Fourth Annual Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards

Press Release
November 10, 2023
Miami, FL – Bilzin Sumberg continued its long-standing tradition of putting community service at the center of firm culture as it hosted its fourth annual Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards, which took place at the firm’s Miami office on October 24th.

The Awards recognized pro bono services provided during 2022 in two categories. The One-to-One Category highlights pro bono work that directly touches the lives of individual pro bono clients and their families. The One-to-Many Category acknowledges pro bono work aimed at assisting organizations that have an impact on entire segments of the community.

The One-to-One Category recognized Trial & Litigation senior counsel David Trench, Trial & Litigation partner Kenneth Duvall, and Environmental attorney David Jessup Jr., on behalf of Lawyers for Children America, for their representation of a young woman in extended foster care. The group began working with the young woman when she was being terminated from her extended foster care program and her benefits were being denied. The group filed an appeal of the termination and successfully negotiated a financial settlement of back-benefits owed to her from the program. Thanks to the group’s efforts, the young woman was allowed to reenter the extended foster care program and is now participating in a GED program. 

The One-to-Many Category recognition went to Real Estate partner Sara Barli Herald, Public-Private Partnerships partner Diana C. Mendez, Land Development & Government Relations partner Brian Adler, Real Estate attorney Lauren Cankaya, and Tax attorney Ellina Berdichevsky for their work helping to establish Miami-Dade Innovation Authority (MDIA). MDIA is a non-profit investment vehicle that is being funded by private, public, and philanthropic organizations from the Miami-Dade community. The organization’s goal is to invest in growth-stage tech and innovation startups working to address challenges that affect our community, including climate change, health care, housing, transportation, education and economic mobility. The Bilzin Sumberg team prepared the corporate documents necessary to launch and govern the new non-profit.

“It is truly inspiring to witness our unwavering dedication to enhancing the well-being of our local community,” said Raquel M. Fernandez, Trial & Litigation Partner and Head of Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Program. “The Matters of the Heart awards ceremony serves as a reminder of the transformative impact of pro bono initiatives, which serve to improve the lives of those we aim to support.”

As part of Bilzin Sumberg's culture of community service, all attorneys and staff are encouraged to participate in Pro Bono work. All those recognized by the Matters of the Heart Pro Bono Awards exemplify the firm's dedication to the community and the indelible impact of Pro Bono work.

"At Bilzin Sumberg, our pro bono work is a central pillar of our engagement with local residents in need of legal services and local organizations working day-in and day-out to make our home a better place,” said Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Bilzin Sumberg Managing Partner. "We strongly encourage our attorneys to get involved in the pro bono matters that they’re passionate about and to be an uplifting force for positive change.”

About Bilzin Sumberg
Bilzin Sumberg counsels clients whose business and legal opportunities and challenges span the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. The firm's growth has paralleled that of its Miami home base, a region known for its rich cultural, social, and professional diversity. Bilzin Sumberg stands at the center of virtually every major transaction shaping Florida and is at the forefront of the state’s most pressing economic issues – from infrastructure, transit and mobility, to affordability and the diversification of the state’s economy. Bilzin Sumberg lawyers concentrate on services at the heart of both regional and international commerce, including real estate, land development and government relations, environmental, construction, corporate and securities, finance, joint ventures, domestic and international tax and private wealth planning, antitrust, business litigation, and public-private partnerships. For more information, please visit
Kenneth Duvall
Partner & Assistant General Counsel
David Jessup, Jr.
Diana C. Mendez
Brian S. Adler
Lauren O. Cankaya
Albert E. Dotson, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner
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