Admiralty and Maritime Law
The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee held its midyear meeting in Orlando in September and provided its members with three CLE hours. The committee is pleased to report that the September meeting was very well attended with the vast majority of committee members participating in person or via telephone. The committee was also honored by the attendance and active participation of a number of legal scholars and distinguished guests representing the maritime industry nationwide.
Philip D. Parrish opened the September meeting by presenting Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 2012 WL 3832314 (Fla. 11th Cir. Sept. 05, 2012), which addressed the elements and proper pleading of causes of action for negligent failure to warn and negligent infliction of emotional distress in passenger cases. Parrish’s presentation was followed by a very active roundtable discussion of Fane Lozman, Petitioner v. The City of Riviera Beach, Florida, Respondent, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 10-10695, 11th Circuit: City of Riviera Beach v. That Certain Unnamed Grey Vessel, 649 F.3d 1259, 2011 AMC 2891 (11th Cir. 2011), cert. granted sub nom., Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Fla., 132 S. Ct. 1543 (2012), which addressed the definition of a “vessel,” a definition that is central to the maritime law.
The committee offers special appreciation to Courtney Collins, J.D. candidate 2013, Tulane University School of Law, and author of “If It Can Be Towed, Then It’s a Vessel: The 11th Circuit Reveals Flaws in the Over Inclusive Definition of ‘Vessel’ for Maritime Liens in City of Riviera Beach v. That Certain Unnamed Grey Vessel,” 36 Tul. Mar. L. J. 779 (2012). Collins traveled from New Orleans to present her paper and participate in the roundtable discussion.
The committee further offers special recognition to the distinguished participants in the roundtable discussion, including Lindsey C. Brock III, Rumrell & Brock, P.A.; Ford J. Fegert, Garris & Fegert, LLP; Captain Alan S. Richard, adjunct professor, Florida State University College of Law; Charlie De Leo, De Leo & Kuylenstierna P.A.; Martin Davies, Admiralty Law Institute professor of maritime law and director of University Maritime Law Center, Tulane University Law School; Gerard J. “Rod” Sullivan, assistant professor of law, Florida Coastal School of Law; Anthony John Cuva, adjunct professor, University of Florida Levin College of Law; Taylor Simpson-Wood, professor of law, Barry University School of Law; Richard “Rick” T. Robol, Robal Law Office, LLC; Karen Trostle, president, National Marine Bankers Association; Dennis K. Egan, Kotz Sangster Wysocki, P.C.; John R. Hillsman, McGuin, Hillsman & Palefsky; Alan Swimmer, president, National Maritime Services; John Howard Thomas, assistant professor, Florida International University College of Law; Michael R. Karcher, adjunct professor of law, University of Miami; Andrew Waks, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, secretary and Executive Council for American Association for Justice, Admiralty Section; and Allan R. Kelly, Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute, Long Range Planning Committee. Each individual was critical to the success of the discussion and the September meeting. A number of the participants were interviewed by the press relative to the Lozman case and will be participating in a presentation of the Lozman decision at the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute in June 2013.
The committee is excited to move into 2013 and will be establishing a subcommittee responsible for coordinating and planning a biannual admiralty law seminar to offer continuing education to its committee members and The Florida Bar. The committee continues to allow members to appear via teleconference for CLE and meetings, and further invites interested members of the Bar to attend its meetings and otherwise apply for committee membership.
Michael W. McLeod, Chair
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification
This has been a watershed year for the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee. The primary goal of the committee was to create the best board certification examination possible by implementing the helpful guidance and comments received during the Board Certification Leadership Conferences in 2011 and 2012 and the comments and changes recommended by The Florida Bar’s expert review of the exam. The committee met and had various exchanges throughout the year to decide how to better present the exam for this year.
This goal has been met. The committee spent many hours reviewing test questions to make sure that they were easily understandable and that the answers were fairly presented within the new exam guidelines created by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) and approved on June 22, 2012. Throughout the course of the year, the members of the committee exchanged various ideas on topics covered in the exam and went so far as to critique various questions on the exam to ensure that they met the goal of the BLSE and the committee — to test the special knowledge and proficiency of the applicant in admiralty and maritime law.
A secondary goal of the committee was to have at least five applicants take the exam this year. This goal has also been met. I am pleased to report that the committee had seven applicants sit for the exam and we wish these applicants much success and hope to be able to welcome them as new board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law. There are currently 57 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law in the state of Florida. The committee is one of the smaller certification committees. However, the committee continues in its determination to reach its goal of 100 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law within the next 10 years. All members of the committee have been working at various levels of their network in having their fellow admiralty and maritime law colleagues who are not board certified, but would otherwise be qualified to begin the process of obtaining the CLE credits required, review the study program and take the test to seek board certification. The committee continues its work on setting up informational booths at various admiralty and maritime law CLE events to increase marketing on the value of board certification and to generally “talk up” the benefits of board certification.
Current board members Tim Boyd, Mark Buhler, Barbara Cook, Mark Ercolin, Allan Kelley, and I welcomed aboard two new committee members this year, Richard McAlpin and Joanne Foster. As I leave as chair of this committee, I wish the new chair continued success in meeting the challenges of the committee and emulating the work we have accomplished this year. It has been my distinct privilege to chair the committee this year. I cannot think of a finer collection of attorneys with whom to serve, and I thank all of you for your selfless contributions to our goal of making the exam process smoother, simpler, and more just.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Lisa Morgan, our excellent Bar staff liaison. She was indispensable to the committee, providing wisdom, insight, expertise, and support for each of its meetings, while also providing key advice as to Bar policies and procedures. We appreciate her work ethic and thank her for all of her support.
In closing, I extend an invitation to all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime practitioner to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in the practice of this area of the law. It is time to become a board-certified specialist in admiralty and maritime law!
Michelle Otero Valdés, Chair
Adoption Law Certification
The Adoption Law Certification Committee certifies attorneys whose practice of law deals with the complexities and legalities of interstate and intrastate adoption placements, including civil controversies arising from the termination of the biological parents’ parental rights and interstate placements. Certification in this field is the first of its kind in the country and was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2009. The Florida Bar, through the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, has certified 19 attorneys as Florida Bar board-certified adoption lawyers. In 2013, five additional attorneys sat for the adoption certification exam.
During the 2012-13 year, the committee met four times in person and three times during a conference call to view applications for certification and to prepare and grade the examination. The committee reviewed and evaluated five applications for the initial certification period. The applicant review process includes a determination as to whether each applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This incorporates a comprehensive peer review process. The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to all of the attorneys and judges who responded to the committee’s requests for the submission of peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement. All submissions were carefully considered by the committee in the evaluation of each applicant.
The committee expended innumerable hours drafting, reviewing, revising, and finalizing the initial certification examination along with the model answers. The exam consisted of two parts: the first part contained two long mandatory essay questions and 20 short answer questions; the second part contained three mandatory long essay questions, one of which comprised the ethic’s essay and 40 multiple choice or true/false questions.
The committee consists of Susan L. Stockman, vice chair, Sarasota; Danelle D. Barksdale, Tampa; Anthony B. Marchese, Tampa; Alan I. Mishael, Miami Beach; Mary Ann Scherer, Ft. Lauderdale; Michael A. Shorstein, Jacksonville; Cynthia S. Swanson, Gainesville; Jeanne T. Tate, Tampa. I thank each of the committee members for their significant contribution of time, energy, and thought, which contributed to a productive and successful year. I especially thank Susan Stockman, vice chair, for her extraordinary efforts and enthusiastic support in every aspect of our duties and responsibilities.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Stacey Piland, Corrin Tillman, and Zachary Shrader, our excellent Bar staff liaisons that worked with the committee this year. We thank them for providing wisdom, insight, expertise, and support for each of our meetings, while also providing key advice as to Bar policies and procedures.
In closing, I extend an invitation to all eligible adoption attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for an adoption attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in the practice of adoption law. It’s time to become a board certified adoption attorney!
Amy U. Hickman, Chair
The Standing Committee on Advertising advises members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which generally meets monthly, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to Florida Bar members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.
The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of different methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the committee’s Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation, which is regularly updated by Bar staff and is posted on the Bar’s website. The handbook reflects important changes that have occurred.
This was a busy year for the Standing Committee on Advertising. In addition to reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar, the committee is in the process of issuing an advisory opinion regarding the use of metatags and hidden text in Internet advertising. Also, on January 31, the Florida Supreme Court approved the new advertising rules submitted by the Board Review Committee in July 2011, requiring rewriting the Handbook and all other advertising information available on the Bar’s website.
• Proposed Advertising Advisory Opinion A-12-1 — After receiving approval from the Board of Governors to publish a formal opinion on the issue of lawyers’ use of metatags and hidden text on websites to optimize position in search engine results, the committee adopted Proposed Advisory Opinion A-12-1. The proposed opinion is being published for comment.
• New Advertising Rules — On January 31, the Florida Supreme Court approved a new set of advertising rules, which became effective on May 1. There are several differences between the old and new rules, including:
• The rules have been completely reorganized and renumbered, starting at Rule 4-7.11 and going through 4-7.23. Rules 4-7.1 through 4-7.10 will be vacant.
• All advertisements must be filed at least 20 days in advance of their planned use, unless they are exempt. Rule 4-7.19(a).
• All ad rules apply to websites, social networking sites, and video sharing sites in addition to other media, such as print, TV, and radio. Rule 4-7.11(a). Websites will remain exempt from the filing requirement. Rule 4-7.20(g).
• Unduly manipulative techniques are prohibited, including appeals to emotions rather than rational evaluation of lawyer qualifications. Rule 4-7.15(a).
• Ads may not use authority figures, or actors portraying authority figures, to endorse, recommend, or act as a spokesperson for the advertising lawyer. Rule 4-7.15(b).
• Lawyers may not offer economic incentives to view an ad or hire a lawyer, except for a discounted fee. Rule 4-7.15(d).
• Nonlawyers may not pay for a lawyer’s ads. Rule 4-7.17(c).
• Every page or panel of a direct mail advertisement and its envelope must include a prominent “Advertisement” in ink that contrasts with both the background and other text. Rule 4-7.18(b)(2)(B).
• Direct email advertisements must begin the subject line with the word “Advertisement.” Rule 4-7.18(b)(2)(B).
• Direct email ads, in addition to other direct mail ads, must include a statement of qualifications and experience. Rule 4-7.18(b)(2)(C).
• Lawyer referral service ads must contain an affirmative statement that lawyers pay the service to get referrals. Rule 4-7.22(a)(11).
• New Rule 4-7.23 defines and imposes requirements for lawyers participating in lawyer directories.
Changes lessening restrictions include:
• Ads may contain objectively verifiable past results (Rule 4-7.13(b)(2)); objectively verifiable characterizations of skill, experience, reputation, or record (Rule 4-7.13(b)(3)); testimonials, subject to specific restrictions and disclaimers (Rule 4-7.13(b)(8)).
• The geographic disclosure of a bona fide office may be by county instead of or in addition to city or town. Rule 4-7.12(a)(2).
• The name of the law firm can be used in the advertisement in addition to or instead of the name of the lawyer responsible for the content. Rule 4-7.12(a)(1).
As a service to the members of The Florida Bar, the committee has posted on The Florida Bar’s website a summary of the new advertising rules, a summary of the changes to the advertising rules, a table cross referencing the old rules and the new rules, and the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion.
• Other Accomplishments — By far the most time consuming task of the committee this year, as in past years, has been reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if the staff’s interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is appealed by an advertising attorney. Advertisers can appeal decisions of the committee to the Board of Governors if they wish to do so. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and to permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.
The committee has also taken the lead in investigating services that may be lawyer referral services and has spent extensive time monitoring such services to protect the public and the lawyers of the state of Florida from services that do not follow the advertising and ethical standards of The Florida Bar.
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a column in The Florida Bar News from time to time titled “Advertising Updates.” Articles have been published explaining the most recent revisions to the advertising rules and providing information regarding recent opinions of the Board of Governors and the committee regarding advertising. The committee further updates the Bar’s website with new material and information when needed in order to provide Bar members with as much information as possible to assist them in compliance with the attorney advertising rules.
• Composition of the Committee and Florida Bar Staff — The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I thank each of our committee members: Adam Schwartz, Alvin V. Alsobrook, Connie Reeves Bookman, Sammy Michael Cacciatore, Ray Casas, and Melvin Bowen Wright.
Finally, the committee thanks our Board Liaison Scott Ramsey McMillen, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Kathleen M. Bishop, Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jeffrey M. Hazen, and LiliJean Quintiliani, Legal Assistant Donna Hostutler, Administrative Secretary II Pamela Brown, Administrative Secretaries R. Bryan Arnette and Caleb Ramos, and Program Assistant Ervin Johnson, headed by Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Michael John Faehner, Chair
The Animal Law Committee is celebrating another exciting and busy year during the 2012-2013 term. The committee continued to grow in its ninth year of existence. In addition to the 78 committee members, the committee encourages participation from other attorneys as well as law students and maintains a list of individuals who have requested to be updated about committee activities and events. The field of animal law continues to grow exponentially, being driven in large part by the recent graduates and law students from schools that are increasingly offering animal law classes on a regular basis and forming student animal law societies. Each of the law schools in Florida now offers an animal law course, and outreach to those schools is an important part of the committee’s efforts. Notably, almost one-third of the committee’s members are also in the Young Lawyer’s Division of The Florida Bar.
The 2012-13 term started with a successful annual meeting and CLE seminar. Paul Hill, general counsel for The Florida Bar, attended the committee’s annual meeting and provided encouraging words about the evolution and activities of the committee. The CLE seminar, “Current Issues in Animal Law in Florida,” was the committee’s most popular to date, with attendance selling out. Demonstrating the wide range of legal practices that are impacted by animal law, topics at the CLE seminar included basics of Florida animal law, legislative developments, the links between animal cruelty and other types of domestic violence, crimes involving animals, litigating pet custody cases, and service animals in condominiums. A highlight of the seminar involved a visit from State Representative Rick Kriseman, who introduced legislation involving service animals during the 2012 legislative session. He spoke about his experience in the legislature with animal legislation and had a special guest, Elvis, a service-dog-in-training. Other speakers included Gregg Morton, Geoff Fleck, Marcy LaHart, and Ralph DeMeo.
The committee also continued the important task of tracking and reporting on legislation that involved animal law issues. The committee was aided in this task through a partnership between Pets Ad Litem, a Tallahassee based not-for-profit, and law students from Florida State University College of Law, where students received pro bono credit for working on animal law related projects. In addition to FSU, the committee continued to work with professors and students from other Florida law schools as well. Thank you to FSU Law Professor and committee member Tricia Matthews for her help with these educational efforts.
During the 2012-13 term, the committee released three different newsletters covering a diverse number of subjects, including urban farming, key deer preservation, the PETS Act and disaster planning, and prosecution of animal cruelty in Florida. The committee also released its first student edition of its newsletter with articles submitted by law students from the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. Thank you to committee members Gregg Morton and Sarah Taitt for their help with the newsletters.
The committee has exciting plans for the future as well. Planning for our next CLE seminar, which will occur during the annual meeting in June 2013, is well underway. Presentations that will be given include legislative developments, dangerous dog litigation, historic and international animal protection laws, the Animal Welfare Act, ethics and philosophy, and a panel discussion on the conflicts between the rights of tenants and condominium associations. Thank you to committee member Geoff Fleck for his hard work in organizing this outstanding CLE seminar. The committee also recently announced the selection criteria for its first annual Outstanding Service Awards, which will be given to an attorney and a law student who have made an outstanding contribution to the practice and/or study of animal law in Florida. The committee is also in the process of planning for its 10th anniversary, which will occur during the 2014-15 term, with a proposed potential special issue of The Florida Bar Journal dedicated to animal law, and celebration at the annual conference to commemorate this milestone in the committee’s history.
The committee is also actively looking at the possibility of becoming a dedicated section of The Florida Bar. This will enable the committee to be even more effective in its activities, in particular in the area of legal education. Animal law continues to be a rapidly expanding discipline and interest in the area is growing exponentially, particularly among young attorneys. Members of the Bar who are interested in joining the committee or being added to its email notification list should email Gregg Morton at email@example.com, Gil Panzer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ralph DeMeo at RalphD@hgslaw.com.
As with any active group such as the committee, while many contribute, a few individuals in particular stand out for their exceptional efforts. I thank our committee Vice Chairs Gregg Morton, Gil Panzer, Geoff Fleck, Sarah Taitt, and Kim Radcliffe for the outstanding service to the committee and Bar. I also thank our new Committee Administrator Eugene Sherman who has done an excellent job for us. Thank you to the committee members and others who helped us have another productive year. We look forward to continuing and expanding our efforts in 2013-2014.
Ralph A. DeMeo, Chair
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification
Antitrust law covers the practice of law dealing with anticompetitive conduct or structure that may reduce consumer welfare in the United States. Trade regulation law covers the substantive area of law dealing with deceptive, unfair, or unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair methods of competition under the Federal Trade Commission Act and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and its counterparts.
Throughout the year, the Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification Committee met by conference call and electronically to revise proposed rule amendments and discuss ways in which to promote certification in order to increase the number of antitrust and trade regulation lawyers certified by The Florida Bar. The committee is also proposing some revisions to the standards for certification, which more accurately reflect the current antitrust practice of lawyers practicing in that area of specialty in Florida.
I thank my hardworking committee members: Vice Chair Matthew Allen, William Blechman, Patricia Conners, and Hal Litchford. On behalf of the committee, I thank Jennifer Wilson for her excellent and valuable support.
David T. Knight, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
Over the past year, the Appellate Court Rules Committee has been very busy finalizing our proposals for the 2014 three-year cycle report. Our full committee met in September and February, but the bulk of the work has been done by our subcommittees, who spent countless hours considering all of our referrals, meeting telephonically, and drafting proposed rules. Everyone on the Appellate Court Rules Committee works very hard, but in particular I thank the following subcommittee chairs for their time and dedication: Maria Armas, Ceci Berman, Robin Bresky, David Caldevilla, Michael Greenberg, John Hamilton, Elliot Kula, Craig Leen, Jim Nutt, Judge Kathryn Pecko, and Cristy Russell. Kristin Norse’s willingness to serve as the committee liaison to the Criminal Court Steering Committee is also greatly appreciated.
A special thank you goes to John Hamilton. Over the last two years, John has undertaken not one, but two thorough reviews of the appellate court rules, which resulted in several proposed changes that will make our rules better and easier to comprehend. John deserves special mention and gratitude for all of his efforts.
Last summer, we said goodbye to our former Bar staff liaison, Krys Godwin, who did an amazing job of leading our committee over the last several years. Last fall, we welcomed our new Bar staff liaison, Heather Telfer. Heather has been an excellent addition and we are fortunate to have her working with our committee. On behalf of all of our committee members, I thank Heather for her invaluable guidance throughout this especially busy year.
During our September meeting, we welcomed our new members with an orientation sponsored by the Appellate Practice Section. I thank section Chair Jack Reiter for coordinating this event and supporting our committee.
It has been a privilege and an honor to chair a committee with so many dedicated judges and lawyers. All of the officers of the committee deserve special recognition: Vice Chair Ed Sanchez (incoming chair); Secretary Wendy Loquasto, and Parliamentarian Chris Carlyle. Finally, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Vice Chair Paul Regensdorf, who is terming off our committee at the end of the year. Paul, you will be sorely missed and your hard work and commitment are deeply appreciated by everyone on the committee.
Michael Ufferman, Chair
Appellate Practice Certification
Although the theme of this year clearly became taking a fresh look at the committee’s policies and procedures, the Appellate Practice Certification Committee focused its energies on performing its usual core tasks of evaluating applicants for initial certification and recertification. The committee began the year by reviewing the results of last year’s examination, in which five out of nine examinees passed, raising the total of board certified appellate lawyers to 172. The committee closely reviewed feedback from last year’s examinees to look for ways to improve the examination process.
For this year, the committee reviewed 21 applications for recertification, recommending recertification for 20 applicants. It similarly reviewed 15 applications for initial certification, approving 13 applicants to sit for the 2013 board certification exam. Twelve of those applicants ended up taking the exam, which had not yet been graded as of the time of this report. Obtaining sufficient peer review for applicants for both initial certification and recertification continues to be a difficult issue, as many judges and lawyers either do not return peer review requests or simply state that they do not have sufficient knowledge to evaluate the applicant. This requires the committee to send out ever more requests for peer review and is by far the most time-consuming aspect of the application process.
As for this year’s examination, the committee rewrote its exam specifications to conform with the Board of Legal Specialization and Education’s (BLSE) new requirements. Because some of these new requirements were actually patterned after the Appellate Practice Certification Committee’s past practices, this turned out to be less difficult and controversial among the committee members than the task may have been for other certification committees. Although the committee invested substantial time on these tasks and owes a special debt of gratitude to Vice Chair Loren Levy for leading this effort, the committee does not expect the changes to materially impact the difficulty of this year’s exam or the pass rate. The chair also tweaked the ways in which exam questions are assigned for drafting and reviewing in an effort to lessen the burdens on its members, increase the clarity and accuracy of the exam’s questions and answers, and make grading the exam more uniform and efficient.
