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December 5, 2016

warm wishes
palm tree with christmas ornaments

Dates and site selected for 2017 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference

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The 2017 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference will be held at the Boardwalk Inn Resort in Walt Disney World, July 14-15. Plans are underway for a keynote speaker to kick off the event at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 14. A planning subcommittee of members from the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee are meeting to determine the best topics for breakouts and to identify the speakers for the conference. More details will be provided in future issues of this newsletter.

Building on the success of past conferences, this year's event in Orlando will be hosted jointly by the Orange County Bar Association and the Brevard County Bar Association.

Please save the date and plan to join us at Disney World, July 14-15, 2017!

Make sure your officer information is up-to-date

stay in the loop
January will be here before you know it and the start of a brand new year! There are many voluntary bar associations with officer changes scheduled in January. Keeping the officer information current is important so your leaders are kept in the loop on information coming from Tallahassee and we rely on you to keep it up-to-date.

Take a minute and click this link, locate your bar and see what is currently on record for your bar. If it is correct, you don't need to do anything. If it is outdated, please use this link and complete the form updating the information. Or send a list of your officers and we will update it for you. Please be specific about names and use the name as listed in the official bar record.

Please keep the information current. We don't want someone to miss out on all the opportunities throughout the year because of outdated information.

Thanks for your help.
Time to apply for Bar committees

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The annual committee preference forms for Bar members seeking appointments for the term of President-elect Michael Higer are now available at

As president-elect, Higer will make 500 or so committee appointments, and he wants to make sure he has a diverse group of lawyers from which to choose.

“It is a privilege to practice law in this state, and with that privilege comes a responsibility,” Higer said. “We need the active engagement of our membership to work together to address the many challenges facing our profession.”

In making committee appointments in spring 2017, Higer 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; 

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

• Previous committee participation and contributions in conjunction with the evaluation of committee chairs. 

Higer said to provide more opportunities to serve on standing committees, members should not request more than one appointment. 

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 2017, 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 13.

“Serving on a Florida Bar committee can be a meaningful and rewarding experience,” Higer said. “It will also provide you with the opportunity to enhance our profession and to improve the services we provide the citizens of our state and our fellow members.”

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 Jan. 13 to be considered for reappointment.

Fun seminar on civics education training to be held at Florida Bar Winter Meeting

benchmarks logo
Dozens of Floridians are applying to serve on the upcoming Constitution Revision Commission – which convenes every 20 years and will be able to put amendments directly on the ballot for voters to consider in 2018.

Some of those proposals could affect the judiciary.

At a complimentary seminar at The Florida Bar Winter Meeting in Orlando, attendees will learn about the Constitution Revision Commission in the Benchmarks presentation called “Every 20 Years.” Additionally, they will get an overview of the other Benchmarks presentations about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; the Courts and the Judiciary; and Special Topics.

“Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education” will be held on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Miami Room 3. To register, email Susannah Read Lyle at

Benchmarks is a Florida Bar program that gives adults a refresher course on civics so they can better understand how government works, particularly the judiciary. Benchmarks presentations are fun as well as informative – and this seminar will be co-led by nationally recognized civics educator Annette Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Related Education Association.

Attorneys can receive CLE credit for making Benchmarks presentations: 1 ethics credit hour for each presentation for up to three presentations in a three-year reporting period.

The Orlando seminar offers 2 General credits and .5 Ethics credits. At the intermediate level, the seminar course number is 1608936N.

The seminar is presented by the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. To register: Email or call (850) 561-5669.
New technology requirement

need to know
Effective Jan.1, 2017, each member of The Florida Bar shall complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of approved continuing legal education activity every three years, pursuant to Amendment to Rule 6-10.3(b). Five of the 33 credit hours must be in approved legal ethics, professionalism, bias elimination, substance abuse, or mental illness awareness programs and three of the 33 credit hours must be in approved technology programs that are included in, not addition to, the regular 33 credit hour requirement. If a member completes more than 33 credit hours during any reporting cycle, the excess credits cannot be carried over to the next reporting cycle. Compliance for the new rule will begin in the member’s next reporting cycle following the Jan. 1, 2017 effective date.


Serving others in Miami

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Haitian Lawyers Association members volunteered at the 10th annual Little Haiti Thanksgiving brunch!! More than 450 families from Little Haiti, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Homestead, and Broward County areas were served.

Class adopted and supported in Palm Beach County

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The Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association adopted and donated $500 to the Pre-K Spanish Immersion Inclusion class at Freedom Shores Elementary School! The class is the only one of its kind district-wide. Much-needed supplies, materials and toys were purchased for the Soaring Eagle babies. PBCHBA President Christa McCann and members of the Executive Board, Jose Rodriguez and Victoria Mesa-Estrada, enjoyed visiting and interacting with the students.
10th Anniversary Scholarship Gala Dinner

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The 10th Anniversary Scholarship Gala Dinner of the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association was held at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa on Nov. 3. Several members of The Florida Bar including Lanse Scriven and John Stewart were in attendance. Florida Bar President Bill Schifino provided greetings on behalf of the Florida Bar.

