When Mike Dunlavy met Fort
Lauderdale attorney Howard
Talenfeld, he had left foster care
and graduated from college, and
was looking for a direction in life.
Talenfeld helped involve him in a group
called Florida Youth SHINE, which the
lawyer had played a role in launching.
Composed of former and current foster
children, its mission is to push for
improvements in Florida’s foster care
system. Dunlavy helped the group lobby
the Legislature for better funding and
education, and even became its chairman.
Then he decided to emulate Talenfeld
by becoming an attorney who would
fight to protect vulnerable children.
HOWARD M. TALENFELD · COLODNY, FASS, TALENFELD, KARLINSKY & ABATE · CIVIL RIGHTS, CHILDREN’S RIGHTS AND DISABILITIES LAW · FLORIDA SUPER LAWYERS: 2006–2011 · CHAIR (2009–2010), FLORIDA BAR LEGAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN COMMITTEE
Talenfeld guided him through the law
school application process and connected
him with a foundation that gave him
a scholarship to attend St. Thomas
University School of Law in Miami.
Dunlavy, 29, is entering his third year.
“Foster kids like me struggle with trusting
what people say,” Dunlavy says. “A lot of
people had made me a lot of promises, but
Howard really came through. I’ll always have
to live up to what he showed me.”
Talenfeld, 58, a partner at Colodny,
Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, has
reached out to help many foster children
and others in need. He has built a
remarkable record of reforming Florida’s
foster care, juvenile delinquency and
mental health systems, while winning
large class action and individual verdicts
and settlements on behalf of children and
adults injured while in those systems.