The Trial Lawyers Section is working to improve publications and education courses for its members and to stay engaged on legislative issues to help protect the court system.
“I believe, and our executive council believes, that our section faces unprecedented challenges in the future,” section Chair Cliff Higby told the Bar Board of Governors at the its Tallahassee meeting.
To help members, the section offers a variety of publications and courses. The section recently updated its highly regarded discovery handbook, which now includes new chapters on electronic discovery and attorney-client privilege. The section also distributes a personal injury handbook. Both are available on the section’s website (www.flatls.org), which has been overhauled.
Higby said the section has a quarterly newsletter, The Advocate, and a manual of professional guidelines.
The section has a course on evidence scheduled for March 4 and has a certification review course planned. Its Advanced Trial Advocacy Seminar is set for May 10-14.
In mid-January, the section had its first annual Trial Lawyers Section Summit.
“I’m happy to report the summit was a huge success,” Higby said. “We had well over 100 people attend.” He said the event may become yearly and even become the section’s annual meeting.
Legislatively, Higby said the section is in a unique position because it represents both plaintiff and defense tort attorneys, as well as commercial litigators.
“Our leadership is staying engaged on legislative issues and challenges facing the court system,” he said. “We, as the leadership of the section, plan to wisely pick and choose our battles, but we plan to be very proactive in protecting the integrity, independence, and funding of the court system.”
Higby added: “I’m in my 23rd year of law practice, and I don’t ever recall the hostility and attacks we are seeing on the court system. . . . We will continue to vigorously defend access to the court for all citizens, jury trials, and an independent judiciary . . . and a stable, adequately funded court system.”
Aside from its official functions, Higby noted the section has been coping with tragedy. Two days before the 2009 Bar Convention, incoming section Chair Glenn Burton died. Then last December, immediate past Chair Bob Mansbach lost a battle with cancer. The next issue of The Advocate will have a tribute to Mansbach, he said.