The Cuban American Bar Association (“CABA”), established in 1974, is a non-profit voluntary bar association whose large and active membership includes judges, lawyers, and law students of all backgrounds interested in broad legal and human rights issues affecting Cuban and other minority communities. It is also the largest minority bar association in the State of Florida. It promotes diversity in the judiciary and legal community; increased awareness to the study of jurisprudence; respect for the law; high standards of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among our peers; equal access to and adequate representation of all minorities before the courts; strong relationships among our members and supporters; mentorship and scholarship to law students nationally; and the funding and administration of an effective pro bono legal assistance project and other community programs to support the neediest members of our society.
Because of the generous support of members, and corporate and individual sponsorship of events that unite the community with CABA’s members, are fun, and raise funds for great causes, CABA is able to partake in meaningful philanthropy and establish important programs. Indeed, events such as the CABA 5K “Lawyers on the Run,” CABA/CACPA Annual Golf Tournament, Art in the Tropics, and the largest and most well-attended and well-known, CABA’s Annual Gala and Board Installation Dinner, depend on the support of sponsors to raise funds for CABA’s philanthropic endeavors. Among those important endeavors are the CABA Pro Bono Project (the “Project”), established in 1984, and the Cuban American Bar Foundation (“CABF”), a separate 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1995 to manage and promote its efforts to endow scholarships in Florida law schools.
In furtherance of CABA’s stated mission to give back to the community by providing legal assistance to the indigent Hispanic/Cuban American community, CABA established the Project. During the last several years, CABA has received grants, which has enabled it to pay for dedicated staff members and better our community, but there is a lot of work that remains to be done. The needs of the indigent are still not being met. In particular, unaccompanied immigrant children are in desperate need of pro bono services, but many are going through the legal system without the assistance of an advocate.
As part of its mission to promote diversity and dedication to the legal profession, CABF manages and promotes CABA’s efforts to endow scholarships in Florida schools such as Florida International University, Florida State University, Nova Southeastern University, St. Thomas University, University of Florida, and University of Miami. Currently CABF has established an endowment of half a million dollars, and in the past two years has awarded nearly $25,000.00 in scholarships! Although these efforts are promising, it is well known that tuition costs continue to rise and legal jobs are increasingly becoming more competitive. With the obstacle of discrimination in admissions thankfully fading, daunting tuition costs have become the largest obstacle to these students.
With the help of corporate, law firm, and individual partners and sponsors, the Project, CABF, and CABA can accomplish so much and continue addressing these significant issues in our shared community.