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Shutts & Bowen has a longstanding commitment to service for the public good, pro bono publico, by providing free legal services to the poor and to organizations that primarily serve the poor. Shutts & Bowen also provides pro bono legal services to not-for-profit educational, cultural and other civic organizations that could not otherwise afford representation.

Attorneys in all of Shutts & Bowen’s Florida offices are regularly engaged in pro bono representation of organizations and individuals in a variety of matters as diverse as the firm’s core practice areas, including tax, corporate, real property, probate, contract and litigation. To recognize and encourage such public service, the firm gives the same credit to its attorneys for pro bono matters as for the handling of billable matters for paying clients.

  • In 2015, our attorneys provided 3,424.90 pro bono service hours, amounting to the equivalent of $1,308,684.50 in billable hours.
  • In 2014, our attorneys provided 3,294.90 pro bono service hours, amounting to the equivalent of $1,273,611.00 in billable hours.
  • In 2013, our attorneys provided 3,433.70 pro bono service hours, amounting to the equivalent of $1,282,329.00 in billable hours.

Over the years, Shutts & Bowen attorneys have been recognized by various organizations for their work on behalf of indigent clients. Recently, the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office was recognized by Legal Aid of Broward County as “Law Firm of the Year” for its continuous financial support to Broward Lawyers Care (BLC), Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Division. Additionally, the Miami office received an award for supporting the Small Claims Clinic run by the Dade County Bar Association.

