THE BAR’S HENRY LATIMER CENTER FOR PROFESSIONALISM developed the Leadership Academy’s curriculum that seeks to help participants hone essential leadership skills.
Bar Leadership Academy is underway
By Mark D. Killian
One of the key initiatives of Bar President Eugene Pettis kicked off at the Bar’s Annual Convention in Boca Raton when the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy met for the first time.
The academy’s mission “is to enhance the skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers selected from across the state that will enable them to become effective leaders throughout the Bar, the profession, and the greater community.”
“You are the face of the Bar, and this is what we are going to be about moving forward from this day on. No matter who is in the office of president — we are going to reach out to every corner of this Bar and we are going to pull everybody in, because we each have something to contribute,” Pettis told the inaugural leadership class. “I believe that this Bar — I believe that this profession — is going to be stronger when we realize that standing together as one is where we need to be.”
The Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism developed the curriculum for the intensive, year-long program that seeks to help participants hone essential leadership skills, such as running an effective meeting, dealing with conflict, and finding a work-life balance. Fellows will also receive a thorough education on the Bar’s structure and organization.
“I think you are going to be better for it; you are going to be better lawyers,” Pettis said. “I think you will be better leaders and contributors to society.”
Bar President-elect Greg Coleman told the 59-member class that they have a unique opportunity to be exposed to “some of the most significant folks” in bar service all at once.
“As you go through this process, you are going to get all this condensed knowledge and wisdom — so soak it up and use it,” Coleman said.
Former Young Lawyers Division President Reneé Thompson worked with Pettis to develop plans for the Leadership Academy and serves as the academy’s first chair. Thompson said the curriculum is designed not only to help the fellows grow as professionals, “but also as leaders within your local, state, and national communities.”
Pettis said care was taken in selecting the fellows to ensure inclusion based not only on ethnic and gender diversity, but also diversity of firm size, geographical location, practice areas, and other factors.
The fellows are divided into two geographical branches, a Northern Branch, including the First, Second, and Fifth district courts of appeal; and a Southern Branch, including the Third and Fourth districts.
Pettis chose Michael Faehner to serve as a co-chair of the Northern Branch, while Juilet Rouhlac will take on the same role for the Southern Branch.
Faehner, of Clearwater, is chair of the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, and Rouhlac, of Ft. Lauderdale, is a former member of the Bar’s Board of Governors. Both are also former presidents of the YLD.
While the academy launched at the convention, two additional full group meetings will take place at the Bar’s fall meeting in September and at the January Board of Governors meeting in Tallahassee. Each branch will also hold three meetings in July, November, and March at rotating locations within their jurisdictions. Meetings will include two half-day sessions, a networking dinner, and an overnight stay.
Fellows of the program’s inaugural year will graduate at the Bar’s Annual Convention in 2014, as new program participants for the second year gather for the first time.
Through the academy, fellows will have an opportunity to practice what they’re learning by brainstorming and executing a service project. The program also focuses heavily on networking and mentoring.
Fellows will have opportunities to meet with current and past Bar leaders. They will also be encouraged partway through the program to designate an area in which they’d like to become involved upon graduation, for which the program will facilitate introductions.
Thompson said when Pettis first mentioned the concept of creating an academy, she knew the Bar and the profession would benefit from the initiative for years to come with the leaders it will help foster and develop.
“It is an exceptional program, and he put together an all-star team to make it a reality for our members,” Thompson said. “I am proud to see our Bar investing in our future leaders.”