Approximately 130 invited guests from the legal and business community attended Brevard County Legal Aid’s Annual Pro Bono Awards and Recognition Gala on Friday, March 4, 2016 at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne. The annual dinner and awards event is a tribute to Brevard’s attorneys who contribute free legal assistance to help persons who are unable to afford private counsel.
Circuit Court Judge Lisa Davidson was the special guest for the evening. Judge Davidson began her career in 1978 as an Assistantimage of Judge Davidson Public Defender in Broward County later serving as an Assistant State Attorney there.
In Brevard, she was in private practice from 1982 through 1993. She served as a County Court Judge for Brevard County from 1994 through 1998 then as a Circuit Court Judge from 1998 to present.
Judge Davidson has a long history of community service which includes founding and chairing the Brevard County Domestic Violence Task Force, and serving on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls Clubs. She has received many awards for her leadership and service on important community and legal issues.
The evening’s main purpose was to honor Brevard County attorneys who went above and beyond in their pro bono contributions. In 2015, volunteer attorneys donated 4,300 hours of service through Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Program, equating to roughly $1,000,000 in legal services to the poor.
At one point, attendees rose to their feet after hearing from a 75-year-old victim of abuse who courageously told her story of how Legal Aid helped her escape her batterer.
James L. Torres was recognized with the “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award.” image of James TorresMr. Torres is a board-certified trial lawyer specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice, insurance disputes, consumer law and small business issues.
Expanding his practice in 2008, James began representing clients in consumer matters and he contacted BCLA to offer his pro bono services. Since then, his contributions have been remarkable. In the past eight years, James has assisted 248 Legal Aid clients logging over 1250 hours of pro bono service. In the past year alone, James closed 19 pro bono cases donating over 500 hours in volunteer time.
One of James’ clients, a 50-year-old disabled Air Force veteran from Palm Bay said this about James: “He’s been the best attorney, the kindest. I couldn’t find help because I have no money, but Mr. Torres treats me like I’m a millionaire.” His selfless dedication to his pro bono clients often comes as an unexpected and welcome surprise to people who had little hope.
The event was made possible thanks to the generous donations of several sponsors. The law firm of Shuster & Saben was the Presenting Sponsor for the event.
Gold Sponsors were Allender & Allender, PA, Brevard County Bar Foundation, Kenneth F. Tworoger, Attorney at Law, Michael and Roma Kahn, Michael Kahn, PA and Nance Cacciatore.
Silver Sponsors were: Alpizar Law, Caruso, Swerbilow & Wald, PA, Leslie J. Castaldi, PA, Derrick Connell, Esq., Dean Mead Law Firm, Bud & Kim Deffebach, Carmine Gigliotti, Attorney at Law, GrayRobinson, The Law Office of Michael Howard, Rob and Shelley Johnson, and The Honorable J. Preston and Betts Silvernail.