Staff Spotlight
Educational Advocacy Project

Melissa Duncan is the Supervising Attorney of the Education Advocacy Project. Throughout her 12 years at Legal Aid, Melissa has also worked in the Relative Caregiver Project and the Juvenile Advocacy Project.  She graduated from law school at the University of Florida in 2004 and was previously a teacher in Phoenix, Arizona, through Teach For America. 

Erica Sonn and Rayni Bienenfeld are the two Educational Advocacy Staff Attorneys.  Erica has held her position at Legal Aid since December 2015.  She graduated cum laude and pro bono honors from Florida Coastal School of Law in 2014.  Following law school, Erica was a justice AmeriCorps fellow at Americans for Immigrant Justice from 2014-2015.  Rayni Bienenfeld has been with Legal Aid since February 2017.  Prior to joining Legal Aid, she worked for a private law firm representing youth in foster care and then as a Visiting Attorney at the Children and Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.  Rayni graduated from law school at the University of Miami in 2013 and attended Duke University for her undergraduate degree.

Paralegal Tatum Coutee received a Bachelor’s degree in English from LSU.  She moved from Baton Rouge to West Palm Beach with her husband, Aaron, in 2002.  She has worked as a paralegal for almost 14 years. She enjoys watching football and traveling.  The newest member of the team is Education Advocate Deborah Berger.  Deborah moved to Florida upon her husband’s retirement after raising their children in Eastern Long Island.  She practiced Education Law in New York for a not for profit and then in private practice.  Deborah was also an adjunct professor of law at Hofstra Law School and developed a clinic for law students to represent students who are suspended from school.  Deborah was also an impartial hearing officer and worked as independent contractor for the 2nd tier appeal level for special education cases in New York State.