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February 9, 2015

See what's new at the site of the 2015 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference and plan to join us July 10-11 in Palm Beach!

2015 Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award presented to Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers

    The Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers (HAWL) is the recipient of the 2015 Voluntary Bar Association Pro Bono Award. The award, which recognizes a Florida voluntary bar that has demonstrated a significant contribution in the delivery of legal services to individuals or groups on a pro bono basis, was presented at a Jan. 29 ceremony at the Supreme Court of Florida by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga. Amy Bandow and Mamie Wise received the award on behalf of HAWL.

    The Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers has a history of providing pro bono legal services to people in need in the Tampa Bay area. That history began in 1981, when about 20 women lawyers who would meet regularly decided to organize into something more weighty than an occasional lunch get-together. The Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers was incorporated in 1991, and today it has nearly 300 members.

    The leadership of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers understood that a key component to accomplishing its mission was to encourage members to provide pro bono legal service. In the past year alone, HAWL members volunteered more than 1,800 hours of pro bono service.

    Photos from the Pro Bono Service Awards event are now posted in a gallery on Flickr. It’s easy to download high-resolution images from there, and you may use the images however you wish – from law firm newsletters to your local newspaper to simply having them printed and framed.

    Go to:

    Click on the “Pro Bono 2015” album

    To download a photo, first click on the one you want. You now should see that photo alone on your screen.

    On the far right, below the photo, you will see a downward-pointing arrow. Click on that.

    You will see options for the size you can download. “Original” will give you the best high-resolution image. Smaller sizes are useful for web pages. Chose a size and click on it.

    Look for it in the “Downloads” folder on your computer.

    In addition, as many of you may have already seen, we also shared them on The Florida Bar's Facebook and Twitter pages, so if you have time, please check those out and give us a "follow" if you haven't already!

    Please contact Danny Aller - - if you have any problems with the album.

Busy agenda for Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee at Winter Meeting in Orlando

Ileana Cruz, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee
    Members of The Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee met on Jan. 23 in Orlando in conjunction with The Florida Bar Winter Meeting. Committee members heard various reports and took action on a variety of agenda items including:
    • Approval of a process for soliciting, recording and reporting lawyer feedback as gathered through voluntary bar leaders to assist President-elect Ray Abadin in determining what The Florida Bar can do to improve the practice of law for its members
    • Discussion on breakout session topics/presenters for the 2015 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, July 10-11, at the Eau in Palm Beach
    • Approval of sponsorship levels and related benefits for the 2015 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference
    • An update on a Lawyer Referral conference to discuss marketing, training for staff and any other items to help improve LRS for both the public and attorney members
    • Report of a incentive program approved and funded by The Florida Bar Board of Governors to recruit new speakers for the Florida Bar Speakers Bureau
    • Report of the Voluntary Bar Leaders LinkedIn discussion group (currently at 66 members) and plans for future postings and growing the closed group
    • The next meeting will be in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Meeting, June 24-27, at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton.
Get paid for signing up new speakers

    Recognizing the premise of former Bar President Eugene Pettis that a rope is stronger when all strands come together, the ROPES Challenge Speakers Bureau Round-up is underway! The campaign gives incentives to voluntary bar association’s (VBAs) to help recruit more outstanding lawyers throughout the state as speakers in The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau.

    Between now and Feb. 20, VBAs are asked to complete and submit the Challenge Commitment form, acknowledging their organization wants to participate. Once we receive the form, your VBA will be added to the list of participating associations in the Speaker’s Bureau Sign-up database.

    Here’s how the campaign works! When someone registers to become a speaker and selects a VBA as the recruiter, that VBA will be paid $3 for every bar member that signs up as a new speaker! The number of new speakers is limited to the first 1,500 who register. New speakers must designate one VBA as their recruiter when signing up for the Speakers Bureau for the incentive to be paid.

    Promotion packets will be sent to participating VBAs the week of Feb. 23-27. Beginning March 1, those participating VBAs can begin the Round-up by recruiting members to become speakers. The Round-up will end on March 31 or at a time when 1,500 speakers are recruited, whichever comes first. The Florida Bar will recognize the first VBA that has the largest percentage of its members to sign up with an additional $500 reward.

    The Commitment Form can be downloaded here and submitted by email to or faxed to 850.561.9429.

Leader assessment of Bar is focus of new outreach task

    Last fall, President-elect Ray Abadin called on the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee to seek feedback from voluntary bar leaders on what The Florida Bar can do to improve the practice of law for members. After careful consideration, a subcommittee devised a plan that will involve voluntary bar associations helping facilitate this exercise at the local level.

    Last month at Winter Meeting, the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee approved an action plan, which will begin with an outreach message to bar presidents. All VBA presidents are asked to consent to placing on their board meeting agendas a time to discuss three important questions:

    A. What are the issues in the daily practice of law that The Florida Bar can help you with?

    B. What would you like The Florida Bar do about these issues?

    C. What is your VBA doing to address these issues?

    VBAs are asked to respond by letting subcommittee members know they will participate and the date of their next board meeting when the items will appear on the agenda.

    Subcommittee members will follow-up to assure all VBAs have the opportunity to participate.

Marketing Lawyer Referral Services a key focus of January conference

    Bar-sponsored Lawyer Referral Information Service (LRIS) programs provide information on appropriate, quality legal services to the public in several local markets throughout Florida. The leaders of these services gathered in Orlando recently to discuss marketing and other vital issues to sustaining traditional lawyer referral programs.

    "The bottom line is a digital based strategy is what you must embrace with a focus on referral groups," says Jane Nosbisch, staff counsel for the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on LRIS. Nosbisch headlined the conference with a presentation on "Building Awareness through Referral Relationships." Research shows that consumers turn to friends, family and trusted professionals to choose a lawyer, she said. Developing and maintaining long term relationships with bankers, accountants, therapist, police, courts, medical professionals, social service providers, realtors and assisted living directors is a good place to start. Services should also focus on the issues that are most likely what consumers most relate to: estates, divorce, buying/selling property.

    Nosbisch also discussed practical pointers on how LRIS leaders can collect the percentage fee money that is owed.

    The conference was very valuable to those participating and the group hopes to continue the discussion at the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in July.

    How do Florida Bar members feel about the state of their profession?

    According to a recent survey, pretty darn good.

    Optimism about future business and profitability in a recovering economy outweighs dwelling on past financial losses, according to lawyers participating in The Florida Bar’s 2014 Economics and Law Office Management Survey. Furthermore . . .

    • Florida Bar members are optimistic that business and profitability will increase in the next two years.
    • Technology budgets at law firms are anticipated to increase for 2015
    • A focus on social media is happening
    • And 83 percent of respondents reported satisfaction with job security

    What does all this mean? Explore these results and more in the Feb. 1 Florida Bar News.

Justice Sotomayor wows Palm Beach crowd

    More than 1,250 members of the Palm Beach County Bar Association and the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches enjoyed an inspiring luncheon with guest speaker the Honorable U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Feb. 2.

    The first Hispanic justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sotomayor  offered her thoughts about TVs in the courtroom, judicial activism and even Billy Joel. Still, repeating a view she has held for at least two years, Sotomayor said cameras could fundamentally change the dynamics of the court. “Many senators say that collegiality ended when cameras came into legislative sessions,” she said.

    Justice Sotomayor dismissed the notion of judicial activism, calling it “a ruling you don’t like.” People should read court opinions. Doing so, she said, would convince them rulings are based on legal precedents, not personal opinions.

    She said her biggest surprise about serving on the court has been her unexpected celebrity. “My life has lost any sense of privacy,” she said.
    But, she added, there are unexpected perks. She was seated next to Joel when the singer was recently honored with The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. “I admire how he can capture the spirit of entirely different segments of society,” said Sotomayor, who has had to do the same.
Holidays All Year Long fundraiser hosted by the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division

    Four charities in the Orlando area are the beneficiaries of the Holidays All Year Long fundraiser hosted by the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. The event netted nearly $14,000 for the Arnold Palmer Pediatric Oncology Wing, One Heart for Women & Children, The Holden Flynn Foundation, and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida.

    The Happy Hour event attracted members from YLS, Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida, Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association whose efforts made this endeavor a huge success!!
Jacksonville Bar Association launching online lawyer referral service

    Jacksonville has a new consumer resource for local lawyers and legal information. Created by The Jacksonville Bar Association, is the foremost online info hub connecting JBA members to thousands of Internet users daily.

    The site features two main areas: “Find an Attorney,” featuring attorney profiles by area of law, and “Legal Tool Kit,” where consumers can research legal problems. Attorneys can set up their profile pages in five areas: types of cases, qualifications, history, “get to know me” and fees. Along with the contact information, attorneys can include firm website addresses at no additional charge. Lawyers can also include up to three photos and five pages of content. Each subscription on Jacksonville Find a Lawyer allows attorneys to be profiled in several different areas of law.

    With lawyer finder, consumers can narrow and compare their attorney search by area of the law, location and experience. Attorney listings are shown in random order and change every time a consumer logs on to the site. No subscriber gets preferential placement. Each subscriber gets the same high level of exposure to new clients for the same rate.

    Consumers can choose up to three attorneys to compare side-by-side by checking the white box beside each name and clicking “Compare Results Now.”

    For more information about the service, visit The Jacksonville Bar Association’s website ( and go to the Attorney Resource Tab at the top of the page and click on “Jacksonville Find a Lawyer.”

Lemon Sharks excursion a success for Dive Bar!

    Sharks and rays and turtles, oh my! Fifteen Dive Bar members and Friends joined Captain Sl8tr Charters in Jupiter for the group's annual Lemon Sharks dive on Jan, 24. The conditions were a little sporty topside but it was safe and warm down below with all the critters. After a great winter dive it was on to the Dive Bar Restaurant for an apres-dive celebration.
Broward County Bar recognizes legisltative leaders

    Broward County Bar Association hosted its Annual Legislative Affairs Reception at 15th Street Fisheries & Dockside Cafe on Jan. 29. Legislators, judges, and members joined together to recognize the collaboration of the Broward County delegation and commission and their contribution to Broward County's legal community.
Haitian children receive toys during the holidays

    Karline Lee of Phelan Hallinan in Fort Lauderdale and an active member of the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee of The Florida Bar participated in distributing toys in Haiti in December. More than 1,000 children received gifts on the campus of Freres De Saint Louis De Gonzague in Delmis.
Dinner & Movie Night a hit for Palm Beach County Bar Association

    Members and families of the Palm Beach County Bar Association had a great time last month at the first Dinner & Movie Night at the Lake Pavillion in West Palm Beach. After dinner, live music and dessert, guests went outside with their folding chairs and blankets to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Kudos to President Theo Kypreos for the great idea.

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[Revised: 02-09-2015]