Past presidents of THBA were honored with special commerative pins. Pictured left to right – Founder Luis “Tony” Cabassa (2006 – 2008); Joanna Garcia Parkin (2009-2010); Clara Rodriguez Rokusek (Not pictured 2011-2012); Victoria Cruz-Garcia (2011-2012); Judge-Elect Miriam Velez Valkenburg (2015) and Current THBA President Vivian Cortes Hodz (2016) The group's 2016 officers and board were also recognized.

A highlight of the evening was the recognition of attorney Luis Viera with THBA's highest honor, the Luis “Tony” Cabassa award. THBA also used the event to recognize founding board members, celebrate the accomplishments of the organization over the last 10 years and award scholarships to deserving law students.
Night of Asia Food Drive gets bar support

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The Jacksonville Asian American Bar Association volunteered and donated at the Night of Asia Food Drive Party with the River City Science Academy benefitting Clara White.
Law School Outreach reception at FSU

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Florida Justice Association hosted a Law School Outreach reception at the Florida State University College of Law recently. The FJA also took time to share knowledge about the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and the importance of student involvement. The panelists included Debbie Kearney, Sandy D'Alemberte, Paul Jess and Debra Henley.
Enrichment event in Jacksonville

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Fall wreath-making was on the agenda for members of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association as the group gathered for another membership enrichment event. The evening inspired autumn decorating tips and everyone left with a crafty wreath to deck their door!
Reading Day in Miami-Dade

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The Caribbean Bar Association hosted a Reading Day on Nov. 1 at C.A.R.E academy. U.S. District Judge Donald Graham and Miami-Dade Judge Jason Dimitris read to the children and inspired then to dream big. This event was supported by the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Grant programs.
Gators gather for game day fun

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Family friendly tailgating brought lawyers together in Gainesville from the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association. The group rallied on Nov. 12 before and after the South Carolina vs. UF football game.

Fourth annual Thanksgiving Books and Bears Drive a huge success!

teddy bears and books
Books and bears took over our entire lobby of the Palm Beach County Bar Association and for a good cause. Members donated books, bears and money to benefit National Adoption Day and children in court for dependency cases. It was all apart of the Lawyers for Literacy Committee annual fundraiser
Clearwater Bar legal fair helps locals

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The Clearwater Bar Association and its volunteers helped more than 200 people with their legal questions at this year's legal fair. The event was held on Oct. 27 at St. Petersburg College, Clearwater campus.
Student Legal Intern Program get push

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Clearwater Bar Association members took a swing on the beautiful Osprey Course at Innisbrook to help support the Student Legal Intern Program.
Women Lawyers on the fight to
end human trafficking

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The Florida Association of Women Lawyers joined hands with Florida Power & Light Company for a special event - "AN EVENING OF HOPE - FLORIDA UNITES TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING " on Nov. 10. Palm Beach County FAWL was a presenting co-sponsor of the event, where sponsors joined together to raise more than $100,000 for Camillus House, Place of Hope and Selah Freedom, safe houses in Florida. These places provide stable, loving and nurturing environments for women and girls rescued from sex trafficking in the Palm Beach community. Live streaming presentations were offered on 20 college campuses. Click the link for the speakers and presentations.

Bar President talks gender equality in Pinellas

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Pinellas Florida Association of Women Lawyers hosted Florida Bar President William Schifino Jr. at its November luncheon. Schifino shared information on how the legal community is coming together to overcome gender bias in the profession. Co-host of the event was the Young Lawyers Division at Stetson University College of Law.
UF Law Dean speaks in Martin County

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University of Florida Levin College of Law Dean Laura Rosenbury was the special guest speaker for the Martin County Bar Association November luncheon. Many Florida Gator alumni attorneys and others were on hand to hear Dean Rosenbury.
Justice Perry honored in Palm Beach County

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The Palm Beach County Justice Association hosted its Jurist of the Year Dinner recently. Many of the groups members, including more than 10 local judges, were in attendance to honor Florida Supreme Court Justice James Perry. F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr. Bar Association shared in presenting the award. Justice Perry was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 2009, and he was the first African-American appointed to the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.
Tallahassee love for lawyers

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Members of the Tallahassee Bar Association (lawyers, judges, and FSU College of Law students) pose for a photo and video GIF shoot in front of the Leon County Courthouse celebrating the Nov. 4 #LoveYourLawyerDay!

Chief Judge Richard Suarez visits North Dade bar

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The North Dade Bar Association had a wonderful lunch on Nov. 24, 2015 with special guest speaker Chief Judge Richard Suarez of the Third District Court of Appeal.
Cuban Enigma: A Year Later! 