Finally with regard to the exam, the committee adopted BLSE’s recommendation to subject all exam questions to pretest review by former members of the committee. This turned out to be extremely beneficial to the drafting and editing process, and the committee has already identified ways to improve that process next year. The committee expresses its particular gratitude to the following former members who gave up their free time to serve as pretesters: Kimberly Ashby, Charles Beall, Jr., Angela Flowers, Ben Kuehne, Bruce Rogow, Jane Kreusler-Walsh, Elizabeth Wheeler, Jon Whitney, and Jack Reiter.
The committee also devoted significant time to reviewing and revising its peer review forms and analyzing its document retention policies. Continuing this year’s theme of reevaluating policies and procedures, the committee considered but recommended against a proposal to increase the size of the committee beyond the current nine members. While the committee’s work is taxing on its members, nine has proven to be a workable size. As has consistently been the case with this committee, all nine members were extremely engaged this year, and the committee did not miss a single meeting or deadline due to lack of a quorum or participation. The chair recognizes all eight of the other members of the committee for their substantial contributions: Dock Blanchard, Shannon Carlyle, John Crabtree, Barbara Eagan, Dorothy Easley, Robert Hauser, Loren Levy, and Paul Nettleton. As always, the committee could not have accomplished its mission without the tremendous experience and dedication of our certification specialist with the Bar, Carol Vaught, and the BLSE’s director, Dawna Bicknell.
John S. Mills, Chair
In the past year, the Aviation Law Committee has been busy, as usual, planning and presenting speakers on interesting and relevant topics for our two yearly meetings, and organizing our annual certification review course. Administratively, we have been working hard to increase the number of active aviation attorneys who serve on our committee and the number of aviation attorneys pursuing certification in aviation law. We have been getting to know our new Bar program administrator, Eugene Sherman. Sadly, we also involve ourselves in planning and supporting continuing memorials to those members of our committee who have passed away.
At our June 2012 meeting, Steve Dedmon, of the faculty at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, introduced Jerome Williams, the 2012-2013 recipient of the Eilon Krugman-Kadi scholarship. This scholarship was endowed by our committee four years ago and is awarded annually to a deserving Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student.
Pat Phillips of Orlando was our first presenter. He discussed the FAA’s responsibility (or lack thereof) in regulating towers affecting aviation.
Don Anderson presented current developments in aviation. Cases relating to general and personal jurisdiction and their influence on aviation were emphasized.
Mohammad Faruqui, of Ft. Lauderdale, next presented a typical commercial aviation scenario and analyzed it in the context of a party filing bankruptcy under Ch. 7 or Ch. 11.
Tim Ravitch was honored for his leadership of the committee over the past two years as he passed the responsibility to incoming Chair Charlie Morgenstein, and Co-chairs Brad Hassell and Pat Phillips.
In September, Charlie Morgenstein began our meeting in Orlando with a moment of silence in remembrance of our colleague Don Maciejewski who passed away in July.
At the September meeting, the first presenter was Barbara Duffy of RotorWorld, LLC, in Orlando. She began with a simulated emergency in the meeting room as a means to focus the group on the precious seconds related to emergency actions and gave an overview of the simulation itself and everyone’s reactions to the given instructions.
Ed “Skip” Booth, of Quintarios, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, then spoke on “General Aviation Mechanics Placed on Hospice Care.” Skip distributed the federal statutes and two cases that highlighted the criminal consequences as related to inspections, sign-offs, repairs, and use of unauthorized parts.
The last presenter was Jason Lorenzon of Lorenzon Immigration Law, Independence, Ohio, as well as a member of The Florida Bar. Jason’s starting point was that there are new requirements that came about with the passage of HR 5900, which Jason postulated might have the unintended consequence of a reduction in the number of flight instructors, which will lead to the foreign students who come to the US for flight training to become the next generation of flight instructors in order to fill the void.
The Aviation Law Committee is proud to have been able to obtain an official Florida Bar certification for the topic of aviation law many years ago. To encourage all of our members to expand their knowledge base and to strive for excellence the members of the committee have prepared and presented a certification review course for those who have registered to take the certification exam, as well as for those who just want an annual refresher. As in previous years, the Aviation Law and Insurance Symposium agreed to allow us to append our day-long review course to the end of their annual conference. This year’s review course was given on January 26 in Jacksonville. Presentations were provided on the topics of litigation by John Murray; airport land use and grant assurances by B. Norris Rickey; aviation labor law by Stuart Goldstein; international treaties and conventions by Don Anderson; air taxi operations by Ed “Skip” Booth; FAA enforcement procedures and the new Pilots Bill of Rights Act by Pat Phillips; aircraft registration, liens, trusts, leases, and security agreements by Charles Morgenstein; and space law by Jerry Trachtman.
We are making a concerted effort to engage as many practitioners of any of the disciplines of aviation law in Florida to seek membership in our committee. As a “niche” practice area, we have small numbers, and, unfortunately, the amount of members is one of the primary metrics by which The Florida Bar gauges whether to continue a committee. We urge you to apply for membership. But don’t just stop there! Please attend our meetings. They are informative and fun, and a great way to network. If you are a member, show your support and attend our next meeting in June in Boca Raton. You need us and we need you!
Charles Morgenstein, Chair
Aviation Law Certification
The Aviation Law Certification Committee continued its efforts to attract attorneys practicing in this highly specialized area of the law to become board certified. There are currently 32 board certified aviation lawyers in Florida, which is more than 60 percent of the attorneys who practice aviation law in Florida and who are members of the Aviation Law Committee.
Attorneys who are board certified in aviation law practice in subspecialties, which include defense of enforcement and civil penalty actions brought by the Federal Aviation Administration against pilots and other FAA certificate holders; aircraft sale, purchase and registration; aircraft accident litigation; airline labor law; airport land use; space law; and many other areas. The small number of attorneys who practice in this certification area and the specialized legal knowledge required to do so emphasize the necessity for aviation law as a certification area, in order to better serve the needs of the public by identifying attorneys who are true experts in this area of the law.
The committee continued to work with exam consultant Karen Barbieri, and the exam specifications were revised to comply with new BLSE scoring requirements and to incorporate recommended changes in question structure. The committee greatly appreciates Ms. Barbieri’s assistance.
We had four applicants for certification this year, and all took the exam. We look forward to announcement of the exam results. The committee will continue to work to generate interest in board certification in aviation law and to encourage qualified candidates to apply to take next year’s exam, for which the application deadline is August 31, 2013.
The ongoing joint project with the Aviation Law Committee continued to identify aviation CLE courses, currently available throughout the country, to enable potential certification candidates to more easily meet the CLE prerequisite.
I thank Vice Chair Bruce Green for his dedication, input, and support during the year. Thank you to each of the other committee members, William Burd, Mary Burnett, John Eversole, Frank Hassell, Timothy Ravich, and Michael Siboni, for your creative input and assistance. Lastly, I thank Lisa Morgan, our Bar staff liaison. It was truly a pleasure to work with her, and her knowledge, guidance, and support greatly helped me and the committee with our work.
Robert L. Feldman, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
Three Bar programs operate under the watchful eye of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE): 1) compliance with continuing legal education and the basic skills course requirements; 2) CLE evaluation and accreditation of all qualifying educational programs and activities; and, 3) board certification for lawyers who voluntarily apply to be evaluated and tested for expertise and professionalism. The board’s duties are covered under Chapter 6 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and its policies frame the procedures. Key to the board’s success are fairness of process, thoughtful deliberations, and adherence to meaningful standards upon which the public and the profession can rely.
The 16-member BLSE, appointed by the president of The Florida Bar, supports and encourages high standards of education and professionalism. Following the Bar’s rules for the CLE requirement and basic skills course requirement, 28,000 members of the Bar annually report compliance. Online reporting has made the process more efficient and enables members to manage their own CLE records to verify compliance. CLE is also available through a variety of sources to allow members to tap into programs relevant to their practice with ease and on their own schedule. The BLSE applauds the Bar for the advancements made in both offerings and access for the benefit of our members and to help them meet their education requirements.
Another function of the BLSE is the evaluation and accreditation of CLE. Slightly more than 20,000 CLE credit requests were submitted last year by both program sponsors and individual members. Most are evaluated by staff, but those that do not meet policy guidelines for approval are reviewed by the BLSE and careful consideration is given to both the merits and the intent. The BLSE continues to find that some activities, though worthwhile as a contribution to the betterment of the legal profession and our communities, some even offering an educational side-benefit, are not necessarily worthy of accreditation as legal education.
Board certification consumes the most time and attention of the BLSE members. This past year has been no exception. Practice standards are available in 24 fields of law and are administered by 23 certification committees. The committees have the challenge of evaluating applicants for board certification and recertification, and drafting and grading exams; the BLSE oversees the process and must review all committee recommendations. Board certification or recertification is granted to applicants who meet specific standards. When a committee recommends denial, the board’s role is to consider the committee’s recommendation based upon competent substantial evidence. Approximately 10 to 15 cases are handled each year by the BLSE and appeals, when filed, are considered by the Appeals Committee of the Board of Governors.
Board certification in Florida, like other state programs across the country, continues to expand into new areas. The last practice area additions occurred in 2009 with education law and adoption law. Over the past two years, proponents for children’s law have been before the BLSE and continue to work toward a plan that will best suit those who practice in this area to offer the public an additional option for expert legal counsel. The BLSE also has under consideration standards for certification in condominium and planned development law recommended by the substantive law committee of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. The board considered proposed standards for both of these new fields most recently in March and anticipates final review and approval in June. Once approved by the BLSE, the new areas are still subject to review by the Board of Governors, and they must then be approved by the Florida Supreme Court. Although the process of developing new certification areas is lengthy and complex, the analysis is thorough to ensure that standards are adopted that reflect the actual practice, are attainable by lawyers who are substantially involved in the field, and that will be of benefit to legal consumers.
Recognizing the certification program’s original purpose, i.e., to enable consumers to make informed decisions in the selection of legal counsel, the BLSE tackled a difficult issue this year regarding emeritus specialist status. After several rounds of discussion and solicitation of input from those who hold this distinct status, the board voted to recommend a phase-out of the rule. As adopted in 2001, the emeritus category was intended to recognize “the past and continuing contribution of a certified lawyer in the advancement of the specialty area through related career activities that do not constitute the practice of law.” After more than a decade of experience, the board found the emeritus designation to be of minimal interest and unrelated to the primary objective of the program. With limitations on staff resources and a commitment to expand the program into areas that will benefit the public, the BLSE will recommend repeal of the rule to the Bar’s Board of Governors and, if approved, the Florida Supreme Court.
The credential of board certification is a gold standard in the legal profession, in Florida and elsewhere. The achievement speaks for itself by virtue of its long-standing recognition in the medical profession and the BLSE continues to pursue ways to raise its profile for legal consumers. Over the past nine years we have made tremendous strides through our association with Lisa Tipton, APR, and the Bar’s director of public information, Francine Walker. Together they have developed a variety of resources to draw media attention and to help our board certified lawyers promote their achievement. We will phase out our contract with Ms. Tipton this year and continue the template she designed for us through in-house staffing efforts. I know many of you will join me in expressing appreciation for the outstanding job Lisa has done to creatively expand our outreach.
Several years ago, the BLSE established this statement to define its purpose:
The mission of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education is to improve the practice of law and the delivery of legal services to the public through the enhancement of technical skills and substantial competence, united under the highest standards of professionalism. In pursuit of that mission, the BLSE oversees the award of board certification, evaluates and accredits continuing legal education, and ensures all Florida Bar members comply with the educational requirements established by the Supreme Court of Florida.
The board remains committed to its mission to maintain the high standards of the programs it oversees. As part of its duty, the board must often apply standards that cause well-respected and highly regarded lawyers to lose board certification. The certification committees and the board members all acknowledge, however, that without standards, the credibility of board certification will be lost. Many decisions are heart-wrenching and difficult, but critical to the ongoing integrity of the board’s work is its commitment to consistency, fairness, and adherence to the rules. It is with pride that the BLSE can celebrate 30 years of success in the advancement of competence and professionalism. I congratulate all who have reached this milestone in their careers and I am pleased to have played a part in the process this past year alongside my dedicated colleagues.
Timon V. Sullivan, Chair
Business Litigation Certification
Business litigation is the practice of law generally dealing with the legal issues arising from commercial and business relationships including litigation of controversies arising from those relationships. Certification in business litigation includes the practice of law involved with evaluating, handling, and resolving these controversies before state courts, federal courts, administrative agencies, mediators, and arbitrators. Thus, business litigation attorneys must possess very specific skills and also a significant broad array of knowledge in the various areas in which a board certified specialist in this area is expected to demonstrate a high level of proficiency and professionalism. I personally encourage any of my colleagues who are interested in this area of certification to take the time to review the materials on The Florida Bar’s website, to discuss the requirements with others certified in this area, and to reach out to the Bar’s dedicated staff for additional information about the requirements and the manner in which they can be satisfied.
The number of board certified lawyers in business litigation has continued to grow at a steady rate. There are now 235 Florida lawyers certified in business litigation. Initial applications for board certification in business litigation, as in recent prior years, continue to be submitted at a steady rate. Twenty attorneys are expected to sit for the 2013 examination; 79 certified business litigators also applied for recertification this year.
The business litigation examination tests for competency in the areas of procedure and substantive law relevant to the litigation of business disputes. In 2012, 14 sat for the exam, in which all passed and have been welcomed into the growing number of Florida board certified business litigators.
The Business Litigation Certification Committee members devote time to a host of activities to improve and enhance the certification process in business litigation law. Over the past year, the members of the committee have considered the application process, the rules and policies that govern the certification and recertification process, developing and refining examination questions, and the application review process for certification and recertification, as well as the examination. Attendance by committee members at the certification leadership conferences in the past few years has proven invaluable to assisting the committee to improve and focus the test materials and the certification process. Each committee member has devoted significant time and energy to this committee, to preparing examination materials, and to reviewing applications and examinations.
Each member of the committee has been actively devoted to enhancing the certification process in business litigation law.
For all of their time and efforts, I thank each of the committee members, including Vice Chair Garry O’Donnell, past Chair Paul Berg, Wade Bowden, Judge Paul Huey, Judge Matt Lucas, Steven Meyer, and new committee members David Steinfeld and Maxine Long, who has rejoined the committee after previously serving on this committee. On behalf of all committee members, I especially thank our hard-working Florida Bar certification specialist, Jennifer Wilson, with whom I have now worked for a number of years, who makes our jobs easier, and brings a fantastic spirit and successful team building ethic to our work. The committee continues to deeply appreciate all of her efforts.
Mark R. Osherow, Chair
The Florida Bar Citizens Forum is an advisory group of 12 citizens with varied interests and backgrounds who serve to provide two-way communication between the state’s major citizen constituencies and the Bar’s Board of Governors. Its objectives are to serve as a feedback mechanism and sounding board on Bar plans and programs and to advise the Bar regarding public understanding and support of significant legal and justice issues. Three attorney members are also appointed to the forum annually to serve as resources. The forum meets three times a year, often in conjunction with Board of Governors meetings.
Four new members appointed for the year were Bill Conrad, mayor of Newberry; Linda Goldstein, director of communications for the Hillsborough County Clerk of Courts Office and president of a communications consulting firm; Susanna F. Grady, president of Grady Consulting Group in Tampa; and Paulette Hatchett Simms, of Tallahassee, a retiree who began her career as a pre-K/Kindergarten teacher and ended it at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
For the 2012-2013 Bar year, the forum studied and provided feedback on consumer information regarding the discipline system, particularly website information, based on recommendations by the Hawkins Commission. Three members served on the commission appointed by President Scott Hawkins: Al Alsobrook, Carlos Halley, and Marni Stahlman. The forum also considered the contents and title of the consumer pamphlet “Inquiry Concerning a Florida Lawyer” with lawyer regulation staff and recommended improvements to be an effective communications tool.
The forum also provided considerable input as to the Bar’s efforts to educate the public on judicial merit retention and supported the statewide The Vote’s in YOUR COURT program to educate voters on the merit system and the 2012 retention elections. Several forum members were community speakers for TVIYC and many distributed voter’s guides. Paulita Kundid concentrated her efforts on educating court reporters on the issue.
Presentations were made at meetings on The Florida Bar Foundation, Benchmarks, and the Bar’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Citizens Forum attended the 2013 Pro Bono Awards Ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Historical Society annual dinner.
The third and final meeting of the current Citizens Forum in 2012-13 will be held at the annual convention. Leaving the forum at the end of a three-year term are Stanley Foodman, Miami; Carlos Halley, Miami; Ron Lebio, Dunnellon; and Marty Huegel, Gainesville. Returning members, in addition to the four new members listed above, for 2012-13 were Lauren Anzaldo, Pensacola; Martha Bogdan, Jacksonville; Paulita Kundid, Daytona Beach; and Michael Guccione, Sarasota.
Dori Foster-Morales, Chair
City, County and Local Government Certification
City, county, and local government law is the practice of law addressing legal issues of county, municipal, and other local governments. The practitioner must be well versed in a variety of legal topics from sovereign immunity to public finance and must be prepared to face a variety of legal issues confronting local governments.
To be certified in city, county, and local government law, a lawyer must be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar, and must have practiced law for at least five years (four years if the lawyer received an LL.M. degree in urban affairs or a related field). Each certified lawyer must have substantial involvement — 40 percent or more — in the practice of city, county, and local government law during the three years preceding application. Also within those three years, each certified lawyer must have completed 60 hours of continuing legal education specific to topics in city, county, and local government law. Certification also requires lawyers to submit to rigorous peer review and pass a comprehensive written examination. We are proud to have 224 local government law attorneys currently certified in this multi-faceted and diverse area of the law.
This year, the committee reviewed 35 recertification applications, and 20 applications to sit for the exam, held on May 10 in Tampa. The committee met several times in person and via conference call to review applications, construct the exam, review requests, and grade examinations.
Throughout the year, members focused on structuring the exam pursuant to the BLSE suggested guidelines, and to ensure the exam remains fair, challenging, and pertinent. Major changes implemented with the 2013 exam included a restructure of the multiple choice section. The committee also worked diligently to revise our exam specifications in a certification-wide project to bring continuity throughout all 24 certifications specialties administered through The Florida Bar.
The purpose of the certification exam is to assist the City, County and Local Government Certification Committee in identifying those lawyers who have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency in city, county, and local government law that distinguishes them from other attorneys who practice in this area. The exam tests the applicants’ knowledge of 12 practice areas: conflict of interest/financial disclosure, ethics, civil rights, home rule and exercise of police power, land use and zoning, practice and procedures before local government legislative and quasi-judicial bodies, sovereign immunity, public finance, public sector liability, sunshine law and public records law, procurement and public contracts, and eminent domain.
I had the pleasure of working with a tremendous group of knowledgeable, well-respected members of the local government law community. As chair, I thank my fellow committee members who worked so hard throughout the year: Don Crowell, vice chair; Carole Barice, Rosemary Perfit, Alan Prather, Bob Pritt, and Rodney Wade; and former chairs Mary Helen Farris and Michelle Lieberman. We wish Mary Helen success as she departs from the committee after six dedicated years of service. Finally, I thank our committee liaison, Zachary Shrader, who continues to provide excellent coordination between the committee, the BLSE, and The Florida Bar.
Paul Nicoletti, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
After two extremely busy and challenging years of work addressing electronic service along with its effects and electronic discovery, the work of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee (CPRC) returned to a more routine work load. The CPRC considers letters and emails from attorneys, judges, and pro se litigants throughout the state, identifying problems in existing processes as well as proposing new additions to the rules. The committee evaluates proposed changes to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and then advocates selected ones before the Florida Supreme Court. CPRC members spend many hours each year analyzing and debating suggested amendments and additions to the civil rules. The committee is composed of a balanced mix of private and government attorneys, plaintiff and defense lawyers, general practitioners, in-house counsel, and judges. The size and diversity of the CPRC promote a fair, efficient, and expeditious approach in the process of amending and creating rules to guide the handling of civil cases.
The entire committee meets together just three times a year. As a result, most of its work must be done between meetings through subcommittees formed to address each specific issue or proposal brought to the full committee. Each subcommittee’s members research, debate, and draft any changes or improvements deemed appropriate. Thereafter, a written report is submitted by the subcommittee to the full CPRC for consideration. The report analyzes the benefits and potential shortcomings of the proposal.
The 2012-2013 year began with the Florida Supreme Court issuing an opinion on July 5, approving the CPRC’s proposed rule changes relating to electronic discovery. Those rules went into effect on September 1. This was the culmination of five years of subcommittee and committee work on rules governing electronic discovery.
