Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Section is in its fourth year of existence and boasts a membership of 1,023. Since our last annual report, the section sponsored a mediation-related seminar at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention. We were pleased that we had a very large audience necessitating additional seating. In furtherance of the ADR Section’s goal to increase focus on arbitration, the section also co-sponsored a webinar on the Revised Florida Arbitration Code in 2013.
The section continues publishing its newsletter, ADR News and Tips, and is grateful that so many people wish to submit articles for publication. The section now has a reserve of pieces to publish.
Since the section crossed the threshold of 1,000 members, the goals are to increase the level of involvement of our members in a new ethics column for the newsletter, plan CLE seminars, form a speaker’s bureau, and focus on policy, rules, and legislation. To further these goals, the section is having a half-day working meeting for interested section members in Orlando during The Florida Bar Annual Convention in June.
For additional information on the ADR Section or to become a member, check out the ADR Section website by visiting www.floridabar.org and following the links for “About the Bar” and then “Sections.” You can also contact Lani Fraser via email at email@example.com or telephone at 850-561-5707.
Karen Evans, Chair
The Appellate Practice Section began the year with a wonderful celebration of its 20th anniversary. At the Annual Convention of The Florida Bar in June 2013, the section hosted several memorable celebratory events. On June 27, 2013, the section held an anniversary dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Boca Raton to commemorate the section’s work over the past 20 years in promoting excellence and professionalism in appellate practice. The keynote speaker, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston, delivered remarks to a packed house of appellate practitioners and judges, providing insight into the importance of appellate practice and the section’s work. Founding members of the section also spoke and regaled the audience with the history of the section. Later in the evening, the section held its signature dessert reception. In honor of the section’s 20th anniversary, the theme of the dessert reception this year was the “Great Gatsby Gala,” celebrating the 1920s. The section held its annual awards ceremony during the dessert reception. The annual Pro Bono Award was presented to Michael Ufferman for his time and service in devoting significant pro bono effort to appellate matters. The annual Adkins Award was presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of appellate practice: Judge David A. Monaco.
In addition to these fantastic celebrations, at the annual convention, the section’s executive council met to continue planning for the section’s future. The section also hosted another of its signature events, a discussion with the Florida Supreme Court justices, following the final round of the Robert Orseck Memorial Moot Court Competition. Over the past few years, this discussion with the court has become a highlight of the annual convention. It provides practitioners and law students with the unique opportunity to ask questions of the justices, after which the court renders its decision as to the winning moot court team. We again thank the justices of the Florida Supreme Court and the Young Lawyers Division for participating in this annual event.
Along with celebrating its 20th anniversary, the section focused this year on mentoring and expanding its membership with new and diverse practitioners. In July, the section made presentations at the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Bar Leadership Academy fellow meetings and encouraged the fellows to participate in this section. Also with the aim of expansion and diversity, the section strove to continue to grow its Outreach Committee and interact with other sections of The Florida Bar, as well as with the local and appellate bar organizations. We appointed more than 30 liaisons, helping to ensure the section remains involved in both state-wide and local legal communities.
In September, the section was honored again to be invited to attend and participate in the Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges. This year, the conference took place in Ft. Myers and was attended by more than 45 appellate practitioners. On the first evening of the conference, the section hosted a reception, which was attended by Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court. Over the next day and a half, section members interacted with Florida’s appellate judges and Supreme Court justices while participating in insightful educational seminars. Participants also earned advanced appellate continuing legal education credits. The conference was a fantastic experience for section members, and the section looks forward to continued opportunities to work with, and learn from, Florida’s appellate judiciary. Given the close proximity in time of the Appellate Judges’ Conference to The Florida Bar’s Midyear Meeting, the section held its fall executive council meeting at the Judges’ Conference.
Later, in October, as chair of the section, I was honored to be asked to make a presentation on behalf of the section at Tom Hall’s retirement ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court. Tom retired as clerk of the Florida Supreme Court after 13 years of dedicated service. Tom is a former section chair (2004-2005) and active section member. He is also one of the founders of the section’s Appellate Practice Workshop, an outstanding educational appellate practice seminar, which the section is planning to hold again in the next couple of years. The workshop is a unique, intensive, three-day continuing legal education program in which participants have the opportunity to develop their brief writing and oral argument skills under the tutelage of a faculty of appellate judges and highly experienced appellate practitioners.
In January, at the Bar’s Winter Meeting, the section’s executive council again had the opportunity to meet and continue to plan for the future.
Thanks to the efforts of the CLE Committee, the section has already held three successful CLE programs this year, “Advanced Appellate Review” in January, “The Art of Objecting: A Trial Lawyer’s Guide to Preserving Error for Appeal” in March, and “Practicing Before the Second District Court of Appeal” in May. In addition to these rich educational programs, the section hosted its monthly Tuesday lunch-time telephonic CLE courses.
Continuing its tradition of publishing educational and informative materials, the section’s Publications Committee remained active with monthly articles in The Florida Bar Journal. The committee will also release two issues of its signature publication, The Record, and the online publication of The Guide, offering insight into Florida’s appellate courts.
The section’s Pro Bono Committee remained active in handling appeals for litigants who cannot afford an appellate attorney.
The Self-represented Litigant Committee has been updating the 22-chapter Pro Se Appellate Handbook, an informal but helpful guide for pro se appellate litigants.
Not wanting to forget any of the events of its last 20 years, the section appointed its first historian and History Committee, who, along with the Website Committee chair, continue to gather and update the content of the section’s website.
On behalf of the section, I thank each of its judicial liaisons, committee chairs, editors, officers, executive council members, section members, and persons too numerous to list here, who devote their time, brilliance, and energy to develop and coordinate all of the section’s programs, events, and publications. Each of them ensures that the section remains a vital part of the Bar and continues in its goal to promote excellence and professionalism in appellate practice. Not to be overlooked, the section thanks its Florida Bar liaison and administrator, Mary Ann Obos, whose hard work and dedication are vital to the section carrying out its work and fulfilling its mission.
To conclude the year, the section’s officers, executive council, committees, and membership will meet again in June at the 2014 Annual Convention of The Florida Bar in Orlando, where the section will host its annual dessert reception and discussion with the Florida Supreme Court. All practitioners looking to get involved in the section are encouraged to attend.
Caryn L. Bellus, Chair
The Business Law Section (BLS) is in the midst of fundamental transition. Although the section historically has delivered high-quality services to its members and offered sound policy considerations for legislative matters affecting businesses in Florida, we lacked an overall strategic approach. Our bylaws, written for a small section in the early 1970s, did not reflect how we operate; we needed a new website; tweaking some committee structures was warranted. So, we’re transitioning. Fortunately, we have come a very long way in a relatively short time.
For any multi-initiative undertaking to be successful our chair, chair-elect, and secretary/treasurer need to operate as a true executive team: sharing areas of primary oversight responsibilities, learning from one-another, building trust, becoming functionally effective. The spin-off effects are enormous: The learning curve for new BLS top leadership virtually is eliminated; initiatives requiring more than one Bar year can be nurtured with sustained focus in a multi-year perspective. A strategic approach and a longer event-horizon simply could not be assured without a functional team. We had to develop one. This first experiment is a success thanks to Chair-elect Judge William Van Nortwick’s and Treasurer/Secretary Alan Howard’s enthusiastic support and their stated desire to continue it.
Our second task was to achieve better alignment through structural changes in several committees. Three inextricably intertwined initiatives benefited from being culled together into an Inclusion/Mentoring/Fellowships Committee under Leyza Blanco’s leadership. Striving for geographic, gender, race, age, ethnicity, and other bases for inclusion is our goal. Diversity is increasing. In the coming Bar year we hope to increase to 10 fellowships. Thanks to Arnell Bryant-Willis for keeping us on track!
That committee’s work segues into outreach efforts by the Membership Committee, which is conducting regional social events and will be expanding its approach, targeting specific potential member cohorts. Thank you, Philip Kabler for your leadership.
That also segues into the Communications and Website Committee, which was restructured to focus on the website. Through its efforts, a prominent website design company in Florida was engaged to conceive and implement a totally new, mobile-optimized BLS website with exceptional functionality, compelling content, and connectivity to social media platforms. Take a look at www.flabizlaw.org and see what you think! Thanks, Lynn Sherman for your leadership.
We also created an inaugural Social Media Committee, under immediate past YLD President Paige Greenlee. She deployed Social Media vice chairs to just about every other committee and actively encourages members to use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Our social media outreach will expand greatly in conjunction with our newly designed website. We’re on a roll (digitally speaking).
We disbanded, and then reformed our Antitrust, Franchise, and Trade Regulation Committee into two separate subcommittees within our larger Business Litigation Committee. The BLS was the progenitor of antitrust and trade regulation certification, business litigation certification, and intellectual property certification, each of which benefits from very active BLS committees that conduct exceptional review courses and CLE programs to encourage members to become board certified in their respective areas of practice.
We also shifted the now-electronic Florida Business Law Journal — the only one of its kind in Florida — to the CLE Committee from the Communications Committee. Now, the Journal can be updated more frequently. All these interrelated or composite initiatives are parts of a multi-year restructuring that is providing more relevance and improved benefits to members. But, there’s more!
To overcome outdated BLS bylaws, a Bylaws Revisions Task Force was appointed to make recommendations to our executive council, which is comprised of all committee chairs, vice chairs, task force leaders, and former section chairs, including Philip Schwartz, who is heading up this important initiative. The work of the section does not stop between meetings.
A new Proceedings Supplementary Task Force, under Barbara Riesberg’s leadership, is considering proposing legislation to address multiple statutory concerns. This huge task force has worked with the BLS Legislation Committee (comprised of vice chairs of all substantive committees under Jon Polenberg’s leadership) and with the section’s excellent lobbyists Bill Wiley, Aimee Diaz-Lyon, and Greg Black to assist with recommendations to Florida legislators for a partial approach to improve existing law. The task force aims for a more comprehensive legislative approach during the 2015 legislative session. Many senators and representatives have sponsored BLS-proposed legislation — too many to name here. See the BLS website for complete details and our thanks.
We also are breaking down silos by holding events in conjunction with other Bar sections; cross-linking our website with other sections’ websites.
Last but not by any means least in this truncated overview of our dynamic section is a multi-year strategic planning initiative to achieve better alignment and more focus on what makes the BLS most relevant and a truly outstanding value for members. FAMU Law Professor Joan Bullock (immediate past chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section) is helping facilitate this multi-year project. Sessions have been held in several locations and a select task force is continuing the process between in-person meetings. You will hear more about this from Judge Van Nortwick when he is sworn in as chair.
This overview cannot possibly do justice to the work of our many committees and task forces. It conveys incomplete highlights of a journey that will span many years as the BLS strives to achieve relevance and value for members at a time of rapid structural change in the legal profession. We know our networking and CLE benefits are unparalleled for Florida business lawyers and invite you to join us or become strategically aligned with us.
Stephen Nagin, Chair
City, County and Local Government
• Membership — The City, County and Local Government Law Section was founded in 1974 to provide networking and educational opportunities for lawyers who practice local government law as in-house counsel to municipalities, counties, and local government entities, as well as lawyers who represent private clients before local governments. Since the founding of the section, membership has grown to 1,700 members with an equal amount of lawyers in both private and public sectors. The growth of the section is attributed to the myriad educational seminars provided to members as well as the networking opportunities. Moreover, the growth of the section is also attributed to leadership of past chairs and members of the executive council of the section.
