The admiralty bar held its midyear meeting in Orlando in September 2011 and provided its members with three CLE hours. Presentations included “Longshore and Jones Act Insurance Issues,” presented by David Famulari, Miami; a poignant update on recent maritime personal injury cases by Andy Waks, Miami; and developments in P & I Marine Insurance Cover for Blue Water Marine Risks by Chris Koehler, Tampa.
The committee approved the August 2012 Maritime and Environmental Law Seminar in Naples. Membership was also updated by the new USCG position on lapses of documented vessels and their effect on maritime liens and ship’s mortgages.
The committee voted to move forward to publish the fifth edition of the Maritime Law desk reference book. The committee also continues to allow members to appear via teleconference for CLE and meetings.
Matthew J. Valcourt, Chair
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification
When the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee met in 2011 and 2012, a good deal of time was spent revising the board certification examination. Our committee felt that there were some questions on the exam that did not properly test the applicants’ knowledge of the field of admiralty and maritime law and those questions were changed or omitted. The committee had several experts review the exam and meet with the committee to help decide how to better present the test in the future. The committee spent many hours reviewing test questions to make sure they were easily understandable and that the answers were fairly presented.
There was only one applicant that took the examination in 2012. There are currently 58 certified admiralty and maritime lawyers of Florida. The Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee is one of the smaller certification committees; however, the committee is determined to reach its goal of 100 board certified admiralty and maritime attorneys within the next few years. All members of the committee have been working on having their colleagues who are not board certified but would otherwise be qualified to begin the study program and take the test to seek board certification. The committee is working to set up information booths at the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute in June 2012 and other marketing of the certification. The committee is also working to set up more CLE programs that could be used as courses to better prepare attorneys for the test.
Two committee members attended the Florida Board Certification Leadership Conference in 2011, which was very informative. The emphasis was on increasing the numbers and awareness of the certification program, as well as making sure the tests are properly written. Current board members Tim Boyd, Michelle Otero Valdes, Mark Buhler, Barbara Cook, Brian Hill, Jacob Munch, and Rod Sullivan welcomed aboard two new committee members Mark Ercolin and Allan Kelley. The September meeting attendance was excellent and the committee works well together.
In closing, I thank Lisa Morgan, our board certification specialist, for a job well done. Lisa makes sure that all matters requiring committee action are completed in a timely and efficient manner. Thanks to all of the committee members for volunteering their time, efforts, and expertise. Our committee is looking forward to bigger and better things in 2012.
Tim Boyd, Chair
Adoption Law Certification
The Adoption Law Certification Committee has the responsibility of certifying attorneys whose practice of law deals with the complexities and legalities of interstate and intrastate adoptions, including civil controversies arising from the termination of the biological parents’ parental rights and interstate placements. Certification in this field is the first of its kind in the country and was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2009. Since that time, the inaugural certification committee has exerted extraordinary effort to effectuate the policies and mechanisms that enabled the first group of adoption attorneys (18) to become certified in June 2011.
During the 2011-12 year, the committee met eight times either in person or during a conference call for the purpose of reviewing applicants for certification and preparing and grading the examination. For the application process, the committee reviewed and evaluated 10 applications for this year’s certification period, along with seven exams. The applicant review process includes a determination as to whether each applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This incorporates a comprehensive peer review process. The committee expresses its sincere appreciation to all of the attorneys and judges who responded to the committee’s requests for the submission of peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement. All submissions were carefully considered by the committee in the evaluation of each applicant.
The committee expended innumerable hours drafting, reviewing, revising, and finalizing the initial certification examination, along with the model answers. The exam consisted of two parts: The first part contained two long mandatory essay questions and 20 short answer questions; the second part contained three mandatory long essay questions, one of which comprised the ethic’s essay; and 40 multiple choice or true/false questions.
This year’s committee consists of myself as chair; Amy Hickman, Boynton Beach, vice chair; Anthony Marchese, Tampa; Alan Mishael, Miami Beach; Mary Ann Scherer, Ft. Lauderdale; Susan Stockham, Sarasota; Patricia Strowbridge, Orlando; and Cynthia Swanson, Gainesville. Each member spent significant time, energy, and thought, which contributed to a productive and successful year.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Stacey Piland, our excellent Bar staff liaison. Stacey was indispensable to the committee, providing wisdom, insight, expertise, and support for each of its meetings, while also providing key advice as to Bar policies and procedures. We appreciate Stacey’s work ethic and support.
