Each semester at the Eleanor R. and Judge A. Jay Cristol Bankruptcy Pro Bono Assistance Clinic, students have the opportunity to gain practical experience with real cases in federal bankruptcy court. Students are placed with mentor bankruptcy attorneys in the community and assigned diverse cases such as chapter 7’s, chapter 13’s, contested matters, and adversary proceedings.
For the Spring 2017 semester, nine students, with the guidance of their mentors, continued the mission of the Clinic to assist pro bono clients at each stage of their bankruptcy proceedings. Alec Valdes, Alina Gonzalez, Kyle Quintana, Laura Farinas, Sarah Usman, Zachary Stermer, Latriece Jones, and Alexander Valverde have assisted a total of 22 pro bono clients so far, all while making a great impact on the Miami community and the lives of indigent clients who are facing financial struggles.
Some examples of pro bono work the students have been able to assist in include chapter 7 and 13 cases. Valdes, along with his attorney mentor Michael Schuster of Genovese Joblove & Battista, P.A., successfully received their client’s discharge early in the year. Farinas represents an indigent client who had filed an earlier bankruptcy but could not afford the second installment of his filing fee. She will file a second chapter 7 case and argue to retain the benefits of the automatic stay in bankruptcy court. Valverde is helping a client recently sued for a claim which is almost twenty years old and long past the statute of limitations. Students have been involved in client interviewing, litigation skills, and legal writing while working with actual clients.
The Clinic offers unparalleled opportunities to network with bankruptcy practitioners and future prospective employers, attend events and dinners hosted by Bankruptcy Bar Association for the Southern District of Florida. Students also meet United States Trustees, and even present mock oral arguments in front of Chief Judge Laurel M. Isicoff and Judge Robert A. Mark, who provide feedback on the spot. These are opportunities and skills which Clinic Director Patricia Redmond and Professor Allison Day have been fostering since the Clinic’s inception.