• Virtual Law Library and New Website Features — Several years ago, the section created a Listserv, which has essentially served as a virtual law library for members to discuss legal topics that members are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. The membership of the Listserv has grown tremendously over the years. The Listserv not only serves as a virtual library but serves also as a tool for legal referral and job postings. In addition to the Listserv, the section created a new user-friendly website to provide new services to members. One of the new services includes a “deskbook” feature where members will be able to research areas of local government law. The deskbook will contain 27 chapters of legal topics. The new website features were ideas from past chairs Ken Tinkler, Jewel White, and committee Chair Mark Moriarty.
• CLE Seminars — Providing CLE seminars is the hallmark of the section. The section currently sponsors several seminars during the calendar year. For the past 28 years or more, this section, together with the Labor and Employment Law Section has sponsored the Public Employment and Labor Relations Seminar. This seminar may be the longest running seminar within The Florida Bar. Many thanks to Chair Michael Grogan for his hard work and dedication in organizing the seminar.
The section hosted its 37th annual Local Government Law in Florida seminar in Orlando May 8-10. The seminar featured presentations on topics of interest to local government lawyers. Many thanks to Chair Dana Crosby-Collier for organizing the seminar.
Furthermore, in conjunction with the annual seminar, the section will host its annual Certification Review Course seminar to prepare members for the board certification test for city, county, and local government law. At this time, there are 231 lawyers certified in local government law. This outstanding review course is organized by Herb Thiele, chair of the Certification Review Course Committee.
The section will also host the Land Use Seminar during the annual Local Government Law Seminar in Florida. The Land Use Seminar is co-chaired by Nancy Stuparich and Michelle Lieberman. This seminar covers a wide range of topics involving development and redevelopment.
Our section is committed to promoting ethical conduct among its members and the public at large. As such, the section annually sponsors the Sunshine Law, Public Records, and Ethics for Public Officers seminar in Tallahassee. This past February, the seminar was tailored to satisfy the ethical training requirements imposed by the Florida Legislature for public officials. The seminar was well attended both live and by webcast. This seminar was organized by Chair Robert Teitler, who has worked hard over the years to organize the seminar.
• Law School and Internship — In order to continue its growth, the section has invested a significant amount of dollars in providing opportunities to law students. First, the section provides annually a $500 scholarship to a law student at each of the Florida’s 12 law schools. The recipients of the scholarships must excel in law school classes related to local government. Second, the section has provided annual grants up to $20,000 to numerous local governments to hire law students as interns within their legal departments. Finally, the section is an annual sponsor of the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic in Miami. The picnic is well attended by students from all 12 law schools in Florida. During the picnic, members of the section are able to interact with law students about career goals. The section also provides the law students with on-site internship opportunities at the picnic.
The section’s successful scholarship and grant/internship programs are due to the hard work of Law Student Committee Chair Nancy Stuparich and Grant Committee Chair Jeanine Williams.
• Membership and Finances — The membership of the section has been on the rise. The section’s leadership, with the assistance of the chair of the Membership Committee, Mark Moriarty, has made several efforts to recruit new members by working and organizing events with our Young Lawyers Committee, led by Maggie Mooney-Portale. The section has made membership recruiting presentations to The Florida Bar Leadership Academy in Miami and Jacksonville. The finances of the section are strong due to the section’s efforts to create revenue sources through membership growth and CLE seminars.
• Publication — The section continued to contribute articles to The Florida Bar Journal throughout the year. The section also published a newsletter for all members. In addition to these publications, the section provides financial and in-kind support to Stetson Law Review for its annual local government law symposium issue. The publication of articles, the newsletter, and the Stetson Law Review issue are due to the hard work of David Miller, Amanda Coffey, and Craig Leen.
• Professionalism and Ethics — The section continues the tradition of promoting civility within all local governments in Florida. The section encourages local governments to recognize civility by adopting a civility proclamation. Further, the section sought to protect the limited attorney-client privilege that local government attorneys may have by seeking an amendment to The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct. The effort to amend the Rules of Professional Conduct is led by committee Chair Debora Cromartie-Mincey and past chair Marion Radson.
Toward this end, the section has had a very exciting year by working hard to improve member benefits and to provide law students with career opportunities. Credit must go to program administrator for the section, Ricky Libbert. We look forward to another exciting year under Chair-elect Dana Crosby-Collier.
Hans Ottinot, Chair
The Criminal Law Section of The Florida Bar, with more than 2,500 members, includes a balanced mix of judges, prosecutors, public and private defense lawyers, and law professors. The Criminal Law Section (CLS) is dedicated to fostering high standards of ethical conduct in the administration of criminal justice and to the improvement of individual trial skills.
• President’s Showcase — The CLS began its busy year on the heels of co-sponsoring the president’s showcase, “Gideon’s Golden Truth: Confronting the Justice Gap as Florida’s Indigent Right to Counsel Turns 50,” at the 2013 Bar Annual Convention. Many thanks to Past Chair H. Scott Fingerhut who was at the helm of this exciting program. The CLS hopes to repeat its sponsorship of the president’s showcase in 2016, when Miranda v. Arizona turns 50.
• The Gerald T. Bennett Prosecutor/Public Defender Training Program — The flagship CLE program sponsored by the CLS and supported by The Florida Bar Foundation, PPD is held annually at the University of Florida College of Law. The nearly week-long program is one of the few in the U.S. that trains both prosecutors and public defenders together. Since its inception, the program has trained over 2,000 government lawyers. A unique aspect of the program is the attendance of British barristers and Queen’s Counsel who participate as students and faculty members. The CLS is continually grateful to Program Directors Paul Zacks and Jennifer Zedalis for their dedication to PPD.
• CLE Report — Delivering the highest quality CLE to our membership is one of the section’s primary goals. In addition to PPD, the CLS has hosted a number of well-received seminars this year, including “Advanced Federal Practice” and “Masters of DUI.” The CLS thanks Ken Swartz, Carlos Canet, and Michael Catalano for producing these fine seminars. Thanks also to the Trial Lawyers Section for co-sponsoring “Topics in Evidence.” The CLS is most excited to begin collaboration with the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section on a CLE program to include aspects of fraud in real estate practice. The section thanks RPPTL Section Chair Margaret Rolando and CLS Council Member George Tragos for their vision in pursuit of this joint project.
• Substantive Endeavors — The CLS was called upon by the Board of Governors Disciplinary Procedures Committee to make recommendations on whether rules regulating attorney conduct should be amended regarding ex parte communications. A special committee of the CLS studied the issue and recommended an ethics opinion to guide lawyers in lieu of a rule change. The recommendation is under consideration by the Board of Governors.
The CLS executive council considered the Legal Needs of Children Committee’s proposed legislative position opposing direct filing of children to adult court and supporting the use of the judiciary as being solely responsible for deciding whether a child should be prosecuted as an adult. Concluding that it could not support the committee’s position because it lacked sufficient current information, the CLS decided to independently consider the issues and make its recommendations after gathering statewide statistics. A special committee has been constituted.
The CLS was recently tasked by Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis to advise on what can be done by The Florida Bar in response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s request that states review racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. The executive committee of the council is in the process of formulating plans for this undertaking.
The CLS filed, in the Florida Supreme Court, its comments in response to the report and petition of the Supreme Court’s Capital Postconviction Proceedings Committee regarding proposed changes to capital postconviction rules.
• Website Redesign and Electronic Newsletter — The CLS is in the process of renovating its website to expand its ability to provide information on case law updates, legislative activity, upcoming CLE, and section activities to its members. The CLS invites anyone interested in criminal law to participate in our section. Additionally, associate memberships for students at all law schools have been implemented.
• St. Thomas Law Review Project — This year’s upcoming issue devoted exclusively to criminal law contains provocative articles that cut to the heart of civil liberties, investigative procedures, trial tactics, and even the politics of defending the indigent. The CLS is, thus, continuing its relationship with the law review and will provide the publication to its members.
• Selig I. Goldin Award — The CLS annually presents its most prestigious award to one member of The Florida Bar who has displayed the talents and compassion possessed by the late Selig I. Goldin, a lawyer who was dedicated to justice, was a zealous advocate for his clients, but who sadly died from cancer when he was just 40 years old. At the 2013 Annual Convention of The Florida Bar, the award was presented posthumously to James T. Miller. Known as a scholar-advocate and a founding member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Miller, like Goldin, was taken away too soon. The 2014 award will be presented to Charles Morton, Jr., recently retired from a 37-year career as a prosecutor in the 17th Judicial Circuit. Morton was Broward County’s first African-American prosecutor who, after serving many years as the chief of homicide, retired as the chief assistant state attorney.
In closing, it has been an honor and a privilege serving as the section’s chair and working with an exceptionally experienced and balanced executive council, which is comprised of members committed to always doing the “right thing” for The Florida Bar, the CLS, and the citizens of Florida. I acknowledge, with great gratitude, David Rothman, Joel Silvershein, and especially Judge Angelica Zayas, for all of their assistance, guidance, and wisdom through this very busy year. Special thanks to our section administrator, Eugene Sherman, who put up with me while managing to keep the section on track, Board of Governors Liaison Stephen Echsner, and to Paul Hill for his steady and calming direction.
Susan Odzer Hugentugler, Chair
The Elder Law Section experienced another successful year thanks to its dedicated executive committee, substantive and administrative committee chairs, liaisons, and section members.
As Florida’s 20 million residents age and more attorneys consider elder law as a practice area, the section’s mission to cultivate and promote professionalism, expertise, and knowledge in the practice of elder law is more important than ever.
• Legislation to Increase Prosecution of Exploitation — The section’s Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Committee, chaired by Carolyn Sawyer and Angela Warren, collaborated with Adult Protective Services, state attorneys, and law enforcement to enhance Florida’s ability to prosecute those who commit crimes against vulnerable adults. Rep. Kathleen Passidomo sponsored and championed this legislation, and as of this report, it is moving through the Florida Legislature with bipartisan support.
• Unauthorized Practice of Law in Medicaid Planning — For many years, the section has worked to combat the damage done to seniors and their families by nonattorneys drafting legal documents and giving legal advice on restructuring assets and income to obtain eligibility for Medicaid’s long-term care programs, often as a ruse to sell unsuitable insurance and annuity products laden with hidden commissions. The section’s UPL Committee, chaired by John Frazier, successfully requested The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law to draft a proposed advisory opinion and petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on what constitutes the practice of law in Medicaid planning. A number of section members and their clients attended the public hearing on this issue, resulting in more than 300 pages of testimony regarding the abuses and damages resulting from these unregulated and unsupervised planners. The section thanks Robert Sondak of Miami for his generous support with our advocacy before the Supreme Court. As of this report, the Supreme Court is considering whether to adopt the proposed advisory opinion.
• St. Thomas Law Review — The Elder Law Section was pleased to be offered the opportunity to contribute to the fall 2013 issue of the St. Thomas Law Review, devoted solely to the field of elder law. Section members contributed articles on a variety of topics, including evaluating capacity in guardianship proceedings, advance health care directives, Medicaid managed care, and filial responsibility.
