Pro Bono Award Recipient: Elisa J. D’Amico

Elisa J. D’Amico is a partner at K&L Gates in Miami where she represents clients in complex litigation matters. Elisa focuses her practice on Internet and technology law, specifically online privacy and cyber harassment.

Elisa was chosen for the 2016 Florida Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Award because she is a pioneer in the crusade to combat sexual cyber-harassment and to preserve online privacy. She has dedicated numerous pro bono hours to helping victims of cyber-harassment and to teaching children and adults around the country what to do when someone threatens to invade your online privacy.

In late 2014, with the support of her law firm K&L Gates, Elisa founded the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project (www.cyberrightsproject.com), a pro bono project that provides legal services to victims whose sexually explicit images are distributed and displayed online without consent (i.e., revenge porn). The Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project (CCRLP) has been recognized–both nationally and internationally–as a leader to fight the global epidemic that has surfaced concerning the distribution of intimate media.

The CCRLP has over 70 attorneys volunteering their time to help victims of online harassment. Individual case work may consist of removal of the offending images from websites and/or search-engine results, obtaining assignment of copyright for the offending images, and bringing civil lawsuits against perpetrators. The project’s volunteer lawyers also have cooperated with law enforcement where perpetrators were being prosecuted for their actions. Israel, Canada, and the U.K. along with 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that criminalize revenge porn. Elisa, herself, has volunteered more than 1,100 hours to the CCRLP to help victims of revenge porn reclaim their online presence.

In one year, the CCRLP has dedicated the equivalent of $2 million in volunteer attorney time and has consulted with over 300 victims. The project receives referrals from recognized advocacy groups, including the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (www.cybercivilrights.org), and collaborates with lawyers, academics, law enforcement, and technology industry leaders, to examine ways to fight the online cyber harassment epidemic.

Elisa’s pro bono work does not stop with the CCRLP. She also is an Officer of Miami-Dade FAWL. She is a member of the Dade Legal Aid Advisory Board, sits on the Development Committee of the Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, and has Co-Chaired the organization’s “Raise the Bar” event for the past several years, which has raised close to $300,000 to help provide legal assistance, shelter, counseling, and education to women victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence. Moreover, in October 2015, Elisa was named a Founding Member of the Advisory Board of New York Law School’s Tyler Clementi Internet Safety Institute. The institute will educate and train law students to offer pro bono legal help to victims of cyber-harassment.

Elisa was recently named “Attorney of the Year” by the Daily Business Review, “20 Under 40” South Florida’s Emerging Leaders by the Miami Herald, and “40 Under 40 Outstanding Lawyers of South Florida” by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for her work as co-founder of the CCRLP. Elisa–on behalf of her work for and with the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project–has been featured in dozens of print, broadcast, and online stories including The New York Times, CNN, International Business Times, MSNBC, Huffington Post, CNN, The Meredith Vieira Show, and The National Law Journal.

Elisa’s dedication to the legal profession and her incredible work ethic is further demonstrated by her AV® Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell in litigation, commercial law, and Internet law. She also has been recognized as a Florida Lawyers® Rising Star for the past several years, and this year was recognized as “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend.