by Jan Pudlow
When Sylvia Walbolt suggested a friend get married at her family’s place in rural Hillsborough County on Lake Josephine, she envisioned an intimate affair with a few dozen people gathered at the dock.
The bride was lawyer Elaine Holmes. The groom was Farrukh Quarishi, winner of the 1974 Herman Trophy who played soccer for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. And lots of fans wanted to see him tie the knot.
On this unforgettable wedding day in the late ’70s, the front yard suddenly filled with cars that kept coming until the road bulged with a traffic jam.
After the vows, Walbolt scanned the crowd of faces. There must have been 400 people! And they were all looking for food and drink the minute the ceremony was over. Even though she’d played it safe and ordered extra food and champagne, Walbolt panicked.
“I was a basket case,” admitted Walbolt, a partner and shareholder at Carlton Fields who joined the firm in 1963.
Thankfully, her colleague, Gwynne Young, who’d agreed to help with a small reception, stepped up and took charge. Calmly directing the caterers, preparing food with gusto, and pouring champagne — Young did it all with a smile.
“Gwynne can handle anything and do it without stress and without yelling at people. That is what impressed me the most,” Walbolt said.
“I suppose other people could get things accomplished, but they wouldn’t do it with as much grace and goodwill as Gwynne would do. She can deal with a caterer every bit as well as a justice, and treat them both the same. She is so calm and such a good people person that I have no doubt those skills will translate in her role as leader of The Florida Bar.”
Gwynne Alice Young, a 62-year-old business litigator and trial lawyer who honed her courtroom skills as Hillsborough County’s first female prosecutor, becomes the 64th president of The Florida Bar. A shareholder at Carlton Fields in Tampa, where she’s practiced since she was 27, Young is the firm’s fifth lawyer and the Bar’s fifth woman member to lead Florida’s more than 93,000 lawyers.
But this honor wasn’t just handed to Young. She had to square her shoulders, thicken her skin, and go fight for it.
In the first three-way Bar presidential race since 1983, Young zigzagged Florida giving speeches and shaking hands, running against a former state senator from Ft. Lauderdale and a Jacksonville attorney. And she did it with her trademark unflappable, can-do determination.
“It was very much a contested race, and she handled it with aplomb and sophistication,” said Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., both a former Florida Bar and ABA president and mentor to Young at Carlton Fields.
The first words that pop to mind when friends and colleagues think of Gwynne Young are: “genuine,”
“unstoppable,” “leader,” “loyal,” “honest,” “hardworking,” “intelligent,” “caring,” “generous,” “steadfast,” “welcoming,” “inclusive,” “collegial,” “engaged,” and “fair.”
“There’s a tremendous goodness in Gwynne,” said Monsignor Robert C. Gibbons of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, who first met Young when they were law students at the University of Florida.
“She’s a person without guile. She likes people. She cares about people. She sees the best in people. And she wants to serve.”
When Gibbons first learned Young was running for Bar president, “I think I told her she was crazy. I thought, my Lord, why in the heck would she want to dive into that? But Gwynne is a person who doesn’t shy away from challenges.”
And she doesn’t shy away from helping people.
“One of the many things I love about Gwynne is she has a commitment to the underdog, to the oppressed, or the less advantaged,” said Kevin Napper, who handles white collar criminal defense at Carlton Fields. “She’s always been committed to those less fortunate who need help.”
‘DNA to Help People’
Young’s instinct to help was obvious to Ruby Lee Jackson, now Young’s 82-year-old housekeeper.
They first met 37 years ago in a Hillsborough County courtroom. Young was the 13th Judicial Circuit’s trailblazing first female assistant state attorney, handling juvenile and dependency court cases.
Jackson was a worried mother trying to get custody of her grandson. Her son Benny, who had come back from Vietnam with chronic paranoid schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder, had a nine-month-old baby, Rico. The baby was living with his mother and suffering from failure to thrive.
That day, Jackson volunteered to Young that she had to put her son in the Veterans Administration hospital because of his mental illness. Young appreciated Jackson’s honesty.
“She was on the other side. And even on the other side, she was still a nice person. The first time she saw me, she liked me and I liked her. We bonded,” Jackson said. “I’m black and she’s white, and she trusts me with anything.”
In the end, Young helped Jackson get custody of her grandson. Once at Carlton Fields, Young represented Jackson again, setting up a guardianship to take care of Benny.
Years later, Young once again came to Jackson’s rescue when her husband put their house up as collateral in a lease truck deal, then got cancer and couldn’t work. When the company wanted to foreclose on the Jacksons’ home, Young enlisted help from a law partner who did bankruptcy work. Negotiating a resolution, Young gathered donations for a settlement and saved the Jacksons’ home.
Asked if Young did right by her, Jackson answers: “No, honey, she did over right. I love that girl to death! Gwynne has an education. You can tell. There’s not very much Gwynne don’t know. But she don’t let that get in her way. Some people would be big with that. That’s not her.”