• Mentoring and Tricks of the Trade — The section’s Mentoring Tricks of the Trade has been one of its most successful programs. The Mentoring Committee, chaired by Jason Waddell, runs the program, which consists of free telephonic CLE programs. A section member expert speaks on a topic and attendees ask questions anonymously about any issue on that topic. This program continues to be popular both with new attorneys as well as attorneys new to elder law.
• VA CLE — The section presented a full-day CLE on veterans’ benefits in September 2013. Through the efforts of CLE Co-chairs Gregory Glen and Susan King, the section arranged for U.S. Veterans Benefits Administration’s Pension and Fiduciary Service Director David McLenachen and his staff to travel from Washington, D.C., to present at this program. This CLE far exceeded the attendees’ expectations and provided some of the best substantive materials and topics related to VA pension laws.
• Annual Update and Essentials of Elder Law — In January, the section hosted its Annual Update and Review Course and Essentials of Elder Law Program. The three-day event was again well attended; the speakers were exceptional; and the materials comprehensive.
• Joint Public Policy Task Force for the Elderly and Disabled — The task force, an active component of advocacy for elder law attorneys across the state, is comprised of the leadership of the Elder Law Section and the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys. The section continued its strong support of the task force as managed care implementation, legislative advocacy, and the unauthorized practice of law were major issues addressed this year. The section’s substantive committees provided critical research and drafting for the task force’s activities.
Through its strong leadership team and active membership, the Elder Law Section is well situated to promote professionalism and excellence in the field of elder law for years to come.
John Clardy, Chair
Environmental and Land Use Law
The Florida Bar’s Environmental and Land Use Law Section (ELULS) is led by an executive council reflecting our diverse membership base, including members who work for governmental agencies, nonprofits, business entities, and private practice. Our executive committee this year is comprised of Nicole C. Kibert (chair), Kelly K. Samek (chair-elect), Carl Eldred (secretary), and Vivien J. Monaco (treasurer). Our section administrator is Calbrail L. Bennett.
ELULS has a robust committee structure consisting of substantive law committees (Energy; Land Use; Natural Resources and Pollution Assessment, Remediation, Management and Prevention), Public Interest Representation, Young Lawyers, and also those core functional committees that support all ELULS activities (Affiliate, CLE, Florida Bar Journal, Internet, Law School Liaison, Membership, Section Reporter). Thank you to all ELULS committee chairs and members for your continuing dedication and service to our section.
The core focus of ELULS is to deliver quality and timely continuing legal education offerings in a variety of formats. ELULS is unique in the close relationship we share with environmental and land development consultants. To that end, we work closely with the ELULS Affiliates Committee to foster opportunities for sharing information and ideas through involvement in ELULS programs. In addition to traditional programs, ELULS offers a diverse webinar series that permits attendees to sign up for a single program or for the series. This year our series includes the following topics: “Update on Water Use Issues from Around Florida” (February 18); “Managing Large Scale Development for the Long Term — Sector Planning in Osceola County” (March 20); “Everyday Ethics: The Most Common Errors Attorneys Make (And How to Avoid Them)” (April 17); “Annual Legislative Wrap Up” (May 20); and “Air Law Hot Topics: Fine Particulate Emission Limits, NSR Enforcement, and More” (June 19). ELULS also has a free webinar series programmed by our substantive committees and offered to our members as part of their membership dues. This year we offered several programs, including a very popular program sponsored by the Natural Resources Committee on November 5, 2013, “New Statewide Environmental Resource Permit Rules: The Fundamentals for Lawyers, Engineers, and Consultants.” It is available on our website: http://eluls.org/natural-resources-committee.
ELULS pursues partnerships with other sections and institutions to ensure our members are getting a well-rounded perspective. On January 31, the section hosted a CLE program with RPPTL, “Emerging Trends on the Development Front for Environmental, Land Use and Real Estate Practitioners” at Tampa Airport Marriott. On July 31, 2013, ELULS also sponsored a very well attended webinar with RPPTL, “Koontz v. SJRWMD: Implications for Florida Environmental, Land Use, and Real Property Lawyers and Their Client,”— also available on the section website: http://eluls.org/koontz-v-sjrwmd-implications-for-florida-environmental-land-use-and-real-property-lawyers-their-clients-webinar.
Our Annual Update, the paramount event of the ELULS CLE year, was held at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra Beach, from August 8-10, 2013. It was a diverse and interesting program celebrating 40 years of ELULS that also satisfied all ethics credits. The following individuals were recognized at the ELULS annual luncheon for their achievements in environmental and land use law and their ELULS service:
• Public Interest Committee Award: Ralf G. Brookes
• Judy Florence Memorial Outstanding Service Award: Kenneth A. Tinkler
• Stephen/Register Award: Dorothy E. Watson
• R. S. Murali Memorial Affiliate Member Outstanding Service Award: Robert M. Wojcik
• Bill Sadowski Memorial Public Service Award: Steven M. Seibert
Congratulations are also in order for 2013 Florida Environmental Public Interest (FEPI) Fellowship Winner Tashyana Thompson of the UM Environmental Justice Project; 2013 Wade Hopping Memorial Scholarship Winner Andrew Missel; and Dean Frank E. Maloney Writing Contest Winners Michael Nichola (Florida A&M), Erin Coburn (Stetson), and Tia L. Crosby (Florida A&M). Our next Annual Update is August 7-9 and we will return to Amelia Island Plantation. We have several special events planned, including an engaging and informative CLE program, an eco-tour, live music, networking events, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy beautiful Amelia Island. We hope to see you there!
ELULS is committed to supporting law student engagement in environmental and land use law through the work of our Law Schools Liaison Committee, chaired by Vivien Monaco, which administers our law school block grant and special request program, our legal writing contest, and our scholarship programs.
The section maintains a treatise on Environmental and Land Use Law that is available electronically to members on our website. At our long-range planning retreat in February, ELULS thoroughly reviewed the current treatise, under leadership of Treatise Chair Janet Bowman, to be sure we are keeping up to date and adding timely articles.
The ELULS website, under the guidance of Internet Committee Chair Jonathan Huels, is our core method of communicating with members and the public. We invite you to visit us online at http://eluls.org for information about section events and committee activities. The ELULS magazine, The Reporter, under the guidance of Jeff Collier, editor, contains excellent and timely articles consisting of case law updates, administrative law updates, governmental agency updates, law school liaison updates, substantive articles, and information about upcoming CLE programs. The Reporter is published digitally at http://eluls.org/reporter/. This page also has a robust search feature so that a user may easily access targeted content. In addition, our Membership Committee publishes the ELULS E-News. Under the guidance of Francine Ffolkes, the newsletter delivers timely section information to members. ELULS also maintains a membership Listserv and substantive committee Listservs.
ELULS’ Affiliate Committee organizes well-attended mixers around the state each year to meet our members’ desire to have additional networking opportunities with environmental and land use practitioners and consultants. So far this year, we have held mixers in Orlando, Tampa, and Delray Beach.
Please visit our green law firm webpage, http://eluls.org/green-law-firm, to access a sample greening plan and procurement policy as well as other resources to get your organization started with greening activities. More businesses are finding that they can save money by implementing greening activities, particularly with thoughtful procurement. ELULS continues to build our green law firm program by adding case studies to illustrate how different organizations are engaging in greening activities. If your organization is already engaged in greening activities, please consider submitting a case study for consideration.
Nicole C. Kibert, Chair
The 40th anniversary of the section has been celebrated throughout this Bar cycle, but began with our annual in-state retreat at the Breakers Palm Beach, chaired by Abigail Beebe. Dr. Deborah Day, longtime friend of the section, offered a CLE along with Caryn Green and Raul Viera. The topic was “Taking Care of Yourself,” and the attendees learned important tools for dealing with stress both in and out of the office. The CLE was followed by Crossfit on the lawn with Miki Carey of Gardens Crossfit. Many past chairs attended the gala, including Jorge Cestero, Melvyn Frumkes, Peter Gladstone, Judge Renee Goldenberg, Cynthia Greene, Lewis Kapner, Mag. Diane Kirigin, David Manz, Deborah Marks, Evan Marks, Miriam Mason, Judge William Palmer, Carin Porras, Thomas Sasser, and Caroline Sikorske.
The spring out-of-state retreat was in late March in Las Vegas. Attended by many who had never been to a section retreat, members were treated to a breathtaking helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, a performance of Cirque de Soleil’s “O,” and a section dinner with lots of fun and laughter. The CLE was led by Mark O’Mara, who discussed the use of experts in family law cases. The second day, experts Chris and Shannon Carlyle and Day discussed the various roles they serve in a family law case.
All of our committees have outdone themselves this year. If time and space would permit, I would personally, by name, thank every individual whose hard work contributed to the section’s success this year.
Kudos to the Domestic Violence Committee, which created a full-day domestic violence seminar in October 2013. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the Judge Amy Karan Legacy Fund. This committee also worked throughout the legislative session dealing with numerous domestic violence issues. Special thanks to Robin Scher for her hard work and dedication. The Domestic Violence CLE was the third education opportunity of this Bar cycle, the first being our biannual section service of the Trial Advocacy Workshop at The Vinoy in St. Pete.
We also had our first guardian ad litem training program, which sold out within minutes of opening for registration. The reviews have been outstanding and we hope to hold it again.
Our signature event, the board certification review course, in partnership with the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), was by far the best attended and, in my personal opinion, the best one yet. The review course was chaired by Belinda Lazzara, Susan Savard, Laura Davis Smith, and Aimee Gross. We had record attendance of more than 1,200. The chair’s Visionary Award was presented to Thomas J. Sasser, my mentor, former employer, and, more importantly, friend.
Our paralegal CLEs were also successful and well attended. These CLEs were spearheaded by our Litigation Support Committee, which every year continues to be filled with professionals who make our jobs easier and more successful.
In addition, our bylaws were updated over the past few years with the hard work of numerous section members. They were finally approved and put into place for this cycle. The section has embraced the changes and the more detailed information regarding our policies for executive council membership and legislative policies.
One thing that was important to me for this year, the 40th anniversary of the section, was to honor the past chairs and history of the section. Julia Wyda and I were able to pour through nearly every back issue of the Commentator, resulting in some great older articles and pictures to add to our Commentator editions this year. The last Commentator was an honorarium to some significant losses to the Family Law Section: Past Chair Amy Karan, Matthew Miller, Susan Greenberg, and Hugh Maloney. Amy Hamlin, as chair of publications, truly outdid herself in turning the small vision I gave her at the June 2013 Bar meetings into some of the best Commentators I have viewed to date.
The section finalized the second renegotiation and extension of its partnership with the Florida chapter of the AAML for a three-year period beginning 2015 to co-present the marital and family law review course. The course is the largest marital and family law educational event in the state.
