Gulfcoast's GLS Children's Immigration Legal Defense (GLS CHILD) is the First Runner Up for the Paul Doyle Children's Advocacy Award from The Florida Bar Foundation.  The program will be recognized at the Foundation's 39th Annual Reception & Dinner at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Florida on Thursday, June 25, 2014.  The program will also receive a cash award of $3,000 to be used for legal advocacy for low-income children.  GLS staff attorneys Lisa Murray and Jacquelyn Bradford will be attending to accept the award.  Congratulations to GLS Paralegal Nelson Canario and Attorney Adriana Dinis who will be unable to attend.



Gulfcoast Mourns the Loss of A Past Employee

Alberto Romero started his legal career at Gulfcoast Legal Services in 2002. He worked in our Family Law division defending indigent victims of domestic violence. Currently, very little information is available about how and why he died on a trip to Cuba where he was visiting his extended family. We send our thoughts and good wishes to his family. More information may be found in this Tampa Bay Times article:



Social Justice Sunday

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, Florida
719 Arlington Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL  33701

Time: 10:30am

Guest Speaker: Jose Godinez-Samperio, Staff Attorney, Gulfcoast Legal Services,  Inc.

Jose Godinez-Samperio graduated at the top of his class at Florida State University’s College of Law. However, he could not practice law until special legislation was recently passed by the Florida Legislature allowing him to do so.

WHY? Because Jose is an undocumented immigrant, the Florida Board of Bar Examniers denied him entry into the state Bar.

Godinez-Samperio, originally from Mexico, entered the U.S. legally with his parents when he was nine years old on a tourist visa, but the family overstayed their allowed period. This talented young man grew up in the U.S. -- becoming the valedictorian of his high school class in 2004 and an Eagle Scout; graduating from law school; and passing the Florida Bar exam.

Jose is one of the many talented immigrants who have come to our county as children and have lived most of their lives here. It is important to understand his story and support these “Dreamers.” Our country is enriched by their presence. His story has gained national attention, and UU St. Pete is most fortunate to have him speak at our upcoming service on October 5, 2014. Please join and bring your friends.


     Gulfcoast on the move!

John Dubrule, Gulfcoast Interim Executive Director, signed a lease on a new space for our St. Petersburg office, located at 501 First Avenue North, St. Petersburg.  The new offices are being painted, carpeted and prepared for staff and clients.  With the sale of our current building on First Street South, we've been looking for the right facility.  This new space will house all our St. Petersburg personnel and will provide our clients with a comfortable and convenient location to seek the legal assistance they need.  The moving date has yet to be set, so watch this website for the actual moving announcement sometime in the near future.



Gulfcoast Is Now Participating In AmazonSmile!!


What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a website operated by You can enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as you will find on but there is a difference. When customers shop on AmazonSmile and designate Gulfcoast as their charity of choice, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to us. It costs you nothing and the gift will be forwarded automatically to Gulfcoast!


How does AmazonSmile work?

When you first visit the AmazonSmile website, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization. Search for Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc.  Once you have made your charitable selection, you can browse, shop and purchase at AmazonSmile.  It’s that easy!! The AmazonSmile Foundation takes care of the rest, forwarding to Gulfcoast the donations each quarter through electronic funds transfer.



John Dubrule, Interim Executive Director has a Letter to the Editor of the Tampa Bay Times Published

Saturday's letters: Legal services changing lives for the better

Friday, May 23, 2014 1:06pm

On any given day, a visit to an office of Gulfcoast Legal Services would find several people waiting to be seen by one of our advocates. People come for help — whether it's foreclosure, Social Security disability, immigration or to get protection from domestic violence. A large number of our clients are 60 and older.

Gulfcoast focuses its services on life-altering assistance. A woman has been victimized for years by domestic violence; Gulfcoast steps in and files an injunction preventing further abuse. A homeless man, a Vietnam War veteran, and has posttraumatic stress disorder and physical problems that come from living outside; GLS advocates for his disability and he is able to get monthly assistance, an apartment and no longer has to live without a home. An immigrant child has been abandoned by her parents; GLS attorneys are able to obtain lawful, permanent residence for her under state and federal law, changing her life.

Over the course of 35 years we have ridden the tides of funding and reacted to their ebbs and flows. Still, our main purpose of providing excellent legal services that changes lives remains the same.

We are moving forward in the community, making relations with new organizations and providing services that were not provided in the past such as citizenship, help to Iraq war veterans and the like.

