We are extremely honored to announce Brian L. Lerner as our Lawyer of the Month. Over the past several years, Brian contributed over 450 hours of pro bono legal work. One of the many pro bono cases Brian took on was a case where he represented an employee suing the Department of Homeland Security for disability discrimination. This case was recognized by the Daily Business Review as pro bono Case of the Year. In that case he, along with three of his colleagues, represented Ulysses Hudson in his lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
In 2003, Mr. Hudson lost a jury trial against DHS after the jury rejected his claims that DHS discriminated against him based on his race (African-American) and his disability (depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder). In the midst of this lawsuit, DHS took additional actions that Mr. Hudson claimed constituted additional acts of disability discrimination. Mr. Hudson further believed that these actions were in retaliation for his having filed a lawsuit against DHS. After thirty attorneys declined to take Mr. Hudson’s case, Mr. Hudson filed a second lawsuit against DHS pro se (representing himself). Through the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project (an organization that seeks to provide pro bono legal representation for indigent, pro se federal court litigants), Mr. Hudson retained Brian and his three colleagues to represent him just two weeks before the potential trial date. They had little time to get up to speed on a case that had been litigated for more than a year and to get become familiar with a prior lawsuit between the parties that had its own four-year history. Brian and his colleagues had to review thousands of documents in what proved to be a very document-intensive case. Moreover, because the discovery period had passed, they had to accept the case as is-- without being able to take depositions, and without being able to demand documents from DHS, having to try a case where 14 of the 17 witnesses were adverse to the client
e.g., current or former high-level DHS officials who had taken action against Hudson). Brian and his colleagues were faced not only with the hurdle of having to overcome the trend of disability cases being dismissed (more than 95% of disability cases are won by employers), but to overcome this hurdle based almost exclusively on whatever evidence DHS was presenting to support its case.
After defeating a motion for summary judgment and restoring Mr. Hudson's right to a jury trial, Brian and his colleagues took the case to trial and obtained a jury verdict in the amount of US $2.5 million in favor of Hudson. They subsequently obtained a permanent injunction against DHS. And finally, they obtained $250,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. Twenty-five percent of the fee award was given to the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project to continue funding pro bono efforts while the remainder has been used to fund further pro bono efforts.
Brian also assisted pro bono clients with a range of issues. They have included representing an elderly woman who was gifted a funeral plot but the funeral home refused to recognize it as belonging to her. The court entered declaratory judgment in favor of the client. He also assisted an organization in reviewing state criminal statutes relating to sexual assault and abuse crimes and assisted another organization in reviewing comments received from the public in response to a proposed regulation that would permit firearms in national parks.
Dallas Physician/Lawyer Shezad Malik has been selected as "Lawyer of the Month" for his humanitarian work after the BP oil spill.
After BP's oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and while lawyers from around the nation are mobilizing for legal battles over this oil spill, Dr. Shezad Malik, who cares deeply about the environment, responded not for the legal reasons alone, but rather for environmental, humanitarian and civil right reasons which he believed needed to be addressed immediately.
Dr. Shizad Malik called his friend Attorney Spencer Aronfeld to meet him in Louisiana and help these victims then he packed up his bags and headed to ground zero.
When Dr. Malik arrived at ground zero, he roll up his sleeves and unpacked his briefcase with the intention of figuring out how and where he can help the fisherman, shrimpers, dock hands and dock builders recover from this tremendous loss.
These victims have not received any assistance and have heard nothing but words and empty promises from BP and the local representatives.
Dr. Malik and Spencer Aronfeld became the voice for the victims protecting their rights and met with BP and city officials on their behalf to work towards getting their lives back on track.
Also, Dr. Malik and Mr. Aronfeld contacted United Way and created a fund to help address the oil spill victims’ most pressing need: food on their tables.
Lawyers to the Rescue Lawyer of the Month
Public Service Recognition
Dr. Shezad Malik
175 Miron Drive
Southlake, Texas 76092
Brian L. Lerner, P.A
Ward Kim Vaughan & Lerner LLP
One Financial Plaza • Suite 2001
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
Lawyer of the Month of June
Lawyers of the Month of July
For the month of July it was difficult to select only one attorney. It was a tie between Attorney Mark Journey and Attorney Joel Bello; therefore, we selected both as Lawyer of the Month. Both attorneys demonstrated enthusiasm and dedication to volunteer and participate in Lawyers to the Rescue's Habitat for Humanity Project. Furthermore, Mr. Journey and Mr. Bello expressed willingness and availability to participate in future community service events.
Mark Journey and Joel Bello were at the Habitat for Humanity build site at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday ready to do whatever it takes to help build a home for a homeless family. They did not express any discomfort while working on the rooftop with a 95˚F temperature, which felt like 120˚F! They did not complain that they had to give up their Saturday with their families for this project. Instead they arrived ready with a smile and climbed to the rooftop with their hammers and tools and followed the instructions given by the construction supervisors.
While everyone was complaining about the heat and taking breaks, Mr. Journey did not stop working on the roof and when asked why he agreed to become part of this project, he said, jokingly, "I had nothing better to do at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday." Mr. Bello was a pro with his bag of tools working hard with dedication and a big smile.