On legislative front, the section has been embroiled in a constant battle for the past few years to protect Floridians from drastic alimony reform that is too one-sided. Fortunately, it seems we have been able to avoid the drastic reforms as proposed in 2013, as no alimony bill was filed in 2014. However, the section continues to educate the public and the legislature about alimony and the current laws. Reform drafted and passed by the section in 2010 addresses many of the issues that continue to be raised. For example, the law already requires the court to make an affirmative finding that no alternate form of alimony, including newly formed durational, is appropriate before any award of permanent alimony can be made. This is drastically eliminating permanent alimony in cases in which it is not warranted, but still protecting families who made decisions to have one parent stay home and work as a caretaker for minor children. While I am certain alimony reform will again be an issue, I have no doubt the hard work of the past will aide future section leaders in making the necessary and right decisions. Chairs Abigail Beebe and Heather Apicella ably led the committee in addressing a multitude of other issues facing family law practitioners. It is imperative I mention Chris Rumbold, who has truly gone above and beyond during this bar cycle. He has become the authority on many of our legislative issues, and has sparked the section’s movement toward seeking permission from the Bar to support marriage equality in Florida.
I have been humbled and blessed to serve as chair of this section, and leave the section in capable hands. As program administrator, Diana Polston has done an exemplary job administering the day-to-day section activities. Despite being pulled in a million directions by numerous people, she has always kept a smile on her face and exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Every event that we had this year appeared flawless.
My final thanks go to the executive committee. Norberto Katz, I graciously turn over the reins to you and wish you a successful year to come. I have no doubt that incoming Chair Maria Gonzalez will offer thoughtful ideas for the upcoming year; she was invaluable in that regard this year. Secretary Laura Davis Smith worked tirelessly throughout the year, not only taking minutes for our meetings, but running Trial Ad, pinch hitting to assist with the out-of-state retreat, and serving as one of the chairs of certification review. Finally, the help and knowledge of Immediate Past Chair Carin Porras pertaining to alimony and the legislative committee was invaluable. Because of your efforts, the section had another banner year to chalk up in its history.
Elisha D. Roy, Chair
General Practice, Solo and Small Firm
The General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section has worked hard this year to try to provide timely practice management and technology advice and information to its members. Our efforts were rewarded when Executive Director Jack Harkness, speaking at our Solo and Small Firm Conference, recognized our section’s leadership role in educating the Bar about technology and challenged us to continue to lead the Bar in that effort. We look forward to continuing our technology push in the upcoming year under the leadership of Chair-elect Teresa Morgan.
The 2013-14 year, however, was not just about technology for us. In addition to providing more information about technology, we set several other goals at the start of the year:
• Improve our communication with our membership;
• Improve upon our Solo and Small Firm Conference to provide high-quality technology and practice management advice, as well as meaningful networking opportunities in a format that we can sustain from year to year;
• Provide CLE in the areas of ethics, agricultural law, and general practice, while finding opportunities for new CLE offerings;
• Work with law students and new lawyers to assist them in understanding the rewards and challenges of solo and small firm practice; and
• Put together a fun, affordable, and accessible out-of-state trip.
Thanks to the efforts of our executive council members, I believe we have met those goals and then some.
In planning for the year, we wanted to make sure that our members received more regular communication from the executive council. To accomplish this, we instituted a new biweekly email communication to our membership: the QuickLink. In each QuickLink, we include a short question-and-answer session with an expert on a practice management topic; a section spotlighting one of our members; a technology tip from our popular “50 Tech Tips in 50 Minutes” session at our Solo and Small Firm Conference; information about upcoming CLE opportunities; and information about available member benefits.
We continue to publish our quarterly newsletter, The Link, which gives us the opportunity to publish longer articles containing useful information for small-firm practitioners. Thanks to Monica Elliott for continuing to edit The Link.
In addition to QuickLink and The Link, we have been making an effort to improve the marketing of our events so that our members are aware of the opportunities available to them. To assist with this effort, we engaged Lisa Tipton as a consultant. Lisa has coordinated our mailings, helped improve our graphics, and is assisting with our efforts to revamp our website. We appreciate all of Lisa’s efforts throughout the year.
For the last several years, we have focused heavily on our Solo and Small Firm Conference, which has developed into our flagship event. This year’s conference was held during the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando and focused on “Conquering the Technology Curve.” Over the course of a day and a half, our speakers offered advice on how to select and use technology to help your practice, as well as old-fashioned nuts-and-bolts advice about the basics of practice management and the latest updates on the Affordable Care Act. The SSFC also provided attendees the opportunity to spend a day and a half networking with other solo and small-firm practitioners. We held a reception on Friday night in which we honored our sponsor, Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, on their 25th anniversary. It was very well attended and is fast becoming a can’t-miss event at the Winter Meeting. Best of all, we were able to accomplish all of this while staying within our budget and finishing in the black on this event. Congratulations to our conference chair, Sean Desmond, for pulling this off, and thanks to all of our executive council members who contributed their time and energy to make this event a success. Special thanks to Erny Sellers, who provided scholarships for 30 law students, and the Young Lawyers Division, which sponsored nine young lawyers.
Our section continued to offer our three traditional CLE seminars during the year: the annual Ethics Seminar (Oct. 3, 2013), the Agricultural Law Update (Nov. 22, 2013), and the Florida Law Update (June 27) during the Annual Convention. We also added a webinar on Florida’s new LLC statute in April. Thanks to Gene Shuey, Mike Olexa, Jack Merritt, and Camille Iurillo, for coordinating these seminars.
Rather than going out of the country this year, we headed to the west coast to visit picturesque San Francisco and Napa Valley for our out-of-state trip, May 22-24. Thursday’s welcome event was a joint reception with the Solo & Small Firm Section of the San Francisco Bar Association. On Friday, we held a four-hour CLE session, “Representing Small Businesses with Skill and Creativity,” which included a great segment on the top 10 issues to consider before doing business in California. As of this writing, we have already reached our registration targets.
Throughout the year, Jennifer Dietz worked hard to coordinate our outreach efforts to law schools, fostered the growth of small firm sections among law students, and continually come up with new and innovative ideas as to how we can assist law students and newer lawyers in becoming part of our section’s growth. We appreciate everything Jennifer has done. Thanks also to Priscilla Horn for her continued service as our CLA representative.
Jerry Curington once again spearheaded our pro bono awards and helped select three deserving legal aid organizations to receive monetary awards for their innovative pro bono programs. We awarded our Tradition of Excellence Award to Jack Harkness for his long service to The Florida Bar and our Walter Crumbley Award to Michael Cohen for his efforts to improve the mental health of Florida practitioners.
As always, we could not have done any of this without the patient guidance of our section administrator, Ricky Libbert.
As we move into a new Bar year, we look forward to continuing our progress, and we want you be a part of it. When you renew, make sure to check the box for GPSSF!
Kevin D. Johnson, Chair
The mission of the Government Lawyer Section is to promote the professionalism and competence of its members, improve the delivery of legal services to all governmental entities and the overall administration of the legal system, and to enhance The Florida Bar’s and the public’s understanding of the unique needs of the government attorney. In order to better accomplish these goals, the section undertook a comprehensive review of its programs and processes this year. A survey of the membership was performed, and its results informed a day-long planning retreat.
Identified in the survey as particularly valuable to the membership were continuing legal education, the provision of information concerning current developments of interest to the members, and networking opportunities. The survey demonstrated that the section’s CLE offerings were of high importance to its membership.
During the year, the section provided its signature programs, “Practicing Before the Legislature” and “Practicing Before the Florida Supreme Court.” Both continue to be well received and are of value to government and nongovernment attorneys. The section also co-sponsors the annual presentation of the “Sunshine Law, Public Records and Ethics for Public Officers and Public Employees” course as well as the “Advanced Administrative Law and Government Practice Seminar.” In addition, the section presented two new programs at The Florida Bar’s Midyear Meeting and Annual Convention: “Appealing Administrative Action under the Administrative Procedure Act” and “Procurement Law: Funds in the Sun.” Section members took advantage of short CLE presentations in conjunction with the section’s retreat held at the Midyear Meeting and its May meeting. In addition to these numerous offerings, the section plans to expand the types of CLE offerings that it provides. On the one hand, this involves alternative delivery systems, such as brief on-demand presentations, and on the other, different topics, such as in-house law office administration for governmental and business entities.
Government Lawyer Section members value section publications, which have been significantly revitalized and expanded in number this year. The Voice will be published at least three times this year, and two articles from the section will be published in The Florida Bar Journal. The section will continue to update its website with information about the section’s activities and other resources. All of these efforts will be expanded as the section moves forward.
Important to our membership are networking opportunities. In addition to the section’s gatherings at the Midyear Meeting and Annual Convention, the section is scheduling an additional meeting each year in different locations. The first of these will be held in Tallahassee in May, and will include CLE, a meeting of the executive council, and a social hour.
The executive council made concerted efforts to increase membership during the year through personal outreach, communications to relevant groups, and other informational materials. A Young Government Lawyers Committee has been established to facilitate membership and leadership development. Increasing membership will increase representation of the many varieties of government lawyers, increase revenue, and enable the section to provide even more services to its membership.
The Government Lawyer Section continues to support the state and federal government and administrative practice certification. The section provided feedback to The Florida Bar on issues of interest to government lawyers and tracked and supported legislation of interest to government lawyers. We continue to support the Leadership Academy by providing assistance to members that are accepted for this valuable program. We are also proud to report that our former chair, Diana Bock, acted as a liaison to The Florida Bar Board of Governors this year. We are grateful for her appointment by President Eugene Pettis. From this appointment the section has benefitted in terms of information and networking. We will continue to work with Bar leadership to represent the interests of government lawyers in this way. The section has much to offer in understanding the changes to the legal profession and other topics of interest in the Vision 2016 process.
A comprehensive revision of the section’s bylaws was carried out this year. The bylaws now provide for potential financial support for a member of the section who is appointed to the government lawyer liaison seat to The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Other processes and committees have been added and clarified as needed, including those involving the section’s award programs.
The Government Lawyer Section Lifetime Achievement Award is the section’s highest honor for long-term public servants. The section will present this award for only the fifth time in the section’s history at the 2014 Annual Convention. The section is pleased to announce that the recipient is Sen. Bob Graham. A special event celebrates the granting of this award. The presentation of The Florida Bar’s Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award returned to the general assembly at last year’s Annual Convention. It will again be presented at that time. This annual award recognizes a government lawyer whose character and accomplishments exemplify the highest ideals of government service. The 2013 recipient was Col. Joseph Bradshaw, Jr., of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Finally, I appreciate the opportunity to serve as chair of the Government Lawyer Section. It is an honor to serve such a dedicated and diverse group of lawyers, many of whom have given hours of service in order to further the mission of this section. I also thank the leadership of The Florida Bar for its continued support and assistance.
Barbara C. Wingo, Chair
Our section continues to offer quality legal education in the area of health law for its members through a variety of offerings, overseen by our CLE Committee Co-chairs Grant Dearborn and Myla Reizen. The section offered four live CLE courses, including “Fundamentals of Medicaid,” “What Health Care Lawyers and Compliance Officers Need to Know,” “Representing the Physician,” and the “Health Law Certification Review Course.” This is the first year our section offered a course on health care compliance, and it was very well received. We are extremely grateful to Grant and Myla, as well as Chet Barclay, Lester Perling, Jodi Laurence, and Sandra Greenblatt, for all their work putting together these programs.
In addition to the live programs, on the first Tuesday of every month, the section offers eat-and-educate CLE webinars at noon for an hour. These webinars provide our section members with an easy, low-cost way to obtain CLE credits on a variety of interesting topics. Some of the programs offered this year were “Insurance Coverage Beyond Professional Liability,” “Non-Discrimination Policies,” “Trends in Medical Malpractice Litigation,” “Florida Managed Care,” “Employment Law for Healthcare Lawyers,” “Healthcare and Bioethics,” and “Licensure of Healthcare Facilities by AHCA.” The webinars and live CLE programs are all available on CDs or DVDs for those seeking CLE credits.
Under the leadership of Ann Bittinger, the section offers a newsletter several times each year that contains substantive articles on health law topics. Some of the articles published this year were on EMTALA, electronic medical records and malpractice litigation, accountable care organizations, the All Children’s Health qui tam case, and provider repayment and self-disclosure obligations. We are particularly thankful to our authors who have given their valuable time to help educate our members in these practice areas.
Malinda Lugo was extremely successful putting together electronic case updates every month to advise our members of recently published cases involving various health law issues. She works with a number of volunteers who research and submit newsworthy state and federal health law cases, advisory opinions, updates on proposed statutes, rules or regulations, or other current events. The newsletter and the monthly updates are available on our section website, www.flabarhls.org.
We are continue to involve young lawyers in the section. Last year, we created a Young Lawyers Subcommittee, and our first officers were selected. With the assistance of Bruce Lamb, who oversaw the committee as it was formed, officers Radha Bachman, Ryan Zika, and Joann Guerrero did a tremendous job helping introduce younger lawyers to our section and the executive council, and helping them get involved in the work we do. Another of the section’s young lawyers, Brian Zargham, assumed the role of section webmaster and is working on revisions to our website. It is extremely exciting to have these lawyers participating in section activities, and we hope to continue to increase their involvement in the future.
Under the leadership of Robert Nicholson, the section continued its work on the publication of a Health Law Handbook. This is an essential general practice guide for health care lawyers that covers many areas of health law. The handbook is being updated, and the latest version is anticipated to be published later this year.
Lew Fishman continues his work on section governance with his work on the section bylaws. As a section within the Bar, the bylaws process is regimented and exacting; Lew has done a great job making sure we stay on track.
Again this year, we need to specially recognize Steve Grigas for his work on the Legislative Committee. He does a tremendous job every year of keeping the council informed of the many bills pertinent to health lawyers.
Once again, I thank all the executive council members for their time not only participating in meetings, but serving on our many subcommittees. Under the strong leadership of our incoming chair, Bill Dillon, and our chair-elect, Charmaine Chui, the Health Law Section will continue to enhance the practice of health law in Florida for all our section members.
Finally, none of these accomplishments would have been achieved without the help and guidance of our section administrator, Willie Mae Shepherd. Thank you for everything you do for us.
Monica Lee Rodriguez, Chair
The International Law Section represents and serves Florida’s international law practitioners. Our members are active in a wide range of practice areas, including international litigation and arbitration, international corporate transactions, customs and trade law, international tax, intellectual property, immigration and administrative law, travel law, energy law, international investment law, and numerous other areas of international practice. They are based not only throughout Florida and other parts of the U.S., but also in Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
During the 2013-14 bar year, the section enjoyed success in a mix of on-going and new projects. One of our continuing initiatives has been to provide Florida and other practitioners with high-quality continuing legal education programming and conferences, including our two annual flagship conferences on international transactions and international dispute resolution. On February 27 and 28 we held our annual International Business Transactions Conference and our 12th annual International Litigation and Arbitration Conference at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel in Miami. Both conferences featured leading speakers from around the U.S. and Latin America addressing the latest developments in their fields, as well as very active participation from a distinguished and knowledgeable audience. These tremendous conferences could not have been successful without months of hard work by their dedicated leadership teams: IBTC Chair Jorge Mencio and Vice Chairs John Haley and Carlos Deupi; ILAC Chair Laura Reich and Vice Chairs Bob Becerra, Clarissa Rodriguez, and Effie Silva; as well as dozens of hard-working steering committee members and conference volunteers. In addition to the two annual conferences, section members also provided a series of brown-bag breakfast and lunch programs on substantive legal topics, co-sponsored a number of other conferences and seminars, and held a webinar on immigration issues for same-sex couples arising from the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Windsor decision.
Another continuing initiative of the section has been to support Florida’s law schools and the next generation of international arbitration practitioners in connection with the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. This international competition draws hundreds of law school teams from around the globe to Vienna, Austria, each year. On March 1, 2013, we held our tenth annual Vis Pre-moot Competition at the JAMS Miami Resolution Center in order to assist the students in preparing for their presentations at the final competition in Vienna. Teams from six Florida law schools participated, as well as law schools from Georgia, Louisiana, and the Bahamas. Loyola University New Orleans College of Law took first place, with Stetson University College of Law and Florida International University College of Law taking second and third places. As in past years, the section awarded scholarships to each of the six participating Florida law schools, and section members will be serving as coaches and volunteer arbitrators for the upcoming event in Vienna. The competition was ably organized by Chair Mariela Malfeld and Vice Chair Sharié Hudson and their team of dedicated committee members. Additionally, more than 20 section members served as volunteer arbitrators for the participating teams.
The section’s other continuing activities included very active participation in the state legislative process in order to ensure that Florida retains a legal environment that is supportive and respectful of international legal practice. Legislative Committee Chair Rafael Ribeiro and Senior Chairs Eduardo Palmer and Carlos Osorio led those efforts. The section also produced a range of publications and website developments under the leadership of section members who are too numerous to mention, but whose contributions are greatly valued.
Two new initiatives for the section this year were the formation of a Women in International Law Committee and an In-House Counsel Forum. Through these initiatives, we hope to make section membership even more valuable to women lawyers and to in-house counsel, and several successful networking events have been held thus far. The Women in International Law Committee is led by Co-chairs Susana Betancourt, Angelika Hunnefeld, Veronica Tejada Lacayo, and Stephanie Vaughan. The In-House Counsel Forum is led by Co-chairs Violeta Longino and Jessica C. Morris.
On behalf of the section’s officers and executive council, I thank everyone who worked so hard to make the past year so successful. As always, we owe the section’s accomplishments to our executive council members, committee leaders, and active volunteers who have devoted their time, attention, enthusiasm, and effort to furthering the section’s work on behalf of its members.
The section’s year will draw to a close at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in June. For those readers who are not yet members, or who may be members but are not yet active in the section’s work, we invite you to join us. Please feel free to contact our membership co-chairs, Regan Kruse at firstname.lastname@example.org and Clarissa Rodriguez at email@example.com, and to visit our website, http://www.internationallawsection.org, for all of the latest information about the section.
C. Ryan Reetz, Chair
Labor and Employment Law
I am proud to report on the activities of the Labor and Employment Law Section for 2013-2014. As of March, our financial report reflected that we have 2,048 section members and a fund balance of $272,595. Our 27-member executive council continues to reflect the nature of our members. Our council includes attorneys who represent employees, unions, or employers, as well as those who are mediators, arbitrators, government attorneys, judges, and government officials. This unique mix brings a very diverse group of folks together at our meetings and events. This has also given our members a unique opportunity to share ideas, build relationships, and socialize with those with different insights and backgrounds.
State appellate court Judge Stephanie Ray (First DCA) has been an active executive council member. Judge Alan Forst (Fourth DCA), a former chair of our section, continues to be active in our section as well. Our secretary/treasurer is Frank Brown, who also serves as chair of the Florida Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission.
This year, under the leadership of Legal Education Director Leslie Langbein, the section offered excellent CLE programming. This included four webinars and four day-and-a-half live seminars. Two of our seminars have had the active participation of other sections. Our March “Navigating the World of ADR” seminar included the participation of and joint reception with the Alternate Dispute Resolution Section. Thank you to Leslie Langbein and Marlene Quintana for heading up this seminar. Our section co-sponsored the 39th Annual Public Employment Labor Relations Forum with the City, County and Local Government Law Section, co-chaired by Mike Grogan and Gregg Morton. Plans are already underway for a milestone: the 40th annual seminar to be held October 23-24 in Orlando.
Our 14th Annual Labor and Employment Law Update and Certification Review program, co-chaired by Erin Jackson and David Spalter, brought together practitioners and more than 17 presenters in Orlando in January.
Our Advanced Labor Topics Seminar was held in New Orleans on May 16 and 17. Richard Johnson and Arlene Kline served as co-chairs for this seminar. Among the highlighted presenters: Craig Bell, Austin (the best speaker I have ever heard on e-discovery); Malcolm Medley, EEOC regional director, Miami; Richard Seymour and Matthew Wessler, Washington, D.C.; Monique Gougisha and Howard Shapiro, New Orleans; and Karen Buesing, Tampa.
Our section increased the use of social media, including regularly updating our members through the section’s LinkedIn and Facebook sites thanks to Brian Lerner. In addition, we continue to send regular email blasts to our membership regarding CLE opportunities (thank you, Judge Stephanie Ray), monthly e-updates on important labor and employment cases and e-tool kits. Each e-tool kit reviews a specific employment law to assist less experienced practitioners. In addition, members continue to submit well-received articles to The Florida Bar Journal and our long-established section publication the Check Off, through the respective efforts of Rob Eschenfelder and Jay Lechner and their committee members.
Our section has renewed contacts with various federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Our section plans to host events across the state for section members to meet with and discuss important issues with senior government officials from these three agencies. On April 9, our section hosted such an event in Miami with Margaret Diaz, the NLRB regional director for region 12, and Pam Scott, the NLRB’s resident officer for the Miami office. The turnout was large due to the NLRB’s recent rulings and press regarding Margaret’s Chicago counterpart ruling that the scholarship football players at Northwestern are employees. Our EEOC and FEPA Liaison Subcommittee Co-chairs Marquis Helig and Kristen Foslid are planning a similar event with the EEOC starting in 2014.
We have begun an effort to publish 500-word essays from section members describing their “Most Perfect Day as an Attorney.” David Block and Scott Atwood have agreed to lead this effort. We anticipate that these will be humorous or poignant stories of one unforgettable day in the life of each author.
We also awarded a $1,000 scholarship to an outstanding law student who excels in labor and employment law at almost every Florida law school. Our scholarships are named after members of our section’s hall of fame, a posthumous honor for those who have had significant involvement in both our section and in the active practice of labor and employment law in Florida. Thank you to Debbie Brown for your efforts on both the scholarship awards and hall of fame.
Lastly, our section surveyed all section members to determine whether recommendations should be made to the Bar regarding possible changes for eligibility for those seeking certification in labor and employment law. The results will be the basis for discussions by our executive council for the next year. Thank you to our former chairs, Damon Kitchen and Sherril Colombo, for having taken the lead in this effort.
Robert S. Turk, Chair
Out of State Division
The Out of State Division represents more than 14,000 members of The Florida Bar who reside outside of Florida. That’s nearly one-fifth of The Florida Bar’s total membership. Recognizing the diverse interests and practice areas of out-of-state members, the division’s many purposes include assisting out-of-state lawyers in administrative, educational, and practice development issues; emphasizing diversity to provide opportunities for all lawyers; facilitating networking among out-of-state Bar members; encouraging pro bono activities by out-of-state members; providing a forum for the discussion of issues of common interest; and seeking to improve the administration and application of laws, rules, regulations, and our legal system. This year, once again, the division worked diligently to carry out this mission through a variety of activities.
