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October 15, 2012
Professionalism Committee sets its sights on young lawyers

Given a charge to “go forth and conquer,” the Bar’s Committee on Professionalism has compiled a list of possible goals for the coming year.

The committee met September 20 during the Bar’s Midyear Meeting in Orlando and broke into subgroups charged with suggesting achievable activities for the coming year.

Board of Governors member Greg Coleman, liaison to the committee, noted the Program Evaluation Committee had recently completed a review of the committee with an endorsement of its continuation and a mandate to “go forth and conquer.”

Judge John Lazzara, head of the working group on young lawyers, said his group came up with two projects. One is to update the law student handbook on professionalism distributed to law schools. The second is working with the Young Lawyers Division to provide professionalism speakers for law schools.

Sean Desmond, chair of the committee, said another avenue is expansion of a program for law students on balancing their personal and legal lives.

Michael Cohen said the group is looking at problems related to older lawyers.

One part of that endeavor will be to develop programs, similar to those in place for doctors, to recognize when older lawyers begin having cognitive problems that affect their ability to practice law.

Programs would include providing training and tools for law firms to recognize those problems in firm members and to find ways for older lawyers to contribute even when not actively practicing.

“We are going to be left with a pool of lawyers, a resource of lawyers who have had exceptional careers, who have exceptional experiences, and have exceptional skills who may not be able to practice.

“And the question is: What can we do with them?. . . We want to use the talents they have in some way,” Cohen said. “It may help those lawyers who are faced with a very difficult choice to make them feel like they are not just being thrown away.”

Suggestions included videotaping those lawyers talking about what they have learned, using them as mentors or adjunct professors, encouraging them to write articles, and creating a Senior Lawyers Division to pool the talents and experiences.

Jacina Parson, assistant director of the Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, gave the findings of the working group on circuit professionalism committees.

That report includes assembling an accounting of what various circuit committees are doing throughout the state and reviewing how those programs are working.

Committee member Irwin Gilbert reported on the lawyers helping lawyers workgroup. He said that group will be working to publicize resources already available for Bar members, particularly through the Bar’s website, such as information on starting a law practicing, running an office, complying with Bar advertising rules, getting free legal research, and similar topics.

Committee member David Hallman said the awards working group wants the committee to continue to focus on its three annual professionalism awards: The William M. Hoeveler Award for judges, the Professionalism Group Award, and the Faculty Award.

In the future, he said, the committee may look into establishing a practitioner award.

[Revised: 10-23-2014]