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Pro-bono awards highlight work of Lee County Legal Aid Society staff attorneys, volunteers

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Lee County Bar Association recognizes 20 local lawyers — half of whom are affiliated with nonprofits serving low-income residents

The Lee County Bar Association is honoring 20 local legal superstars for their efforts on behalf of low-income county residents in need of legal aid — and nearly half the honorees are affiliated with the nonprofit Lee County Legal Aid Society.

The Lee County Bar Association’s annual Pro Bono Awards recognize local lawyers and judges who devote their time and energy to those unable to afford an attorney on their own.

Unlike in criminal law, there is no constitutional right to counsel in civil law, which includes landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosures, evictions, probate, debt collection, child custody cases, domestic violence orders of protection and more.

Each of the four Legal Aid Society staff attorneys received pro-bono awards: Executive Director Andrew Banyai, Legal Director Blair DeMinico and staff attorneys Ashley Faraone and Eunice Gedeon Linot.

Additionally, five more local attorneys in private practice were honored for their work on behalf of Legal Aid Society, which recently expanded its efforts to assist immigrant children and teens, including those who are abandoned, entered the country alone, or are victims of human trafficking.

The new Lee County Legal Aid Society program focuses on establishing a pathway to legal citizenship for abused, neglected and abandoned youth under age 18.

“Congratulations to Lee County Legal Aid Society on the recognition they received for the vital role they play in Southwest Florida’s legal landscape. They have demonstrated exceptional commitment to serving others and closing the justice gap for those local individuals who need it most,” said Lauren Baugh, Executive Director of the Lee County Bar Association.

Among the other pro-bono award winners were Frank and Patty Talty, Susan Larned, Maria Alaimo and Carlena Hull, each of whom volunteers with the Legal Aid Society. That community support is  invaluable, Banyai said – this year alone, volunteer attorneys have collectively donated nearly 1,000 hours of their time.

“These awards are well-deserved public recognition for the contributions of attorney volunteers who literally give hundreds of hours of their own time each year to the cause of ensuring justice for those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to legal representation,” he said. “We’re grateful for their support – and have no shortage of clients in need who would benefit from even more community involvement and engagement.”

For more information on Lee County Legal Aid Society, visit www.leecountylegalaid.org or call 239-334-6118.

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