Even before she became a lawyer, Young understood that it is the right thing to help people, and she was influenced by her stepfather, Judge Luckey, the longtime public defender of the 13th Judicial Circuit, who died in 1994.
“I have just always had a strong desire to serve or help people,” Young said. “My stepfather represented indigents, and it was important to him that people deserved representation, even if they couldn’t afford it. I think it was something I grew up with, and it was innate in me. And I have found a place to work where that is important, too.”
Young thrived under Carlton Fields’ strong culture of pro bono service, learned from examples set by Smith, who as ABA president led the movement to save funding for Legal Services Corp, and her first boss in the trial department Tom Clark, a kindhearted soul always helping needy folks get access to the judicial system. Very involved in pro bono work, Clark once represented the Hillsborough Association for Retarded Citizens in a land use appeal so that they could build a group home.
Currently, Young co-chairs the pro bono committee of the Bar’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, and has served on the pro bono committee for the Business Law Section.
As young as 25, she was already committed to her Hillsborough County community, serving on the board of the YWCA. Young helped forge a successful merger between the YMCA and YWCA to combine resources and rejuvenate programs for youth and families. YMCA branches sprung up around Tampa.
“I feel good about what I do for my business clients, that I can get them a good resolution to their problem. But it’s not the same kind of emotional feeling when you help somebody solve a personal problem,” Young said of her pro bono work.
Like Young’s colleague said after Ruby Lee Jackson gave them grateful hugs for saving her home, “I never get hugs from my bank clients.”
Young’s former legal secretary from 1991-2000, Debbie Tillmann, said: “It’s in her DNA to help people. Gwynne was so different from other attorneys I had worked for. She was always all about righting wrongs. In my prior jobs, all the plaintiffs’ attorneys would get excited about ‘good injuries,’ and getting a big paycheck.”
Carlton Fields helped start an intake program for Bay Area Legal Services, and the firm’s attorneys lined up to do intake and handle conflict cases.
“Gwynne took more than her fair share of cases. She didn’t do it to build a resume. She didn’t have to build a resume. She was already chair of the biggest practice group in the firm. She still felt passionate about taking pro bono cases. I am definitely a member of Gwynne Young’s fan club,” Tillmann said.
One day, Tillmann shared with another secretary her concerns about her daughter’s recent assignment to an inner-city public high school that she wasn’t sure would be a good fit. She had tried unsuccessfully to get her into another school. Young overheard, asked her about the problem, went into her office, and made a phone call that set the wheels in motion for Tillmann’s daughter to receive a scholarship to attend Tampa Preparatory School, where Young served as a trustee.
Tillmann proudly says her daughter, Kristin Phillips, earned her Ph.D. and works in breast cancer research. When Tillmann wanted to go back to college and finish her undergraduate degree, Young supported her and worked out a flexible schedule. With a graduate degree in industrial organized psychology, Tillmann was promoted to marketing proposal manager at Carlton Fields.
“Talk about being empathetic! She’s the pro. Gwynne connects with people immediately and in a way that’s a real gift. Combine that with a huge intellect and a real drive in everything she does. That has always been her signature,” said Tom Icard, a former partner at Carlton Fields who knew Young as a “baby lawyer.”
“What marks Gwynne is this genuineness that somebody who has never met her before immediately senses and picks up on. She is the same person, regardless of whether she is in front of a jury or talking to somebody in the mailroom back at the office or having an audience with royalty. Not everybody has that gift. And it’s not calculated. It’s just who she is.”
Just so no one thinks Young is perfect, Susan Bucklew, senior judge at the U.S. Middle District of Florida, loves to tell this story about her friend:
Young arrived at Tampa International Airport for a trip, pulled up to use the curb-side check-in service, checked her bags, and promptly walked through the terminal and boarded her plane. It wasn’t until 30 minutes later that Young realized she had left her car running at the curb. She had to call a colleague to go fetch her car while she winged her way to her destination.
Quick to laugh at her foibles, Young doesn’t brag about her accomplishments. Single and without children, she devotes herself passionately to her law practice, community service, Bar work, Duke University, the UF Law Center Association, mentoring young lawyers, and nurturing friendships.
Amanda Arnold Sansone, an associate at Carlton Fields, appreciates Young’s flexibility while Sansone juggles her career and being a mother to a 10-month- old baby and a four-year-old.
“I consider Gwynne to be my mentor, my friend, and my husband and I joke that she’s like my fairy godmother. There’s some magic involved in it, too,” Sansone said.
“It’s like she always has my back and is looking out for my best interests. And she has a cadre of people like that.”
Grateful friends gush about the time Young invited a couple dozen of them to a chateau in Province, France, to celebrate her 50th birthday in grand style.
