Admiralty and Maritime Law
The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee held its annual meeting in June 2013 in Boca Raton, and its inter meeting in January in Orlando, providing its members with seven CLE hours and advanced credit toward certification. The committee reports that both meetings were well attended by the majority of committee members appearing in person or via telephone.
The committee continues its efforts to encourage the participation of members of the maritime industry in the committee, which provides a practical component to the meetings. The inclusion of maritime industry representatives also fosters a closer relationship between the maritime bar and the community it serves.
The June 2013 meeting covered the “State of Certification” in Florida and the ethical duty of competence; a report on the Maritime Labor Convention Enactment as of September 20, 2013; a navigational “Rules of the Road” update covering 1) changes to the COLLREGS by the IMO, 2) repeal of the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980, 3) replacement of the Inland Navigational Rules by the USCG Administrative Regulations, and 4) pending amendments to the USCG Regulations. The committee also launched a subcommittee devoted to the presentation of a yearly maritime law seminar, promoting ethics and professionalism in the practice of admiralty and maritime law, and reviving the Florida Maritime Law Practice Manual.
At the committee’s January meeting, the Maritime Law Seminar Subcommittee began with a presentation regarding the creation of a Seminar Steering Committee, Finance Committee, a liaison with the Trial Lawyers Section, and a current list of topics and presenters. The committee business included a discussion regarding increasing exposure, marketing, and status. The committee also focused on concepts and ideas for increasing the recognition and growth of the committee within Florida and nationwide as a substantial contributor to the maritime bar, with a commitment to annual presentation and publication independent of an annual or biannual seminar.
Special recognition was given to the committee for its contribution to a law review article published in the Tulane Admiralty & Maritime Law Journal based on a 2013 committee meeting presentation on Fane Lozman, Petitioner v. The City of Riviera Beach, Florida, which made its way to the U. S. Supreme Court.
The committee’s January meeting addressed substantive topics, including the current status of the Death on the High Seas Act and its application in instances of catastrophic claims occurring in the territorial waters of foreign states; the application of East River and the Economic Loss Rule After Tiara Condo Ass’n v. Marsh & McLennan Cos., 110 So. 3d 399 (2013), and the ethics of arguing for an expansion or restriction of the law; and a roundtable discussion regarding effective preparation, response, and recovery when a catastrophic event occurs domestically. The committee and industry representatives discussed the strategy to be employed by the plaintiff and defense bar, including the benefits of a clear line of sight from pre-casualty response, risk management, and preparedness through ethical and responsible emergency response, mass casualty management, and recovery from responsible parties.
The committee is excited to move into 2014 with new leadership and will continue to allow members to appear via teleconference for CLE and meetings. We further invite interested members of the Bar to attend meetings and apply for committee membership.
Michael W. McLeod, Chair
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification
This year, the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee continued its goal of developing a board certification exam that is appropriately challenging so that those who successfully pass can be assured that they can hold themselves out as true specialists in the complex and multidisciplinary field that is admiralty and maritime law. To that end, the committee met and had various exchanges throughout the year to decide how to better present the exam for this year and the future.
As of this writing, there are 62 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law in the state of Florida. This represents an increase of five over the previous year, which, in total, is more than 20 percent of all the admiralty attorneys represented in the membership of the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute. The institute encompasses those who practice maritime law from Maryland south to Florida and west to Texas. Moreover, through continuing outreach to those devoted to the avocation that is admiralty law, the committee continues 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 encouraging 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, to review the study program and take the test to seek board certification. The committee continues to set 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 membership includes Tim Boyd, Mark Buhler, Barbara Cook, Allan Kelley, Richard McAlpin, Michelle Valdez, and Joanne Foster, and we welcomed aboard our latest committee member, Raul Chacon. 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. I thank all of you for your contributions to our goals.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Lisa Morgan and her successor, Rachael Moulton, our excellent Bar staff liaisons. They are indispensable to the committee and we appreciate their work and continued 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.
Mark Ercolin, 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 24 attorneys as Florida Bar board-certified adoption lawyers.
Although this committee is one of the smaller certification areas, its members have been working to encourage their fellow adoption law colleagues who are not board certified, but would otherwise be qualified, to seek board certification. The committee continues its work on setting up informational booths at various adoption law CLE events to increase awareness and marketing on the value and benefits of board certification.
During the 2013-14 year, the committee met to view applications for certification and to prepare and grade the examination. Three meetings were in person, and thanks to the computer savvy of Amy U. Hickman, the remainder were held through JoinMe online conference calls.
The committee reviewed and evaluated applications for the 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 requests for 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 essay questions and 30 multiple-choice questions; the second part contained two long essay questions and 25 short-answer questions.
Members of the Adoption Law Certification Committee consist of Susan Stockham, chair, Sarasota; Mary Ann Scherer, vice chair, Ft. Lauderdale; Danelle D. Barksdale, Tampa; Amy U. Hickman, Boynton Beach; Ellen M. Kaplan, Coral Springs; Anthony B. Marchese, Tampa; Michael A. Shorstein, Jacksonville; Cynthia S. Swanson, Gainesville; and Jeanne T. Tate, Tampa. I thank each for their significant commitment of time, energy, and thought, which contributed to a productive and successful year. I especially thank Amy Hickman and Mary Ann Scherer for their 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 Carol Vaught, Kateri Timmes, and Vicki Simmons, our excellent Bar staff liaisons who 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 while raising public awareness of this area of law. It’s time to become a board-certified adoption attorney!
Susan L. Stockman, Chair
The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising Bar members 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 at www.floridabar.org under “Lawyer Regulation” then “Advertising Rules.”
This was a busy year for the committee. In addition to reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar, the committee participated in changes to LinkedIn regarding the “specialties” header and endorsements feature and is considering proposed changes to Rule 4-7.14. Also, on December 13, 2013, the Board of Governors approved guidelines regarding advertising past results, requiring revisions to the Handbook and other advertising information available on the bar’s website.
• LinkedIn — The committee requested that the Board of Governors direct the committee to issue a formal advisory opinion on LinkedIn, including the “specialties” header and the endorsements feature that shows endorsements for “skills and expertise.” Subsequent to the request, Committee Chair Adam P. Schwartz and Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Tarbert had multiple meetings and discussions with a representative of LinkedIn to discuss the committee’s concerns. Based on these discussions, LinkedIn resolved the committee’s concerns by removing the default to the term “specialties” and changing the endorsements header to remove the word “expertise.” As a result, the committee determined an opinion was unnecessary.
• Proposed Rule Change to Rule 4-7.14 — The committee considered a draft proposed rule change to Rule 4-7.14 related to the use of the words “specialist” or “expert” by board certified lawyers to expand the use of those terms by attorneys who are not board certified. The committee invited a representative of The Florida Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education committee to provide input on the issue. Chair Jack Pelzer spoke with the committee and urged them not to make changes to the rule. The issue remains under consideration by the committee.
• Guidelines on Past Results — On December 13, 2013, the Board of Governors approved guidelines for advertising past results in lawyer advertisements. The committee posted the guidelines to the website and updated the handbook to reflect changes.
• 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 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 Florida from services that do not follow the advertising and ethical standards on The Florida Bar
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish “Advertising Updates” in The Florida Bar News from time to time. 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 to assist them in compliance with the attorney advertising rules.
• Composition of the Committee and 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: Melvin Bowen Wright, Alvin V. Alsobrook, Connie Reeves Bookman, Sammy Michael Cacciatore, Michael John Faehner, and Anthony J. Jackson.
Finally, the committee thanks Board Liaison Carl B. Schwait, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff: assistant ethics counsels Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan D. Grabb, 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 Faye B. Miller, 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.
Adam P. Schwartz, Chair
The Animal Law Committee (ALC) is pleased to report that 2013-2014 has been perhaps the most successful in its 10-year history. The ALC continues to see exponential growth in the interest in animal law from attorneys, law students, and the public. There are many people to thank for this success, but I start by thanking our excellent leadership, ALC vice chairs Gregg Morton, Gil Panzer, Sarah Taitt, Kim Radcliffe, and Geoff Fleck, and subcommittee chairs Tim Martin and Jennifer Dietz. A special thank you goes to Board of Governors Liaison Renee Thompson for her extraordinary efforts and to Bar President Eugene Pettis for his support. I also thank ALC’s program administrator, Eugene Sherman, for his hard work in the trenches.
The year began in June 2013 with another successful annual meeting. The ALC awarded its first annual outstanding service awards to recognize and encourage the practice and study of animal law in Florida and to further the purpose and goals of the ALC. The inaugural winners of the awards were ALC member Gregg Morton and Florida State University College of Law student Kevin Schneider.
The annual meeting also featured the ALC’s most successful CLE seminar to date, “The Wild, Weird, and Woolly World of Animal Law.” More than 80 attorneys attended the CLE, which included presentations on animal law legislation, dangerous dog defense, domestic relations law, conflicts between tenants and condominium associations over animals, and international and historic presentations on animal protection laws. Keynote speaker Jim Gesauldi, from the New York Animal Law Committee, spoke on the Animal Welfare Act and other life-practice issues, and Rabbi Barry Silver inspired the crowd with his ethical and philosophical presentation. Thank you to Geoff Fleck for organizing the 2013 CLE. The speakers and topics for the 2014 CLE are set and the ALC is expecting another sell-out crowd. Thank you to Tim Martin for organizing the 2014 CLE. Additionally, plans are in the works for a celebration to take place at the annual meeting in June 2014 that will coincide with the ALC’s 10th anniversary. Thank you to Gregg Morton for planning this event.
In addition, we continued our outreach to law students in Florida. After a successful partnering last year with Florida State College of Law’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and Tallahassee-based not-for-profit Pets Ad Litem on an inaugural student animal law legal writing competition, the ALC is again participating in the planning for the second annual competition. The winning law student will be awarded $500 from Pets Ad Litem and his or her essay will be featured in the ALC’s newsletter. Last year we received six submissions from three different Florida law schools for our inaugural competition. This year interest has been even greater as the word spreads about this exciting educational opportunity, and we expect even greater participation. Thank you to ALC member and FSU College of Law Professor Patricia Matthews for organizing the competition and for serving as ALC liaison to law schools in Florida. I also had the privilege of guest lecturing on animal law at the FAMU College of Law. Thank you to FAMU Professor Randy Abate and his animal law students for their interest in and support of the ALC.
Furthermore, the ALC released two newsletters in 2013-2014, featuring articles from practitioners on legislation, working with nonprofits and animal shelters, the use of courthouse therapy dogs, and other topics. Thank you to Sarah Taitt for her efforts in producing the newsletters. Of note this year, the ALC received exciting news about a newsletter article on Key Deer. U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia saw the article in the newsletter and reached out to the law student author, Yanae Barroso of Nova Southeastern Law School, to discuss how to implement her ideas for additional signage to protect Key Deer. Working with Congressman Garcia’s staff and local stakeholders, signs warning people not to feed Key Deer are now posted throughout the National Key Deer Refuge in Monroe County. Thank you to Yanae Barroso and Nova Southeastern Law School Professor Phyllis Coleman for their outstanding efforts.
Because animal law touches on so many other areas of law, the ALC also has renewed its emphasis on outreach to existing committees and sections of the Bar. Interest and membership continue to expand into many practice areas. We thank the Administrative, Appellate Practice, City, County and Local Government, EASL, Environmental & Land Use Law, General Practice Solo and Small Firm, and Real Property, Probate and Trust Law sections of The Florida Bar for working with our liaisons on outreach among our groups. We particularly thank the RPPTL Section for publishing an article sponsored by the ALC in its Winter 2014 issue of Action Line. We look forward to strengthening these alliances and building relationships with other sections as well. The ALC offers special thanks to the Young Lawyers Division. A third of the ALC’s membership are also members of the YLD, and these young attorneys are truly the driving force behind the rapid rise in interest in animal law. Thank you to Sarah Taitt for her outreach efforts and to Gil Panzer for his efforts in increasing ALC membership.
We are very pleased to announce that The Florida Bar Journal has agreed to publish a special issue in November dedicated to animal law in Florida. As an added feature, animal law will be featured on the cover. We thank The Florida Bar Journal and News Editorial Board for this unique opportunity for the members of the Bar and all readers of the Journal to gain a fuller understanding of animal law. We have identified our special issue topics and authors, and our special editors Gregg Morton, Sarah Taitt, and Tim Martin are working hard to make this a special issue indeed.
Finally, the ALC began a few years ago actively looking into the possibility of becoming a dedicated section of The Florida Bar. We are pleased to report that this year we have made great progress toward this goal. The ALC’s petition drive to gather the signatures required to support section status has been a success, as we have achieved our goal of approximately 1,000 signatures of interested active members of The Florida Bar. Thank you to Jennifer Dietz for heading up this effort and to Gil Panzer and Kim Radcliffe over the past year. This was made possible due to the involvement of dozens of our ALC members in our efforts to increase membership and in our petition drive. We plan to file our petition asking for formal section status with the Bar this year. If successful, becoming a section will provide the opportunity for the ALC to make a far greater impact in the field of animal law.
Members of the Bar who are interested in joining the ALC or being added to its email notification list should email Gregg Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gil Panzer at email@example.com. Questions about this report or the activities of the ALC should be directed to me at RalphD@hgslaw.com. We look forward to another 10 years of serving the Bar and public, and thank you for the opportunity to do so.
Ralph A. DeMeo, Chair
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law Certification
Antitrust law covers the practice of law dealing with anticompetitive conduct or structure that may reduce consumer welfare in the U.S. 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 Law Certification Committee met by conference call and electronically to revise proposed rule amendments to the standards for certification in this specialty area to more accurately reflect the current antitrust and trade regulation practices of lawyers in Florida. The committee also discussed ways to promote certification to increase the number of applicants for antitrust and trade regulation law. Proposed revisions expand the certification area to offer an opportunity for consumer protection lawyers to become certified trade regulation specialists. The revised proposed rule amendments are currently pending review by The Florida Bar. The committee has circulated a petition in support of the revised proposed rule amendments. If you are interested in reviewing the petition and the proposed new standards for certification in this specialty area, please contact Lindsey Blomberg, Bar staff liaison to the committee.
I thank my hardworking committee members: Vice Chair Hal Litchford, Patricia Conners, Judge Edward LaRose, and Lawrence Silverman. On behalf of the committee, I thank Lindsey Blomberg for her valuable support.
D. Matthew Allen, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
During the 2013-2014 year, the Appellate Court Rules Committee has been hard at work addressing a variety of proposed amendments to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. The year began with the committee’s efforts to complete its 2014 three-year cycle report to the Florida Supreme Court, in which the committee has proposed more than 50 amendments to the appellate rules. As part of those efforts, the committee received and considered extensive comments after the publication of the proposed amendments, and then finalized its report for submission to the Supreme Court.
Building on the work of an ad hoc subcommittee that is deserving of special recognition — Chair Rob Telfer, Judge T. Kent Wetherell II, Kristin Norse, and Betty Wheeler — the committee, together with the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, also submitted an out-of-cycle joint report that proposed amendments to Rule 9.340 to address recent legislation that eliminated terms of court and impacted the period for recalling appellate mandates. After comments to that out-of-cycle report were filed, the committee prepared a joint response together with the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee and responded to an additional inquiry from the Florida Supreme Court.
In response to a referral from the court, the committee filed an out-of-cycle report in August to recommend the amendment of Rule 9.130(a)(3)(C) to create a review process for nonfinal orders that, as a matter of law, deny a party immunity from suit. The court accepted that case without oral argument in January.
The Appellate Court Rules Committee has also been hard at work addressing a variety of other potential rule amendments for inclusion in its 2017 three-year cycle report. The committee met in September and in January, and its members have been working consistently throughout the year on subcommittee assignments, considering referrals, drafting proposed rules and reports, and meeting telephonically. We were off to a strong, quick start this year due to the foresight of prior Chair Michael Ufferman. Together with Ceci Berman, he conducted an orientation for incoming members during the committee’s June meeting so that new members would be ready to contribute at the commencement of their terms in July. Special thanks also go to Jack Reiter and Kristin Norse for their contributions to that orientation.
The business of the Appellate Court Rules Committee could not have been accomplished without the ever-present dedication and hard work of all of its members. This is truly a tremendous group of individuals with whom it has been my honor to serve. I thank in particular Ceci Berman, Robin Bresky, Chris Carlyle, Lance Curry, Duane Daiker, Craig Leen, Jim Nutt, Judge Kathryn Pecko, Stephanie Shelley, Rob Telfer, and Judge Kent Wetherell for the time and work they have devoted as subcommittee chairs, and Elliott Kula for his time and willingness to serve as the committee’s liaison to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee.
Our Bar staff liaison, Heather Telfer, deserves special recognition. The work of the Appellate Court Rules Committee could not have been accomplished without her assistance and hard work. She has guided us as we worked to improve our appellate rules, keeping us both on the proper procedural track and on schedule, and she has done much of the heavy lifting concerning the preparation of the reports that accompanied our supreme court filings — even when much of our three-year cycle report addressed proposed amendments that were prepared and approved by the committee before Heather became our Bar staff liaison.
I also thank the officers of the committee, who are deserving of special recognition: Vice Chairs Wendy Loquasto (the incoming chair of the committee) and John Hamilton for their assistance, hard work, and counsel over the last year; Secretary David Caldevilla for his sensational work at a thankless and exhausting job; and Parliamentarian Debra Klauber for her readiness to serve.
John Hamilton, who is terming off the committee at the end of this year, deserves special recognition for his dedication, hard work, and leadership on the committee over the course of the last six years. John has contributed tremendously to the committee’s efforts to improve our rules. Indeed, the reviews that he has personally undertaken of the appellate rules over the last few years have led to more than 60 percent of the referrals that produced proposed amendments in our 2014 three-year cycle report, and there have been few proposed amendments that have not been impacted by his suggestions and edits. John’s sage contributions have been such that it is difficult to imagine the Appellate Court Rules Committee without him.
It has truly been a privilege and an honor, as well as a great deal of fun, to serve on a committee composed of people who are so exceptional, both personally and professionally, and who are so dedicated to assisting and improving our appellate court system.
Eduardo I. Sánchez, Chair
Appellate Practice Certification
For the 2013-2014 certification year, the Appellate Practice Certification Committee focused its energies on performing the 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 12 examinees passed, raising the total of board certified appellate lawyers to 173. The committee closely reviewed feedback from last year’s examinees to look for ways to improve the examination process.
