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February 15, 2014
YLD Board of Governors Candidates' Platform Statements

Here are the platform statements for the 2014 candidates for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. Ballots for the election will be mailed around March 1 and must be returned no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 21. Division members will have the choice of voting by the mailed paper ballot or voting online by following instructions with the mailed ballot.

Second Circuit, Seat 2

Andrew Manko

It’s been my privilege to serve as your Second Circuit representative on The Florida Bar Young Lawyer Division Board of Governors since June of last year. This has been one of the most interesting experiences in my career and I hope you will vote to keep me as your representative for my last term of eligibility on the YLD Board.

Andrew MankoFor those I have not yet met, I received by B.S. from Florida State University in 2000 and my J.D. from Emory University in 2004. I returned to Tallahassee after a brief (and cold) stint in New York City, joining the Department of Environmental Protection and thereafter clerking for Justice Pariente on the Florida Supreme Court from 2006-2008. I have been in private practice ever since. I am a shareholder at The Mills Firm and am board certified by The Florida Bar in appellate practice. My diverse experience in both government and private practice makes me the best candidate to represent all of the Second Circuit’s young lawyers, regardless of where you work or what you practice.

Service to the community and dedication to the legal profession are two of my most important focuses as an attorney. That is why I made it a priority to get involved with the Tallahassee Bar Association and its Young Lawyer Section when I moved back to the Panhandle. I became a member of the YLS Board of Directors in 2010 and have served as its treasurer, president-elect, and now its president. With the dedication and hard work of the entire YLS board, we have had a very successful year. In addition to hosting events like Table for 8 (professionalism roundtable with judges, lawyers, and students) and Christmas in July (raising $1,000 for a local foster care organization), we joined forces with the Legal Aid Foundation to start a series of local CLE programs and to begin crafting our Tallahassee Thunderdome Project, which is aimed to train, support, and encourage young lawyers to take pro bono cases. Indeed, YLS received the President’s Choice Award for the Project at this year’s YLD Affiliate Outreach Conference. It has been a year of great successes for YLS and I am so proud of the work we did.

My goal in serving as your Second Circuit representative is and has always been a simple one − to ensure that the Young Lawyer Division assists young lawyers in developing their skills and advocates on their behalf on issues affecting their profession. Whether it is drafting the problem for this year’s Orseck Moot Court Competition, helping to plan the North Florida Diversity Symposium, serving as a presenter at the Basic Appellate Practice seminar, planning a Practicing with Professionalism seminar, or serving as a liaison to FSU’s Law School, I am committed to the important work of the YLD board.

I hope to continue to serve as your representative for the next two years and exceed your expectations.

Eric M. Neiberger

Eric M. NeibergerEric Neiberger is an assistant attorney general in the Corrections Litigation Bureau of the Florida Office of the Attorney General. In this capacity, Eric engages in civil rights and constitutional law defense on behalf of State of Florida and its officers in both state and federal courts.

When not in the court room, Eric serves as a board member of the Florida Government Bar Association, is an active member of the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court, and a founding player of the Tallahassee Rugby Football Club.

Eric was raised in Gainesville, Florida, attended the University of Florida, and received his J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law. He currently lives and works in Tallahassee, Florida. Eric is currently a candidate for a seat on the Board of Governors of the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar.

For more information, please visit www.ericneiberger.com.

12th Circuit, Seat 2

Margaret Rowell Good

As a current representative of The Florida Bar Board of Governors Young Lawyers Division, I have the honor and pleasure of serving this circuit. It is my hope to continue this work as your representative and request your vote this March.

Margaret Rowell GoodOne way the YLD serves young lawyers is by connecting us and advocating for us. In order to function at the highest levels of skill and professionalism, it is important to connect young lawyers with each other and with more experienced lawyers and judges from whom they can learn and develop mentoring relationships. Particularly in this economic climate, where more and more young lawyers are searching for jobs or deciding to go out on their own, these connections are needed to sustain the high standards of lawyering that exist in this circuit.

