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Jax Daily Record Monday, Feb. 27, 201712:00 PM EST

Pro bono spotlight: Volunteers needed for new LGBTQ name change project

by: Kathy Para

Jacksonville has a new human rights ordinance that offers protection against discrimination to the LGBTQ community.

However, in today’s political environment, there is real concern over the possibility of the protections being eroded.

Efforts to support and help protect vulnerable people continue to strengthen and expand.

The Name Change and Gender Marker Information Pro Bono Project is one such example.

The program already has gained community partners including members of the Bar, law students from the University of Florida and Florida Coastal School of Law, Riverside United Church of Christ, judges of the 4th Judicial Circuit and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

A similar initiative has been implemented by Southern Legal Counsel, which shared materials with our local partners.

The effort will launch in March with a group of students from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Florida Coastal participating during their spring break weeks.

Their first step will be a seminar focusing on the name change process, including creating the petition and final judgment and counseling the clients on what to expect at the hearing.

Subsequent days will be spent meeting clients and creating and gathering documents.

Finally, the students will have the opportunity to appear with an attorney to present the petition and final judgment.

Community forums are being scheduled to inform the public of the requirements and process to complete a legal name change. The forums also will provide information on the requirements for gender marker changes, though not a judicial function.

Volunteer attorneys for the project include Rusty Mead, Aaron Irving, Troy Farquhar and Jimmy Midyette.

Their vision is to create a package of resources that will enable other teams of students and lawyers to serve low-income clients who need legal name changes, which can be a critical step for people as they pursue their goals and strive for productive lives.

Attorneys will oversee the creation of documents and filing the case by law students and then attend the name change hearing.

Attorneys interested in participating in the project are encouraged to contact [email protected].

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