The CPRC submitted its most recent three-year cycle report on January 24, which proposed changes to approximately 15 rules and forms. Some of the more notable proposed changes include amending Rule 1.431 by creating a new subdivision governing communication between courtroom personnel and jurors, requiring that the court notify the parties of any communication from the jury pertaining to the action promptly before responding to the communication and requires that all juror communication be on the record in open court or in writing and filed in the action and contains exceptions for certain routine communications; requiring that an offer of judgment resolve all damages claimed in the action under Rule 1.442; permitting testimony to be taken through communications equipment when “good cause” is shown under Rule 1.451; to increase from 10 to 15 days the time for serving motions under Rules 1.480 and 1.530; and amending the Statewide Uniform Guidelines for the Taxation of Costs in Civil Actions to address e-discovery matters. Oral argument should be scheduled by the Florida Supreme Court in the next few weeks with an opinion expected in late summer or early fall.
The committee also took up one significant matter for consideration out of the normal cycle. When the new Rule of Judicial Administration 2.514 relating to time computation was being considered in 2012, the CPRC tried to address how that rule would impact all of the civil rules. A number of proposed changes were included in the comprehensive report submitted to the Supreme Court at the time and were adopted. Unfortunately, the CPRC overlooked a reference in Rule 1.442(f) to Rule 1.090(e) relating to calculating the time for acceptance of a proposal for settlement. When RJA 2.514 was amended, Rule 1.090(e) was deleted, thus, creating ambiguity in Rule 1.442. The CPRC proposed a rule change that replaced the reference to Rule 1.090(e) with a reference to RJA 2.514(b). That proposal will soon be pending before the Supreme Court.
With the move to e-filing going into effect in 2013, the committee also considered whether references to “paper” should be replaced by the word “document” throughout the rules. “Document” is the term used in the e-filing rules and the committee believes that is the appropriate reference in the civil rules. These proposed changes have been approved and will be part of the next three-year cycle report.
Although most members of the committee dedicate substantial time and effort to the committee’s work, a few exceed the norm and should be noted. Vice Chairs Russell Kent, Al Saikali, and Tom Bateman prepared and presented an informative introduction to all new CPRC members as part of mandatory orientation prior to the September meeting. Russell Kent has served tirelessly on subcommittees during his tenure, chairing many of them. Greg Borgognoni did a superb job in chairing the drafting subcommittee that seeks to ensure that all proposed rule changes are well-written and consistent. Roberto Vargas served this year as the committee’s liaison to the RJA committee, requiring him to attend meetings of both committees. Greg Ward again served as the CPRC’s secretary, preparing extremely thorough and accurate minutes of our meetings, which are a resource and institutional memory for the CPRC, whose members can only serve a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms.
I recognize the participation of my colleagues on the bench. Circuit Judges Claudia Isom, Patricia Doherty, Bernard Silver, and Meenu Sasser, as well as County Judges Martin Dishowitz and David Green have served on several subcommittees. Court dockets and fiscal constraints sometimes limit their participation, but the perspective of the judiciary in the work of the committee is extremely important.
Finally, the committee could never accomplish its work without the fine effort and organization of our liaison, Ellen Sloyer. Even with double the work load from years past, Ellen has done an exemplary job. Her diligence and grace in working with me and everyone else on the committee has been greatly appreciated.
It has been a privilege to work with many accomplished practitioners and judiciary members over this past year. During my six years on the committee, I found without exception that its members dedicated themselves to improving and enhancing the civil rules for the Bar and the general public.
Richard A. Nielsen, Chair
Civil Trial Certification
Civil trial law is the practice of law dealing with the litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before state and federal courts, administrative agencies, and arbitrators. In addition to the actual trial and pre-trial processes, civil trial lawyers evaluate civil disputes and counsels clients for the purpose of resolving disputes.
Civil trial law is one of Florida’s first certification areas, having been approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1983. Currently, Florida has more than 1,000 board certified civil trial lawyers. Approximately 150 lawyers have been continuously certified since 1983.
The Civil Trial Certification Committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing and recommending changes to the standards for certification in civil trial law; evaluating applications for certification and recertification; and preparing and grading the annual examination, which is a requirement for all applicants. In 2012-13, the committee reviewed 142 applications for recertification, and 43 applicants for initial certification were approved to take the March examination. The committee will grade the examinations and results will be sent out to newly board certified attorneys before June 1.
This year, the committee continued its review of the standards for certification in civil trial law, in consideration of the present day realities of a trial practice. In that regard, the committee and BLSE have made recommendations to the Supreme Court regarding the number of trials in the five-year period immediately preceding application and in the granting of additional trial credits for multi-week trials.
The committee also met with Karen Barbieri, a legal examination consultant, and implemented her recommended changes to improve the annual examination. A member of the Civil Trial Certification Committee participated in The Florida Bar’s Annual Civil Trial Update and Board Certification Review Course in order to provide information on examination procedures. This year, as in recent years, a portion of the examination was presented by video so that the applicants would have an opportunity to better demonstrate their understanding of courtroom performance skills.
The committee members, Chair Bill Hoppe, Vice Chair Judge Jessica Recksiedler, Jeffrey Fleming, Susan Cole, Robert Molettiere, Lewis Murphy, Woodson Isom, Henry Hunnefeld, and Charles Ingram gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Lisa Morgan, one of The Florida Bar’s certification specialists, who made our jobs easier.
Ellsworth William Hoppe, Jr., Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
The Florida Bar Clients’ Security Fund was established in 1967 as a discretionary fund to reimburse clients who have suffered a monetary loss as a result of misappropriation, embezzlement, or other wrongful taking by a member of The Florida Bar in the course of an attorney-client relationship, as a remedy of last resort. It is currently financed by $25 of every Bar member’s annual dues and has more than $2.2 million budgeted for fiscal year 2012-13 to pay claims. The fund reimburses clients under two circumstances: when an attorney takes an advance fee, but then fails to provide any useful services, up to a maximum amount of $5,000, and for any misappropriation of client monies up to a maximum amount of $250,000. In the last fiscal year, the fund received 372 claims and paid out more than $2.4 million to clients. For the fiscal year ending June 30, the fund has received 178 claims against 94 lawyers and has currently approved losses in excess of $1.6 million. Claims are paid only after a lawyer has been disbarred, suspended, or in the event of death. Fee claims are paid promptly after approval. Misappropriation claims are paid on a pro rata basis after the end of the fiscal year.
Since its inception, the Clients’ Security Fund has processed more than 11,000 claims and paid out nearly $29 million to victims of attorney theft.
Claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff, and, when appropriate, referred to a member of the committee for investigation. The 2012-13 committee is composed of 24 volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar’s president-elect. The committee meets four times during the year, but its volunteer members are actively engaged in the review and investigation of claims throughout the year. Membership on the committee is not for the faint of heart, but involves extensive time and energy in investigation of claims and preparation of reports, similar to that which counsel would undertake in handling its own client matters. Many investigations require active debate at committee meetings and discussions of claims at meetings are spirited, but always with the goal of doing the right thing for the injured client. Although committee meetings are confidential, final action on claims is subject to limited disclosure. Committee recommendations are ultimately submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration.
As lawyers, we tend to hold ourselves in high regard, especially after the rigors of law school, scrutiny by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and continued oversight by The Florida Bar. Even though we feel this way about ourselves, during the investigation of claims and discussions with clients, we are repeatedly humbled by the notion that individual clients impose an unbelievable amount of trust in their chosen counsel. Breach of this trust devastates clients financially and emotionally. Defalcations by attorneys also damage the public trust in, and image of, members of the Bar and the legal system in general.
However, given the size of Florida Bar membership, with now more than 95,000 lawyers, claims under the Client Security Fund program are made against less than 0.1 percent of Florida lawyers. The work of the Clients’ Security Fund is an integral part of the disciplinary and regulatory process of the Bar and provides a vehicle of recovery and mitigation of losses to clients and the public whose trust and confidence in the legal profession has been negatively impacted. The fund is one way in which the Bar strives to improve the public’s perception of Florida lawyers as a whole and to restore confidence in the profession.
I have served on this committee for six years and am term limited. It will be difficult for me to end my tenure on the committee. Each call to an injured client allows me, and every investigating member of the committee, the chance to right a wrong and attempt to re-establish lost trust in lawyers. On the committee I have met some of the finest lawyers the Bar has to offer, who are the antithesis of those whose names appear as respondents on the complaint forms. Every member of the committee is to be commended for diligence and hard work in processing claims.
All who serve on a Florida Bar committee, especially the chairs, know that the work of the committees would not be accomplished without the commitment of the Bar staff. But for this commitment, we could not do our jobs. Profound thank you to Lori S. Holcomb, CSF director, Patricia J. Osborne, CSF coordinator, and Stacey Thrash, CSF clerk for the tremendous effort, work, and discipline that each of them have given to this committee. I will miss working with them.
Richard Allen Schlosser, Chair
Code and Rules of Evidence
The primary functions of the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee (CREC) are to 1) evaluate the existing code and rules of evidence and make recommendations to the Florida Legislature for their improvement; 2) evaluate new evidentiary statutes passed by the legislature and recommend to the Supreme Court whether they should be adopted as rules of evidence; and 3) promote knowledge of the Code and Rules of Evidence by conducting an annual seminar for members of The Florida Bar.
In 2009, CREC began a project to review of the entire Evidence Code, F.S. Ch. 90, to determine if revisions to the code were necessary. After engaging in the lengthy process of review, drafting and vetting proposed changes to the code and other statutes effecting the admission of evidence, CREC proposed that 11 provisions of the code be amended to improve clarity and/or to render the language more consistent with the language of the Federal Rules of Evidence. CREC also proposed amendments to the existing medical and dental malpractice expert witness certificate statutes (F.S. §458.3175, F.S. §459.0066, and F.S. §466.055) to clarify that the language of those statutes does not override the expert witness predicates of Ch. 90 and Ch. 766. The Board of Governors Legislation Committee and the full Board of Governors unanimously approved the CREC proposals and adopted them as legislative positions of The Florida Bar at their December meeting. As a result, CREC is authorized to lobby the legislature for enactment of the proposals. The chair of the CREC Legislative Relations Subcommittee, Timothy Moore of Miami, was presently leading the effort for enactment of the proposals with the legislature. The CREC legislative proposals were the result of a process started more than three years ago and I extend my appreciation to all those CREC members, who worked so hard to get the proposals to this point. The proposals can be viewed at the CREC website, http://www.floridabar.org/cmdocs/cm215.nsf/WDOCS.
Pursuant to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.140(b), every three years CREC is required to evaluate evidentiary legislation passed during the previous three years and, if the legislation is procedural in nature, recommend to the Supreme Court whether the legislation should be adopted as a rule of procedure. This process has its genesis in 1976 when the Florida Legislature enacted the Florida Evidence Code. At the time, the Supreme Court recognized that many provisions of the code might violate Fla. Const. art. V because they governed or touched upon practice or procedure. To avoid disputes concerning the constitutionality of the code under art. V, the Supreme Court by per curiam opinion in 1979 adopted the entire Evidence Code as a rule of procedure to the extent it was procedural. The court’s rationale, in In Re: Florida Evidence Code, 372 So. 2d 1369 (Fla. 1979), was “[t]o avoid multiple appeals and confusion in the operation of the court caused by assertions that portions of the Evidence Code are procedural and, therefore, unconstitutional because they had not been adopted by this court under its rulemaking authority.” Ultimately, the court formalized the procedure for review of evidentiary statutes in Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.140, which requires CREC to make recommendations to the court regarding new evidentiary statutes every three years. When the Supreme Court adopts new evidentiary statutes as rules of procedure, it does so by published opinions, which in most cases simply state that the new statutes are adopted as rules of procedure to the extent they are procedural. No separate rule of evidence is drafted or published. These series of Supreme Court opinions rendered over the last three decades, most of them brief per curiam opinions, constitute the “rules” of evidence.
The 2013 three-year cycle recommendations submitted by CREC recommend that three recently enacted evidentiary statutes be adopted as rules of procedure in order to avoid conflict with Fla. Const. art. V. These statutes are F.S. §90.5021, which addresses the lawyer-client privilege in the context of the client acting as a fiduciary; F.S. §90.804(2)(f), which adopts a hearsay exception for statements offered against a party that wrongfully caused the declarant’s unavailability; and F.S. §766.102(12), which requires that an out-of-state expert witness in a medical or dental malpractice case obtain an expert witness certificate issued by the Florida Department of Health before testifying. The Board of Governors concurred in the CREC recommendations regarding F.S. §90.5021 and §90.804(2)(f), and dissented from the recommendation concerning F.S. §766.102(12). Ultimately, the Supreme Court will decide whether to adopt the CREC recommendations, likely by the end of this year. The three-year cycle recommendations of CREC and the rationale for recommendations, as well as the Board of Governors’ dissent, can be viewed at http://www.floridabar.org/cmdocs/cm215.nsf/WDOCS. The progress of the court’s evaluation of the recommendations can be viewed by accessing the Supreme Court docket for In re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Case No. SC13-98.
Finally, under the leadership of Thomas Allison, the seminar subcommittee of CREC presented an excellent seminar, “Topics in Evidence,” in Tampa in March. Highlights of the seminar included electronic evidentiary issues, the hearsay by wrongdoing exception, and evidentiary considerations in a negligence trial. The seminar was well attended and received by those in attendance in person and via the Internet. Many thanks to all who helped in organizing and presenting this informative seminar.
It has been a privilege serving on CREC for the last six years. I hope this report provides insight into the activities of this important standing committee of The Florida Bar.
Thomas D Shults, Chair
During the 2012-13 Bar year, the Constitutional Judiciary Committee:
• Distributed its voter’s guide statewide as part of the Bar’s The Vote’s in YOUR COURT educational effort to promote judicial merit retention in advance of the November 2012 elections and promoted The Vote’s in YOUR COURT live educational presentations around the state.
• Expanded its ongoing Benchmarks program to promote adult civic education to include education on merit retention and the role of the judiciary.
• Guide for Florida Voters — The voter’s guide began as a project of the Constitutional Judiciary Committee and was refined in cooperative work with the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee and the Bar’s Citizens Forum. The six-page color guide has a frequently asked questions section about merit retention elections and direct judicial elections and answers many questions about Florida judges and judicial elections. The back page directs readers to The Vote’s in YOUR COURT website on the Bar website for additional information.
The guide became a key driver of The Florida Bar’s The Vote’s in YOUR COURT educational program with a distribution of nearly 344,000 copies during the six months leading up to the Nov. 6, 2012, general election. The initial printing of 250,000 was supplemented by purchase of the 14,400 overrun. In the fall, a grant from the Trial Lawyers Section paid for an additional 100,000 guides. Guides were distributed widely across the state to many varied groups:
• Florida Bar in-state attorneys received copies of the voter’s guide in the Bar News in June 2012.
• The League of Women Voters Florida distributed copies of the voter’s guide to a wide range of community groups (the LWVF also included questions from the guide in its own “2012 Florida Election & Voter Guide” through newspapers and other venues. One million copies were distributed through the LWVF).
• The Supervisors of Elections of Florida’s 67 counties gave out copies of the voter’s guide at their offices.
• Public libraries received copies of the voter’s guide.
• Voluntary and specialty bars gave copies of the voter’s guide to members to give out to various groups.
• The 80 trained speakers associated with The Vote’s in YOUR COURT live educational presentation program took copies of the voter’s guide to speaking engagements.
In addition to the copies of the voter’s guide printed in English, 25,000 copies were printed in Spanish — with 24,150 distributed through voluntary bars. The voter’s guide was also available for download from the Bar’s website in English, Spanish, and Creole; the English version received 11,994 hits; the Spanish version, 873; and the Creole version, 288.
• Judicial Merit Retention and Direct Judicial Elections — The committee reached out in other ways to inform the public about judicial merit retention and direct judicial elections.
In July, in advance of the August primary, member J.D. DuRant was a guest on the WFSU-FM program “Perspectives.” He spoke about both the voter’s guide and the judicial candidate voluntary self-disclosure statement — a project of the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee.
Other committee members arranged presentations at law schools to educate students about merit retention and direct judicial elections. In September, committee member Dan Brown presented at the Florida State University College of Law.
Other committee members, including Steve Davis, Michael Napoleone, and Richard Levinson, made The Vote’s in YOUR COURT presentations to civic groups.
• Benchmarks: Civics Education for Adults — The committee continued its work with Annette of the Florida Law Related Education Association in developing activities for the Benchmarks program through which attorneys teach civics education to adults. In December, the Board of Governors approved two new activities dealing with the judiciary and how judges get elected or appointed to the bench and a third about judicial review of proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution.
Benchmarks is premised on the belief that the more citizens know about the courts and how they protect fundamental rights in a democratic society, the more they will support them. All materials are nonpartisan. Benchmarks activities are intended to be presented to such groups as homeowner associations, condominium associations, and community and civic groups. The activities can also be used by judges as a way to have outreach to their communities.
Attorneys are well suited to engage civic groups in discussion about the range of topics covered in Benchmarks:
• Amending the Florida Constitution and the role of the courts.
• Reviewing the merit retention/selection process.
• Judging candidates for trial courts.
• Understanding what makes a law “constitutional.”
• Getting beyond labels in discussing courts and controversial cases.
• Interpreting what laws mean.
• Testing knowledge of what is in the U.S. and Florida constitutions.
Each activity comes with an overview, handouts, and is guided by a PowerPoint presentation. All materials can be downloaded from The Florida Bar website. Attorneys can receive CLE credit for making Benchmarks presentations. Benchmarks presenters can earn one ethics credit hour for each presentation for up to three presentations in a three-year reporting period. The committee is now coordinating with The Florida Bar’s Speakers Bureau to get the activities to that group’s speaker body to present.
Pitts, of the Law Related Education Association, and past Constitutional Judiciary Committee Vice Chair Richard Levenstein led a webinar in May to ensure that Bar leaders were informed of the Benchmarks program. Members of the Board of Governors, Bar committees with missions related to the judiciary, and section leaders were invited.
At the annual convention in Boca Raton, Vice Chair Michael Napoleone is a key presenter with Pitts and Levenstein at a two-hour program about the Benchmarks program.
• The Vote’s in YOUR COURT in Social Media — During the year, the committee took over posting to The Vote’s in YOUR COURT’s Facebook and Twitter accounts that had been set up during the fall. While the Facebook account has 10,297 people who have liked it, the Twitter account has a much more limited following. The idea is to post messages about merit retention, judicial elections, and related themes to keep these topics before the public. Facebook posts refer readers back to content on the Bar’s website, as well as promote Bar activities. In a much more limited format, the Twitter account does the same.
Going forward into the new Bar year, one of the continuing goals of the committee is to have attorneys sign up with The Florida Bar’s Speakers Bureau to increase the number of Benchmarks presentations throughout the state. The committee will also continue to use social media to get its message to the members of the Bar and the public.
Merrick L. “Rick” Gross, Chair
Construction Law Certification
The committee has pursued several initiatives to improve the quality of our exam for 2013.
The Florida Bar provided a great service to all committees by engaging a testing consultant, Karen Barbieri, to provide input in the preparation of exam questions. During her involvement with the Bar, we requested a critique of our exam questions and learned that many of our questions were arguably too challenging, not challenging enough, and in some instances, confusing. Based upon the feedback from Barbieri, our committee created new multiple choice questions and revised our test bank questions to conform to these guidelines. These efforts will provide a better quality exam for those in 2013. We have also revised the 2013 exam specifications and tailored the exam to evenly test those subjects described by the specifications. Special thanks to David Willis for his hard work in taking the lead to make this happen.
For the first time, our committee presented a general overview to those taking the exam in 2013 at the Construction Law Certification Review Course. This included a description of the newly formatted questions, the revised specifications, instructions for the exam, as well as an explanation as to how the test will be graded.
Finally, our committee recertified more than 20 lawyers this year after reviewing applications, including careful consideration of peer review statements, grievance history, and CLE compliance.
Thanks to my committee members for devoting countless hours to writing and grading exams, as well as for thoroughly reviewing certification and recertification applications. This careful process continues to promote excellence for the construction law certification process.
Special thanks to Zina Jackson, our Florida Bar representative, for her diligent efforts in assisting our committee and making it better in 2013.
Finally, thank you Mike Sasso, our former chair, who rotates off this committee in 2013. Mike has done so much for so long to make sure that our committee maintains the highest ethical standards for construction lawyers in Florida.
Steven B. Lesser, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
The Consumer Protection Law Committee’s (CPLC) mission is to educate consumers and Bar members about consumer protection laws and current issues and to provide expert resources to The Florida Bar, the judiciary, and the legislature. We had a banner year and our very engaged and talented group truly contributed to ensuring a justice system that will further justice for all. Among the highlights for the 2012-13 Bar year, the committee:
• Full-day Seminar for Annual Convention — Cosponsored with the Public Interest Law Section, the committee’s “Introduction to the Practice of Consumer Law” seminar provides a basic level course designed to provide any Florida attorney with what they need to know to start a successful consumer law practice. It will feature some of the nation’s top consumer advocates and focus on six major areas of consumer law — auto fraud, warranties, federal consumer protection laws, class actions, debt collection, and foreclosure.
