Attorney's humble beginnings drive her to help others - FOX 13 News

Attorney's humble beginnings drive her to help others

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CLEARWATER (FOX 13) -

It's been a great year for Myriam Irizarry. It has includes the Florida Bar's Pro Bono award for the work she does with the Hispanic Outreach Center, where folks come to her with all types of struggles, from slumlords to unpaid wages.

"I'm humbled and honored really by the awards that I've gotten this year," she said.

A Puerto Rican native raised by a single mother, Myriam has always wanted to be an advocate for those who can't afford legal advice. She says she gets so much in return.

"At the Hispanic Outreach Center, the people are so warm and appreciative, and they have that Latino spirit about them, so I get lots of hugs and kisses. And they want to cook for you and do all kinds of neat things for you because they really feel a sense of appreciation and so it's wonderful to know that you can touch the lives of people that way."

Getting where she is today once seemed like a very remote possibility.

"My mom always knew I was gonna be a lawyer, and for me it was impossible to think about how being a child very poor growing up in New York in the inner city, not knowing where this money was going to come from to go to law school, go to college," she said.

Through financial aid and grants, Irizarry did finish law school. She now serves as the general counsel for the Pinellas County Clerk of Court, and will soon be the first Hispanic female president of the Clearwater Bar Association... Trailing the way for other hispanics in the legal field.

"Well, my role model is Sonia Sotomayor, and my aspiration is to someday be a judge. And she's a Puerto Rican woman at the U.S. Supreme Court, and I just admire her greatly," Myriam says.

She has a wall of awards reflecting her best year yet, and a heart of gold that will drive her passion for advocacy for years to come.

Irizarry also goes beyond the Hispanic community, holding events throughout Pinellas County to help all people who can't afford legal assistance.

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