The division helped its members maintain their awareness of professional responsibility issues by providing the opportunity to earn free CLE ethics credits. The OOS Information Committee continues to update and improve the division’s website. Members can access the State-to-State, CLE, ethics programs, and a variety of information at our website, www.flabaroutofstaters.org. We continue to work on enhancements including hosting webinars for our members.
On the subject of CLE, the division hosted a successful live seminar in Chicago in conjunction with the Board of Governors’ meeting in October. Division Secretary John Voorn and Governor Eric Meeks co-chaired this seminar. Governor Ian Comisky moderated a panel in Chicago with William Ridgway and Gina Spada on, “Fourth Amendment Update: Cell Phone and Computer Searches of Your Life.” James Grogan, deputy administrator and chief counsel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, presented an ethics and professional regulation update, “The Fourth Amendment: What Can be Found on Cell Phones with Ethics Update.”
The division also increased the use of webinars. In December 2013, President-elect Tim Chinaris hosted “Ethics in an Age of Technology.” In February, Treasurer Chris Marquardt hosted “Non-Traditional Labor: Recent NLRB Enforcement Activity in Non-Union Workplaces.” Ian Comisky hosted a webinar in March, which repeated for a broader audience the panel he moderated in Chicago. The division co-hosted this very successful webinar with the Young Lawyers Division. In April, Dena Kessler, an attorney at BakerHostetler, presented “Bankruptcy: Navigating the Automatic Stay, Discharge, Preference and More,” which was also co-hosted by the YLD. And in May, the division presented a webinar hosted by Don Workman: “Attorney’s Fees in Bankruptcy: Fee Applications, Disclosure Requirements and More.”
The division improved access for its members. The division held an executive council meeting and an open reception in conjunction with the Bar’s Board of Governors’ meeting in Chicago. A sizeable number of Florida Bar members from the Chicago area attended the reception and visited with board members and division officers. Due to the success of this event, the division held similar activities for Tennessee out-of-state Florida lawyers in conjunction with the Young Lawyer Division Board of Governors meeting in Nashville in April. The OOS/YLD hosted a joint reception at the Union Station in Nashville. All of these events were well attended and introduced new members to the division. The success of these events will further encourage us to enhance these member benefits. Stay tuned for more CLE and an executive council meeting and reception in Philadelphia in October at the Board of Governors’ out-of-state meeting.
The OOS publication, State-to-State, continues to provide great outreach and substantive articles. We send each edition electronically to all out-of-state lawyers, well over a 14,000 attorney circulation. We have seen revenue grow, with the addition of advertisers. We are grateful for the great support received from the Business Law Section and Judge Cathy McEwen through regular submissions of articles. As a result, the publication continues to grow.
The division encourages pro bono activities, and each year nominates an out-of-state Florida Bar member for The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award. Annually, The Florida Bar president recognizes one lawyer from each of the 20 judicial circuits in Florida and one out-of-state Florida Bar member to receive the Pro Bono Service Award. This year’s out-of-state award winner was William McMurry of Kentucky. The selection committee was impressed with Bill’s substantial contributions over his 35-year legal career, and in particular, with the significant personal sacrifice he undertook to help his pro bono clients.
Long-time service to the legal profession is also recognized through the 50-year award that is bestowed on veteran Florida Bar members who have spent at least part of their careers practicing out of state. This award was presented to numerous lawyers during a special luncheon and ceremony at the Bar’s Annual Convention last June.
The division thanks its officers, members of the executive council, the out-of-state representatives on the Bar’s Board of Governors, and all others who have helped to make this year successful for the division and all out-of-state members of The Florida Bar.
Finally, you’ll find at our website the contact information of the officers and executive council members. We are here to serve you. We want your thoughts on how we can provide more opportunities and better serve you. We want to help our out-of-state lawyers and their practices.
Donald A. Workman, President
Public Interest Law
Twenty five years ago. 1989. Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. We were fighting the Nazis in Europe. America’s favorite TV show was I Love Lucy. And the Public Interest Law Section (PILS) was born.
(Note to editor: I think the events mentioned above happened in 1989. Please check, and, if not, substitute something appropriate like Babe Ruth’s home run total for that year. Thanks.)
So, this year, PILS celebrated its silver anniversary. And we did so not just with pride and merriment, but with a tremendous amount of productive activity.
We established two new pro bono programs. One is designed to provide counsel for children aging out of the foster care system and the other for human trafficking victims seeking to seal or expunge criminal records relating to offenses they committed under the influence of their traffickers.
We overcame a major hurdle toward establishing children’s law as an area of board certification, obtaining approval from the Board of Legal Specialization and Education of the proposal we jointly submitted with the Legal Needs of Children Committee. The next step is the Board of Governors. We hope that their approval will occur in time for the matter to be included in the Bar’s October biennial filing of proposals relating to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
We advocated for the Bar to create, as part of its Vision 2016 program, a Legal Job Corps which would help resolve the disconnect between the many unemployed lawyers (especially those coming out of law school) and the unmet needs of the poor and the middle class. Because such a project would likely run through existing legal service organization, PILS would be in a unique position to, and stands ready to, facilitate the effort.
We published (what we expect to be the first annual) Public Interest Law issue of the Florida Coastal Law Review. Most of the articles were written by PILS members.
On the CLE front, we offered a free program to our members on “Ethical and Professionalism Considerations in the Practice of Public Interest Law.” We also cosponsored a program entitled, “Introduction to the Practice of Consumer Law.”
We continued our legislative efforts on behalf of those who lack a voice in the political arena, supporting, for instance, proposed federal legislation to create a private, nonprofit center to provide financial support for public defense systems, as well as state proposals to require judicial oversight of the filing of adult criminal charges against juveniles and to protect Florida residents by increasing the absurdly low ($100) cost bond that must be posted by nonresident plaintiffs in civil cases.
With the help of the students from the St. Thomas Public Interest Law Students Association (PILSA), we continued to publish an excellent newsletter. We also sent representatives to various forums, such the Nova PILSA chapter, the Bar’s leadership academy, and, of course, the Board of Governors.
As it enters its second quarter century, PILS knows it has accomplished much, but knows that it still has much to do. This year built upon our past successes and laid a strong foundation for our future efforts. We look forward to attorneys becoming certified in Children’s Law. We look forward to helping our profession meet its obligation to provide representation for the poor and middle class. We look forward to fostering stimulating discussion of important issues, through law review articles, CLE programs, and otherwise.
Most importantly, we look forward to continuing our mission, which is “[t]o advocate for the legal needs of people who are generally disenfranchised, under-represented or lack meaningful access to traditional public forums.” We welcome and encourage everyone to join us in our journey.
Anthony C. Musto, Chair
Real Property, Probate and Trust Law
The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section (RPPTL) continues its long tradition of enhancing the knowledge and practices of its 11,000 members and protecting the citizens of Florida. Our 250-member executive council includes the chairs and vice chairs of approximately 55 active committees (general standing, real property, and probate and trust), numerous liaisons to other groups, and our at-large members. The principal activities and operations of the section focus on communication with its members; development of legislation in real property, probate, trust, construction, and related fields of law; production of education programs and materials; and participation as an amicus curiae in select appellate cases involving significant issues within the section’s fields of law.
• Communications — The section communicates with its members in several ways: our well-regarded quarterly publication, ActionLine; our newly upgraded website; circuit-based communications from at-large members; and through direct email messages from the section’s leadership and committees. After several years of planning, one of the more significant events of the year was the rollout of the section’s new website. The section newsletter, ActionLine, is an important source of information about the section business, case law summaries, and legislative and regulatory developments of significance to our members’ practices. The section also continues to be an important contributor of articles to The Florida Bar Journal.
• Legislation — One of the principal activities through which the RPPTL Section serves the public interest and advocates good public policy is its ambitious and well-recognized legislative program. The section currently has several major initiatives pending before the Florida Legislature.
• Education — Through the combined efforts of the section’s substantive committees and our CLE Seminar Coordination Committee, the section presented a total of 11 live-attendance programs, one webcast-only program, and 10 e-CLE programs. Particularly successful presentations this year were the combined construction law institute and construction law certification course; the probate law program; the legislative and case law update; the attorney/trust officers liaison conference; and certification review courses for construction law, real estate, and wills, trusts, and estates. Rob Freedman and Tae Kelley Bronner, CLE co-chairs, have worked on production and promotion of many CLEs.
The key to the section’s effectiveness is our thriving committee system that covers a wide range of practice areas, allowing our members to develop and strengthen their knowledge base. The committees are grouped in one of three categories: probate and trust law division committees, real property law division committees, and general standing committees.
• General Standing Committees —Through the extraordinary efforts of our Membership, Diversity and Law School Liaison Committee and Fellows and Mentoring Committee, the section made great strides in its initiatives to attract, train, and retain young, capable future section leaders. The section is sponsoring a group of four young attorney members who were selected as RPPTL fellows and attend committee meetings and executive council activities. Due to the success of the program, the section’s Fellows Committee has expanded to have a new class of four fellows appointed every year for a two-year term, rather than one class every two years. The fellows attend section and committee meetings and assist with committee projects.
Our Membership and Diversity Committee continues to attract new members to the section by reaching out to law schools in Florida to meet with students interested in real property or probate and trust practices. As part of that process, members of the committee have conducted mock interviews with local law school students to help the students improve their interviewing skills. Section representatives work very closely with student organizations focusing on real estate, trust, and estate law to familiarize their members with the section, involve them in its activities, and organize receptions for the students and members of the section to network and socialize. Last year, the section established a special dues level for affiliate section members who are students at an accredited Florida law school.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Trust Account Issues was extremely involved in working with The Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee to foster the section’s position that audits of separate real estate trust accounts by title insurance underwriters should be permitted as being in the best interest of the client. The section is planning for the future with a strategic planning retreat to consider how we operate and what changes and improvements might be made. The last such retreat was five years ago.
• Real Property Division — The changing legal environment redoubled the Real Property Division’s focus on assisting attorneys to better serve their clients. Legislative efforts included proposals facilitating the real property market recovery to electronic publication, and providing technical advice across diverse topics, such as sale disclosures, community association regulation, and construction liens. Our substantive committees each provide cutting-edge practice pointers in meetings — many now including CLER credit presentations — and seminar, including new or reconstituted committees directed to changing practices, such as commercial transaction (Art Menor, chair), finance (Jim Robbins, chair), insurance and surety (R. Cary Wright, chair), and structures and taxation (Wilhelmina Kightlinger, chair).
• The Probate and Trust Law Division — This division’s committees participate in the legislative process and produce high-quality continuing legal education. They meet regularly to discuss and analyze issues that are relevant to our daily practice. Often the analysis concludes with a determination that there is an issue with our existing statutes that needs to be addressed. Efforts are currently underway to comprehensively revise Florida’s existing guardianship statutes to address concerns expressed by Florida’s citizens, legal practitioners, and the courts. This effort is being led by Past Section Chair David Brennan. The section has also undertaken an in-depth review of digital assets and information and how this evolving area of the law impacts estate planning and administration. We are also in the process of reviewing our existing elective share statutes. This year, the section proposed legislation that would allow for the use of family trust companies. Probate Legislation Chair Bill Hennessey shepherded the section through the process of reviewing and commenting on many bills — some of which were initiatives of the section and many others that were not.
