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Posted: April 23, 2018

Orlando lawyer who helped Puerto Rican law students to lead parade


By Sarahbeth Ackerman

Osceola County | WFTV


An Orlando lawyer is helping displaced law students from Puerto Rico finish their studies.

It is just one of the many efforts that Anthony Suarez said he felt called to do after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. 

"I just have to give back. That's just what I believe God has called me to do," said Suarez. 

Special Section: Crisis in Puerto Rico

He found a way to help 32 students get out of the University of Puerto Rico law school and enroll them in other law schools across the U.S.  

The students were able to keep up their studies despite the hurricane setback.

His efforts did not go unnoticed.

Other lawyers in Puerto Rico started calling him, asking for a jobs.

While Suarez did not have the space to hire, he did something bigger.

After digging into Florida law, he found a rule that would allow him to help other displaced lawyers in need of a job.
"Rule 13 allows that if you have a nonprofit certified legal services corporation, you can bring in lawyers from other jurisdictions to work in the state of Florida while they prepare for the bar exam," Suarez said.

That's exactly what he did.

He opened two locations, one in Miami and one in Orlando.

So far, 15 lawyers from Puerto Rico have begun in Florida. They started taking cases just two weeks ago.

Suarez was asked to be the grand marshal in Orlando’s Puerto Rican Day parade, something he said takes him back to his childhood.

"For me, it happens to be extremely special because I had the honor in 1956 to march in the very first Puerto Rican Day parade New York,” he said. 

Suarez will be leading the parade as participants march down Orange Avenue on Saturday.

This year's theme is "New Beginnings,” as many Puerto Rican evacuees start over after the hurricane.

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