Here are the platform statements for the 2013 candidates for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. Ballots for the election will be mailed around March 1 and must be returned no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 21.
YLD members will have the choice of voting by the mailed paper ballot or voting online by following instructions with the mailed ballot.
15th Circuit, Seat 2
I am running to serve as your representative for The Florida Bar Board of Governors Young Lawyers Division for the 15th Judicial Circuit and request your vote in the March 2013 election. As an attorney with Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A., I understand the value of public service and giving back to our community. I have a passion for student loan reform and creating opportunities for young parents to excel in their careers while meeting their family responsibilities.
In serving Florida young lawyers at the national level, one of my proudest moments came when I advocated before a national audience of hundreds of lawyers on student loan reform. For many years I have actively sought to bring attention to the harmful impacts that heavy student loan burdens have on young lawyers. I served on the YLD Board of Governors' student loan committee, where I assisted in drafting Resolution 111A, which was ultimately submitted and adopted by the ABA YLD Assembly. I also presented Resolution 111A to the ABA House of Delegates. Resolution 111A requires that the ABA lobby Congress to provide meaningful student loan reform. As I stood before hundreds of lawyers advocating for the adoption of a student loan reform policy created by Florida young lawyers in a YLD board committee, I realized the young lawyers can drive meaningful change when they work together. I would like to continue advocating for student loan reform as your representative to the YLD Board of Governors.
One of the greatest challenges that young lawyers face is finding time to be all things to all people. Learning to be a competent lawyer is challenging in its own right. In addition to learning to be a hardworking, decent lawyer, many young lawyers do this simultaneously with starting a family. Countless young lawyers struggle with trying simultaneously to build a book of business, have and raise a family, make partner, and build a sustainable network. As a parent of three young children I am sensitive to these challenges. I will use my experience to create tools that help young lawyers achieve their personal and professional goals.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to serve Florida young lawyers in a local, state, and national capacity. As Florida’s district representative to the ABA YLD, I represented Florida at the national level. In 2009-10, I assisted the Young Lawyer Section of the Palm Beach County Bar Association in submitting its application for an ABA Award of Achievement which resulted in the PBC YLS receiving the first place award in its division. For additional background information that details my experience, see http://www.llw-law.com/attorneys/keri-ann-c-baker/.
The 15th Judicial Circuit deserves quality and competent representation. My unique skill set allows me to provide this leadership for our circuit. I appreciate your consideration in allowing me to serve, and I intend to focus on the above issues if given the opportunity to serve on The Florida Bar Board of Governors Young Lawyers Division for the 15th Judicial Circuit.
Luis Delgado, Jr.,
During my very first days as a lawyer, I would always listen carefully during jury selection. Time and time again, I would hear various judges in various courtrooms educate local jury panels, one at a time. I will never forget the moment I first heard a judge, during jury selection, state that law is a noble profession. Since that moment, I’ve come to fully understand and embrace the concept, and I remind myself to remain true to my noble profession every day.
I have called Palm Beach County and the 15th Circuit my home since 1986 and have always wanted the best for my community. I attended a local elementary school, middle school, and high school. I went on to a state university, the University of Florida, and when I enlisted as a private first class in the United States Marine Corps. I served as a reservist at a local reserve unit. I feel privileged to have served our community as an assistant state attorney in the 15th Judicial Circuit and am honored to represent our neighbors with Lesser, Lesser, Landy and Smith. By any standard, I am a local and I am committed to serving my hometown.
I have grown and evolved as a professional and a dedicated member of my community. I've been honored to serve in several local leadership positions and organizations. Presently, I serve as the treasurer of the Palm Beach County Bar Association Young Lawyer Section and have enjoyed coordinating service projects for the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach, and Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County. Chairing the Young Lawyers Judicial Luncheon Committee allowed me to organize enriching educational experiences for my peers. I recently began my tenure as president of the Hispanic Bar Association. I serve as a Law Alumni Council member at the University of Florida, board member to Seagull Industries for the Developmentally Disabled, and I am proud to continue to participate in worthwhile causes with the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and Leadership Palm Beach County.
I know that I am so fortunate to have experienced what I have thus far; I fully comprehend what, at the start of my career, was being communicated to our fellow community members one jury panel at a time: the 15th Judicial Circuit is a wonderful place to practice law because of its lawyers and judges and everyone else who participates in enforcing our laws.
It would be an honor to advocate at The Florida Bar level on behalf of our profession the positive differences that we all have the power to make, the good work that we do, and the people who make our 15th Circuit the best place to practice law. I would be privileged to receive your vote and confidence to sit on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors.