During this year, the committee reviewed 26 applications for recertification and 16 applications for initial certification. The committee approved 11 applicants to sit for the 2014 board certification exam. Nine of those applicants ended up taking the exam, which had not yet been graded at 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 first implemented with the 2013 exam, the committee continued the practice of pretesting exam questions before use in the 2014 exam. The committee finds this practice to be extremely beneficial to the drafting and editing process, and expresses its gratitude to the following former members who gave up their free time to serve as pretesters: Susan Fox, Nancy Gregoire, Lucinda Hofmann, Susan Lerner, Anthony Musto, and Debra Sutton.
The committee also revised its Standing Committee Policies. Several revisions were adopted to reflect changes made to the Standing Policies of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. Other revisions were adopted to clarify practices of the committee in reviewing applications for certification and recertification.
As has consistently been the case with this committee, all nine members were very 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: Vice Chair Robert Hauser, Dock Blanchard, Shannon Carlyle, John Crabtree, Barbara Eagan, Dorothy Easley, John Mills, 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.
Loren E. Levy, Chair
Aviation Law Certification
The Aviation Law Certification Committee continues its efforts to attract attorneys practicing in this highly specialized area of the law to become board certified. There are 33 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.
The practice of aviation law includes multiple subspecialties, including the defense of enforcement and civil penalty actions brought by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) against pilots and other FAA certificate holders, the sale and leasing of aircraft, aircraft importation, exportation 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 have the specialized legal knowledge required to 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 works 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.
Four applicants took the certification exam this year. We look forward to the announcement of the exam results. The committee will continue to work to generate interest in board certification and to encourage qualified candidates to apply for next year’s exam. The application deadline is August 31.
The ongoing joint project with the Aviation Law Committee continued to identify available aviation CLE courses throughout the country to enable potential certification candidates to more easily meet the CLE requirements.
I thank my vice chair, Michael Siboni, for his dedication, input, and support during the year. Thank you to each of the other committee members, William Burd, Mary Burnett, Edward Curtis, Robert Feldman, Stuart Goldstein, and David McDonald for your creative input and assistance. Lastly, I thank Carol Vaught, 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.
Bruce Green, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
The function of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) of The Florida Bar is best summarized in its mission statement:
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 pursuant of that mission, the BLSE oversees the award of board certification, evaluates and credits continuing legal education, and ensures all Florida Bar members comply with the educational requirements established by the Supreme Court of Florida.
Attorneys who have been practicing law for five years and meet the other criteria of one of the 24 recognized areas of board certification may apply to become board certified. The BLSE is pleased to report that, after 30 years of effort by its predecessors and staff, 7 percent of all eligible attorneys in Florida have become board certified. New applications for board certification have increased by 15 percent. These numbers reflect the success of the board certification program and the growing recognition among members of The Florida Bar that board certification is a valuable enhancement to a lawyer’s career. As Justice Anstead put it, “Certification should be the capstone for a lawyer’s professional goals.”
The BLSE oversees the efforts of 23 different certification committees. Those committees do the yeoman’s work of drafting and grading substantive exams and analyzing peer review evaluations of individual applicants. The committees then recommend to the BLSE that an applicant either be granted or denied board certification. Denials of board certification for any reason are difficult, even heart-wrenching decisions. The BLSE and area committees strive to approach such questions with fairness and even-handed application of the rules. Adverse decisions by the BLSE may be appealed to the Appeals Committee of the Board of Governors.
In addition to operating the existing certification program, the BLSE plans for the expansion of the certification program. This year, the BLSE recommended to the Board of Governors the creation of two new areas of certification. Certification in the area of children’s law would recognize the skill and professionalism among those lawyers who do the important social job of assisting children at risk, particularly in delinquency, dependency, and termination of parental rights matters. Also, the BLSE has recommended the creation of a certification area for attorneys practicing in the area of condominium and planned development law, a critical part of the economy of Florida. Aspects of this area of practice overlap with some parts of the existing certification area of real estate law, but the proposed area includes skills and knowledge that go beyond existing certification areas. The BLSE expresses its sincere gratitude to the proponents of these two new areas of certification for their commitment to their areas and the ideals of the certification program. These proponents include Public Interest Law Section, the Legal Needs of Children Committee, and the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section.
Every member of the Bar will have contact with the BLSE in its role of overseeing CLE activities and accreditation, including the basic skills course requirements. The majority of the work in this area is done by the crack staff of Bar employees who apply the BLSE policies to CLE credit requests submitted both by program sponsors and individual members. Those requests that do not meet policy guidelines are reviewed by the BLSE for evaluation of their substantive educational content. The goal of the BLSE is to ensure that approved CLE meets the intent of the CLE requirement, which is to enhance and maintain competence of Florida lawyers. CLE materials are now available to Bar members in a number of different media, and include programs sponsored by various sections, local bars, and private sponsors. The rich variety of available CLE should make it possible for any Bar member to meet CLE requirements through programs that are interesting, informative, and affordable. The massive task of tracking the compliance of each and every member of The Florida Bar with the CLE requirements also falls to the skilled and dedicated staff, who joins the BLSE in thanking the Bar and its IT staff for automation of this procedure.
This report would not be complete without thanking the LSE staff, especially LSE Director Dawna Bicknell. Their effort and remarkable skill have been essential to the development of the certification program. Thanks also go to the area committees for their hours of labor and dedication to excellence. We thank the board certified lawyers of the state for carrying our flag and promoting the program. But most importantly, to all Florida attorneys who have not yet become board certified, we extend a welcoming invitation. Then you, too, can say you are “evaluated for professionalism and tested for expertise.”
John H. “Jack” Pelzer, 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 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. The Business Litigation Certification Committee members personally encourage any of our colleagues who are interested in this area of certification 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 236 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. Seventeen attorneys are expected to sit for the 2014 examination. Twenty-six certified business litigators 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 2013, 10 passed the exam and have been welcomed into the growing number of Florida board certified business litigators.
The Business Litigation Certification Committee devotes time to a host of activities to improve and enhance the certification process in business litigation law. In particular, the committee strived to use the best practices of exam drafting and grading. Toward that end, the committee members revised the holistic scoring system and developed and refined questions for the exam. The committee members are dedicated to achieve the goal of creating an exam that is a valid and reliable test of knowledge, skills, abilities, and judgments. Overall, each committee member has devoted significant time and energy in drafting and grading the exam, and in reviewing applications. Committee member attendance 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.
The committee members are collectively and actively dedicated to enhancing the certification process for those business litigators who seek to be awarded the designation “board certified specialist.”
For all of their time and efforts this past year, I thank each of the committee members, including Vice Chair Maxine Long, past Chair Mark Osherow, Wade Bowden, Judge Paul Huey, Paul Berg, Steven Meyer, David Steinfeld, and new member Donna Solomon. On behalf of the committee, I especially thank and wish all the best to our former Florida Bar certification specialist, Jennifer Wilson, who has taken a position as senior administrative assistant, House Bill Drafting, in the legislature. Also, on behalf of the committee, I welcome Laurinda Babers, who has joined our team as the certification specialist. The committee appreciates all of her efforts, assistance, and hard work.
Garry W. O’Donnell, Chair
The Florida Bar Citizens Forum is an advisory group of 12 citizens with varied interests and backgrounds who 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 2013-2014 year were Valdez Demings, retired chief of police for the Orlando Police Department; Rafael McNamara, director of advisory services for a Miami accounting firm; Ralph Merritt, president and CEO of a commercial real estate brokerage firm in Miami; and Lawrence W. Tyree, Sarasota, who most recently served as president of Florida Keys Community College. These members will serve three-year terms ending in 2016.
For the 2013-2014 Bar year, the committee met in conjunction with the July and January Board of Governors’ meetings. The first order of business in July was a carry-over item from the prior meeting regarding changing the name of the group to more clearly communicate its purpose. Many possible names were considered but ultimately the members all agreed that the best name would be The Florida Bar Citizens Advisory Committee. The Communications Committee approved this name change as did the Board of Governors.
Also during the July meeting, the committee members discussed and subsequently provided significant input to the Communications Committee and Board of Governors on providing additional information on the Bar website regarding discipline cases. The consensus was that The Florida Bar should provide consumers with as much easily accessible public record information as possible, including disciplinary actions of disbarment and suspension pending and after a referee has found guilt or a consent judgment for discipline has been signed.
In January, the committee discussed how the Bar can increase efforts to inform the public about the discipline system. They also reviewed plans for the Bar to increase its social media presence and discussed what types of information would be of value to consumers via social media. President Pettis spoke to the committee on his concerns about maintaining integrity for the legal profession in the new media age. Committee members concurred and encouraged him to continue efforts to improve the public’s regard for the legal system. He also discussed the focus of the Vision 2016 Commission.
Presentations on the state courts system’s 2014-15 budget request and on the new Informed Voters Project were provided in January. In addition, members attended the Pro Bono Awards Ceremony at the Florida Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Historical Society annual dinner.
The third and final meeting of the 2013-14 Citizens Advisory Committee will be held at the Annual Convention. Leaving the committee at the end of three-year terms are Lauren M. Anzaldo, Pensacola; Martha C. Bogdan, Jacksonville; Michael Guccione, Bradenton; and Paulita Kundid, Daytona Beach. Ms. Kundid served as vice chair this year. Their service has been greatly appreciated.
Anthony Holloway, 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 231 local government law attorneys certified in this multi-faceted and diverse area of the law.
This year, the committee reviewed 30 recertification applications, and 35 applications to sit for the exam, which was held on May 16 in Tampa. Throughout the year, members focused on structuring an exam that remains fair, challenging, and pertinent to the practice of city, county, and local government law. Special care was taken to ensure that the questions follow the criteria as outlined in the committee’s recently revised exam specifications.
The committee met several times in person and via conference call to review applications, construct the exam, review requests, and grade examinations.
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 distinguish 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: Vice chair Alan Prather, Carole Barice, Rosemary Perfit, Bob Pritt, Ken Tinkler, and Rodney Wade, and former chairs Michele Lieberman and Paul Nicoletti. We wish Michele and Paul success as they depart 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.
Don Crowell, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
2013 was a three-year cycle reporting year for the committee. The committee’s report was submitted to the Florida Supreme Court in February 2013 and an opinion was issued in November during the current Bar year. The court’s order amended seven procedural rules and 15 forms and created two new forms; it also amended the Statewide Guidelines on Taxation of Costs.
The committee responded to two questions posed in opinions issued by the Florida Supreme Court in Pino v. The Bank of New York (SC11-697). Two subcommittees were organized to look at several distinct issues about which the court members were concerned. The subcommittees presented to the full committee their recommendations that no amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure were necessary. Based on the committee’s vote, a report was filed recommending no amendments. The court fully accepted the recommendation that no amendments to the rules were needed or necessary.
The committee proposed amendments to Rule 1.470 in response to the court’s direction in In re Standard Jury Instructions — Contract and Business Cases, 116 So. 3d 284, 288 (Fla. 2013), that “[a]ll references to the Florida Standard Jury Instructions and Standard Jury Instructions as set forth in Rule 1.470(b), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, shall also include these Standard Jury Instructions — Contract and Business Cases.” The amendments correct the court’s Web address for the standard jury instructions contained in subdivision (b) of the rule and add a new committee note to reference the new Standard Jury Instructions for Contract and Business Cases. The court issued an opinion accepting the committee’s recommendations in February.
The committee filed a fast-track out-of-cycle petition to address legislative amendments relating to residential foreclosures made necessary with the passage of House Bill 87. It also filed comments in case number SC13-684 relating to an emergency petition filed by the Trial Court Budget Commission to amend Rule 1.490 and create Rule 1.491 relating to the use of magistrates in residential foreclosure cases.
Other issues the committee currently has under consideration are proposed amendments to Rules 1.100, 1.110, 1.310, 1.320, 1.350, 1.360, 1.431, 1.442, and 1.977.
The Civil Procedure Rules Committee members dedicate a significant amount of individual time to complete the work brought before it and take seriously their responsibility to the lawyers and judges of the state. My thanks to committee Vice Chairs Jane Kreusler-Walsh, Kevin Cook, and Greg Ward for their support and efforts. I thank Wayne Hogan and Dan Gerber for representing the committee at the Florida House Civil Justice Committee hearing studying the feasibility of bringing Florida’s summary judgment standard into line with the federal standard, a matter that is still pending.
Finally, my sincerest appreciation and thanks are extended to the committee’s Bar liaison, Ellen Sloyer. I know I speak for the other members of the committee that without her helpful guiding hand showing us the way as the Bar year progressed, we would not have been very effective.
Tom Bateman, Chair
Civil Trial Law Certification
Civil trial law is the practice of law dealing with the litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before courts of general jurisdiction. In addition to the pretrial and trial process, “civil trial law” includes evaluating, handling, and resolving civil controversies prior to the initiation of suit.
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. More than 100 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 2013-14, the committee reviewed 267 applications for recertification. The committee will grade the examinations of the applicants for initial certification and results will be sent 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.
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 Judge Jessica J. Recksiedler, Vice Chair Jeff Fleming, Robert Molettiere, Lewis Murphy, Woodson Isom, Henry Hunnefeld, Charles Ingram, Bill Hoppe, and Charles Morehead, gratefully acknowledge the efforts of Lisa Morgan, The Florida Bar’s certification specialist, who made our jobs easier.
Jessica J. Recksiedler, Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
The Florida Bar Clients’ Security Fund was established in 1967 as a voluntary, 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. It is financed by $25 of every Bar member’s annual dues and has more than $2.3 million budgeted for fiscal year 2013-14 to pay claims brought by former clients. The fund reimburses clients under two circumstances: when an attorney takes an advance fee, but then fails to provide any services up to a maximum amount of $5,000; and for misappropriation or theft of client monies up to a maximum amount of $250,000.
In the last fiscal year the fund received 296 new claims and paid out nearly $2.3 million to clients. As of the date of this report, for the fiscal year ending June 30, the fund has received 207 claims against 114 lawyers and has approved losses in excess of $1 million. Claims are paid only after a lawyer has been disbarred, suspended, or in the event of a death of an attorney when a client’s money is unaccounted for. 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 11,300 claims and paid out more than $31 million dollars to victims of attorney theft.
Claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff and, when appropriate, referred to a voluntary member of the committee for investigation. The 2013-14 Clients’ Security Fund Committee is composed of 27 of these 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. This is a true working committee. Membership on the committee is not for the faint of heart, but involves extensive time and energy in the investigation of claims and preparation of reports, similar to that which counsel would undertake in handling its own client matters. Guided and assisted by dedicated Bar staff, claims are thoroughly investigated and members make recommendations for approval by the committee. Many investigations require active debate at committee meetings and discussions of claims are spirited, but always with the goal of doing the right thing for the injured client. Although 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 Board of Bar Examiners, and continued oversight by The Florida Bar throughout our careers. 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 impart an unbelievable amount of trust in their chosen counsel. Breach of this trust devastates clients financially and emotionally. Bar staff and the committee are devoted to repairing the public’s trust in members of the Bar and the legal system in general. In return, the hard work of the members is also rewarded as most clients are very grateful to be compensated.
There are more than 98,000 lawyers in Florida and 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 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. Every member of the committee is to be commended for his or her diligence and hard work in processing claims.
All who serve on a Florida Bar committee, especially the chair persons, know that this important work would not be accomplished without the dedication of the Bar staff. Committee members and the clients rely heavily on staff and without their commitment, we could not do our jobs. Profound thanks goes to Patricia J. Osborne, CSF coordinator, and Stacey Thrash, CSF clerk, and Lori S. Holcomb, director of client protection, for the tremendous effort, work, and discipline that each of them have given to this committee. I will miss working with them.
Susan L. Palmatier, Chair
During the 2013-14 Florida Bar year, the Constitutional Judiciary Committee:
• Continued expanding Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education, its civics education program designed to teach attorneys how to speak to adult civic and community groups about the judiciary, rule of law, and the structure and function of government. Two new activities were added to the Benchmarks portfolio, bringing the total number of presentations to 10.
• Presented two Benchmarks training seminars at the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in July, two at the fall meeting, one at the winter meeting, and another is planned for the Annual Convention, featuring Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente.
• Worked with Bar staff to update The Florida Bar’s Speakers Bureau database so that it is easier for attorneys to sign up to participate as well as get Benchmarks speaking engagements.
• Applied to the Florida Supreme Court to enable judges who attend Benchmarks training sessions to receive continuing judicial education credit. Currently attorneys who attend Benchmarks training sessions receive general credit for those sessions and then earn ethics credits for presentations to civic groups (up to three credits in a three-year reporting period).
• Joined forces with the National Association of Women Judges Informed Voters Project. The project focuses on increasing citizens’ knowledge regarding the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary. Florida Supreme Court Justice Pariente is the state coordinating committee chairperson for the initiative.
• Updated the “Guide for Florida Voters: Questions and Answers about Florida Judges, Judicial Elections and Merit Retention.” The committee worked in tandem with the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee to review the guide; nearly 350,000 copies were distributed in 2012 to organizations throughout Florida.
• Benchmarks: Civics Education for Adults — The committee continued its work with Annette Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Related Education Association, in developing new activities for Benchmarks. Pitts is recognized nationally for her civic education expertise. This year the National Center for State Courts awarded her a 2014 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. The award honors an organization, court, or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved, or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system. Florida Supreme Court Justice Fred Lewis also was an award recipient this year.
At the request of Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis, the committee added a new Benchmarks activity dealing with voting rights. Another one, “Is It Reasonable?,” explains how a case proceeds from the state to the federal and Supreme Court, is almost ready to go.
Each Benchmarks activity comes with an overview and handouts. All materials can be downloaded from The Florida Bar website. In the current year, updates to the website have made it easier to navigate the Benchmarks pages. The presentations are now grouped into three areas: Constitution and the Bill of Rights; courts and the judicial branch; and special topics.
At the Annual Convention, Justice Pariente will participate in the seminar to train attorneys how to present both Benchmarks and Informed Voters Project sessions. Also presenting will be Pitts, Constitutional Judiciary Committee Chair Michael Napoleone, and former committee Vice Chair Richard Levenstein.
• Guide for Florida Voters — The voter’s guide began as a project of the Constitutional Judiciary Committee in 2010 and was refined in cooperation with the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee and the Bar’s Citizens Advisory Committee. The six-page, color guide was first published and distributed in 2012. It 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 for additional information about merit retention.
