The Partners for Equal Justice Award recognizes partners at law firms who lead by example and accept at least one direct representation pro bono case. The impact of law firm partners demonstrating a commitment to pro bono work is astounding. Legal Services proudly recognized Alvaro A. Acevedo Jr. of the Brickell Law Group with the 2021 Partners for Equal Justice Award at this year’s annual Pro Bono Celebration. Alvaro personified pro bono leadership by assisting more than six clients on complicated tax matters, providing economic stability to those households and inspiring attorneys in his circle.
“Alvaro was a leader during the pandemic who championed a cause and inspired those around him to serve those less fortunate,” said Pro Bono Advocacy Director Jayme Cassidy.
Read about what helps Alvaro stay motivated and inspired him to do this important service:
How did you become involved with Legal Services of Greater Miami?
I reached out to Legal Services of Greater Miami back in 2015 after my second child, Santiago, was born. I did so because a baby girl by the name of Luciana Trigianno had just passed away from cancer in Jackson Memorial Hospital in December, and I was involved with the family. I felt guilty because I had a healthy child while other families through no fault of their own were undergoing difficult situations to an extent I could not imagine. I felt compelled to do something to help these families. It is unfair that some people have such issues, and, in the meantime, I was dealt a better hand. My wife and I started a non-profit entity to benefit the families of children who were affected by life-threatening illnesses which is operative until this day. We give free services and money out of our pocket to help them get by. However, I wanted to do more.
I am no medical doctor for children, but I needed a way to give back the debt I had for my healthy children. However, I do understand how a tax issue can ruin someone’s life, especially a vulnerable family. I realized I could bring some peace to the families that could not afford what is probably one of the most expensive kind of legal representation out there. I then reached out Legal Services of Greater Miami and I was introduced to MaryAnn David who has been an angel to me. MaryAnn trusted me enough to allow me to represent many families in tax court. I accepted every single case she sent over and so far, have won them all. The feelings not only me, but the rest of my team get from this is priceless, we love these cases.
What motivated you to do pro bono work?
I believe pro bono is important because sometimes, lack of access to legal representation results in injustices to vulnerable people. I am motivated to do pro-bono because I practice in an area of law that is complex and can ruin someone. I like the cases I am given because the law is typically on the client’s side, and I can therefore prevent an injustice. Moreover, in tax cases, we are not trying to prejudice anyone.
I don’t think pro bono is for everyone. In my case I do pro bono because I enjoy my job too much. I could very well work for free because it doesn’t feel like work. However, I don’t believe everyone feels the same either about the work or about the case, so I don’t blame them. Anyone doing pro bono work should believe in the case and in the cause and love the work, otherwise the attorney may end up providing suboptimal work. I am blessed that my private practice has done well and it can continue operating without me billing every hour of my time because we have a tremendous team that works beautifully, fast, and effectively.
What do you think is rewarding about doing pro bono?
I am especially motivated by the fact that the typical beneficiaries of my services are the children of my pro bono clients. As a devoted father of three, children are the demographic that motivates me the most. I believe that if the client does not resolve the tax issue, then it may end up damaging the opportunities that the children may otherwise have in the future.
Everything about pro bono is rewarding. I feel better when I give than when I receive. This doesn’t mean I don’t like my private practice. To the contrary, I love my private practice and advising and representing the complex and multi-national cases that the typical family that would need an international tax attorney would need to retain. However, in a typical case, I believe the pro bono client’s life is impacted to a greater extent, even though the sums are much smaller, because it is the pro bono client’s livelihood that is typically on the line.
For more information on how you can become a pro bono volunteer, please contact Chief Diversity Officer & Pro Bono Advocacy Director Jayme Cassidy, email@example.com.