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Dec. 5, 2014

Miami-Dade leads diversity initiative

    Inspired by the Florida Supreme Court’s initiative to eliminate all forms of discrimination within the legal profession, on Nov. 7, the Miami-Dade chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (Miami-Dade FAWL), the Dade County Bar Association (DCBA) and Disability Independence Group, Inc. (DIG) hosted a Call to Action Diversity Summit focused on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in bar-related activities. The summit, sponsored by a grant from The Florida Bar and in-kind support from U.S. Legal Support, educated voluntary bar associations on how to develop best practices to ensure that persons with disabilities can participate in bar events.

    The summit provided bar leaders with valuable tools to promote inclusion. Miami-Dade FAWL Accessibility Committee Chairs Courtney Engelke and Stephanie Moot, as well as David Baghdassarian, shared protocols and practical tips for facilitating participation:

    • Create an Accessibility Committee and/or designate an American with Disabilities Act coordinator. Miami-Dade FAWL’s Accessibility Committee is responsible for developing best practices to facilitate inclusion of persons with disabilities and for handling requests for accommodation (e.g. interpreters).
    • Include accommodation language in all written announcements. All written Miami-Dade FAWL announcements contain accommodation language so that persons with disabilities are aware that they may contact Miami-Dade FAWL’s designee to request an accommodation as needed.
    • Identify resources for persons with disabilities so that requested accommodations are timely provided. For example, Miami-Dade FAWL worked with Jody Shulman from U.S. Legal Support to provide computer assisted real-time captioning (CART) for the summit. CART facilitates communication for persons with hearing impairments by transcribing the spoken word into text displayed on a screen.
    • Select venues that welcome persons with disabilities and recognize their needs. For instance, Miami-Dade FAWL selects venues that provide designated accessible restrooms and parking spaces. It also collaborates with venues regarding table settings and configurations so that persons with disabilities can join tables and move freely around the room.

    The summit was the first of its kind and marks an important step toward advancing the inclusion of persons with disabilities in bar-related events. Voluntary Bar leaders can ensure that their event follows ADA guidelines by using the Accessibility Checklist now posted on the Voluntary Bar Center web page. Additional resources, including the video of the Miami Call to Action Summit will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Lawyer Referral Conference is set for Jan. 23, 2015

    In conjunction with The Florida Bar's 2015 Winter Meeting, plans are being made for a Lawyer Referral and Information Services Conference for Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 from 1:30 - 5 p.m. The event will be held at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista in Orlando.

    The purpose of the conference is for local LRS staff and executive directors to meet and discuss issues concerning their LRS such as marketing, training for staff and other items to help improve this service for both the public and attorney members. Back by popular demand will be Jane Nosbisch with the American Bar Association. Nosbisch serves as staff counsel at ABA for its Standing Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Services. She is well-versed in the many issues facing lawyer referral programs, large and small. She will share innovative procedures and services that are being successfully used around the country to increase the number of calls and requests for the service.

    An email notice will be forwarded to all voluntary bar associations by mid-December. Please save the date and plan to join us in Orlando for this important event.

Magna Carta -
Law Day theme
in 2015

    The American Bar Association has adopted the theme of Magna Carta for its Annual Law Day on May 1, 2015. The ABA will develop related resources for bar associations, courts, civic groups and others conducting educational activities for Law Day, including development of a planning guide, a “Dialogue” program featuring a lawyer-in-the-classroom resource guide, posters and promotional products and lesson plans.

    Leading up to Law Day, ABA sections, state and local bars and other entities are being encouraged to hold substantive programs on Magna Carta themes throughout the United States and abroad. For more resources on law day, please visit the ABA website.

    Additional resources, including a Magna Carta flash timeline, are available at the official website of the celebration - .

Free pamphlets for
2015 Law Week

    As we mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, join us on Law Day, May 1, 2015, to commemorate this “Great Charter of Liberties,” and rededicate ourselves to advancing the principle of rule of law across the state. During that week, all residents, schools, businesses and clubs and the media are invited to commemorate the role of law in our lives. Nearly 280 state and voluntary bar associations will be at the center of this effort in Florida. A wide-range and variety of Law Day/Week programs can be presented.