This year, no Supreme Court judges are in merit retention elections; however, about one-third of the judges on the five district courts of appeal appear on the ballot. With that in mind, the committee revised and updated the guide. Many thanks go to committee members Arlene Acord and Edward Carbone for their help on this project, as well as to the members of the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee who helped with the update. A distribution of 150,000 copies is planned with outreach to voluntary bars, the League of Women Voters Florida, and other public interest groups.
• Speakers Bureau update — The Speakers Bureau database on The Florida Bar website has been retooled this year. Attorneys’ speaker profiles are now linked to their attorney profiles, ensuring contact information is up to date. Also, the sign-up form is now easier to use, and one of the topics being emphasized is Benchmarks. Speakers who have listened to the online Benchmarks webinar or taken a Benchmarks seminar are eligible to make these presentations through the Speakers Bureau. Each month speakers will receive an e-newsletter listing who has made presentations and offering ideas on how to get speaking assignments through outreach to civic groups.
• 2014-2015 — Going forward, a continuing goal of the committee is to have attorneys sign up with the Speakers Bureau to increase the number of Benchmarks presentations throughout the state. We are also working with voluntary bar associations to promote and publicize Benchmarks to their members. As a result of these efforts, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of these presentations this year. The committee continues to use social media to get its message to members of the Bar and the public and will be prepared to work as necessary to uphold and maintain the integrity of Florida’s judicial branch and work to educate our citizens about any proposed legislation that affects our judiciary.
Michael Napoleone, Chair
Construction Law Certification
The committee has continued to pursue many initiatives to improve the quality of our exam for 2014.
Once again, our committee modified our 2014 exam specifications and sought recommendations from Karen Barbieri, a consultant to The Florida Bar, to provide input in the preparation of our exam questions. Based upon the past feedback from Ms. Barbieri, our committee created new multiple-choice questions and revised our test bank questions to address certain past concerns. For the first time, we have engaged in the “pre-testing process” for our 2014 exam. This process requires that the 2014 exam be reviewed and critiqued by other board certified construction lawyers, and the results have been beneficial, resulting in a variety of improvements to the 2014 exam. We tailored the exam to test more evenly those subjects described by the specifications. Our goal through all of these initiatives is to test examinees on whether they have “walking around” knowledge of construction law that would justify them becoming board certified.
As in 2013, we presented a general overview to those taking the exam at the 2014 Construction Law Certification Review Course. This included a description of the newly formatted questions, the revised specifications, and instructions for the exam as well as an explanation as to how the test will be graded.
Finally, our committee recertified more than 27 lawyers this year after reviewing applications, including careful consideration of peer review statements, grievance history, and CLE compliance.
Thanks to my committee 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 Julie Coiro, our Florida Bar representative, for her diligent efforts in assisting our committee and making it better in 2014.
Finally, thanks to my committee for devoting countless hours to ensuring Florida maintains the highest ethical standards for construction lawyers. I am proud to be one of 318 Florida board certified construction Lawyers.
Steven B. Lesser, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
The Consumer Protection Law Committee is dedicated to educating 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. The committee accomplished a great deal in furtherance of its mission during the year.
• Half-day Seminar for the Annual Convention — The committee’s “Property, Privacy and Accountability – Recent Developments in Consumer Protection” seminar, to be held June 26 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, is an intermediate-level course designed to answer questions about privacy issues related to data theft, mortgage difficulties, and foreclosure. Additionally the seminar will have a segment related to military service members.
Featured invited guests are Micah Adkins, whose practice focuses on victims of identity theft; Judge Lawrence M. Lefler of the 13th Judicial Circuit, who was commissioned as a reserve officer in the military from 2003- 2012; Andrea Macatangay, supervising attorney for the Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Legal Project for the United Way in Broward County; Scott D. Owens, a consumer attorney focusing on class action litigation related to debt collection; and Donald E. Peterson, who represents consumers in credit transaction litigation.
Additionally, five members of the Consumer Protection Law Committee — Chair John Yanchunis and members Lynn Drysdale, Margery Golant, Jared Lee, and Robert Murphy — will present. Many thanks go to Jared Lee for his stellar work organizing the seminar and finding new presenters when job conflicts led others to be unable to participate. Additional thanks go to CLE subcommittee members Steve Fahlgren, Margery Golant, Tequisha Myles, Robert Murphy, Anita Pryor, Elizabeth Starr, and James Young for their work on behalf of the seminar.
• Social Media Outreach — In 2013, the committee, with the Board of Governors’ approval, embarked on a social media experiment. The Twitter Pilot Program has two accounts: 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.
It became clear during the first year that, per the rules set down for the pilot project, not being able to follow other Twitter feeds as well as having to link all posts through The Florida Bar website reduced the reach of the Twitter accounts. The committee’s report on the pilot project this year has helped to shape policy changes now in the works. The committee goes forward confident that the changes of being able to follow other Twitter feeds as well as directly link to outside websites will enable Twitter messaging to be much more effective in communicating both with consumers and consumer attorneys.
Another fledging social media outreach effort is to use the consumer pamphlets as the basis for YouTube videos. Committee members will read short scripts on various consumer topics covered by the pamphlets.
Committee Vice Chair Sasha Sampaio deserves credit and thanks for proposing the Twitter pilot program and for continuing to shape and advance it as well as the video project.
• Legislative Outreach — Chair John Yanchunis sent a letter to all lawmakers before the start of the legislative session urging them to reach out to the committee for analysis of any legislation that would affect consumers. Additionally, Alice Vickers and Lynn Drysdale kept members posted about bills moving through the session with a consumer impact, such as ones affecting debt collection agencies, mortgage brokers, and condominiums.
• Manual for Judicial College Training — The committee is nearing completion of a manual to be given to judges on consumer topics. The manual will cover credit card, collection, landlord-tenant, and government enforcement issues. Once completed, the manual will be presented to several judges for their review before making it available to all judges at a judicial training conference. The goal is to present issues in a consistent and neutral manner so that judges have a starting point when addressing consumer topics. Thanks go to Mary Ann Etzler and Elizabeth Starr for shepherding this effort.
• Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — For the fourth year, the committee sought to honor 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 in matters close to home. Committee member Mary Lewis took the lead in organizing the effort to gather nominations and select the Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year for 2014. Last year’s winner, Alice Vickers, received the award at a presentation in the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi.
• Pamphlet Update — The Florida Bar has 29 consumer pamphlets on subjects from wills to hiring attorneys. Nineteen titles are in print with all titles available online. Additionally, there are 15 consumer tips available only online. These publications must be reviewed regularly to make sure information is current and it falls to the Consumer Protection Law Committee to do this. These publications are popular online with the pamphlets receiving an average of 54,500 page hits per month in 2013 and the tips receiving 24,000 page hits per month. Under the direction of member Lesly Longa, the committee updated all pamphlets scheduled for review. Thanks to those who reviewed and updated the pamphlets.
I personally thank Vice Chairs Tequisha Myles and Sasha Sampaio for their steadfast work on behalf of the committee and consumers throughout Florida. Their efforts contributed to a successful year for the Consumer Protection Law Committee on all fronts.
John Yanchunis, Chair
Continuing Legal Education
The CLE Committee had a very productive year this year. We started with a two-day retreat in October at the Lowes Royal Pacific Hotel in Orlando to discuss the operation of CLE programs throughout the Bar. As a result of the retreat, subcommittees have been created to study and develop the following topics:
• The possible creation of a mobile app to offer Bar members access to our 24/7 CLE library and a simple method to register for CLE programs, and access electronic program materials, including costs and content.
• Redesign of the CLE portion of The Florida Bar website to offer a more user-friendly experience for members to search and purchase CLE materials.
• Coordinate a study by Florida State University student group to advise the CLE committee how the Bar can more effectively market and distribute CLE to its members.
• Coordinate with the university group to analyze 2013 Bar member survey and, if necessary, to create an additional survey of Bar members to analyze their motivations and preferences for selection of CLE qualified programs.
• Develop recommendations to the committee regarding the design of a virtual CLE library that offers aftermarket CLE materials to Bar members in both bundled and unbundled options.
• Study the current expenses of the Bar CLE programs.
• Consider and advise the committee to develop standards for the proper use of social media in CLE marketing and programs, including interaction opportunities, policies, and limitations.
• Consider the payment and recording of CLE credits (including live requirements).
The subcommittees were populated at the Midyear Meeting in January, and will be providing initial recommendations to the committee at the June end-of-year meeting. The university project has been accepted by a group of FSU business students and is underway. We have had great participation by committee members this year, and we hope to better the marketing and distribution of CLE materials to Bar members, and increase the profitability of CLE programs to our Bar sections through these efforts.
Laura Sundberg, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
The Criminal Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as either criminal appellate law specialists or criminal trial law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, and for reviewing the applications of certified attorneys seeking recertification because of expiring terms. The certification process consists of three requirements: an active practice in either criminal appellate law or criminal trial law; excellent peer review references; and passing the certification examination.
As chair of the Criminal Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida criminal lawyers. The committee is comprised of nine board certified attorneys who work throughout the state. The committee first met in August 2013 to begin drafting the 2014 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee continued the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar.
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 assesses criminal lawyers’ fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 16 in Tampa, applicants answered these questions in two three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1.
At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2014 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 criminal appellate law board certified specialist or criminal trial law board certified specialist.
Of the more than 98,000 members of The Florida Bar, 387 are board certified in criminal trial law and 53 are board certified in criminal appellate law. Sixty-nine attorneys applied to take the 2014 criminal trial law certification exam. Twenty-two of these applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after either failure or nonattendance at the 2013 exam. Seven attorneys applied to take the 2014 criminal appellate law certification exam. Three of these applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after either failure or nonattendance at the 2013 exam. The committee also reviewed 86 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 Manuel “Manny” Garcia (vice chair), Judge Angélica Zayas (immediate past chair), Rosemary Cakmis, Roseanne Eckert, Jamie Kane, Luke Newman, Robert “Bob” Norgard, and Ethan Way. We also appreciate the hard work of Lindsey Blomberg, the Bar staff liaison to the committee, without whom we could not function. I will have the privilege to serve as chair again next year and look forward to our work.
Michael Salnick, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Florida Bar Criminal Procedure Rules Committee is comprised of members from all representative areas of practice, including the judiciary, educators, prosecuting attorneys, and both publicly funded and privately retained criminal defense attorneys. The committee strives to incorporate various viewpoints by promoting discussion on numerous issues confronting criminal practitioners.
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee consistently reviews legislative changes and case interpretations, as well as evaluates referrals from various persons and entities, to propose consistent amendments or new rules of criminal procedure. Additionally, the committee monitors all rule changes and their impact on the criminal procedure rules.
This year, the committee filed an out-of-cycle, fast-track report, in SC13-2066, proposing the following rule amendments consistent with legislative changes. The Florida Supreme Court adopted the committee’s proposed amendments to Rules 3.203, 3.211, 3.212, 3.213, and 3.815 substituting the terms “intellectual disability” and “intellectually disabled” for the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded.” The court also adopted the committee’s proposed amendment to Rule 3.121 allowing judges to electronically sign arrest warrants under certain conditions. Finally, the court adopted the committee’s proposed amendment to Rule 3.692, providing for the expungement of the criminal history record of a victim of human trafficking and adding petition, affidavit, and order forms to Rule 3.989. The committee received two comments to these amendments and subsequently filed a response.
In addition to legislative amendments and referrals, the committee addressed tasks at the Florida Supreme Court’s request. The court tasked the committee with monitoring the implementation of Rule of Judicial Administration 2.425 regarding the minimization of filing sensitive information. The committee distributed and collected surveys from practitioners and judges, and is reviewing those responses to provide information to the court and determine whether to propose rule amendments. Also at the court’s request, the committee is reviewing, and working on amendments to address successive motions filed under Rule 3.800. Lastly, at the court’s request, the committee has been working diligently to draft a proposed amendment to address the immigration warnings contained within Rule 3.172(c)(8) based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010).
In its three-year cycle report, the committee will propose a number of rule amendments and additions. For example, the committee will propose amendments to Rule 3.851(c)(4) requiring trial counsel to retain all original information and provide postconviction counsel with copies of any documents, notes, correspondence, media, and any other information that was obtained or generated during the representation of the defendant, and that postconviction counsel bears the cost of any copying and maintenance of the confidentiality of any confidential information received. Additionally, the committee will propose amendments to Rule 3.121, requiring that an arrest warrant contain any conditions of release and that a photograph be attached to the arrest warrant if reasonably available; a proposed amendment to Rule 3.212 to remove the one year time limitation for court imposed release conditions on mentally incompetent individuals who do not meet the criteria for commitment; a proposed amendment to Rule 3.590 allowing motions for new trial or for an arrest of judgment to be made both orally and in writing.
The committee continues to work on proposed amendments for its 2015 cycle report, and its members remain prepared to address any necessary interim changes to the Rules of Criminal Procedure and provide any input to the other standing rules committees.
With my term coming to an end, I sincerely thank the dedicated members of the committee and especially Heather Telfer, our attorney liaison, for their hard work and professionalism. I remain an active member of this committee and look forward to actively participating in the work that lies ahead.
Melanie L. Casper, Chair
Diversity and Inclusion
Florida Bar year 2013-2014 was the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion’s (CDI) first year in existence. The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is a merger of the former Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and the Equal Opportunities Law Section. The Florida Bar Board of Governors created the CDI as part of The Florida Bar’s effort to heighten awareness and improve diversity and inclusion throughout Florida. Each section, division, and committee is encouraged to send a representative of its executive council to serve as a member of the CDI and report back to the section, division, or committee. Furthermore, the CDI does not have any limit on the number of its members. In addition, there is no dues requirement to be a member of the CDI.
The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion has been given broad objectives that require a multi-year approach. These objectives include but are not limited to 1) furthering the understanding, knowledge, and practice of lawyers, law students, and judges working within diverse communities in order to enhance the quality and effectiveness of legal services provided to minorities, women, the LGBT community, and persons with disabilities; 2) monitoring and reporting on the diversity activities within the Board of Governors, nominations for judicial nominating commissions, other Florida Bar appointments, local/voluntary bars and the divisions, sections, and committees of The Florida Bar; and 3) educating and serving the Florida legal community with regard to the importance of diversity, and the state of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in the profession.
In furtherance of these objectives, the committee expanded the Diversity Leadership Grant Program. The Diversity Leadership Grant Program is a measure initiated by The Florida Bar to provide funding for voluntary bar associations and other groups to present events designed to increase awareness and training in the areas of diversity and inclusion. During the 2013-2014 year, 22 applications were funded in amounts ranging from $750 to $3,000 and totaling approximately $44,000 in leadership grants. For the first time, upon the recommendation of the Program Development Subcommittee, the committee has chosen to highlight the voluntary bar association that presented the most outstanding diversity and inclusion event with an award at the Annual Convention in June 2014.
In addition, the diversity leadership grant applications now have a requirement that the funded event must be recorded. The committee felt recording the funded events was necessary in order to create a database of successful diversity and inclusion programs. The CDI plans to make successful programs available to members of the Bar in the diversity section of the member services page on The Florida Bar website. The committee is also developing a diversity calendar for the website to promote the multiple diversity and inclusion events throughout Florida.
The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is further charged with monitoring and reporting on diversity activities and efforts throughout The Florida Bar. The CDI has found that many committees, sections, divisions, voluntary bar associations, and other groups make diversity and inclusion part of their yearly focus. However, it appears that the wonderful initiatives of these groups are rarely known and seldom attended by members of other groups. Members of the CDI are working with the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee to encourage each voluntary bar association to establish a generic email address for seamless communication insusceptible to changes in the voluntary bar association’s leadership structure.
The CDI’s Diversity Monitoring Subcommittee and Technology Subcommittee have diligently tackled the issue of how to most effectively monitor and track the progress of diversity and inclusion within The Florida Bar. These subcommittees have created potential questions that may be included in future surveys of Florida Bar members, and have begun to identify and develop areas of stand-alone surveys. Moreover, the subcommittees are reviewing surveys addressing diversity and inclusion conducted by the ABA and other state bars for ways to improve monitoring and tracking in Florida.
In the future, the committee hopes to make use of social media to accomplish its objectives. The committee has found that a large segment of The Florida Bar obtains news and information from websites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Web-based applications. In addition, a regular diversity spotlight on social media and in print media featuring an individual or organization will serve to generate interest and increased activity in diversity and inclusion efforts.
I extend my most sincere thanks to the CDI vice chairs, Khurrum Wahid and Susan Healy. I also thank the chairs of the CDI subcommittees: Chasity O’Steen, Khurrum Wahid, Susan Healy, Larry Smith, Judge Gill Freeman, Matt Dietz, Victoria Cruz-Garcia, Danialle Riggins, Sharon Langer, and Benedict P. Kuehne. On behalf of the entire CDI, we offer our highest gratitude to Rebecca Blackburn and the diversity initiatives manager, Arnell Bryant-Willis. They were invaluable in getting the CDI off and running in its first year.
Kevin A. McNeill, Chair
The Education Law Committee is a substantive law committee of the Bar, dedicated to bringing together lawyers practicing in education law-related areas and studying and publicizing recent developments in education law. Our committee consists of lawyers working for and on behalf of universities, colleges, and elementary and secondary schools, as well as lawyers working on behalf of individuals in the education system. This year, the Education Law Committee continued to serve practitioners in all aspects of the education law field.
It has been my pleasure to serve as chair of the Education Law Committee this year. Our goals for 2013-2014 were to increase membership, maintain CLE programming for our membership, publish informative newsletters, encourage certification efforts by putting on a certification review course, and provide members more opportunities to participate in the committee’s work.
While the challenge of increasing membership continues, the committee increased its membership this Bar year. Standing substantive law committees are hindered in membership efforts by a separate sign-up process independent of the annual fee statement, maximum year-long committee appointment, inability to fundraise by offering CLE for sale or collecting dues, and limited budget commitments from the Bar. We hope for attention to these issues in the future, as they affect all substantive law committees. To increase membership, Vice Chairs Barbara Wingo and Kalinthia Dillard and I reached out to practitioners through various avenues, such as Listservs used by current members.
