Since Legal Aid of Manasota’s inception in 1991, our goal has been to help the most vulnerable in our community—and we couldn’t do it without our dedicated staff and volunteers.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be asking some of our pro bono attorneys and supporters to tell us why the work Legal Aid does is essential to our community. And as the Florida Supreme Court’s deadline approaches for reporting pro bono service or making an “in lieu of service contribution” to legal aid as part of your Florida Bar membership, we ask you to consider taking on a case or making a gift to Legal Aid of Manasota today.

Today, Lori Dorman—attorney at Persson, Cohen & Mooney, P.A.—shares why she feels the work Legal Aid of Manasota does is so important.

“Under U.S. law, you are entitled to an attorney in a criminal matter if it’s a misdemeanor or higher. But on the civil side, you don’t have that same entitlement. Losing your home, being stuck in an abusive marriage, trying to take care of your family—these are huge, important things. If you can’t afford a lawyer, that may mean the denial of justice: the denial of your livelihood, your home, things that are incredibly important. If a lawyer can give some time or some money to help a person protect what’s most important to them, we have an obligation to do that.

“People understand what a public defender does, and Legal Aid of Manasota tries to fill that same space for clients on the civil law side so that people can keep their homes, live safely and care for their families. Legal Aid of Manasota is helping people who are vulnerable and economically disadvantaged. It is doing amazing good—mostly under the radar.

“One of the things that attorneys can do for Legal Aid is take on a pro bono case, even if it’s slightly outside their skill set. One of my early LAM cases was to help someone get their car back. The shop was holding it hostage. I don’t do that kind of case, but because I’m trained as a lawyer, I can do legal research and help. It’s close enough to my wheelhouse that I can help. And if you don’t want to take on a case, write a big check!”