The seminar will introduce basic concepts, explore ethical considerations and explain consumer law connections to all areas of practice. The seminar will be webcast and available later through the Bar’s CLE catalogue.
Featured invited guests are Ira Rheingold, of the National Association of Consumer Advocates; Andrew Pizor, with the National Consumer Law Center; and Gerald Sachs, of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Additionally, seven members of the Consumer Protection Law Committee — Chair Janet Varnell, Vice Chair Margery Golant, past Chair Lynn Drysdale, Steve Fahlgren, Jared Lee, Robert Murphy, and John Yanchunis — are among the presenters for the seminar. Vice Chair Margery Golant organized the seminar with great assistance from member Robert Murphy.
• Social Media Pilot Project — The committee received Board of Governors approval for a Twitter pilot program. If successful, the program will serve as an instructional example to other standing committees on how to use new technology, specifically Twitter.
Tweets are updates sometimes containing embedded hyperlinks to websites. In the case of the pilot project, all hyperlinks lead back to The Florida Bar website. Tweets can mention other Twitter users, by marking them with an “@,” and call attention to certain keywords with a “#.”
The Twitter pilot program has set up two accounts, with one geared to update Florida attorneys about consumer law issues (@FLBarCPLCLawyer) and the other geared to consumers (@FLBarConsumer) pointing out the Bar’s consumer pamphlets and resources and outreach events.
Committee member Sasha Sampaio deserves credit and thanks for proposing and advancing this plan.
• Ask-a-lawyer Events for the Public — The committee held or contributed to ask-a-lawyer events around the state in Tampa, Orlando, South Florida, and Jacksonville. Additionally a project is planned for June 27 during the annual convention. The event invites the public for one-on-one sessions with volunteer attorneys from the committee and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. Committee Vice Chair Tequisha Myles, Lynn Drysdale, Delton Chen, Lesly Longa, Alan Feldman, and Mike Ziegler deserve the committee’s thanks.
• Legislative Outreach — As it did last year, the committee addressed lawmakers with concerns with bills to speed up the judicial foreclosure process — SB 1666 and HB 87. In letters to bill sponsors, the committee noted that the “show cause” language in the bills was already available to banks and lenders. The letter expressed concerns that the bills would tax the judicial system by requiring judges to review and assess many more documents at the outset of the process, and that the expedited process would encourage the use of false and manufactured documents. Moreover, the bills would inhibit borrowers and servicers’ ability to attempt to work out alternatives to foreclosure prior to filing suit and obtaining a judgment. Lynn Drysdale led the effort to outline the committee’s concerns.
• Manual for Judicial College Training — The committee began taking the first steps to create a bench/bar resource manual. For the first manual, the committee is planning a handbook on debt collection and violation actions. The topics include law firms as debt collectors; credit card debt actions; statutory damages; HOA assessments as consumer debt (or not); landlord/tenant; mortgage fraud; and the Lemon Law. The committee thanks Mary Ann Etzler for leading this effort.
• Outreach about Committee’s Resources — Led by Chair Janet Varnell, the committee sent brief letters to state lawmakers and appellate court judges to let them know the committee had more than 30 years of experience educating the public and attorneys regarding consumer law issues. The letter advised that the committee was available as a trusted resource for expert, unbiased analysis on some of the most important issues affecting Florida consumers.
• Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — For the third year, the committee honored an attorney for excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law. Consumer law attorneys deal with foreclosure, bankruptcy, credit and loan problems, and debt collection, and are often the ones consumers turn to when they need help. The award will be presented at the annual convention in June. Committee member James Young organized the effort to gather nominations and select the Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year for 2013.
Janet Robards Varnell, Chair
Continuing Legal Education
The mission of the Continuing Legal Education Committee is to assist the members of The Florida Bar in their continuing legal education and to facilitate the production and delivery of quality CLE programs and publications for the benefit of Bar members in coordination with the sections, committees, and staff of The Florida Bar, and others who participate in the CLE process. Each section of The Florida Bar, the Young Lawyers Division, the Out of State Division, and all ABA-accredited Florida law schools are represented by a member.
The focus of the committee continues to be alternative delivery systems using technology while monitoring the quality of Bar CLE programs. Accountability, cost effectiveness, and Bar member needs continue to be key topics of discussion by the committee. The CLE committee serves the members of the Bar by ensuring quality CLE programming is available in a variety of formats.
The nature of CLE delivery is trending toward aftermarket sales. During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, aftermarket CLE seminar sales exceeded in-person attendance at CLE seminars for the second consecutive year. The aftermarket revenue was almost twice that of live registrations revenue.
“Aftermarket sales” consist of audio CD, video DVD format, 24/7 on-demand, course materials, teleseminar/webinar, and live webcast. The 24/7 on-demand and the CD formats are the most popular delivery mechanisms, with each producing revenue at a rate of five to one over the other aftermarket formats.
Special thanks go out to Dixey Teel, director of professional development, Terry L. Hill, director of programs division, and Bar staff for their outstanding initiation, development, and implementation of Florida Bar CLE programs. As chair of the committee, I thank them for their excellent support and help on all of the committee’s endeavors. I also thank Florida Bar President Gwynne Young for encouragement and appreciation of the committee’s work. Lastly, a special thanks to the Bar CLE Committee members for their participation and feedback throughout the year.
Paul H. Chipok, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
As chair of the Criminal Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing criminal law certification of Florida lawyers. This committee is unique in that it oversees two separate certification areas (criminal trial and criminal appellate law). The committee is comprised of nine criminal law certified attorneys who work throughout the state. The 2012-13 committee first met in August. During the following months, the essay and multiple choice questions were developed for both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law exams.
Of the more than 93,000 members of The Florida Bar, 429 are currently board certified in criminal law; 375 in criminal trial law; and 54 in criminal appellate law. The 2012-13 applicant pool contained 64 criminal trial and five criminal appellate submissions. Seventeen of these applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after failure or nonattendance of the 2012 exam. Of the total applicants, at the time of this writing, 63 have been deemed eligible to sit for the exam. Also, the committee reviewed 61 recertification applications this year.
Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law exams contain five essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions addressing procedural and substantive law in both state and federal court. The exam is written to assess criminal lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 10 in Tampa, applicants answered these questions in two three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
This year’s committee included myself as chair, Miami; Roseanne Eckert, vice chair, Ft. Lauderdale; Rosemary Cakmis, Orlando; Manuel Garcia, Dade City; Jamie Kane, Orlando; Luke Newman, Tallahassee; Robert Norgard, Bartow; Michael Salnick, West Palm Beach; and Ethan Way, Tallahassee. Lindsey Blomberg, formerly with the BLSE, joined the committee as Bar staff liaison this year.
Judge Angelica D. Zayas, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee has representatives from all areas of practice including the judiciary, educators, and criminal attorneys. The committee’s work gathers various perspectives and fosters discussion on numerous issues confronting criminal practitioners.
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee has maintained and continued its revisions and review of legislative changes and case interpretations. Additionally, we have monitored rule changes and their impact on criminal practice.
The committee’s work this year has included a review of the Florida Innocence Commission’s Final Report to the Supreme Court and the commission’s recommendations, as they apply to the Rules of Criminal Procedure. If necessary, changes will be proposed to address the commission’s recommendations to ensure the proper administration of justice.
Additionally, at the request of the Florida Supreme Court Criminal Court Steering Committee, the committee has considered proposed amendments to Rule 3.121 and Rule 3.130 concerning arrest warrants and first appearance. Work on this topic continues and the committee is assessing the impact of the proposed changes on the courts and practitioners across the state.
Most recently, the Florida Supreme Court created the Capital Post-Conviction Proceedings Subcommittee of the Criminal Court Steering Committee. The administrative order, signed March 22 by Chief Justice Polston, directs the subcommittee to seek input from stakeholders, including the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee. The goal of this newly created subcommittee is to improve the overall efficiency of the capital postconviction process. Our committee stands ready to provide input and assist in any way possible.
As my term as chair concludes this June, I extend my thanks to the members of the committee and Heather Telfer, our attorney liaison, for their commitment and professionalism. Many challenges and much work lay ahead for the committee. I look forward to assisting in those efforts.
Mark Caliel, Chair
The Education Law Committee is one of a few state education law committees dedicated to enhancing the professionalism and practice of education law at all levels of education practice, including pre-K-12, community colleges, and colleges and universities, and to the provision of a forum in which the knowledge and views of its members can be shared. Our members include public and private university and college counsel, school district attorneys, and private law firms that regularly represent educational institutions and their employees, as well as students and their parents in all facets of the education legal practice from transactions to litigation.
It has been my privilege and honor to serve this year as chair of the committee after serving for several years in other leadership capacities. The committee identified three strategic priorities in 2013: 1) increasing membership; 2) resuming publication of the Florida Education Law online journal; and 3) building a foundation to transition to section status. The committee also added a second in-person meeting this year, even as it continued to offer extraordinary electronic CLE access to the many public educational lawyers who could not otherwise receive credit. The committee is a leader in The Florida Bar in utilizing advanced technology to connect lawyers. In addition, the committee once again supported the efforts of the education law certification committee by offering an all-day exam preparation seminar for lawyers interested in applying for certification.
Special thanks goes to the other leaders of the committee, including Ana Segura (CLE), Youndy Cook (membership), Jason Fudge (publications), and Bob Harris (publications). Ana worked tirelessly on putting together two excellent CLE programs covering secondary and post-secondary topics. The first CLE was in-person at the September Bar conference and covered these topics: 1) recent developments in rulemaking and procurement, and 2) recent federal compliance issues impacting K-12 and higher education. In January, the exam preparation session was entirely online using the webinar and video conferencing capabilities of Holland & Knight, LLP. The preparation session was dense with material supplemental to last year’s preparation session. The committee plans a third CLE at the 2013 Florida Bar annual convention.
I also thank Youndy Cook for assisting me with reaching out to all sectors of the public and private educational legal community to attract more committee members and attendance, including the previously largely unreached community college and private post-secondary legal community. Youndy has tapped the electronic email communities of Florida public school district, community college, and public university lawyers. We hope the membership drive will continue under new leadership as a precursor to judging the practicality of applying for elevated section status. With Youndy’s assistance, the committee has also sponsored more social networking opportunities. Another is planned at the annual convention — we welcome your attendance.
Jason Fudge and Bob Harris solicited articles and resumed publication of the Florida Education Law. We expect to publish a second edition this spring. Manuscript solicitation and editing is among the most difficult and time-consuming jobs. I thank both of them for their able assistance.
Thanks also to the outgoing leadership team, including Daniel Woodring, for facilitating a smooth transition and to the education certification exam committee for cooperating in offering CLE and preparing our members for board certification.
The best days for the committee are ahead as it becomes further institutionalized within The Florida Bar. The hurdles that substantive law committees like ours face are material and worth attention by the Bar. These include the separate sign-up process independent of the annual fee statement, which overlaps the Christmas holiday, maximum year-long committee appointment, inability to fundraise by offering CLE for sale or collecting dues, and lack of access to Florida Bar letterhead. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that the committee will continue to grow and improve and I look forward to continuing to serve the committee in other capacities in the future.
Nathan A. Adams IV, Chair
Education Law Certification
This is the third year of certification in education law. After two years, there are 39 lawyers certified, and as many as six may be added this year, pending the results of the certification examination. Thus, in our third year there may be 45 lawyers board certified in education law. We are very pleased with our progress to date and look forward to continuing our growth.
A major focus of the committee this year was the revision of the exam specifications in accordance with the guidelines established by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, which included setting the passing standard to 70 percent. The requirements and application for the 2014 exam are now available online, and the filing period is July 1 – Aug. 31. The exam will be held in March.
The committee worked diligently this year in drafting examination questions, and in promoting education law as an area of legal specialization. Attorneys specializing in the practice of education law are an important part of the pre-K through 20 system of public education, as well as the private school sector in Florida. These specialists make a substantial contribution to the effective delivery of educational services and include lawyers who represent school districts, universities, community and state colleges, charter schools, as well as lawyers who advocate for the rights of students and their families.
Through the continued work of this committee and the Bar’s Education Law Committee, we expect a steady growth in the number of lawyers who will become certified in education law. The members of this committee are committed to the value of education law certification, and we believe that this certification serves both the public and The Florida Bar.
The members of the 2012-13 Education Law Certification Committee are James A. Robinson III, chair; Julie Sheppard, vice chair; Usher “Larry” Brown; Dayton “Michael” Cramer; Franklin Harrison; Ned Julian; Mark Kamleiter; Ed Marko; and Barbara Wingo. The chair thanks Julie Sheppard, vice chair, for her invaluable assistance, and all the members for their hard work this year. We held meetings continuously throughout the year and worked hard to develop a quality examination and to encourage qualified lawyers to apply. The chair also would like to thank the Education Law Committee for promoting certification to their membership and for holding CLEs throughout the year that followed topics to be tested on the exam.
The committee also thanks The Florida Bar for its assistance throughout the year. A special thanks is given to Julie Coiro for her great organizational skills, hard work, and professionalism. Ms. Coiro keeps the members of the committee on task and working effectively throughout the year.
Questions regarding the certification process may be directed to Julie Coiro, certification specialist, at (850) 561-3143 or by emailing her at email@example.com.
James A. Robinson III, Chair
Elder Law Certification
Five attorneys sat for the 2013 elder law board certification examination. There are currently 94 board certified elder law attorneys.
The committee met several times throughout the year to review and process applications, draft exam questions and model answers, and present a proposed amendment to the Standards for Certification of a Board Certified Elder Law Lawyer. Elder law attorneys deal with legal issues encompassing all aspects of planning for aging, illness, and incapacity. The purpose of the elder law examination is to determine whether the examinee possesses the substantive and procedural knowledge expected of an experienced elder law practitioner whose clients are elderly or have special needs, as well as the skill to apply that knowledge to situations that elder law attorneys encounter in their practice.
Thank you to all of the dedicated, hard-working members of the committee, including Vice Chair Colleen Duris, Ailish O’Connor, Carolyn Sawyer, Travis Finchum, and new members Shannon Miller and Holly O’Neill. We are extremely grateful for all the time and effort put in by our outgoing members, Beth Prather and Randy Bryan, who have served on the committee for the maximum amount of time permitted.
We want to especially thank our hard-working certification specialist, Jennifer Wilson, whose work has made our job so much more manageable.
Carolyn Landon, Chair
The Eminent Domain Committee provides an opportunity for attorneys representing both condemnors and private property owners to discuss current case law, share ideas, and receive continuing legal education for eminent domain-related matters. The committee meetings also provide an excellent opportunity for networking with fellow members of the eminent domain bar. The economic downturn of recent years has had a substantial negative impact on most eminent domain practitioners due to a sharp decline in condemnation activity. It is anticipated that the quantity of Florida condemnation actions will increase in the future, but perhaps not until 2014. The Eminent Domain Committee continues its commitment to keep its members informed about trends and changes in our practice area.
At the annual meeting in June 2012, our committee members heard presentations from speakers of great renown. Property rights attorney William S. Moore of Moore Bowman & Rix, P.A., spoke compellingly about regulatory takings in the 21st century, and argued that many courts apply an incorrect standard when evaluating regulatory takings cases. UCF Professor Randy I. Anderson provided an economic outlook for 2012, and discussed various factors affecting both national and Florida real estate markets. Kathy J. Bible, the advertising counsel for The Florida Bar, spoke about legal ethics issues relating to lawyer advertising.
The midyear meeting in September likewise had excellent presenters. Attorney Alan DeSerio of the Pacific Legal Foundation provided a case law update that included not only eminent domain cases, but other property rights cases as well. David Smolker, currently practicing with Smoker & Bartlett, discussed exactions at length and presented a case study of a county ordinance, which he argued did not comply with applicable federal law. Lastly, committee members learned about emerging and new technologies for the legal practitioner from Iventure Solutions and Copytronics Information Systems.
The Eminent Domain Committee plans to present another interesting and informative program to its members at the upcoming annual convention in June.
I sincerely thank my vice chairs, Thomas P. Callan, Barry S. Balmuth, Dean R. DiRose, Joel Settimbrini Jr., and Lorena Hart Ludovici. All of my vice chairs were invaluable in their assistance and support in our committee’s endeavors. I also thank our former chair, Vivian Arenas Battles, who oversaw the program for the annual meeting in June 2012. On behalf of the Eminent Domain Committee and my vice chairs, I thank all the speakers who volunteered their time to share their wisdom and experience with our committee members, and I thank our Florida Bar Liaison Yvonne Sherron for her assistance and professionalism.
Mary J. Dorman, Chair
Federal Court Practice
The Federal Court Practice Committee serves as The Florida Bar’s liaison to federal courts, federal bar organizations, the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, and federal practitioners throughout Florida.
The committee’s signature event, the Federal Judicial Roundtable is held again at the Bar’s annual convention on June 27. The roundtable is a popular program that provides an opportunity for the federal bench and bar to work together during an interesting and practical seminar. For years, federal judges, lawyers, law professors, and law students have enjoyed the interactive and informal nature of the roundtable event. The objectives of the roundtable are to strengthen the relationship between the federal bench and bar and to improve practice before federal courts in Florida. Very special thanks to Vice Chair Jon Polenberg for his leadership and service in coordinating this great event.
During the past year the committee emphasized educational efforts by hosting CLE events. The committee hosted an interesting and informative seminar on electronic discovery in September during The Florida Bar midyear meeting in Orlando. Special thanks go to Vice Chair Steven Teppler for his work in putting together and moderating the program and thanks to panelists Magistrate Judges Anthony Porcelli and Thomas Smith. In January, the committee held a lunchtime seminar with its meeting which was a discussion with Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres. Special thanks go to Judge Torres for an excellent program and to Tew Cardenas for hosting in Miami.
As a gateway to our committee, projects, and federal news, the committee maintains The Federal Corner on The Florida Bar website. The committee continued to update the corner this past year and utilizes it as the easiest and most cost effective way to communicate with our members and, more importantly, with all members of The Florida Bar. All rule amendments, proposed changes affecting federal courts, announcements, and other news of note are timely posted on The Federal Corner. In addition, It maintains links to proposed amendments to local rules, as well as federal rules of procedure, and lists sponsors who help support the committee’s activities. Special thanks to John Badalamenti for ensuring the corner is current and informative and to Vice Chair Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, and the rules subcommittee for compiling and publishing these amendments to the committee and to the Bar membership.
The committee maintains the “Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida’s Federal Courts” on the Bar’s website. Many of Florida’s federal circuit, district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges participate in the guide by responding to surveys about various subjects and practice areas. The guide serves as an invaluable resource to both in- and out-of-state practitioners who appear before the judges. Thanks to Vice Chair Brett Barfield, who has worked diligently this year with the Bar’s staff to update the guide.
This committee also worked with the various federal bar associations across the state and other organizations whose purpose is to enhance and progress practice in federal courts. Special thanks to Brett Barfield and the South Florida chapter of the Federal Bar for working with the committee to hold a joint luncheon and U.S. Supreme Court swearing-in on May 8 with General William K. Suter, clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court. The event was held at the Hyatt Regency Miami.
This year, in addition to the roundtable event, the committee will also have a CLE program during The Florida Bar annual convention. Special thanks to Stefanie Moon, who is working to present Judge Jay Zaney from the Eastern District of Louisiana to speak on, “Support of Lawyers/Legal Personnel — All Concerns Encouraged (SOLACE),” during the committee’s meeting on June 27.
Some final words of appreciation, this committee could not operate without the dedication and hard work of our Bar staff liaison, Lani Fraser. She has been an incredible resource and is simply the best.
Melanie Damian, Chair
Florida Bar Journal and News Editorial Board
With a readership of over 90,000, The Florida Bar Journal and News are the premier sources for timely articles on the legal community, substantive Florida law, and Bar activities and events.
The Florida Bar Journal is the premier source of practice articles on Florida law and is dedicated to “advancing the competence and public responsibility of lawyers.” It is published 10 times annually, with combined issues in July/August and September/October. This year, the Journal published articles on Florida’s free press history, mandatory injunctions, partnership accountings, foreclosure, mediation privilege, the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, and many more.
Several of the Bar’s sections provided regular columns on their subject area, such as appellate practice; real property, probate, and trust law; city, county, and local government law; tax; trial; and family law. Section columns are submitted to the magazine by column editors, who are appointed by their respective section chair.
While columns are published under the auspices of the section and its appointed editor, the Journal editorial board reviews and approves all feature articles for publication and is responsible for the submission policy applicable to all Journal articles. Although the submissions are examined for substantive and stylistic content, the board also checks citations and evaluates the article’s thoroughness and originality.
