2023 Pro Bono Heroes

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solikPro Bono Hero Mary Doty Solik began doing pro bono with Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association in 1990. She takes on some of the hardest Guardian ad Litem cases around and has accepted 46 cases representing 85 children, donating 879 hours of service. She currently has two open cases with 3 children involved. Mary serves as one of a few “conflict GAL attorneys”, knowing that she cannot ask staff to assist her on those cases. “Mary handles her pro bono cases with the same unparalleled level of professionalism that she provides her private practice clients,” says LASOCBA staff.



niciSince June 2022, Pro Bono Hero James Nici of Nici Law Firm has taken any and every estate planning case that has come through Legal Aid Service of Collier County‘s doors. As of last month, he has prepared 100+ estate planning documents. “We could not be more grateful for his work and time!” says staff.




martinelliPro Bono Hero Kaylin Martinelli of Becker & Poliakoff jumped into #probono work by taking four Guardian ad Litem cases with a total of 7 children for Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association. She currently has three GAL cases that are open and active. Staff says, “Her dedication and quest for GAL related information is astounding. She wants to ensure that she is always advocating for the best interests of the children, at every juncture.”



kostoPro Bono Hero Lawrence Kosto of Kosto & Rotella, PA has worked on 30 pro bono cases including dissolution of marriage, landlord/tenant, bankruptcy, consumer, and family law matters involving domestic violence for Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association. He has a case that began in 2014 in which the adverse party has been highly litigious and refuses to pay child support to the client, a survivor of domestic violence. Lawrence continues to represent the client today even though the final judgment was granted in 2014. He has completed 300+ hours of service on his pro bono cases and that doesn’t include all the representation for the client that he has assisted for nine years! LASOCBA staff says, “He always responds promptly when asked to handle a case. He is an unsung hero as he does not ask for recognition for the complicated cases that he handles.”


hancockIt is obvious to everyone who knows Pro Bono Hero Autumn Hancock that she became an attorney because of her strong belief in service to others. For several years, Autumn has been a volunteer with Community Law Program, participating in its family law advice clinic and its Lawyers for Young Adults Project, which helps young people who have aged out of foster care attain and maintain self-sufficiency. Autumn recently finished a case where she helped a young person expunge an arrest that was hindering her from getting a better job. Autumn also has organized and hosted free wills events for first responders. Thank you, Autumn, for your service to your community!


mesaPro Bono Hero Patricia Mesa has exceptional dedication and commitment to the community as a volunteer for Dade Legal Aid – Put Something Back. Her remarkable contributions have touched the lives of numerous individuals, as she has passionately worked on 70+ cases and generously dedicates more than 200 hours annually to providing services to low-income clients in complex contested family cases. “Patricia has truly been an extraordinary advocate, always readily available to help those in need,” says Dade Legal Aid staff. “Her unwavering compassion and tireless efforts have made a profound impact, exemplifying the best of the legal profession and the spirit of pro bono work. Her selfless dedication serves as an inspiring example for all of us, and we are privileged to have her as part of our community.”


chambrot Dade Legal Aid – Put Something Back is extremely grateful to dedicated attorneys like Pro Bono Hero Joseph A. Chambrot, a solo practitioner who helped secure the release from jail for an incapacitated ward who was wrongly arrested. Joseph stepped in and was able to get the criminal court to acknowledge the client’s intellectual disability that rendered him unable to form the intent to commit a crime. “We recognize Mr. Chambrot for a job well done. He is a hero!,” says staff.



bigayerPro Bono Hero Jamie Bigayer learned about Community Law Program‘s virtual pro bono opportunities on Florida Pro Bono Matters during the pandemic while looking for a way to do #probono in a remote setting. Since becoming involved, Jamie has helped 16 Pinellas County residents with limited means complete the family law forms needed to start their divorce or paternity action. When asked why she finds this particular pro bono opportunity so rewarding, Jamie said, “The amount of gratitude I receive is overwhelming.”



lopezPro Bono Hero Dayanna Lopez first worked as a legal aid attorney with Community Legal Services, defending survivors of domestic violence and countless family law clients that could not otherwise afford legal representation. Since joining Politis & Matovina, P.A., she has continued to be a zealous advocate for CLS’s clients as a private #probono attorney. “She cares immensely about her clients,” says CLS staff. “She pours her heart and time into every case and inspires the attorneys that have worked with her. She is a deeply empathetic advocate.” In 2023, she was presented with Community Legal Services’ Flagler Attorney of the Year Award.


blancoPro Bono Hero Frank Blanco began doing pro bono work in his first year of being an attorney. He has taken 20 cases in 7 years and reported 135+ hours on those cases. Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association staff says, “Frank is always willing to help. He will take several bankruptcies at once. Since bankruptcies are on the rise, that has been a godsend.”



allison dayPro Bono Hero Allison R. Day helps clients facing challenges in all areas of bankruptcy and has represented numerous pro bono clients in Ch. 7 & 13 bankruptcies in the Southern District of Florida. In addition, she is a past president of the Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida, a current member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law Bankruptcy Clinic. “She generously and enthusiastically shares her insight with many students and pro bono attorneys,” says Dade Legal Aid – Put Something Back  staff.



