We had the opportunity to chat with Antonio Romano, an Associate at Chepenik Trushin LLP who will be
serving as the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association (GALLA) Liaison to the Miami-Dade County Bar
Association. Romano explained how his firm serves the LGBT community, what GALLA does, and some
of the challenges and obstacles he has had to overcome on his path for success.
KACALA: What type of law do you practice at Chepenik Trushin LLP and why is this important to our
readers, members of the LGBT community?
ROMANO: My firm’s legal expertise spans all aspects of trusts and estate practice – including estate
planning, probate and trust administration, fiduciary representation, guardianship administration,
federal income, estate and gift taxation, probate and trust litigation and guardianship litigation. Estate
planning and asset protection is crucial for the LGBT community, especially with the 2015 Supreme
Court decision. For example, as a legally recognized married couple, Floridian same-sex couples may
now qualify for both homestead and tenancy by the entirety protections for property. The decision was
a milestone for LGBT individuals everywhere, but the Florida Probate Code will take some time to catch
up. To explain estate planning in one article would be impossible, but some of what we do includes:
preparation and administration of Last Will/Testaments, Trusts, Health Care Directives, and Powers of
Attorney; finding legal, tax-efficient solutions to minimize your family’s federal and state tax liabilities,
including federal income, estate, gift and generation skipping transfer taxes; handling probate and trust
litigation with effective outcomes, including claims of undue influence, will and trust contests, fiduciary
claims, lack of testamentary capacity, and elder abuse; and handling all aspects of estate and trust
settlement and administration including the tough “end of life” issues like finalizing expenses of last
medical illness, asset appraisals, noticing creditors and marshalling the assets or trust.
KACALA: What are some challenges or obstacles you have had to face during your education or career?
ROMANO: My biggest obstacle during my education was that everything was new for me. I had no
guidance, no path to follow. Everyone in my family emigrated from Italy before I was born. I was the
first is my family to go to college, and the first to go to law school. It was a struggle, and emotionally
taxing, to say the least. Looking back, a lot of the struggle was financially driven. I did not receive any
financial assistance with law school despite appealing final decisions and applying for aid year after year.
Therefore, I had to go in debt to achieve my goals. With government set student interest at 6.8 and 7.9
percent, it is a wonder that I will not spend the rest of my life paying off what I view as a penalty for
educating myself, something which my family could not do. But in the end it all worked out. I work for a
fantastic boutique firm in Miami, and truly feel that I have finally succeeded.
KACALA: What is GALLA?
ROMANO: GALLA is the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association, which is a voluntary professional
association for lawyers, law students, paralegals and other members of the legal profession providing a
visible community presence within the South Florida legal community. The purposes of GALLA are: to
promote human rights; to provide opportunities for lawyers, judges and law students to meet in a
professional setting; to encourage the appointment of members of GALLA to the judiciary; to provide a
forum for members of GALLA in the legal community to exchange ideas and information of mutual
concern; to promote the spirit of unity among attorneys who are members of GALLA; to promote the
hiring and advancement of members of GALLA to public agencies and commissions; to discuss and take
action on questions of law in the administration of justice that affect the gay and lesbian community; to
promote the creation of coalitions with other legal organizations; to promote and stimulate the practice
and professional expertise of lawyers who are members of GALLA; to promote sensitivity to legal issues
particularly faced by members of the gay and lesbian community; to demonstrate the presence of
members of GALLA in the law; to facilitate and improve the administration of justice; to promote
legislative and administrative reforms for the purpose of eliminating discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation and gender expression, and; to assure fair and just treatment of members of the gay
and lesbian community under the law.
KACALA: What will some of your duties be as GALLA’s Liaison to the Dade County Bar Association?
ROMANO: The liaison is appointed to fulfill a one year position between the Dade County Bar
Association and, in this case, GALLA. The purpose is to facilitate collaboration among the associations.
Part of my duties include making sure that the Dade County Bar Association, and its members, are aware
of events relating to GALLA, such a continuing legal education and fundraising events, and to get the
Dade County Bar Members involved in the events. In the future, we hope to work toward co-sponsoring
events in conjunction with the Dade County Bar Association.
KACALA: What else is next for you?
ROMANO: I want to accomplish great things. I want to continue growing both professionally and
personally, and grow my practice with my firm. I want to continue to grow my BNI Chapter, both in my
role as President and beyond. I want to take on new leadership roles, get involved with a not-for-profit,
and perhaps work toward board positions with Arsht and Jackson Hospital. I will say that I have
accomplished 100% of the things I have set my mind to, so stay tuned.
KACALA: What is your favorite thing about the LGBT community here in South Florida?
ROMANO: The supportive nature of it all. It is amazing how many groups there are in South Florida
dedicated to helping the LGBT community move forward. It is really quite inspiring, and hopefully I can
continue playing a positive part in it all.