Members of both the Real Property Division and the Probate and Trust Law Division have come together to consider topics that impact both areas of the law — in particular, homestead and execution requirements for wills and deeds. Section members are urged to attend a committee meeting in their practice area, selecting a committee from the listing at www.rpptl.org.
Many dedicated section members also serve the profession and the public by voluntarily writing and updating the Uniform Title Standards, several practice manuals, and widely used probate and guardianship forms; by participating in the development and ongoing revision of the FR/BAR residential real estate contract; and through extensive involvement and leadership in many other law-related organizations and groups, including The Florida Bar, The Florida Bar Foundation, Florida Lawyers Support Services, Inc., the Florida Legal Education Association, the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, the American College of Construction Lawyers, the Florida Realtor-Attorney Joint Committee, and the Florida Courts Technology Commission. Two former section chairs are serving on the Board of Governors. Historically, the section’s efforts to develop and implement good public policy have centered around protecting private property rights, preserving the certainty of land titles, preventing the erosion of fiduciary responsibilities, promoting the fair and efficient administration of trusts and estates, and protecting the right of due process, including the right to notice and the opportunity to be heard.
It’s a very good time to be a REPTILE!
Margaret “Peggy” Rolando, Chair
I am pleased to report that the Tax Section completed another successful year. We continued to focus our efforts on providing resources to our members and seeking and encouraging active participation among our members, particularly those new to the practice of tax law. The Tax Section continues to emphasize providing excellent CLE programming and informative and valuable meetings. We seek to involve the lawyers new to tax law by routinely holding new tax lawyer lunches and by offering Tax Section fellowships.
As usual, our family-friendly organizational meeting took place at the Amelia Island Plantation over the Fourth of July weekend. Always a favorite, the annual “Ullman Year in Review,” a CLE program named after one of the deans of Florida tax law, Sam Ullman, was the highlight of the meeting. At this meeting, the section also was pleased to award the Marvin C. Gutter Outstanding Public Service Award to Jim Johnson of the Florida Department of Revenue. Jim is a tremendous asset to the State of Florida and his recognition is well deserved.
Our fall meeting in Miami included the CLE program, “Tax Planning for Real Property Developers and Investors.” Special thanks to Bill Siegel and David Burke for co-chairing this program. Also in the fall, and after a long hiatus, the Tax Section reinstituted its liaison meeting with the Florida Department of Revenue. The meeting was very well attended by both section members and representatives of the Department of Revenue, which provided representatives from the offices of the executive director, general counsel, general tax administration, and technical assistance. Special thanks to Mark Holcomb and Rex Ware for coordinating the meeting on behalf of the section.
Our winter Director’s Committee meeting was held in New Orleans. In addition to a productive business meeting and an outstanding CLE program run by several past section chairs, the directors got to tour and enjoy the offerings of the Crescent City.
Our annual meeting this year was held at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. In conjunction with this meeting, we held an advanced CLE program, “IRS — We Got What It Takes To Take What You Got,” highlighted by Keynote Speaker Former Commissioner Lawrence B. Gibbs. Special thanks to Harris L. Bonnette, Jr., as well as past section Chairs Frances D. Sheehy and Michael A. Lampert for co-chairing this program. At the annual dinner, the Tax Section Tax Lawyer of the Year award was presented to Bill Townsend. As a past chair of the section, Bill has long served the Tax Section and is widely recognized as a leader of the Florida tax community.
A highlight of our CLE offerings this year was the nationally recognized 32nd Annual International Tax Conference, co-sponsored with FICPA and successful thanks to the efforts of Shawn Wolf, the program’s chair, and the assistance of a very dedicated committee.
Nationally we continue to comment on proposed tax regulations, including providing comments on proposed regulations under I.R.C. §§1411 and 6015.
The Tax Section once again hosted the national tax moot court competition February 6-8 in Clearwater, with 16 law schools participating. This program has become nationally renowned. This program is led by Co-chairs Eric Hall and Micah G. Fogarty, with volunteer tax lawyers who write the problems and bench briefs, review the student briefs, and judge the early rounds. Special thanks to all who participated in, or assisted with, the competition. This year’s award winners were:
Team Oral Argument Awards:
• Competition Winner: Charleston School of Law
• First Runner-Up: University of Oregon School of Law
• Second Runner-Up: Louisiana State University Law Center
Team Brief Awards:
• Best Overall Brief: University of Oregon School of Law
• First Runner-Up: Loyola University Chicago School of Law
• Best Individual Oralist: Lane Jefferies, Charleston School of Law
I thank our section administrator, Arlee J. Colman, for her assistance throughout the year. I also thank Janette M. McCurley, who was kind enough to remain in the role of “chief” of staff, for her overall assistance. She continues to be invaluable to both me and to the section. I know the Tax Section will remain in the good hands of our chair-elect, Cristin Conley, and I wish her much success for the coming year. It has been my honor to serve as the Tax Section chair.
Joel D. Maser, Chair
The Trial Lawyers Section (TLS) is pleased to report a busy and productive year. Last spring/summer, the section published a new edition of the Discovery Handbook. The handbook is published as a joint project of TLS and the Conferences of Circuit and County Court Judges. The handbook is an invaluable tool for judges and practitioners. TLS furnishes a hard copy to every judge in Florida. The handbook can be downloaded on the section’s website, www.flatls.org.
The third annual Trial Lawyers Summit was held in January at the Tampa Waterside Marriott and featured both the Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition and the Teachers Law School. The mock trial competition paired two teams from 11 of Florida’s 12 law schools against each other. Participants, based on a common fact pattern, presented a trial — everything from pretrial motions, openings, direct and cross examination, and closing. Each round of the competition was presided over by a sitting judge and scored by five lawyer jurors. For the second year in a row, the two teams from Stetson Law School faced off in the final round.
In its second year, the Teachers Law School provided two days of instruction to approximately 80 middle and high school civics teachers on the importance of the judicial branch of government. Speakers included the president of The Florida Bar, a U.S. district judge, a Florida Supreme Court justice, and many outstanding trial lawyers. The goal of the school was to impress upon the teachers that our free and democratic society would not be possible without the courts. In my 30 plus years of Bar service, this is the single most significant program of which I have been a part. All 80 teachers rated the program as 5 stars. Some were in tears, saying that not only did they learn from outstanding speakers, but they were treated like professionals. They all were energized and pledged to return to class with renewed enthusiasm in teaching civics, especially the importance of the judicial branch. The 80 participating teachers will impact the lives of thousands of students. If they can impress upon them the importance of the role of lawyers in our democratic society, our time is well spent.
As I write this report, the Florida Legislature is in session. TLS is active in this process and employs a lobbyist to advance our three main legislative objectives: judicial independence, access to courts, and adequate judicial funding. The section’s executive committee met with key legislators in February in Tallahassee as the session began to discuss these issues. The section has to date submitted a white paper on a proposed amendment to the hearsay rule, which was well received. As a result of the paper, the bill was amended to narrow its application. TLS will address other bills that affect trial lawyers as the need arises.
TLS continued its tradition of providing quality advanced educational opportunities for its members. In February, the section held its annual Civil Trial Update and Review Course. In March, the section presented an advanced med mal seminar at the CAMLS center at the University of South Florida’s downtown Tampa campus, and an advanced evidence seminar. All of these programs were well attended and received.
Of special note is the section’s advanced trial advocacy seminar. The program, held at the University of Florida’s Levin Law Center, is packed with a week of hands-on experience in trial practice. Participants view, prepare, and present every phase of a civil jury trial. They are critiqued by seasoned trial lawyers and judges from throughout Florida, and this year by barristers from both London and Barbados. We believe that this program is unparalleled in trial practice education and counts as a trial credit toward board certification in civil trial law.
The section again this year gifted funds to The Florida Bar Foundation in the amount of $50,000, recognizing the shortfall occasioned by low interest rates on IOTA accounts. While not an annual gift, the section recognizes the significant contributions of the Foundation in providing access to courts to low-income residents. Hopefully, the TLS contribution will help bridge the gap while a more permanent funding solution is obtained. TLS also continued its support of the Bar’s Leadership Academy with a contribution of $10,000 for the academy’s second year.
TLS continues its joint sponsorship of the Trial Lawyers Section/Criminal Law Section/Chester Bedell Foundation Annual Convention luncheon. This year’s featured speaker is former Florida Supreme Court Justice and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joseph Hatchett.
As my year as chair draws to a close, I want to thank the TLS executive council for its leadership and hard work. None of the section’s many outstanding programs would be possible without the dedication of these members. I also want to recognize the section’s program administrator, Eugene Sherman, for his hard work in keeping us on track, always with a smile.
Ted Eastmoore, Chair
Workers’ compensation in Florida remains an area of constant change and evolution. In the last 25 years, major revisions to the law went into effect in 1990, 1994, 2003, and 2009. These changes not only present an unending series of challenges for practitioners, but inevitability require the involvement of the judicial branch. This year has been no exception; two important cases have been accepted by the Florida Supreme Court for consideration.
In an en banc decision issued September 23, 2013, in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, the First District Court of Appeal concluded that by the plain language of §440.15 (2)(a), an injured worker still totally disabled at the end of his or her eligibility for temporary disability benefits is deemed to be at maximum medical improvement as a matter of law, even if the worker may get well enough to someday return to work. In these circumstances, the claimant need not present medical proof he or she has reached maximum medical improvement. The worker may immediately assert a claim for permanent total disability benefits, and the judge may award those benefits if the worker has proven he or she is totally disabled. The court certified the case for review by the Florida Supreme Court under Fla. Const. art. 5, §3 (b)(4) on the ground that its decision passes on the following question of great public importance: Is a worker who is totally disabled as a result of a workplace accident, but still improving from a medical standpoint at the time temporary total disability benefits expire, deemed to be at maximum medical improvement by operation of law, and, therefore, eligible to assert claim for permanent total disability benefits? Oral argument has been scheduled before the Florida Supreme Court on June 5.