In closing, I extend an invitation to all eligible adoption attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for an adoption attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in the practice of adoption law. It’s time to become a board certified adoption attorney!
Jeanne T. Tate, Chair
The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which generally meets monthly, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.
The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations are provided by the committee’s Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation, which is regularly updated by Bar staff and is posted on the Bar’s website for easy access by Bar members. The handbook reflects important changes that have occurred. The handbook and other information addressed in this report are available on the Bar’s website, www.floridabar.org, under “Lawyer Regulation,” then “Advertising Rules.”
This was a busy year for the Standing Committee on Advertising. In addition to reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar, the committee revised the guidelines for social networking as well as the information on the Bar’s website regarding bona fide offices.
• Social Media Guidelines — The committee made changes to the guidelines for social networking sites to address Twitter, invitations to view or link a social network page, and unsolicited communications with certain groups. The revisions state that lawyers who post information to Twitter whose postings are generally accessible are subject to the lawyer advertising regulations set forth in Rule 4-7.2. If access to a lawyer’s Twitter postings is restricted to the followers of the particular lawyer, the information posted there is information at the request of a prospective client and is not subject to the lawyer advertising rules under Rule 4-7.1(h). The information remains subject to the general misconduct rule, which prohibits any conduct involving fraud, deceit, dishonesty, or misrepresentation under Rules 4-7.1(i) and 4-8.4(c). Any communications that a lawyer makes on an unsolicited basis to prospective clients to obtain “followers” is subject to the lawyer advertising rules, as with any other social media as noted above. The committee also made changes to state that invitations to view or link to a social network page are permissible if the lawyer has a prior professional relationship with the recipient. Finally, the guidelines were revised to state that unsolicited communications are prohibited with certain groups if they are sent for the purpose of obtaining business for the lawyer. The guidelines can be found at www.floridabar.org, under “Lawyer Regulation,” then “Advertising Rules.”
• Bona Fide Offices — The Bar’s website contains information outlining the criteria for determining whether an advertised location is considered a bona fide office. The committee revised that information to clarify that while a lawyer may not refer to a certain location as an office if it is not a bona fide office, the lawyer may state that the lawyer is “available for consultation” or “available by appointment” when the space is a “virtual office” that is owned or under the control of another, is shared with multiple lawyers or other professionals, or is a conference room or other space rented by the hour. A lawyer may identify other office locations as “limited service” or “satellite” offices only if the advertised office location is controlled exclusively by the lawyer’s law firm.
• Other Accomplishments — By far the most time consuming task of the committee this year, as in past years, has been reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if the staff’s interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is appealed by an advertising attorney. Advertisers can appeal decisions of the committee to the Board of Governors if they wish to do so. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and to permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a column in The Florida Bar News from time to time, titled “Advertising Updates.” Articles have been published explaining the most recent revisions to the advertising rules and providing information regarding recent opinions of the Board of Governors and the committee. The committee further updates the Bar’s website with new material and information when needed in order to provide members with as much information as possible to assist them in compliance with the attorney advertising rules.
• Composition of the Committee and Florida Bar Staff — The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I would like to thank each of our committee members: Adam Schwartz, Ray Casas, Michael E. Seminario, Melvin Wright, Dia Kuykendall, and James Neville Nance.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Scott Ramsey McMillen, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Kathleen M. Bishop, Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jeffrey M. Hazen, and LiliJean Quintiliani; Legal Assistant Donna Hostutler; Administrative Secretary II Pamela Brown; Administrative Secretaries R. Bryan Arnette and Caleb Ramos; and Program Assistant Ervin Johnson, headed by Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Michael John Faehner, Chair
In 2011-12, the Animal Law Committee had another successful year. The committee, composed of lawyers in the public sector and private practice, solo practitioners and members of law firms, and judges, is committed to providing a legal resource to members of The Florida Bar on all matters relating to animal law in Florida. The committee has several standing subcommittees that implement its mission. These include the Outreach Subcommittee, the Information Subcommittee, the CLE Subcommittee, and Membership Subcommittee.