Offering CLE to our membership on a regular basis is a core goal of the committee. Kalinthia Dillard, this year’s vice chair for CLE, deserves praise for organizing several very successful CLE programs. This past year CLE programming was offered at both meetings, through a fall webinar, and with the certification review course in two parts. We also plan to offer CLE at the 2014 Florida Bar annual meeting. Our fall webinar, in September 2013, addressed issues relating to Articulation and Access Through Dual Enrollment and Recent Developments in K-20 Education Legislation. The certification review course started with our January meeting with speakers covering the Administrative Procedures Act and Government in the Sunshine. The certification review then continued in February with a full-day presentation involving 11 different speakers on a multitude of topics that are tested on the education law certification examination. In addition, five others contributed written materials on eight other topics relevant to the exam. Both the fall webinar and the February review course were entirely online, using the webinar and video conferencing capabilities of Holland & Knight, LLP, who have graciously supported the committee’s efforts. Our committee remains at the forefront of utilizing technology to connect our lawyers and allow virtual access to members who might otherwise not be able to afford to attend. Given the committee’s substantial public sector membership, access is a real issue, and we are regular users of technology to keep our committee connected and thriving.
This Bar year, the committee issued two newsletters (in July and December) addressing both K-12 and higher education topics. In July, the newsletter contained articles regarding FERPA, the Florida response to the Penn State scandal (legislation concerning the protection of vulnerable persons and specific penalties for educational institutions), and residency for tuition purposes in light of Ruiz v. Robinson. In December, the newsletter published articles on the Career and Professional Act and the state authorization rules’ impact on distance learning programs. Thanks goes to Vice Chair Jason Fudge and Bob Harris for their tremendous efforts in putting out these newsletters. We welcome articles on education law topics and encourage submission of articles and topic ideas for future newsletters.
The committee met in-person twice this year in conjunction with Bar meetings. Committee meetings are an excellent opportunity for members to meet others in the education law practice area. With members representing all aspects of the field, members can seek connections and advice while catching up with colleagues. Unfortunately, in-person attendance at Bar meetings can be difficult for committee members, and the minimal budget provided to the committee makes a teleconference hookup at Bar meetings impossible. Therefore, the committee will explore holding at least one meeting per year via teleconference or video conference. Our committee’s efforts are in keeping with the Bar’s recent survey regarding integration of technology into the routine business of the Bar.
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve the committee this year, and I thank each of the vice chairs for their support and efforts: Kalinthia Dillard (CLE), Barbara Wingo (membership), and Jason Fudge (publications). I’m grateful also to the outgoing chair, Nathan A. Adams IV, for handing over a committee running so smoothly. Next year, I expect the committee will continue to thrive. I look forward to being a part of that future growth.
Youndy C. Cook, Chair
Education Law Certification
This is the fourth year of certification in education law. After three years, the committee has 41 board certified members and seven applicants for the 2014 exam. Pending the results of the March 14 certification examination, there may be as many as 48 lawyers board certified in education law. We are very pleased with our progress and look forward to continuing our growth.
A major focus of the Education Law Certification Committee this year was the continued revision of the exam specifications in accordance with the guidelines established by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. The committee worked to draft examination questions and to promote 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, within the state. 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, and 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. Members 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 2013-14 Education Law Certification Committee are Julie Sheppard, chair; Dayton Cramer, vice chair; Usher Brown; Franklin Harrison; Ned Julian; Mark Kamleiter; Ed Marko; James A. Robinson III; and Barbara Wingo. The chair thanks the committee for their hard work this year. We held meetings continuously throughout the year to develop a quality examination and worked diligently to encourage qualified lawyers to become certified. The chair thanks the Education Law Committee and its chair, Youndy Cook, for promoting certification to their membership and for holding excellent CLE’s throughout the year that corresponded to topics tested on the education law certification exam.
The committee thanks The Florida Bar for its assistance throughout the year with special thanks to Xiomara Gonzalez for her organizational skills, hard work, and professionalism. Questions regarding the certification process may be directed to her at 850-561-5768 or XGonzalez@flabar.org.
Julie L. Sheppard, Chair
Elder Law Certification
Twelve attorneys sat for the 2014 elder law board certification examination. There are 93 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, as well as the skill to apply that knowledge to situations in their practice.
Thank you to all of the dedicated, hard-working members of the committee, including Vice Chair Travis Finchum, Shannon Miller, Holly O’Neill, Carolyn Sawyer, and new members Edwin Boyer and Alex Cuello. We are extremely grateful for all the time and effort put in by our outgoing members, Carolyn Landon and Ailish O’Connor, who have served on the committee for the maximum amount of time permitted.
We want to thank our certification specialist, Laurinda Babers, who has assisted us through the process.
Colleen Duris, Chair
Family Law Rules
The Family Law Rules Committee began its year by again pledging to collaborate with the Rules Committee of the Family Law Section and the Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Courts in order to save the time and effort of the many volunteers who work on amending and creating rules relating to family law issues. There are several other groups that propose amendments to family law rules so it is important to avoid duplication of effort in order to provide a better work product to the Supreme Court, family law practitioners, and the public. Because the Family Law Rules Committee shares some members with the Rules Committee of the Family Law Section there was excellent cooperation between the two entities as evidenced by the rules committee’s support of the section’s work with regard to weapons in domestic violence cases. Future Family Law Rules committees would benefit from continuing to work with the section as well as from opening better lines of communication with the steering committee.
The need for better coordination of committees became obvious at the beginning of this term during oral arguments cases held before the Supreme Court in S.C. 12-2007 and S.C.12-2030 regarding the coordination of family law cases in two petitions filed by the Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Courts. Each presenter advocated better implementation of a unified family court system with notice to assigned judges, parties, and attorneys when there are multiple cases involving the same family members. The presenters all commented on the similarity with which the steering committee, the Family Law Rules Committee, the Family Law Section, and the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee approached these petitions. The Supreme Court ruled on the petitions on January 16 by amending R.J.A. Rule 2.545 and adopting five new family law rules.
In early fall, the Supreme Court, on its own motion, requested comments from the various Bar rules committees on whether the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Florida rules for certified and court-appointed mediators, and various rules of procedure should be amended to prohibit senior judges from serving as mediators. The Family Law Rules Committee appointed a subcommittee to consider the change and after extensive discussion and research, it recommended that the full committee file its comments reflecting that no change is needed because the existing rules provide adequate safeguards for the public. Comments were submitted on November 15, 2013. No ruling has been made by the Supreme Court to date.
The committee completed its work on its three-year cycle report and filed it on February 2. Its preliminary report was published in the July 1, 2013, Bar News. The committee considered the two comments previously submitted at its October 2013 meeting where the final recommendations were made to the proposed changes to six rules and two forms. The committee had also recommended the creation of two new rules. Rule 12.012 was created in response to the Supreme Court’s request that the committee review its rules for additional privacy issues and draws attention to the requirements of Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.425 relating to the minimization of the filing of sensitive information. Fam. Law R. 12.364 was created to govern social investigations under F.S. §61.20.
The committee has various subcommittees working on issues of continuing concern:
• Contempt Notice Subcommittee — The Turner v. Rodgers Subcommittee is working on proposed changes to notice requirements in contempt matters based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
• IWO-IDO Subcommittee — The Subcommittee on Income Withholding Orders/Income Deduction Orders continues to monitor the issues presented by the federally created form and the state’s laws.
• Beneficiary Designation Subcommittee — The subcommittee on whether changes were required to our rules or forms after the adoption of F.S. §732.703 determined that we had not been given enough time to clarify any of our forms.
• Time for Response Subcommittee — A subcommittee was formed to report to RJA on the inconsistency between the time periods for responding to pleadings that are faxed as opposed to those that are emailed.
• Subpoena Forms Subcommittee — The suggestions of a former member of the rules committee, Robert Rodriguez, to simplify the existing subpoena forms and reduce the number of forms required were sent to the Stand Alone Family Law Rules Subcommittee for consideration of adding this proposal to its review of the civil forms.
• Parent Coordination Comments Subcommittee — The Parent Coordination Subcommittee formulated a response to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee’s petition to the Supreme Court. Comments of family law rules with its suggestions for changes to the proposal were filed.
• Electronic Appearance of Parties or Witnesses — The conflict between Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.530 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.451 was discussed, with Rule 12.451 being proposed to duplicate the process outlined in the civil rules. The proposed rule will be put into the three-year cycle.
The longest serving and hardest working subcommittee continued to be the Stand Alone Family Law Rules Committee that is writing and rewriting the family law rules so that family law practitioners will no longer have to thumb back to the Rules of Civil Procedure while holding their place in the family law rules in order to properly represent their clients. This subcommittee, formerly chaired by Sarah Sullivan and Ashley Meyers, and chaired this year by Elizabeth Blackburn, has met regularly since 2009 when it was created to explore changing the rules so that they would be completely separate from the civil rules of procedure.
Impetus had been building toward creating a set of family law rules independent of the civil rules not only because of the Supreme Court’s emphasis on unified family courts, but also since practitioners faced the problem of the civil rules requiring that motions for fees be filed within 30 days of completion of a case. Other similar civil rule changes had also created problems within the family law bar because of the increasing differences between civil practice and family law practice. The subcommittee’s members have faithfully met almost weekly since 2010 to draft, redraft, and rewrite various rules and assigned forms in order to create a cohesive, central location for rules relating to the practice of family law. This year now finds the subcommittee and the full committee ready to do the final review of its work product in preparation for drafting and filing the petition for presentation of the new family law rules to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, the Board of Governors, and the Supreme Court.
The rules committee has accomplished a tremendous amount of work this year while managing to continue its spirit of collegiality and professionalism and having a really good time.
Mary Lou Miller Wagstaff, 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, will take place at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention on June 26 in Orlando. The objectives for the roundtable are to strengthen the relationship between the federal bench and bar and to improve practice before federal courts in Florida. The roundtable is a popular program providing 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 encounters during the roundtable. Very special thanks to Stephanie Marchman for her leadership and service in coordinating this great event.
As a gateway to the committee, its projects, and federal news, the committee maintains The Federal Corner on The Florida Bar website. The committee 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. Posted to The Federal Corner are rule amendments, proposed changes affecting federal courts, announcements, and other news. In addition, it maintains links to proposed amendments to local rules, as well as federal rules of procedure, and lists sponsors who support the committee’s activities. Special thanks to John Badalamenti and his subcommittee for ensuring The Federal Corner is current and informative, and the Rules Subcommittee for compiling and publishing 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. It serves as an invaluable resource to practitioners in and out of Florida appearing before the judges. Thanks to Lawrence Goodman and Brett Barfield who continue to update the guide.
This committee also works with the various federal bar associations across the state and other organizations whose purpose is to enhance and progress practice in federal courts. Committee members have covered several federal bar association meetings and events in and out of Florida. Special thanks to all the members who have spent their time and resources to get involved with these associations.
But this year, the committee would not have completed any of its work without Lani Fraser, the committee’s liaison to The Florida Bar. Lani has shown enormous patience, diligence, dedication, and devotion to the Federal Court Practice Committee, making the impossible possible.
Jon Polenberg, Chair
Florida Bar Journal and News Editorial Board
The Florida Bar Journal and The Florida Bar News reach more than 90,000 members with timely articles about Florida law and the legal profession. The Journal and News are the premier sources for substantive law articles and information about Bar activities, events, and the legal community.
• The Florida Bar Journal — In its 88th year of publication, The Florida Bar Journal provides members with educational, scholarly articles related to Florida law. The magazine is published 10 times a year with combined issues in July/August and September/October. This year, the Journal published articles on a wide variety of Florida law topics, including:
• Valuation in divorce proceedings;
• Negotiability of promissory notes in foreclosure cases;
• Florida’s new revised LLC act;
• Social media evidence;
• Slot machines in Florida;
• Border searches at Florida’s airports.
This year, the Editorial Board approved a special issue of the magazine devoted to animal law. Ralph DeMeo, chair of the Animal Law Committee, is serving as guest editor of the special issue, which is scheduled to be published in the November issue of the Journal.
The Florida Bar Journal Editorial Board is charged with reviewing feature article submissions in the magazine. Editorial Board members conduct a blind review of article submissions. They take into consideration the substantive law content, writing style, research, and topic originality of an article. Many board members are law review alums who have extensive experience writing and editing. Columns are published under the auspices of the section and its appointed editor, who is responsible for reviewing the article prior to submission.
Members with a passion for writing are encouraged to submit articles to the magazine. Submission guidelines are available on the Journal’s website. Prospective authors can also explore previous issues and find information regarding earning CLE credit for their published article.
This year, the annual Excellence in Writing Award was presented to F. Malcolm Cunningham, Jr., and Amy L. Fischer for their May 2013 article, “Picking Cotton: Ordinary Business Records Doctrine as Applied to Insurer’s Privilege Claims.” The editorial board makes its decision based on an article’s quality, difficulty, and style. The winner will be featured in an upcoming issue of the News.
• The Florida Bar News — The News is written, edited, and produced by a staff of professional journalists and is published twice monthly. Since 1974, the News has been providing members with timely information regarding all levels of the Bar, including Board of Governors’ actions, legislation, CLE offerings, and official notices of court rules and the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The News strives to publish information that advances the education, competence, ethical practice, and public responsibility of Florida lawyers, and increase their awareness of the official and informal activities of their profession. 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.
Both the Journal and News generate revenue through advertising, royalties, and subscriptions, thereby offsetting some of the costs of printing and postage.
Additionally, both publications have a strong online presence. Publications are available both in print and on The Florida Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org/journal and www.floridabar.org/news. Back issues, submission guidelines, advertising information, subscription information, and a searchable database of articles are all available on the Journal and News websites. The News is also available for tablets and smartphones as part of The Florida Bar’s mobile app.
The Florida Bar Journal and News have a tradition of excellence spanning nearly 90 years, and the Editorial Board and staff are committed to maintaining a standard of excellence for the Bar’s official publications. These publications are vital to Bar members as a means of staying current on all types of matters affecting their daily practices, as well as developments and trends in substantive law.
Amy Wells Brennan, Chair
Florida Registered Paralegal
The Florida Registered Paralegal Committee assists in the implementation of the Florida Registered Paralegal Program, which determines whether a paralegal has met the education, training, certification, and work experience required for registration as set forth in Ch. 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The duties of the committee include proposing rule amendments to Ch. 20 and setting policy for the program.
The committee has had an exciting, productive year and has developed a plan to increase lawyer and paralegal awareness of the FRP program. The committee will market the program by having the FRP pamphlet included in all registrants’ materials at the annual meeting, as well as having an exhibit table to educate lawyers about the benefits of the FRP program to their clients and paralegals. Additionally, the committee voted to develop a uniform presentation to address each local bar association and section about the benefits of the program. Currently, there are 5,262 FRPs.
The committee welcomed Wendy Toscano as our new paralegal educator member.
I have been honored to serve as chair this year. I am humbled by the efforts and devotion of the standing committee members, all of whom are dedicated, hard working, and committed. The program would not be a success without the support of Bar staff, specifically Shannon Fleming, Lori Holcomb, Jackie Reshard, and Melanie Woodall.
I remain confident that working together with the Bar, attorneys, committee members, and registered paralegals, we can continue to enhance this great profession.
Thomas Jerla, Chair
Health Law Certification
The area of health law certification was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1994 and numbers 122 certified health law attorneys. Health law is the practice of law involving federal, state, or local laws, 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.
To qualify for certification, an attorney must be a member of The Florida Bar for at least five years; engaged in the full-time practice of law; substantially involved in health law for the last three years of their practice; must complete at least 60 hours of advanced continuing legal education health law credits; and pass a stringent peer review process. Once these standards have been met, an applicant must pass a one-day exam that consists of various essay questions and a number of multiple-choice questions. All certified attorneys must apply for recertification every five years.
Committee members devoted a substantial amount of time to drafting and editing the exam. Each essay question was prepared by a panel of committee members and reviewed by the entire committee. They also devoted a substantial amount of time to drafting the multiple-choice questions. The committee was careful to consider changes in the law as well as the overall length and fairness of the exam and to ensure that the content of the exam was consistent with the exam specifications. Former committee members and other board certified health law attorneys were solicited and asked to review questions and provide feedback.
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, including peer review, prepare the exam, address specific application issues, and grade examinations.
During the 2013-14 certification cycle, the committee received and reviewed 22 applications for the exam. The committee also reviewed 17 applications for recertification. The exam was held on May 16 in Tampa.
I thank the committee members for their hard work, dedication, and professionalism throughout the year. Committee members included Vice Chair Vivian M. Gallo, Erin A. S. Aebel, G. Scott Baity, Charmaine T. M. Chiu, Michael P. Gennett, Joshua M. Kaye, Troy A. Kishbaugh, and Craig H. Smith. I also thank the following former committee members and board certified health law attorneys who participated in reviewing and providing feedback to this year’s examination questions: Andrei A. Boyarshinov, Paula A. Willis, Adam J. Rogers, Jon P. DeBardeleben, and Carol Ann Kalish.
As always, the committee extends thanks and gratitude to our staff liaison, Zachary Shrader, for keeping us focused and productive.
Bernabe A. Icaza, Chair
Intellectual Property Law Certification
The Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee reports that four attorneys became board certified in intellectual property law following the exam on May 9, 2013. The pass rate for the exam was 40 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. A total of 132 attorneys are board certified in intellectual property.
The committee has been working diligently to prepare for the 2014 exam, which was administered on May 15 in Tampa. Nine 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 2009 will need to apply for recertification. The recertification application is available online 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. Questions regarding certification or recertification should be directed to Rachael Moulton at 850-561-5805 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee was chaired by Jeanne Seewald, with Rick Fee as vice chair, and consisted of members Alexander Fernandez, Ury Fischer, Janet Moreira Gamble, Mark Terry, Brian Gilchrist, Jerold Schneider, and John Fulton.
Jeanne L. Seewald, Chair
International Law Certification
Innovation and advancements in communication, trade, and technology have led our clients to increasingly demand legal advice and assistance that crosses international borders. When that happens, and it inevitably will, assuring that your client receives the best services available is of paramount importance.
The goal of international law certification is to examine the experience and ability of attorneys practicing in this diverse, complex area. Since its inception more than 15 years ago, the committee has struggled with this diversity and complexity and this past year made advances toward changing the way in which certification in international law is structured.
International law, though a highly specialized practice area on its own, increasingly affects all areas of law. To meet this need, practitioners in other specialty areas are developing expertise in international law as it applies to their specialty area. In today’s legal world, this focus is becoming progressively more important and worthy of recognition, even if the practitioner’s specialty area has not typically been identified as international.
