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2013 Annual Report for the Standing Committee on Professionalism

The scope and function of the Standing Committee on Professionalism are to assist the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, The Florida Bar, and The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism in implementing programs, events, and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. This year the Standing Committee was divided into five working groups and focused its efforts in the following key areas:

Aging Lawyers Working Group – Chaired by Michael Cohen, this working group is immensely involved with working on an Aging Lawyer Task Force with Florida Lawyers Assistance Inc., the University of Florida College of Law, the University of Florida College of Medicine, the University of Florida Brain Institute, and Shands Vista to create an online educational module and screening instrument to assess an individual lawyer’s cognitive decline which also will collect and provide anonymous data regarding aging in the Florida legal profession. Additionally the group is developing a checklist for lawyers to use to screen cognitive problems that may affect one’s ability to practice law. The first phase of the awareness program included two articles in The Florida Bar News on November 15, 2012, entitled, “Bracing for the Tsunami of Aging Florida Lawyers,” and “The Path to Permanent Retirement.”

Awards Working Group – After years of only awarding the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award the Awards Working Group revived the Professionalism Group Award and the Law Faculty/Administrator Award. Chaired by David Hallman the group received an overwhelming response for all three awards this year. The purpose of the Professionalism Group Award is to find an organization that has an innovative program that can be implemented by other organizations to promote and encourage professionalism within the legal community. The purpose of the Law Faculty/Administrator Award is to identify one who promotes the fundamental ideals and values of professionalism within the legal system and who instills those ideals of character, competence, civility, and commitment in all those persons serving and seeking to serve therein. The Standing Committee has approved all recommendations for this year and the awards will be presented at the Judicial Luncheon during Annual Convention.

Circuit Professionalism Working Group – In an effort to get a perspective of the professionalism initiatives around the state and to learn the different projects occurring in each circuit, the Circuit Professionalism Working Group led by chair Denise D’Aprile revised and renewed the Circuit Professionalism Report. The Circuit Professionalism Report was provided to the chief judge in each circuit for completion. The report collected information regarding programs such as, mentoring, peer review panels, and CLE programs for each circuit. The working group is compiling the reports to disseminate the efforts of each circuit via a report that will be available on the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism website and in The Professional, a newsletter of the center.

Lawyers Helping Lawyers – Chaired by Irwin Gilbert this group was charged with revising the website for member services entitled “Lawyers Helping Lawyer.” The group set forth to make the website more resourceful for new attorneys just joining The Florida Bar or in transition. In addition to the website project the group redrafted the Historical Video Series interview questions to assist the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism with their interview recording with U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold and U.S. District Court Judge Judge Paul Huck. The Historical Video Series is a professionalism CLE in DVD format offered by the center and the Standing Committee that captures the perspective and wisdom of professionalism leaders within The Florida Bar.

Young Lawyers Working Group – Updating and distributing the Law School Handbook and the Annual Law School Report was a primary task of this working group led by Judge John Lazzara. The Law School Handbook is now more user friendly and equipped with additional resources for law students including but not limited to information about Florida Lawyers Assistance and Attorney Consumer Assistance Program. In addition the Annual Law School Report now includes questions regarding curriculum dealing with professionalism, professionalism oaths used at graduation, and professionalism awards for staff and law students. Apart from these two projects the working group has launched a “Balancing Life and Law” program at the law schools in conjunction with the YLD law student division representative. The program gives law students a real life perspective on how the practice of law is before they graduate by offering a luncheon in which members of the Standing Committee and other practitioners engage in a panel discussion.

Sean T. Desmond, Standing Committee on Professionalism Chair

[Revised: 06-20-2013]