chmelirPro Bono Hero Andrew Chmelir of Jacobson, Chmelir & Ferwerda has been a tremendous advocate for Seminole County Bar Association Legal Aid Society‘s pro bono program, especially their sealing and expungement workshop. He has presented on this topic every month, twice a month for 2+ years. During this time, he has assisted a countless number of clients with sealing or expunging their arrest record to help them in obtaining employment. “We are incredibly grateful for his time and dedication to this project and his care and commitment to attendees’ success,” says staff.



greenePro Bono Hero Erin Greene has supported Seminole County Bar Association Legal Aid Society‘s Sealing and Expungement workshop over the past two years. She is always available to present at the Sharing Center as a part of their ProjectRISE. She always goes above and beyond to ensure that attendees both understand the sealing and expungement process, and they are confident enough to complete the paperwork. “We are so grateful for her continued time and support of our pro bono program. Her dedication to the community and our legal education project is an inspiration.” says staff.



chanelesPro Bono Hero Steven Chaneles’ advocacy in Dade Legal Aid – Put Something Back ‘s Child Advocacy Project is unparalleled in zealous championing for what is right. Steven has been an attorney ad litem for several children in the foster care system and has worked tirelessly to ensure that each child gets what they need to be safe, secure, productive, and well. Even when other parties in the cases push what they believe to be the best plan or position, Steven maintains his focus to aid the court in knowing what the child is seeking. Steven researches every issue before arguing it and gathers all of the information needed to present a compelling and well-informed position. “The lives of the children served in the Child Advocacy Project are enhanced through Steven’s care, advocacy, and strength,” says staff.


fialkoffPro Bono Hero Kassia Fialkoff of Duane Morris LLP helps underserved and underrepresented children and families in Miami-Dade County. “Her dedication to providing exemplary #probono services is an example for her colleagues and our legal community,” says Dade Legal Aid – Put Something Back  staff. She has handled cases ranging from Guardian Ad Litem and name change to wills and immigration, always going above and beyond to ensure access to justice for all. Kassia’s unwavering commitment is a testament to the core principles of pro bono work, significantly improving the lives of numerous individuals in her community. “Her dedication serves as an inspiration, reminding us all of the profound impact one person can make through their selfless actions.”


hinsonPro Bono Hero Lynn Hinson has been a Florida Bar member since 1974. He has accepted 42 Guardian ad Litem cases with a total of 86 children. He has also participated in Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association’s Homeless Advocacy Project and Attorneys Fighting for Seriously Ill Children Project. Despite recently retiring, he is still eligible to practice and has agreed to keep several of his open active cases. He has completed 619+ hours on his pro bono cases. LASOCBA staff says, “Lynn is very involved in all the cases he accepts. He is a wonderful asset to us and the children he represents.”



santanaPro Bono Hero Dayna Santana has been an invaluable asset to the Volunteer Lawyers Program of Bay Area Legal Services. Her outstanding contributions extend to two key initiatives that have had a profound impact. Dayna has been a steadfast supporter of the Family Forms Clinic, a pro se forms assistance pro bono clinic that offers crucial aid to low-income self-represented litigants navigating the complexities of family law cases. “Her tireless efforts in guiding individuals through the maze of paperwork required to initiate or respond to family law matters have empowered countless individuals to access justice and protect their rights,” staff says. Furthermore, Dayna’s visionary leadership played a pivotal role in the creation of the Advance Directives Pro Bono Clinic in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity Hillsborough Homeowners. This innovative clinic has not only filled a crucial legal service gap but has also facilitated the proactive planning of advanced healthcare directives for homeowners in need. “Dayna Santana’s unwavering commitment to pro bono service has not only touched the lives of those she directly assists but has also inspired a community of legal professionals to come together and make a lasting difference.”

zeniewiczPro Bono Hero Paul Zeniewicz has accepted 7 Guardian ad Litem cases with a total of 13 children, and has completed more than 610 hours on his cases. He has also participated in Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association‘s Homeless Advocacy Project. Staff says, “Paul goes above and beyond for all his GAL kids and our GAL Program. He can handle the most challenging, difficult cases and will always find the silver lining! At the drop of a dime, he drove to Tallahassee and spoke in front of our state legislature to fight for GAL representation for our kids.”



blochPro Bono Hero Jason Bloch, a former circuit court judge, has made invaluable contributions and performed hundreds of hours of pro bono work since returning to private practice. In addition to serving as a Pro Bono Guardian ad Litem and Attorney ad Litem, he jumped in to represent a Dade Legal Aid – Put Something Back client who lost his job and savings, and was facing mortgage foreclosure. The client’s battle with cancer depleted his finances and the mortgage holder proceeded to evict the client from his home. According to the client, “Being represented by Jason Bloch ensured that my dignity remained intact and my health did not suffer further due to my foreclosure case. His representation saved me from additional stress and allowed me to recover physically and financially. Navigating the legal system on your own can be challenging, but he provided critical assistance in my darkest hour, forever changing my thinking about the legal system. I found a legal institution where attorneys speak kindness, think smartly and are guided by the pursuit of justice!”