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 Legal Services (CABA Pro Bono).
CABA Pro Bono was established in 1984 by a number of CABA’s past presidents who believed the organization was in an ideal position to help disadvantaged Spanish-speakers who did not have access to lawyers who spoke their language. In response to this growing need, CABA positioned itself as a nexus, matching clients with attorneys from CABA’s membership base who were willing to provide free representation. In 1992, CABA Pro Bono was nationally recognized as a ‘Point of Light’ by former President George H. W. Bush.
Having a deep conviction for its mission and an intense desire to expand its reach, CABA’s Board of Directors incorporated a separate 501(c)(3) entity, with its own board of directors, the Cuban American Bar Association Pro Bono Project, Inc. CABA Pro Bono’s continued growth led to the hiring of staff attorneys and in 2013 a move to a larger office at 2400 South Dixie Highway, easily accessible to clients via the Metrorail and public transportation. CABA Pro Bono currently employees a staff of eight, including five attorneys, and provides free legal services to over 1,500 members of the community each year. In 2016, CABA Pro Bono Project began doing business as CABA Pro Bono Legal Services.
CABA Pro Bono prides itself on being ready to meet the most pressing needs of the community. During the mortgage foreclosure crisis, it established the CABA Pro Bono Foreclosure Defense Project and represented thousands of individuals and families who were in danger of losing their homes.
In 2014 with a surge in unaccompanied immigrant minors, CABA Pro Bono designed and implemented a successful program that provided thousands of neglected children with legal representation and helped over 100 children obtain legal status. CABA Pro Bono was also a pioneer in the fight against Human Trafficking and joined forces with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services to provide free legal representation to victims.
CABA Pro Bono is funded in part through grants awarded by the Florida Bar Foundation, the State of Florida, and The Miami Foundation, and proceeds raised at the annual “Art in the Tropics” fundraising cocktail party hosted by CABA. It continues its efforts to receive funding and to encourage attorneys in the community to take pro bono matters in order to leverage their resources and provide free legal services to a greater number of children, individuals and families in need.
CABA Pro Bono knows that they are changing lives through legal advocacy and because of this remains committed to providing legal services to members of the community who could not otherwise afford an attorney. It is also privileged to be able to help those less fortunate and to give back to the community. As former President John F. Kennedy once stated, “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.”
CABA members are encouraged to participate in CABA Pro Bono 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. Become a volunteer today!
Stearns Weaver Miller
Law Offices of Mendez & Mendez
Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain