By Megan E. Davis
The Florida Bar is now accepting applications from attorneys interested in participating in the first year of the Leadership Academy, a new initiative to shape future leaders in the Bar and throughout the profession.
“I would encourage any potential applicant who is looking to take their leadership skills to the next level to apply,” said Renee Thompson, chair of the new Leadership Academy Committee. “Opportunities to be a part of a leadership program of this caliber are rare, and being part of the inaugural class will be something very special for those selected.”
Applications are available here and must be completed by 5 p.m., April 1. A total of 40 lawyers throughout the state will be chosen to participate as fellows in the academy.
The academy is a key initiative of Bar President-elect Eugene Pettis, who said a growing need for leaders in the profession provided the impetus for the academy.
The Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism is developing the curriculum for the intensive, year-long program.
Jacina Haston, assistant director of the center, said the center is working to create a curriculum to allow lawyers to hone the same kind of leadership skills she developed through her own experience in a leadership program.
“As a past graduate of a Public Interest Law Leadership Institute, I would encourage any young lawyer to apply for The Florida Bar Leadership Academy,” she said. “The skills you will gain from the curriculum are like nothing you will have received from law school or on the job. As a graduate you will be ready to embark on any leadership role whether it is with your employer, voluntary bar association, or The Florida Bar.”
The academy seeks to help participants hone essential leadership skills, such as running an effective meeting, dealing with conflict, and finding a work-life balance. Fellows will also receive a thorough education on the Bar’s structure and organization.
“This program encompasses a unique and comprehensive curriculum focused on becoming an effective leader in the legal profession,” Thompson said. “The Leadership Academy Committee, along with other Bar leaders, are investing their time in the future leaders of our profession, allowing fellows the opportunity for personal growth and professional enhancement.”
The fellows will be divided equally into two geographical branches, a Northern branch including the First, Second, and Fifth district courts of appeal and a Southern branch including the Third and Fourth districts.
Pettis chose Michael Faehner to serve as a co-chair of the Northern branch, while Juilet Rouhlac will take on the same role for the Southern branch.
Faehner, of Clearwater, is chair of the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference and Rouhlac, of Ft. Lauderdale, is a member of the Bar’s Board of Governors. Both are also former presidents of the Young Lawyers Division.
“Their branches are going to benefit greatly from their knowledge of and experience within the Bar and the legal profession, and from the network of leaders they work with regularly,” Thompson said.
The academy is set to kick off at the Bar’s Annual Convention June 28-29 in Boca Raton.
Two additional full group meetings will take place at the Bar’s fall joint meeting in September and January meeting in Tallahassee.
Each branch will also hold three meetings in July, November, and March at rotating locations within their jurisdictions.
Meetings will include two half-day sessions, a networking dinner, and an overnight stay.
Fellows of the program’s inaugural year will graduate at the Bar’s Annual Convention in 2014, as new program participants for the second year gather for the first time.
Through the academy, fellows will have an opportunity to practice what they’re learning by brainstorming and executing a service project.
The program also plans to focus heavily on networking and mentoring.
“The relationships that the leadership academy fellows will cultivate with each other and Bar leaders will be an invaluable resource to them in the future,” Haston said.
Fellows will have opportunities to meet with current and past Bar leaders. They will also be encouraged partway through the program to designate an area they’d like to become involved upon graduation from the academy, for which the program will facilitate introductions.
In reviewing applications, the program plans to consider geographical and practice area diversity; professional experience level; prior leadership roles; and any disciplinary records.
Successful applicants will be notified by May 1.
Fellows will be responsible for accommodations and travel to meetings.
The academy plans to offer scholarships to about half of the participants to help offset the costs of travel and accommodations.
For more information and to apply, visit www.floridabar.org/leadershipacademy.