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The Florida Bar President Gary Lesser to present awards at Legal Aid Gala

admin - April 3, 2023 - 0 comments

The Florida Bar President Gary Lesser to present awards at Legal Aid Gala

What: Annual Legal Aid Gala
Featuring: Gary Lesser, President, The Florida BarPam Bress, Pro Bono Attorney of the Year
When: May 5, 2023
Where: Suntree Country Club

It is with great pleasure that Brevard County Legal Aid welcomes Florida Bar President Gary Lesser is our special guest speaker for this year’s Annual Pro Bono Awards and Recognition Gala which will take place on Friday, May 5th at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne.

Gary Lesser is the managing partner of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith with offices in West Palm Beach, Stuart, Boca Raton, and Wellington. The firm was founded by Gary’s grandfather almost 100 years ago. Since the very beginning, there has been a history of public service and volunteerism. Gary’s father Shephard (“Shep”) Lesser volunteered
extensively for the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County and instilled in his son the importance of legal aid and equal access to justice. Lesser continues in his father’s footsteps in his support of Legal Aid. In addition to providing pro bono legal assistance directly to low-income clients, Gary (during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic) emceed Legal Aid PBC’s Annual Pro Bono Recognition Evening, raising $250,000.

As the leader of the third largest integrated bar association in the United States, President Lesser has pursued access to legal services as a top priority. He has often said that improving access to legal services is the most important issue now facing the legal profession and the Bar must succeed in efforts to increase legal access for Floridians. To this end, Gary appointed a Special Committee on Greater Public Access to Legal Services has encouraged the pursuit of practical solutions and bold proposals.
The committee’s recently submitted report to the Florida Supreme Court contains several important recommendations aimed at strengthening legal aid and pro bono. Notably, the report points out that Florida is one of only 3 states that does not provide state funding to legal aid programs through legislative appropriations and/or court fees and fines
and recommends that the Court, the Florida Bar, the Legislature, and the Executive branch should work collaboratively to secure dependable funding for legal aid programs including direct appropriation from the State of Florida.

On May 5th at Brevard’s Pro Bono Gala, President Lesser will present awards to local attorneys who have gone above and beyond in their pro bono contributions. Pam Bress will be recognized as “Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.”

Pam is currently the Executive Director and Co-Founder of “WAYS for Life,” a non-profit an organization dedicated to providing wraparound services to assist in solving the problems faced by teens and young adults aging out of foster care. Before founding WAYS, Pam was a senior staff attorney at Brevard County Legal Aid, where she represented youth
aging out of foster care. That’s where she learned about the lack of critical resources, services, and affordable housing for homeless youth and youth exiting the child welfare system at age 18.

After leaving legal aid, Pam continued to represent young people facing critical legal issues. In the past year alone, she donated almost 300 hours of pro bono service in dependency, guardianship, and probate cases. Pam’s volunteerism extends beyond legal assistance. Over the past 25 years, Bress has volunteered for numerous organizations that
serve youth including coaching academic teams in the public school system (Odyssey of the Mind, Future Problem Solving, and Mock Trial), coaching Special Olympics, TOPSoccer, traditional sports teams, Justice Teaching at Central Middle School and Hoover Middle School, and serving on the board of directors for Club Esteem, Promise in Brevard, and the statewide Future Problem Solving Program.

Pam has been recognized extensively for her extraordinary community service. Just a few of her honors and awards include: Brevard County Bar Association A. Max Brewer Community Service Award for Outstanding Community Service 2014; Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Program Child Advocate of the Year 2016; Judge J. Preston Silvernail Civility
Award 2020; and, Orlando Channel 6 News Getting Results Award 2021.

Other award winners include “Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards” to Scott Blaue, Julie Cloney, Tino Gonzalez, Greg Jean-Denis, Melanie Kalbac-McManus, Scott Krasny, Laurel Nugent, Nicholas Vidoni, and Michel Watson. “Distinguished Pro Bono Service Awards” will go to Tiffani Cole, John Daly, Scarlett Davidson, Amy Romaine, Richard Shuster, Jay
Thakkar, Adrienne Trent, Krystal Wald, and Thomas Yardley.

Shuster & Saben is Platinum Sponsor for the event. Gold Sponsors are: Allender & Allender, PA, Brevard County Bar Foundation, Brevard County Bar Association, Faro & Crowder, P.A., Michael and Roma Kahn, Michael Kahn P.A., Nance Cacciatore, and Vicarious Law Firm.

Silver Sponsors are: Alpizar Law, Douglas R. Beam, P.A., Cantwell & Goldman, Caruso & Swerbilow, P.A., Goldman, Monaghan, Thakkar & Bettin, P.A., Heuston Legal, PLLC, Jacobus Fielding, Lacy Lyons Rezanka, Robert and Shelley Johnson, and The Honorable J. Preston and Betts Silvernail.

For more information please call BCLA at (321) 631-2500 ext. 511