Staff members can be found at outreach sites such as the Long Center in Clearwater, the library in Pinellas Park, at St. Petersburg Boley Safe Haven, St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen, Daystar, the Hispanic Outreach Center in Clearwater, and the Beth El Mission in Ruskin. We work together with our partners, Bay Area Legal Services, the Community Law Program and Legal Aid of Manasota, to provide a web of services to help low-income people — with clinics, centralized telephonic intake and direct representation. It's a full-press team effort to provide as much help as we can. Still, it's not enough. Less than 20 percent of people's legal needs are being met.

The true story at Gulfcoast is the struggle that low-income clients have to find justice. We are proud of our work and the work of our staff in doing their part to changes lives.

John Dubrule, interim executive director, Gulfcoast Legal Services, St. Pete Beach

Find this article at:




       Gulfcoast is Honored!

     The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is the national association of more than 13,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law.  AILA Member attorneys represent U.S. families seeking permanent residence for close family members, as well as U.S. businesses seeking talent from the global marketplace.  AILA Members also represent foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, often on a pro bono basis.  Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that provides continuing legal education, information, professional services, and expertise through its 38 chapters and over 50 national committees.

     One of those chapters is the Central Florida Chapter, which on the evening of May 30, 2014 held its annual meeting.  At this meeting Gulfcoast Legal Services was honored for the pro bono work it does and AILA CFC members donated $3,000 to help support our immigration services!

John Dubrule, Interim Executive Director

John Dubrule was recently announced as the Interim Executive Director of Gulfcoast Legal Services, Inc.  John has been with Gulfcoast for 33 years.  This appointment has provided the agency with stablity and continued guidance during the change in leadership.  He is a member of the Florida Bar in good standing and has served previously as Interim Executive Director when the longtime leader of the agency retired.  (Spring 2014)

     Gulfcoast is Planning a Move

Gulfcoast has signed an agreement with the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg (USFSP) to sell their building. 

Pictured is John Dubrule (GLS Interim Executive Director), Lindsey Shevitz (USF's Regional vice Chancellor's Executive Administrative Specialist), and Steven Bettner (USF's Director of Business Services).

Final approval of the document is anticipated on June 5, 2014.

Getting a Standing Ovation in the Florida House

In an historic vote, the Florida House joined the Senate on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in backing a beaming Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, 27, in his bid to practice law even though he's not a U.S. citizen.  Mr.  Godinez-Samperio, of Gulfcoast Legal Services, offered a grateful thumbs-up from the House gallery as members gave him a resounding ovation following a 79-37 vote that Speaker Will Weatherford called "an act of justice".  Read more about it in the May 1st issue of the Tampa Bay Times.  

        Gulfcoast Receives Grant From Manatee Community Foundation!!

Lisa Murray, Managing Attorney of the GLS Bradenton Office, receiving a check from W. Stuart (Stu) Gregory, MCF Board Past President for our Manatee Veterans Project expansion.  This program will serve veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts and/or their spouses, by providing free legal consultation, advice, referral and representation.  (Spring 2014)

The Jacinto Family's Crisis

In May 2014, there was a very powerful story on the front page of the Sarasota Herald Tribune focusing on a Gulfcoast client family of 13 from Angola facing eviction due to foreclosure.  "I worked with them every step of the way, and we took every legal route feasible," said Robin Stover, Managing Attorney of the GLS Sarasota office providing free legal aid to the family.  "We need mercy -- and more mercy."  We hope this story moves you to want to do more to help them and Gulfcoast.  Read the whole article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune


GLS family law staff Jena Blair and Lauren Engle on outreach at USF St. Petersburg campus, for the newly created and by invitation only Health and Wellness Fair.  Also participating was GLS family law staff attorney Margaret Pearce (not pictured).  The exhibit provides enrolled students with information on the holistic and comprehensive array of professional services in the St. Petersburg community in an effort to promote balanced living for the student population.  GLS greatly appreciates the opportunity to be included in providing services to students and expanding our collaborations with USF St. Petersburg.

  Pam Wiener Dubrule Honored for Her Work With the Homeless

On Friday, June 22, 2012, Pam Wiener Dubrule was honored as a finalist for the 2012 Jane Shaeffer Outstanding Advocate Award at the Annual Florida Bar Conventionin Kissimmee.  The Award is given biennially by the Public Interest  Section of The Florida Bar to recognize outstanding achievement in advocacy for homeless persons, in honor of distinguished attorney and advocate Jane Hunter Shaeffer, who died in 2009.

