Pro bono spotlight: YLD launches state Guardian Advocacy Pro Bono Project

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  • | 12:00 p.m. November 23, 2015
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The Florida Young Lawyers Division, in collaboration with The Florida Bar Foundation and the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association, launched the statewide Guardian Advocacy Pro Bono Project during last month’s American Bar Association Celebrate Pro Bono Week.

The Jacksonville Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section, with the leadership of President Lindsay Tygart and the board, are invested in the cause.

All young lawyers are invited to participate.

The project accomplishes several important goals, including:

• Providing stabilizing legal assistance to families with disabled loved ones

• Filling a significant justice gap since legal services staff attorneys must focus on other, more urgent legal needs

• Providing new attorneys with educational support and mentors.

There also will be opportunities for new attorneys to gain practical legal experience, like presenting uncontested matters to a judge and learning how to interact with clients and families in need.

The project provides real assistance for families that are unrepresented. By assisting these families, our YLS is helping to fill the justice gap.

What is guardian advocacy?

Families with disabled children face many challenges.

For low-income families those challenges can jeopardize the safety and financial stability of the whole family.

Those challenges do not disappear when the child becomes an adult. The legal mechanism known as guardian advocacy can relieve some of the stress and the barriers involved in caring for a disabled family member.

As disabled children age into adulthood, parental status no longer equates to legal authority to act on the adult child’s behalf.

With a guardian advocacy judgment in place, the parent can continue to advocate for his/her child and help ensure safety and needed health care.

What educational and professional support is available to the young lawyer?

New volunteers have immediate access to educational resources that provide training and document templates for guardian advocacy actions.

In addition, young lawyers will be paired with mentor attorneys who will be happy to provide guidance and field questions during the case.

In the 4th Judicial Circuit, Carson Lange of Rogers Towers and Lisa DiFranza of DiFranza Law have accepted guardian advocacy cases and are willing to assist other young lawyers.

In addition, the pro bono attorneys will have occasional Happy Hour Check-in opportunities at which they can ask questions about their cases and hear how others’ cases are progressing.

The first check-in is 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at Aardwolf Brewing Co. in San Marco.

How does a young lawyer sign up?

Young lawyers sign up with local pro bono coordinators by sending an email to Kathy Para of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid at [email protected] or Chardea Murray of Three Rivers Legal Services at [email protected]