The second case of great importance to the section is Castellanos v. Next Door Company, Inc. This case involved an appeal of a final order of a judge of compensation claims that awarded a guideline fee to the claimant under F.S. §440.34, rather than a reasonable fee. In this case, the claimant was injured in a work-related accident on October 12, 2009, a few months after the July 1, 2009, fee changes went into effect. Although the carrier authorized a few visits to a walk-in clinic, within two weeks after the accident, the carrier denied all benefits, arguing fraud, misrepresentation, aggressor doctrine, and numerous other defenses, including that the injury had been self-inflicted. The claimant filed a petition for benefits seeking indemnity benefits, correction of average weekly wage, and medical care under the supervision of the walk-in clinic. Given the significant number of defenses advanced by the employer/carrier, substantial discovery was required. The claimant’s attorney was required to spend 107.2 hours of legal time to bring the claim to trial before the JCC, while the carrier’s attorney expended approximately 115 hours. The JCC rejected all of the defenses offered by the employer/carrier, and awarded the benefits sought. The claimant’s attorney requested a reasonable fee for all 107.2 hours incurred, alleging that a guideline fee would be unfair, confiscatory of his time, unreasonable, and manifestly unjust. Nevertheless, due to the 2009 changes to the Florida Statutes limiting fees to a percentage of the benefits secured, the JCC, despite explicitly finding the 107.2 hours were reasonably required to establish benefit entitlement, was constrained to award a guideline fee of $164.54. This amounted to an hourly rate of $1.54, although the JCC concluded that had he been allowed to award a reasonable fee, he would have awarded $350 per hour for the entire 107.2 hours of legal time, for a total awarded fee of $37,520. In a decision issued on October 23, 2013, the First District Court of Appeal acknowledged that a fee in the amount of $164.54 for 107.2 hours of legal work was inadequate. Nevertheless, they declined to revisit the constitutional issue previously resolved by earlier decisions, and affirmed the JCC’s order. However, the court certified the following inquiry to the Florida Supreme Court as a question of great public importance: Was the award of attorneys’ fees in this case adequate and consistent with the access to courts, due process, equal protection, and other requirements of the Florida and federal constitutions? The claimant’s initial brief was due to be filed on April 8.
• The 2014 Legislative Session — Several bills addressing workers’ compensation have been filed that address issues related to compliance with and enforcement of workers’ compensation coverage requirements (SB 444); major contributing cause/apportionment, drug testing, time requirements associated with requests for a one-time changes, advances, and permanent total disability (HB 1007/SB 1214); and a bill revising the maximum reimbursement allowance for inpatient hospital care (HB 1351). Fausto Gomez, the section’s lobbyist, and Legislative Committee Chair Richard Chait will keep the section apprised of any developments that occur over the remaining weeks of session. Section leadership will be in Tallahassee to offer any guidance required by the legislature on topics relating to workers’ compensation.
• CLE — The 2014 Workers’ Compensation Forum was held April 9-11 in Orlando. The forum is the preeminent educational opportunity for attorneys, adjusters, claims professionals, and other stakeholders to the Florida workers’ compensation system. Leo Garcia, program chair of the forum, along with his predecessor, Allison Hunnicutt, and numerous other individuals on the steering committee and faculty, have put forth a tremendous effort to make this program one to benefit those new to the field as well as the most seasoned practitioners. In addition to providing in-depth analysis of traditional subjects, such as compensability, the employment relationship/leasing companies, mental and nervous injuries and heart attacks, repetitive trauma, average weekly wage, medical and indemnity benefits, offsets and attorneys’ fees and costs, the program will also feature an exciting panel discussion from the judges of compensation claims and vocational experts, and a panel on the new Daubert evidentiary standard.
Section CLE Chair Chris Petrucelli has also arranged a wide selection of educational programs throughout the year, including the annual winter ski seminar and regular Learn at Lunch programs.
• News and 440 Report — The section’s quarterly publication, the News and 440 Report, continues to be a tremendous source of information, commentary, analysis, and insight for section members. The section is grateful to Jeff Appel and his predecessor Mike Winer for their service and dedication as the current and former editors.
• Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award — At its judicial lunch meeting in August 2013, the executive council unanimously voted to award Ray Malca of South Miami the Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership and professionalism. Given Ray’s long career of outstanding advocacy, service, and leadership on the executive council and devotion to the promotion of education and ethical conduct in the practice, it is difficult to imagine a more well-deserving recipient.
• Interaction with the First District Court of Appeal — The executive council had the honor of hosting the First District Court of Appeal for oral arguments at the University of Miami School of Law in January. The arguments presented law students with an opportunity to glimpse the practice of workers’ compensation, and to interact with council members and judges in an informal setting after the arguments. Council members, students, and the district court of appeal came away from the event with the belief that the exposure afforded by live oral arguments is an excellent way to introduce the practice of workers’ compensation to students who might otherwise lack direct exposure to this ever-changing area of the law.
Gratitude is extended to all executive council members for volunteering their valuable time, effort, and expertise, including a special thanks to our officers. Dawn Traverso, immediate past chair, has been a great source of insight and assistance. Chair-elect William Rogner has been of tremendous support and will allow the council to move forward seamlessly when his term begins in August. Treasurer Alan Kalinoski guided the council in its effort to promote an ambitious agenda of priorities while remaining well within our budget. Secretary Joanne Prescott maintained the minutes of all meetings in excellent fashion, thus, assisting the council in maintaining continuity from meeting to meeting. Martin Liebowitz continues to assist the section in keeping the section website current and user-friendly. Willie Mae Shepard has done a superb job as our section administrator. It is truly an honor to serve with such dedicated professionals.
The members of the Workers’ Compensation Section and the section’s executive council continue their promotion of education, professionalism, and the independence of the workers’ compensation adjudicatory process. We look forward to an exciting remainder of 2014 and the years ahead, and remain committed to a stable, balanced, and efficient Florida workers’ compensation law accessible to all system stakeholders.
Christopher J. Smith, Chair
Young Lawyers Division
#teamwork: This was the theme of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division over the past year. By coming together as an energized, cohesive unit, our Board of Governors diligently worked to meet the needs of Florida’s young lawyers.
The YLD began the year with a campaign aimed at raising the YLD’s social media profile, while at the same time, generating funds for The Florida Bar Foundation. In July, the YLD pledged to donate $1 to the Foundation for each new follower it gained on Facebook and Twitter. The campaign, headed by technology Co-chairs Zack Zuroweste and Gordon Glover, resulted in the YLD’s social media presence exponentially growing from a few hundred followers to a few thousand. By the end of July, the YLD was able to connect better with its constituents while also presenting a check for more than $2,000 to the Foundation for legal services for the poor.
During the summer, the Technology Committee launched its monthly lunchtime webinar series with the goal of providing Florida’s newest attorneys with the education necessary to make practitioners competitive in the marketplace. The wildly successful free CLE series bolstered the YLD’s webinar attendance up to 1,000 attendees per program, approximately tenfold the attendance of previous YLD webinars. Through the series, Florida’s young lawyers were able to learn about mediation preparedness and strategies, cutting-edge technology, best tips for starting a practice, and more.
Florida’s young lawyers also received valuable guidance from the YLD’s Mentoring with the Masters video series. The series, started by former YLD President Renee Thompson, features short videos of experts sharing their best practice tips. Over the past year, the YLD, through the vision of Transition to Practice Chair Jennifer Kuyrkendall and assistance from its friends at Upchurch Watson White & Max, added approximately 30 videos to the series, tripling the program’s content. The Mentoring with the Masters library can be accessed through the YLD’s website, www.flayld.org. The series highlights top-of-their-field practitioners, including Florida Bar presidents and other distinguished Bar leaders, providing insight about how to develop a theme in litigation, brief writing tips, e-discovery pitfalls to be avoided, and more.
The YLD also participated in the mentoring program hosted by its Law Student Division, led by Law Schools Chairs Ashley Sybesma and Ben Gibson and Law Student Division President Danielle Kaye. This year, the program grew from being limited geographically to a statewide platform. In its new format, shaped by the vision of Mentoring Committee Chair Brock Magruder, the program afforded students the opportunity to be paired with an attorney practicing in another part of Florida who could assist students with their plans to practice in another geographic location and learn about a substantive practice area not prominent in the student’s law school location. As a result of the new platform, more than 400 mentor-mentee relationships were established, approximately four-times the number of pairings as created in previous years. Furthermore, and with the help of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, the Law Student Division taught students about balancing life and law by hosting a panel comprised of accomplished Florida lawyers. It was the first time such a program was hosted at each of Florida’s 12 law schools.
Beyond enhanced mentoring, the YLD reaffirmed its commitment to diversity. Thanks to Diversity Co-chairs Sorraya Solages-Jones and Lou Delgado, the YLD hosted its first-ever statewide Diversity Symposium at simultaneous locations in South Florida, Central Florida, and North Florida. The half-day seminar in each location featured panels of speakers addressing diversity in bar leadership, the judiciary, law firms, and in-house counsel positions. The committee also created the YLD’s inaugural diversity grant, which awards affiliates funding to host projects that promote and encourage diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Furthermore, the YLD increased grant funding for its affiliates through the work of its Local Bar Affiliates Committee, co-chaired by Katherine Hurst Miller and Schuyler Smith, and Affiliate Outreach Conference Committee, co-chaired by Chrystal Martin Thornton and Karen Persis. The Local Bar Affiliates Committee created the YLD’s professionalism roundtable grant, which provides funding for members of the judiciary and new lawyers to collaborate regarding key professionalism topics. Through this grant, and the YLD’s long-standing Afternoon or Morning at the Courthouse and Holidays All Year Long grants, the YLD gifted almost $30,000 in fall funding, three-times more than the previous year. Through AOC, the YLD gave away a record of approximately $50,000 to affiliates to fund member and public service projects throughout Florida over the coming 12 months. As a result of such increased funding, and other increased outreach efforts, the YLD gained approximately a dozen new affiliates in 2013-14, bringing the number of its local young lawyer chapters to more than 50.
Over the past year, the YLD worked to enhance the educational opportunities of its members. For example, the YLD’s Practicing with Professionalism Committee, co-chaired by Gordon Glover and Amy Rigdon, made significant strides toward offering an online option of the required course that all new lawyers must take during their first year of practice. The CLE Committee, co-chaired by Valerie Barnhart and Jake Rush, programmed six fantastic basic CLE’s on a myriad of topics ranging from basic discovery to basic products liability and consumer law. The Law Related Education Committee, co-chaired by Andrew Pickett and Katherine Hurst Miller, worked to add an additional oral argument round to the Robert Orseck Memorial Moot Court Competition. Hosted each year at The Florida Bar Annual Convention, such a round will give Florida law school students an additional opportunity to argue before and receive invaluable criticism from distinguished judges from around the state, including the entire Florida Supreme Court during the final competition round. Finally, the Legislative Affairs Committee, co-chaired by Leland Taylor and Marc Lyons, programmed a wonderful government symposium aimed at teaching young lawyers how to incorporate the legislative process into their everyday practice and public service.
All of the foregoing successes were highlighted to the division’s constituents by the YLD Communications team: Lindsay Tygart Ahmed and Robert Wohn, newsletter co-chairs who, for the first time in the division’s history, published monthly e-newsletters that bolstered interest in the division and attendance at YLD events and programs; Ed McCarthy and Jennifer Lodge Grosso, website co-chairs who overhauled and streamlined the YLD’s website to make it more relevant and user-friendly; and Amy Rigdon and Alex Haddad, public relations co-chairs who created the YLD’s first-ever circuit reports, which were disseminated after each board meeting to ensure that the YLD’s constituents were fully informed about its activities, policies, and accomplishments.
As I prepare to hand over the leadership of the division to President-elect Michael Fox Orr and President-elect Designate Gordon Glover, I want to thank each member of the YLD Board of Governors for their hard work and determination this past year. I also recognize the exceptional work of the YLD’s program administrator, Tom Miller, who consistently exceeds all expectations in his work for the division. It was solely through their efforts that the projects mentioned herein, and so many more, were made possible, and it has been my privilege and honor to work with these outstanding individuals while leading this division.
Melanie S. Griffin, President