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August 10, 2016

    New challenges, new insights, motivate voluntary bar leaders at July conference

    three ladies look at yellow card
    Two men with signs
    Men and women seated at tables
    Group of people at casino table
    Additional photos are posted at The Florida Bar Flickr photo stream. By clicking on this link, you can view the candid photos taken at the conference.

Tee It Up art logo

Voluntary Bar Leaders gathered July 15-16 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, for the 2016 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference. Fast-paced and loaded with information and plenty of networking, the 2016 conference brought together bar leaders from more than 60 different local voluntary bar organizations as well as Class IV 2016-17 Leadership Academy Fellows. More than 200 people participated in the conference.

As this year’s theme suggested, “Tee It Up” gave participants an opportunity to seek out helpful tips to improve the administration and delivery of local bar programs. The conference, which moves around the state, was hosted this year by Collier County Bar Association. The conference topics, many of which qualified for CLE credit, included transitioning from local bar leadership to Florida Bar leadership; using social media; mentoring programs; training new leaders; outsourcing tasks; hosting a bench bar conference; Bar resources; young lawyer involvement; new program ideas; fostering good relationships with judges and clerks of court; raising non-dues revenue, technology tools; and financial and strategic planning.

One of the meeting highlights was the chance to hear from Bill Schifino. The new Florida Bar president described the many, varied and significant challenges facing the Florida Bar today, and the steps that The Bar is taking to address each of them.

Participants also had the opportunity to pick up tips on becoming an effective leader. A combination of styles was presented by Nora Riva Bergman, practice adviser for Atticus, Inc. and once a voluntary bar executive herself. According to Bergman, a key point is adapting to work with others who have a different style.

On Friday night, participants enjoyed a dinner buffet featuring Southwest Florida coastal cuisine. A dessert bar drew the crowd to the game area which featured casino-style tables, shuffle golf and a photo booth. Both events provided an opportunity for everyone to socialize and enjoy an evening of camaraderie with colleagues from other voluntary bars.

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division provided scholarships to 12 lucky young bar leaders. The 2016 conference was also enhanced with the help of 14 supporting sponsors.

The final draw was a gift basket give-away for bar leaders who played Bingolf by meeting colleagues and completing a winning Bingo card. More than 20 voluntary bar organizations provided gift baskets, many with items representing products made in their local community or programs being promoted by their bar.

A special thank you to Ashley Hardee, vice chair of the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee who served as chair of the 2016 conference. Hardee and the conference subcommittee did an admirable job organizing and directing the many activities that made the conference an overwhelming success.

Florida Bar Foundation
12 Oaks Recovery Center
Board of Legal Specialization & Education
Carlton Fields 
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co.
Florida Bar - Young Lawyers Division
Hedler Hessen, P.A.
PR Florida/ FL LawSites
Rhonda Anderson, PA
ROIG Lawyers
Veritext Legal Solutions
US Legal Support

    Bar Support for Orlando

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    Florida Bar leaders recently presented the #OrlandoUnited banner, signed at the Bar’s Annual Convention, to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. The Young Lawyers Division also presented a check for $5,000 to Dyer for the OneOrlando Fund to help victims (and their families) of the Pulse massacre. Donations can still be made online at or by check made payable to OneOrlando Fund and sent to OneOrlando, P.O. Box 4990, Orlando, FL 32802-4990. From the left are Gordon Glover, immediate-past YLD president; Board of Governors member Wayne Helsby of Orlando; BOG member Paul SanGiovanni of Orlando; Kim Homer, executive director of the Orange County Bar; YLD President Katherine Hurst Miller of Daytona Beach; Dyer; YLD board member Eric Elms of Orlando; YLD board member Karen Persis of Orlando; YLD board member Jennifer Smith of Orlando; and Wiley Boston, president of the Orange County Bar.

    Register for complimentary Benchmarks session at Fall Meeting!
    Benchmarks logoConstitution 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.
    Guide for Florida Voters now available in Spanish
    The Guide for Florida Voters, an informative brochure about judicial elections in the state, is now available in Spanish (Guía para los Votantes de la Florida) thanks to a grant from the Cuban American Bar Association. The 2016 guide has answers to questions such as:
      § What is the difference between a county and circuit court judge and an appellate judge?
      § Why is it important to vote in judicial elections and merit retention elections?
      § What exactly does a judge do?