Mark Journey focuses his practice on commercial, employment and labor litigation in State and Federal courts. He has represented a diverse group of clients: stevedoring companies litigating against Florida ports; Mexican business executives fighting civil racketeering claims; and political leaders defending against charges lodged by the Federal Elections Commission. Mr. Journey has broad experience representing clients in business torts, particularly in connection with claims involving fraud. He also has litigated controversies relating to restrictive covenants, confidentiality agreements, trade secrets and other unfair trade practices which typically involve former owners and employees as well as current competitors. Mr. Journey has successfully represented clients in disputes involving claims of racial and ethnic discrimination.
Prior to practicing law, he was a reporter for several Florida newspapers where he covered city government, criminal justice and issues relating to Latin America and the Caribbean with assignments in Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.
Mr. Bello's legal practice is located in Miami Dade County and includes Family Law, Divorce & Custody, General Civil Litigation and Real Estate and Real Property Law. Mr. Bello uses his knowledge and experience to get the best legal outcome for his clients and has a solid reputation for the timely and cost-effective resolutions for his client's legal issues. Mr. Bello offers personal attention and dedicated legal representation for clients facing serious legal decisions.
Mr. Bello understands that each situation offers new challenges to obtain positive resolutions and he listens carefully and in detail to all the relevant aspects of each client's legal matters. Mr. Bello is also known for his straightforward approach and he tells it like it is — providing honest, no-nonsense legal advice.
Coconut Grove, Florida
2699 South Bayshore Dr
Miami, FL 33133
3132 Ponce de Leon Boulavard
Coral Gables, FL
We are proud to award Dr. Rudi Moise "Lawyer of the Month" for his unprecedented level of service and commitment to helping Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake of January 12, 2010.
Dr. Moise traveled to Haiti with a Disaster Rescue Team and helped pull people from the rubble and administer medical care. Dr. Moise and his team saved 11 lives. When Dr. Moise returned home, he continued his work and has collected and shipped more than 300,000 donated items to Haiti.
Dr. Rudolph “Rudy” Moise was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and moved to the United States at age 17. Dr. Moise earned his medical degree from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He later earned a Master of Business Administration and Juris Doctor from the University of Miami.
Dr. Moise holds a Flight Surgeon Degree from the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and serves as a Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve.
Since 1984, Dr. Moise has been the President and Medical Director of Comprehensive Health Center, treating more than 25,000 people in the local community. He is also a successful businessman and was awarded the “Black Business of the Year Award” by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the “Community Leadership Award in 2004. In 2005, The Business Journal named Dr. Moise one of five finalists for the “Best Physician of the Year” Award in South Florida.
Dr. Rudy Moise's remarkable accomplishments, dedications to helping people and service; including his work as a physician, attorney, military man, businessman did not end there, now Dr. Moise is a candidate for U.S. Congress.
Congratulations Rudy, we are proud of you.
Lawyer of the Month of August
Dr. Rudolph Moise
655 Northwest, 119th Street, Miami, Florida 33168
We are honored to announce Marco Britt as “Lawyer of Month.” He is being recognized for his outstanding achievements and work on behalf of animal rights with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an extraordinary organization founded in 1979. Its unique mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s work is accomplished by pro bono legal representation of generous lawyers such as Marco Britt. In addition to his work on behalf of animals, Mr. Britt accepted a position as a Board Member and Treasurer for Lawyers to the Rescue, testimony to his dedication and eagerness to volunteer and serve his community. During our last community service event, Mr. Britt generously donated his time, rolled up his sleeves, put on an apron and served 250 meals to homeless clients of Camillus House.
Marco Britt is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, where he earned both a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. (Masters of Law) in Taxation. While in law school Mr. Britt was also an active member of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. Additionally, Mr. Britt served as Community Service Committee Chairman and Historian for the Hispanic Law Student Association and 1L Liaison for the International Law Society. He was also awarded the Dean’s Merit Scholarship (2005-2008).
Marco D. Britt is an associate with ARHM&F practicing in the areas of international law, corporate, taxation, and banking law, with a particular focus on cross-border mergers and acquisitions and international taxation.
Lawyer of the Month of September
Marco D. Britt, Esq.
Avila Rodriguez Hernandez Mena & Ferri LLP
2525 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
Miami, FL 33134
Lawyer of the Month of October
We are proud to announce Antonio Revilla, an Immigration Attorney and a member of Lawyers to the Rescue, as our October Lawyer of the Month. Mr. Revilla was selected as our lawyer of the month for his commitment to community and pro bono service. When Mr. Revilla learned of our first legal clinic at Camillus House, he was one of the first lawyers to volunteer his time and talents. He was there at the legal clinic, meeting with the homeless at Camillus House, answering immigration legal questions and making sure that they not only got answers to their questions, but direction on what to do next. Also, Mr. Revilla was willing to go the extra step and follow up on those who needed it or refer them to a pro bono legal service to help with their case.
Antonio G. Revilla III is a former U.S. Immigration Prosecutor with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mr. Revilla is a former Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County and was a Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice in Miami, Florida.
