The Orange County Bar wrapped up its first two-day seminar developed to help new lawyers and second- and third-year law students bridge the gap between the study of law and professional practice.
Fifty-six participants from as far away as Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville joined their Central Florida counterparts at the “New Lawyer Training Program: The Fundamentals of Practice in Orange County.” Nearly half the participants were law students, many of whom had taken the bar exam only days before the program.
Richard S. Dellinger spearheaded the program, with input from OCBA President Paul Scheck, other attorneys, and bar staff.
“When students enter law school, they often are asked to answer legal questions and have no idea what to say,” Dellinger said. “After law school, lawyers are sometimes even more confused about the answers than when they started. We endeavored to give new lawyers and students the tools to find answers, to make well-reasoned and supported decisions, and to adequately serve their clients.”
Dellinger said the program also sought to provide participants the tools they need to succeed as business men and women in the profession.
The program included sessions on courtroom practice and procedure in civil, business, domestic, and criminal courts, with presentations by Ninth Judicial Circuit Judges Frederick J. Lauten, Wilfredo Martinez, Robert M. Evans, Patricia A. Doherty, and John Marshall Kest. In addition to specific information for each court and area of law, a common theme expressed by all presenters was that attorneys be prepared, be on time, and be professional.
Long-term judicial assistants let the attendees know what to expect when they begin practicing.
“Understanding a little about your work and the ‘ground rules’ for scheduling a hearing has helped ease a little bit of anxiety on my part,” said Anne Ricke of Indialantic.
Each session in the program allowed time for participants to ask questions, tour the Orange County Courthouse, visit division offices, and meet key courthouse staff.
Class members learned about starting a law practice from solo practitioners as well as from legal services providers. The second day’s sessions centered on everything from Web development and branding, to office space options, malpractice insurance, and practice management aids, such as legal research and billing software.
Program attendees who were not current members of the OCBA received free membership and were encouraged to network by joining committees, assisting with the work of the Legal Aid Society and the OCBA Foundation, and becoming involved with other OCBA activities. Mentors were assigned to each participant.
“As a third-year law school student, this program opened my eyes to a slew of materials and information that are imperative to have in order to become a successful and competent attorney,” said Keith Farmer.
The OCBA will offer its New Lawyer Training Program again next year. For information about the program and how to sign up, contact Karen Fast at (407) 422-4551, ext. 225, or firstname.lastname@example.org.