Young lawyers of Palm Beach County, I think we can all agree that at this point in our careers, life is a juggling act. Indeed, we are faced with the reality of working to develop our legal skills, attempting to build professional relationships with colleagues, all while putting in long hours advocating for our clients. On top of all this, over the past few years, we have been faced with the added stress of watching opportunities for young lawyers shrink before our eyes in this highly competitive job market.
In light of the many obstacles we are facing, it is important to have strong individuals representing our interests and concerns in the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar. I believe that my background and experience make me an ideal candidate to meet this challenge.
More specifically, I worked full-time while attending law school at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center. During my 2L and 3L years at Nova, I served as my section’s elected representative on the Student Bar Association. I also served on the Student Bar Association’s Executive Board my 3L year. In addition, I was an active member of Nova’s Moot Court Society, and a member of the Nova Trial Association.
I have been licensed to practice law in the state of Florida since 2011, practicing in the area of plaintiffs’ personal injury litigation with the law firm of Feldman & Getz, L.L.P. I am currently a member of the Young Professionals of the Palm Beaches, the Palm Beach Justice Association, and the Palm Beach County Bar Association.
Additionally, I am also involved in the community, volunteering with organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Simply put, I have a history of getting involved and want to continue my involvement as a member of the YLD Board of Governors.
Since I am asking for your support, it is only fair that I outline the main issues I will focus on if elected. Accordingly, here is my promise to all of you: If elected I will work to assist young lawyers remain competitive in today’s job market through instructive seminars and events. In addition, I will also work to help young lawyers gain the skills and training necessary to expand or build a practice. Finally, I will work to promote the importance of young lawyers getting involved in charitable endeavors and helping to give back to the community.
One thing my past involvement and experience has taught me is that individuals willing to get involved can have an impact. If elected, I will work with the rest of the board and do everything in my power to ensure that the issues and concerns facing us young lawyers today are addressed.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my statement in support of my bid for the Seat 2 of Young Lawyers Division of Board of Governors in the 15th Judicial Circuit of Palm Beach County. I would sincerely appreciate your support and vote.
17th Circuit, Seat 2
Since 2009, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as one of your 17th Circuit Board of Governors representatives to the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar. By working with the Broward Bar Young Lawyers Division and other local bar affiliates we have successfully brought back grant funding every year from The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division to our local communities.
These funds have assisted to host major events like the “Holidays in February” toy drive and play day for "at- risk” underprivileged youth, as well as our newest local “Civic Education” initiative for local high school students. During my tenure I have worked on launching initiatives to increase diversity in the profession and in the pipeline. I have also had the privilege to showcase the pro bono achievements of our local young lawyers statewide.
I am the immediate past president of the T.J. Reddick Bar Association; I served on the Broward County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Board of Directors, the Caribbean Bar Association Executive Board, and currently serve on a grievance committee for the 17th Judicial Circuit. I have always been active in the Bar and representing my fellow young lawyers' interests. I believe that diversity, professionalism, and how the public perceives attorneys are all critical to the success of our legal system and young lawyers. I’ve volunteered hundreds of hours to various local and statewide events encouraging lawyers and law students to become engaged in the Bar and to become involved in community nonprofit work as well as provide pro bono legal services.
Professionally I have practiced in both large and small civil firms and formerly served as an assistant state attorney in Broward County. My varied background has given me unique qualifications. These qualifications have given me the background to serve dynamically as an advocate for my clients in private practice and also as a member of the Board of Governors for the Young Lawyers Division.
I commit to continue to champion our circuit’s accomplishments and concerns to The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors. I am proud of the accomplishments of the Broward Bar YLD and all Broward affiliate bar associations, and I would consider it a privilege to continue to represent the young lawyers within the 17th Circuit. I would be honored to receive your vote to continue this momentum. Every young lawyer’s vote counts! You will receive a ballot in the mail on or about March 1. You must return the ballot by mail or vote online by March 21. I thank you for your VOTE! I thank you for the opportunity to SERVE!
My name is Jason Vanslette and I am running for Seat 2 of the 17th Judicial Circuit’s YLD Board of Governors to assist the specific needs of those of us deemed “young lawyers.” As a graduate of the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University (conveniently located within the 17th Judicial Circuit), I have been fortunate enough to interact with and be a part of our legal community since the beginning of my legal studies. Having experience in both the criminal realm as a public defender and now practicing civil law, it is easy to see the challenges facing young lawyers today. Although young lawyers often have the same issues as seasoned partners, those of us early in our careers have challenges and obstacles that only other young lawyers can relate to.
