq.
Over the past year and a half, Lorraine Hoffman has advised over seventy-five low-income clients through the Broward Lawyers Care (BLC) Advice & Counsel Hotline. The Hotline addresses topics such as landlord-tenant, consumer, and family law issues, and attorneys like Lorraine volunteer their time to educate clients about their legal rights. Specifically, Lorraine has assisted clients facing garnishment, debt collections, eviction, withholding of security deposits, and foreclosure of their rental units. She also has advised tenants facing uninhabitable conditions such as collapsing ceilings and walls, bed bugs, mold, flooding, sewage leaks, rodents, roach and insect infestations, fire and electrical hazards, termites, plumbing problems, and malfunctioning air conditioning units and appliances.
Hoffman is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law. She has volunteered for many years with the Legal Aid, helping to conduct in-person intake interviews for clients seeking assistance from our Landlord-Tenant Unit. She also teaches business law at Florida Atlantic University.
Thank you, Lorraine Hoffmann for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped members of our community who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
April 2016: Louis Reinstein, Esq.
Louis Reinstein, Esq. graduated from Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad School of Law in 2006 and is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Billing, Cochran, Lyles, Mauro & Ramsey, P.A. He focuses primarily in the firm’s general liability, appellate, and insurance coverage practice areas. Reinstein is an active member of the community and is a frequent presenter at educational events.
In October 2014 Louis Reinstein volunteered to help an honorably discharged U.S. Army Veteran. The Veteran sought the assistance of the MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project in August 2014. This veteran’s sole source of transportation was a vehicle given to him by his father. The vehicle needed repairs and was towed to a mechanic. Due to suspicious criminal activity, the vehicle was stolen while in the mechanic’s possession. In October 2014, pro bono attorney Louis Reinstein volunteered to help this veteran. For over two years, Attorney Reinstein pursued and won a recorded judgment lien.
Thank you, Louis Reinstein, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped a Veteran who otherwise might not have received legal assistance.
March 2016: Tara Intriago, Esq.
Tara Intriago graduated from Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad School of Law in 1993 and has been practicing law for over 20 years. During that time she has assisted a total of 18 pro bono clients through Broward Lawyers Care. In the past 18 months she has provided pro bono legal representation for five different clients, helping three Veterans and two victims of domestic violence to restore their driver licenses.
One of the clients was cited for running a red light while she was evading her batterer; the batterer was stalking her by following her car. Another client was a homeless Veteran who was cited for failure to have car insurance. The Veteran could not afford the insurance at the time.
Many clients such as these cannot afford to pay the court costs associated with minor traffic offenses and end up having their driver licenses suspended for failure to pay the fees. This then affects their ability to keep a job and earn income. By assisting these vulnerable clients with the restoration of their driver licenses, Intriago helped them maintain employment and kept them on a path to economic stability and self-sufficiency.
Thank you, Tara Intriago, for your devotion to Justice for All! Because of your contributions, we have helped numerous clients who otherwise might not have received legal assistance
February 2016: Scott D. Owens, Esq.
Scott D. Owens, Esq., of Scott D. Owens, P.A. is the February 2016 Attorney of the Month. Mr. Owens served as a co-counsel alongside Legal Aid Service of Broward County (LAS) attorneys in a class action lawsuit representing homeowners being sued by their lender. The homeowners were served with foreclosure lawsuits containing a notice stating that they had thirty days to file a written response disputing the debt. However, state court pleading deadlines require a response within twenty days. The class action suit against the law firm representing the lender alleged the use of “deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt” and that they violated federal law by attaching a notice containing an incorrect deadline.
Significantly, in an order denying the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, the Court held that, “A promissory note is considered a debt…and if a promissory note is secured by a mortgage, the promissory note is still considered a debt.” The Court ruled that “foreclosure actions that also seek to collect on underlying promissory notes are considered debt collection activities” under federal debt collection law.
The Court ruled in favor of the homeowners and LAS will share in the attorney’s fees that were awarded. Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida was selected as the cy pres recipient for the class action settlement.
In 2015, Mr. Owens’s class action work on behalf of consumers led to the recovery or establishment of funds totaling more than $40 million dollars. Owens is a member of the LAS and CCLA Board of Directors and has been instrumental in directing a significant number of cy pres awards to the organizations. He serves as a mentor to LAS and CCLA attorneys, donating countless pro bono hours to assist clients who might otherwise not receive representation.
January 2016: Charles Fox Miller, Esq. and Lauren Alperstein, Esq.
Charles Fox Miller, Esq. and Lauren Alperstein, Esq. share the January 2016 Attorney of the Month recognition. Along with the support of their firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, they provided pro bono legal assistance to a Veteran who served in the military for over twenty years. When the Veteran came to Legal Aid, he had used almost all of his savings to pay an attorney to represent him in a complex divorce. He ran out of funds and was unable to pay his attorney to continue to represent him in the ongoing case. In March 2014, attorneys Miller and Alperstein accepted the Veteran’s case and Boies, Schiller & Flexner generously advanced litigation related costs for the next two years that the case continued. The case went to trial twice and finally concluded in December 2015. With the support of both attorneys and their firm, the Veteran was able to conclude a difficult matter, successfully transition his family and focus on becoming self-sufficient.
Thank you Charles Fox Miller and Lauren Alperstein for your devotion to Justice for All! The Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project is fortunate to have attorneys like these who are willing to dedicate their time and efforts to help members of our community who cannot afford private legal assistance. Because of their contributions, a veteran who otherwise might not have received legal assistance was able to get his life back on-track.