Pro bono spotlight: The importance of family for sisters and law partners

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  • | 12:00 p.m. July 11, 2016
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Amanda Edwards
Amanda Edwards
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Amber Hilterbran and Amanda Edwards are sisters. They’re also law partners. In addition, they share a commitment to pro bono legal services.

As family — and as family law attorneys — they understand the importance of reliable support and the knowledge that there are those who will go to bat on your behalf in legal and personal matters.

Hilterbran and Edwards accepted a pro bono dissolution of marriage case in which a mother managing health issues was seeking to establish regular and meaningful visitation with her young son.

They describe the case here:

What were the basic facts of your case?

This was a dissolution of marriage with minor children. The petitioner had been withholding timesharing from the respondent (our client) based on her past mental health issues.

Our client voluntarily entered treatment in early 2015 and served approximately six months into her treatment plan.

What were you able to accomplish for your client?

A mutually agreeable and beneficial solution for the parties and the minor child was reached with the pro bono help of mediator Lisa Dasher.

Some of the important issues included delaying entry of the final judgment for one year so our client could continue to receive medical and mental health treatment under her husband’s insurance; that she would have sufficient time to find employment and additional health care coverage, shared parental responsibility and adequate timesharing for our client.

Why was the outcome important to your client?

Since our client was in rehab when the divorce was filed, her biggest concern was being able to have time-sharing with her son.

Before the conclusion of the case, our client successfully completed rehab and we were able to negotiate a time-sharing plan where, after a transitional phase, she went from initially having one day a week to guideline visitation.

Why was the experience important to you? What did you gain from the experience? 

We spent approximately 30 hours on this case, which allowed us to see how important pro bono work actually is.

For us, it wasn’t just about getting the experience, it was seeing how much our time meant to our client.

It was also great being able to help someone who may not have been able to achieve the same result had she represented herself.

What is the name of your firm?  In what areas do you practice?

Edwards & Edwards PA. Our firm handles family law and real estate actions (commercial and litigation).

What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?

While it is a time commitment, it is a very rewarding commitment that should not be taken for granted. It gives you the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate get the legal help they need and deserve.

The legal assistance of Hilterbran and Edwards combined with the mediation services from Dasher is a perfect example of effective collaboration on behalf of a low-income client.

In this case, a family now has a framework for building positive, supportive relationships and lasting stability.

Members of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of The Jacksonville Bar Association, under the leadership of Penny Schmidt and Robert Cole, have provided pro bono mediations for several years.

It’s a component that can ensure positive outcomes can be achieved in a timely and effective manner for the benefit of all parties.

Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities in the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact [email protected].



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