    If you would like printed copies of the brochure in Spanish for an event such as a candidate forum, contact Anna Marie Hernandez, president of the Cuban American Bar Association, at To receive the Guide for Florida Voters in English, email

    The Guide for Florida Voters is an important part of The Florida Bar’s efforts to educate voters about the judicial elections. You also can find both English and Spanish versions at Please add a link to this page from your bar's website so others in your community have access to the information as well.

    The Vote’s in Your Court page is a go-to source for information on judicial elections, with bios of Florida Supreme Court justices and District Court of Appeal judges up for merit retention votes this year as well as statements from candidates for county and circuit court judge.

    On Aug. 15, a ballot will be mailed to in-state Florida Bar members, asking their opinions on the three state Supreme Court justices and 28 appellate court judges up for merit retention votes. Results of the poll will be published in mid-September.

    Election dates this year are Aug. 30 and Nov. 8. All county and circuit judicial races appear on the primary ballot, with runoffs in November. The merit retention vote is in November.


    Palm Beach County Bar Announces New Executive Director

    The Palm Beach County Bar Association is pleased to announce the selection of Carla Tharp Brown as its next executive director. Brown, a 14-year employee of the Atlanta Bar Association, served as the director of its Lawyer Referral & Information Service and Modest Means Program. Brown will succeed Executive Director Patience Burns who is retiring after 36 years with the Association. Brown will assume her new role on August 29, 2016. Brown said, “It is with honor that I accept the position of Executive Director with the PBCBA. It is my goal to extend upon the admirable foundation established by long term Executive Director, Patience Burns. I am committed to the Board of Directors and this membership to protect, build and take pride in the great reputation of this phenomenal bar association.” Carla received a B.A. from Ohio University in 1987. She is married and has three children.

    The selection of Brown was the result of a comprehensive national search. The Search Committee was led by five former PBCBA Presidents: Greg Coleman, Jerry Beer, Judge Lisa Small, John Howe and Jill Weiss, all of whom had an excellent knowledge of the PBCBA and our legal community. “The work of these wonderful volunteers has produced a very talented and engaged new executive director,” said Greg Coleman, chair of the Search Committee.

    PBCBA President, John Whittles said, “The Search Committee and Board of Directors both worked very hard and we went out and got the right person for our association. Carla is a great fit. Patience will be assisting Carla to ensure a smooth transition for the Bar. We encourage all of our members to reach out and welcome Carla into our legal community.”
Bars join together to honor County Judge
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    Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida was one of the participants in the 2016 Joint Voluntary Bar Association Summer Social honoring County Judge Nirlaine Smartt. Judge Smartt is a Port St Lucie judge and the first Haitian female judge in Florida. Other organizations hosting the event were the Caribbean Bar Association; Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association; T.J. Reddick Bar Association; J Malcolm Cunningham, Jr. Bar Association; Florida Black Prosecutors Bar Association; Haitian Lawyers Association; Dominican American Bar Association; Broward County Hispanic Bar Association; and the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. Bar Association.

    Champion of Diversity in the Legal Profession

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    The Tallahassee Bar Association has established a Champion for Diversity in the Legal Profession Award to recognize members of the legal community who are advocates for diversity and inclusion in the profession.

    Nominees must be Tallahassee Bar Association members – lawyers, law firms, judges, employers or in-house corporate counsel attorneys – who have made measurable progress in the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement to leadership positions of lawyers who are racially, ethnically and culturally diverse; women; members of the LGBT community or persons with disabilities. The award will be presented annually to one member of the legal profession who facilitates inclusion and serves as a role model by influencing and inspiring others to understand the challenges and barriers that some lawyers experience in the practice of law.

    The 2016 award will be presented at TBA’s annual Tables for 8 event in September. Nominations must be received by TBA Executive Director Joann Gore by the close of business on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. For more information, please email or  call (850) 702-5008.

