Alex Karamalakos never saw himself being the director of an LITC program at a legal aid organization. As a child, he didn’t dream of being an attorney. He liked math and was pretty good at it, but hated everything else about school. Early on, he moved from New Jersey to Florida and attended several elementary schools before landing in a private school in St. Pete.
“It’s a good thing it was a private school,” he says. “Otherwise, I probably would’ve gotten kicked out.”
Alex dealt with a lot of bullying in his early years. It started when he was very young. At first, he didn’t know exactly what was going on. A child of immigrants, he spoke French and Greek at home. He didn’t know what others were saying about him, but once he figured out what was happening, he began fighting back. He ended up in the principal’s office a lot, frustrated that his teachers didn’t stick up for him.
One interaction with the principal nun, though, has stuck with him. A classmate had been bullying him especially badly and Alex snapped, using physical force against him. He was sent to the principal’s office, but this time, the principal asked for Alex’s side of the story. He told her what happened, and the bully admitted to his actions. Both were given detention.
“That’s all I wanted,” he says. He knew he made a mistake by acting out, but in his history at the school, his bullies never received any consequences for what they did. This moment was a game-changer for him. “It was the first time I felt justice was done.”
Alex started boxing at the age of fifteen with the support of his mom, who thought it might be good for him to dispel some of his energy. He stuck with the sport and it garnered him the U.S.A. Boxing Thomas Sarge Johnson Scholarship which helped him through undergraduate school at the University of Florida.
He continued to box there, while also attending U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and joining the Golden Key International Honor Society. After changing his major several times, he ended up graduating with a focus on Classical Studies and a Business Administration minor. Classical Studies was great for him. He got to learn about Greek Mythology, Latin, and even learned how to read and write in Greek (he had always spoken the language but never learned to read and write it).
Alex took some time off after undergrad and worked in his father’s restaurant. He did everything imaginable there – from cooking to employee management to strategic and financial planning. But after a few years, he got tired of the routine and atmosphere. Seeking a change of pace, he moved to Miami and attended Saint Thomas University Law School. Being an attorney, he felt, was how he could have the biggest impact on creating justice for others. “Growing up, I felt like life was just not fair,” he says. He went to law school so he could keep that from happening to others.
At Saint Thomas, Alex made the dean’s list and won the Tax Clinic Cali Book Award, all while volunteering at local VITA and tax clinics. He started with GLS as an LITC volunteer and soon began working as a contract attorney. It wasn’t long before he took over the program.
“Being an attorney doesn’t mean you naturally will do good in the world. You have the greatest impact just being a good person.”
Being an attorney isn’t always what he thought it would be, but he continues his work because he wants to help people who are struggling. He loves, “seeing the burden lifted off their shoulders,” when his team steps in to help. His representation provides people with the truest form of justice, and at the end of the day, that is his motivation for the work he does.
Thank you, Alex, for being such a dedicated part of our team. We’re proud of the way you fight for our clients and the strength you bring to this organization.