As the CDC’s moratorium on evictions prepares to end on Dec. 31, we are grateful to the Sarasota County Bar Association Access to Justice Task Force for supporting us during this eviction crisis and mobilizing lawyers to take on an eviction case. Here is a letter the SCBA sent its membership last week.

To volunteer as a pro bono attorney, click here.

When all of us work together, we can give the gift of a lawyer and help keep families in their homes. Thank you, SCBA!

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 lockdowns have created a legal crisis across America and in our community. As you read this, 30 to 40 million people risk being evicted from their homes, due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic. The CDC has issued a series of moratoriums on eviction proceedings but the moratorium is set to expire. Of those 30 to 40 million people facing eviction, most are or will soon be subject to a judicial eviction process without an attorney to guide them or advocate on their behalf. This is not only going to cause a severe strain on the judiciary but will leave the public at large powerless to navigate the system on their own.

On October 28, 2020, Patricia Lee Refo, President of the American Bar Association issued a letter regarding the eviction crises. Her letter paints a dire picture of 30 to 40 million Americans being evicted from their homes once the CDC moratoriums expire. President Refo requests that all bar organizations make eviction representation a priority in their pro bono activities. She also asked bar leaders to mobilize lawyers in eviction-related pro bono efforts. Click here to read her letter.

The public may be powerless as this crisis ensues, but as lawyers, we are powerful. Lawyers can make a difference and now is the time to mobilize and make it happen. Legal Aid of Manasota needs volunteers for the Florida Attorneys Counseling on Eviction (FACE) program.

Do you remember the Oath you took to become an attorney?

I do solemnly swear:

[ . . . . ]

I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed[.]

Now is the time to honor that Oath and volunteer. The commitment is small: an hour of time, on an as needed basis. That’s it. You don’t have to be a real estate or landlord tenant attorney. This is simple stuff . . . to an attorney.

Please Volunteer Today:

  • Register for FACE with Pam Fields at Legal Aid of Manasota at 941-366-0038. Let them know you are willing to help!
  • Commit to accept “intakes” on an as needed basis from now until December 31, 2020.We are looking for 10-15 lawyers to commit so the time commitment on any one lawyer is minimal.
  • When an “intake” comes in, Pam will provide you with contact information for the pro se litigant. You contact the pro se litigant, gather information about the situation and draft an Answer through a computer program hosted by LAMS. Once drafted, the Answer is electronically forwarded to LAMS for their staff to assist the pro se litigant with execution and filing. Each intake and Answer will take approximately 1 hour of time. Your involvement is then done.
  • As a FACE participant, you will NOT be taking a full case or be the attorney of record. Your role is to assist LAMS with the intake process and prepare a pro se Answer for the pro se litigant to file on their own. You will want to do a conflict check before accepting the intake, but any work you do will be covered by LAMS malpractice insurance.

As members of the SCBA, the Bar knows you are committed to our community, our judiciary and providing justice. We know our members will step up and help when asked and we look forward to being able to report to the Florida Bar and the ABA that we have mobilized and done the best for our community.

Thanking you in advance,

Neil T. Lyons, Esq.
Associate Attorney, Luhrsen Goldberg, LLC

Director, SCBA Board of Directors
Chair, SCBA Access to Justice Task Force

Michele S. Stefan, Esq.
Associate Attorney, Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A.

Director, SCBA Board of Directors
Director of Operations, SCBA Access to Justice Task Force

To volunteer as a pro bono attorney, click here.