Across the street from her childhood home, Young bought a house in Beach Park, one of Tampa’s oldest neighborhoods graced with patriarch oaks and towering palms, where she loves to throw classy, but not stuffy, dinner parties featuring fine red wine with names that roll off her tongue: Chateau Beaucastel and Chateauneuf du Pape. Buying so much wine on her travels, Young stores cases and cases in a warehouse in Ybor City. She returns from her many exotic trips with good stories, like the time she got altitude sickness in Tibet, fueled by the mixed odor of burning incense and yak butter at the crowded Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
Back home, Young has risen to president or chair of just about every group she has belonged to, including both the Hillsborough County Bar Association and Foundation, Cheatwood Inn of Court, Duke University General Alumni Association, and Junior League of Tampa. She became involved in founding the Child Abuse Council to coordinate community services for child abuse victims, because she saw firsthand a tremendous need when she’d prosecuted child abuse cases.
“God knows, she’s president of the world!” laughs her sister Suzanne Currier, who lives north of Houston, Texas. “She has her finger in about every pie there is.”
“She has an unassuming, unpretentious manner. When you meet her, you have no hint that she is accomplished in so many ways,” said Carole Anderson, a cousin as close as a sister. “She will never come out and toot her own horn. You have to dig it out of her.”
Suddenly, Daddy Was Gone
With a bachelor’s degree in history from Duke University, Young relishes telling her own family history of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who settled in North Carolina in the 1700’s.
“One of my ancestors, Samuel Davidson, was the first white man over the Blue Ridge Mountains into western North Carolina,” Young said.
“In my father’s family, every generation, back to my great, great, great grandparents, is all buried in the churchyard of this one little Presbyterian church in Swannanoa, a little town outside Asheville.”
Buried there, too, is her father, Robert Ulrich Young, who went to Duke University on a football scholarship.
Young was only six-and-a-half years old when her father, an obstetrics-gynecologist in Tampa, dropped dead of a heart attack at age 34.
“I think it’s always traumatic when you lose a parent. I remember my mother basically telling us, ‘Your father is not coming back.’ But I think I’m a lot like my mother. It was certainly sad. But my mother didn’t miss a beat or wallow in self-pity. She pulled herself up by the bootstraps and said, ‘This is what I’ve been dealt. I’m going to go deal with it.’”
After suddenly losing her sweetheart from Lee H. Edwards High School in Asheville, Alice Baker Young was forced to abandon her role as a pampered doctor’s wife who made beautiful flower arrangements. Now flung into the role as head of the household supporting three children, the youngest a six-month-old son, Alice Young mustered her “Steel Magnolia”-style strength.
Already a graduate of the University of Tennessee with a home economics degree, Alice Young packed her kids in the car, moved to Tallahassee for the summer, and went back to college at Florida State University to complete coursework in dietetics she needed for her new role as food production supervisor for the Hillsborough County school system. It was a huge job, planning the school menus, training and supervising lunchroom workers, and serving as president of the Florida School Food Services Association.
“There were three sisters in that family, and Aunt Alice was the most strong-willed. Gwynne, myself, and her sister all have that strong-willed, hard-headed gene,” said Anderson.
Anderson tells about the birth of her baby, as she was signing the birth certificate to name her son Timothy Andrew Anderson.
“Aunt Alice came in the hospital room and said, ‘Carole Ann, you cannot do that! He is going to be named Timothy Gordon Anderson, Jr.’ She had that command. She was that type of control person. We loved her dearly. She loved her family and holidays, and this spilled over to Gwynne,” Anderson said of her aunt who died in 2004.
“Aunt Alice was a fabulous cook and loved to throw a party with flair. Gwynne is much the same way. If you get an invitation to her house for a dinner party, I can promise, if she gets a ‘no,’ there’s been a family emergency or a death.”
Alice married again, to Judge Luckey, the public defender and president of the Florida Public Defender Association.
A robust, politically savvy good ol’ boy who would fill a room, Judge Luckey often joked about his confusing first name: “When I was born, my parents were very optimistic.”
“His stories were legendary,” Anderson said. “He was from Augusta, and he had the drawl and the Georgia accent like you wouldn’t believe. Every family gathering, we’d all stand around, and Judge would say the blessing, and we’d all hold hands. We all say he should have been a preacher. Sometimes, he went on and on, and the food would get cold.”
Warmth and laughter filled the Luckeys’ blended-family home in Beach Park.
“Alice was a Southern lady who wanted her home to be inclusive,” recalls Marlyn Cook, who lived across the street and has been friends with Young since the first grade.
“You never went to their house without good food and good times. Those were the days when the schools would get surplus foods, and Alice was always trying recipes on us. We were the first guinea pigs testing some of those foods.”
Cook recalls that her own mother entrusted Gwynne with a nickel for the bus ride for her brother to get to elementary school.
“She was already exhibiting leadership and trustworthiness in elementary school,” Cook said with a laugh.
Remembering how she and Young wiled away the hours playing bridge as sixth-graders and reading books when they were much younger, Cook, director of the University of Tampa Library, said: “We often talked about some day we’d like to open a mystery bookstore. Our career plans interfered.”