In recognition of superior writing, the annual Excellence in Writing Award was presented to Joseph T. Eagleton for his 2012 article “Walking on Sunshine Laws: How Florida's Free Press History in the U.S. Supreme Court Undermines Open Government,” which was published in the Sept/Oct issue. The Editorial Board made its decision based on the article’s quality, difficulty, and style.
The editorial board welcomes articles written by members of the Bar. Did you know that you can receive up to 15 CLE credits for the time you spend preparing an article that is published in the Journal? In addition to the recognition of your peers, articles are also posted on the Bar’s website and in the WESTLAW and Lexis databases. Now is the time to share your knowledge with all the members of The Florida Bar.
The News is produced twice a month by a staff of professional journalists and provides its readers with information regarding all levels of the Bar, including Board of Governors’ action, legislation, and official notices of proposed and amended court rules and Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. It also features regular announcements of CLE offerings. The News has featured articles on e-filing of court documents, advertising rules, scams, court funding, the effects of foreclosure cases on the state’s court system, inclusion initiatives, and extensive coverage of the legislative session. Always popular are the regular columns “News and Notes” and “On the Move,” and the News classified ads pages serve as a helpful placement service for the Florida legal job market.
The News has been lauded by Bar members for its editorial independence and has been acknowledged nationally as a model vehicle for information about association activities.
The Journal and News generate revenue through advertising, royalties, and subscriptions, thereby offsetting some of the costs of printing and postage.
This year brought the official launch of The Florida Bar News mobile app, which allows users to receive top Bar stories and breaking news virtually instantaneously. The app offers a list of the top 15 recent News stories, access to News’ classified ads, and allows favorite stories to be saved for future reference or shared with friends. Readers of classified ads can use their devices to respond directly to advertisers who list email addresses. The app is available in various online app stores for iPhones, smart phones, and other devices.
Every issue of both the Journal and News are available in print as well as on the Bar’s website: www.floridabar.org/journal and www.floridabar.org/news. Visit our website for back issues, information on subscribing, advertising rates, and submission guidelines.
These publications are critical to busy Bar members as a means of keeping up to date on all types of matters affecting their daily practices, as well as developments and trends in the substantive law. I encourage all members with a passion for writing to lend their skills to the Bar Journal by submitting an article for publication consideration. As always, the editorial board and staff are committed to maintaining a standard of excellence for the Bar’s official publications.
Florida Registered Paralegal
The Florida Registered Paralegal Committee’s purpose is to assist in the implementation of Rule 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar relating to registering for and maintaining Florida registered paralegal status. The committee advises on eligibility, as well as rules changes, as needed.
There are 5,269 Florida registered paralegals (FRPs) as of March 28, the fifth year of existence for this significant credential for paralegals, which indicates a level of achievement and commitment to maintaining a code of ethics.
This year, the committee focused its efforts to increase awareness of the program. The committee produced a pamphlet to educate attorneys and paralegals about the FRP program. The committee is also reaching out to voluntary bar associations to add a link to the Bar’s FRP website to their websites.
The committee welcomed three new members: attorney Jami Coleman, attorney Thomas Jerla, Jr., and Florida registered paralegal Lori Spangler.
The committee clarified some sections of Rule 20 as they relate to eligibility and renewal requirements, as well as continuing education (CE) requirements. Additionally, the website where registered paralegals input their CE credits has been enhanced. FRPs also receive an automated email upon completion of their 30 hours of CE requirement.
I have been honored these past five years to serve with the FRP members of the committee, as well as the attorney members, all of whom are committed to upholding the ethical and eligibility standards required for FRPs. I have also been fortunate to work with the dedicated Florida Bar staff, particularly attorney Shannon Fleming and attorney Lori Holcomb, as well as Jackie Reshard and Melanie Woodall, whose efforts truly ensure the success of the program.
Carin M. Gordon, Chair
Health Law Certification
Health law is the practice of law involving federal, state, or local law, and rules or regulations regarding the delivery of health care services. In addition to health care provider issues and regulations of providers, health law includes legal issues regarding relationships between and among providers and payors. The area of health law certification was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1994 and currently numbers 121 certified health law attorneys.
To qualify for the health law exam, attorneys must be members of The Florida Bar for five years, be engaged in the full-time practice of law, and be substantially involved (at least 40 percent) in health law for the last three years of their practice. Attorneys seeking health law certification must also complete at least 60 hours of advanced continuing legal education of approved health law credits and pass a stringent peer review process. All currently certified attorneys must apply for recertification every five years.
During the 2012-13 certification cycle, 19 applications to sit for the exam were reviewed by the committee. The committee also received and reviewed 10 applications for recertification. The exam was held on May 10 in Tampa. By the end of this certification cycle, the committee will have held three in-person meetings and two conference calls to review initial and recertification applications, construct the exam, review and respond to requests, and grade examinations.
The 2012-13 Health Law Certification Committee included Bernabe A. Icaza, vice chair; G. Scott Baity, Vivian M. Gallo, George F. Indest III, Joshua M. Kaye, Troy A. Kishbaugh, Craig H. Smith, and Paula A. Willis. Committee members devoted numerous hours to the review and approval of initial applicants to sit for the exam and review of recertification applications. Multiple peer references were obtained and evaluated for each applicant.
Committee members devoted a substantial amount of time to reviewing, updating, and revising the exam, which consists of multiple choice and essay questions. Careful attention was paid to updates and changes in health law and to the fairness of the exam.
Special attention was also given this year to revising the examination format content. Optional questions were eliminated from the exam to ensure uniform difficulty and scoring for each examinee. The exam specifications were also revised, with content reorganized to fall under the four new exam essay topics: fraud and abuse, provider regulation matters, institutional operations and patient care, and integration and reimbursement.
The committee extends thanks and gratitude to our staff liaison, Zachary Shrader, for keeping us focused and productive. I also sincerely thank Vice Chair Bernabe Icaza and all the other members of this year’s committee for their hard work, dedication, and professionalism throughout this certification year.
Michael P. Gennett, Chair
Immigration and Nationality Law Certification
Immigration and nationality law is the practice of law dealing with all aspects of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act and implementing regulations. Certification in this field was approved in 1994, and we currently have 60 board certified attorneys. During the past year, the committee has discussed several ways in which more members of the Bar will be encouraged to apply for certification. This year we once again had one of the largest groups of applicants to apply for certification since the program began. We are extremely encouraged by the number of applicants and we hope to have several new members once this year’s exams have been graded.
As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of each applicant necessarily involves the determination of whether the applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. The committee appreciates all of the attorneys who responded to the committee’s requests for the submission of peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement in this area of law. Every applicant can be assured that the information provided was carefully considered by the committee in the evaluation of the applicant.
The committee took many hours to draft, review, and revise the examination. Numerous meetings were held, both in person and telephonically, to assure that the questions were well prepared and that they fairly tested the knowledge of the examinees.
This year’s committee members included Dilipkumar Patel (vice chair), Philip Zyne, Roger A. Bernstein, Jeffrey Adam Devore, David H. Stoller, Gerald Seipp, Jennifer Roeper, and Alex Solomiany. I appreciate the hard work and dedication that all of our members put forward to make this year a success. I also want to recognize and thank our Florida Bar liaison, Alexzina Jackson, for her tireless efforts and assistance throughout the year.
Finally, I would strongly encourage other board certified attorneys to volunteer for service on the committee for this upcoming year and in the future. I am sure you will find it a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Carmen Arce, Chair
Intellectual Property Law Certification
The Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee is pleased to report that eight attorneys became board certified in intellectual property law following the exam on May 17, 2012. The pass rate for the exam was 80 percent.
Intellectual property law comprises the areas of patent prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, and copyright law. Attorneys may practice in one or a combination of these areas.
The committee has been diligently working to prepare for the 2013 exam, which was administered on May 9 in Tampa. Fourteen applications were received for this year’s exam. Applicants who are registered patent agents and/or attorneys with the USPTO, or are currently certified in either business litigation or civil trial, may waive a portion of the examination.
This year, lawyers who became board certified in intellectual property law in 2008 will need to apply for recertification. The recertification application is currently available online for download at www.floridabar.org/certification. Recertification requirements can be found in Rule 6-26.4, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and must be met by July 31, 2013. Questions regarding certification or recertification should be directed to certification specialist Julie Coiro at (850) 561-3143, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee was chaired by Jeff Lloyd, with Jeanne Seewald serving as vice chair, and comprised of members Michael Chesal, Ava Doppelt, Richard Fee, Alexander Fernandez, Ury Fischer, Janet Moreira Gamble, and Mark Terry.
Jeff Lloyd, Chair
International Law Certification
Of the states that offer specialty certification for lawyers, Florida is the only state that currently offers certification in international law. The Florida Bar’s international law certification plan has welcomed 38 certified attorneys since the area’s approval in 1997. This year, two attorneys sat for the examination on March 14, with hopes of being added to this illustrious bunch.
Achieving certification confirms your commitment to ethics, professionalism, and the ongoing maintenance of your education. Certification is available to members in good standing of The Florida Bar with five or more years as a member in good standing of any state bar or the District of Columbia bar. An applicant must demonstrate substantial involvement in the practice of international law for each of the three years immediately preceding application, and must have completed at least 60 hours of continuing legal education in the field during that time. In addition, the applicant must submit an application for peer review and must pass the examination.
An applicant is not expected to be an expert in all areas of international law. The examination is designed to test the following skills: knowledge of substantive law; knowledge of procedural law; issue recognition; ability to analyze issues; legal reasoning; and professionalism in handling practice and ethical situations. All questions refer to cases in and outside of the Florida court system.
Successful completion of all aspects of the process entitles the applicant to certification for five years.
This year’s certification committee worked in the areas of advertisement and promotions for the area, ensuring the exam continued to represent balance and fairness for all international attorneys, and completing an overhaul of the exam specifications to make certain examinees know what to expect on exam day.
The committee members for 2012-2013 included Thomas Raleigh (chair), Malcolm Riddell (vice chair), Melissa Ferrari, Robert Hendry, Ed Joffe, James Lavigne, Dixon Miller, Peter Quinter, and Pamella Seay. The committee is also thankful for our staff liaison, Zina Jackson.
The committee welcomes and encourages all members who engage in international law as a substantial portion of their practice to seek certification. Please contact Zina Jackson, by email at email@example.com for more information on how you too can join this distinguished group of certified specialists.
Thomas L. Raleigh III, Chair
Judicial Administration and Evaluation
The Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee has many responsibilities regarding The Florida Bar and its support of Florida’s judiciary. During the past year, the committee has continued work on a number of projects in support of its mission.
In addition to reviewing legislation related to the judiciary and making recommendations to the Board of Governors, the committee works with the Florida Supreme Court to administer the Judicial Feedback Program. The goal of the feedback program is to provide a confidential means by which attorneys can communicate with appellate or trial court judges concerning their perceived specific strengths and weaknesses. Providing judges with confidential feedback assists them with self-assessment and self-improvement. The voluntary feedback program for trial and appellate court judges began Jan. 1, 1998. Feedback may be provided by filling out a form and mailing it to The Florida Bar or by completing feedback forms online at www.floridabar.org/JudicialFeedback. Either way, the identity of the attorney providing the feedback is protected.
Every other year when elections are held, the committee oversees the merit retention poll of Bar members regarding district court of appeal judges and Supreme Court justices. The committee worked with the Constitutional Judiciary Committee about contested judicial elections, an independent judiciary, and the ongoing need for Benchmarks, the Bar’s adult civics program. The two committees worked on developing the “Guide for Florida Voters” containing questions and answers about Florida judges, judicial elections, and merit retention for use in the 2012 judicial elections. The guide was distributed to hundreds of thousands of voters before the fall elections. The voter’s guide can be used statewide in connection with both the direct elections of circuit and county court judges and merit retention elections involving appellate judges and serves as a great tool to educate the public about judicial elections.
The Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Program developed and implemented in 2010 by the JAEC was used for the 2012 primary and general elections. The program assists the public in making educated decisions when voting for judicial candidates. Under the program, judicial candidates can post on the Bar website statements with information about their backgrounds as well as personal statements. Out of 188 candidates, 97 candidates (51 percent) participated in the program. The statements were available on the Bar’s website beginning July 1.
A subcommittee has also been working to develop a uniform candidate poll for local bar associations. Various polls have been reviewed and the subcommittee hopes to have available at the June meeting a poll that would be fair to both sitting judges and attorney candidates.
The topic of judicial disqualification remains a main focus of the committee, with subcommittee members Judge Wendy Berger, Judge Lisa Davidson, Dora Kaufman, Judge Barry Stone, and ad hoc member Gerald Richman leading the committee’s work. Subcommittee members have spoken numerous times with Professor Geyh of Indiana University, a recognized expert on recusal and disqualification. The subcommittee reviewed the proposal submitted by Gerald Richman and held discussions concerning many substantive issues, such as grounds for disqualification, including campaign contributions (bundling), the use of peremptory strikes to disqualify judges, and the ability of judges to comment on factual allegations when granting a motion to disqualify. The subcommittee reports to the committee in June.
My thanks go to the entire JAEC membership for their commitment and hard work. In particular, I thank my vice chairs, Judge David W. Langham and Judge Lisa Davidson, for their dedication to the committee and its mission.
Jay Kim, Chair
Judicial Nominating Procedures
The purpose and mission of this committee is to assist the governor and the Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNCs) in performing their duties under Fla. Const. art. V, §11 and F.S. §43.291. The committee’s primary tasks are to plan and organize the JNC training seminar for all commissioners; to plan and organize JNC rules conventions when needed; and to keep commissioners apprised of any new legislation, rules, or court decisions that may affect their duties. The committee assists the governor’s office in administering the judicial selection process in Florida to help the nominating process run efficiently and effectively. The JNC Handbook used by JNC commissioners is also produced by the committee.
The following subcommittees were active this year:
• JNC Newsletter — This on-going subcommittee publishes a newsletter to increase knowledge and communication among JNC commissioners. It is transmitted electronically to all sitting commissioners by the governor’s office. Information and articles are transmitted as needed.
• JNC Application — The judicial application was last updated on September 11, 2009. The financial history page of the application was not addressed at that time. Subsequently, we solicited input from the JNCs for revising the financial history page, as well as other aspects of the application. The committee reviewed the responses and approved several changes to the financial history page, which will be presented at the next JNC rules convention.
• Review of Uniform Rules of Procedure — A subcommittee was formed to gather information and analyze potential changes to the Uniform Rules of Procedure governing the JNCs. The proposed changes pertain to conformity with redactions made to applications and Florida’s Sunshine Law. The proposed changes agreed upon by the committee will be added to the next JNC rules convention.
• JNC Handbook — A new subcommittee was formed to look at the current JNC Handbook to determine if there needed to be any updates, additions, or deletions. A survey was sent to the commissions requesting their input.
• JNC Training — New commissioners are required to go through training within the first 12 months of appointment. The last training was held on October 28, 2011, at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. The program was taped for the purpose of providing a DVD to each commission so anyone unable to attend in person could view the program. The day-long program is normally geared toward new commissioners and includes topics such as commissioner responsibilities, ethics and the sunshine laws, interviewing techniques, and diversity training. A panel discusses issues and concerns related to the Uniform Rules of Procedure. Various featured speakers address specific subjects of interest to the JNCs. Plans are underway to have another training program this fall, which will include information of use to experienced commissioners as well as new commissioners.
Judge William Palmer, Chair
Having just finished our three-year cycle, there were hopes of a year of light work and reflection. This was not to be due to several requests from the Supreme Court for comments or memorandum of law to address juvenile rule changes under consideration by the Court. With hard work from our subcommittees, we were able to fulfill these requests and continue our normal review of the rules.
A response to comments filed with the Court as to our amendment to Rule 8.255 was requested, and the committee was able to give a full and comprehensive response to the Court. The Supreme Court also requested the committee to supply memorandum of law on proposed amendments to Rule 8.080, addressing deportation issues before a plea is accepted, and Rule 8.225, as it pertains to establishing paternity; the special subcommittees accomplished these tasks as well.
I thank our Florida Bar liaison, Ellen Sloyer, for her usual superb support, help, and guidance.
Before the end of the year, we will again formulate any rule changes we believe are warranted by statute changes arising out of the current legislative session.
To accomplish what the committee is required to do even in off cycle years requires a lot of hard work and dedication from all committee members. I give a special thanks to our vice chairs, Deborah Schroth and Whitney Untiedt, and acknowledge the contributions of those that chaired subcommittees as well as those that served on them.
Daniel P. Dawson, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Certification
The area of labor and employment law certification was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2000 and there are currently 190 certified labor and employment law attorneys.
The practice of labor and employment law encompasses advice and representation concerning the application and interpretation of public and private sector labor and employment law principles, as well as employment discrimination and employment-related civil rights law.
To qualify for the labor and employment law certification exam, attorneys must be a member of the Bar for five years, be engaged in the full-time practice of law, and be substantially involved (at least 50 percent) in labor and employment law. Attorneys seeking labor and employment law certification must also complete at least 60 hours of advanced continuing legal education of approved labor and employment law credits and pass a stringent peer review process. All currently certified attorneys must apply for recertification every five years. Attorneys interested in applying for board certification in labor and employment law may find the application, standards, and committee policies on The Florida Bar’s website.
Due to changes made by the BLSE, for the first time the examination included a required essay question in the area of employment discrimination. Applicants were still permitted to choose one of three of the remaining categories of traditional labor, hybrid, and miscellaneous/individual rights to complete the essay portion of the exam.
For the 2012-13 certification year, the committee reviewed 10 initial applications for certification. Of those, seven sat for the exam administered on March 15 in Tampa. As of this writing, the final exam grades have not been approved by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. The committee also reviewed 33 recertification applications.
The committee met in person three times to review applications, and to draft and grade the examination. In addition to the in-person meetings, the members of the committee also devoted many hours of personal time to perfect and review examination questions, as well as collaborated over conference calls.
The committee extends thanks to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Zachary Shrader, who was a great help through this transition year. Members of the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee include Mary Li Creasy, vice chair, Cathleen Bell Bremmer, Don R. Boswell, Jim Craig, Eric K. Gabrielle, Robyn S. Hankins, Sean Moyles, and Kathryn S. Piscitelli. Many thanks for their diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this section.
Angela E. Outten, Chair
Law Office Management Assistance Service
During 2012-2013, The Florida Bar Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) continued its three-decade old tradition of being Bar members’ go-to source for law office management and practice management assistance. LOMAS practice management advisors (PMAs) deliver this important service to Bar members by remaining focused on the primary mission of providing relevant information to members on a wide variety of subjects related to efficient and effective law office management. LOMAS PMAs provide information on an ever-expanding range of topics, including, but certainly not limited to, technology planning and management; law office economics and financial management and trust accounting; client relations; structure and governance; personnel issues; marketing; loss prevention; strategic planning; and electronic records and information management.
LOMAS’ outreach efforts remained impressive throughout 2012-13. LOMAS annually reaches nearly one-third of The Florida Bar membership through telephone and email consultations, the Internet, on-demand recorded seminars, and materials provided on its website. In-person presentations and on-site consultations were largely replaced this year due to better leveraging of electronic communication systems. LOMAS PMAs connected with thousands of Bar members and their staff on a wide variety of management issues and best practices.
LOMAS practice management advisors continued to conduct on-site consultations for law firms across the state in connection with diversion and discipline matters. Additionally, advisors handle speaking engagements at local bar associations, law schools, and affiliate groups via video conference. LOMAS presents in person at Florida Bar CLE events and professional enhancement seminars.
LOMAS released a new free online seminar on cloud storage and cloud computing. This is the 14th seminar in its law practice management series. In February 2011, all LOMAS online, on-demand seminars were made available at no cost to members. Since then, there have been more than 50,000 downloads of LOMAS law practice management seminars.
Important goals for LOMAS are achieved in the evaluation of new issues and products introduced throughout the year. By investigating, accumulating, and evaluating new information and materials, LOMAS is able to 1) assist attorneys in the effective management of their law practice; 2) help attorneys resolve management problems; 3) add and refresh material on the LOMAS website; and 4) anticipate and advise The Florida Bar about perceived trends and developments in law practice and office management.
LOMAS is directly involved in the promotion of The Florida Bar Career Center, which is the Bar’s job locator website. The Career Center now includes a registry of more than 1,000 law firm employers, as well as corporate, judicial, and state agency employers.
I am honored to have served as the chair of the LOMAS Advisory Board for the past two years, and to have served as a member of the LOMAS Advisory Board for several years prior to serving as chair. The members of the LOMAS Advisory Board act as a sounding board and think tank for Judith Equels, LOMAS director. We share an appreciation for the efforts of our director and the LOMAS staff and their dedication to the job. The staff’s direct experience in law firm management and administration is an asset to the Bar and its members.
This has been a year of achievement for LOMAS. As LOMAS enters its 33rd year, we are reminded that this program was the first of its kind in the United States, and is the model for more than 35 similar programs in other state bars in America and provincial bars in Canada. All members of The Florida Bar should greatly appreciate everything LOMAS represents.