The Florida Bar offers so much to its affiliates. From free online CLEs to excellent basic skills courses, from grants to mentoring opportunities, it is my goal to ensure that 12th Circuit young lawyers know about the resources that will benefit them. This year, the Young Lawyers Division has implemented new tools to reach out to our members. As a member of the Public Relations Committee, I draft circuit reports that update young lawyers via email about the resources available to them. The Florida Bar YLD is also now connecting members through social media and e-newsletters. As your representative, I will continue to explore ways to ensure that you know how to find the resources you need.

I will also continue to help our young lawyers connect locally. In the past year, I have chaired or helped organize a number of events tailored to form connections within our legal community, including the 2013 Quick Chat, the 2014 Mentoring Event, and the 2014 Quick Chat. As Education Chair of the Sarasota County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, I am working on new programming for 2014 to provide young lawyers more opportunities to network and learn. These programs will include a professionalism roundtable luncheon with area judges in March, and a lecture event, which will take place in June.

Connecting young lawyers to the legal community also means reaching out to lawyers not active in local bar associations. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to get more young lawyers involved in their local bar associations, whether it is the Manatee County Bar Association, the South County section of the Sarasota County Bar Association, or the Sarasota County Bar Association. The more we can connect to each other, the more effective we can be for our clients and for the community.

As your elected representative, I will continue to work to provide young lawyers with the resources they need to build their legal careers, to champion our circuit’s accomplishments and to address our concerns to The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. I am proud of the accomplishments of the young lawyers in our circuit. It is a privilege to represent you. I would be honored to receive your vote.

To view my full bio, please visit www.voteformargaret.com

Monica Villaverde Beck

I am Monica Villaverde Beck and I am running for Seat 2 of the 12thh Circuit for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. Five years ago, I moved to Sarasota and began working in the Sarasota office of Legal Aid of Manasota, Inc. At that time, I immediately joined both the Sarasota and Manatee County Bar Associations. The experience I have gained by working with these two associations has been invaluable in my development as a lawyer. I would like to expand on my experience by serving on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors.

Monica Villaverde BeckSince joining the Sarasota and Manatee Young Lawyers Division (YLD) I chaired and served as a committee member for the annual Law Day mock trial activities. I have helped coordinate and obtain grants and other funding sources for four different will-related events. Specifically, I have assisted with “Wills for Heroes,” “Wills for Helping Hands,” and “Salute to Veterans” where local lawyers prepare estate planning documents free of charge for first responders, nonprofit employees, and our veterans. The grant money made these projects possible. I want to insure that our circuit continues to apply for and receive as many grants as possible so that we can continue with these projects as well as create new projects of interest to our young lawyers. I served as a director on the Sarasota County YLD Board for the past two years until my term expired this year. I am currently the vice president of the Manatee County YLD Board and I am looking forward to serving as president next year.

As a young lawyer who practices in both Sarasota and Manatee counties and who is involved with both YLDs, I’ve encouraged greater interaction between the young lawyers in both counties. I am hopeful that our two counties can create a partnership that will allow our young lawyers in the circuit to be exposed to more projects that are both meaningful to our young lawyers and beneficial to members of our community. As a nonprofit employee, it is my goal to encourage all our young lawyers to become involved in our community and to provide pro bono legal services. To achieve this goal I would continue to shine a light on the great need in our community for legal representation to our most vulnerable citizens.

I want to take the experience I’ve gained locally and put it to work statewide. If elected, I commit to representing and championing our circuit’s accomplishments and concerns to The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors. I will also encourage our YLDs to support programs that both provide training and mentoring for young lawyers. I would strive to spread more awareness of YLD programs and resources available to young lawyers.

I am proud of the many accomplishments attained by the Sarasota and Manatee YLDs and would consider it a privilege to represent the young lawyers within the 12th Circuit. I would be honored to receive your vote.

