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December 15, 2013
Committee preference forms are online

Push for house counsel participation underway

The annual committee preference forms for Bar members seeking appointments for the term of President-elect Greg Coleman are available at floridabar.org.

As president-elect, Coleman will make 500 or so committee appointments, and he wants to make sure he has a diverse bunch of lawyers from which to choose — and this year that includes corporate counsel.

Bill Schifino is encouraging attorneys registered as authorized house counsel to volunteer for service on Bar committees. He is pictured with Todd Merrill, president of the West Central Florida Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. For years authorized house counsel — corporate counsel licensed in other states but who work for Florida companies and are registered with the Bar — were not encouraged to serve on Bar committees.

That changed this year after Bar President Eugene Pettis reported at the Board of Governors’ October meeting that he has been approached by corporate attorneys who are interested in serving on Bar standing committees. He said there are about 800 attorneys registered as authorized house counsel with the Bar.

Pettis said as the Bar studies its future role through such efforts as the Vision 2016 commission, it’s necessary to get a wide variety of feedback.

“It’s important that we bring in people from the business culture who can discuss things from a business standpoint,” Pettis said.

He said he talked with two business lawyers who attended a Vision 2016 meeting that looked at the future of the profession “and they were saying, ‘You guys are not getting what we need from the business perspective.’ We’re missing some of their needs and we’re not communicating.”

Pettis then asked Bill Schifino to work on the issue.

“What we have decided is that we want to send the news out that, while they are not licensed lawyers in Florida, they are members of our Bar and they are encouraged to submit their names for appointment,” Schifino said.

Schifino has been in contact with corporate counsel organizations to encourage their participation in the committee appointment process.

To apply for a committee, members must fill out the online committee preference form and submit it online, eliminating the need to mail or fax the completed form. The preference form should only take a minute or two to complete and submit.

“Service on a Florida Bar committee is a wonderful experience,” Coleman said. “Not only will you be responsible for enhancing our profession and ultimately our citizens, but you will be working in areas that are fascinating, challenging, and extremely important.”

In making committee appointments in spring 2014, Coleman said several factors will be considered, including:

* Prior service to the Bar and voluntary bar organizations;

*• The need to infuse new members into a particular committee; and

* Diversity, which includes, but is not limited to, gender, ethnicity, geography, practice area, and firm size.

If you are currently serving on a standing committee, check The Florida Bar’s website to determine when your term on the committee expires. If your term expires in 2014, you must complete and submit your committee preference form to be considered for reappointment.

If you are not currently serving on a standing committee and wish to be considered, complete the form and return it prior to January 15.

If you are serving on a Florida Bar substantive law committee and wish to continue to do so, you must complete and return the committee preference form by January 15 to be considered for reappointment.

[Revised: 04-17-2014]