    As planning is underway for the legal profession's biggest public relations event of 2015, The Florida Bar is offering 100 each of eight consumer pamphlets for voluntary bar leaders to share in their community. The pamphlets include the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Amendments and Declaration of Independence. The consumer pamphlets provide information for the public on certain general areas of law as well as specific legal issues. They are not a substitute for hiring an attorney but they provide basic legal information about the topics they cover.

    If you would like to include consumer pamphlets in your Law Week program, please use this form to place your order. The pamphlets will be shipped to you free of charge within two weeks.


Professionalism Awards nomination deadlines approaching

    The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism is now accepting nominations for the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award, the Group Professionalism Award, and the Law Faculty/Administrator Professionalism Award. The William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award is for either a state or federal judge "who best exemplifies strength of character, service, and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant.” The purpose of the Group Professionalism Award is to find one organization that has an innovative program that can be implemented by other organizations to promote and encourage professionalism within the legal community. The Law Faculty/Administrator Professionalism Award is intended to honor a faculty member or administrator who through teaching, scholarship and service to the profession best supports or exemplifies the mission of the Standing Committee on Professionalism. The deadline for nominations and all supporting documents for the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award is Feb. 2, 2015. The deadline for nomination packets for the Law Faculty/Administrator Professionalism Award and the Group Professionalism Award is Feb. 16, 2015. All nomination forms can be found on the Center's website - under the "Awards" section - and must be submitted to the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism.
Committee Preference Forms must be completed by Jan. 15

    Ray Abadin, president-elect of The Florida Bar will be appointing bar members to serve on standing committees. The only way you can participate in this effort is by completing and forwarding your online committee preference form between Dec. 1, 2014 and Jan. 15, 2015.

    Some of the factors Abadin will consider when making committee appointments are:
    • Prior service to The Florida Bar and voluntary bar organizations;
    • The need to infuse new members to a particular committee; and
    • Diversity, which includes but is not limited to gender, ethnicity, geography, practice areas and firm size.

    BETWEEN DEC. 1, 2014 and JAN. 15, 2015, 

    If you are not currently serving on a standing committee,
     and wish to be considered, please complete the form and return it prior to Jan. 15, 2015. Your comments concerning your participation in Bar-related activities, your qualifications and interests will be particularly helpful to me in making these choices.

    If you are currently serving on a standing committee, 
    please check The Florida Bar’s website to determine when your term on the Committee expires. If your term expires in 2015, you must complete and submit your Committee Preference Form to be considered for reappointment.

    If you are serving on a substantive law committee and wish to continue to do so, 
    you must complete and return the Committee Preference Form by Jan. 15, 2015, to be considered for reappointment.


Two voluntary bar leaders recognized in Miami

Jane Muir Alison Smith
    The Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee is well represented on the Miami Herald's 2014 "20 Under 40 Emerging Leaders" list. Alison Smith, former president of the Caribbean Bar Association and Jane Muir, past president of the Coral Gables Bar Association, are on the list of the top leaders in south Florida.

    In its search for the top South Florida emerging leaders, the Herald looked for those “working in any field — technology, law, nonprofit, medicine, education, entrepreneurship, tourism, real estate or any other field — whose innovative approaches, business acumen or community focus mark them as leaders.” The nominees had to have high ethical standards and be influential in their own spheres, be it in their companies, their industries or communities, according to the search criteria published by the Herald.

    Jane Muir, a sixth generation attorney, is a partner with the business law firm Gersten & Muir. The young lawyer promotes professionalism in the legal field as a member of the Dade County Bar Association, where she is serving her second term on the board of directors and her fourth term on the Executive Committee. She is also vice president of the University of Miami School of Law Alumni Association for Student Affairs and past president of the Coral Gables Bar Association.  Her leadership in the legal profession has been recognized by her receiving the University of Miami Law Alumni Association’s 2011 Spirit of Achievement Award, 2013 Alumni Leadership Award, and the Coral Gables Bar Association’s 2014 President's Award. In addition, Muir makes it a practice to give back by supporting organizations that provide free legal aid to the poor.

