By Jan Pudlow
For Jacksonville solo practitioner Brenda Ezell, it was an opportunity to work with some of the smartest lawyers in the state who share her interest in real estate, probate, and trust law.
“I built some extremely valuable relationships, which have helped enhance my practice,” said Ezell, a University of Florida graduate admitted to practice in 2000.
For Hung Nguyen, who practices probate, trust, and guardianship law at Welbaum Guernsey in Coral Gables and serves on the Florida xxx Probate Rules Committee, it was a chance to help improve the law.
“Imagine debating and then agreeing on how a statute should be revised, and later seeing that change in the actual statute,” said Nguyen, a University of Miami graduate admitted to practice in 2002.
“It is empowering and a great way to be involved and to promote justice.”
For Benjamin Bush, a partner at Gardner, Bist, Wiener, Wadsworth, Bowden in Tallahassee, it was a “tremendous opportunity to connect with lawyers from all over Florida and get involved in cutting edge issues” in his area of practice.
Ezell, Nguyen, and Bush are talking about their experiences participating in The Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section’s Fellowship Program.
If you want to take advantage of this leadership training opportunity, now is the time to apply for the newest class. The deadline is September 30.
Ezell and Nguyen participated in the inaugural class in 2008-10, and Bush was in the 2010-12 class, among a total of a dozen former fellows. The upcoming fourth group is the first time the fellowship program lasts one year, instead of two.
“We’re looking for any young lawyers who have previously showed interest in being a leader, who practice in this area, and are part of this section that has the best and brightest lawyers. It’s about educational, social, and career development,” said Marsha Madorsky, chair of the RPPTL Fellows and Mentoring Committee.
Each fellow is assigned a “social mentor,” who is a member of the RPPTL Executive Council, to help make introductions at social events.
“It has been a great all-around experience,” Nguyen said. “I have become a much better lawyer through my work with the section, plus I have made some lifelong friendships.”
Also, each fellow is assigned a committee member and former fellow to help make sure the fellow is actively involved in the committee that most closely fits his or her practice area.
“It gives you the opportunity to build a network of contacts, mentors, and colleagues in your practice area and in related practice areas that you can reach out to for guidance in your own practice,” said Bush, a 2003 graduate of Florida State University College of Law.
“At every meeting I have attended, I learn something new that addresses a work project that I am working on at that time.”
Ezell’s eyes were opened to the value of participating in the section’s activities.
“The fact that the section leaders understood that the value of participation in section activities is not always obvious and decided to offer this program to encourage participation of younger lawyers was very insightful,” Ezell said. “Once I completed the fellowship program, I, like most of the other former fellows, have continued to remain active because the benefits are truly rewarding, both personally and professionally.”
To apply for one of the four slots in the upcoming Fellowship Class, you must be a member of the RPPTL Section and have either been admitted to the Bar for fewer than 12 years or be younger than 38 years old. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that a substantial portion of their practice is focused in real property, estate, or other areas of law covered by the RPPTL Section.
The RPPTL Section has more than 50 active committees and an executive council with more than 225 members. The executive council and section committees meet four times a year at locations throughout Florida. Each fellow will receive a subsidy of up to $2,500 (not to exceed actual out-of-pocket expenses) to help defray the cost of attending RPPTL Section meetings.
A fellow is required to attend a minimum of three executive council meetings per year, serve as an active member of the Membership and Inclusion Committee, and be an active member of at least one substantive committee. The fellow will be required to complete one substantive work project on behalf of the committee. This project may include writing an article in his or her area of expertise for the RPPTL Section’s publication ActionLine, chairing a subcommittee, or drafting proposed legislation on behalf of the committee. Each fellow must submit a work plan to the Fellows and Mentoring Committee, outlining the work project chosen.
The application is available on the RPPTL Section website. All applications should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com, or by mail to RPPTL Fellowship Program, Attn: Yvonne Sherron, Professional Development, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, 32399-2300.