The committee has identified two distinct areas of international practice: international litigation and arbitration and international business transactions. Other areas of international practice cross a broad spectrum that involves such diverse areas as adoption law, tax, and probate. Each of these areas, as well as others, would benefit from a certification in their subspecialty.
Proposals from the committee were drafted, discussed, and ultimately taken to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. With its encouragement, the committee is moving forward on either creating subspecialty areas for the exams, in conjunction with other committees, or bifurcating the international certification into two separate certifications in dispute resolution and in business transactions.
The reaction from the International Law Section of The Florida Bar has been quite positive and it is anticipated that this opportunity will attract even more applicants and result in more certifications in specific areas of international law.
Of those states that offer specialty certification for lawyers, Florida is the only state that offers certification in international law. Currently, 38 Florida lawyers have achieved certification in international law. That means that there are only 38 lawyers in the nation who have certified their expertise in this highly competitive and important field. This past year saw our largest pool of applicants to date. Eight applicants were approved to sit for the exam. Of those, six took the exam and we hope that many, if not most of these applicants, will soon join the current 38 certified attorneys in international law.
This year was a very good year for our committee and our area of specialization. It was also a year that brought great sadness with the passing of one of our founding members, Robert Hendry. Bob was a leading voice in the international legal community and a strong advocate for certification in international law. He practiced law in Orlando for nearly five decades and was a member of this committee up until the time of his death. He will be greatly missed.
Hendry had been a member of our committee this past year, a group that included many other knowledgeable and well-respected members of the international legal community. As chair, I want to thank them all for the hard work they contributed this year. These members include Vice Chair Dixon Fuller Miller, Jennifer R. Diaz, Melissa Rico Ferrari, Edward Martin Joffe, Felicia Leborgne Nowels, Penelope B. Perez-Kelly, Peter Alan Quinter, and Thomas L. Raleigh III. A special thanks to our new committee liaison, Zachary Schrader, who provided extra effort and his positive attitude to keep us on track and on time.
The committee encourages all members who engage in international law as a substantial portion of their practice to seek certification. Bob would be proud of you!
Pamella A. Seay, Chair
Judicial Administration and Evaluation
The Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee is responsible for the judicial feedback program, biannual merit retention polls, judicial candidate self-disclosure, and the Guide for Florida Voters. The committee has also been involved in examination of the Florida process for disqualification of trial judges.
The JAEC studied proposals for change in Rule 2.330 of the Rules of Judicial Administration, which guides the removal of judges from particular disputes through recusal or disqualification. Some states have changed the way such decisions are made, and some in Florida believe that the current methodology could stand updating and improving.
The JAEC undertook this project in partnership with the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee to gather information. One proposal afforded each party the equivalent of a preemptory challenge, essentially removal without stated cause of one judge per case. This no-fault process excused the parties from voicing the “why” of the desire for a different judge, and consequently excused the judge from hearing the “why” and making a determination of its sufficiency. A second proposal involved such motions being referred to the chief judge for evaluation. In that model, the chief judge would either hear the disqualification or assign it for hearing by another judge in the circuit, likewise removing the trial judge from the responsibility of deciding sufficiency of the motion.
Each proposal offers challenges. Through the analysis of current rule and proposed amendments, it became clear there is no perfect process for disqualification. Each, including the current rule, was found to have positive and negative elements or effects. The committee passed a recommendation for some proposed “clarification” changes to the rule, and referred the matter back to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee. The JAEC did not recommend adoption of either the no-fault process or the chief judge process.
Thanks are due to Jay Kim, former JAEC chair. While the reporting of recommendations regarding Rule 2.330 were made this year, it was his perseverance, drive, and focus that brought the committee’s work to a final vote at the June 2013 annual convention. Some minor issues were addressed early in fiscal year 2014, but Mr. Kim deserves the credit for the successful conclusion of this committee project.
Another long-standing focus of the JAEC is the judicial feedback program. This program was implemented to provide attorneys an opportunity to describe to judges what they like or dislike about processes or procedures in a given division/courtroom. The program was designed to operate on the Internet, allowing attorneys to log in and electronically provide feedback. This affords judges virtually instant access to these confidential comments and suggestions. Recognizing that some are not completely ready for the Internet revolution, there is also a manual process which involves mailing a feedback form to a Tallahassee post office box. Those mailed forms are removed from their original envelope to avoid return address identification, and then provided to the judge. This process affords an exceptional opportunity for open communication and fosters good relations between bench and bar. Virtually all of the committee members wrote letters to promote this program and to educate judges and bar leaders about it, and I thank them for that effort.
The process is not used as often as was hoped. Therefore, a major focus of the 2013-14 year for the JAEC was contacting interest groups to build awareness of the process. Letters were mailed to all chief judges in the state, outlining the process. The JAEC also engaged local bar associations and similar lawyer groups to inform their leadership of the program and to encourage attorney participation in the process.
In 2012, the JAEC considered the public’s perception of judicial retention elections, and the public’s curiosity and interest regarding them. Because committee members had received questions from the public about retention and the judges involved, the JAEC undertook a joint project with the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. The focus was development of a written guide to educate Florida voters about merit retention. The result was the Guide for Florida Voters, which included general information about judicial elections and specifics on merit retention. The JAEC and Constitutional Judiciary Committee saw 2014 as an ideal time to return to that product and consider revisions. Both committees spent significant time reviewing and proposing revisions to the guide, which should be published this summer in anticipation of the fall elections.
Vice Chairs Judge Lisa Davidson and Kelly O’Keefe were instrumental in this project, as were Judge Barry Stone, Alberto Tellechea-Hermida, and Pam Booker.
Since its deployment in 2010, the JAEC’s Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-disclosure Program has afforded judicial candidates the opportunity to post information about their background and candidacy on The Florida Bar’s website. This process continues in the current election year.
I close by reiterating my thanks to Jay Kim, Judge Lisa Davidson, and Kelly O’Keefe. Their hard work and dedication to this committee are outstanding. It is no overstatement to note that this committee would not, in fact could not, function without the unwavering support of Doris Maffei, our Florida Bar staff liaison. She kept us focused on our tasks, prepared for our meetings, and facilitated our communications.
David Langham, Chair
Judicial Nominating Procedures
Historically, the purpose and mission of this committee has been 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 has been a forum to train commissioners and provided answers to questions posed by the members of commissions. Further, the committee has been the catalyst in organizing and supporting the rules conventions.
The committee is evolving and reassessing its position as the governor’s office has broadened its authority. The committee keeps commissioners apprised of any new legislation, rules, or court decisions that may affect their duties.
• JNC Application/Financial History Page — The judicial application is part of the JNC Uniform Rules of Procedure and can only be amended at a rules convention. In 2009, a JNC rules convention was held that consisted of amending and revising the judicial application. The financial history page was not changed because, at the time, there was no clear consensus on what should be required either from the committee or the JNC chairs/vice chairs.
After much consideration and debate, the committee recommended revising the current financial history form to delineate the last three years of income and eliminate the option of filing income tax forms. Also recommended was the addition of Form 6, which is the required form that judges fill out each year and file with the Commission on Ethics. The form includes the sources of income or the option of the attachment of the federal income tax return. These recommendations were approved at the September 2012 meeting and were sent to the JNC chairs/vice chairs for their input.
A survey was sent to the JNC chairs and vice chairs, and its results concluded that all of those commissions responding would approve the new Form 6 and revised financial history form, as long as it included the option for filing federal income tax returns. The next step would have the JNC commissions call for a rules convention for the purpose of discussing and voting on the new financial history form. The JNP Committee is anxious to move this forward to a rules convention.
• JNC Training — New commissioners are required to go through a training program within the first 12 months of appointment. Training includes segments regarding interviewing techniques and diversity sensitivity. The last all-day training in 2011 is available on our JNP Committee page.
The most recent JNC training was held on October 25, 2013, at the historic Capitol and was sponsored by the governor’s office. Featured speakers included former general counsels to the governor, current or past JNC commissioners, and an expert on public records/sunshine laws. A video of the half-day program will be posted to the governor’s website.
• Lack of Diversity on the JNCs and in the Judiciary — President Eugene Pettis advised the committee that the Bar is looking for ways to increase diversity on the bench and on each JNC. The bench and the JNCs should be reflective of our community, and the strength and integrity of the judiciary should mirror our community. More ways need to be found to increase the applicant pool for the JNCs, which ultimately should result in more diverse appointments to the bench. The Bar appointed a special task force to look into this problem.
The committee discussed some possible reasons for the lack of diversity on the JNCs and the bench. Some of the responses included:
• Fear of closing law practice and being defeated in an election;
• Rejections of Bar’s nominees for JNCs — discouraging applicants;
• Current JNC panels themselves are not reflective of community.
The committee will do further study on this issue and looks forward to the report by the special task force.
The committee will be starting discussion on the upcoming convening of the Constitutional Revision Commission and how improvements can be made to the current merit selection process. Members are committed to the merit selection of judges and ensuring the nominating process runs efficiently and effectively.
The committee’s historic purpose of assisting JNCs in meeting their obligations to the citizenry of Florida will continue.
Traditionally, the committee has sat in a unique position as a support organization to the constitutionally devised JNCs and as a liaison with the governors’ office. The committee provided training for the commissioners and was a sounding board for issues which came to the fore. As the governor’s office has extended its reach, the committee seeks to repurpose its position to continue its service to the Bar and the state.
Michael R. Band, Chair
Juvenile Court Rules
The Juvenile Court Rules Committee spent the year hard at work, comprehensively reviewing and responding to legislation affecting dependency and delinquency courts; creating a proposal for new procedural rules to govern truancy proceedings; and ensuring the rules were in conformity with all e-filing and e-service regulations.
Our Dependency Subcommittee combed through the dependency rules to make changes in response to the passage of the Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act, which amended several statutes to enable young adults to receive foster care services past the age of 17. Because the act became law on January 1, the subcommittee had a very short period of time in which to prepare and propose updated rules to conform to the statutory provisions, and under the leadership of Dependency Subcommittee Chair Deborah Schroth, the committee was able to submit a comprehensive out-of-cycle report before the end of 2013, and the proposals were unanimously approved by the Board of Governors and adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in early 2014.
The Delinquency Subcommittee spent much of the year monitoring proposals to overhaul Florida’s juvenile delinquency statutes. The subcommittee consisted of several juvenile defenders, prosecutors, and judges who worked together, along with the committee’s Department of Juvenile Justice representative, to track the legislative progression of the department’s proposals for rewriting several provisions in Ch. 985. Having followed the bill’s progress closely, the subcommittee is well prepared to spend the next year drafting rule changes to comport with the updated legislation.
Under the leadership of member Jeff Deen, a new set of proposed rules to govern procedures in truancy court was discussed and drafted over the course of the year. The truancy rules will be submitted to the Board of Governors and the Florida Supreme Court for approval during the committee’s next reporting cycle.
As always, Joel Silvershein kept the committee updated on the status of e-filing and e-service, and other important work of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee. The committee continues its diligent work to ensure that the juvenile rules are in conformity with the regulations for electronic communications in the legal system.
It is with special and personal thanks that I recognize the many contributions of Vice Chairs Deborah Schroth and Lynn Powell, and immediate past Chair Judge Daniel Dawson, who helped to guide the Juvenile Court Rules Committee through another successful and extraordinarily busy year. Finally, words cannot express my gratitude to Ellen Sloyer, the committee’s Florida Bar liaison, who kept us on track, organized, and goal-oriented. Without Ellen’s guidance and patience, our work would be for naught.
I am honored to have led the Juvenile Court Rules Committee during this most productive year, and I look forward to continuing to serve in the upcoming year under the leadership of incoming Chair Deborah Schroth.
Whitney M. Untiedt, 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 192 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.
The exam specifications were updated by the committee in October 2013 to include under the category of miscellaneous/individual rights: domestic violence leave (F.S. §741.313); Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicle Act of 2008 (F.S. §790.251); federal and state whistleblower protection laws (Sarbanes-Oxley, 18 U.S.C. §1514A; F.S. §§112.3187, 448.101-105); Florida’s prohibition on workers’ compensation retaliation; and GINA under the category of EEO.
In addition to 100 multiple-choice and 40 short-answer questions, the examination included a required essay question in the area of employment discrimination. Applicants were 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 2013-14 certification year, the committee reviewed 15 initial applications for certification. Of those, 14 sat for the exam administered in March 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 14 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, members also devoted many hours of personal time to perfect and review examination questions, as well as collaborated over conference calls. The committee is awaiting results from a survey prepared by the Labor and Employment Law Section to determine whether changes should be made to the exam eligibility criteria or exam structure for subsequent years.
The committee extends thanks to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Xiomara Gonzalez. Members of the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee include Vice Chair Kathryn S. Piscitelli, Cathleen Bell Bremmer, Don R. Boswell, Jim Craig, David Harvey, Eric K. Gabrielle, Robyn S. Hankins, and Sean Moyles. Many thanks for their diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this section.
Mary Li Creasy, Chair
Law Office Management Assistance Service
The Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) Advisory Board exists to review the yearly activities of LOMAS and determine whether the service is appropriately and effectively meeting the goals outlined by the LOMAS Board. The advisory board participates by providing guidance and assistance to the LOMAS staff. LOMAS Director Judith Equels leads talented and experienced staff members Jerry Sullenberger and Debbie Ferrell, who perform the day-to-day duties of one of the Bar’s most valuable departments.
LOMAS was created to assist members dealing with all business aspects of setting up, managing, merging, or closing a professional practice, and was the first of its kind in the U.S. Compared to similar programs that now exist in most other states, LOMAS is the most active with the largest Bar-member-to-staff ratio of any other program. With a total of three staff members, it serves more than 98,000 Florida Bar members and does so at a cost of about $1.15 per member. Its services benefit the practices of all Florida lawyers, even those that do not work in or manage private law firms.
In the past year, LOMAS made the following types of services available to all Florida Bar members, with the vast majority of these services free of charge:
• Free CLE programs with high-quality materials (more than 74,000 downloads since 2011);
• Hundreds of free forms for law firm administration;
• A website that serves as a resource center and clearinghouse for law practice management and tips on best practices, as well as forms, firm structure, and outside resources;
• A practice management help line (via phone or email) to answer practice management questions;
• Online resources to answer common law practice management questions;
• Practice management consultations to firms and attorneys, both voluntary and discipline referrals;
• Direct assistance to The Florida Bar Career Center that includes more than 1,000 potential legal employers; and
• Presentations to sections, voluntary bar associations, law schools, and legal assistant associations throughout Florida.
Among the activities LOMAS engaged in 2013-2014, the most notable were:
• Handled approximately 7,000 phone calls and emails from members regarding practice management questions through its help line;
• Presented an in-person, plenary session of the ABA’s 39th Annual Professional Responsibility Conference and will present two seminars at the Bar’s 2014 Annual Convention;
• Received more than 600,000 hits to its website;
• Fulfilled a one-third increase in the number of discipline and diversion law firm reviews;
• LOMAS Director Judith Equels co-authored an article for the ABA’s Law Practice Division journal;
• Contributed a bi-monthly article to the Bar News;
• Presented seminars to Florida-based legal organizations, local bars, and law schools via video conference and in person;
• Recorded a new trust accounting video and developed updates to the LOMAS video on technology planning for the small law office;
• Posted articles and resources to the LOMAS page of The Florida Bar website: 1) cyber-security and cloud computing best practices; 2) a MAC resources page; 3) a sample business plan for a start-up law firm to augment existing materials; and 4) the LOMAS online video on creating a business plan;
• Combining news articles, website hits, phone and email consultations, video-conference seminar, and webinar presentations, LOMAS was able to reach out and be available to all Florida Bar members.
In the coming year, LOMAS intends to increase its help line consultations by 20 percent; remain a leading expert at local, region, national, and online practice management seminars; participate in national associations that work in the areas of law firm administration; and maintain the high quality services it has provided throughout its 34-year existence.
As the chair of the LOMAS Advisory Board, I am honored to be a part of this outstanding program and work with what I consider the most useful service offered by The Florida Bar to its members. The services available through LOMAS are provided by dedicated individuals who work with limited resources to ensure Bar members have all the tools they need to maintain successful professional practices. If a Florida Bar member has not recently looked at what LOMAS offers, I encourage them to do so now. At the very least, you will be able to get a great free CLE!
Twyla Sketchley, Chair
Law Related Education
The Law Related Education Committee is wrapping up 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, people, and their property. The committee continues to be 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.
The Moot Court and Mock Trial Subcommittee teamed again with the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc. (FLREA). The subcommittee’s primary role is preparing the materials for the Florida High School Mock Trial Competition, which concluded in March, as well as the Moot Court Competition in May at the Florida Supreme Court.
The subcommittee, led by Scott Slater, Jeffrey Hammer, and Sheri Hazeltine, prepared the mock trial materials for the fictional case of State of Florida v. Jesse Davis. The case was adapted from one written by the Oklahoma Mock Trial Case Development Committee. Based on an anonymous tip, police searched Davis’ car and discovered more than 28 grams of oxycodone. Davis was charged with trafficking oxycodone, which would carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 if convicted. At trial, the defense sought to present evidence and argument that the drugs were planted by the defendant’s friend, Cam Ryder, because their relationship had become strained as they competed for the valedictorian award. Numerous members of the subcommittee stepped forward to prepare the bench brief for the competition, which allowed the judges to review a summary of the case before presiding over and scoring the students during competition rounds.
The subcommittee then authored the materials for the High School Moot Court Competition. Led by Scott Slater and Jeff Hammer, the subcommittee took facts and characters from the State v. Davis mock trial competition case packet and created a fictional appeal stemming from the search of Jesse Davis’ car and his judgment and sentence. Two issues were raised in the appellate case: 1) whether the investigatory stop violated the Fourth Amendment; and 2) whether the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence against a minor constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The latter issue is of particular significance because courts across the country are addressing the circumstances under which a sentence imposed on a juvenile would violate the Eighth Amendment.
The Legal Guide Subcommittee, led by Debra Moss Curtis, carried out its three main objectives for the Bar year. The first was the Legal Guide for New Adults, which was updated with changes in the law and edited for ease of reading. The Legal Guide is distributed to more than 170,000 Florida high school students and offers information and guidance on many issues facing new adults, including contracts, the court system, voting rights, environmental responsibility, and selective service. This year, the guide was expanded to include a section particularly relevant to new adults — the new law regarding texting while driving.
