Cindy Laquidara is a lawyer based in Jacksonville, Florida. She is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in City, County & Local Government Law.

Akerman Pledges Unprecedented $1 Million to National CASA Association

Cindy Laquidara CASAThe largest law firm in the state, Akerman, has taken dramatic action to support the effort to improve the lives of at-risk children in America. Akerman LLP recently took its philanthropic and pro bono legal efforts to the next level by pledging over one million dollars in financial backing over the upcoming six years to the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association. This gift is the largest that CASA has ever been offered by a law firm, as well as one of the single biggest sustained commitments in its nearly 40-year history.

The funds will be distributed as deemed necessary by CASA. A portion is allocated to go to the National CASA Association, as well as its local CASA/guardian ad litem programs. These programs support well over half a million abused and neglected children in the foster care system. An additional slice of the gift has been designated to establish an “Akerman Academic Scholarship for Foster Youth,” which will mitigate the financial burden of college for students who have been in the foster care system and are now ready to earn their higher education. The president of national CASA, Bill Collins, confirmed that, “We fully expect these efforts to have a tremendous impact on the lives of the children we serve.”

In the Tampa Bay area specifically, which is home to the regional office that pledged the gift, the impact is eagerly anticipated. Akerman’s managing partner of the Tampa office, David Doney, shared in an email that, “There are more than 20,000 abused and neglected children in Florida’s foster care system in a given year, a third of whom lack an advocate to stand up for them…The lives of these children should be improved, not diminished, by the foster care experience, and the business community can and should play an important role in that effort.”

Law firms are uniquely situated to offer both financial support and unmatched expertise in the  courtroom to support community efforts to positively improve the lives of young people in the foster system. Akerman is proud to play a role in a larger effort to make the challenges these youths face much more manageable, as well as strengthen the legal protections in place for these members of our community and encourage a brighter future through education. The CASA Association is a particularly fantastic partner, with activism that stretches back to the 1970s and an established track record of transformative success.