    Celebration premieres Scheb legacy

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    The Judge John M. Scheb American Inn of Court held its 25th Anniversary Gala in Sarasota, featuring the film premiere of “Legacy of Professionalism: John M. Scheb and Our Inn of Court,” a documentary celebrating the life and career of Judge John M. Scheb as well as the story of the founding of an American Inn of Court in Sarasota. The documentary was produced by President Judge Maryann Boehm, pictured, and her committee comprised of Inn members. Besides the film premiere, the gala’s attendees witnessed several other highlights including the induction of attorneys Steve Chase, Dan Bailey and Donna-Lee Roden as honorary members of the Inn, recognition of April’s pupilage group for the Richard Garland Outstanding Program of the Year Award, and the presentation of the Judge John M. Scheb American Inn of Court Professionalism Award to Mark Kapusta. In addition, 12th Judicial Circuit Senior Judge Robert Bennett, a past president, swore in the 2016-2017 executive committee.
    Domino fun for scholarships fund

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    Dominoes has long been ingrained in the family dynamic of Latin and Caribbean cultures. To carry on this tradition, the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida held a tile tournament of its own on June 3. The centuries-old table game delivered much fun and enjoyment, while benefiting the HBACF scholarship fund.

    ABOTA honors Mary and Hank Coxe

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    Hank and Mary Coxe (center) have been honored with the Fran Peacock Coker Community Service Award by the Florida Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates for their advocacy for children. Hank Coxe, a former Florida Bar president, was part of a team of well-known Jacksonville lawyers defending Cristian Fernandez, who at age 12 was the youngest person indicted as an adult for first-degree murder in Jacksonville. They were able to get juvenile sanctions for his 2013 guilty plea to manslaughter.

    Hank Coxe said being part of the effort to help Fernandez was special, but does not compare to Mary’s dedication to the teenager who will be released in 2018 when he turns 19. Mary Coxe serves as his guardian ad litem, visiting him every Saturday at Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center in Citrus County.

    The award was established in 2006 in memory of Fran Coker, the wife of former Bar President Howard Coker, who was a children’s literacy advocate.

    Diversity scholarship honors students in Sarasota

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    Sarasota County Bar Association (SCBA) held its Summer Intern Social 2016 at Made Restaurant in June. The SCBA, Inc. Diversity Committee also used this event to recognize school students Dennis Adorno and Cindy Innocent as the recipients of the 2016 Richard R. Garland Scholarship of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Inc. In addition, this year's summer intern social was lots of fun as local attorneys wished summer interns well in their future careers.

    Pictured, L-R: Rudy Vazmina, Esq., Diversity Committee Chair; Cindy Innocent, Dennis Adorno; and Keith DuBose, Esq., SCBA president.
    Martin County Bar reps in Naples

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      Former Martin County Bar Association President Sheila Biehl, current President Mark Miller, and Vice President Elizabeth Hunter attended this year's Voluntary Bar Leadership Conference in Naples. The trio looked forward to bringing home great new ideas from this learning opportunity to make the MCBA even better for its members. 
      Orange County Bar recognized

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      The Group Professionalism Award from The Florida Bar for 2016 was awarded by outgoing Bar President Ramón Abadin to the Orange County Bar Association’s New Lawyer Training: Fundamentals of Practice program. Jamie Moses accepted the award on behalf of the Orange bar, during the Bar Annual Convention’s Judicial Luncheon. The award recognized the association “for development of an innovative professionalism program that serves as a model to other organizations around the state.” The new lawyer training is an intensive two-day program focused on bridging the unavoidable gap between theoretical and case-related classroom education and the real-life practice of law. The program includes courthouse familiarization, speech training, e-filing instruction, and professionalism discussions with veteran counsel. The program is offered to Orange County lawyers in practice for up to five years.

      Broward's legal event of the year a sellout!

