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Training Today. Leading Tomorrow.

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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.

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. Goals include:

  • To enhance the leadership skills of lawyers,
  • To identify, nurture, and inspire effective leadership within The Florida Bar and the legal community, 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.

Who Can Apply

The Leadership Academy is open to all Florida Bar members in good standing. 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.

Read the Leadership Academy FAQ.

Fellow Obligations

There will be seven required meetings, which include up to 14 business days throughout the year including graduation at The Florida Bar Annual Convention. Continuing legal education credits are awarded for most sessions.

Tuition Requirement

Academy Fellows are required to pay a $500 participation fee, due in full prior to the first session June. Fellows are also responsible for their travel expenses and accommodations while at meetings. Limited financial assistance is available with a demonstration of financial need upon completion of a scholarship application. A request for financial assistance will not affect an applicant’s eligibility for participation in the program. Email the program administrator for a scholarship application.

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)

Florida Bar News Articles on Leadership

Meet the 2023-2024 Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy class

The Florida Bar will train 29 “fellows” for future leadership roles within the legal profession as part of the latest class of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy. The goal of the academy is to reach out to lawyers from across the diverse state of Florida and help give them the skills and resources to become leaders…

Dade Legal Aid’s Leadership Academy focuses on well-being

Class VII of Dade Legal Aid’s Leadership Academy recently attend DGIM Law’s Mid-Week Mental Health & Wellness virtual seminar featuring happiness coach and attorney Rochelle Gapere. Throughout the webinar, which focused on well-being for 2023, Gapere shared her “unique approach to living a happy life despite its inevitable ups and downs.” Gapere attended University or…

General Magistrate Barbara Goiran recognized for leadership

General Magistrate Barbara Goiran of the Sixth Judicial Circuit and long-time Family Law Section executive council member, was presented the “Hon. Mark I. Shames Faculty Leadership Award” for her work during Phase 1 of Florida Judicial College in Tallahassee. Goiran and three of her colleagues – General Magistrates Barbara Kissner (Fifth Judicial Circuit), Keith Schenck…

Cheers to 10 Years: Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy to hold reception for milestone anniversary

The William Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy, the one-year curriculum dedicated to having lasting diversity, inclusion, and equity within Florida’s legal community, will hold a reception next week at the 2023 Florida Bar Winter Meeting to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. The event will take place on Friday, January 20, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort…

Scott Westheimer is ready to lead

Newly sworn President-elect Scott Westheimer is a devoted father, loyal friend, and committed professional with a heart for service, said longtime friend and fellow Sarasota lawyer E. “Keith” DuBose. The Eastmoore Crauwels & DuBose partner – known as “Uncle Keith” to Westheimer’s two young children, Ayla and Arie – delivered a heartwarming tribute to his…

Gary Lesser sworn in as president of The Florida Bar

Building the best mentorship program in the country, expanding access to justice, and working to ensure an independent court system and vibrant legal profession are the goals of newly sworn President Gary Lesser. Addressing the Annual Convention in Orlando, Lesser, the 74th president of The Florida Bar, said another priority will be a public education…

Contact Us

Questions regarding the Academy or becoming an Academy Partner should be directed to Rebecca Bandy.