Bossy Big Sister
Younger sister Sherry Young, a kindergarten teacher at Fort Bragg U.S. Army installation in North Carolina, describes Gwynne as an early and voracious reader, who still loves to find first-edition mystery books to add to her collection.
“Not only did she read the books, we had to act them out, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries. Of course, Gwynne was the boss, and she got to be Nancy Drew,” Sherry Young said with a laugh, admitting she was a tad resentful to be relegated to playing the amateur sleuth’s less interesting friend, Bess Marvin.
They made costumes out of sheets and invited the neighbors to be the audience, acting out everything from the mystery books to “Anchors Away!” and emulating the Olympics with competitive broad jumps.
“Yes, Gwynne was the director and told us all what to do.”
Today, Sherry Young says, “Gwynne is the matriarch of our family.”
Baby brother Rob Young, of Tampa, recalls his favorite memory of his oldest sister: “Gwynne took me to my first movie when I was five years old. It was The Music Man in 1962 at the Britton theater in Tampa, and we sat in the balcony.”
He sings: “And once I got some grapefruit in Tampa. . . O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin’ down the street.”
“Gwynne turned me on to a lot of musicals,” he said. “I always looked up to Gwynne and her musical tastes.”
At Plant High School, Gwynne Young was on the swim team, student council, the Gold and Black Club elite service club, the Optimettes, and was a member of the National Honor Society.
“She even worked in the cafeteria as an aide,” recalls high school and college friend Anne Moffett.
“She was always a person who looked for something that needed to be done.”
Charlie Ketchey, Jr., a corporate and business trial lawyer, was Young’s classmate at Plant High.
“Everyone liked her. She was very smart and got very good grades, but she was not a geek. Gwynne was not cliquish. She was open to everyone,” Ketchey recalled.
Getting good grades, Young said, “Probably came too easy, if you really want to know the truth. I can pick up a lot by sitting and listening and retaining a lot of information. When I was in junior high and high school, I could make pretty close to straight A’s and not have to do a lot of work.”
Easy A’s stopped once at Duke University, the only school Young applied to, because she knew as a child she wanted to go to her father’s alma mater.
“I suddenly looked around and everybody was as smart or smarter than I was, and you couldn’t just coast on your innate intelligence. You had to buckle down and study. I had a little bit of a rocky start,” said Young, admitting she got a few C’s.
She laughs telling how she was paired up with roommate Anne Constant, after they’d filled out questionnaires about their interests. While Young was a competitive swimmer, Constant liked to leisurely float and dog-paddle in the ocean. While Young could hunt and peck out a simple melody on a piano, Constant’s fingers flew up and down the keyboard performing a dazzling concerto.
“Gwynne was very traditional, both socially, politically, and everything. And I was not,” laughs Constant, who owns a Jazzercise studio in Washington, D.C.
“We just came from really different backgrounds. I am Greek-American. If you didn’t understand Greek, you missed out on all the good stuff at our house. We both just looked at each other and thought, ‘Oh, boy, how is this going to work?’”
It worked out splendidly, and they bonded as lifelong friends.
“What matters is what is in a person’s heart. Gwynne has many times said to me that I was the best thing that could have happened to her. I was like a slap on the face. She had a lot of ideas of what it would be like at Duke. I came with few preconceptions. We were really good for each other,” Constant said.
“Stuck in the boonies” on the third floor of the Men’s Graduate Center across from Hanes House on the West Campus, Young and Constant were among 44 overflow freshman women who didn’t fit on the East Campus where the other co-eds lived.
Even though Constant had no interest in joining a sorority, she and Young ended up “suiciding,” the term for only pledging one sorority: Kappa Alpha Theta, the first Greek-letter fraternity for women, and Young became vice president in charge of pledges.
“We used to joke around and call her Mother Hen,” Constant said. “She is the kind of person who will look out for everyone else.”
Looking out for Young was Louise Dunlap, a freshman advisory counselor, she describes as “a larger than life character” who taught Young whatever she wanted to do, she could do, and encouraged her to experience new things.
“She taught us as freshmen to not be daunted by challenges,” Young said. “One of the things Louise would say is, ‘You need to be involved.’”
Young followed Dunlap’s advice and got involved with the Major Speakers Committee of the University Union, bringing speakers to campus, such as progressive journalist Hodding Carter, who held a fascinating workshop.
“I have to laugh because two of the guys I dated for a long time at college were chairmen of the Major Speakers group. It turned out to be a really good thing,” Young said.
During Young’s freshman year at Duke, there was a sit-in demonstration to help nonacademic employees get better wages. The campus atmosphere was exciting and eye-opening for Young: Vietnam War protests, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the graduation of the first African-American students just the year before she arrived at Duke.