Tim Chinaris, Chair
Law Related Education Committee
The Law Related Education Committee concluded a successful year pursuing its purpose of promoting effective law-related education programs in grades K-12 of Florida’s schools, with an emphasis on teaching young citizens respect for the legal system, and for people and their property. The committee is involved in a wide variety of educational and civic minded activities in an effort to further the knowledge and experience of not only Florida students, but the public at large.
Richard Levenstein, vice chair and leader of the Outreach and Development Subcommittee, is coordinating with other committees, bar associations, and lawyers to enhance the Bar’s efforts and continue to grow and improve the Bar’s programs. Richard, among other members, is working with Justice Teaching, established by Justice Fred Lewis of the Florida Supreme Court. For the second year, an award for the Justice Teaching volunteer and Justice Teaching Select Committee judge of the year will be given to honor a judge and volunteer attorney recognized for bringing civic education to the children of Florida through Justice Teaching. The awards will be presented at the Bar’s annual convention.
The Moot Court and Mock Trial Subcommittee teamed with the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc. (FLREA) to prepare the materials for both of the competitions.
This year the subcommittee, led by Vice Chair Scott Slater, prepared the materials for the fictional case of State of Florida v. Regan Buschell, used in the 2013 high school mock trial competition. Jeffrey Hammer in particular was very helpful in preparing a “bench brief” for the mock trial competition, which allowed the judges to review a summary of the case before presiding over and scoring the students.
The subcommittee then authored the materials for the high school moot court competition. Led by Raul Ruiz, the subcommittee took facts and characters from the Buschell mock trial competition case to create a fictional appeal stemming from Regan Buschell’s arrest, where a handgun was found on him. Using a fictional statute nearly identical to Hawaii’s concealed carry statute, the appellate case raised two issues: 1) whether the Second Amendment recognizes a right to carry a concealed weapon outside the home; and 2) what level of scrutiny should be applied when evaluating laws concerning the possession of handguns to be used for self defense outside the home.
The Legal Guide Subcommittee, led by Debra Moss Curtis, has been hard at work accomplishing its three main tasks. The “Legal Guide for New Adults” was extensively updated and edited. The guide is distributed to more than 170,000 Florida high school students and offers information and guidance on contracts, the court system, voting, environmental responsibility, and selective service. Subcommittee members who were particularly active on this project were Sheri Hazeltine and Cynthia Schmidt.
The second project was a review of the “So You Want to Be a Lawyer” pamphlet. Subcommittee member Richard Oliver helped ensure necessary revisions. This pamphlet is useful for students and anyone interested in pursuing a law degree by providing information on educational requirements, law school, the bar exam, admission as an attorney, costs, and job opportunities. The pamphlet is often distributed to high school student in connection with Law Day activities and the legal guide presentation.
The final task for the Legal Guide Subcommittee is the high school YouTube video contest. Subcommittee members reached out to their respective area schools to encourage high school students to participate and compete in the third annual contest. The LREC has its own YouTube channel, and videos from the past two years are available. All Florida high school students are encouraged to make a video relating to the various subparts of the “Legal Guide for New Adults.”
As always, Annette Boyd Pitts, founder and executive director of FLREA and long-time member of the LREC, continues to pursue law-related and civics education for Florida students. FLREA puts an emphasis on the rule of law, the American legal system, and the institutions and practices of democracy.
The Law Related Education Committee provides essential information, training, competitions, and support for Florida students and citizens. Thank you to our committee members for their truly valuable work and the difference they make. We encourage you to visit our committee website for more information and to get involved.
Dion Hancock, Chair
The Florida Bar Leadership Academy Committee (LAC) became a new committee of the Bar on February 1, when the Board of Governors unanimously approved the creation of The Florida Bar Leadership Academy. The academy was originally envisioned by incoming Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis, after evaluating the Bar’s strategic plan and analyzing the landscape of Bar members available to meet the Bar’s long-term articulated goals. After the academy program proposal was created by a team of planning members, it was reviewed by the Program Evaluation Committee of the Board of Governors, and ultimately voted on by the entire Board of Governors.
The academy is a multi-session training program designed to assist a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers in becoming better leaders within our profession, in their chosen path, while enhancing their leadership skills. At the heart of this program is the Bar’s belief that inclusion is the pathway to unity.
Each year a select group of participants, known as “fellows,” are selected from applications submitted to the Bar. The LAC is charged with overseeing the academy, its fellows, and their curriculum and activities. The academy is designed to encompass two branches: the north branch encompassing the First, Second, and Fifth DCA areas; and the south branch encompassing the Third and Fourth DCA areas, with each branch meeting approximately every other month for a total of six meetings, plus graduation. These meetings include three meetings of both branches at the Bar’s annual convention in June, the September fall meeting, and the January Tallahassee meeting of the Board of Governors, in addition to three regional branch meetings.
During their term of one year, commencing at the 2013 annual convention, fellows will follow a curriculum tailored to enhance their knowledge base and experience. Fellows will have the opportunity to establish relationships with Bar leaders, including former Bar presidents, Board of Governors members, the LAC, as well as current Bar leadership, to learn more about the inner workings of the Bar and their role within the legal profession, while enhancing their personal leadership skills. Networking is a significant part of the academy, wherein the fellows develop relationships that will last long after the academy. It will take approximately one year for the first class of fellows to complete the program curriculum, with consecutive classes of fellows graduating from the program each year thereafter. Fellows become part of a select group of leaders who are provided the opportunity to develop and enhance leadership skills important to their future in the legal profession, network, interact, collaborate, and build relationships with state and national bar leaders, and get an insider’s look at the important role the Bar plays within our legal system, while exploring their role in the legal profession. It is the hope of the LAC that the skills the fellows learn will benefit the Bar, their local voluntary or specialty bar associations, their firms, and the public.
During its inaugural year, the academy seeks to reach approximately 40 attorneys statewide to serve as fellows. In an effort to achieve diversity and wide range inclusion among participants in the upcoming academy, qualified individuals were sought from different backgrounds, large and small law firms, the private and public sectors, different practice areas, Bar sections and divisions, voluntary and specialty bars, and different geographical areas of the state. More information about the academy program and the application process can be found on the academy website, www.floridabar.org/leadershipacademy.
As the LAC undertakes its work in preparation for this year’s inaugural class of fellows, I thank each of the members of the Leadership Academy Committee for their hard work and commitment to the success of this program. In particular, a special thank you is owed to my co-chair for the north region, Michael J. Faehner, and my co-chair for the south region, Juliet M. Roulhac, for their outstanding efforts in leading their respective branches. I also recognize the exceptional work of our program coordinator, Arnell Bryant-Willis, diversity initiatives manager for the Bar, as well as Linda Calvert Hanson, director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, and Jacina Haston, assistant director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, for their efforts in creating a model curriculum for the academy. I am also thankful for the partnership of Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and their dedication to our program. And finally, I must also recognize the incredible work of incoming Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis. This academy is his vision, his passion, and his monumental effort planning this program brought it to life for the betterment of our Bar, the legal profession, and the public. It will solely be through the efforts of these outstanding individuals that the academy will succeed in its mission. It is my privilege and honor to work with each of these individuals and the fellows selected, while leading the academy into the coming year.
Renee E. Thompson, Chair
Legal Needs of Children
The Legal Needs of Children Committee was created to carry out the recommendations of the June 2002 report of The Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children. In 2004, The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors made the Legal Needs of Children Committee a standing, public service committee.
• Certification — The Certification Subcommittee, co-chaired by Anthony Musto and John Copelan, continues toward establishing children’s law as an area of board certification within The Florida Bar. The joint proposal of the Legal Needs of Children Committee and the Public Interest Law Section was approved in concept by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) and sent to interested parties for comment. In response, BLSE reviewed submissions from the Family Law Section, the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee, and the Adoption Law Certification Committee. BLSE’s primary concern involves defining acceptable legal proceedings that could substitute for trials or appeals in establishing eligibility for certification. The plan is still to receive all approvals necessary in sufficient time for the proposal to become a part of the Bar’s 2014 cycle of recommended rule amendments relating to certification.
• Ch. 985 Rewrite — The Chapter 985 Re-write Subcommittee is co-chaired by Bill Booth and Carrie Lee, and was formed to provide input to the Department of Juvenile Justice from children advocates consistent with existing policies from the Legal Needs of Children Commission’s final report. The Department of Juvenile Justice had planned a major rewrite of the chapter. Although the rewrite has been delayed at least until the 2014 legislative session, the subcommittee provided recommendations to DJJ and its members continue to monitor the legislative process.
• Regis Little/Guardianship — The Regis Little/Guardianship Subcommittee identified the needs of foster youth with disabilities, those aging out of the system, and those needing legal guardianships under F.S. Ch. 744 as their target group to help. Co-chaired by Jodi Seitlin, Deborah Schroth, and Sharon Langer, the subcommittee has raised issues concerning identifying who will serve as the youth’s guardian. Some areas of the state have public guardians who might serve in this role, but many localities do not. The subcommittee is also exploring establishing criteria for identifying which children will need a legal guardianship and whether legislative changes are needed.
The group is also closely monitoring a pilot project by Dade Legal Aid that currently works with the entire county system. They have completed more than 20 guardianship cases for foster youth and are identifying barriers and gaps in both services and legal representation.
The group welcomes attorneys who are interested in this work to lend their experience to this effort of developing new and creative ways to address this targeted population.
• Direct Filing — The direct file subcommittee was created in 2010 and is co-chaired by Joyce Cohen and Scott Janowitz. The subcommittee remains committed to the position that the criteria for filing against children in adult court should be transparent and uniform throughout the state, and that the decision to prosecute a child as an adult should be made by the judiciary.
The subcommittee is trying to actively advance legislation for this cause. This session, Rep. Bobby Powell agreed to file HB 543, which contains many of the sub-committee’s objectives. Sen. Chris Smith filed a similar bill in the Senate (SB 280). The subcommittee also worked on language for a position statement on direct filing, to be presented to the full committee as principles that should be applied when drafting new legislation.
• Juvenile Life Without Parole — The Juvenile Life Without Parole Subcommittee, chaired by Bonita Jones-Peabody, is a response to the U.S. Supreme Court opinions (Graham, Miller/Jackson) that have invalidated life sentences without parole for nonhomicide offenses by juveniles, as well as mandatory life sentences without parole for homicide offenses by juveniles. The subcommittee is monitoring the complicated legal landscape in response to these monumental cases.
• Representation — The Representation Subcommittee, co-chaired by Howard Talenfeld and Mariam Ahmedani, advocates that all children have legal representation as envisioned in the Legal Needs of Children Final Report.
The Board of Governors renewed its commitment to support legislation that would provide attorneys to various categories of vulnerable foster children. Sadly, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration through its provider, eQ Health Solutions, has been cutting private duty nursing hours for medically fragile foster children and forcing some of them into pediatric nursing facilities. Florida’s Children First found sponsorship for legislation, SB 1468 (Lee) and HB 1241 (Combee), to provide attorneys for these children with disabilities. As of the writing of this report, this legislation had been approved by committees in both chambers.
• Bar Positions — The Bar’s governing board approved two legislative positions that the committee recommended one. The first position supports legislation that recognizes children sentenced in adult court for more than 10 years should have a meaningful opportunity for early release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.
The Board of Governors also reactivated the committee-recommended position that to adequately promote and protect the legal rights and remedies of children, the Bar supports the development of a comprehensive system and structure for child representation that includes guardian ad litem representation, public defender representation, and legal representation by both government paid counsel and pro bono attorneys, which would create a statewide program of legal representation for children.
I thank Paul Hill, Elizabeth May, Graham Bradshaw, and the committee’s two vice chairs, Bill Booth and Rosemarie Farrell, for their assistance and their dedication to Florida’s children. Kudos also to Carrie Lee, Whitney Untiedt, and Danielle Lipow for their CLE presentations made to the committee on “Children in Delinquency Court” and “Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.”
Robert W. Mason, Chair
Media and Communications Law Committee
The Media and Communications Law Committee ends the year at The Florida Bar’s 2013 annual convention with its long-standing signature CLE program, “First Amendment & the U.S. Supreme Court.” I am proud to be a part of this veteran panel that includes Thomas R. Julin of Hunton & Williams LLP; 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Adalberto Jordan; Third District Court of Appeal Senior Judge Alan Schwarz; University of Miami Law Professor Lili Levi; University of Florida Professor Lyrissa Lidsky; Florida International University Law Professor Howard Wasserman; and former Miami Herald General Counsel Richard J. Ovelmen. Each year we tackle the hottest First Amendment issues argued in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The number one goal for my year as chair was to increase committee membership. I asked current members to take a role in recruiting new members with fresh ideas. And from what I’m hearing, I think we accomplished our goal.
Craig Waters, chief spokesperson for the Florida Supreme Court, chaired the 2012 Reporters’ Workshop. It was particularly meaningful because of the special lifetime achievement award presented by Justice Barbara Pariente to journalist Susan Spencer-Wendel on behalf of the committee. The former Palm Beach Post reporter was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease two years ago.
Two newspapers and one TV station were winners of The Florida Bar’s media awards competition, chaired by Liza Park. The 57th annual contest, sponsored by the Media and Communications Law Committee, recognizes outstanding journalism highlighting the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians.
Florida Bar President Gwynne Young presented plaques to journalists from the Daily Business Review, Palm Beach Post, and WFLA-TV (NBC Tampa) on Sept. 24 at the Bar’s Reporters’ Workshop dinner in Tallahassee. The event was held on the 22nd floor of the Capitol, with six Florida Supreme Court justices among the attendees.
Several committee members took on the task this year of updating the Reporters’ Handbook. Authored by the Media and Communications Law Committee, the 19-chapter online manual serves as a resource guide for members of the media about topics in the legal profession.
Media and Communication Law Committee members also participated in the Florida First Amendment Foundation’s Sunshine Seminars — eight one-day workshops in which committee volunteers traveled to various Florida cities (from Niceville to Deerfield Beach) to educate the public about open government and media law issues.
I thank the members of the Media and Communications Law Committee for a fantastic year. I encourage anyone interested in working with the committee to join us.
Patricia Acosta, Chair
The mission of The Florida Bar Member Benefits Committee is to review and evaluate existing benefit programs for Bar members, evaluate programs and services offered to the Bar for members, and make recommendations to the Board of Governors on changes or additions to the benefits program. During the past year, the Member Benefits Committee has taken this mission seriously and worked diligently evaluating existing programs and reviewing potential programs. The Member Benefits Committee had a very busy year and continues to actively pursue discounted member benefits for the members of The Florida Bar. The committee reviewed more than 11 proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers during the 2012-2013 fiscal year and has launched three new programs including RPost Registered E-Mail Service, Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotels, and Wyndham Hotels group. The committee has continued to expand existing member benefits agreements with Association Benefits International (ABI) for mobile websites and online reputation management services, BPC Financial (The Florida Bar Member Benefits Insurance & Retirement Programs) for the addition of payroll services, and collaborative marketing efforts with FLMIC (www.flmic.org) for lawyers’ professional liability insurance. At the request of committee Chair Randi Whitehead, BPC Financial began looking at private insurance exchange options targeting Bar members in preparation for the changes arising from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Chair Whitehead encourages all Bar members to visit www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits to take advantage of the wide array of discounted personal and professional services offered to Bar members through The Florida Bar member benefits program.
Randi Whitehead, Chair
The scope and function of The Florida Bar Military Affairs Committee is two-fold. The committee gathers and disseminates information, shares expertise, and advises the members of The Florida Bar on all matters relating to the practice of military law in Florida. Additionally, the committee serves as the link between The Florida Bar and the active duty, reserve, National Guard, and retired military attorneys within Florida. In support of this mission, the committee promotes professional development of military and civilian attorneys, and fosters understanding and cooperation between The Florida Bar and the military legal community.
The committee’s members are volunteers from the general Bar and include active duty judge advocates (JAGs), reserve and National Guard JAGs, members of large and small firms, and several sole practitioners. Membership is open to any Florida Bar member with an interest in furthering the ability of our profession to provide assistance to active or reserve members of the Armed Forces of the United States, retired members, and all veterans.
A committee highlight was the annual Military Law Symposium, a full day of continuing legal education during the 2012 Florida Bar annual convention. Miriam Victorian and her symposium committee members did an outstanding job in producing this high quality, well-received program. The symposium focused on military specific aspects of elder law, real estate law, divorce and parenting plans, and provided updates on veterans’ advocacy. This year’s keynote speaker was Colonel Elizabeth Masters, the state staff judge advocate for the Florida Army National Guard. Her luncheon presentation addressed the responsibilities of Florida Army National Guard JAGs, and the architecture and roles of the Florida Army National Guard.
The committee’s 2013 Military Law Symposium is scheduled for June 29, during the 2013 annual convention, with eight hours of general CLE and two hours of ethics authorized. We encourage Bar members to attend this outstanding CLE and join us in support to America’s heroes and their families.
Attorneys may now represent veterans during certain phases of administrative processing of disability claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs, but department accreditation and periodic CLE is required. Committed to providing instruction in the areas required by the department for accreditation, the committee teamed with Stetson University College of Law to present veterans’ law accreditation training on October 27. The training provided a great opportunity for Florida attorneys to engage fully in this specialized practice of law supporting veterans. Plans are underway to hold the training again in October 2013.
The committee sponsors the Clayton Burton Award of Excellence and made the 2012 award presentation during the veterans’ law accreditation training. Named for the founder of the Military Affairs Committee, the award is presented to the person who demonstrates outstanding character and leadership in dedicated service to Florida military members and their families. The award was presented posthumously to Major John H. Roche, U.S. Air Force retired, a tireless advocate of veterans who assisted over 40,000 clients in their VA disability claims.
The committee is transitioning to new goals and activities in anticipation of the return and deactivation of many military members from full-time military service. In 2013, the committee is contacting all legal service clinics/offices throughout Florida to ensure their staff and attorneys are aware of the benefits and resources for any of their veteran clients. Other goals to support the returning and deactivated military member are under development.
A committee emphasis was the establishment of regular communications, personal contact, and networking between the committee and active duty JAGs in Florida. Another focus this year was advocacy before the Board of Governors for modification of Rule 18, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, as it pertained to Practicing with Professional requirements for military legal assistance attorneys in Florida.
A special thanks goes to Mary Ann Obos, program administrator with The Florida Bar, for her positive attitude, diligence, and exemplary support to this committee.
Kathryn Yates, Chair
Prepaid Legal Services
The Prepaid Legal Services Committee of The Florida Bar is — as it has been for all times since the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar first created this public service standing committee in 1974 — expressly entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that legal services plans submitted by members in good standing of The Florida Bar are in full and complete compliance with the rules and regulations of Ch. 9, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
The committee has, over the years, expanded its scope and focus to include 1) educating the membership on the various rules and regulations that govern the operation of legal services plans in the State of Florida, including the entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans by and under Ch. 9, and the availability of those certain other legal and business opportunities provided in the Legal Expense Insurance Act, by and under the provisions of F.S. Ch. 642; and 2) creating a greater awareness among Florida consumers that membership in plans affords persons with many tangible benefits, including better gain access to the legal system.
The committee reviewed at length during its midyear meeting, September 20, the submission of one new Ch. 9 plan and one amended Ch. 9 plan. Further, the committee oversaw the annual renewal process whereby some 35 Ch. 9 plans were renewed for calendar year 2013.
In addition, in order to permit the members of the committee to have ready access to any and all information and materials relevant to plans in the state of Florida, the undersigned chair, in conjunction with the able assistance of the committee’s program administrator, Ricky Libbert, prepared the 2012-13 third edition of the PLSC Members Handbook; completely revising the 1999-2000 second edition. In brief, the undersigned chair is hopeful that this handbook — published in such a manner that shall permit the easy updating of same on an annual basis — shall serve as a handy resource, making membership on the committee more meaningful and beneficial.
Finally, during the June 2013 annual convention, the committee was once again privileged to join forces with the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Company to co-sponsor an informative CLE seminar. The committee’s portion of this annual seminar consisted of the two following presentations: 1) “Tips and Practice Pointers on the Creation of a Successful Chapter 9 Legal Services Plan” presented by the chair; and 2) “Best Practices in the Operational Aspects of Chapter 9 Legal Services Plans,” presented by a panel of Florida practicing attorneys having a wealth of experience in the day-to-day operations of a various number and type of plans.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge the performance of several individuals whose good and great work have contributed significantly to permitting the committee to accomplish its agenda and, in turn, further its mission, during this Bar year.
As such, I thank and acknowledge the efforts of the committee’s program administrator, Ricky Libbert, for her on-going efforts to keep both the chair and the committee on track during the course of this year; the committee’s vice chair, Kent A. Showalter III, who served as chair of the 2013 annual meeting CLE seminar, for his dedication and commitment to furthering the goals of the committee; and, committee members Nancy R. Berger, Benjamin A. Carpenter, Adam S. Goldberg, and Gerald W. Pierre, among others, for their eagerness and willingness to actively participate in the work and activities of the committee.
