The Cuban American Bar Association (“CABA”) is the largest minority bar association in the State of Florida. One of CABA’s stated missions is to give back to the community by providing legal assistance to the indigent Hispanic/Cuban American community. In furtherance of that mission, CABA established the CABA Pro Bono Project (the “Project”).
The Project was established in 1984 in response to the needs of indigent Spanish speaking people who did not have access to Spanish speaking lawyers and the courts. In furtherance of that void CABA sought to increase the quantity and quality of the services the legal profession renders to the Cuban-American indigent community. The Project was nationally recognized as a Point of Light by President George Bush in 1992.
CABA possesses an enormous resource in the hundreds of volunteer hours of pro bono service that its lawyer members are willing and able to provide for the good of the community. The Project is intended to marshal those resources by: a) screening and processing incoming matters, b) interviewing potential clients, c) referring clients to lawyers or other legal service providers, and d) handling uncontested matters in limited practice areas. During the last several years, CABA received a modest grant from the Florida Bar Foundation, which enabled CABA to pay for a part time paralegal who coordinated the Project. However, CABA recently became cognizant that only about 20% of the need of our indigent community for legal services was being met.
To that end, CABA has partnered with Abriendo Puertas, a non-profit organization which provides social services to the indigent community. Abriendo Puertas is providing the necessary office space in Little Havana for CABA to better serve our community and expand the Project. CABA has also hired an Executive Director for the Project, along with an assistant. With these efforts, CABA intends to increase intake by doubling the number of cases currently handled by the Project, increase the number of volunteer hours provided by CABA members, increase referrals to CABA attorneys, and increase cases closed by the Project. Through its Pro Bono Project, CABA hopes to enhance the quality and quantity of legal services provided to the low income Hispanic/Cuban American community.
CABA members are encouraged to participate in the Project by accepting a case. The cases are generally in the area of family law, but there are also needs in the following areas: adoption, bankruptcy, birth and marriage certificate amendment, consumer issues, court order enforcement, disability, foreclosure, guardianship, immigration, insurance, landlord/tenant, name change, and other civil matters.
Giselle Gutierrez Madrigal
Stearns Weaver Miller
Marcus Neiman & Rashbaum, LLP