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March 15, 2013
Florida Bar Day on the hill?

The Board of Governors is studying an offer from the ABA to help hold a “Florida Bar” day in Tallahassee during the legislative session to promote the court system and educate lawmakers and the public about the judicial branch.

The board approved a motion to study the issue at its recent Tallahassee meeting after hearing a pitch from former Florida Bar and ABA President Steve Zack. Zack said the concept is based on the annual “ABA Day” in Washington, D.C.

“What happens on ABA Day is we have 500 lawyers from across the country who come to Washington,” said Zack, adding they take a seminar on lobbying and meet with their local members of Congress and focus on specific issues.

Attending lawyers are typically leaders of local bars and campaign supporters of the elected representatives. The ABA has a waiting list of those who want to participate.

Events include a dinner with lawmakers who have helped the ABA with its legislative goals. Dinners at the state level could include a state of the judiciary address by the chief justice, he said.

The ABA, Zack said, wants to explore extending this program to the state level and is looking at California, Illinois, and Florida, with support of those state bars.

“This focuses the attention of the state, and primarily the media, on the judiciary and the importance of the judiciary to the people of our state . . . so the citizens of Florida can understand what is happening and we can solicit their aid,” Zack said. “We’re not going to do anything without the permission and approval of The Florida Bar. If you think this is a good idea, we should do it. If you think it’s a bad idea, we shouldn’t do it.”

The board unanimously approved a motion from board member Ed Scales to refer the proposal to the Program Evaluation and Legislation committees for a report at the board’s April 19 meeting in Tampa.

[Revised: 12-17-2014]