RICHARD MALAFY HONORED WITH THE FLORIDA BAR PRO BONO SERVICE AWARD - Florida Keys Weekly
When low-income and disadvantaged citizens in Monroe County need assistance, according to the Florida Bar, there is no one better than attorney Richard A. Malafy.
In a Jan. 20 ceremony at Florida’s Supreme Court, Malafy was named as the 16th judicial circuit’s 2021 recipient of the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award. Established in 1981, the award is intended to encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor by recognizing those who make public service commitments.
Described as “a beacon of light and hope for the Florida Keys community” by the Florida Bar, a quick scan through Malafy’s impressive resume will blow readers away: six pages of awards and volunteer commitments, particularly as a provider of free legal services in the wake of Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to volunteering with dozens of local organizations and events, Malafy is the go-to legal counsel for the Florida Keys SPCA and sponsors all feline adoption fees for the Clear the Shelters initiative.
Always humble even with a spectacular resume, Malafy carries the attitude that in a small community, neighbors helping neighbors is expected and cherished. He was kind enough to sit down with Keys Weekly to discuss his incredible accomplishment, the steps leading up to it, and what he loves most about serving the Marathon and Florida Keys communities.
How did you get so deeply involved with pro bono work? I was lucky enough to hook up with the group Dade Legal Aid and Judge Bonnie Helms. She’s really made a resurgence with these types of pro bono efforts down here. Until I found this group, I was spending about 100 hours a year doing a bunch of little free legal stuff. Once I got into Dade Legal Aid, it was a little more organized. They do actual seminars and monthly clinics.
What projects do you remember the most? After Irma, we had basically set up tent cities in Big Pine Key. We were just sitting there in shorts and sneakers doing legal clinics, because people had lost everything and were freaking out. It was crazy. And then COVID hit, so we were trying to help people through the process of applying for unemployment and other benefits. I was actually trying to put a group together to go to the Bahamas and offer services when they were hit really badly by hurricanes as well, but the Bahamian bar got a little funny about it. We still brought seven boats and we were running supplies over there. During one of the government shutdowns, we also...
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