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Broward County Bar Association celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month in a big way. The group hosted a CLE panel discussion on what's going on in Cuba and how things have changed within the last year. This was followed by a Night in Cuba, with signature Cuban cocktails, "Algo de Picar" Cuban food, handmade premium cigars and dominoes!  
Orange County Bar supports Pride event

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Staff of the Orange County Bar Association participated in Come Out with Pride on Nov. 12 at Lake Eola. The celebration was to honor those who were killed in the Orlando nightclub attack earlier this year.
Past presidents honored by OCBA

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Orange County Bar Association honored past presidents with dinner and a signature drink, The Leon, after past president Leon Handley (center). The event was held in Orlando on Nov. 15.
GLLN hosts the president-elect

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Florida Bar president-elect Michael Higer joined the Gay & Lesbian Lawyers Network Inc. recently as guest speaker for the member luncheon.

Drone zone in Tallahassee

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Tallahassee Women Lawyers Association entered a new zone on Nov. 9 when they explored drone law. The event was held at Domi Station, Tallahassee's new space for taking it to the next level.

Judge Melvia Green honored

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Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association took time to honor Legal Legend Judge Melvia Green on Nov. 8! Members from both the Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association and the Haitian Lawyers Association shared in the celebration.
Teens here about credit

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The Palm Beach County Bar Association Lawyers for Literacy Committee gave its third Life Literacy Presentation at the Mandel Public Library this week. Our most recent program was presented by attorney Mary Grecz who spoke with teens about understanding credit cards, credit card debt, and the rights of creditors and debtors.
Supporting breast cancer awareness in Palm Beach

Members of the North County Section of the Palm Beach County Bar Association came out to support Breast Cancer Awareness month during the group's Fourth Annual PINK Party. The event raised $2200 for the Smiley Wiley Breast Cancer Foundation. Members of FAWL, Palm Beach County Justice Association and the Hispanic Bar teamed up to support the annual event.

Pictured are left to right: Palm Beach County Justice Association President-Elect John McGovern, NCS President Rosemarie Guerini, FAWL President Cindy Crawford, Hispanic Bar Association President Christa McCann and Lindsay Mesches from Smiley Wiley Breast Cancer Foundation.
Ask-A-Lawyer Library Series in Tampa

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The Hillsborough County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Information Service Ask-A-Lawyer Library Series continued when attorneys in Tampa volunteered their time to speak to residents about family law questions on Nov. 14. The community venue was the Temple Terrace Public Library.
Six local charities receive checks in Hillsborough County

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More than 350 members of the legal community attended the Hillsborough County Bar Association's 20th Annual Bench Bar Conference to hear from technology/privacy experts, members of the local judiciary and former jurists. The signature membership luncheon, with more than 500 members in attendance, featured Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady as the speaker. The Hillsborough County Bar Foundation also presented checks totaling $100,000 to six local charities. The successful day wrapped up with the popular judicial reception. Photos courtesy of Thompson Brand Images.
Young lawyers meet at courthouse

The Young Lawyers Section of the St. Petersburg Bar Association hosted a "Morning at the Courthouse" and the "Meet the Judges Luncheon" at the St. Petersburg Judicial Building. Ken Burke, Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court, spoke to a group of attorneys at the seminar.
Golf tournament benefits Drug Free Collier

three adults holding large check
The Collier County Bar Foundation hosted a golf tournament on Oct. 28, benefitting Drug Free Collier. The tournament was held at the Kensington Country Club.

The tournament was a great success, with 64 golfers turning out for a good cause. A check for $2,500 was presented to Drug Free Collier from tournament proceeds.
Haiti storm victims supported by Caribbean Bar

eight women and one man standing
The Caribbean Bar Association held its 20th Annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet on Oct.29 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. A portion of the proceeds from the “Partnering for Progress” Banquet will be donated to the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in Haiti through Food for the Poor, Inc. The CBA also installed its new executive board, recognized two law student scholarship recipients, and honored Barron Channer, CEO of BACH Real Estate, The stirring keynote address, delivered by Angel Aloma, executive director of Food for the Poor, Inc., urged the community to give back to those in need, particularly those devastated by Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean.

The event was attended by judges, attorneys and community leaders from across the state, and featured steel pan music, a performance by Jude Papaloko and Loray Mistik, as well as professional salsa dancers.
Joint professionalism roundtable

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The Caribbean Bar Association, T.J. Reddick Bar Association and Nova Caribbean Law Students Association hosted a Professionalism Roundtable on Nov. 16. The event, funded in part by a grant from the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, was an opportunity for law students and young lawyers to speak in a small group setting with judges regarding professionalism in the practice. The participating judges were: Hon. Dennis Bailey; Hon. Kal Evans; Hon. John Fry; Hon. Robert Lee.

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[Revised: 12-07-2016]