The Florida Bar
The Florida Bar News
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June 15, 2014
Leadership Academy welcomes new class

The Florida Bar will train 61 “fellows” for future leadership roles within the legal profession as part of its new class of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy.

Florida Bar President-elect Greg Coleman said the academy works to leave a legacy of leaders for the Bar and the state.

Renee Thompson Approved by The Florida Bar Board of Governors in January 2013, the program’s goal is to reach out to lawyers from across the diverse state of Florida and help give them the skills and resources to become leaders not only in the legal profession but in their communities.

The Leadership Academy was formally dedicated in January as the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy. Smith was a former Florida Bar, ABA, and International Bar Association president.

“After only one year, the Leadership Academy has proven to be an absolute and complete success,” Coleman said. “We look forward to following our new entering class and watching their leadership potential grow exponentially.”

The year-long program will include six one-day meetings at locations throughout the state beginning at the Bar’s Annual Conventionin Orlando June 25-28. The curriculum will focus on developing skills and networking opportunities within the legal profession and having the fellows create projects to put their new skills to use.

The six meetings that form the framework for the academy generally begin at noon on a Friday and run until noon Saturday with various speakers and topics, such as learning to work with different workplace personalities; balancing personal, volunteer, and work life; motivating others and delegating; conducting effective meetings; effective leadership styles; and public speaking.

Through the academy, fellows will have an opportunity to network with both past and present Bar leaders, including presidents and Board of Governors members. Midway through the program, fellows will indicate two preferences for Bar sections, divisions, or committees in which they would like to become involved following graduation, which will take place at the Bar convention in 2015.

“Our Bar leaders have taken a hands-on approach to the experience of our fellows in the academy,” said Leadership Academy Chair Renee E. Thompson.

“It is an invaluable opportunity for any leader looking to take their leadership skills to the next level.”

Diversity is also an important component of the program, and fellows were chosen with the goal of creating a Leadership Academy class that reflects the different regions and populations of the state, Thompson said.

Currently, eight state bars throughout the U.S. have similar leadership programs. For more information, visit the Leadership Academy’s webpage,

[Revised: 02-15-2017]