The Florida Bar Board of Governors met on May 23, 2014. The major actions of the board and reports received included:
The report and recommendations of the President’s Special Task Force to Study Enhancement of Diversity in the Judiciary and on JNCs was unanimously approved. The report presents 10 recommendations to increase diversity among JNC members and appointed judges. A news release, the report and appendices are posted on the Bar’s website. The first recommendation is to encourage Gov. Rick Scott to fill the 78 vacancies on JNCs next month with diverse appointments. Other recommendations address establishing a diversity officer to review JNC processes and outreach, ways to recruit diverse lawyers to apply for JNCs and for judgeships, and recognition of the need to provide assistance to diverse judges when they first stand for election subsequent to their appointment.
The board approved nominating 156 lawyers for two upcoming vacancies on each of the state’s 26 Judicial Nominating Commissions. The nominees were screened and selected from 685 applicants. President Eugene Pettis thanked and praised Bar members who responded to his call to apply for the upcoming vacancies and said that about 45 percent of the applicants fell into a category for diversity: women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians. “It is great that our membership recognized the importance of qualified lawyers getting engaged on our JNCs and answered my call to action. We have a record number of applications for the 26 JNCs. Equally important is the diversity and inclusion that we have achieved in our applicant pool,” President Pettis said.
The Vision 2016 Commission is presenting an important Presidential Showcase seminar at the Annual Convention on June 27 from 2-5 p.m. ‘A Transforming Legal Environment: Setting a New Course for Success‘ will report on the progress of the work of Vision 2016 and offer an opportunity for input into the commission’s deliberations. Keynote speaker Jordan Furlong of Edge international will present the topic “Deep Impact: What the Legal Profession Can Learn from the Chicxulub Comet” before moderating dialogue and discussion with the four Vision 2016 subgroup chairs. Three Blue Ribbon panelists will also participate: Martha Barnett, former ABA president; David Hazouri, managing director of MiamiLex; and Chidi Ogene, interim dean at Florida Coast School of Law.
The first Fellows class of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy will graduate at the Annual Convention and the second class, with 61 members, has been selected. The Leadership Academy is a multi-session training program designed to assist a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers in becoming better leaders within our profession and their communities. During their one year term, Academy Fellows follow a curriculum tailored to enhance their professional development, knowledge base and experience, including attending 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. The Academy’s Mission is to identify, nurture and inspire effective leadership within the Bar and the legal community.
All Bar, Section, and Committee legislative positions will expire as of June 30. The board’s Legislation Committee is now reviewing the positions to determine which need to be renewed. All 2012-2014 positions are posted on the website along with information about how the Bar may advocate issues and links to legislators and other sources for state legislative information. End of session bill summaries for the 2014 Legislative Session are also now available.
A recommendation was approved to adopt a policy to guide lawyers with clients who might want to open businesses under the state’s new medical marijuana statute, even though selling marijuana for any purpose remains a federal crime. The policy, which was presented by the Disciplinary Procedures Committee, reads: “The Florida Bar will not prosecute a Florida Bar member solely for advising a client regarding the validity, scope, and meaning of Florida statutes regarding medical marijuana or for assisting a client in conduct the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by Florida statutes, regulations, orders, and other state or local provisions implementing them, as long as the lawyer also advises the client regarding related federal law and policy.”
The proposal by the Young Lawyers Division to offer the Practicing with Professionalism seminars via online courses as well as in-person seminars was approved. A rule change by the Florida Supreme Court will be required for implementation. Upcoming issues of The Florida Bar News will provide additional information.
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