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  • Writer's pictureEli Mattern

Ready, Set, Pro Bono!

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

With thousands of people in Florida needing pro bono help on their legal matters, SavvySuit and the Florida Bar Foundation have come up with a unique way to provide it – and teach aspiring lawyers at the same time.

Orlando’s SavvySuit designed and launched the Florida Pro Bono Law School Challenge. Across the state, Florida law school alumni and law students are paired in a mentorship capacity to work on pro bono cases ranging from probate and landlord to immigration and young children placed in state care.

In the first two weeks, more than 200 students and lawyers chose a case through the program.

“There is no shortage of cases where Floridians need legal assistance, but can’t afford to be represented,” Eli Mattern, SavvySuit’s CEO, says. “By patterning this after popular sports contests, like March Madness, we have already seen the pride people have with their law schools translating into a willingness to help.”

To participate, students and lawyers visit and choose which of state’s 12 law schools they would like to represent. Students pick a case from hundreds available posted by legal aid organizations; lawyers agree to mentor them.

The contest runs through May 10, and three winners will be named: the law school with the most student participation, the most alumni participation, and the most total points.

Winners will be recognized at the Annual Florida Bar Convention in June.

“A core part of the Foundation’s mission is to promote public service among lawyers by making it an integral part of the law school experience,” Claud Nelson, The Florida Bar Foundation’s pro bono program director, says. “By creating a platform for more than 6,000 law students in Florida to have access to available pro bono cases and mentors at their fingertips, we hope to see a noticeable increase in the number of cases being taken to help Florida’s most vulnerable populations – the elderly, the poor, children.”

As of January 31, the University of Miami Law School was in the lead with 53 students and alumni participating. More than 115 matches have been made statewide.

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