Pam  Wiener Dubrule was nominated for the award by local St. Petersburg and former GLS staff attorney Amy Bellhorn, based upon her work representing the homeless for over twenty years.  Pam also served on the Executive Council for the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless for many years.

This year's winner of the Jane Shaeffer Outstanding Advocate Award was Bob Dillinger, Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

   Great Work: Norton Apartments Dedicated in Clearwater Thanks to GLS Involvement  

Community leaders, residents and Housing Finance Authority of Pinellas County's Commissioners and staff celebrated the dedication of Norton Apartments May 23, 2012.

Norton Apartments, now named Norton Apartments at Lake Bellevue, are located at 1450 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Clearwater.

PCHA acquired Norton Apartments in 2011 at a time when the property was in bankruptcy and in a severe state of disrepair. The property had suffered from years of neglect and deferred maintenance.

"Norton residents were living in very substandard and dangerous conditions" said Debra Johnson, PCHA's Executive Director...

Chris Allamanno, affordable housing attorney with Gulfcoast Legal Services and John Lameroux of Carlton Fields, P.A. were key to Norton's preservation through advocacy and representation of Norton residents, as were the residents themselves who fought to keep their homes.

Today, Norton Apartments at Lake Bellevue shines as a pillar of what "home" should look like, a new computer center for youth tutoring and activities has opened in the renovated community center, and residents who once feared the loss of their homes are beaming with pride.

Read the whole story at



Dave Schrott, Manatee Community Foundation Grants Committee member, presents a check to John E. Dubrule, Esq., GLS Interim Executive Director and Liz Williams, Director of Development.   MCF awarded the grant for the Veteran’s Project at the GLS Bradenton office.  The program will run through the Foundation’s FY2012-2013.

  John Dubrule Named Interim Executive Director

John E. Dubrule is the Interim Executive Director of Gulfcoast Legal Services.  John has worked at Gulfcoast for over 31 years, most recently serving as the litigation director for Gulfcoast.. During his career at Gulfcoast John has brought many cases in state and federal court to protect the rights of low income clients. John has also served as co-chair of the Florida Legal Services Housing Work Group and was instrumental in starting the Florida Immigration Umbrella Group.  John is a graduate of Boston University School  of Law and Brandeis University. He is married to Pamela Wiener Dubrule and together they have a seven-year-old daughter, LiLi.

John P. Cunningham Honored with Stetson University College of Law 2012 Williams Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award 

ST. PETERSBURG – Gulfcoast Legal Services is pleased to announce that its Executive  Director, John P. Cunningham, was honored with the Stetson University College of Law 2012 Williams Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award.  The award was presented to Mr. Cunningham during Stetson’s Annual Inns of Court Banquet and William Reece Smith, Jr. Distinguished Lecture held at the Mirror Lake Lyceum in St. Petersburg on January 26, 2012.
This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service to the legal profession and to the community.  Mr. Cunningham has devoted his entire legal career to public service, beginning at New York Legal Aid Society and continuing to Gulfcoast Legal Services where he has been the Executive Director since 1984, devoting more than 30 years of service to low-income residents in the community.  Under his leadership, Gulfcoast Legal Services has grown to serve five counties with a staff of 40 helping more than 130,000 clients over the years.  He has served on the Florida Legal Services Project Directors’ Association Statewide Advisory Committee and served as its President in 1995. He has served on the Florida Bar Profession Ethics Committee and the Consumer Protection Law Committee. He is a member of the Clearwater Bar Association, St. Petersburg Bar Association, American Bar Association (Litigation Section) and currently serves on the Pro Bono committees for the Sixth and Twelfth Judicial Circuits as well as the Sixth Circuit’s Pro Se Advisory Committee.  He is a Certified Court Approved Arbitrator for the Middle District of Florida and the Sixth Judicial Circuit.    
Mr. Cunningham has donated countless hours as an advisor and volunteer to the following organizations:  the Community Law Program, Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center, Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless, the Domestic Violence Task Force, Pinellas Refugee Coalition, Sarasota Women’s Legal Fund Steering Committee, Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Cold Night Shelter, United Way, Hospice Aids Advisory Council, Pinellas Headstart, St. Petersburg Free Clinic, Catholic Charities, Center for Victims and Survivors of Torture, and Paint Your Heart Out – Clearwater.

This award was established in 1990 to honor Williams Reece Smith, Jr., past president of the International, American and Florida Bar associations, to honor his outstanding contributions to public service, the justice system, and the community.  Through this award, Stetson continues to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to public service in the community.


