Jessica Dumas' pro bono success means self-sufficiency for client

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  • | 12:00 p.m. November 29, 2010
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by Kathy Para

JBA Pro Bono Committee Chair

The client had been unable to work for several years due to her medical problems. Because she did not want to burden her children, she became homeless for a little while.

She recalls being on the street in front of the Clara White Mission one year at Christmas. A man walked by and gave her a card with $5 in it. That gave her enough money to eat and have a hot cup of coffee that day.

It also reinforced her faith. The client says her faith got her through the hard times along with the kindness of others.

She was referred to the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership (NFMLP) by the medical case workers at the Sulzbacher Medical Clinic.

Pro bono attorney Jessica Dumas accepted her Social Security Disability appeal and achieved a favorable outcome. In the end, the client was awarded a monthly cash benefit and medical insurance.

The client is now able to maintain a place of her own after 10 years of staying with family and friends and a period of homelessness. She also is receiving the medical care she needs.

This is just one of many success stories that you would hear from attorneys who have accepted pro bono cases. Dumas, a Jacksonville Beach attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability law, believes that attorneys have an ethical obligation to give back. Her law firm partner, Lori Gaglione, shares that belief and also volunteers to help people with Social Security Disability cases through the collaboration of Jacksonville Area

Legal Aid (JALA) with the NFMLP.

The NFMLP is part of a nationwide network of projects through which professionals from the medical and legal communities combine resources to produce outcomes for low-income and vulnerable patients that positively affect their health and ability to thrive.

When attorneys are representing clients in cases that may result in an attorney fee award, the pro bono attorney is encouraged to donate the fee back to the Partnership. That’s exactly what Dumas and other Social Security attorneys involved with the NFMLP are doing.

Attorneys like Jessica Dumas are the keys, as they have the ability to intercede in areas that require knowledge of substantive law. Many times there is a legal remedy to a health and wellness issue.

Dumas is a graduate of the University of Florida and St. Louis University Law School. She is currently the chair of the Social Security Section of The Jacksonville Bar and has been a partner at the law firm of Gaglione and Dumas for 10 years.

“This is a wonderful program where doctors and lawyers are proactively collaborating to help disabled, low-income, and vulnerable people, many of whom are homeless. When Kathy Para asked for help, there was really only one answer,” said Dumas.

Thank you for your hard work, expertise and support, Jessica Dumas!

Attorneys can get involved with the NFMLP by contacting Kathy Para directly at [email protected] Firm attorneys are encouraged to develop expertise among a group of partners, associates and interns in a specific substantive area such as education, Social Security, guardianships or immigration. Online CLE training resources are available at no charge for pro bono attorneys.