Mr. Revilla is the Founder and President of Revilla Law Firm, and is an Officer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), South Florida Chapter. Mr. Revilla's work with AILA was instrumental in bringing reform and changes to deportation and immigration policy, in general. Mr. Revilla has made it his mission to educate the public on the benefits of Immigration Reform and the Dream Act.
Antonio Revilla has published articles on waivers for criminal and non-criminal aliens. He has presented at conferences in the areas of removal proceedings, deportation cases, and waivers of removal and inadmissibility. Mr. Revilla has also appeared on numerous television programs and provided commentary in major news publications.
Mr. Revilla has successfully helped countless illegal immigrants remain in the United States through aggressive and creative litigation, utilizing waivers, legal argument, and various benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Revilla Law Firm, PA
2250 S.W. 3rd Avenue
Miami, FL 33129
Mr. Revilla at the Legal Clinic at Camillus House
We are honored to announce Sheri A. Benchetrit, an Immigration Attorney, as the”Lawyer of the Month.” Sheri is being recognized for her commitment to pro bono service and for the time she generously dedicated to helping elderly clients with renewals of their green cards. When Lawyers to the Rescue contacted Ms. Benchetrit to ask if she could answer immigration status question over the telephone from a Haitian client of Camillus House, she not only agreed to answer his questions, she suggested that he make an appointment to see her in person. She committed to answering all of his questions and to helping him with his status, and she did. Sheri Benchetrit has also volunteered with local high schools and junior high schools to provide answers to any questions the students may have about their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or other immigration issues. Sheri has also been dedicated to providing the Orthodox Jewish Community with immigration advice and appearing in court on behalf of those in the religious community who cannot afford counsel.
Sheri A. Benchetrit has been in practice for more than eighteen years. She currently focuses her practice exclusively on Immigration and Nationality Law. Ms. Benchetrit received her Juris Doctorate from The University of Detroit School of Law in 1992 and spent a term abroad studying International Law and Human Rights. During her time abroad, Ms. Benchetrit clerked for a Member of British Parliament in addition to her studies.
During her years of practice, Ms. Benchetrit was chosen by the Chief Judge of the 47th District Court to be one of three Magistrates for the cities of Farmington and Farmington Hills, Michigan. Ms. Benchetrit held this position for 3 years, and was a member of the Michigan Association of District Court Magistrates until she moved with her husband and children to the Miami area in 2006.
Ms. Benchetrit continues to be licensed in the State of Michigan where she spent most of her career. While in Michigan, Ms. Benchetrit was also a member of the Family Law Section of the Michigan State Bar Association and lectured the Bar on Hague International Child Abduction Treaty law. She has argued Hague International Child Abduction Treaty cases before the Federal District Court.
In her capacity as Of Counsel with Stok & Associates, P.A., Ms. Benchetrit practices only Immigration and Nationality law. She has handled cases involving all aspects of immigration including family-based immigration, employment-based visas, business planning and compliance issues, removal proceedings, waivers, administrative and judicial appeals, specialized visas and citizenship/naturalization cases.
Lawyer of the Month of November
Stok & Associates, P.A.
2875 Northeast 191 St., Suite 304
Aventura, FL 33180
Lawyer of the Month of May
Lawyer of the Month of December
We are honored to announce Scott Kotler as our December lawyer of the month. Scott has been very supportive of our legal clinic and very generous with his time. When we asked Scott to join us at Camillus House, Scott’s response asked was without hesitation “I’ll be there.” Sure enough, Scott got there, rolled up his sleeves and was ready to answer questions regarding criminal law.
Scott Kotler’s generosity with his time extended beyond the legal clinic. Scott was not only willing to answer questions for one of the legal clinic’s clients, but he also offered to help this individual with his case pro bono. Scott met with the client and worked on his case to help this client clear his record in order to obtain a job. He not only worked on the issues the client was facing locally in Florida, but also addressed the issues this client had in another state. When we conducted our most recent legal clinic, Scott was there again, helping answer questions and taking on more pro bono work. Scott was also willing to help a client who was facing issues with Disability Law when we did not have a disability attorney present at this clinic. He did not just say, “I know nothing about disability law,” and move on. He actually took the initiative to get this client information to find him a disability lawyer who will be able to address his issues. It is great to know that we can always count on Scott at our legal clinics.
Scott Kotler is founder and a managing partner of Tucker & Kotler, P.A. in Coral Gables, Florida, 1994-Present. Tucker & Kotler, PA is a high-volume criminal defense practice, concentrating on state felony and misdemeanor cases, including murder, fraud, robbery, sex-related cases and DUI's.
Scott served at the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s office from 1987 to 1991 as Assistant State Attorney, hand-picked as one of 33 prosecutors (out of 1000) by the then-State Attorney Janet Reno. There, he prosecuted various crimes including misdemeanors, DUI's, armed robberies, frauds and murders. This is one of the busiest prosecuting offices in the country. He also tried over fifty cases to verdict, including numerous high-profile criminal cases.
Scott Kotler, Esq.
Tucker & Kotler, P.A.
255 Alhambra Circle,
Coral Gables, FL 33134