In conclusion, it has been an honor to serve as chair of the Prepaid Legal Services Committee during this year and I look forward to continuing on as chair during the next year and working with all committee members in order to continue to strive to fulfill the committee’s mission.
John Schaefer, Chair
During the past year, the Probate Rules Committee submitted the 2013 triennial report outlining all rule and form amendments approved by the committee pursuant to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.140(b)(2). During the 2012-13 term, the committee worked on updates to conform the probate rules to changes in the Florida Probate Code and has proposed rule revisions to be submitted with the next triennial report due in 2016.
The committee also participated in joint projects initiated by the Florida Supreme Court related to electronic filing and electronic service and is considering whether any rule changes should be implemented with regard to the use of communication equipment in probate and guardianship court proceedings.
During 2012-13, the committee considered and made amendments in furtherance of the movement to consolidate rules common to many different areas of practice within the Rules of Judicial Administration. For example, the committee considered and completed its review of the Florida Probate Code in conjunction with the “minimization rule,” Fla. R. Jud. Admin 2.425, which seeks to minimize the filing of sensitive information in court pleadings. These rules were submitted to the Florida Board of Governors in May and the report to the Florida Supreme Court should be filed this summer.
The committee has also undertaken consideration of matters presented by probate and guardianship practitioners that have statewide implication. For example, the committee is reviewing the guardianship accounting rules and forms in an effort to provide uniformity in the required yearly reporting by guardianship accountings throughout the state. The committee is additionally examining service issues that arise under Fla. Prob. R. 5.040 (a)(4), procedures to be implemented when faced with unsigned “green cards,” as well as questions regarding service of a notice of administration in summary administration proceedings.
Further, the committee continues to focus on nurturing its relationship with the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar (RPPTL). Whenever possible, the committee scheduled its meetings to coincide with meetings held by the RPPTL section to make the committee more accessible to the RPPTL members.
Each year, the Probate Rules Committee reviews and analyzes new legislation to determine whether amendments to the rules are necessary to conform to substantive changes in Florida’s probate and guardianship laws. Although, no rule amendments were finalized or implemented in response to any 2012 legislation, during the upcoming term, the committee will continue to monitor the status of pending legislation to ascertain the need for conforming changes to the rules of procedure.
The work of the Probate Rules Committee continues to be accessible to its members and to the public. Its meeting schedules and agenda are posted on the Florida Probate Rules Committee website, https://www.floridabar.org/cmdocs/cm230.nsf/WDOCS. The Florida Bar’s liaison to the Probate Rules Committee, Heather Telfer, keeps the committee’s information updated and available to the committee members and to all members of the public who have an interest in the committee’s activities.
I urge practitioners to monitor The Florida Bar News for the publication of proposed rule changes, as well as the Florida Supreme Court website, which lists the pending rules cases. The Probate Rules Committee welcomes comments to the published proposals, comments on pending projects, and suggestions for rule changes based upon procedural problems encountered by courts and practitioners alike.
It has been my privilege and honor to serve as chair of the Probate Rule Committee this year. I would like to thank all the Probate Rules Committee members, The Florida Bar’s liaison, Heather Telfer, the other members of The Florida Bar staff, and the members of the other rules committees who have worked in conjunction with us, for their dedication, commitment to excellence, and for all their contributions during 2012-13.
James R. George, Chair
Pro Bono Legal Services
In 2012, The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services continued to focus its efforts on raising the level of awareness regarding the need for pro bono legal services. The committee sought to improve pro bono activities at both the state and local level in the following ways:
• Supported the work of local “One” campaigns through coordination of statewide resources and speakers to local events.
• Worked with the Miami/Dade County Pro Bono Roundtable to promote the Pro Bono Summit in Miami.
• Worked with the Business Law Section to present the first Nonprofit Legal Clinic at the University of Miami Law School.
• Worked with the Elder Law Section to begin development of a statewide initiative on advanced directives for low-income seniors in Florida.
• Participated in the advancement of Florida’s legal services organizations by assisting with the development of webinars and in-person trainings presented by private pro bono attorneys.
• Participated in the development of the Florida pro bono website, www.floridaprobono.org. The website incorporated the “One” campaign in to the site. The site provides resources and training material to volunteer attorneys, law students, and legal services organization.
• Identified “One” ambassadors in every judicial circuit in the state.
• Encouraged The Florida Bar Foundation to support a “One” campaign director to be located in the Miami/Dade County and Broward County area.
Through the work of the committee, great strides have been made in improving pro bono legal services in Florida. However, in light of on-going budget cuts for all legal services organizations, it is the goal of the committee to be an even stronger advocate for pro bono services in 2013.
Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., Co-chair
Kathleen S. McLeroy, Co-chair
The Professional Ethics Committee is responsible for providing guidance to Bar members on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Formal committee opinions are available on the Bar’s website. A link to “Ethics Opinions” is included in a blue bar near the top of every page of the website. The committee also provides informational packets and topical information online. The committee is staffed by the Bar’s Ethics Department. The Bar’s ethics attorneys research and draft informal staff opinions and maintain the toll-free Ethics Hotline for Bar members. The committee reviews informal written opinions issued by the bar’s ethics attorneys and reconsiders them sua sponte if the committee deems appropriate or if the inquiring attorney seeks review of the informal staff opinion. In addition, the committee sponsors an annual professional ethics seminar. The committee was busy during the past year, meeting several times and considering many ethical issues.
• Formal Advisory Opinion Procedures — The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics govern the process by which staff issue informal oral and written opinions and by which the committee issues formal opinions. The committee may issue formal opinions upon review of staff opinions and existing formal opinions. Additionally, the Board of Governors may request that the committee issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to a particular set of facts. When issuing proposed formal opinions, the committee publishes official notice in The Florida Bar News, allowing Bar members to comment. The committee values the input provided by such comments and encourages Bar members to comment on proposed ethics opinions.
• Final Advisory Opinions:
Waiving Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. Florida Ethics Opinion 12-1 was based on an inquiry from a Florida Bar member. The inquirer asked whether a criminal defense lawyer has a conflict of interest that prevents the lawyer from advising a client whether to accept a plea offer that requires the client to waive any past or future ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyer, and whether a prosecutor may make an offer that requires the client to waive any past or future ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct post-conviction claims. The opinion concludes that a criminal defense lawyer has a conflict of interest that prevents the lawyer from advising a client whether to accept a plea offer that requires the client to waive any past or future ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyer, and that it is impermissible for a prosecutor to make such an offer.
Nonlawyers’ Use of Lawyers’ E-Portal Credentials. Florida Ethics Opinion 12-2 addresses whether and under what circumstances lawyers may permit supervised nonlawyers to use the lawyers’ access credentials (log-in name and password) for filing documents with a court using the e-portal. The opinion states a lawyer may provide the lawyer’s log-in credentials to the e-portal to trusted nonlawyer employees for the employees to file court documents that have been reviewed and approved by the lawyer, who remains responsible for the filing. The lawyer must properly supervise the nonlawyer, should monitor the nonlawyer’s use of the e-portal, and should immediately change the lawyer’s password if the nonlawyer employee leaves the lawyer’s employ or shows untrustworthiness in use of the e-portal.
• Issues Currently Under Consideration:
Cloud Computing. The Board of Governors, at the committee’s request, directed the committee to draft an opinion on lawyers’ use of cloud computing. The committee has adopted Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-3, which states that a lawyer may use cloud computing as long as the lawyer takes reasonable precautions to ensure that confidentiality of client information is maintained. The proposed advisory opinion has been published for comment, and the committee will reconsider it at its June 28, 2013, meeting if any comments are made.
Real Estate Trust Accounts. The committee considered Proposed Advisory Opinion 12-4 based on an inquiry from a member regarding application of new section (8) of F.S. §626.8473, requiring lawyers acting as real estate settlement agents to hold real estate transaction funds in a separate trust account to allow audit by title insurers, which became effective July 1, 2012. At its January 25, 2013, meeting, the committee considered but did not adopt the proposed advisory opinion as drafted. The committee will consider alternative proposed advisory opinions at its June 28, 2013, meeting. The subcommittee responsible for drafting the proposed advisory opinions is chaired by committee Vice Chair Loretta O’Keeffe.
Appeals of Written Staff Opinions. At each of its meetings, the committee considers appeals by attorneys of written staff opinions. Among the issues considered by the committee in such appeals this year were a lawyer’s relationship with a nonlawyer business owned by the inquirer’s son, and setting up a for-profit subscription service for lawyers to report payment history information about the lawyers’ clients in paying their fees.
• Masters Seminar on Ethics — The Professional Ethics Committee’s popular yearly CLE program addresses areas of ethics of great significance to members and will sponsor a master’s seminar on ethics at the 2013 annual meeting. The seminar subcommittee is chaired by committee Vice Chair Ana Maria Martinez and will include the following topics: oral argument, candor toward the tribunal, treatment of opposing counsel, landmines for litigation, identity of the client, payment by third parties and other client-related issues, and trust accounting. The speakers will include David Gersten, Ed Cheffy, Thomas Hyde, and Judy Equels.
• Informal Ethics Opinions Service — The ethics opinion process continues to rate as among the most desirable services on membership surveys. The committee thanks the staff of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. Staff handled almost 29,000 hotline calls during fiscal year 2011-2012, in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Adele Ilene Stone, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff: assistant ethics counsels Kathleen M. Bishop, Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jeffrey M. Hazen, and LiliJean Quintiliani, and legal assistant Donna Hostutler, headed by ethics counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Carolyn Ruth Bell, Chair
The scope and function of the Standing Committee on Professionalism are to assist the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, The Florida Bar, and The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism in implementing programs, events, and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. This year the committee was divided into five working groups:
• Aging Lawyers Working Group — Chaired by Michael Cohen, this working group is immensely involved with working on an Aging Lawyer Task Force with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., the University of Florida College of Law, the University of Florida College of Medicine, the University of Florida Brain Institute, and Shands Vista to create an online educational module and screening instrument to assess an individual lawyer’s cognitive decline, which also will collect and provide anonymous data regarding aging in the Florida legal profession. Additionally the group is developing a checklist for lawyers to use to screen cognitive problems that may affect one’s ability to practice law. The first phase of the awareness program included two articles in The Florida Bar News, “Bracing for the Tsunami of Aging Florida Lawyers,” and “The Path to Permanent Retirement.”
• Awards Working Group — After years of only awarding the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award the Awards Working Group revived the Professionalism Group Award and the Law Faculty/Administrator Award. Chaired by David Hallman, the group received an overwhelming response for all three awards this year. The purpose of the award is to find an organization that has an innovative program that can be implemented by other organizations to promote and encourage professionalism within the legal community. The purpose of the Law Faculty/Administrator Award is to identify one who promotes the fundamental ideals and values of professionalism within the legal system and who instills those ideals of character, competence, civility, and commitment in all those persons serving and seeking to serve therein. The awards will be presented at the judicial luncheon during annual convention.
• Circuit Professionalism Working Group — To get a perspective of the professionalism initiatives around the state and to learn the different projects occurring in each circuit, the Circuit Professionalism Working Group, led by Chair Denise D’Aprile, revised and renewed the Circuit Professionalism Report. The report was provided to the chief judge in each circuit for completion. The report collected information regarding programs for each circuit, such as mentoring, peer review panels, and CLE programs. The working group is compiling the reports to disseminate the efforts of each circuit via a report that will be available on the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism website and in The Professional, a newsletter of the center.
• Lawyers Helping Lawyers — Chaired by Irwin Gilbert, this group was charged with revising the website for member services, “Lawyers Helping Lawyer.” The group set forth to make the website more resourceful for new attorneys just joining The Florida Bar or in transition. In addition to the website project, the group redrafted the historical video series interview questions to assist the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism with their interview recording with U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold and U.S. District Court Judge Paul Huck. The historical video series captures the perspective and wisdom of professionalism leaders within The Florida Bar.
• Young Lawyers Working Group — Updating and distributing the Law School Handbook and the Annual Law School Report was a primary task led by Judge John Lazzara. The Law School Handbook is now more user friendly and equipped with additional resources for law students, including, but not limited to, information about Florida Lawyers Assistance and Attorney Consumer Assistance Program. In addition, the report now includes questions regarding curriculum dealing with professionalism, professionalism oaths used at graduation, and professionalism awards for staff and law students. Apart from these two projects the working group has launched a “Balancing Life and Law” program at the law schools in conjunction with the YLD law student division representative. The program gives law students a real life perspective on how the practice of law is before they graduate by offering a luncheon in which members of the standing committee and other practitioners engage in a panel discussion.
Sean T. Desmond, Chair
Real Estate Law Certification
The Real Estate Certification Committee:
• Reviews and evaluates applications from prospective board certified real estate attorneys. There were 43 attorneys eligible to sit for the 2013 certification examination.
• Prepares and grades the annual certification exam.
• Reviews and evaluates applications for recertification of those attorneys already board certified and who must apply for renewal every five years. For this year, the committee reviewed 122 applications for recertification.
• Provides advice and counsel to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education on matters relating to real estate certification.
At the present time, there are 446 board certified real estate attorneys in Florida, which is the second largest certification area in the state. I encourage those attorneys who meet the criteria for certification to join this select group and become board certified. All applicants are expected to meet the Bar’s highest standards for continuing legal education, substantial involvement in real estate law over at least five years, professionalism, and ethics, in addition to obtaining a passing score on the certification exam. In evaluating applications, the committee relies heavily on both applicant-selected and random peer review as part of this process. We have had difficulty in obtaining peer review responses and without adequate peer review input, the committee’s final decision on the applicant’s eligibility is delayed. If you receive a request for peer review, please understand that we depend on your input and appreciate your prompt response.
This year the committee was involved in several projects, which included:
• The exam specifications and related materials were rewritten to provide more guidance on what to expect in the exam and to meet the uniformity the Board of Legal Specialization and Education is attempting to achieve.
• In an attempt to test the core knowledge skills of a real estate attorney, and not simply test memorization skills, we continued a restructuring of the exam begun several years ago. Questions were shifted between the morning and afternoon session to respond to comments of time constraints from prior examinations and point allocations were adjusted between questions. In particular, the historical HUD-1 preparation question is now a “transactional analysis” question based on presented documents and a fact pattern.
• The committee participated in the discussions regarding the creation of a new certification area for condominium and planned development law.
• At the direction of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, the committee used “pretesters” to assist in evaluating the examination questions drafted by the committee members. Those individuals included Martin Awerbach, Joseph Boyd, Howard Cohen, Roger Larson, Lynn Lovejoy, Mary Robison, John Soileau, and David Weisman. All are prior committee members, who graciously gave of their time to make the 2013 exam a much improved exam.
I have found my year as committee chair to be extremely challenging, interesting, and professionally rewarding. I have been extremely fortunate to chair a committee of highly skilled and motivated members. Great thanks goes to committee Vice Chair Russell Robbins; immediate past Chairs Michael Mirrington and Deborah Boyd, who continued to serve on the committee and act as mentors; and for the sustained efforts and hard work of the members: Joshua Escoto, Richard Grant, Meredith Level, Malcolm Pitchford, and Richard Sneed, Jr. This is truly a highly capable and motivated group of real estate attorneys. Steve Rubin a former member of the committee, was a wonderful resource as our liaison with the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. We are excited that the Bar has approved the increase in the size of the committee for next year by two members.
Best wishes and thanks to past Chair Deborah Boyd for her extraordinary efforts as she now leaves the committee. No list of committee kudos would be complete without special thanks to the committee’s Bar staff liaison, Carol Vaught. Carol truly keeps the committee going with her hard work and assistance to the chair. The committee members truly appreciate her efforts all year long. In closing, many thanks once again to the fine committee I have worked with this past year and to the staff liaison. All of you have combined to provide a great service to our fellow Bar members.
Lloyd Granet, Chair
Rules of Judicial Administration
The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee (RJA) consists of 39 members, of whom 10 are representatives of the other rules committees and Board of Governors. RJA recommends rules that affect court proceedings in all substantive areas. The goal of RJA is to recommend a uniform set of rules with regard to court filings and hearings. This is even more important as the judicial branch implements paperless, digital court records.
• Email Service and E-filing — For the last several years, RJA was engaged in researching, drafting, and proposing rules to implement email service and e-filing. The culmination of these efforts was the adoption of new Rule 2.516 (email service) and amendments to Rule 2.525 (e-filing) to implement the judicial branch’s evolution to a paperless, digital court system. All attorneys are required to email serve documents to other attorneys and self-represented individuals who elect email service, and to e-file all court records in civil cases. On October 1, 2013, all attorneys will be required to email serve documents to other attorneys and self-represented individuals who elect email service, and to e-file all court records in criminal and juvenile cases.
After release of the initial email service opinion on June 21, 2012 (and the final revised opinion on October 18), RJA commenced immediate review of the rule to tweak identified technical or style problems. Keith Park, former chair of RJA and subcommittee vice chair, spent numerous hours convening subcommittee meetings to analyze problems and proposed resolutions. Keith’s commitment was priceless. As a result, a petition was filed with the Supreme Court to remedy the immediate issues for which RJA recommended a resolution.
These rules will be a “work in progress” as the bench and Bar commence with a paperless court system and continue to identify issues requiring resolution.
• Exemption of Court Records from Public Access and Minimization of Personal Information — The future posting of court records on the Internet requires constant review of the information contained in filings. RJA proposed amendments to Rule 2.420, which the Supreme Court approved in part and rejected in part on March 28. The amendments modify the notice requirements and allow for oral motions.
In conjunction with Rule 2.420 is the minimization of personal information in court records as required by Rule 2.425. The Supreme Court, on July 12, issued its opinion with regard to criminal and traffic exemptions from minimization.
• Coordination of Rules Proposals — The Supreme Court amended Rule 2.140 clarifying the responsibility of RJA in submitting joint reports after Supreme Court referrals.
• Uniform Computation of Time — Rule 2.541 was adopted by the Supreme Court effective October 1, 2012. It supersedes the individual rule sets to calculate deadlines or response times.
• Additional Pending Rule Proposals — Rule 2.451, use of electronic devices by jurors; Rule 2.560, family case management.
My year of service as chair was exciting, with the ushering in of a paperless, digital court system. I add my acknowledgment and thanks to Jodi Jennings. Jodi as Bar liaison to the committee was always available to provide information, direction, and assistance to me. I must also acknowledge the vice chair and incoming chair, Judge Jon Morgan, who kept me sane this last year. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not thank each member of the committee for the hours devoted to the issues that impact the practice of law.
I am grateful for any small part that RJA and I played in assisting with this “march into a brave new world.”
Alexandra V. Rieman, Chair
Small Claims Rules
The Small Claims Rules Committee evaluated requests for rule changes and filed its three-year cycle report to the Supreme Court seeking approval of all rule and form amendments approved by the committee since 2010. These include clarifications of the jurisdiction of the small claims court, the ability of witnesses to appear telephonically at trial, and the creation of a pamphlet to assist pro se judgment holders with understanding and implementing the laws on collection of their judgment. This proposed pamphlet is a proposed Form 7.235 and tries to answer frequently asked questions for judgment creditors seeking to collect a judgment in small claims. The committee thanks Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers Association and its executive director, Ken Kent, for their thoughts during our consideration of the issue.
The committee has also spent considerable time reviewing possible changes to address the circumstance in which a defendant is served close in time to a pretrial conference and does not, or cannot, attend. A subcommittee chaired by Taras Rudnitsky is evaluating different proposals and a survey of many county court judges has been taken. A decision on how to proceed will be made at the June 2013 committee meeting.
The committee also considered and passed a mechanism for “fast tracking” rule amendment proposals that need to be addressed outside of the normal time frames for amendment consideration.
Finally, internal operating procedures for the committee were considered and adopted. These procedures formalize and clarify the roles of the committee membership and the subcommittees. They also define to all members and the public how proposals for rule amendments are brought before the committee, and how these are ultimately considered.
I thank all of our committee members who donate their time and expertise to improve the rules that regulate the “people’s court,” also known as small claims court. They helped the committee to address the unique issues faced by pro se litigants in Florida courts.
As chair, I give special thanks to Florida Bar Liaison Heather Telfer, past Chair Judson Lee Cohen, past vice chair and incoming Chair (and RJA liaison) Nicole Young, and incoming Vice Chair Taras Rudnitsky for their assistance in the past year.
Thomas R. Thompson, Chair
State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice Certification
There are 94 lawyers certified in state and federal government and administrative practice. Rule 6-25.2 describes the practice area to include “the practice of law on behalf of public or private clients on matters including but not limited to rulemaking or adjudication associated with state or federal government entity actions such as contracts, licenses, orders, permits, policies, or rules.” The examination covers both the state and federal administrative procedure acts, as well as civil actions involving state and federal government. The examination is six hours in length and is equally divided between an essay section and a multiple choice section.
