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June 15, 2013
PEC reviews Bar’s Latimer Center for Professionalism

Panel also recommends forming a Senior Lawyers Committee

A Program Evaluation Committee review of the Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism has resulted in 11 recommendations to guide the center’s operations.

The Bar Board of Governors approved the recommendations at its May 31 meeting. It also ratified PEC suggestions relating to the Public Interest Law Section, the special appointment application forms used to make Bar appointments and nominations to various committees and commissions, and to create a new Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

John Stewart PEC Chair John Stewart also said the panel has approved the formation of the Senior Lawyers Committee and will bring that to the board at its July meeting.

The review of the Center for Professionalism was done by a subcommittee chaired by President-elect Designate Greg Coleman, Stewart told the board.

The recommendations for the center are that it:

* Support the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.

* Coordinate efforts and provide support for the Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism.

* Be a clearinghouse of research and information on state and national professionalism efforts, and make that and other professionalism information and resources available through the center’s webpage.

* Be a research, writing, and teaching resource for professionalism initiatives and resources in Florida.

* Publish a quarterly electronic newsletter on professionalism and expand the current newsletter circulation.

* Work with the Bar’s new Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy to develop the academy’s curriculum.

* Maintain and update the center’s website.

* Establish a set of performance standards to determine the effectiveness of the center’s activities.

* Have all annual objectives and new or revised center projects approved both by the Bar’s executive director and the director of the Legal Division.

* Use the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services office to develop a plan to promote the center and its activities.

* Review of applications for professionalism CLE credits should be done by the Bar’s Department of Legal Specialization and Education.

The review of the Public Interest Law Section found that the section is doing good work, Stewart said, and fulfills a unique role in Bar operations, even though it does not have the minimum number of members suggested for Bar sections.

“The PEC recommendations are for the Bar to help facilitate the section to continue to improve,” he said.

Those recommendations are:

* The section should use resources of the Bar’s Program Division to help prepare after-market CLE materials for sale, to recommend sponsors for various section programs and activities, and to help find low-cost vendors.

* The section should establish and maintain a website.

* The section should use online tools for section and committee meetings, including conference calls.

* The section should set up a more far- reaching leadership track for its chairs and chair-elects.

* The section should work with the Bar’s Meetings Department about lower-cost meeting facilities and hotels.

* The section should set up liaisons with other sections that have committees with overlapping interest with PILS to explore co-sponsoring programs and activities.

* The section chair should send email “blasts” to section members on section activities and soliciting input on how those members want to be involved in the section.

* The section should survey section members on their programming needs.

Stewart told the board that another subcommittee, chaired by board member Sandy Diamond, reviewed the application form the Bar uses for special appointments, and the rating form screening committees use when nominating candidates for vacancies to such groups as the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Diamond said the goal of the review was to bring standardization to the Bar’s approach in making special appointments and nominations. She said the forms include a voluntary section asking applicants’ date of birth, gender, and ethnic information. That was included, Diamond noted, so the Bar can measure the effectiveness of its diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Board members discussed the necessity of that information before voting to approve the forms, with the clarification that applicants will not be penalized for failing to provide the voluntary information.

Stewart presented goals and guidelines for the Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, which the board agreed to create at its April meeting. The committee will oversee and promote Bar diversity programs and oversee its Diversity Grant Program for local bars. The committee was created by merging the Equal Opportunities Law Section and the former Special Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

Stewart also reported that the PEC had been looking at a proposal to create a Senior Lawyers Section. Instead, he said the committee proposed setting up the Senior Lawyers Committee. The panel will address such things as helping retiring lawyers wind down their practices, issues faced by aging lawyers, and helping older lawyers pass on their experience to younger lawyers. The committee, he said, is proposed to have an unlimited membership.

The details of the committee’s formation, Stewart added, will be presented in July to the board for its approval.

[Revised: 04-15-2014]