Today we’re excited to highlight another local legal firm that is deeply committed to pro bono work. Founded by Morgan Bentley and Kevin Bruning, Bentley & Bruning P.A. is a Sarasota-based business and commercial litigation law firm that also has pro bono participation from 100 percent of its attorneys. Legal Aid of Manasota and our clients are so lucky to work with this talented group, and we’re happy we can share a little more about the firm and its values.

Tell us about your firm’s commitment to pro bono work and how that came about.

There was no particular time or event that caused the firm to commit to pro bono. Its founding principles were a commitment to serve the bar and community, and they are a fundamental and significant part of our practice. Every lawyer and non-lawyer professional who joins the firm shares the same values.

What motivated your firm to take on pro bono work for Legal Aid of Manasota?

The members of this firm understand that it is a privilege to practice law, and that with that privilege comes a responsibility to ensure that legal services are available to everyone. Justice is a theory and only exists if everyone believes in it. If a large segment of the community believes that there is no justice because justice costs too much money, the entire system fails, and there is no longer justice for anyone.

Why is Legal Aid of Manasota important to our community?

To ensure that all members of our community have access to legal representation.

Give us a fun anecdote about your firm/your pro bono lawyers

Kevin Bruning’s first assignment in his new role with the judiciary as a circuit court judge will be on the family law bench. This might seem like a strange assignment for a lawyer who practiced civil law exclusively for 20 years. However, due to Kevin’s pro bono work—which consisted of more than 300 hours a year of guardian ad litem for the last several years—the chief judge saw the family bench as a natural landing spot. When Kevin began doing guardian ad litem work for his legal community, he never could have guessed where it would land him!

What do you wish people understood about the justice system and legal aid?

There are few things worse than feeling like you have no control or ability to understand what is happening to you. The legal system – which only exists to help people co-exist in a communal society – should not be scary or intimidating to the people it is supposed to help.  If people could better understand what is required of them, what the likely outcome of their case will be, and what they can do to affect that outcome, the legal system would not be so scary—and the process would be better for everyone.