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The Florida Bar Journal
June, 2017 Volume 91, No. 6
Passing the Torch

by William J. Schifino, Jr.

Page 4

It’s truly hard to believe this Bar year is coming to an end. As we get closer, I have been repeatedly asked: How did it go? Would you do it again? Do you have any regrets?

The truth is that it has been my honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve, and it went well. Yes, I would do it again, and so far, no regrets.

As we began this Bar year, our Board of Governors agreed on promoting four priorities of the Bar. It should go without saying, but I will anyhow, that the overarching responsibility we all share is that of lawyer regulation. When I was installed as president in June 2016, I spoke of our core values and the priorities we would face together. We furthered our mission to enhance member benefits, particularly when it comes to technology and how it can assist all of us in our practices. We have accomplished much in this area, and I look forward to seeing even more progress in the ensuing years.

Another pinnacle is recognizing the importance of pro bono and access to justice. We must continue to make certain that liberty and justice is available not for some, not for many, but for all.

Diversity and inclusion remain a high priority, as we strive to make our profession reflect the makeup of the citizens of our state.

And last, and certainly not least, has been advocating for our branch, the judicial branch. This is particularly timely in light of our state’s ongoing Constitution Revision Commission, an opportunity for all of the citizens of the state to have a say in our government.

I have learned much traveling the state, listening to our membership and having conversations with many of you on a regular basis. I have lost count, but I think the number of speeches is in excess of 60, and I have visited each of our 20 circuits, many multiple times.

Just like a torch-bearer in the Olympics, I am one of many that have had the opportunity to serve, and I am confident that we have moved the needle on advancing our core values. We recognize as a profession the importance of working together — making certain that our courts, our Bar, our Bar Foundation, and the Board of Bar Examiners are all working together with a united goal of serving the citizens of our state and our membership in the best way we possibly can.

I would be remiss without acknowledging the assistance of a few who have been critical in supporting The Florida Bar, and me, this year. I wish I had the space to list them all. First, my fellow Board of Governors. I could not have asked for a better group of women and men who are as committed and passionate as I am about our profession, and the recognition of the important role it plays in our democratic society. Thank you for your support.

Next, to Michael Higer, our president-elect and soon-to-be sworn in as president on June 23 in Boca Raton: I could not be any prouder to call you my friend. Thank you, Michael, for your support, guidance, and friendship this year. I take great comfort in knowing you will be our next president.

And lastly, as I echo what many before me have expressed: Thank you, Jack Harkness. Thank you for the guidance, the support, your leadership, and most importantly, your friendship. You have done well, my friend. As you wind down a remarkable 37-year career as executive director, and take your well-deserved retirement, this Bar and the lawyers of the state of Florida will forever be grateful for your many years of extraordinary service.

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[Revised: 08-22-2017]