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      In the center of it all, Charles Morehead, the new Broward County Bar Association president, strikes a pose at the BCBA induction event. Both officers and board members of BCBA and the Young Lawyers Section were among the attendees at the sold-out, black tie optional gala on June 30 in Fort. Lauderdale.
      Fishing tournament for Legal Aid Advocacy in
      Palm Beach

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        Kudos to Palm Beach Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section on another successful fishing tournament that raised more than $10,000 for Legal Aid's Education Advocacy Project. Pictured (l-r) YLS president Ashley Wilson, event co-chairs Nicole Barna, Abigail McCall and Jared Gillman, and Alex St. Pierre from Legal Aid. 
        Induction night celebrated at The Breakers

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        Palm Beach County Bar Association board members received a grand welcome at their induction ceremony at The Breakers. Front row: Directors Dean Xenick, Greg Huber, Judge Caroline Shepherd, President John Whittles, President-elect Sia Baker Barnes and Immediate Past President Grier Pressly. Back Row: Directors Jessica Callow Mason, Julia Wyda, Scott Smith, Ned Reagan, NCS President Rosemarie Guerini D'Amore, Director Lee McElroy, YLS President Ashley Wilson and Director Grasford Smith. 

        New officers in Pinellas

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        The Pinellas County chapter of Association of Women Lawyers installed its 2016-2017 officers and directors on July 13, at the Clearwater Yacht Club. Pictured here with FAWL state president Leora Freire is Macelana Anthony, treasurer and Regina Kardash, PFAWL president.

        Caribbean Reading Day
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        The Caribbean Bar Association celebrated Caribbean Reading Day recently. CBA volunteers read Caribbean stories to students age 5-10 and then lead them in Caribbean folk songs and games. Backpacks were provided with books, colored pencils and crayons.
        Officers and a gentleman

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        Meshon Rawls, president-elect and Stephanie Marchman, president of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association grab a moment to chat with Florida Bar president Bill Schifino at the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference.
        Summer gala a success for Tallahassee Barristers
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        The inaugural President’s Ball hosted by Tallahassee Barristers was held at the FSU Alumni Center on July 8. The event also featured the induction of the inaugural Hall of Fame class and the new officers for the 2016-17 board of directors.

        Santa comes early in Tallahassee

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        The Young Lawyers’ Section of the Tallahassee Bar Association recently held its 20th annual Holidays in July at Skate World Center. At the event, 56 local area foster children skated and enjoyed breakfast with Santa, who gave each child a gift. The generous donations of the Tallahassee legal community and Dog Et AlDonut KingdomBagel Bagel Tallahassee and Krispy Kreme Tallahassee continue to make Holidays in July an overwhelming success.
        Tis the season for candidates forums
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        Weston Bar Association President Mia Singh, and President elect of the Caribbean Bar Association, Devona Reynolds-Perez at the Candidates Forum 2016, hosted by the Weston Bar Association. 
        Table for 8 in Miami
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        Breaking bread was a festive food night on July 19 when Florida Association for Women Lawyers Miami-Dade Chapter hosted a Table for 8 with Judge Abby Cynamon.
        Recycling effort by Hispanic Bar

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        The Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida gathered on July 16 for the annual Family Day event. For the first time volunteers from HBACF joined at Clean The World, a non-profit organization that collects and recycles discarded soap and bottled amenities from the hotel and hospitality industry.
        Night of music and more for scholarships

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        Dancing the night away and for a good cause. The Dominican Bar Association hosted Tamarindo Nights on July 15 to beneift the group's scholarship fund.
        Lionfish tasting benefits REEF

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        Dive Bar partnered with Piccolo restaurant in Fort Lauderdale to host the second annual lionfish tasting dinner to benefit REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) on June 22. This year, Chef Andres created a fabulous five-course tapas style tasting menu. To start the evening, the chef served a delicious Smoked Fish Dip appetizer.  The second course, a "Surf and Turf", was a definite crowd pleaser, featuring Marinated Skirt Steak accompanied by a Lionfish Yucca Croquette.  Next up, came a Blackened Lionfish Taco with Tropical Salsa.  For the beer lovers, the fourth course was an IPA Lionfish over steamed Chinese Rice.  The evening was finished with the Lionfish Corndog, a favorite from the last year's inaugural dinner. The REEF foundation provided a brief presentation on the lionfish species and the threat they pose to Florida's reefs. The dinner raised $1,500 for REEF in gratitude for its hard work and perseverance in marine conservation.   

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      [Revised: 08-10-2016]