“I came from a relatively protected existence in Tampa, and there was a lot of activism at Duke. I think that very definitely impacted me. Like many people of my generation, I think we are far more cognizant of the level of change that was going on,” Young said.
When Young first got to Duke, she thought she wanted to become a psychologist.
“And then I took an introductory psych course, where all they dealt with was ringtail doves and stickleback fish and all of this psychobiology stuff. I thought: This is not exactly what I had in mind,” Young said.
“So I decided I would be a history major. My mother, who was very pragmatic, said: ‘You really can’t major in history, because they give all the jobs as history teachers to football coaches, so you will never get a job as a history teacher.’ My mother’s parameter was that women taught school,” Young said.
“My mother wrote me this letter about the three things I had done to disappoint her: majoring in history; a friend’s daughter did not get into Kappa Alpha Theta; and I hadn’t taken the teaching block.
“I decided if those were the three worst things that I had done, I was in pretty good shape!” Young said, laughing.
Between her junior and senior year in college, brainstorming about future job options, Young said to herself: “Well, I like people. I would like a job that has variety in it. I’d like a job where I can make a decent amount of money. And, I think I am a good speaker. I have a good thought process. And I’m thinking, hmm, maybe I’ll go to law school.”
When Young started UF law school, where she served as an editor of the law review, there were 34 women out of a class of 334.
“It was the most women they had ever had. It was more women if you added all the rest of the women in the law school together. And there were a few more by the time I graduated,” Young said.
“When I went out on the job market to go back to Tampa, you could count the number of women lawyers on your hand.”
‘Queen of the Courtroom’
It was 1974, and then 13th Circuit State Attorney E.J. Salcines, Jr. (now a senior judge on the Second District Court of Appeal), hired Young as his first woman assistant state attorney.
“Gwynne was really a trailblazer. We were surrounded by women, but there were no women lawyers. The court reporters, secretaries, docket clerks, clerks of court, judicial secretaries were all female. But in the courtroom, the gladiators were strictly male litigators,” Salcines said.
“Gwynne broke that mold, and she opened the door for a lot of women who came after her. Initially, we had been told the stereotypical response: ‘Juries are not going to favorably look upon a woman prosecuting. Women are weak. Women don’t know how to go for the jugular vein. Women will start crying.’ That was BS!
“Gwynne could fight, always with dignity and always with respect. She acquired advocacy skills. When she first walked into the courtroom, there were no other female gladiators. She was the queen of the courtroom, because there were no princesses around. But within a two-and-a-half-year period of her coming to work with us, because of the good work she was doing, I hired three other females. They would all look to her: ‘I want to be like Gwynne Young.’”
On the other side of the courtroom was Assistant Public Defender Rodney Morgan, who worked for Luckey.
“I can tell you, Gwynne was by far the most ethical, the most conscientious assistant state attorney I ever dealt with,” said Morgan, now with Morgan, Lamb, Goldman and Valles in Tampa. “Truthfully, that is where she began her reputation of being one of those lawyers who says something and it’s the fact and she means it. Gwynne was a bastion of honesty and had a real concern for justice.”
After fulfilling her three-year commitment to the state attorneys’ office, Young took her trial advocacy skills to Carlton Fields, where her career has flourished for 35 years.
“We turn to Gwynne when we have a really sticky case or a tough witness and we need her help in managing that. She has great judgment: smart and firm,” said Gary Sasso, president and CEO of Carlton Fields.
“We’re lucky to have Gwynne as leader of the Bar. What a lot of people may not know about Gwynne, that her friends and partners know, is she is a caring, compassionate, and decent human being, as well as a great leader and tenacious advocate.
“She is a really special person. She is incredibly loyal and giving and selfless with her colleagues, friends, and family — and she will be, too, with The Florida Bar.”
Born a Dukie
Raised in a family with two dogs named Blue Devil, Gwynne Young likes to say she was born a Dukie, because she was actually born at the Duke University hospital when her dad was in med school.
Her father, Robert Ulrich Young, went to Duke on a football scholarship and played under Wallace Wade, the legendary coach for whom they renamed the Blue Devils’ football stadium.
While Gwynne lost her dad to a heart attack when she was only six-and-a-half, she clung to the dream of one day going to Duke, too.
“Gwynne and I applied to early admissions at Duke. To me, it was at college that part of Gwynne just bloomed. She made such deep, fast friendships and held lots of leadership positions,” recalled Anne Moffett, a friend since they were students at Plant High School in Tampa.
Getting her undergraduate degree in history at Duke was such a positive experience that Young has campaigned for the kids of family and friends to go to Duke, too.
Her sister’s son, William Currier, Jr., recently graduated from Duke on a baseball scholarship, playing pitcher.
“Gwynne has been plugging Duke since my son showed up on this earth,” Suzanne Currier said with a laugh.
At last count, Young has persuaded a half dozen friends to send their children to Duke.
Anne Conway, a judge at the U.S. Middle District of Florida who went to the University of Florida law school with Young, said: “She’s cost me a lot of money. She talked both of my daughters into going to Duke.”
