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A Special Note for BLS Volunteers from The Honorable Laurel M. Isicoff for the Upcoming October 30, 2021 Veteran’s Financial Literacy Program in South Florida

The Veteran’s Financial Literacy Program (the “VFLP”) is a joint endeavor of the Business Law Section’s Pro Bono Committee and Financial Literacy Task Force and Mission United Broward and Legal Services of Greater Miami.  The Pro Bono Committee’s mission is to have one hundred percent participation by its members in pro bono.  To that end, the Pro Bono Committee is always searching for opportunities for its members who do not want to “go to court.” The VFLP provides this opportunity, because none of our volunteers needs to know more than how to use a credit card, a bank account and what is necessary to balance a budget.

The VFLP is based on a program put on last year at the Veteran’s Village of San Diego by the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Veterans’ Task Force, the American College of Bankruptcy and “CARE” – the Credit Abuse and Resistance Education Program.  The program is divided into two parts.  In the first part, veterans will listen to a recorded presentation by Judge Isicoff accompanied by a power point.  There will also be a panel of two or three in the “Live Room” who will take questions during the presentation.  This portion is designed to last approximately 1 hour.  After the presentation, there will be a short break (those present will receive lunch) and then veterans and BLS attorney volunteers will go into separate one-on-one meetings designed to last between 30 and 35 minutes.

During the one-on-one sessions, after introductions and some talk that may or may not be directly related to finances, the veteran and volunteer will review the veteran’s current financial situation (assets, debts, income, etc.).  The volunteer will discuss various options with the veteran, including bankruptcy.  If, at the conclusion of the meeting, it is the volunteer’s opinion that bankruptcy is an option, the veteran will be referred back to Mission United Broward or Legal Services of Greater Miami to be assigned an attorney.  If YOU wish to be that volunteer then let the legal services provider know – remember, if you take a case through a legal services provider you are covered by that providers’ malpractice insurance.

YOU WON’T BE GOING IN COLD.  On the volunteer page of the website you will find various materials:

  1. A copy of the power point for the presentation;
  2. The materials that will be provided to the veterans (you should “thumb through these (or whatever one does when the thumbing is virtual) just to be familiar with that is being provided;
  3. A power point titled “Veteran Mental Health Competency”. It is important that you review this powerpoint; it will provide you with insight during your time with the veteran.  Once you have completed the power point and at least one counseling session you will receive CLE credits as follows:  General -2; Mental Illness – or State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice – 2.
  4. A bankruptcy basics video for those of you who need/want a refresher;
  5. A tip sheet for your meeting.

The program will be hybrid.  The broadcasting will be done from the United Way building in Miami.  There will be a remote location at the United Way Broward facilities in Fort Lauderdale.  So, there will be two locations for veterans and volunteers to attend the program in person.  There will also be set ups for remote one-on-one meetings.  The volunteer coordinators will work with volunteers ahead of time to set up all the logistics for the counseling sessions.  Volunteers will also be asked to submit notes of the meetings for the veteran’s client files. Each volunteer will receive a fillable form for this purpose before the one-on-one sessions.

If this program is successful, it is our hope that it will be pushed out statewide so that we can provide this program counseling services to veterans all over the state of Florida.  It is a win/win for all – we can provide a benefit to our veterans statewide AND give our Business Law Section members a pro bono opportunity for a worthy cause.

Thank you for signing up to volunteer. Even more important than the CLE and pro bono credit will be the great feeling that doing pro bono is guaranteed to provide.

 

LMI

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