Adriana Dinis Receives Prestigious InterCultural Advocacy Institute 10th Anniversary Hero Award    

On June 24th the InterCultural Advocacy Institute awarded Adriana Dinis the prestigous Hero Award at its 10th anniversary celebration.  Adriana received the award in front of 170 attendees for her outstanding work on behalf of refugee and immigrant children.  Adriana is the staff attorney for GLS CHILD, a special project at Gulfcoast Legal Services which assists immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents, or who are victims of serious crimes.  Adriana has been an attorney with  Gulfcoast Legal Services since 2008.

GLS' Next EXecutive Team (NEXT) will work jointly with the agency’s administration to better spread the word in the community about Gulfcoast Legal Services.  We are inviting young, energetic, and outgoing professionals who believe in the access to justice for all.  If you enjoy networking with professionals, making new business contacts and friends, and helping out a great cause, this group is for you!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


GLS Board Member Receives 2010 FAWL Honors

Board member Evelyn L. Moya, Esq., of Sarasota, has been named to the inaugural group of outstanding
women lawyers from around the State.  The FAWL 2010 Leader in the Law Award is given to members nominated by their chapters, who have made significant impact in their communities.  The recognition is intended to promote women who have made meaningful contributions in their communities through their legal service or volunteer activities, and who are positive role models for Florida Association of Women Lawyers members.


Please click on the links below for recent articles:

Immigration officials warn people to avoid Haiti earthquake scam

Mediation for homeowners

Local Haitian relief efforts  




Gulfcoast Legal Services has been awarded one of three 2010 Steven M. Goldstein Awards for its work in Obtaining Justice for Homeowners Victimized by Foreclosure Rescue Scams.  The current foreclosure crisis has given rise to various foreclosure rescue scams that deprive homeowners of their title and then their residence through unconscionable lease terms in a sale lease-back with option to purchase package.  The project was created to enforce remedies that victims of rescue scams would not otherwise obtain and to deter future scams.

GLS attorneys recognized for their continued work on this project are Elizabeth M. Boyle, Sarasota managing attorney, Joseph Broadus, St. Petersburg predatory lending attorney, and volunteer attorney James McDonald.

We congratulate our housing staff, whose outstanding work has been recognized by the selection committee.  The award is given every other year by The Florida Bar Foundation.  this is the first time GLS has been selected.
Elizabeth M. Boyle, Sarasota Office Managing Attorney
Elizabeth M. Boyle, Sarasota Office
Managing Attorney
 Other awardees are winners Florida Equal Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County and Florida Legal Services for their project A Challenge to the City of Lake Worth's Use of Selective Code Enforcement Against guatemalan Mayan Families, who placed first and will receive $25,000 plus a $3,000 training scholarship.  First Runner-Up was Florida Legal Services for their project Migrant Farmworker Justice Project (minimum wage and employment law violation in the south Miami-Dade County bean industry).  they will receive $10,000 plus a $1,000 training scholarship.  GLS will receive $5,000 plus a $1,000 training scholarship.  Formal awards will be presented to the winners at The Florida Bar Foundation Annual Dinner at the Boca Raton Resort and Club on June 24, 2010.    
Joseph Broadus, St. Petersburg Office Predatory Lending Attorney



GLS Responds to Haiti Earthquake Crisis

The Immigration Unit at GLS has responded to the Haitian crisis caused by the January earthquake, by starting a program to help Haitian immigrants with filing their Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which was authorized by an emergency ruling by the U.S. State Department. In addition to Peterson St. Philippe, Equal Justice Fellow already on staff, GLS has added Clair St. Jacques and Valdine Heck to assist with the project. All three are fluent in Creole and have extensive experience working with the Haitian community living in the Tampa Bay area. TPS allows Haitians living the United States to get work authorization on a temporary basis. This will enable those Haitians living here without other immigration status to help their family members back in Haiti. 

Enrollment for TPS is open through July 20, 2010. Applicants may call 727-821-0726 or toll free 1-800-230-5920 for an appointment.
The program is funded in part by an emergency fund grant of The Florida Bar Foundation.

GLS Affordable Housing Project Renewed

Gulfcoast Legal Services' project to preserve and expand affordable housing in Pinellas County has been renewed for 2011 by the Florida Bar Foundation.  The Project is based in St. Petersburg. Christine Allamanno, a graduate of Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C., will continue to represent  tenants in mobile parks where the park is in danger of closing due to change in use or alleged code problems.     

  Christine Allamanno, Esq.