Pro Bono Highlights

  • In the last 5 years, Rachel LeBlanc, Kathleen Krak, Dan Barsky, and Dan Nordby have each taken the lead in a case representing a foreign parent in trying to recover his or her abducted children under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.  These cases are referred to us by the U.S. State Department, which has presented us with certificates of recognition for our work. There is a Hague team in six of our seven offices, where attorneys provide assistance in these cases.
  • Jacqueline Howe is the 2015 Vice-Chair of the YMCA of South Florida. The Miami YMCA was founded by Frank B. Shutts and the first meeting of the Miami YMCA was hosted at the Shutts law office in April 1916. Colonel Shutts chaired the Y’s first fundraising committee in 1918 and was treasurer of that organization for many years.
  • Rene Gonzalez-Llorens serves as legal counsel to the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which is the oldest and largest private agency in Florida that serves people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired. Rene has also provided advice on labor and employment matters to Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, Vinceremos, and Habitat for Humanity.
  • Robin Fawsett, a Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer in the Orlando office, advises and represents The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, the Episcopal churches therein, St. Barnabas Episcopal School, Rescue Outreach Mission (Sanford, FL) and other entities in pro bono employment law matters and is currently handling eight guardianship cases for Seniors First, Inc., the Orange County Public Guardian in Orange and Seminole Counties and two such cases for the Orange County Bar Association Legal Aid Society, both in Orange County.
  • Matthew Sackel serves on the Board of Legal Aid of Palm Beach County and actively volunteers his time to assist those that are unable to afford legal representation.
  • George Andrews assisted an Air Force veteran through Broward Legal Aid. A veteran relocated from Utah to Homestead Air Force Base as a civilian employee after serving in Iraq. The new base didn’t receive the proper paperwork associated with reimbursement for the move and demanded that the veteran repay his relocation income tax allowance. The account went to collection, affecting his credit and ability to gain employment. George Andrews appealed the matter with the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, ultimately resolving the matter when the Government agreed to discharge the debt and clear the veteran’s credit.
  • As an associate in the Real Estate Practice Group, Angelique B. Thomas has worked on pro bono matters for organizations such as the United Way of Palm Beach County, the YMCA and Leadership Palm Beach County. Angelique has been involved in representing the YMCA in leasing negotiations with the City of Fort Lauderdale in connection with development of a state of the art facility at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale.
  • West Palm Beach partner Barbara Richardson has a passion for horses and considers herself blessed to be involved with the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center in Palm Beach County.  Vinceremos means “to conquer” and “to overcome”.  The center helps riders of all ages work through the limitations of various physical and psychological challenges.  The center provide services to 140 riders per week through four programs: Therapeutic Riding, Hippo-therapy, Therapeutic Driving and Equine Facilitated Learning.  Barbara began working at Vinceremos as an assistant, either leading horses during instruction and therapy or walking along side the horses to support and spot the riders.  Barbara Richardson now has the honor of serving on the Board of Directors and as general counsel.
  • Through a referral from Broward Legal Aid’s “Broward Lawyers Care,” Shutts Ft. Lauderdale partner Ed O’Sheehan has been representing the victim of a “Don Juan” robber to try to recover cash/assets taken from the victim.  The victim was a single mother living in New York state who came to Florida for vacation and met the perpetrator – Paul Francois. Mr. Francois swept the victim off of her feet during the short Florida vacation and promised to marry her if she moved to Florida. But he first wanted her to sell her home in New York and transfer the funds to a joint account he was to set up. However, Mr. Francois was pulling the same scam against other women at the same time and he ultimately took all of their money and never married any of them. Mr. Francios was criminally charged and is currently serving a 10-year sentence with the Florida Department of Corrections.
  • Daniel Stabile serves as the Attorney Supervisor for LegalLink, a program of the non-profit arts organization Cannonball that provides pro bono legal assistance for artists and arts organizations in Florida.
  • Lauren Stricker has been regularly volunteering on a pro bono basis for underprivileged clients. Within the past year, Lauren has volunteered at least once (and often more) per month at the pro se (self-representation) clinic of the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association, helping to alleviate the enormous hardship experienced by many low-income debtors who cannot afford an attorney and must file their own bankruptcy petitions. Additionally, Lauren has provided pro bono assistance to low-income criminal defendants.  She has represented a pro bono defendant in a traffic case involving a fatality. The defendant was acquitted at trial.
  • Mark Rankin has been engaged in various pro bono activities throughout his career, often donating 100 hours or more of his time a year to various causes. In the past year alone, Mark represented at least six criminal defense clients on a pro bono basis, assisting individuals who otherwise could not afford to pay for their own defense or appeals for sentence reduction. Mark is representing an individual serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a non-violent drug offense. This individual was Mark’s first client when he served as a federal public defender in 2003, and today he is assisting him in petitioning to get his sentence reduced based upon his testimony at a jury trial concerning a prison murder.
  • Jose Ceide represented an elderly gentleman who, in December, 2009, had a Final Judgment of Foreclosure entered against him.  Although the subject real property was subsequently sold at a foreclosure sale in August, 2010, a large deficiency balance remained due and owing on the judgment. More than four years after entry of the judgment and the sale of the real property, the judgment was purportedly sold to an entity devoted to purchasing stale foreclosure judgments from Fannie Mae inexpensively and then pursuing the deficiencies against the judgment debtor.  This entity filed a complaint against the client, and Jose was successful in obtaining the entry of a Dismissal with Prejudice.
  • Since 2011, Jordan Lee of the Tampa office has been volunteering his time and efforts at a program he helped establish. Jordan, in conjunction with the Hillsborough County Bar Association and the national Wills for Heroes Program, helped established a Wills for Heroes program for Hillsborough County, Florida.  The Wills for Heroes programs provide essential legal documents free of charge to Hillsborough County’s first responders and their spouses or domestic partners, including wills, health care advance directives, and durable powers of attorney. Qualified first responders include firefighters, police officers, paramedics, corrections and probation officers from federal, state, county, city and town departments and agencies.  By helping first responders plan now, they ensure their family’s legal affairs are in order before a tragedy hits.  The program, led by Jordan and colleagues from other firms, has won the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s 2012 General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section’s pro bono award, and has been providing invaluable services to first responders on a consistent basis since its inception.
  • Maxine Long provided more than 200 hours of pro bono legal services in 2015, primarily in assisting in Hague Convention Child Abduction matters and in serving Barry University School of Social Work as Public Guardian for Broward County. She is also pro bono counsel for the Presbytery of Tropical Florida.
  • Ella Shenhav has provided more than 130 hours of pro bono services in 2015, from representing children in the dependency system to representing victims of domestic violence in obtaining restraining orders.  She also co-chairs the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers’ Division pro bono committee and the 13th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Firm Subcommittee.
  • Joseph Goldstein is currently the Vice Chair for the Broward Public Library Foundation.
  • Kevin Cowan has worked on several pro bono cases while at Shutts. He assisted an elderly woman in her estate planning efforts with regard to her numerous grown children, providing that one of the children pay all her living expenses and allow her free possession of her home in exchange for being placed on the deed as a joint tenant with right of survivorship. He was involved in the effort to assist an elderly blind woman stave off foreclosure. Kevin was also successful in helping a family with an arbitration against various contractors who had placed a lien on the family’s home but never finished the job.
  • Alexander Tachmes has provided many hours of pro bono service during his career. Alex serves on the Board of Directors of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and is representing the Arsht Center in a complex public-private transaction to build a multi-million dollar parking garage next to the Center. Alex also serves on the Board of Directors of Jewish Community Services, which provides social services, including food for the poor, domestic abuse shelter and mental health counseling to more than 25,000 people per year.