18th Circuit, Seat 2

Adam M. Bird

My name is Adam Bird, and I hope that you will consider voting for me for Seat 2 from the 18th Judicial Circuit, Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. I have been an associate with GrayRobinson, P.A., since I graduated from the University of Florida in 2008. For the past five-and-a-half years, I have worked in the Litigation Department in GrayRobinson’s Melbourne office, and I believe that my experience uniquely qualifies me to be a well-rounded and balanced board member for several reasons.

Adam M. BirdFirst, my firm is statewide with offices from Key West to Tallahassee. As such, I have had and continue to have the opportunity to speak with and listen to young lawyers statewide about issues facing not only the Young Lawyers Division but The Florida Bar as a whole.

Second, my practice has allowed me to gain experience in a number of different areas of the law, from commercial and real estate litigation to family law to trademark/copyright law to admiralty and maritime law, which is my true passion. I work hard to stay up to date on current court decisions and legal trends because my practice leads me in a number of directions. Additionally, I work with other attorneys who themselves practice in nearly every area of the law so that even in the areas I do not practice, I have many resources.

Third, my practice and cases often take me outside of Brevard County so that I have appeared in courts all over Central Florida. I well recognize the need to serve the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit as a whole unit, and I will strive to do so.

In addition to my experience as an attorney, I have served in the past as a board member for the Brevard County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, including as treasurer from 2011 to 2012. I also currently sit on the boards of directors for several not-for-profit organizations within my community, and I have more than five years’ experience in those positions so that I am intimately familiar with the demands of board governance and am ready to take on those challenges for the statewide Young Lawyers Division.

I’m extremely proud to be an attorney, and I honestly believe there is no better profession. I would be honored to represent the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit on the Young Lawyers Board of Governors to do my part to help contribute to the excellence and professionalism that we all expect from the members of The Florida Bar.

Michael A. Sasso

My name is Michael A. Sasso, and it would be my honor to serve as your representative from the 18th Judicial Circuit on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. I was born and raised in our circuit and have a vested interest in seeing our legal community prosper, especially for young lawyers. Since graduating law school in 2011, I have had the privilege to serve the 18th Judicial Circuit in various capacities. Currently, I serve as the treasurer of the Seminole County Young Lawyers Division, as a board member of the Seminole County Bar Association, as a board member and program co-chair of the Seminole County Inns of Court, and as a trustee and treasurer of the Seminole County Law Library. I hope to continue that service as your representative on the YLD Board.

Michael A. SassoYoung lawyers face many challenges today. Most of us are familiar with the struggle to establish a strong professional network, to manage burdensome student loan debt, and to obtain the professional freedom to pursue the goals that inspired us to enter this noble profession. It is my ardent belief that by achieving greater personal success in each of these areas we will drastically improve the quality of the practice of law throughout our circuit. Together we can effect that change.

One area where we have an immediate opportunity to make a difference is by working to alleviate the pressure that student loan debt puts on many young lawyers. For state attorneys, public defenders, assistant attorney generals, and public interest lawyers, Florida Senate Bill 146 and Florida House Bill 77 represent a chance to receive up to $44,000 in loan repayment assistance. Young lawyers should support the passage of these bills. As your representative, I will work to raise support within the YLD Board to ensure that our young lawyers receive this well-earned benefit.

Another goal of mine is to foster the enhancement of the professional relationships amongst young lawyers in our circuit. I believe that stronger professional relationships with each other will give us the foundation to excel long term in our profession, and will drastically improve professionalism in our practice. For that reason it is my goal to use the resources of the YLD board to create more public service and networking events for our young lawyers.

Service on the YLD board is a great privilege and responsibility. There are many ways for us to improve the practice of law for the young lawyers in our circuit. I personally welcome your suggestions and feedback on the issues that are most important to you. You can be confident that as your representative I will always be accessible, and that I will use all of my experience to faithfully and effectively represent your interest on the YLD board.

I would be humbled to receive your vote! Thank you for your support, and please remember to vote between March 1st and March 21st.

[Revised: 07-22-2014]