Networking, for example, is a vital necessity that many of us young lawyers find formidable and daunting at the start of our careers. All of us are trying to find our “niche” in an endless amount of legal specializations and looking for relationships from those who have been practicing for many years. As your representative, I will make it a priority to organize more accessible networking events that cater to a comfortable atmosphere and truly benefit young lawyers. Through the use of modern technology, for example, we can encourage open discussion regarding anything from local rules to ethical scenarios. This can be accomplished via message boards and local online blogs contributed by not only young lawyers, but also experienced practitioners who can better guide us.
Additionally, pro bono opportunities can be an experience that many young lawyers find unattainable at the start of our careers. Young lawyers are traditionally known for working inordinate hours and weekends to obtain the respect of our veteran colleagues whom have completed the same proverbial rite of passage in the past. Consequently, this provides us with little time and availability to help those who need it most. If elected, I will make it a priority to spotlight not only individuals who contribute to the cause, but also employers who facilitate an encouraging atmosphere toward pro bono opportunities. By recognizing the law firms and offices that promote pro bono representation, we can develop a healthy motivation and assist the effort at an early stage in our careers. Starting these experiences at the beginning of our careers will not only help our personal outlook on our profession, but also the community's outlook on us.
Finally, getting involved in the legal community as a young lawyer is also a directive that I will focus on. As your representative, I will create and disseminate online event notifications through the use of emails, blogs, and social media to ensure that all young lawyers within our circuit are informed of the potential to get involved with our local bar associations, fundraisers, committees, and legal groups.
I am always open for suggestions or concerns and will continue throughout my term. I truly appreciate you support on this important decision.
17th Circuit, Seat 4
Valerie Barton Barnhart
It’s tough out there. As Florida’s new generation of lawyers and leaders, the young bar struggles to maneuver a highly competitive job market, build professional alliances, and engage in business development, all while churning out effective legal advocacy on behalf of our clients.
I ask for your vote because I identify with the challenges impacting young lawyers today and believe that I am the best candidate to advance the interests of the 17th Circuit’s young bar.
The Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar should be fundamental to providing you the resources to achieve your career goals — whether you are trying to transition into your own practice; expand your skills for practicing law; develop marketing skills to generate that vital book of business; build professional relationships with colleagues; or simply trying to strike that law/life balance.
As a member of the Young Lawyers Division of the 17th Circuit, you need someone who will advocate on your behalf for a realistic, comprehensive approach to helping you achieve dynamic professional and personal success. Community leadership opportunities. Pro bono involvement. Professional alliances. Business development talent. Resources to improve your law practice skills. Community service. The opportunities are there. That is why you need me on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors — to ensure that you are provided the resources to seize those opportunities.
The responsibility of your representative on the Young Lawyers Board of Governors is enhancement — enhancement of your professional success. Whether that means providing skills training to help you develop that sought after book of business or by developing practical continuing education content to help you master your practice area, I will get it done.
I relate to the young bar in the 17th Circuit, because I was born and raised in Broward County and also attended both college and law school locally at Nova Southeastern University. I am also active in the community, volunteering with the Make a Wish Foundation and a committed coach to third-year law students at my alma mater who are preparing for the bar exam.
I look forward to exceeding the expectations of the 17th Circuit’s Young Lawyers Division membership. Thank you for your consideration.
Paul J. Sodhi
I attended the University of Central Florida from 2000-04 and graduated with honors. Thereafter, I immediately attended the University of Florida Levin College of Law and graduated in 2007 with honors. I have been a resident of Broward County for over 20 years and have been practicing law here since 2009. I currently practice commercial and construction litigation with May, Meacham & Davell P.A. and am now running for a seat on the 17th Circuit's Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and asking for your support.
Why am I running?
A sense of civic and professional duty, and the chance to give back to an organization that gives to its community as much as its members. As some of you may know, the YLD's purposes are to:
1. Assist The Florida Bar in its purposes;
2. Encourage interest in and participation by division members in the purposes of The Florida Bar;
3. Provide a program of activities and projects designed to be of interest and assistance to division members and, in addition, to engage in such activities as shall tend to further the best interests of the legal profession;
4. Coordinate the activities of the division members and to serve as a medium for fostering discussion and free interchange of ideas relative to the duties, responsibilities, and problems of division members;
5. Enhance the image and reputation of the legal professional and The Florida Bar; and
6. Serve the public, particularly those persons outside the legal profession, through statewide and local community projects and activities.
If elected as a member of the YLD Board of Governors, I would take the responsibility and honor to further these ambitious purposes with every opportunity.