    Alison Smith is a Fort Lauderdale labor lawyer who is a partner at Weiss Serota Helfman. Her legal acumen and professional involvement earned her a position as the first black woman named partner in her 25-year-old Hollywood firm. A natural leader, Smith has influenced the legal community as president of the Caribbean Bar Association of South Florida. She also sits on the board of directors for Legal Aid, serves as vice-chair of the Broward County Bar Association’s liaison committee and is a member of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. She designed and developed a mentoring program called “Aspire to Inspire,” which partners with Miami Dade College to host a monthly panel featuring professionals who discuss their career paths with students. Smith personally recruits the presenters — often immigrants who had a difficult start and have gone on to career success.
Justice Labarga swears-in
Godinez-Samperio to practice law
in Florida at THBA gala

    On Nov. 20, the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association held its annual gala. Greetings were given by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, followed by keynote speaker Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga. Most relevant, after the event, Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio was sworn in as a member of the Florida Bar by Justice Labarga. Godinez-Samperio, you may remember, is the undocumented immigrant who was denied entry into The Florida Bar based on his immigration status.

    Godinez-Samperio's petition for a law license was rejected by the Supreme Court in March of this year, which said that a federal law prohibited non-citizens from receiving certain state benefits. But justices noted that states can opt out of that law, and they urged the Legislature to intervene in the case to remedy what they called an "injustice." Both houses of the Florida Legislature agreed on May 1, 2014, that the state Supreme Court should allow a noncitizen to practice law in the state for the first time.

    With his law license, Godinez-Samperio said he will continue to help Spanish-speaking families at Gulfcoast Legal Services in Clearwater, west of Tampa, where he has worked as a paralegal.

Helping the hungry
during the holidays!

    General and Executive Board members of the John Marshall Bar Association at the University of Florida Levin College of Law have completed dozens of community service hours throughout Gainesville over the past 2 weeks. Volunteers were busy at sites including the Alachua County Humane Society, the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, Haven Hospice Attic, Helping Hands Pet Rescue and the Phoenix Animal Rescue!

    A donation of $25 will feed a family of four a traditional holiday meal. Donations can be made to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank at this link.

Pink Party in
Palm Beach County

    Look at all the pink! Wearing pink and raising money for breast cancer awareness month was the purpose for the North County Section’s of the Palm Beach County Bar Association's second annual Pink Party with FAWL. This year’s event raised $2,445 for the Smiley Wiley Breast Cancer Foundation. Smiley Wiley provides financial assistance to local women and men with breast cancer who cannot meet their own costly health insurance deductibles and treatments. 

Cybersecurity and data theft protection tips offered

Cybersecurity experts from the public and private sectors took part in a panel discussion centered on cyber threats to institutions with valuable client information during the 24th Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law, held Nov. 6-7 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. 

    ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security forum panelists (from left to right) Judith Miller, Kathleen Rice, Jill Rhodes and Keith Lowry

    The panel included moderator Jill Rhodes, chief information security officer for Trustmark Companies; Judith Miller, co-chair of the American Bar Association Cybersecurity Legal Task Force; Kathleen Rice, counsel at Faegre Baker Daniels; and Keith Lowry, security liaison officer in the Office of Security Operations at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The program was sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security.
    Miller said lawyers have an ethical duty to be proactive in the protection of client information.Yet Rhodes said many organizations fail to think about the cybersecurity standards of second- and third-tier parties, such as vendors. She recommends everyone read both “The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook” and “A Playbook for Cyber Events,” which offer practical advice on strategies to defend against cyber threats and what to do when a breach occurs.
    Lowry said that companies or firms should understand that many types of information can be targeted, such as intellectual property, trade secrets or government material.

    Rice agreed that we need to be better educated about the risks of sharing information. “People are the common denominator,” she said, “and prevention starts with people paying attention and not being sloppy.” We need a good legal framework in place to formulate policies, Rice said.

    Lowry said we’re falling behind because we don’t think like the adversary thinks when we make policy. Good cybersecurity programs balance risk and cost, and it’s not generally a one-size-fits-all answer, Miller said. Lowry added that organizations often don’t know what they need to protect, what the “crown jewels” are.
    The increased prevalence of cyber insurance was also discussed, and Miller said the market will respond when we all start demanding better security “baked into” our devices. 
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[Revised: 12-05-2014]