Staff Highlight: Cody Ibasfalean, Esq.

Staff Highlight: Cody Ibasfalean, Esq.

Cody Ibasfalean, Esq. is a supervising attorney for the GLS family law unit. He works primarily with survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking and operates out of our Bradenton office, serving both Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

Cody is a Manatee native. He grew up along the coast in a small fishing village where his father was a commercial fisherman. He spent much of his life near the water and visited the beach any time he could. He lived with both of his parents and his younger brother until age twelve, when his parents decided to divorce. Watching his parents navigate the divorce had a big impact on him and his brother. It was the first time that he considered law as a possible career, wanting to help others who had been in his shoes.

In high school, Cody participated in band and orchestra and was on the football team. The beach and water continued to be his “happy place.” After graduating, he went on to earn an Associate’s degree at Manatee Community College in Bradenton. He then transferred to USF Sarasota where he was a Bright Futures scholar. He studied history and political science and worked full-time as an assistant manager at Walgreens.

During his undergraduate degree, two professors made a significant impact on him. The first was a history professor, Jonathan S. Perry, who was such a good teacher, Cody considered pursuing a master’s degree in history and becoming a professor for a while. He was also very inspired by the professor who taught his undergraduate law classes, Bonnie Greenball Silvestri. Cody took several of her courses – women in the law, constitutional law – and was fascinated. “That’s where I revisited the idea of – maybe that’s what I want to do with my life?”

One day, Bonnie pulled him aside after class and said, “Hey, I think you’d be really good at this.” She offered to write him a letter of recommendation for law school and that was it. He graduated from USF Cum Laude with a BA in history and was immediately accepted into Stetson Law School on an academic scholarship. He already had his first child at the time and spent the reading period of his fourth semester in the hospital awaiting the birth of his second child (while studying for finals!).

Cody had a lot going on, but what he was most concerned with was preparing for the actual practice of law. He wanted to gain real world skills to prepare him for after graduation, so he gained approval from the Supreme Court of Florida to participate in a certified legal internship with GLS under the guidance of our Deputy Director, Jena. “Jena is an incredible mentor to this day,” he says.

At the time, the only two attorneys in the family law unit there were Jena and attorney, Margaret. He was thrilled to get to work with them and do “the actual work” of being an attorney. He had never had face-to-face client interaction before and was pleased to find his research being used in cases and hearings.

“I remember Cody well as an intern. I was mostly struck by his calm and friendly demeanor and how he put clients at ease. He was eager to take on assignments and caught on quickly. He was sensitive to the needs and issues facing victims of DV. I was absolutely delighted when he applied for a position and joined our family law team.”

– Margaret Pearce, Senior Supervising Attorney

It was a natural choice for him to want to work for GLS after graduating, and he joined the staff in January of 2018 as an attorney. He says he loves what he does and has been touched by how much of an impact his work has on clients’ lives:

“On several occasions, clients have come up to me after a hearing and asked, “Is it over? Is it done?” And I get to tell them yeah, that’s it – it’s done. The judge has ordered it. They throw their arms around me and hug me because they are so relieved. That’s really, really rewarding.”

It takes a lot of work to get to that point but he does it because of the impact and because he’s helping children who, “maybe aren’t so different from me at twelve or thirteen.”

Cody hopes to continue his work in the future, growing professionally to become a better advocate. He lives in Manatee County with his wife who is his high school sweetheart and a nurse for the NICU at All Children’s Hospital, and their three kids.

“It has been a pure pleasure to work with Cody as a clinical intern and as an attorney at GLS. His passion and interest in legal aid work was evident as a student, but it has been truly gratifying to see him continue to grow in his skills and knowledge base, yet retain that same passion and commitment to legal aid services as an attorney in our unit. He has emerged as a leader and strong advocate within our family law area and we are so happy to have him on our team.”

– Jena Blair, Deputy Director of the family law unit

Thank you, Cody, for all the hard work you do here, for always being willing to lend a hand, and for being a kind, patient advocate for those who have experienced hardship. Twelve-year-old Cody would be so proud of you and we are, too!