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October 4, 2016


Resources abound to educate voters about merit retention elections

Election 2016 art
The Florida Bar is continuing its distribution of “Guide for Florida Voters” statewide, as part of an initiative to educate Florida’s voters about judicial elections including merit retention. The Guide is available in both English and Spanish.
Florida law requires Florida Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges to be placed on the ballot in nonpartisan elections every six years, so voters can determine whether the judges or justices should remain on their courts for another six-year term. These are called 'merit retention' elections. In 2016, three Supreme Court justices and 28 of the state’s 62 appeals court judges will be on the ballot.

Every other year since 1978, The Florida Bar has polled its members seeking to find whether attorneys who know the most about District Court of Appeal and Supreme Court jurists believe they should continue in their jobs. The 2016 merit retention poll was mailed to in-state Florida Bar members on Aug. 15. The poll indicates overwhelming support for all to be retained, with recommendations for retention ranging from 79 percent to 92 percent. The confidential poll seeks to find whether attorneys who know the most about these jurists believe they should continue in their jobs. Results are now available here.

The Bar’s “The Vote’s in Your Court” web page is a go-to source for information on judicial elections. There, voters will find English and Spanish versions of the “Guide for Florida Voters” plus links to more information, including the Code of Judicial Conduct and biographies of the judges and justices up for merit retention.

Follow @VotesInYrCourt on Twitter and like us on Facebook as well.

New geo-spatial tool available for planning legal services

The Self-Represented Litigation Network recently released America’s Civil Courts: Whom Do We Serve?—a geo-spatial story map designed to help the millions of Americans attempting to navigate the civil legal system without a lawyer. This online tool endeavors to increase access to justice by highlighting the unique resources, needs, and service networks of individual communities.

By using population datasets, the story map creates opportunities to collaborate and design legal services. These data include population density; breakdown of various age groups; high school graduates; rentals; vehicle access; active duty in the armed forces; veterans; racial diversity; foreign-born; language spoken at home; poverty at a variety of levels, as well as a breakdown of children vs. adult in each of those poverty categories; availability and actual subscription by county of mobile and wired broadband, as well as download speeds.

America’s Civil Courts: Whom Do We Serve? was developed in response to the Justice for All project’s call for stakeholders to develop strategic plans that support efforts toward 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs. 

Register for complimentary Benchmarks training session at Fall Meeting!

Benchmarks art logo
Constitution Revision Commission art logo
Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education is a Florida Bar program to give adults a refresher course on civics so they can better understand how government works, particularly the judiciary. At The Florida Bar Fall Meeting at the Tampa Airport Marriott, the Benchmarks training seminar on Friday, Oct. 21, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.will focus on the upcoming Constitution Revision Commission. Every 20 years in Florida, a specially appointed commission holds public hearings and then puts directly on the ballot proposed constitutional amendments for voters to consider. After attending the session, attorneys will be able to take the “Every 20 Years” presentation to civic groups in their communities.

Benchmarks sessions are fun as well as informative – and this one 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 seminar, presented by the Constitutional Judiciary Committee, is at the intermediate level and offers 1.5 Hours General Credit and .5 Ethics. Course No. 1967. Register by emailing: Questions: (850) 561- 5669.
Oct. 31 deadline
Nominees sought for Professionalism Awards

wood placque with gavel
Each year the Standing Committee on Professionalism presents professionalism awards. Please use this link to access information and submit the name of a nominee.
More lawyers earn board certification

About 5,000 of Florida's nearly 103,000 lawyers have earned board certification from The Florida Bar. According to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, 189 have been added to these ranks in 2016.

Board certification is one of the highest recognitions a lawyer in Florida can receive. Some of these attorneys are voluntary bar association leaders or members and we congratulate them on this professional milestone.

The newest board certified list of attorney names and the specialty areas can be found here.


Life and law in balance

Women standing on boards in water

Pinellas County Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers know how to have fun while learning. Those who attended a recent Paddleboarding CLE heard how the practice of law and paddleboarding go hand in hand. This annual event has become one of the group's favorites!
Constitution Week in the classroom

Students and man at table
For more than a decade, the Martin County Bar Association has sent volunteer attorneys into the local schools to teach during Constitution Week. This year the trek continued with a return to the classroom the week of Sept. 17-23 once again.
Practicing self-care in South Florida

Group of people exercising on the floor
Recognizing the importance for attorneys to be healthy and practice self-care in a stressful profession, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida  hosted a health and wellness event in Bal Harbour recently. The group learned yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques.  
First Responders appreciated

Four firemen putting out a fire
The Broward County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section First Responders Appreciation Event was held on Sept. 8 in Fort Lauderdale. The event recognized the men and women of Margate/Coconut Creek, Davie, Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood who keep us safe. Proceeds from the sponsored event will be split among the Fire Departments Benevolent Associations.
Celebrating Hispanic heritage

Group of people with Mickey and Minnie Mouse
Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida Family Fun Day is just one of many Hispanic heritage month celebrations. The September celebration was held at Walt Disney World and all reports are it was a blast!
Virginia Key Beach woods clean-up

Group of people in the woods
Asian Pacific American Bar Association South Florida members got to work recently on a clean up of Virginia Key Beach's wooded area. A potluck picnic wrapped up the day's event.
Persuasive luncheon in Miami-Dade

Man and woman standing
The Miami Dade Trial Lawyers Association recently hosted a luncheon featuring a presentation titled, “The Persuasive Challenge," by attorney Chris Searcy. The reception took place at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove on Aug. 31.

