In the summer of 2016, Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. hired a new intern from the Dan Marino Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities. Our new hire, Julius, has been such a huge asset to our team; we highly encourage other law firms to consider recruiting adults living with disabilities.
Dan and Claire Marino founded the Dan Marino Foundation in 1992 after their second son was diagnosed with autism. The Marino Foundation’s goal is to improve the lives of people with autism and other developmental disabilities. The Foundation leads various initiatives, such as scholarships for scientists, funding for the University of Miami Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Dan Marino Center and ViTA DMF, virtual reality software, and curriculum designed to help young people with disabilities practice skills for job interviews.
One of the Dan Marino Foundation’s primary projects is Marino Campus, a 10-month comprehensive educational program for high school graduates with developmental disabilities that helps them bridge the gap between high school and employment. We brought Julius on as an intern shortly after he completed the program at Marino Campus.
When Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. first decided to welcome an intern with developmental disabilities into our legal practice, we had no idea how well it was going to work and if he would be a good fit for the job. Any apprehension we had quickly faded, though. After the first quarter, we were beyond impressed with Julius’ contributions to our firm. It became clear that young adults with developmental disabilities are a perfect fit in the legal world.
Julius’ disability has, in no way, affected the quality of the work he has done for us. He assists with data entry and data scanning, and he brings a smile to everyone in our office.
To help him acclimate to his duties, our staff spends a little extra time training Julius. We sit down, explain the processes, and walk him through the task a few times. He picks up on it quickly.
Julius’s capabilities are far more apparent than his disabilities. His passion and drive to succeed have made him an essential part of the Farmer Jaffe team and we are grateful to have him.
Over one billion people in the world have some type of disability, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That is one out of seven people living in a world that is often not very accessible or welcoming. The unemployment rate for disabled persons is exceptionally high.
It does not need to be that way, though. We believe that everyone deserves to have solid opportunities to contribute to the workforce, and hiring from the Dan Marino Foundation is one way we can give back to the community. Many businesses in various sectors have recognized the importance of giving disabled adults an equal opportunity and have made hiring them a priority.
Some of the companies in Florida that the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) recently recognized as “exceptional employers” (i.e., those that have a strong commitment to employing people with disabilities) include:
Bealls, for instance, has hired 60 people with disabilities across Florida in the past few years. Over the last five years, Walgreens has hired almost 120 people with disabilities to work in its stores.
“Floridians with unique abilities offer so much to our communities and thousands of employers in our state,” said Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “I am proud of the partnerships in our state that are helping secure meaningful opportunities for all Floridians, including those with unique abilities, that enable them to experience a fulfilling career that puts them on the path to financial sustainability.”
We highly encourage law firms to open their doors to young adults with disabilities from the Dan Marino Foundation. The Marino Campus does a wonderful job helping students obtain recognized industry certifications and qualify for good jobs.
The Foundation’s three specialized programs of study are Hospitality, Computer Technology, and Retailing, all led by industry professionals. These three programs all lend well to the legal industry, particularly computer technology. The students are well-equipped. Before finalizing their education, students at the Marino Campus participate in a 240-hour internship with a business partner.
To learn more about partnering with the Dan Marino Foundation or to inquire about an intern, email the Foundation at [email protected]. For more information about hiring adults with disabilities, visit Employ Florida’s Abilities Work page.