The second project accomplished was a review of the existing So You Want to Be a Lawyer? pamphlet. 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 students 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 fourth annual contest. The LREC has its own YouTube channel, and videos from the past three years are available. This year an extensive network of subcommittee members were actively discussing the program with various high schools, reaching out personally to more than 70 schools in more than a dozen counties. All Florida high school students are encouraged to make a video relating to the various subparts of the Legal Guide for New Adults.
The Outreach and Development Subcommittee, led by Richard Levenstein, is involved in coordinating with other committees, bar associations, and lawyers to enhance the Bar’s efforts and continue to grow and improve the Bar’s programs. Justice Teaching is one of the Bar initiatives this subcommittee is involved with. The program was established by Justice Fred Lewis of the Florida Supreme Court. For the third year an award for the Justice Teaching volunteer and Justice Teaching Select Committee judge of the year will be given. The award will honor a judge and volunteer attorney recognized for their dedication to bringing civic education to the children of Florida through participation with Justice Teaching. The awards will be presented at the Bar’s Annual Convention.
As always, Annette Boyd Pitts, founder and executive director of FLREA and longtime 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. Numerous programs highlight civic content and methodologies to foster essential critical thinking skills, teaching students how to think, not what to think. Annette and her staff travel throughout the state and beyond providing training and programs for schools and students.
The Law Related Education Committee provides essential information, training, competitions, and support for Florida students and citizens. Thank you to all of 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 creation of The Florida Bar Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy was originally envisioned by Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis in 2012, after an evaluation of the Bar’s strategic plan and consideration of Bar membership available to meet the Bar’s long-term goals. The academy became an official program of the Bar when the Board of Governors unanimously approved its creation on February 1, 2013. Thereafter, the academy was named in honor of the late Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., former Florida Bar president, ABA president, and International Bar president.
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 by 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. In an effort to achieve diversity and wide range inclusion among participants, qualified individuals were sought for fellowship 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 our website, www. floridabar.org/leadershipacademy.
The Leadership Academy Committee (LAC), which is charged with overseeing the academy and the curriculum and activities of its fellows, successfully completed its first year as a new committee of the Bar. After careful consideration, 59 fellows were chosen for the inaugural class.
The academy is designed to encompass two branches: the North Branch, co-chaired by Michael Faehner, which consists of fellows from the counties of the First, Second, and Fifth DCAs; and the South Branch, co-chaired by Juliet M. Roulhac, which consists of fellows from the counties of the Third and Fourth DCAs. Each branch meets approximately every other month, rotating between full and regional meetings, for a total of six mandatory meetings per year, along with a graduation meeting to conclude the year. The inaugural fellows commenced their one-year program at the 2013 Annual Bar Convention. Each branch met regionally in July, with the North Branch meeting in Clearwater in conjunction with the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, and the South Branch meeting in Ft. Lauderdale. The fellows then attended the fall meeting of the Bar in Tampa, as well as regional meetings in November, with the North Branch meeting in Jacksonville, and the South Branch meeting in Miami. Thereafter, the fellows met in Tallahassee in January in conjunction with the Board of Governors, and then wrapped up their substantive sessions with regional meetings in March, the North Branch meeting in Tampa and the South Branch meeting in West Palm Beach.
Throughout the academy program, the fellows followed a curriculum tailored to enhance their knowledge base and experience as leaders. This curriculum was designed and created by the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, and is administered by the LAC at the academy meetings. The LAC worked diligently throughout the year to program insightful speakers and enriching activities for the fellows. A special thank you is owed to the program chairs of the regional meetings, Liz McCausland, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, Sean Desmond, Ben Kuehne, Larry Smith, and Sia Baker-Barnes, along with their program teams for all their outstanding work.
Throughout the year, fellows have had the opportunity to establish relationships with Bar leaders, including former Bar presidents, Board of Governors members, the committee, and current Bar leadership, to help them 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 developed relationships that will hopefully last long after their academy year. It is the hope of the committee that the skills the fellows learned will benefit the Bar, their local voluntary or specialty bar associations, their firms, and the public as a whole. During their academy year, the fellows also undertook designing a public service project related to legal services for the poor.
Since its inception, the academy has received a tremendous amount of support from Bar leaders, sections, and divisions, and the Bar in general. This support has come in the form of nominations for fellows, along with scholarships for selected fellows to attend academy meetings. In particular, the Young Lawyers Division, the Business Law Section, the Trial Lawyers Section and the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section have all generously supported the academy with scholarship contributions during in the past year. We also received corporate sponsorship from Florida Mutual Insurance Company, which has also been an invaluable partner. We are certainly grateful for all of the support in making the academy a reality for our fellows.
As the committee looks back on its first year and undertakes its work in preparation for Class II, I thank each of the members for their hard work and commitment to the success of this program. In particular, a special thank you is owed to Michael J. Faehner and Juliet M. Roulhac for their outstanding efforts in leading their respective branches. I also recognize the exceptional work of our program team, Arnell Bryant-Willis, diversity initiatives manager for the Bar, and Rebecca Blackburn. Our sincere gratitude is owed to Linda Calvert Hanson, director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, and Jacina Haston, assistant director, for their efforts in creating a model curriculum. We are also thankful for the help of Francine Walker, communications director, and Emilie Rietow, voluntary bar coordinator, for their assistance with media efforts. And finally, we recognize the incredible work of Florida Bar President Eugene K. Pettis. This academy is his vision, and he brought it to life for the betterment of our Bar, the legal profession, and the public. The success of the academy required the efforts of all of these individuals, and it was my privilege and honor to work with them and with the inaugural fellows. They truly touched my life and the lives of those on the committee. We are looking forward to beginning our work with Class II and will always be proud of the success of Class I.
Renee E. Thompson, Chair
Legal Needs of Children
This term of the Legal Needs of Children Committee started with a restructuring of its subcommittees to focus on the recommendations of the 2002 Report of the Legal Needs of Children Commission. The intent was to ensure that all recommendations made by the commission had been given due consideration for implementation and to consider the necessity of developing strategies for their eventual implementation. This requires a lot of work and is a multi-term effort.
One multi-term effort was concluded this year. The committee completed the development of a concise position against the direct filing of children to adult court. The Legislative Committee of the Board of Governors approved the position for advocacy by the Legal Needs of Children Committee. The goal is to be a part of statewide efforts to, at a minimum, return judicial review to the process of criminally charging children as adults and remove a detrimental bargaining tool from delinquency cases. The approval of this position was the impetus for the creation of an Advocacy Subcommittee to coordinate efforts in advocating the direct file position as well as previously approved legislative positions. The goal is to ensure the committee speaks in one consistent voice and participates actively in efforts regarding approved positions.
The committee made progress in getting board certification for practitioners of juvenile law when the Board of Legal Specialization and Education approved the certification request this year. It is now before the Program Evaluation Committee of the Board of Governors for consideration. Tony Musto and John Copeland have been diligent in keeping this matter relevant within The Florida Bar and pushing it closer to final approval.
I have enjoyed serving as chair and recognize the valuable assistance of Paul Hill. His vigilance in guiding me helped the committee stay focused and on track. Thank you also to Vice Chairs Tamara Gray and Jodi Seitlin who worked hard to maintain the direction of the committee. I am convinced that with continued focus and hard work, this committee will become a recognized leader statewide on all children’s issues.
William Booth, Chair
Marital and Family Law Certification
I am pleased to report that the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee completed another successful year. The marital and family law bar continues to show tremendous interest in board certification. Marital and family lawyers love numbers, and the numbers are impressive. The number of initial applicants continues to exceed expectations, with a total of 51 applicants this year. Forty-three board certified attorneys applied for recertification. Out of the 24 board certification specialty areas, the number of statewide marital and family law certified attorneys remains considerable at 276. Board certified marital and family lawyers constitute approximately 7 percent of the 3,766 total members of the Family Law Section. The accomplishment of those who have achieved board certification cannot be understated. The committee encourages those attorneys who meet the criteria for certification to join their colleagues in this select group who have been “evaluated for professionalism, tested for expertise.”
In January, 1,397 people attended the Family Law Certification Review Course in Orlando. The program continues to grow, packing the house to standing-room-only status. The organizers and speakers continue to impress, making this seminar one of the highlights of the year. The “Tips and Nibbles” portion of the seminar, offered to assist examinees, receives positive feedback. This year, the speakers included attorneys recently certified as well as former Marital and Family Law Certification Committee members.
The committee refined the examination process and preparation and worked to test the core knowledge and skills of marital and family law attorneys. We worked with our testing consultant, Karen Barbieri, who has provided invaluable expertise. We also consulted the finest marital and family lawyers around the state, who graciously volunteered their time and knowledge to assist us in our effort to produce an exam worthy of those who dedicate the time and effort to seeking board certification. The committee is grateful for the feedback and advice provided by Barbieri and our statewide colleagues.
During this term, our committee began the process of reviewing our rules and policies, recognizing the growing emergence of collaborative marital and family law and other evolutions within our practice. Committee members have been and will continue to serve in various capacities in the ever-present task of evaluating the application and review process.
I have found my year as committee chair to be challenging, interesting, at times frustrating, but most definitely, rewarding. I have had the good fortune to work with committee members who are the best The Florida Bar has to offer. Great thanks to Vice Chair Caryn Green and committee members Alex Caballero, Lawrence Datz, Luis Insignares, Doug Reynolds, Elisha Roy, Ty Zdravkovski, and Immediate Past Chair Allyson Hughes. Allyson leaves this committee after six years of dedicated service (two tours of duty!). She will be missed. It has been an honor to serve with such a dedicated and talented group of professionals. I have learned a great deal from each one of you, including a few things I really didn’t want to know. Special thanks go to our board certification specialist, Vicki Simmons, who jumped in midstream and worked to keep us on track.
Barry M. Wayne, Chair
Media and Communications Law
The Media and Communications Law Committee ends the year at The Florida Bar’s 2014 Annual Convention with its long-standing signature CLE program, “First Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court.” As in previous years, it is an honor to be a part of this magnificent panel, which includes legal heavyweights, such as Thomas R. Julin of Hunton & Williams LLP; 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Adalberto Jordan; Third District Court of Appeal retired 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 discuss the hottest First Amendment issues considered by the U. S. Supreme Court.
I am pleased to report that this year the committee increased its membership from the previous year by 18 members, a sign that the state of the committee, which has been active for decades, is strong. Its members provide valuable resources to lawyers and the Florida media community.
Craig Waters, chief spokesperson for the Florida Supreme Court, chaired the 2013 Reporters’ Workshop, which was attended by a diverse team of print and broadcast journalists reporting from media outlets throughout Florida. Retired newspaper Editor
Walker Lundy gave an insightful keynote speech. And who can forget the compelling presentation by Lin Wood regarding his representation of former senatorial candidate Jeff Greene in the Greene v. Miami Herald defamation case?
Two newspapers and one TV station were the winners of The Florida Bar’s media awards competition, chaired by Edward Birk of Marks Gray in Jacksonville. The 58th annual contest, sponsored by the Media and Communications Law Committee, recognizes outstanding journalism highlighting the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians. The Orlando Sentinel won first prize in print; Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers took second-place honors in print; and WESH-TV News Channel 2 of Orlando received a first-prize honor in the broadcast category. Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis presented plaques to the award recipients on October 14, 2013, 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 in attendance.
Updates to the Reporters’ Handbook were finalized this year. 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 everyone 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. During the past year, the Member Benefits Committee has taken this mission seriously, evaluating existing programs and reviewing potential programs and continuing to actively pursue discounted member benefits for the members of The Florida Bar.
The committee reviewed more than 15 proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers and worked closely with the Bar’s third-party administrator/insurance broker to launch The Florida Bar Private Insurance Exchange, which garnered the attention of several state bar associations from around the country. The launch of the exchange was the highlight of the year. I encourage all Bar members to visit the www.floridabar.org/MemberBenefits website to take advantage of the wide array of discounted personal and professional services offered to Bar members through the member benefits program.
Charles Alexander Greene, Jr., Chair
The scope and function of The Florida Bar Military Affairs Committee includes gathering and disseminating information, sharing expertise, and advising members of The Florida Bar on all matters relating to the practice of military law in Florida. The committee also provides review of new policies and procedures affecting Florida’s military and veterans when needed. The committee works to be a liaison between The Florida Bar and the active duty, reserve, National Guard, and retired military attorneys within Florida.
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. Prior military service is not a requirement for committee membership. The committee is made up of Florida Bar members with an interest in furthering the ability of our profession to provide assistance to active or reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces, retired members, and all veterans.
An important aspect of the committee is the annual Military Law Symposium, a full day of continuing legal education held last year during the Annual Convention in Boca Raton. A subcommittee chaired by Ed Spinks did a fantastic job in producing this high-quality and well-received program. The symposium focused on military specific aspects of divorce and parenting plans, defending soldiers under the SCRA, and provided updates on veterans’ advocacy. Keynote speaker was Captain Karen Fischer-Anderson, Judge Advocate General’s Corps for the U. S. Navy. Her luncheon presentation addressed the role and responsibilities of Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
The 2014 Military Law Symposium is June 28 during the Bar’s 2014 Annual Convention, with eight hours of general CLE and two hours of ethics. We encourage Bar members to attend this day of outstanding CLE and join us in support of 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 provide instruction in the areas required by the department, the committee has teamed with Stetson University College of Law to present veterans’ law accreditation training and plans are underway to hold the training again.
The committee sponsors the Clayton Burton Award of Excellence. 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 will be presented to its newest recipient at the June symposium.
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 contacted several legal service clinics/offices throughout Florida to ensure their staff and attorneys are aware of the benefits and resources for their veteran clients. Other goals to support returning and deactivated military members are under development.
An additional emphasis was establishing regular communications, personal contact, and networking between the committee and active duty JAGs in Florida, as well as facilitating communication between the different newly formed veterans courts throughout Florida. Another focus this year was advocacy before the Board of Governors for modification of Rule 18, as it pertains to Practicing with Professional requirements for military legal assistance attorneys in Florida.
Special thanks to Mary Ann Obos, program administrator with The Florida Bar, for her positive attitude, diligence, and exemplary support to this committee.
Aleksandra Irene Jagiella, 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 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 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
In addition to fulfilling its stated mission, the committee has, over the years, expanded its scope to include educating the membership of The Florida Bar on the various rules and regulations that govern the operation of legal services plans in Florida. This includes the entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans under Ch. 9 and the availability of those other legal and business opportunities provided in the Legal Expense Insurance Act, under the provisions of F.S. Ch. 642. The committee also creates a greater awareness among Florida consumers that membership in plans affords members with tangible, real-life benefits, and, most importantly, the opportunity to better gain access to the legal system.
During 2013-14, the committee successfully carried out its responsibilities in undertaking and completing various tasks and projects.
First and foremost, the committee had the opportunity to review, discuss, and, ultimately, approve the submission of one new Ch. 9 plan on September 27.
In addition, the committee oversaw the annual Ch. 9 renewal process, whereby some 35 Ch. 9 plans were renewed for calendar year 2014 in January.
Finally, the committee is once again privileged to co-sponsor an informative CLE seminar with the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Company during the Annual Convention at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center on June 25. The committee’s portion of this year’s CLE seminar, “Chapter 9 Legal Services Plans: Assisting Florida Attorneys in Expanding Their Private Client Base,” consists of two presentations relevant to Ch. 9 Plans: 1) “Establishment of a Chapter 9 Legal Services Plan: What Every Florida Attorney Needs to Know,” presented by the chair; and 2) “Relevant Issues in the Day-to-Day Operations of a Chapter 9 Legal Services Plan,” presented by a panel of Florida practicing attorneys having a wealth of experience in running the day-to-day operations of a Ch. 9 plan.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge the performance of several individuals whose great work significantly contributed to accomplishing the committee’s goals and, in turn, furthering its mission during this year.
• Program Administrator Ricky Libbert for her great efforts to keep both me and the committee on task;
• Vice Chair Kent A. Showalter III, who has ably served as chair of the committee’s Annual Convention CLE seminar since 2011, for his dedication and commitment to fulfilling the mission of the committee;
• Committee member Nancy R. Berger, who has admirably served the committee in various roles and completed, with distinction, several important committee projects during her now concluded six-year tenure on the committee;
• Committee member Gerald W. Pierre who is very engaged in any and all of the committee’s activities and projects.
In conclusion, it has been an honor to serve as chair of the Prepaid Legal Services Committee during these past two years, and it is now my great privilege to pass the torch of leadership to Kent and Gerald as the committee’s incoming chair and vice chair. I wish them both well as they strive to fulfill the committee’s mission during the upcoming year and beyond.
John Schaefer, Chair
During this year, the Florida Probate Rules Committee continued to work on updates to conform its rules to changes in the Florida Probate Code; proposed rule revisions to be submitted with the next triennial report due in 2016; participated in joint projects initiated by the Florida Supreme Court dealing with electronic filing (changing defining documents in the digital age and to include electronic writings) and electronic service; considered amendments to the procedural rules in furtherance of the movement to consolidate rules common to many different practice areas within the Rules of Judicial Administration; and finalized an amendment to the guardianship accounting rules and an annual accounting form.
The committee continued, when and where possible, to schedule its meetings to coincide with meetings of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section in order for the committee to be more accessible to RPPTL members, as well as foster the relationship between the committee and the section.
The triennial report filed last year was approved by the Florida Supreme Court on September 26, 2013, wherein the court, in approving the amended ruling, stated it was adopting the committee’s recommended changes finding, “the submission to be straight forward amendments.”
During 2012-2013, the committee finalized its review of the probate rules in conjunction with the Minimization of the Filing of Sensitive Information, Fla. R. Jud. P. 2.425. Those proposed rules were approved by the Board of Governors and submitted to the Supreme Court for approval. However, to date the court has not yet ruled.
The committee also considered and filed fast-track amendments to the probate rules in response to statutory changes made by the 2013 Florida Legislature. After unanimous approval by the Board of Governors’ Executive Committee, the Supreme Court accepted the proposed amendments to Rule 5.240 and Rule 5.260. This ruling became final on March 21.
During this term, the committee continued its ongoing review of the guardianship accounting rules. In particular, it is hoped that before the end of this term, an amended guardianship rule and form for the annual accountings will be submitted to the Board of Governors for approval. The committee held its final meeting in conjunction with the RPPTL annual meeting in May. It is anticipated the RPPTL Guardianship Committee will consider the accounting rule and form in order to give input to the committee before its final vote.
The committee continued to consider whether any rule change should be implemented with regard to the use of communication equipment in probate and guardianship court proceedings, and this remains an ongoing project.
