With the vision of focusing more on the judicial aspect, Joel A. Montilla sworn in as the new chairman of the board of directors of the Puerto Rico Bar Association in Florida, Inc. (PRBAFL, for its acronym in English), during a meeting that took place at the World Art Gallery and Hispanic Museum.
The 20th anniversary of the organization that brings together Puerto Rican lawyers was also celebrated. Richard Robles who in 2003 helped found the PRBAFL, recalled: “It was an interesting moment. I was very young back then. I had lived in Miami all my life and I had never realized that there was a Puerto Rican community with such a strong presence in the legal community,” the attorney said.
He remembered that he did not know any Puerto Rican lawyer. But there was him and another colleague. And so they began what was called the Puerto Rico Bar Association, South Florida Association. In the continental United States there are only three associations that group Puerto Rican lawyers, with New York as the state with the most important Puerto Rican litigants, followed by Chicago, Illinois and Florida.
Robles explained that the lawyers have remained united as the organization has grown and that they have also cared for their local community, while maintaining their vision of improving the skills of their members by providing resources and better opportunities for the education of future lawyers and about all concentrate on tutoring. “Joel and Erica Ramos are products of that mentorship and are now part of the new board,” she stated.
Montilla is a Puerto Rican-Dominican born in the Bronx, New York. He arrived in Orlando in 1987. He studied at Valencia College and later graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida (UCF, for its acronym in English). He went to study at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. He returned to Orlando, took his license and opened his own law firm.
“I feel honored to be president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, alongside the new board of directors. It was a blessing to have such diverse attendees and meet many friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. Our commonalities must connect us and our differences must be balanced. The communities we serve depend on it,” said the new president after being sworn in by the honorable judge Gisela Laurent.
During the meeting, the paintings exhibited in the Arte Mundial gallery were appreciated, as well as the music of the soloist Eladio Scharrón, while they tasted Puerto Rican sandwiches and drinks.
“Our communities are more likely to find themselves with a judicial matter that decides their life,” Montilla explained, saying that he wants to educate about the judicial branch in aspects such as who the judges are, how a legal process can affect the family such as evictions of houses, lawsuits and everything has to do with the decision of a judge.
Meanwhile, Robles recalled that when the 2017 hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, many Puerto Ricans came to Florida. “Last time I checked the data, the number of Puerto Ricans in Florida exceeded the number of Puerto Ricans in New York.” So he assured that the lawyers are going to protect the civil rights of Boricuas in the state.
The sponsors of the event were the Puerto Rico Research Hub, Cohen Blostein and Ayala PA Trial Lawyers, Let Us Claim, Public Adjusters and Pan American Behavioral Health.
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