Lifting Up the Underserved – Pro Bono Legal Services in Florida

A member of the Florida State Bar Association since 1991, attorney Joe Gufford has served on the boards of directors for the Florida Equal Justice Center and Florida Rural Legal Services. A partner at the Gufford and Brandt firm in Stuart, Florida, Joe Gufford has been honored by the Martin County Bar Association multiple times with its Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award.

Providing pro bono legal services is an integral part of an attorney’s moral and ethical responsibilities to the community. Put simply, pro bono legal services are provided voluntarily at little or no charge and include all kinds of law, from criminal defense to liability cases.

In the case of Florida Rural Legal Services and the Florida Equal Justice Center, lawyers provide civil legal advice and representation for a nominal fee to low-income families, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the elderly. Both nonprofit organizations have considerable experience serving non-English speakers.

Advertisements

How to Protect Your Rights Following a Car Accident

As founder and partner at Gufford & Brandt in Stuart, Florida, attorney Joe Gufford helps clients avoid burdensome legal issues following a car accident. Insurance companies can lack sensitivity in their approach to reaching a resolution, and working with an experienced lawyer like Joe Gufford can simplify the process. Joseph Gufford, and the legal team at Gufford & Brandt, serve clients involved in a variety of accidents, including rear-end collisions, side-impact accidents, highway crashes, fatal car accidents, and more.

To ensure the protection of rights, it’s important to take the following actions:

– Contact the police. An officer will arrive at the scene to complete an official report. This report will be vital in future proceedings.

– Take pictures of the overall scene of the accident, including the license plates, the cars, and any injuries incurred.

– Visit a doctor for an examination, no matter how minor the injuries might seem.

– Contact the insurance companies, and avoid discussing the cause of the accident.

– Contact a law firm with experience handling car accidents. For a free legal assessment from Gufford & Brandt, call (866) 603-9936.

Florida Rural Legal Services: Working for the Common Good

After working with several top lawyers in Florida throughout his career, Joseph Gufford practices family and civil law at his firm in Stuart, Florida. Joe Gufford has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Florida Rural Legal Services (FRLS), a firm dedicated to pro bono work. He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Florida Equal Justice Center. Mr. Gufford and his staff are dedicated to assisting the poor and disenfranchised so that they can receive the justice they deserve, regardless of their ability to pay.

Attorney Joe Gufford believes that it is essential to the administration of justice that all people have access to the Courts and effective representation. Unfortunately, that is not the case in today’s day and age. The practice of law is time consuming, expensive and fraught with complexities. Because resources are limited, Mr. Gufford limits his pro-bono work to cases that are referred to him through FRLS. Mr. Gufford’s pro-bono cases have involved a wide range of family law matters including custody matters, adoptions and guardianships.

Stetson University Tops in State Bar Exam Success

After attorney Joe Gufford earned his juris doctor at the Stetson University College of Law, he, like many other students, took the bar examination. After passing, Joe Gufford began practicing in Florida, where he continues to counsel clients today. His alma mater recently announced that its graduates had achieved the highest success rate in the state on the Florida Bar Exam.

Almost 90 percent of Stetson graduates passed the examination in July 2013, as compared to 77 percent of first-time test-takers throughout Florida. Stetson takes several measures to keep that rate high, such as essay evaluation, workshops, and a study plan enabling students to monitor their progress. The program’s goal is for every student to pass the bar the first time.

The Florida Bar Exam’s general test is presented in two parts every February and July. Part A consists of three essays and 100 multiple-choice questions on a range of 19 topics. Part B, the Multistate Bar Examination, comprises two sections of 100 multiple-choice questions on seven subjects.

Florida Enacts Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse

Joe Gufford has practiced law for over a decade in Stuart, Florida. In his work as a child custody attorney, he sometimes encounters situations wherein child abuse has occurred. Like many individuals in his profession, Joseph Gufford is familiar with the legal requirement to report such situations.If you are a victim of child abuse or are aware of child abuse, abandonment or neglect contact 1-800-96-ABUSE.

Recently the Florida state legislature passed a law, the Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act, which sets stiff penalties for persons failing to report child abuse. Stories of a cover-up in the Pennsylvania State University scandal prompted the legislation.

Prior to this law, state mandatory reporting statutes applied only when the abusers were caregivers, such as guardians or parents. Now, the law applies to anyone. For colleges and universities, failure to report situations they know about could bring a fine up to $1 million. The penalty for individuals not reporting is $5,000, carrying a felony conviction. Local law enforcement will handle cases not involving parents or caregivers.

The law further mandates that the Florida Department of Children and Families provide convenient ways to report, such as e-mails and texting. The legislature allotted the agency an additional $2.1 million to employ additional workers for the state hotline.

The Purview of Family Law

Attorney Joseph Gufford is a partner in the Gufford and Brandt firm, which is located in Stuart, Florida, and serves the state’s Treasure Coast region. Joe Gufford specializes in the practice of family law and is the former chairman of the Martin County Bar Association’s Family Law Committee. Joe Gufford has given professional lectures in the rea of family law and frequently updates himself on the subject through continuing legal education.

Many people think of divorce when it comes to family law, but there is so much more to this law discipline. While lawyers who work in family law focus heavily on divorce and related issues such as child custody and visitation, child and spousal financial support, and the division of property, they also handle legal concerns in the following areas:

-Adoption
-Elder care, such as power-of-attorney for caretakers
-Alternative families, and
-Prenuptial agreements.

In order to be a good family law attorney, one must have a good knowledge of the general law in almost every other category of law becuase family law touches so many other areas. A good family law attorney must have knowledge of the law of contracts, real property, business law, bankruptcy, etc. Family law attorneys are also often experts in the areas of wills, probate, estates, and trusts. Almost all family law cases are document-intensive and require a lawyer with an eye for detail and strong negotiation skills.

Lastly, a family law atorney must also have kowledge of other disciplines outside of the practice of law including child and adult psychology, forensic accounting and business valuation.

Prenuptial Agreements Explained

As an experienced attorney, Joseph Gufford is a partner at Gufford & Brandt in Stuart, Florida. Joe Gufford is a dedicated lawyer who not only cares about his client’s, but also the community in general. Joe Gufford exhibits this dedication through his pro-bono work and has been the recipient of the Martin County Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award.

As part of his work in family law, Joe Gufford takes a conscientious approach to creating prenuptial agreements.

A prenuptial agreement between two parties entering marriage is an effective way to protect personal property, real property and other assets as well as potential exposure to alimony.It can also be used as a tool to assist a potential spouse with lesser assets and earning potential in protecting their future. A prenuptial agreement clearly defines what assets will not become marital property, which removes them from the control of equitable distribution laws. It can also be used in conjunction with other estate planning tools such as trusts to make sure that the intended goals are achieved.

A lawyer who is sensitive to the misconceptions and implications of a prenuptial agreement can help provide guidance through this process. Signing an agreement does not mean divorce is imminent. A prenuptial agreement can be used to provide additional asset protection, regardless of how many marriages one has had in the past.