Florida Keys, Miami to Palm Beach lawyers honored for giving their work for nothing

Five South Florida lawyers, one retired longtime federal judge, a Miami law firm and a volunteer bar association were honored in January by the Florida Bar for their pro bono work.

In alphabetical order...

Bilzin Sumberg, Law Firm Commendation

Miami’s Bilzin Sumberg spent 2,235 hours on pro bono work for people and nonprofit organizations in 2021, according to the Bar. The firm handled cases for the most helpless citizens (children who have been abused or neglected) as well as zoning, civil rights and eviction cases.

The firm encourages its lawyers in the “pay it forward” philosophy and enables them to have time to do so through its “Bilzin Sumberg Cares” program, headed by co-chairs Mashall Pasternack and Lori Lustrin.

Ron Book, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County

While one of the state’s most powerful lobbyists, Ron Book also is chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, which provides help for the county’s homeless population. Book also is general counsel and chairman for Lauren’s Kids, an organization that educates kids and adults about sexual abuse prevention and headed up by Book’s daughter, state Sen. Lauren Book.

READ MORE: Homeless chief takes ‘hard line’ on shelter for migrants in Miami, calls it feds’ job

A. Jay Cristol, Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award

Retired U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge A. Jay Cristol
Retired U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge A. Jay Cristol

The Distinguised Federal Judicial Service Award honors “outstanding and sustained service to the public” especially in the support of pro bono legal work.

Between being a Naval Aviator in the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War, the Hon. Judge Emeritus A. Jay Cristol joined the Florida Bar in 1959. Cristol retired last year from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida after 37 years on the federal bench.

He’s also one of the names on “The Eleanor R. Cristol and Judge A. Jay Cristol Bankruptcy Pro Bono Assistance Clinic at Miami Law,” a full-year elective class at the University of Miami Law School. Students work on actual cases in federal bankruptcy court.

Douglas Glaid, 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward County

Douglas Glaid
Douglas Glaid

Fort Lauderdale’s Douglas Glaid (admitted in 1978) retired from the Florida Attorney General’s office in 2017, and started working for the Defending Best Interests Project in 2018. The project, part of the state’s guardian ad litem office, finds attorneys to write answer briefs to appeals of rulings that terminate parental rights for the good of the child. Since 2018, Glaid has done 28 case briefs for 42 children.

The Haitian Lawyers Association, Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award

The Haitian Lawyers Association received the 2023 Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award, which shines a light on a Florida voluntary bar group that makes a “significant contribution in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis,” the Florida Bar says.

In addition to pro bono work with Haitian immigrants in immigration matters, the Haitian Lawyers Association also does pro bono work for people and families at the lower economic end who need help with family law, landlords and contracts.

Over the past five years, HLA members as a group have assisted over 1,500 clients and volunteered over 2668 pro bono hours.

HLA’s ongoing pro bono project provides free legal services to low income-individuals and families in the areas of family law, landlord tenant, contracts, immigration, and small claims matters.

David Manz, 16th Judicial Circuit, Monroe County

David Manz
David Manz

If you want to know who was appointed guardian ad litem for a child in the Florida Keys, the answer is David Manz (admitted 1988) of Marathon.

“In the past year, Manz has taken almost all the guardian ad litem appointments for children in criminal cases in the 16th Circuit, including those for 15 dependent children who are also involved with the GAL office” the Bar said. “He takes some of the most egregious cases, which often involve children who have been victims of or witnesses to, homicides.”

Steven Rubin, 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County

Steven Rubin
Steven Rubin

Not only has Steven Rubin (admitted in 1981) taken on many pro bono cases through the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, including “very complex cases spanning years,” the Bar notes his efforts in making sure “free and fair” representation doesn’t always mean “fair” in quality. He helped create the Certified Lawyers On Call Service, through which legal aid staff attorneys can request expert legal advice.

Irina Shabetayev, Young Lawyers Division

Irinia Shabetayev
Irinia Shabetayev

The Florida Bar called Young Lawyers’ Division honoree Irina Shabetayev (admitted in 2011) “nothing short of a hero to countless Ukrainian refugees” coming to Florida after last year’s invasion of their country by Russia.

The Bar said Shabetayev, an immigration attorney, made herself, other attorneys and paralegals available at pro bono community events for Ukrainians who needed help with papperwork, questions answered and Temporary Protected Status explained. She partnered with the Russian American Bar Association at these events, “helping hundreds of refugees in only a few short months,” the Bar said.