In November, the committee agreed to examine whether there is a conflict between the rule and statute concerning the timing of service and notice regarding estate inventories. This review is ongoing.
Another issue concerns potential changes to Rule 5.042(d) because of a conflict with Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.425 with respect to the additional five days given for response periods for documents served by mail or email. It has been suggested that the rules are in conflict as the five additional days are not given for documents served by formal notice. The committee continues to work on changing references in the probate rules from “substantive papers” to “substantive documents” to conform to the age of electronic filings. The committee also reviewed the issue of whether further definition of “interested persons” for guardianship accountings is required. It was the committee’s decision that this matter is a substantive rather than procedural issue and the committee referred the matter to the Guardianship Law Committee of RPPTL.
The committee continued to consider matters presented from probate and guardianship practitioners and, when appropriate, refer the matter to one of its subcommittees for further consideration.
The 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 this information easily available to the committee members and others 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’s 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.
It has been a privilege to serve as chair of the Florida Probate Rules Committee. Thank you to all committee members, Florida Bar staff, and members of the other rules committees for your contributions during the year.
Marsha G. Madorsky, Chair
Pro Bono Legal Services
In 2013, The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services focused on raising the level of awareness regarding the need for pro bono legal services. The committee administers the rollout of the One Campaign, focusing on Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The committee supported the following efforts to improve and encourage pro bono participation at the state and local level:
• Worked with the Miami/Dade County Pro Bono Round Table to promote the Pro Bono Summit in Miami.
• Supported the work of the One Campaign, CABA, and the Miami/Dade County Pro Bono Round Table to establish the Special Immigrant Juvenile Project in Immigration Court in Dade County.
• Worked with the Business Law Section to present the Non-profit Legal Clinic in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and to begin preparations for the clinic in Tallahassee.
• Worked with the Elder Law Section to develop the statewide initiative on advanced directives for low-income seniors in Florida.
• Worked with the Appellate Practice Section to find pro bono attorneys to represent low-income Floridians in appeals.
• Interviewed and selected a One Campaign director who is located in Miami and concentrates on encouraging pro bono efforts in South Florida.
• Supported and sponsored the statewide Florida Lawyers in Libraries program.
• Developed a tip sheet for encouraging pro bono participation to be distributed to new judges at the New Judges School.
Through the work of the committee, Florida continues to make improvements in the delivery of pro bono legal services to low-income Floridians.
Kathleen S. McLeroy, Co-chair
Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., Co-chair
Professional Ethics Committee
The Professional Ethics Committee provides guidance to Bar members on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Formal committee opinions are available on the Bar’s website, www.floridabar.org. A link to Ethics Opinions is included in a 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 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 issues informal oral and written opinions and by which the committee issues formal opinions. The committee may issue formal opinions on 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 comment on proposed ethics opinions. The procedures are available on The Florida Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org by choosing the link for “Ethics Opinions.”
• Final Advisory Opinions — At the committee’s request, the Board of Governors directed the committee to draft an opinion on lawyers’ use of cloud computing. The committee issued 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; that the lawyer has adequate access to the information stored; and that the cloud computing service provider maintains adequate security. The opinion gives examples of steps a lawyer should consider when using cloud computing and choosing a service provider. The opinion notes that lawyers must keep up with developments in technology that affect the practice of law. Thus, in order to take appropriate steps to comply with the ethics rules, lawyers using cloud computing must understand the technology they are using and how it may affect the duty of confidentiality.
The committee issued Advisory Opinion 12-4 based on an inquiry from a Florida Bar member regarding application of new section (8) of F.S. §626.8473, which became effective July 1, 2012. This statute requires lawyers acting as real estate settlement agents to hold all real estate transaction funds in a single separate trust account to allow title insurer audits. At issue in the opinion is whether a lawyer who uses more than one title insurer may use one trust account for all real estate transactions and allow each title insurer to audit that single real estate trust account without the informed consent of clients, when the particular title insurer conducting the audit may not be providing title insurance for that transaction. The opinion states that a lawyer can do so only if the lawyer has the informed consent of all affected clients or the lawyer reasonably concludes that it will serve the affected clients’ interests, and the affected clients have not prohibited the disclosure of the information.
• Issues Currently Under Consideration — The Professional Ethics Committee is considering issuing a proposed advisory opinion on lawyers’ advising clients to “clean up” their social media pages pre-litigation. There are four issues to address in a proposed advisory opinion: 1) whether a lawyer may advise a client pre-suit to remove posts, photos, videos, and information from social media pages/accounts that are related directly to the incident for which the lawyer is retained; 2) whether a lawyer may advise a client pre-suit to remove posts, photos, videos, and information from social media pages/accounts that are not related directly to the incident for which the lawyer is retained; 3) whether a lawyer may advise a client pre-suit to change social media pages/accounts privacy settings to remove the pages/accounts from public view; and 4) whether a lawyer must advise a client pre-suit not to remove posts, photos, videos, and information if the lawyer has advised the client to set privacy settings not to allow public access, whether or not directly related to the litigation. The committee, pursuant to The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics, solicited comments from Florida Bar members on the issue. No draft of the opinion is available at this time. The committee will consider any comments received at its June meeting during The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention.
The Professional Ethics Committee voted on January 24 to reconsider Florida Ethics Opinion 87-11 to address changes to Rule of Judicial Administration 2.515 regarding electronic signatures. Opinion 87-11 states that an attorney should not permit a nonlawyer employee to sign the attorney’s name, together with the nonlawyer’s initials, to notices of hearing and other pleadings under any circumstances. Pursuant to The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics, the committee has solicited comments from Florida Bar members on the issue. No draft of the opinion is available at this time. The committee will consider any comments received at its June meeting.
• Appeals of Written Staff Opinions — At each of its meetings, the committee considers appeals by attorneys of written staff opinions in response to inquiries submitted by the attorneys. Among the issues considered by the committee this year were an attorney’s relationship with a nonlawyer business owned by the attorney’s child; ethical obligations in resolving a third party’s interest in funds held in the attorney’s trust account; a subscription service for lawyers to report payment history of clients as to legal fees; a lawyer providing legal advice to customers of a nonlawyer company that provides administrative services, such as payroll, benefits administration, and human resources consulting to customers; conflict issues involved in the representation of both a husband and wife in a declaratory action relating to the proceeds from the sale of the marital home when the wife informs the lawyer that she intends to divorce the husband; and whether a lawyer could provide financial assistant to a client in the form of payment of costs of litigation for a nonindigent client.
• Masters Seminar on Ethics — The Professional Ethics Committee’s popular yearly CLE program addresses areas of ethics of great significance to Bar members and is part of the Presidential Showcase for this Annual Convention. The seminar subcommittee is chaired by Vice Chair Deborah A. A’Hearn. The committee anticipates the seminar will provide 3.5 hours of ethics CLE credit. The program includes a judicial panel addressing ethics, professionalism, civility, and focuses on candor to the court, bullying in and out of court, and dilatory tactics. The judicial panel will include Judge Nelly Khouzam, Second District Court of Appeal; Judge Mary S. Scriven, Middle District of Florida; and Judge Ronald V. Swanson, First District Court of Appeal, moderated by Rodolfo Sorondo. Additionally speakers include Henry M. Coxe III, Luis Salazar, and Professor Charles H. Rose III.
• Informal Ethics Opinions Service — The ethics opinion process continues to rate as among the most desirable services on membership surveys. The committee is committed to providing ethics guidance to Bar members. The committee thanks the staff of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. Staff had another busy year on the Ethics Hotline handling 28,784 hotline calls in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Gary Shepard Lesser, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan Grabb, 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.
Loretta Comiskey O’Keeffe, Chair
The mission of the Standing Committee on Professionalism is 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. The committee consists of 40 members of the bench and Bar, divided into several working groups.
• Awards Working Group — This was the second year since the revival of the Law Faculty/Administrator and Group Professionalism Awards. Under the leadership of working group Chair Michael Schneider, this group oversaw the entire process leading to the award of all three major professionalism awards, including the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award.
The Hoeveler award recognizes a state or federal judge who best exemplifies strength of character, competence, commitment, and civility as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant.
The Law Faculty/Administrator Award is presented to a Florida law professor or administrator who, through teaching, scholarship, and service, epitomizes the ideals set out in the mission of the standing committee.
The Group Professionalism Award similarly recognizes a local bar association, inn of court, judicial organization, or law school association with an innovative program that can be implemented by other organizations to promote and encourage professionalism within the legal community.
The working group reviewed applications and related forms, developed a strategy to promote and educate members of the Bar about the awards and deadlines, considered nominations and made a recommendation to the full committee regarding selected awardees. The three awardees will be recognized at the Judicial Luncheon during the Annual Convention of The Florida Bar.
• Circuit Professionalism Working Group — Co-chaired by Denise D’Aprile and Carrie Roane, this working group is responsible for the very important work of collection and compilation of the circuit professionalism reports from Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. The group reviewed the report form from last year and considered changes and additions. Group members were assigned to circuits and ensured that these reports were collected. The information from these reports is invaluable to the bench and Bar in its determination to measure the effectiveness of professionalism programs and efforts around the state.
• Professionalism Seminar Working Group — Chaired by Hillsborough County Judge Frances Perrone, this working group took on two primary tasks. First, they reached out to the other 49 states to compile a comprehensive report on what each state requires for professionalism and ethics CLE at the request of the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. This data was submitted to the Center for Professionalism and has become the basis of a report submitted in January to Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, chair of the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. In addition, this group explored the idea of a masters’ level seminar on legal professionalism. In its first-year iteration, this effort will manifest at the Annual Convention as a feature of a broader seminar which will include a panel discussion on the topic area of the impact of professionalism on technology and social media.
• Publicity and Communications Working Group — Chaired by Caroline Johnson Levine, this group assisted with the publishing of the center’s newsletter, The Professional. This was accomplished by writing, reviewing, and soliciting articles from various legal publications. This group was also tasked with the duty of marketing the center as a resource to members of the Bar. Members of this working group authored and published several articles, gave presentations to numerous local legal organizations, and presented approved CLE programs on the topics of professionalism, civility, and ethics.
• Young Lawyers Working Group — Co-chaired by Sean Desmond and Rachel Greenstein, this group completed the Balancing Life and Law Program at all 12 law schools, a program created by the Center for Professionalism. The program was supported by the Law Student Division of YLD and several members of the committee spoke on the panels. The Young Lawyers Working Group also promoted the FLMIC and Florida Bar Law Student Essay Contest and aided with making changes to the annual law school report.
• Aging Lawyers Working Group — Chaired by Michael Cohen, this working group continued its involvement with the Aging Lawyer Task Force comprised of The Florida Bar, 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 Gainesville. The overall goal of the task force is to raise awareness of the issue of aging in the legal profession and to devise methods and approaches to deal with the sensitive and complex implications of aging.
On a personal note, I have been greatly inspired by the dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work of the members of the committee and have found greatly rewarding my seven years as a member.
David A. Hallman, Chair
Real Estate Certification
The Real Estate Certification Committee evaluates and approves applicants who desire to become certified in real estate law, and prepares and administers the annual certification examination. As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of the applicant necessarily involves the determination of whether the applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. The committee appreciates and thanks all of the attorneys who responded to the committee’s requests for the submission of the peer review forms, and those who submitted the form can be assured that the information is always utilized by the committee to evaluate the applicant. The committee has seen a slight increase in the number of applicants of the past few years and has observed that a larger percentage of applicants have been practicing law for only the minimum five-year period.
Board certification in real estate began in 1987. The number of board certified real estate attorneys in the state continues to grow steadily. In 2013, 18 individuals received initial certification from a field of 27 applicants who sat for the examination. There are now 453 lawyers who are certified in real estate law and 52 more have applied for initial certification this year.
In a continuing effort to make the examination more objective, the committee implemented several recommendations made by the Bar’s examination consultant, Dr. Karen Barbieri. The committee has made a conscious effort to test the applicant’s practical and substantive knowledge of real estate law rather than require a recitation of memorized case names and statutory citations. The committee enlisted the help of several other board certified attorneys and former committee members as pre-testers to evaluate the various multiple-choice, essay, and transactional analysis questions. Special thanks go to Martin S. Awerbach, Joseph R. Boyd, Howard A. Cohen, Roger A. Larson, R. Lynn Lovejoy, Richard A. Miller, John L. Soileau, and David Weisman, who graciously volunteered as pre-testers and offered their valuable insight to the examination questions.
The committee is also working toward proposing a rule amendment to permit a former board certified attorney, who voluntarily relinquished certification due to an inability to maintain the “substantial involvement” requirement to regain board certification upon a satisfactory demonstration of substantial involvement in real estate law along with other criteria required for recertification.
Over the past year, the committee spent countless hours reviewing applications, preparing the examination, and otherwise conducting business. I speak for all committee members when I state there is no better educational and professional experience offered by the Bar than to serve on a certification committee. I thank each committee member, Dennis A. Cohrs, Joshua A. Escoto, Lloyd Granet, Richard C. Grant, William S. Kramer, Meredith E. Level, Michael E. Mirrington, Mary A. Robison, Richard D. Sneed, and Steven E. Wallace, for their diligence and hard work without which the serious responsibilities of the committee could not have been effectively carried out. I especially thank Richard C. Grant, vice chair, for his extraordinary efforts and wish him and Meredith E. Level luck in their new roles as chair and vice chair for 2014-15. Finally, but certainly not least, the committee could not function without the invaluable assistance, knowledge, and experience of Carol Vaught, the Bar’s staff liaison for the committee. She is instrumental and indispensable in keeping the committee on track and advising it of the policies and procedures of the Bar with respect to the committee’s designated duties.
I encourage all eligible real estate attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better opportunity for the attorney to hone his or her skills or to identify the attorney as a specialist in real estate law. I also encourage certified attorneys to volunteer to serve on the committee because you will not find a more congenial, knowledgeable, and professional group of attorneys with whom to associate in the advancement of the ideals of the profession.
Russell M. Robbins, Chair
Rules of Judicial Administration
The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee consists of judges, attorneys from virtually every area of practice, as well as representatives from each of the other standing rules committees. The RJAC generally considers and recommends amendments to rules of general application to all substantive areas of law and serves as coordinating committee when the Supreme Court requests a single report of proposed rule changes on behalf of multiple rules committees.
This year, the RJAC met as a full committee in January, June, and September 2013, although most of the committee’s work is conducted between meetings by its subcommittees whose members have devoted countless hours in telephonic meetings considering and drafting proposed rule amendments. The RJAC submitted its three-year cycle report to the Supreme Court in January.
The cycle report included recommended amendments to Rule 2.430, providing that records in criminal misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases be retained for the same length of time as felony cases. This proposed amendment responded to a request by the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association pointing out that misdemeanor records, important in establishing prior convictions for many purposes including charge enhancement for subsequent offenses, post-conviction motions, impeachment with prior convictions, and accurate criminal punishment code scoresheets, were frequently being destroyed after five years and, thus, were unavailable to prosecutors, defendants, and civil litigants.
Also included in the three-year cycle report is a proposed amendment to Rule 2.510 dealing with pro hac vice appearances by foreign attorneys, addressing some internal ambiguities in the present rule, providing for trial court discretion in waiving the required fee for pro bono representation, clarifying the requirements for applicants to disclose pending disciplinary proceedings, and providing that the required fee be submitted to The Florida Bar by mail.
The bulk of the committee’s work this past year, and throughout this latest three-year cycle, has been devoted to issues relating to e-filing, e-service, public access to digital court records, and privacy considerations in court records. These issues are ever-evolving as we move more completely into a paperless court system and the committee has been fully invested in proposing rule amendments to accommodate the transition. Due to the fast-paced movement toward “paperless courts,” the majority of the committee’s work has been submitted out of cycle and is not included in the cycle report.
Among the issues submitted out of cycle in 2013 were proposed changes to Rule 2.515 relating to electronic signatures; Rule 2.516 relating to e-service of documents; Rule 2.525 relating to e-filing of documents. We’ve been fortunate to have several RJAC members who serve on the Florida Courts’ Technology Commission, and who have assisted the RJAC in working closely with that committee on a number of rule amendments relating to electronic service, filing, and signatures.
I commend and thank all members of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee for their hard work during the past year, but I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically acknowledge the members of the subcommittee responsible for addressing most of the issues relating to electronic signatures, filing, and service. Subcommittee chair Keith Park and members Paul Regensdorf, Corrine Hodak, Craig Gibbs, Marynelle Hardee, Amanda Sansone, Judge Steven Stephens, Ashley Myers, and J. Richard Caskey, together with RJAC Vice Chair Murray Silverstein, met weekly and even bi-weekly during a significant portion of the year to work out details on proposed changes to Rules 2.515, 2.516, 2.525, and 2.420.
During this past year our Bar liaison, Jodi Jennings, whom we considered an irreplaceable part of the committee, relocated out of state. She has been sorely missed. On a positive note, however, Heather Telfer has taken over for Jodi, adding our committee work to her already full plate and doing an outstanding job for which she has the thanks of all of our members.
Looking forward, incoming Chair Murray Silverstein has already begun exploring ways to allow our subcommittees to meet via webcast, and, as a member of the FCTC, is in a unique position to continue to heighten the RJAC’s coordination with that body in addressing technological issues involved in the administration of justice. Next year, promises to be as busy or busier than this year as we continue our move to paperless courts and clerks’ offices. It has been a pleasure serving as chair this year and an honor to work with the many dedicated and capable attorneys and judges on the committee.
Jon B. Morgan, Chair
The Senior Lawyers Committee held its first meeting on January 23 at the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando. Approximately 45 members attended the committee. Each was given an opportunity to explain what they felt was important about the committee and what type of work they would like to do. It was emphasized this is not a substantive law committee but one to help older lawyers deal with lifestyle and professional changes. The overriding desire of the persons in attendance was to help mentor younger lawyers, older lawyers, as well as new judges. There was a great deal of interest in how to wind down the practice, how to be involved more in pro bono work, how to deal with technology, and how to continue Bar work even though their status would be inactive as opposed to active.
Committees are being appointed to deal with each of these various issues and the next meeting is at the Annual Convention in Orlando. All thoughts, comments, and suggestions are appreciated.