In the process of helping shepherd her friend’s daughters through Duke,Young has also made Conway a big Duke fan. Conway tells of the time a few years ago when she and Young were in Durham, staying at the Washington Duke Inn to go to a women’s basketball game.
“Gwynne asked somebody if they could get us tickets to the men’s basketball game. It was a hot ticket, with Duke playing UNC,” Conway recounted.
“Gwynne doesn’t hear back, so we’re watching the game in our hotel room, which she slept through. And I noticed that right behind the scorers’ bench were two empty seats. Really good seats in the front, and they are empty the whole game!”
The next day, the friend asked why she didn’t pick up the tickets that had been waiting for her at the ticket office. And Young shrugged: “You didn’t call me back!” And the friend replied, “I said I’d take care of it!”
“Gwynne just laughed in her usual, good-natured way,” Conway said.
Young is a season ticket-holder to both the men’s and women’s Duke basketball games.
“When March Madness hits with both of Duke’s teams playing the Final Four, she will, if at all possible, be at all of those games,” said Susan Bucklew, a senior judge at the U.S. Middle District of Florida.
“This can have some logistical problems, as you can well imagine. She will leave on a Wednesday, go to the airport, go to a women’s game, leave a women’s game, go back to the airport, and fly to where the men are playing.”
When Young served as president of the Duke Alumni Association in 1999-2000, Bert Fisher said Young was such a passionate advocate for women’s basketball, she’d schedule meetings so women’s basketball was part of the agenda.
“I will dare say that alumni board attendance at women’s basketball games was at an all-time high when Gwynne was alumni president,” said Fisher, who met Young when he worked at the Duke Alumni Association and is now president and CEO of a nonprofit group, Community Partnerships, Inc.
“Gwynne leaned on and strong-armed the board. I don’t think she asked anyone if they were sexist. But it wouldn’t surprise me if that crossed her mind or her tongue,” Fisher said with a laugh.
They still have front-row seats together at the Duke women’s basketball games.
“She approaches the game in the same analytical way she approaches the law. I’m the more vocal fan. She is like a coach, watching not just the Xs and the Os, but also the players’ moods and emotions. She really studies the game like a coach would study the game,” Fisher said.
Young recalled when she was in high school, the only sports for women were swimming, tennis, and golf. Period. The passage of Title IX to bring parity to men’s and women’s sports changed all that.
“The data will show you that young women involved in sports often will do better academically. They have a significantly lower rate of teenage pregnancy,” Young said.
“They are not driven solely by: ‘How attractive am I going to be to the guys?’ They are going to achieve something for themselves. And it really is such a positive thing for the development of a healthy psyche and a healthy body for young women.”
In 2003, Young established the Gwynne Young Women’s Athletic Scholarship, to provide full or partial scholarships for undergrad student athletes who are members of the women’s basketball team.
“I also have a scholarship at Trinity (College of Arts & Sciences), which is the educational side. Obviously, the whole package is important,” Young said.
“She was an early visible supporter of the growing women’s sports reputation at Duke,” said Susan Ross, retired from a 29-year career as a senior fundraiser at Duke, who was associate athletic director from 1998-2004. “Gwynne was a fabulous volunteer for Duke and Duke athletics.”
In 2002, Young co-chaired a committee with basketball-playing friend Sue Harnett, to raise funds for women’s athletics, and they put on a gala celebrating the first 30 years of women’s sports at Duke.
“She shared her home very generously over the years with Duke people,” Ross said, remembering when Young was director of the Duke Club of Tampa Bay. “She knows how to throw a party. She’s a great cook. It never felt like a formal catered affair. It felt like a treasured friend inviting you to her home.”
During one of Young’s dinner parties, if Duke happens to be playing basketball, you can bet the game will be lighting up every TV in the house.
Earlier this year, Young attended a program at Duke celebrating 40 years of women’s athletics and came home pumped with enthusiasm about its progress.
“You really see where women’s athletics has come and the opportunities it has offered to young women. It’s such a positive thing for young women and something I strongly support,” Young said,
She has worked for, donated money to, and helped raise money for both Duke and the University of Florida, where she went to law school.
Bleeding blue, Young’s office is festooned with Duke paraphernalia, including a team poster signed by all the players on the 2003-04 women’s team and then head coach Gail Goestenkors, as a thank-you for Young’s support of women’s basketball and sports.
But Robert Jerry, dean of the UF law school where Young serves as emeritus trustee of the Law Center Association, sees plenty of passion to spare for the orange and blue, too.
“Her affinities for the Gators are second to none. And even though she has some ties to Duke that are deep ones, I can always count on her to step up for the law school and the University of Florida,” Jerry said.
“I am a big believer in supporting educational institutions that helped me be where I am,” Young said. “It’s important to give back, and it’s important for other people to have the opportunity to experience what you have experienced.”
