On June 1, the law firm of Shutts & Bowen LLP will launch its new role as the Tampa program coordinator for Project H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection) at an evening reception at the firm’s office – 4301 West Boy Scout Boulevard, Suite 300, Tampa.
Project H.E.L.P. offers free legal clinics staffed by local attorneys every Tuesday night, from 6-7:30 p.m., at Metropolitan Ministries located at 2002 N. Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33602. Often, firms, bar sections, or Inns of Court commit to staffing a full month. So far this year alone, Project H.E.L.P. clinics have been staffed by attorneys from the Reece Smith Inn of Court, Burr Forman, Shutts & Bowen, the Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the Hillsborough Bar, and Hill Ward Henderson. Each clinic requires 4-5 attorneys, and 2-3 non-attorneys (such as paralegals, assistants, or law students).
“Our firm has recently adopted a full month of Project H.E.L.P. clinics, and it has been a very rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Ella Shenhav, a member of the Business Litigation Practice Group and the Pro Bono Committee at Shutts & Bowen. “The volunteer attorneys at Project H.E.L.P. provide legal advice on a variety of matters. Sometimes that little bit of help can get a homeless individual or family back on the road to self sufficiency.”
“Giving back to the community is essential,” said R. Alan Higbee, Managing Partner of Shutts & Bowen’s Tampa office. “As attorneys we have a professional responsibility to render pro bono services. I can think of no better way to execute that duty, but to assist the homeless in an arena that is sometimes inaccessible to them.”
Shutts & Bowen is hosting the June 1 reception to encourage their colleagues in the community to volunteer with the program, and for those who already participate to network with one another.
The Honorable Judge Catherine Peek McEwen of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida will be there to extend a message of judicial support to those volunteering in the effort.
“There are at least 1,900 homeless, men, women and children on the streets or in Hillsborough County’s temporary or transitional facilities each night,” commented Shenhav. “Many local attorneys are already volunteering their time with Project H.E.L.P., but the need in the community is much greater. There are currently five unstaffed months remaining in 2016, and we are looking for several more groups to help with this year’s effort and beyond.”
“This project benefits from the assistance of attorneys from all practice areas – corporate, litigation, immigration, trusts and estates, real estate, and more,” added Olga Pina, a member of the Corporate Practice Group and a veteran Project H.E.L.P. volunteer. “There is no particular set of skills required, other than general knowledge of the law and problem solving skills we, as attorneys, bring to the table every day.”
Project H.E.L.P. (www.homelesslegalprotection.com) began in New Orleans in early 2004, when a newly appointed federal district court judge, Jay Zainey, accompanied his fellow judges to serve a meal at a local shelter. While serving the meal, Judge Zainey began to think how much more an attorney could do for the shelter clients, and how that kind of service could change people’s lives. With that simple but electrifying thought, H.E.L.P. was born. Judge Zainey began to round up volunteer lawyers to staff a weekly clinic at the shelter, and had more success than he had ever imagined. Soon he had hundreds of lawyers, clinics in more than one shelter, and the desire to do even more. H.E.L.P. began to expand to other cities, prodded and encouraged by Judge Zainey and helped along by law firms who were volunteering in New Orleans but also had offices in other cities. Today, H.E.L.P. volunteers are providing free legal services to the homeless in over 20 cities, and the list continues to grow.
For more information about Project H.E.L.P. and to RSVP to the reception please contact Ella Shenhav at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Shutts & Bowen LLP
Shutts & Bowen, established in 1910, is a full-service business law firm with more than 250 lawyers in offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach. Learn more about Shutts & Bowen at www.shutts.com.
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