Jake Schickel, Chair
Small Claims Rules
In September 2013, the Small Claims Rules Committee discussed proposed changes pending in the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee to Rule 2.505, which would impact attorneys appearing in small claims cases, particularly covering attorneys. The committee also discussed the proposed changes to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.530 (the telephonic appearance rule) and the potential impact those changes would have upon Small Claims Rule 7.140(f). Finally, the subcommittee, charged with reviewing the small claims forms and recommending whether uniform garnishment forms were necessary, reported to the full committee that garnishment forms were not necessary. No further action will be taken on the issue at this time.
At the January 24 meeting, the Small Claims Rules Committee discussed the subcommittee’s work regarding Small Claims Rule 7.090(b), which relates to notice to appear, pretrial conference, and nonserved defendants in small claims cases. The committee will discuss the issue again at the next meeting. Thank you to Andrew Daire and your subcommittee for your diligent efforts.
The committee continues to discuss the potential RJA changes to the telephonic rule, and the committee expects to continue these discussions at its next meeting, as RJA has not finalized the changes to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.530. I thank Amanda Rolfe, as she has chaired multiple subcommittees and served on many others with dedicated extensive time, energy, and thought to the telephonic appearance issue. Her research, preparation, and guidance allowed the committee to effectively discuss this issue and will ultimately ensure that the Small Claims Rules Committee is able to timely respond and resolve any issues that might arise related to telephonic appearances in small claims cases.
Lastly, the subcommittee, charged with reviewing potential changes to Small Claims Rule 7.140 regarding the discretion given to a judge to allow telephonic appearances by counsel and parties in small claims cases, will continue its work and will report to the full committee at the next meeting. Thank you to Michael Debski for chairing this subcommittee.
The Florida Supreme Court considered and accepted the majority of the changes as set forth in the Small Claims Rules 2013 three-year cycle report.
The committee approved proposed change to Rule 7.140(f). This amendment allows the introduction of telephonic testimony and became effective on January 1.
The committee voted to change Rule 7.010(b) to clarify that small claims rules apply to all actions, whether in law or equity, as long as they involve $5,000 or less. This amendment was approved and became effective on January 1.
The committee approved a proposed change to Rule 7.050 to replace “corporation” with “business entity recognized under Florida law.” This amendment was approved and became effective on January 1.
The committee submitted a proposed new Form 7.235, a consumer information pamphlet, as part of the 2013 three-year cycle report; however, the Florida Supreme Court declined to adopt the proposed form. The pamphlet answered frequently asked questions for judgment creditors seeking to collect a judgment in small claims. Thank you to Thomas Thompson for your hard work in preparing this pamphlet.
The committee voted to approve changes to Forms 7.350, 7.235, and 7.336, which were approved and became effective on January 1. Additionally, the Florida Supreme Court, on its own motion, also amended Form 7.322 to maintain consistency throughout the Florida Small Claims Rules.
Thank you to all committee members who donate their time and expertise to improve the rules for “the people’s court.” The significant time spent by our members made this year a successful and productive year.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for Heather Telfer, our amazingly organized and diligent outgoing Florida Bar liaison. We all appreciate her support and look forward to working with our new liaison, Josine Blackwell.
As chair, I give special thanks to past Chair Thomas Thompson, incoming Chair Taras Rudnitsky, and lastly, to our committee friend and past chair, Judge Robert Lee, who continues to update and provide us with Annotated Small Claims Rules booklets, from which we all benefit and wholeheartedly appreciate.
I encourage all Florida Bar attorneys to apply for appointment to one of The Florida Bar’s many standing committees. Committee work is an opportunity to advance your skills, elevate the professionalism of the Bar, and network with other motivated and dedicated attorneys.
Nicole D. Young, Chair
State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice
There are 86 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.” Certification is only available for those qualified applicants who pass an examination, which covers state and federal administrative procedure acts, as well as civil actions involving state and federal government. The committee administered the eighth certification examination on May 15 in Tampa. Eight attorneys applied for the examination and the committee also reviewed 26 recertification applications. Congratulations to those who gained recertification!
The committee remains concerned with expanding the number of certified state and federal government and administrative practice attorneys. As such, the committee continues its exploration of creating two “sub-tracks” within the practice area. The two areas under consideration are state and federal government practice and state and federal administrative practice. The committee will consult with interested sections of The Florida Bar and others in the coming months. The committee welcomes your thoughts on these or alternative proposals to better serve our certification practice area.
The 2013-2014 committee consisted of Chair Francine Ffolkes, Vice Chair Charles Fletcher, Kirk Burns, Kenneth Hayman, Judge Lynne Quimby-Pennock, Ryland Terry Rigsby, Martha Chumbler, Colin Roopnarine, and James Richmond. Our excellent staff liaison is Vicki Simmons. 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, visit The Florida Bar’s website or call Vicki Simmons at 850-561-3141.
Francine M. Ffolkes, 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 2013 Florida Bar Annual Convention, the committee presented a CLE seminar on “The Changing Face of the Legal Profession and the Need for Mentoring.” Panelists discussed relevant issues affecting the legal profession, including competency and job placement. They looked at the need for mentoring and what law schools, state and voluntary bars, and law firms can do to ease the transition from law students to lawyers and from new to seasoned lawyers. Goals and challenges associated with implementing mentoring programs were also discussed.
Seminar facilitators were SEABC members Kate Webber, Pury Santiago, and Maja Holman. Featured panelists were John Berry, legal division director, The Florida Bar; Janeia Daniels Ingram, assistant dean, Florida State University College of Law; Tangela King, program director, State Bar of Georgia Transition Into Law Practice Program; Judge Robert W. Lee, Broward County; and Detra Shaw-Wilder, partner, Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, and coordinator, Annual Minority Mentoring Picnic.
The committee is planning an Annual Convention CLE program to focus on substantive, ethical, and professional issues young lawyers and law students face in 2014. The issues include how to meet professional and civil expectations in e-mail exchange in litigation or transactional law in today’s fast-paced practice, and possible problems facing young attorneys involving their actions on the popular social media outlets and the substantive, ethical, and professional ramifications involving texting or other informal communication.
Thank you to SEABC officers and members for your hard work and dedication this year.
Patrice Behnstedt, Chair
Tax Law Certification
Members of the Tax Law Certification Committee oversee the process of certifying attorneys as tax law specialists, and reviewing applications of certified attorneys seeking recertification at the expiration of their terms. The certification process consists of three requirements: an active practice in tax law; excellent peer review references; and passing the certification examination.
As chair of the committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida tax lawyers. The committee is comprised of nine board certified tax law attorneys who work throughout the state. The committee first met in August 2013 to begin drafting the 2014 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. During the next several months, the committee continued the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by the committee and The Florida Bar.
The 2014 exam is comprised of two long-answer essay questions and 10 short-answer essay questions that address procedural and substantive law. For the various subjects, the committee updated questions from previous examinations, as well as created new current questions. The exam questions were reviewed by the committee and revised to reflect changes in the law. The committee seeks to ensure that the exam is a fair but rigorous test of an applicant’s expertise. On March 14 in Tampa, applicants took the exam in two three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by June 1.
At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2014 examination on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to the committee only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a board certified tax law attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as a tax law board certified specialist.
Of the more than 98,000 members of The Florida Bar, 230 are board certified in tax law. Seven attorneys applied to take the 2014 tax law certification exam. Two of these applicants submitted abbreviated applications after either failure or nonattendance at the 2013 exam. The committee also reviewed 68 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 to serve as chair of the committee this year with Harris Bonnette (vice chair), Benjamin Jablow, Cristin Keane, Donna Litman, Lee Osiason, Richard Shapack, Glen Stankee, and Michael Wilson. We also appreciate the hard work of Lindsey Blomberg, the Bar staff liaison to the committee.
Linda Griffin, Chair
Traffic Court Rules
• Model Colloquy: Rule 6.450(b) — The Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion on November 27, 2013, In Re: Amendments to the Florida Rules of Traffic Court, regarding proposed model colloquies submitted by the Traffic Court Rules Committee and the Conference of County Court Judges for incorporation into Florida Traffic Court Rule 6.450(b). The model colloquies advised civil traffic infraction defendants of their right against self-incrimination.
The Florida Supreme Court had asked the TCRC and the conference to develop a recommendation regarding whether a model colloquy should be incorporated into the rules. However, the two groups were not able to agree on the form the amendment should take and each submitted a different version. The Florida Supreme Court declined, in its November opinion, to adopt either version, concluding that neither accurately tracked the case law or completely informed the defendant of his or her rights.
• Traffic Hearing Officer Training: Rule 6.630(g)(1) — In addition to its proposed model colloquy, the conference had also recommended a change to Rule 6.630 that requires traffic hearing officers to receive training on situations in which a defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination may be implicated. The TCRC approved the rule change on second reading at its September 2013 meeting for inclusion in the committee’s 2015 three-year cycle report. However, the Florida Supreme Court adopted the change in its November opinion, with an effective date of January 1.
At the winter meeting, the committee reviewed several scrivener’s errors in the text of the rule pointed out by TCRC member and Traffic Hearing Officer Sara Blumberg and voted unanimously to amend the rule to correct these errors.
• Procedure on Failure to Appear: Rule 6.190 — In an effort to conform to current rules and practices regarding electronic filing and service of court documents, the committee voted unanimously to amend Rule 6.190 governing notices of failure to appear at traffic hearings. Instead of requiring the notices to be mailed, the amended rule requires the notices to be “sent,” which permits provision of the notices by email.
• Confrontation Rights: Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.530 — In addition to these issues, the TCRC addressed the question of traffic defendants’ rights under the confrontation clause of the Constitution in response to a proposed change in Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.530(d)(4). That proposed change would give judges and traffic officials authority to allow witnesses to appear in court proceedings through the use of communications equipment even if all parties did not stipulate to the appearance. A subcommittee was formed to research the impact such a rule change would have on the confrontation rights of defendants in traffic cases. After extensive research and discussion by subcommittee Chair Rafael Millares and subcommittee members David Margolis, Steve Hurm, Ian Nesbeth, and Ted Hollander, the TCRC voted in January to advise the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee that the Traffic Committee would like to have the rule amended to create an exception for traffic cases. The subcommittee held a number of telephone conferences and email discussions in preparing its report for the full committee’s consideration, and the chair thanks them for their diligent and in-depth examination of this significant issue. The subcommittee’s report will be provided to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee.
• Additional Subcommittees — Subcommittees also were created to address the following issues:
Possible Revisions to Rule 6.455, which governs the amendment of charging documents in traffic infraction cases. The rule currently permits amendment only by the issuing officer in open court prior to the commencement of a scheduled hearing. Due to the significant impact on judicial and law enforcement resources as a result of numerous errors on traffic citations, as well as problems created for traffic defendants, it was hoped that a prehearing amendment procedure could be developed to streamline the amendment process while maintaining the integrity of the charging document and court proceedings. This subcommittee included Chair Steve Hurm and members David Pius, Russell Thompson, and Patricia Smith. The subcommittee’s proposed revisions to the rule were discussed and the issue was sent back to the subcommittee to incorporate additional changes.
Possible changes to the traffic rules to conform to the e-filing and e-service requirements of the Rules of Judicial Administration. Subcommittee members were Ashley Taylor and Marc Consalo, who reviewed existing rules to determine whether changes were needed to eliminate references to “paper” and substitute the word “document,” which would encompass digital filings. The subcommittee also recommended changing Rule 6.190 as described above to indicate that the clerk should “send” a notice to the defendant rather than “mail” a notice.
Possible changes to the traffic rules to conform to the minimization of private information requirements of the Rules of Judicial Administration. Subcommittee members Cary Meldon and Bill Trappen reported no necessary changes had been identified.
Possible revision or elimination of outdated traffic court rules. Subcommittee members Lee Carney and Albert Pucylowski proposed no changes.
The chair thanks each subcommittee and their members for their conscientious efforts to thoroughly review and address these issues.
• 2013 legislation — The committee reviewed changes to the red light camera statute adopted by the 2013 Legislature and concluded that they required no amendments to the traffic court rules, as the changes pertained to nonjudicial administrative hearings conducted by individual jurisdictions.
The upcoming three-year cycle report, in addition to the significant constitutional and electronic courts issues described above, made this an unusually busy year for the Traffic Court Rules Committee. It has been an honor to work with the many insightful and dedicated lawyers on the committee to complete our assigned tasks and work toward our goal of making the traffic court rules more effective, efficient, and user-friendly for all stakeholders. Special thanks for the assistance and support of incoming TCRC Chair Lee Carney, as well as Florida Bar Liaisons Heather Telfer and Josine Blackwell. Their contributions have been invaluable.
Marynelle Hardee, Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
The standing committee had a busy year addressing formal advisory opinion requests. Under Rule 10-9 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, an individual or organization seeking guidance as to the applicability of the state’s prohibitions against the unlicensed practice of law may request a formal advisory opinion from the standing committee. After holding a public hearing to receive input from interested parties, the standing committee, at its discretion, may file a proposed formal advisory with the Supreme Court of Florida containing its interpretation of the law. The court then reviews the proposed opinion and can approve, modify, or disapprove the advisory opinion with the ensuing opinion having the force and effect of an order of the court.
Last May, the standing committee filed a proposed formal advisory opinion with the court involving the activities of community association managers after receiving a request from the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. The standing committee first addressed this issue in 1996 when it issued an advisory opinion on the subject, but changes in the law since then prompted the latest request. The proposed opinion, which is pending at the court, 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 was provided for two activities and two activities not raised in 1996 were addressed using the 1996 opinion and other case law as guidance.
In January, the standing committee filed a proposed formal advisory opinion with the court in the area of Medicaid planning after receiving a request from the Elder Law Section. The standing committee’s proposed opinion finds that it constitutes the unlicensed practice of law for a nonlawyer to engage in the following Medicaid planning activities: drafting a personal service contract, preparing and executing a qualified income trust, and giving legal advice regarding the implementation of Florida law to obtain Medicaid benefits. The preparation of the application for Medicaid benefits was not considered as federal law authorizes nonlawyer assistance in the application process. The proposed advisory opinion is pending at the court.
The standing committee was scheduled to hold a public hearing in May on a Goldberg request for formal advisory opinion. In a pending federal law suit in Florida involving a claim for damages based on unlicensed practice of law, the judge dismissed the case and directed the plaintiff to request a formal advisory opinion from the standing committee because no case law or advisory opinion finds the activity at issue to be the unlicensed practice of law. The court, in Goldberg v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., 35 So. 2d 905 (Fla. 2010), held that the standing committee must issue a formal advisory opinion in such circumstances.
The standing committee and The Florida Bar UPL staff continued their efforts to protect the public from UPL. We obtained injunctions from the Florida Supreme Court against individuals and businesses for engaging in the unlicensed practice of law by providing legal services in the following areas: immigration, family law, foreclosure assistance and loan modification, and individuals holding themselves out as attorneys and representing others in Florida 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 multijurisdictional practice of law rules (MJP), 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 who appear in a Florida court or arbitration to file a copy of their pro hac vice motion and verified statement, respectively, with The Florida Bar. Anyone wishing to check whether opposing counsel has complied with these filing requirements may do so by contacting the UPL Department at 850-561-5840.
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 also thank and recognize our staff counsel: Lori Holcomb, director, client protection; 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.
Carsandra D. Buie, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
The Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee 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 2013-14 VBLC members. The Florida Bar leadership is continually supportive of voluntary bar associations and their activities. President Eugene Pettis has taken an active interest in the VBLC and along with his predecessors, addressed the participants of the conference, as well as spoke at numerous local voluntary bar associations throughout the year.
The committee welcomed a new Board of Governors liaison, Lorna Brown-Burton, as well as a new Florida Bar liaison, Emilie Rietow. Both continue the tradition of active support for the committee and voluntary bar organizations.
Committee members work year round to plan the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in July. The 2013 conference was held July 19-20 in Clearwater Beach and was hosted by the Clearwater Bar Association. The committee was privileged to host the North Branch fellows of the Bar’s inaugural Leadership Academy Class, who participated in several of the conference events with attendees. The conference conveyed the VBLC’s goal to provide practical and useful advice to the voluntary bar leaders across the state by offering break-out sessions on tax issues, CLE programs, membership recruitment and retention, nondues revenue generation, and pressing issues affecting both staffed and nonstaffed bar associations. Along with opening remarks from Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis, attendees were treated to a speech on Leadership by Choice, from Eric Papp, author and President of Results-Based Seminars, LLC. The committee thanks all involved, especially Conference Chair Michael Faehner, who donated their time and resources in organizing another successful conference. Following the success of the 2013 conference, plans were made to hold the 2014 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in Bonita Springs July 11-12. This year’s host association is the Lee County Bar Association and the theme is Unlocking the Mysteries of Bar Leadership. Registration for the conference can be found on the Voluntary Bar Center webpage located within The Florida Bar website.
In 2013, the committee, along with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, supported a measure to encourage associations to create a general email address for the various voluntary bar associations across the state. This email address will be used for all electronic communication regardless of the current president and/or executive director. The measure has been met with universal support with several associations already implementing the change. The committee believes the measure is beneficial to the continued support and interaction with the various bar associations.
The VBLC continues to strive 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. The committee also strives to strengthen relationships with The Florida Bar Foundation and the Young Lawyers Division. 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 while providing support for the valuable efforts of attorneys throughout the state.
My sincere thanks and appreciation to the members and the Florida Bar staff who worked so hard to ensure that the VBLC had a productive year and met its goals.
Daniel A. Zuniga, 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 law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, and reviewing the applications of attorneys seeking recertification. The certification process consists of three requirements: an active practice in wills, trusts, and estates law; excellent peer review references; and passage of the certification examination.
As chair of the 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 board certified attorneys who work throughout the state. The committee first met in August 2013 to begin drafting the 2014 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. During the next several months, the committee continued the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam.
The 2014 exam is comprised of six essay questions and 58 multiple-choice questions that address 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. In May, 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 2014 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 law board certified specialist.
Of the more than 98,000 members of The Florida Bar, 333 are board certified in wills, trusts, and estates law. Twenty-six attorneys applied to take the 2014 certification exam. Seven of these applicants submitted abbreviated applications after either failure or nonattendance at the 2013 exam. The committee also reviewed 44 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 to serve as chair of the committee this year, along with Tasha Pepper-Dickinson (vice chair), William M. “Bill” Pearson (immediate past chair), Jean Coker, J. John Farina, Paul McCawley, L. Howard Payne, Duane Pinnock, and Norma Stanley. We also appreciate the hard work of Lindsey Blomberg, the Bar staff liaison to the committee.
Shawn Snyder, Chair