Searcy is the former president of the Florida Justice Association and the president-elect of the National Trial Lawyers’ Association.
Non-dues revenue for local bar association

Summation Weekly art
The Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association has launched The Summation Weekly,a community- based newspaper that provides local news and stories, announcements pertaining to the local legal community, as well as legal notices.

The subscription-based publication is qualified to accept legal notices for publication. Through a partnership agreement with a local publishing company, which also produces the organization's quarterly magazine and membership directory, the Bar provides a subscriber base and some editorial content and shares in the revenue. The Summation Weekly and the published legal notices have provided a service to members and helped them find cost savings for their clients in most cases.

For more information, contact Michael Doubek,
Chief Justice Labarga in Broward for installation

Man standing in center with 15 women standing around him
Broward County Women Lawyers' Association welcomed Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga as guest speaker for the Annual Installation Dinner at Pier Sixty Six Resort & Marina.
Okaloosa women lawyers give back

Man and women with gifts
Okaloosa Chapter of Florida Association of Women Lawyers donated a variety of pajamas for the kids of Children In Crisis.
Women's suffrage commemorated

Women sitting around a large table
Volusia/Flagler FAWL recently celebrated the 96th anniversary of the amendment giving women the power to vote! A group of lawyers, judges and professionals in the community gathered for the event.

VIP tour includes lunch with the judge

Nine women in a court room
Miami Dade FAWL held its third annual federal luncheon series featuring an Insider's View from the Courthouse Steps to the Courtroom. A VIP tour of the Wilkie Ferguson Federal Courthouse was led by the Hon. Patricia Seitz,  followed by a brown bag lunch in Judge Seitz's chambers.
Leaders is Hillsborough retreat

Eight men and women standing
The Hillsborough County Bar Association Board of Directors and YLD Board of Directors had a great retreat planning the upcoming Bar year. Florida Bar President Bill Schifino, Jr. also joined the group.
Palm Beach welcomes new bar exec

Two women smililng
Palm Beach County Bar Association members gathered recently to welcome the group's new executive director, Carla Tharp Brown. Here, Sarah Cortvriend, Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee chair, takes time for a photo with the new leader.
Loads of food and donations

Woman holding a Food Drive sign, man standing beside her
Martin County Bar Association food drive in support of Treasure Coast Food Bank was enough to provide 1,700 meals for those in need. Pictured is Olga Hamilton and Andy Reich with the trunk load of food and monetary donations!
Networking in Palm Beach County

Five women standing

Palm Beach County Chapter of FAWL held a networking reception on Sept. 15.
UF Law Dean shares strategies to empower women

Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association partnered with the Junior League of Jacksonville to host UF Law Dean Laura Rosenbury for "Empower, Engage, and Elevate," a conversation about gender bias. Dean Rosenbury pointed out that while the days of overt sexism are largely over, subtle, unintentional implicit bias remains. She discussed three strategies women can deploy to advance in their organizations and lead despite gender bias:

1) Understand the importance of sponsors and develop a plan for earning them.
2) Think creatively about the role of gender in self promotion and negotiation.
3) Embrace being strategic.

These strategies can empower women to be bold leaders willing to change the status quo and achieve results.
Assisting with National Assisted Living Week

Man and women standing and seated
Palm Beach County Bar Association members donated hundreds of magazines to Savannah Court of The Palm Beaches for National Assisted Living Week. The Lawyers for Literacy Committee presented the donations, served ice cream and held a "Famous Book Bingo" game for the residents
Broward County Bar baseball CLE

Close up photo of two men and three women
The Broward County Bar Association Marlins CLE Game Event began with Judge Louis Schiff presenting "Baseball and the Law." The class adjourned just in time to see the Marlins in action.
'Sky-blue' anniversary for FAWL
Eleven women standing with balloons
Florida Association of Women Lawyers kicked off their 65th Anniversary with a past president panel at Seagate Resort in Delray Beach.
A full house to hear Bar president
Four people standing
Nearly 600 people came out to the Sept. 22 Hilsborough County Bar Association member lunch to hear President Bill Schifino talk about all the important Florida Bar issues that are ahead. 
Taking the oath in Sarasota

Six women with their hand up in the air taking an oath

The Hon. Charlene Edwards Honeywell, U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, swears in the officers of the Sarasota Chapter of FAWL - Florida Association for Women Lawyers. The installation ceremony was held at Lido Beach Resort on Sept. 15.
A joint vegetarian Indian experience

Four people at a dining table
B'nai B'rith Justice Unit and The South Asian Bar Association joined together for a Vegetarian Indian Experience at Udipi Cafe in Sunrise.

New Exec for PBCJA

One woman smilling
Welcome the new executive director of the Palm Beach County Justice AssociationSydnee Newman! She brings considerable marketing experience and law firm training to her new job.

Supporting Hispanic education in Palm Beach

group of women standing with a man
Educating Hispanic students is a top priority of the Hispanic Education Coalition. It's also high on the list for the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association, one of the primary sponsors of the annual community-wide fundraising event.

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[Revised: 10-04-2016]