Insight

Giving Back to Others

Powerhouse trial lawyer and three-time Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year”* Steve Yerrid stays true to his roots outside the courtroom by giving back to the community

Steve Yerrid's Non-Profit Work in Tampa
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Justin Smulison

November 12, 2021 07:30 AM

Steve Yerrid and the lawyers of The Yerrid Law Firm have a national reputation as courtroom leaders. But Yerrid and the firm are equally proud of their ability to enact improvements and positive change in non-legal forms as well.

The Yerrid Foundation is a renown Tampa-based non-profit that has for several decades focused on a number of charitable and child-related causes. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and a seemingly endless number of crises occurring simultaneously in the past two years, the self-funded foundation continued to carry out its mission in helping those less fortunate, society’s most vulnerable people in need, and giving a voice to the voiceless in 2021.

“This has been one of the most challenging times on physical, economic and social levels and it could be easy to lose sight of others’ pain and needs,” says Yerrid, who founded the firm and his family’s foundation. “We want our fellow citizens to know that we will do our best to be there and provide some measure of comfort whenever possible.”

We Care

The social unrest surrounding police and the criminal justice system in the past year moved Yerrid deeply. Many of Yerrid’s courtroom results have revolved around public trust and knowing how fragile and sacred that can be; as a result, he wanted to better the relationship between local law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to protect.

To initiate the effort, Yerrid donated $100,000 to Metropolitan Ministries through The Yerrid Foundation, which funded the creation of 5,000 nonperishable We Care food boxes. In May 2021, the We Care boxes—each containing two dozen non-perishable food items, face masks, a community resource guide and a note from The Yerrid Foundation—were distributed by patrol officers and deputies to families in need.

“I wanted to start or resume a dialogue between law enforcement and community members,” Yerrid says. “If an officer is coming by with an offering to help feed your family, people are more likely to welcome them in and develop a personal relationship. That effort of closeness is already making a difference. We Care got a great reception by law enforcement because this was the program they needed as a tool to get into people's hearts.”

Additionally, 500 backpacks filled with food, hygiene products and resource materials for Tampa’s homeless population, were distributed by Metro BrigAIDe, Tampa Police and the sheriff’s office.

This past month, Yerrid’s foundation donated an additional $100,000 to the charitable arm of Tampa Police Department for the purpose of buying much needed equipment and expanding law enforcement’s ability to serve the public.

Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Week

The Yerrid Foundation continued to fulfill its mission by lifting the spirits of children facing adversity. Yerrid noted that the past two years presented unprecedented challenges for pediatric cancer patients, whose immune systems were further compromised due to COVID-19.

“Pediatric patients were of course highly susceptible, but also had to deal with distancing and limited interaction because of their compromised immune systems,” Yerrid says. “Their courage and bravery have really motivated everyone around them, and we wanted to exert even more efforts to help these kids who were fighting both cancer and COVID.”

During the 2019-2020 National Hockey League season, The Yerrid Foundation teamed up with the City of Tampa, the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation, and Tampa Bay area pediatric cancer fighting organizations for the 23rd year to spearhead the annual Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Week. The weeklong event in December 2019 brought together nearly every local cancer organization for the purpose of promoting awareness in Tampa Bay – and may have even made an impact on the ice.

As the Lightning sought to retain the title of Stanley Cup Champions for the second year in a row in 2021, the team received an extra morale boost from one of The Yerrid Foundation’s beneficiaries—a 21-year-old devoted fan named Connor, who was wheelchair-bound for most of his life. The young man passed away in April, less than a month before the playoffs began, and in celebrating his life, his friends and family wore Lightning jerseys and photographed themselves passing Connor’s ashes in a Stanley Cup replica. When Yerrid sent the photos of Connor’s funeral to his personal friend and Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Mr. Vinik requested additional photos to share with Coach Cooper and the team during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I’d like to think Connor was smiling from up above, knowing that his presence and memory helped influence his favorite team’s third Stanley Cup championship,” Yerrid says.

The Yerrid Foundation has donated several millions of dollars for cancer research over the years. Through the Foundation, Yerrid has been a wish-maker for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He has been honored to receive the Children’s Cancer Center Kite Award, the Ronald McDonald Friends Award and the American Cancer Association Excalibur Award, as well as numerous other awards and acknowledgements.

With public safety guidelines permitting responsible in-person events, Yerrid says he looks forward to hosting a special gathering for The Yerrid Foundation beneficiaries and their families during the 2021 holiday season.

“I’m very grateful that we have been able to impact so many over the years and been in a position to ease some of the burden of the people in our communities, especially those who are suffering from medical and health conditions,” Yerrid says. “I’m extremely proud of our activities outside the courtroom, and I firmly believe that ripple effect of the good we do may turn into tsunamis of good by the people we help.”

Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs – Tampa- 2012, 2015
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs – Tampa- 2014

Justin Smulison is a professional writer who regularly contributes to Best Lawyers. He was previously a reporter for the New York Law Journal and also led content and production for the Custom Projects Group at ALM Media. In addition to his various credited and uncredited writing projects, he has developed global audiences hosting and producing podcasts and audio interviews for professional organizations and music sites.

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