On January 18, 2018 Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. hosted a groundbreaking panel discussion “Increasing Your Bottom Line and Creating Economic Stability in Our Community” with Miami business leaders Julie Azuaje, Senior Director and Assistant General Counsel, Ryder System; Tere Blanca, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate; Miguel “Mike” Fernandez, Chairman, MBF Healthcare Partners; and Susana Fernandez, Director of Human Resources, Loews Hotel, Miami Beach. The panel was produced by the Legal Services Community Outreach Committee under the leadership of Jason Kellogg (Levine Kellogg) and Stephen Rosenthal, Podhurst Orseck.
Moderated by former United States Attorney and Holland and Knight Partner Wifredo Ferrer and generously sponsored by AKERMAN, LLP, the panel discussion opened the doors to a greater understanding of how civil legal assistance is critical to business growth and development as well as the creation of overall economic stability in our community.
Panelists emphasized that the healthcare, tourism, logistics and construction industries, which help fuel the economic engine of Miami-Dade County, are comprised of mostly low wage workers who are one domestic crisis away from becoming homeless or losing access to healthcare. These workers face legal problems including evictions, foreclosures, tax problems (identity theft, earned income credit), consumer debt collections, and denial of special education benefits for disabled children. If unaddressed, these legal problems often result in increased absenteeism and, in some cases, workers are forced to leave their jobs, creating a vacuum and lapse in business productivity. Stress related illnesses in workers can also drive up health insurance costs for businesses.
“The overall economic stability of individuals, families and our community as a whole are threatened when the social fabric unravels due to unresolved legal issues which are vital to the essentials of personal safety,” said Legal Services Executive Director Monica Vigues-Pitan. “The inevitable collateral result is a negative impact on the bottom line profit margins of businesses, both in terms of financial and human capital.”