Young’s Presidential Goals
Gwynne Young’s presidency will shine the spotlight on diversity in The Florida Bar.
“We need to figure out how to encourage and get more diverse members to be involved and to apply for important roles in the Bar,” Young says.
She hopes to take the diversity displayed by the Young Lawyers Division board and spread it to other leadership committees throughout the whole Bar.
“We have added an objective to our strategic plan that we will continue to encourage and promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the profession and judicial system,” Young said.
Many judicial nominating commissions are not as diverse as they should be, she said, and it is to a large degree attributable to the lack of diverse applicants.
“We must actively reach out to encourage women, minorities, and other diverse groups to apply. Finding points of entry to Bar involvement and actively encouraging the involvement of all members is something that we must continue to vigilantly pursue. This is something that I would like to see addressed,” Young said.
“I can say that it is not a new-found commitment,” said Mary Scriven, judge of the U.S. Middle District of Florida,
whose husband, Lanse Scriven, will serve as chair of the Board of Governors Budget Committee during Young’s term as president.
“This is not something newly manufactured for some public accolade. Both mentoring young lawyers inside and outside her firm and supporting efforts of diversity in the Bar: That is who Gwynne is and what she stands for,” said Judge Scriven, who first met Young when she clerked at Carlton Fields in 1986, and watched Young in action in the Athena women’s professionals group and the Junior League.
“From the very beginning, she took me under her wing,” said Scriven. “She gave guidance in community service and community-related functions, both in her verbal advice and by her example. She didn’t just send the young lawyers out to do it. She did it and brought us at her side. No question her influence at the beginning and throughout my legal career helped me reach the position I currently have.”
While the Bar has been working on diversity issues for more than a decade — including putting on consciousness-raising symposia, conducting surveys, emphasizing the work of the Membership Outreach Committee, and supporting the annual Minority Mentoring Picnic in Hialeah begun by Miami lawyer John Kozyak — this is the first time there has been a single contact at the Bar for coordinating diversity efforts.
Arnell Bryant-Willis, who served two terms on the Bar’s Board of Governors as a nonlawyer member and was a former diversity trainer and consultant in Tallahassee, was hired as the Bar’s first diversity initiatives manager. She has been traveling the state to encourage a diverse group of lawyers to apply for about 500 committee appointments made each year by the Bar president. She will be a single contact for legal organizations and associations, and serve as a clearinghouse for programs and projects.
One of Bryant-Willis’ challenges is getting solid data. Of 93,117 members of the Bar, 65 percent are men. But because members are not required to report race, the following data is voluntarily given: 86 percent white; eight percent Hispanic; three percent African-American; and three percent Asian or “other.”
Barbara Twine Thomas, who has a solo practice in Tampa, has known Young for 14 years through the Hillsborough County Bar Association and Foundation.
“Gwynne is inclusive. She is comfortable trusting people, even though they are different. She is comfortable giving people a chance. She is great at finding talent. When she says she wants to make the Bar more diverse, I believe her. If anybody can, she can.”
Continuing the Bar’s Core Missions
When Gwynne Young ponders the busy year that stretches ahead, she will consider her service as Florida Bar president a success if she achieves two primary goals:
A boost in legal services for the poor that have plummeted into a crisis, because of declining revenue from Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts Program (see Young’s President’s Page message in this Journal) and continued improvement in funding for Florida’s judicial system as a whole, including addressing the $30 million cut to the clerks that could cost 900 jobs and delay civil and probate cases, and stall progress on the mortgage foreclosure backlog.
The courts and clerks are interdependent. That’s why Young pledges to be vigilant in protecting not only the courts’ budget, but to be a voice in support of restoring the clerks’ budget as well.
Florida’s courts survived this year’s legislative session with no budget cuts, with $446.2 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year, plus an extra $4 million to attack the backlog of mortgage foreclosure cases.
Thankfully, the courts will not be as dependent on volatile foreclosure filing fees that caused Chief Justice Charles Canady to go hat in hand to the governor asking for loans to get the courts through the crisis of not being able to make payroll.
This year, 75 percent of court funding will come from the state’s general revenues and the rest from filing fees and other court costs.
But because of draconian budget cuts in previous years, court employees still have not had pay raises for the past six years and struggle with heavy workloads caused by previous layoffs and cutbacks.
New cause for concern arises from this year’s budget proviso language governing payments to private attorneys who are appointed to criminal cases when the local public defender and the regional counsel both have conflicts representing the same or related defendants. A court may award those private attorney fees in excess of a statutorily prescribed flat fee upon a showing of the need for extraordinary and unusual efforts in the case. Limited payments have sometimes generated questions as to effective assistance of counsel or meaningful access to it, and may continue to raise other issues. Last session, the legislature appropriated $3 million to the Justice Administrative Commission for court-ordered payments in excess of the flat fees. However, unlike ever before, lawmakers specified that once the $3 million is exhausted, fee amounts above the statutory rate shall be paid from funds appropriated to the state courts system. Because total excess-fee payments in the new fiscal year are expected to be at least double the $3 million appropriation, Tenth Circuit Judge John Laurent, chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission, said that could mean a $3- to $4-million hit to the courts’ budget. The courts did not receive an appropriation for these excess-fee costs and will have to use dollars funded for other purposes to cover them.