Certification is only available for those qualified applicants who pass an examination. The committee administered the seventh certification examination on May 9 in Tampa. Six attorneys applied for the examination.
Concerned that the number of new applicants may not be sufficient to sustain, much less expand, the pool of certified state and federal government and administrative practice attorneys, the committee continued its exploration of creating two “sub-tracks” within the practice area. The two areas presently under consideration are state and federal government practice and state and federal administrative practice. The committee circulated some draft rule and test specification changes to interested sections of The Florida Bar and others in recent months, and is gathering comments from the Bar sections, whose members constitute most of the certified state and federal government practice attorneys and the pool of future certification applicants. The committee welcomes your thoughts on these or alternative proposals to better serve our certification practice area.
The 2012-2013 committee consisted of Allen Grossman, chair; Francine Ffolkes, vice chair; Judge Cathy Sellers; Kirk Burns; Charles Fletcher; James Peters; Judge Lynne Allen Quimby-Pennock; Ryland Terry Rigsby and Martha Chumbler. Our excellent staff liaison is Zina Jackson. The committee extends its gratitude to its members and staff liaison for the many hours of hard work devoted to performance of the committee’s duties.
If you have any questions about certification in the area of state and federal government and administrative practice, please visit The Florida Bar’s website, or call Zina Jackson at (850) 561-5768.
Allen Grossman, Chair
Student Education and Admissions to the Bar
SEABC continues to evaluate how well law schools prepare their students for the practice of law. At the 2012 Florida Bar annual convention, the committee presented a panel discussion on “How to Keep Your Integrity and Avoid Disciplinary Action from Law School Through Retirement.” The panel featured speakers, including Dean Douglas E. Ray, St. Thomas University School of Law; Jan K. Wichrowski, chief branch discipline counsel of The Florida Bar; Michele Gavagni, executive director of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners; Michael Cohen, executive director of Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc.; Joseph W. Hatchett, retired justice; and Robert Travis, a former member of the Bar.
Based on this seminar, it appeared that law students and lawyers may struggle with the stress of law school or of practicing law, and sometimes turn to drugs and/or alcohol to deal with these problems. At the start of this SEABC year, we decided to find out exactly how law schools are dealing with these issues. Special thanks to committee members Nicole Clausing, Christine Robbins, and Stephen Smith for taking the lead on this task. Under review is a Florida Bar/Young Lawyers Division survey on law school experiences. SEABC will continue to evaluate this issue in the coming year.
SEABC members also joined together to assess what the law schools are doing to assure diversity. Special thanks to Heidi Anderson for her efforts in creating a questionnaire that may be used in the future. Also, thanks to the other SEABC members assisting with this undertaking: Nancy Benavides, Maja Holman, Alicia Jackson, Jacina Haston, and Kathryn Webber.
SEABC also determined that there appears to be an influx of graduating law school students who graduate law school without jobs and decide to establish a solo practice. These new lawyers may be missing out on the mentoring that joining a firm or organization may provide in the first few years of practice. Therefore, SEABC will present another esteemed panel to address this issue at the June 2013 annual convention, including John Berry, legal division director of The Florida Bar; committee member Richard Dellinger, Orange County Bar Foundation; Tangela King, Georgia Bar representative; and Janeia Daniels Ingram, assistant dean, Florida State University School of Law. The panel, as well as an interactive presentation, will discuss the importance of mentoring and what different states, bar associations, and law schools have done and can do to assist new lawyers in the ever-changing climate facing the practice of law.
Special thanks to Alan Aronson, for providing guidance to develop key topics to discuss at the seminar; to Vice Chair Neil Archibald, for agreeing to moderate; to Michele Gavagni for providing excellent resources; to Kathryn Webber for her tremendous effort to prepare a PowerPoint presentation; and to Julie Jo Adams, Maja Holman, and Katie Tinsley for assisting in developing thought-provoking questions.
SEABC has been hard at work on each project and could not have succeeded without the assistance of Karen Kirksey, staff liaison. Many thanks to all of our speakers and SEABC members for their hard work and dedication to the committee’s mission.
Kimberly J. Kanoff, Chair
Tax Law Certification
As the 2012-13 chair of the Tax Law Certification Committee, I am pleased to report another successful year for the committee. Tax law is one of the two original certification areas established by The Florida Bar in 1983. Of the more than 93,000 members of The Florida Bar, 247 attorneys are currently board certified in tax law. The number of tax law certified attorneys has grown steadily each year since 2009. This year’s committee first met in August in order to begin to draft the 2013 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. The committee focused on meeting the high standards established by The Florida Bar and its past and present committee members. The Bar and the public are best served by having an examination that consistently demonstrates a high level of quality and integrity.
Seven attorneys applied to take the 2013 tax law certification examination. After a thorough review of each applicant’s education, professional qualifications, and extensive peer review information, each initial applicant was approved to sit for the 2013 examination. In addition, the committee reviewed 44 recertification applications.
The 2012-13 year marked a year of change for the committee. The examination’s format and grading structure were re-engineered in order to meet new requirements instituted by The Florida Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education. The examination is now comprised of 10 mandatory short-answer essay questions, a choice of entity long-answer essay question, and a long-answer essay question on a tax law topic preselected by the applicant. The examination covers a variety of tax law topics including corporate tax, partnership tax, Florida state and local tax, individual income tax, estate and gift tax, international tax, employment tax, tax-exempt organizations, tax procedure and penalties, and income taxation of estates and trusts. The examination’s new format advances the committee’s goal of evaluating an applicant’s breadth of tax knowledge as well as his or her depth of tax knowledge in a particular area. The examination also includes an ethics component which encompasses the applicability of Circular 230. In order to be deemed a tax “expert” or “specialist,” an examinee must not only demonstrate technical knowledge (i.e., proficient command of the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, and applicable rulings and court decisions), but must also be adept at identifying the factual issues to which the above rules of law apply and structuring creative solutions to those issues.
The approved applicants were invited to sit for the examination on March 15 in Tampa. The examination was administered in two three-hour time blocks. The first time block consisted of five of the 10 short-answer essay questions and the choice of entity long-answer essay question. The second time block consisted of the remaining five short-answer essay questions and each applicant’s pre-selected, long-answer essay question. The applicants will be advised of their results no later than June 1, 2013.
The committee is very grateful to the tax law certified attorneys who participated in the newly implemented examination pretesting process. The pretesters aided the committee not only in developing questions that tested single-issue technical proficiency, but in developing questions that tested broad-based tax law principles and conflicts or ambiguities among competing statutes. Special acknowledgements go to Michael Lampert, chair of the Tax Section, as well as to Margarita Muina and Joseph Schimmel for exceeding the committee’s expectations with their contributions to the committee’s mission.
The committee is also grateful to the many lawyers who participated in the confidential peer review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications and professionalism would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
This year’s committee included me as chair, Miami; Linda Griffin, vice chair, Clearwater; Harris Bonnette, Jacksonville; David Burke, Tampa; Gary Huston, Pensacola; Cristin Keane, Tampa; Donna Litman, Ft. Lauderdale; Richard Shapack, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and Michael Wilson, Sarasota. Lindsey Blomberg joined us as Bar staff liaison this year. Without her skill and effort, the administration and logistics of the tax law certification life-cycle would have been quite burdensome. I thank her for her commitment to helping us achieve our goals. Foremost, I would like to thank each committee member personally for his or her time, dedication, and hard work. I considered myself honored and privileged for having had the opportunity to serve The Florida Bar and to work with such a distinguished cadre of tax professionals. It is my sincere wish that they remember the 2012-13 year as a time of genesis when our committee was the catalyst of great change and accomplishment in our profession.
Judge Vivian N. Rodriguez, Chair
Traffic Court Rules
In response to the Supreme Court’s opinion In Re Amendments to Fla. Rules of Traffic Court, 95 So. 3d 117, 121 (Fla. 2012), the Traffic Court Rules Committee submitted a proposed model colloquy to amend Fla. R. Traf. Ct. 6.450(b). The Supreme Court suggested that the Conference of County Court Judges and the Traffic Court Rules Committee work together on a proposed colloquy that should be read to all defendants prior to a court proceeding. The Conference of County Court Judges does not believe such a colloquy is necessary, but did submit its version of a model colloquy. The Traffic Court Rules Committee agreed that prior to commencement of a hearing, a judge or hearing officer should advise defendants that “(a)ny statement made during the court of these proceedings can and will be used against you should you be charged criminally as a result of the incident that gave rise to this citation. If you believe that your actions could give rise to criminal charges, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to testify, you are giving up your right to remain silent and you must then also answer any questions related to your testimony.” The issue is currently before the Florida Supreme Court.
In response to the three-year cycle report filed by the Traffic Court Rules Committee, the Supreme Court approved changes to Fla. R. Traf. Ct. 6.600(b). As amended, the rule clarifies a scenario in which a driver elects a hearing, but their license is not yet suspended. The rule now requires that the clerk of court shall set a matter for a contested hearing before the DHSMV has taken action against a defendant’s driver’s license for noncompliance.
Thanks to everyone on the committee for their hard work, and everyone who served on a subcommittee. Special thanks to Vice Chair Marynell Hardee, former Liaison Krys Godwin, and current liaison Heather Telfer.
David Haenel, Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
The standing committee and The Florida Bar UPL staff continued their efforts to protect the public from UPL. The types of cases the standing committee saw this past year are similar to those in past years — immigration, foreclosure assistance and loan modification companies, and nonlawyer document preparers to name a few. We obtained injunctions from the Florida Supreme Court against individuals and business for engaging in the unlicensed practice of law, including individuals who provided immigration services, foreclosure assistance and loan modification services, a nonlawyer company that represented others in Florida court cases, and an out-of-state licensed attorney who opened a law office in Florida to practice in the federal courts. The court also found an individual guilty of indirect criminal contempt for violating a previous order of the court.
We continue to receive complaints against out-of-state licensed attorneys for assisting individuals with Florida legal issues. However, under the MJP (multijurisdictional practice of law) rules, out-of-state attorneys may provide limited legal services in Florida on a temporary basis under certain circumstances. The rules also subject out-of-state attorneys to the disciplinary authority of the Florida Supreme Court while providing those legal services. So, while out-of-state lawyers may not be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law if their activity falls within the rule, they can be disciplined for unethical conduct. The MJP rules also require out-of-state attorneys appearing in Florida courts and arbitrations to file a copy of their pro hac vice motion and a verified statement, respectively, with The Florida Bar. Anyone wishing to check whether opposing counsel has filed their pro hac vice motion or verified statement with The Florida Bar may do so by contacting the UPL department at (850) 561-5840.
The standing committee held two public hearings this year in response to formal advisory opinion requests. The first request involved the activities of community association managers. The committee first addressed this issue in 1996 when it issued an advisory opinion on the subject, but changes in the law since then have prompted this latest request. The standing committee voted to file a proposed advisory opinion with the Florida Supreme Court, which was filed in May. The proposed opinion does not change any of the rulings made by the court in 1996, which answered many of the questions posed by the petitioner. Clarification by example is provided for two activities and two activities not raised in 1996 are addressed using the 1996 opinion and other case law as guidance. The second request involved certain Medicaid planning activities. The committee voted to issue an opinion and directed staff to draft a proposed opinion for its review in June. Whether this opinion will be filed with the court is an unanswered question at this point.
Some of the more interesting issues the standing committee addressed this year included foreign attorneys who wanted to rent office space in Florida so that they could advertise that they had a Florida office and bail bondsmen who filed documents for others in court.
As we conclude my year as chair of the standing committee, I thank all of the public members and lawyers on the standing committee for their fine service. It has been a pleasure working with you. The standing committee gives a special thanks to the circuit committees: We know you are the unrecognized heart and soul of UPL enforcement for the court. All committee members, who contribute their valuable time and energy in protecting the public, are especially appreciated.
I thank and recognize our staff counsel: Lori Holcomb, UPL director; Jeffrey Picker, assistant UPL director; UPL branch counsel, Jacquelyn Needelman (Miami), Janet Morgan (Ft. Lauderdale), Ghunise Coaxum (Orlando), Maria Torres (Tampa), and Monica Armster Rainge (Tallahassee), and their excellent support staffs. This dedicated and hard-working staff does an incredible job year after year.
It has been an honor and pleasure to work with you all.
Nancy Munjiovi Blount, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
The Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee (VBLC) serves as a liaison between The Florida Bar and the voluntary bar associations throughout the state. The mission of the VBLC is to improve communication between The Florida Bar and voluntary bar associations, coordinate programs of The Florida Bar, such as the annual Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, provide a resource and information bank of activities and the concerns of voluntary bar associations, and advise the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of The Florida Bar programs to voluntary bar associations and individual members.
Attorneys and association executive directors of more than 20 local bar associations serve as 2012-13 VBLC members. The Florida Bar leadership is continually supportive of voluntary bar associations and their activities. Florida Bar President Gwynne Young has attended and spoken at numerous local voluntary bar association functions throughout the year and has emphasized the important services that voluntary bar associations provide within the Florida legal community. Sandra Upchurch is the Board of Governors liaison, continuing the tradition of active support for the committee and voluntary bar organizations.
Committee members planned the 2012 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in Atlantic Beach. Hosted by the Jacksonville Bar Association, the theme was “In Your Element: Leading, Learning, Linking.” The conference conveyed the VBLC’s goal to provide practical and useful advice to voluntary bar leaders around the state by offering workshops on CLE programs, membership recruitment and retention, nondues revenue generation, and pressing issues affecting both staffed and nonstaffed bars. Florida Bar President Gwynne Young, opened the conference by discussing the statewide merit retention education program. She then hosted a very well received roundtable discussion, “Conversation with The Florida Bar President.” The committee thanks her and Eugene Pettis for their participation and support of the conference.
Conference attendees provided the committee with positive feedback at its close. Voluntary bar leaders came away from the conference energized and excited to implement the ideas and suggestions offered by the qualified and experienced speakers and other conference attendees. The success of this conference was due in large part to the excellent event planning of dedicated VBLC members, the Jacksonville Bar Association, and the conference attendees who provided great ideas, energy, and insight. Thanks to everyone involved for another putting on another successful conference.
During the initial meetings of the 2012-13 year, VBLC members voted to accept the offer of the Clearwater Bar Association to host the 2013 conference, which will be held at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater on July 19 and 20. Michael J. Faehner was appointed to serve as the conference chair, and planning has been underway since September, with members proposing breakout session topics, suggesting and contacting speakers and panelists, and organizing related events.
In 2012, the VBLC was requested by The Florida Bar to assist with serving as a resource for voluntary bar associations that run not-for-profit lawyer referral service programs. At its midyear meeting, the full committee evaluated the role of the VBLC in serving as a resource for the voluntary bar associations throughout the state, and the committee voted to form a Lawyer Referral Services Subcommittee to be chaired by Brant Bittner.
The VBLC strives to fulfill its mission each year by providing topical and quality programs for attendees of the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, improving communication between voluntary bar associations and The Florida Bar, and serving as a resource of practical, helpful information to voluntary bar associations around the state. With full staff and the financial support of The Florida Bar, the VBLC will continue to serve as a viable link between The Florida Bar and the voluntary bar associations throughout the state.
My sincere thanks and appreciation to the committee members and The Florida Bar staff who worked so hard to ensure that the VBLC had a successful and productive year!
Michelle L. Naberhaus, Chair
Wills, Trusts, and Estates Law Certification
The Wills, Trusts and Estates Law Certification Committee oversees the process of certifying attorneys as wills, trusts, and estates specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, and for reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. The certification process consists of three requirements: an active practice in wills, trusts and estates law; excellent peer reviews; and passing the certification examination.
As chair of the Wills, Trusts and Estates Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida wills, trusts, and estates lawyers. The committee is comprised of nine wills, trusts, and estates board certified attorneys. The committee first met in August 2012 to begin drafting the 2013 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee worked to continue the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar. The committee also implemented modifications to reduce the length of the exam questions given the BLSE mandate for all certification areas that applicants score a 70 percent to pass the exam.
The 2013 exam is comprised of seven essay questions and 58 multiple choice questions on procedural and substantive law. For the various subjects, the committee updated questions from previous examinations, as well as created new questions that are current. The exam questions were all reviewed and revised to reflect changes in federal tax law and Florida estate and trust law. The committee seeks to ensure that the exam is a fair but rigorous test of an applicant’s expertise. On May 10, in Tampa, applicants took the exam in two, three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1.
At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2013 examination. The committee grades the examinations on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to committee members only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a certified attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as a wills, trusts, and estates board certified specialist.
Of the more than 93,000 members of The Florida Bar, 335 are currently board certified in wills, trusts, and estates law. Fifteen attorneys applied to take the 2013 wills, trusts, and estates law certification exam. Six of these applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after either failure or nonattendance at the 2012 exam. All of the applicants have been deemed eligible to sit for the exam. The committee also reviewed 78 recertification applications this year.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year, along with Shawn Snyder (vice chair), Paul McCawley (immediate past chair), Jean Coker, J. John Farina, L. Howard Payne, Tasha Pepper-Dickinson, Norma Stanley, and Robert “Bob” Wilkins. We also appreciate the hard work of Lindsey Blomberg who became the Bar staff liaison to the committee this year.
William M. “Bill” Pearson, Chair
Workers’ Compensation Board Certification
The more things change, the more they stay the same. So goes the mantra of the Workers’ Compensation Board Certification Committee. While the practice of workers’ compensation has changed and adapted over the years, the process of certifying attorneys as experts in the field of workers compensation remains active and steady.
Of the more than 90,000 lawyers that make up The Florida Bar, just 203 are certified in the specialty of workers compensation. This year, 33 attorneys were scheduled to recertify; 26 recertification applications were received. Moreover, 11 attorneys submitted initial applications for certification and will sit for the certification exam.
The review of these applications is an extensive and thorough process, comprised of peer reviews, CLE verification, and trial requirements. Beyond what information is contained in the application, the committee conducts further inquiries of an applicant’s character and trial abilities. While each applicant is permitted to submit a list of colleagues from whom peer reviews are requested, the committee seeks further comments from those practitioners whom the applicant has faced in trial or on appeal, and from judges before whom the applicant has appeared. From the committee’s first meeting in August, until its final meeting before the exam, applications are reviewed and re-reviewed to ensure that each applicant is fairly and thoroughly vetted. While some would contend that passing the exam or fulfilling the trial requirements are the toughest standards to meet, the peer review process is perhaps the most pivotal. In short, character counts! How an applicant is viewed by others in an adversarial relationship, or before a judge, speaks volumes to one’s character and professionalism that is at the crux of what it means to be board certified. To that end, the committee is grateful for those judges and attorneys who take the time to complete the peer review forms thoughtfully and candidly. Without such assistance, an adequate review of an applicant’s qualifications, reputation, knowledge, professionalism, reputation and ethical conduct cannot be completed. The committee strives each year to confirm and reaffirm the confidentiality of this peer review process.
Attorneys who are board certified can hold themselves out to the general public as an expert or a specialist. Thus, the committee is committed to ensuring that those attorneys who are board certified possess the knowledge, skill, and professionalism upon which the public can rely.
In August, applications were initially reviewed and the process of drafting the exam began. Over the next several months, while applications continue to be reviewed, draft exam questions are prepared. The exam consists of three essays and 100 multiple choice questions. The exam is administered in one six-hour day, consisting of two three-hour sessions. Throughout the exam drafting process, each question is reviewed to ensure its accuracy and validity. This year, the BLSE adopted uniform standards for exam questions, and the committee strove to adhere to those standards. Another goal of the exam is to confirm the test-taker’s comprehensive understanding of workers’ compensation jurisprudence. The committee strives to put together an exam that covers a wide range of subjects and issues that a workers’ compensation practitioner would encounter on a daily basis: compensability, medical benefits, indemnity benefits, statutory defenses, rules of procedure, and more.
Members of the committee include Mark Eckels (chair), Gray Sanders (vice chair), Tom Vecchio, Kristy Gavin, Scott Williams, Ivan Voronec, Tracey Hyde, Brian Bolton, and Philip Augustine. The committee could not complete its work without the efforts and diligence of our Bar liaison, Corrin Tillman. It is because of the hard work of each member on the committee and our liaison that my job as chair of this committee has seemed effortless. I am indeed grateful for their service and dedication.
I have served on this committee since 2007. During that time, I have had the privilege to work with some of the most knowledgeable and reputable practitioners of the Florida workers’ compensation bar. I am most thankful for the opportunity to have served on this committee, and am equally grateful to President Gwynne Young and past Chair Tracey Hyde for having the confidence in me to lead this committee and the opportunity to carry on its proud tradition of safeguarding the high ideals of what it means to be a board certified workers’ compensation attorney in Florida. As I leave this committee, the “victim” of term limits, I charge the remaining members of the committee to continue in this mission. Having worked with them, I am certain of their continued success.
Mark Eckels, Chair