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A shooting star with the words, "The Florida Bar Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy

The Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy is a multi-session training program designed to help a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers become better leaders. Each year a select group of participants are selected from applications submitted to The Florida Bar to become Academy Fellows.

During their one-year term, Academy Fellows follow a curriculum tailored to enhance their professional development, knowledge base and experience, including attending The Florida Bar events and special educational programs. Academy Fellows are given the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the Bar and their role in the legal profession, while enhancing their personal leadership skills.

Leadership Academy Fellows

Mission and Goals

The mission of the Academy is to enhance the skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers selected from across the state to help them to become effective leaders throughout the Bar, our profession, and the greater community. Thus, the goals of the Academy include:

  • To enhance leadership skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers;
  • To identify, nurture and inspire effective leadership within the Bar and the legal community;
  • To enhance the diversity of leaders within the Bar;
  • To build relationships among Bar leaders across disciplines within the profession; and
  • To raise the level of awareness and engagement among lawyers regarding issues facing the legal profession through the study of ethical, professional and public service issues.

The Leadership Academy Committee is charged with overseeing the activities of the Academy, the Fellows and their activities. Review the Leadership Academy Committee page for the current  members.

Becoming a Fellow Q&A

Q. Who should apply?

A. Applications to become a Fellow of the Academy are open to all Florida Bar members who are in good standing. Applicants with some history of leadership or involvement within The Florida Bar, their community, offices, and/or the legal profession are encouraged to apply.

Voluntary and specialty bar associations, Florida Bar sections and divisions, members of the judiciary, law firms, and bar members are also encouraged to nominate Fellows to the Academy.

Q. Why should I apply?

A. As a Fellow you will be part of a select group of leaders who are provided the opportunity to:

  1. Develop and enhance leadership skills important to your future in the legal profession.
  2. Network, interact, collaborate, and build relationships with state and national bar leaders.
  3. Get an insider’s look at important role the Bar plays within our legal system, while exploring your role in the legal profession.

Q. What should I know before I apply?

A. Participation in the Academy as a Fellow requires a commitment of time and resources. Meetings typically will be held Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon at various locations. Attendance at meetings is mandatory and Fellows may be dropped from the program for nonattendance. Fellows who complete the program will graduate and may receive CLE credit for their participation. The Academy meets approximately every other month for a total of six meetings, plus graduation. Meetings are held during The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in June, The Florida Bar Fall meeting in October, and the January meeting of the Board of Governors in Tallahassee. The three other meetings are held at various locations around the state. At the conclusion of the program, Fellows will participate in graduation at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention.

Upon becoming a Fellow, you agree that after graduation you will become involved with and undertake Florida Bar committee, section or division service, local or voluntary bar service, other community leadership activity, and/or act as a mentor to a member of the incoming class.

Q. Is there a cost?

A. A tuition fee of $500 is due upon acceptance into the Academy. Fellows will be responsible for their travel expenses and accommodations while at meetings. A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available for those with financial need.

Q. Why should my employer support my application?

A. Fellows need to obtain the approval of their employers to participate in the Academy given the commitment required. With the invaluable leadership skills Fellows will learn from state and national bar leaders, employers can be assured that the business development possibilities and statewide networking opportunities are limitless for Fellows.

Application Information

The deadline to apply for the 2022-2023 Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy Class X was Feb. 11, 2022. Notices regarding selection status will be sent to applicants in April 2022.

The Leadership Academy is open to all Florida Bar members who are in good standing. In an effort to achieve diversity among the participants, qualified individuals will be sought from different backgrounds, large and small law firms, the private and public sectors, different practice areas, and different geographical areas of the state.

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships for travel and accommodations are offered to Fellows on the basis of financial need. To be considered for a scholarship from The Florida Bar, applicants should fill out the Scholarship Assistance Application and Certification within the application. Selection of Fellows is determined without consideration of financial need or scholarship interest.

Download the Scholarship Assistance Application

Additionally, some sections and divisions, and other associations will offer scholarship opportunities to their members to participate in the Academy. Inquiry regarding those scholarship opportunities should be directed to those entities.

Leadership Projects

As a part of the curriculum, the Leadership Academy Fellows are tasked with completing a project every year that relates to the legal profession or community that allows the Fellows to build skills and assist in helping improve the legal profession for Florida attorneys and citizens. Projects are available to the public upon completion at the end of each program year.

Class IX Project: Pro Bono Guidebook

Class VIII ProjectLimited Liability Leadership Podcast

Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit

Mental Health Toolkit (PowerPoint)

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorship opportunities are available at both the program and meeting levels. Learn more.

Florida Bar News Articles on Leadership

Contact Us

Questions regarding the Academy or becoming an Academy Partner should be directed to Arnell Bryant-Willis.