In the closing days of the session, the clerks’ budget was reduced by $30 million. Sarasota Clerk of Court Karen Rushing, president of the Florida Association of Court Clerks, said that reduction translates into a loss of 1.8 million hours, or more than 10 percent.
Because of speedy trial, due process, and other requirements for criminal cases, and statutory mandates for domestic violence and other types of cases, clerks cannot cut services in those areas. Therefore, “that 37 percent of the work has to take the whole 1.8 million (hours) reduction,” Rushing said, “which means the filing of civil cases and probate cases has to take the whole hit.”
Merit Retention Education
Because justices and judges cannot defend themselves against potential attacks, Young will continue the work of outgoing President Scott Hawkins in the Bar’s merit retention public education campaign: “The Vote’s in YOUR COURT: Judicial Merit Retention. Know the facts.”
In the months leading up to the November 6 general election, Young will assist the program in working with civic organizations and local bars to educate voters about what merit retention is all about. Merit retention is a critical matter for the Bar because 15 district court of appeal judges and three Supreme Court justices are up for merit retention this year. The Bar’s role in the statewide campaign will not promote any individual judge or justice, but will promote the administration of justice by providing fair and balanced information regarding the importance of the merit retention vote.
Besides an assortment of print and electronic materials, the Bar’s website will have a page devoted to merit retention. For the first time, the Bar will publish about 250,000 “voting guides” to provide information on judicial elections and merit retention. Young and other Bar leaders will collaborate with the Florida League of Women Voters in making presentations around the state.
Biography of Gwynne Alice Young
Shareholder, Carlton Fields, Tampa
Focuses her practice on complex state and federal litigation. She has handled a wide variety of commercial and business disputes, real property litigation including title insurance, and real estate matters as well as probate and trust litigation.
A state certified arbitrator, she is a member of the AAA Commercial Arbitrator Panel. She is a federal court mediator and a member of the AAA Mediation Panel.
Professional and Civic Activities:
• Fellow, American Bar Foundation
• The Florida Bar
Board of Governors 13th Circuit, Seat 3 (2003-2011)
Executive Committee: Chair, Program Evaluation Committee (2006-2007), (2009-2010); Strategic Planning Committee; Chair, Budget Committee; Board Liaison to Business Law Section
Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section: Executive Council; Co-chair, Pro Bono Committee; Former Co-vice Chair Liaison with Fiduciaries Committee; Probate Litigation Committee; Real Property Litigation Committee
Business Law Section: Executive Council 2008-2011 as Board Liaison
Judicial Independence Committee
• American Bar Association
Member, House of Delegates (2011)
Section of Litigation
Section of Real Property Probate and Trust Law
Former Member, Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children
• Hillsborough County Bar Association
Director (1981-1984) (1996-2003)
• Hillsborough County Bar Foundation
Member, Capital Campaign Committee
• Cheatwood Inn of Court
• Federal Judicial Nominating Committee Middle District of Florida (2010-present)
• Former Chair, Second Appellate District Nominating Commission
• Twice served as a member of the Magistrate Judge Selection Committee for the Middle District of Florida
• Federal Bar Association
• Duke University
Member, Athletics Advisory Board (2004-2011)
Co-chair, Women's Athletic Scholarship Campaign Committee (2004-2006)
Member, Athletic Council (2001-2004)
Trustee, Duke University (1999-2001)
President, Duke University General Alumni Association (1999-2000)
Director and Executive Committee, Duke University General Alumni Association (1992-2002)
Former Director, Duke Club of Tampa Bay
Former Chair, Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee for Hillsborough County
• University of Florida
Trustee, University of Florida Law Center Association, Inc. (2002-2007)
Emeritus Trustee (2008-present)
Member, Law Center Capitol Campaign Committee
• Former Trustee, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
• Former Trustee, Tampa Preparatory School
• Former President, The Junior League of Tampa, Inc. (1985-1986)
• Former Director, Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (1987-1989)
• The University of Tampa
Past Member Board of Fellows
Former Chair of the Board of Counselors
• Founder, Child Abuse Council, Inc.
• Former Director, Tampa Metropolitan YMCA
• AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell
• Herbert Goldburg Award, Trial Lawyers Section of the Hillsborough County Bar - 2009
• The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Award - Service Award for 13th Circuit 2003
• Jimmy Kynes Pro Bono Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service - Hillsborough County Bar - 1999
• Charles A. Dukes Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to Duke University – 1995
• University of Florida College of Law (J.D., 1974)
• Duke University (B.A., 1971)