Additional examples of pro bono matters handled by Shutts & Bowen attorneys are our ongoing representation of the Broward Office of the Public Guardian, Miami City Ballet and various matters referred by legal assistance programs including:

  • Legal Aid and Legal Services;
  • Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s “Put Something Back” program;
  • Volunteer Lawyer’s Project of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida;
  • Project H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection);
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts; and
  • Lawyers for Children America.

As Counsel for United Way of Palm Beach County, Shutts meets the day-to-day legal needs of this local non-profit organization which provides invaluable service to the Palm Beach County community. Shutts assists United Way PBC in developing and implementing best practices in the areas of corporate governance, as well as labor and employment, while also working to increase the organization’s contracting efficiency and decrease its risk when dealing with third parties in commercial transactions. With respect to litigation related matters, Shutts provides effective, top-notch representation so that United Way can remain focused on what they do best – helping the community. More than just a legal advisor, Shutts also provides assistance, guidance and strategic advice to help United Way meet its fundraising goals and achieve its charitable mission.

Other pro bono matters we have handled include representation of veterans; serving as counsel to the guardian organization Seniors First in Orlando; Legal Aid and Legal Services cases; representation of One Nation, a voter registration project; and many other matters to assist various civic, religious and educational organizations. Shutts & Bowen attorneys also staff the Small Claims Clinic run by Put Something Back in Miami.

Pro Bono Awards and Recognition

  • On May 7, 2016, Shutts & Bowen was presented the Firm Award at Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s 28th Annual Pro Bono Recognition Evening & Auction.  The event honored attorneys and professionals in Palm Beach County, who provided outstanding volunteer services to disadvantaged individuals in Palm Beach County that are unable to afford legal services. Matthew Sackel, a partner in Shutts & Bowen’s West Palm Beach office, serves on Legal Aid’s board.
  • In 2015, Edward O’Sheehan and Maxine Long were awarded the Office of the Public Guardian Pro Bono Attorney of the Year for their more than 150 volunteer hours each for their representation and counsel to the OPG, representing the best interests of the wards in guardianship, abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and foreclosure cases. Read more.
  • Maxine Long has received numerous awards for her pro bono involvement. In 2013, she received the Dade Legal Aid/Put Something Back Special Recognition Award, University of Miami School of Law Pro Bono Service Award, and The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award.
  • Matthew Sackel serves on the Legal Aid Society’s Board of Directors and has been recognized by The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, The Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association for his volunteer pro bono efforts.
  • Neil B. Shoter was selected by the American Diabetes Association’s Southeast Florida Chapter as a 2011 Valor Award Honoree which acknowledges outstanding leadership and service to the community.  He is Vice President/President Elect of the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a major funder of research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
  • Sidney C. Calloway was recognized by Onyx magazine with the Onyx Award for Community Service. The annual award pays tribute to African Americans throughout the state of Florida who use their professional expertise to make a significant contribution giving back to the communities who support them and to help those who are less fortunate. He was also the recipient of the Margaret Roach Humanitarian Award presented by the Urban League of Broward County for inspiring change and demonstrating ongoing leadership in the advancement of social justice and race relations.
  • In 2015, Mark Rankin, Janelle Weber and Ella Shenhav of the Tampa office received the 13th Judicial Circuit’s Gold Pin in recognition of their pro bono activities.