By Gary Blankenship
Passing along professionalism standards and practice skills to younger lawyers.
Finding a way to use lawyers who no longer represent clients but want to remain active in Florida Bar activities.
Getting assistance with ever-changing technology.
Those were among the many topics and suggestions raised at the initial meeting of the Bar’s new Senior Lawyers Committee.
Chair Jake Schickel opened the meeting, held January 23 at the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando, saying, “What we’ll do today is talk a little bit about what we’d like to see done, where we’d like to go, and organize a little bit.”
He added: “This is not to be a substantive law committee; this is to help us with the lifestyle and what we might do in continuing to practice and work. We’re not an enforcement group. The committee is to do ‘for’ lawyers and not ‘to’ lawyers.”
There was no lack of suggestions and observations from the several dozen lawyers of all ages in attendance.
Heather Patchen of Miami Lakes said she practices with her father and joined the committee “to learn how I can help him with the transition [to a reduced practice] because I know he loves it.”
Glenn Roderman, of Ft. Lauderdale, said he’s concerned with the declining ethics in the profession.
“I’m really into the old school ethics, which I don’t see much anymore,” he said. “I think there’s a lot we can do here in terms of ethics and mentoring.”
Martin Haines of Lake Park, a former chair of the Family Law Section, agreed.
“What I see is an evolving practice of ‘gotcha.’ And it’s the ‘gotcha’ element that started to piss me off,” Haines said, adding he wants to see judges welcome lawyers into the courtroom and lawyers welcome decisions from judges, not become angry about them.
Marie Antonados of Coral Springs isn’t interested in slowing down.
She said she doesn’t like being asked, “‘Are you trying to wind your practice down?’ No, I’m trying to keep it wound. I don’t want to be an old attorney who is sent out to pasture. I want to be an older lawyer with as much dignity as possible.”
George Waas of Tallahassee noted he retired after 40 years, including 32 years with the state, mostly in the Attorney General’s Office. He said he doesn’t want to hang out a shingle or join a law firm, but he does want to remain active in Bar activities even if he’s not practicing law.
“There should be a category of membership between active and inactive. I’m very much in favor of that,” he said. “If you’re not seeking clients, you ought to be able to remain an active member of the Bar.”
West Palm Beach attorney Leonard Singer, who has practiced since 1965, said, “The older I get the more I want to work. The biggest problem I’ve found is technology. Fortunately, I have two daughters who live near me and help me with technology.”
Daniel Vaughen of DeLand has the opposite wish. He wants to scale back his practice, except for clients who refuse to be referred elsewhere, and concentrate on helping other lawyers with technology issues, especially related to Apple products.
And so the meeting went.
Young lawyers who wanted to help senior members with technology or who want to scale back their practices to only cases they want to do. Older attorneys seeking to mentor younger attorneys and help them deal with the business of law so they can enjoy the practice of law and have a better balance between work and their personal lives.
Bar President Eugene Pettis and President-elect Greg Coleman attended the meeting and invited members to give their suggestions.
“We’re looking forward to your ideas and input,” Pettis said.
Schickel said he will appoint subcommittees based on ideas and interests expressed at the meeting, and also consider a website and newsletter for the committee.
“Now we take all the enthusiasm and ideas and try to put them into practice,” Schickel said after the meeting. “We are dividing into committees and subcommittees and will send everyone out with the message to bring back to the committee, at the Annual Convention, a game plan by which we can implement all these great ideas.”
For further information about the committee, email Lani Fraser at The Florida Bar at firstname.lastname@example.org.