The Outreach Subcommittee is responsible for communicating with other Bar sections and committees, as well as with other organizations involved with animal law with the intent of sharing information about topics and developments of interest in animal law. The Information Subcommittee is a clearinghouse of information relating to animal law, which provides an educational resource to members of the committee and to The Florida Bar. The CLE Subcommittee is responsible for organizing and implementing the annual animal law seminar held in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Convention. The Membership Subcommittee is responsible for identifying and retaining committee members. In addition to the annual animal law seminar sponsored by the committee, the committee produces a newsletter that contains timely information on animal law-related topics. The committee implemented all of the above goals successfully during the 2011-12 year.
One of the focal points of the committee’s activities this year was to track and report on the development of animal law legislation during the 2012 Florida legislative session. The committee received regular reports on the status of pending bills and was provided a summary of each bill. In addition, the committee continued its outreach effort to all of the law schools in Florida, particularly those offering an animal law course or an animal law student society. I thank FSU College of Law Professor Tricia Matthews with this effort.
I also thank the members of the committee for their service this year. In particular, I thank Gregg Morton, Sarah Tait, Avery Chapman, Mindi Lasley, Gill Panzer, Geoff Fleck, and Carla Oglo for their extraordinary service. In their capacities as vice chairs, subcommittee chairs, and special project coordinators, they served the committee and the Bar very well.
In the upcoming year, the committee will continue its above activities. In June 2012, again in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Convention, the committee will offer another animal law seminar. Topics will include an animal law update, a legislative overview, domestic relations issues affecting animals, real estate issues affecting animals, and criminal law issues affecting animals. In addition, the committee will continue its outreach activities to other committees and sections of The Florida Bar, as well as to Florida law schools. Gregg Morton, Gil Panzer, and Geoff Fleck have agreed to be vice chairs. I will have the privilege of continuing as chair. We look forward to another successful year on the Animal Law Committee.
Ralph A. DeMeo, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
As with every rules committee in The Florida Bar, nothing would get done without the efforts of the Bar members who volunteer excessive hours to make our practice better. The members of the Appellate Court Rules Committee are some of the most dedicated practitioners, and it has been an honor to work with this group throughout the years. I thank in particular my Vice Chairs Paul Regensdorf and Michael Ufferman. Paul is truly one of the hardest working lawyers in the state and has contributed to our practice in countless ways. Similarly, Michael Ufferman has graciously appeared before the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of the Appellate Court Rules Committee so that I did not need to travel to Tallahassee for all of the oral arguments regarding rule amendments. Additionally, I would like to thank Secretary Annette Escobar for the thankless job of keeping the minutes of our meetings and Craig Leen for serving as parliamentarian for a group that likes to talk. To all of the subcommittee chairs and co-chairs, thank you for your efforts coordinating meetings, running telephone conferences, and drafting proposed rule amendments. It is the work between meetings that makes this committee so successful. Finally, a special thank you goes to Krys Godwin, our Bar staff liaison. She is truly the brains behind the Appellate Court Rules Committee; while the chair may come and go, she is the reason the committee is so productive and effective.
With respect to the business of the committee for this year, the committee has engaged in an extensive cleaning up and rewriting of the appellate court rules thanks to the keen eye of John Hamilton. As a result of his thorough review of the appellate court rules, many of the rules were slightly modified to make them more consistent and easier to navigate. We also learned in November 2011, the Florida Supreme Court approved almost 20 proposed rule amendments. Knowing the hours of work that went into those proposed amendments, it is comforting to see the court approve the rules as proposed by the committee.
The ACRC has participated significantly on the Electronic Service Joint Committee and the Electronic Filing Joint Committee. Paul Regensdorf has contributed exorbitant hours to the workings of those committees. Although it looked like there would be mandatory e-filing and e-service in the very near future in all courts, it now looks like it may be delayed for some time. It is possible, however, the appellate courts will have such requirements earlier than the trial courts. There are concerns about the technology and the ability of lawyers and pro se parties to comply with the technology. Obviously, this will continue to be an issue for all rules committees.
With the legislative session coming to an end in spring 2012, some legislation will impact the appellate court rules and, therefore, the committee will have much work to do in anticipation of the effective dates of the legislation.
As the year comes to an end, I thank this wonderful committee for all of its hard work. I am very proud of this committee and all that it does. I am also pleased to report that this committee is a nice representative cross section of the Bar. Of the 56 total members, 50 percent are women. Fifty percent are board certified in appellate or another substantive area. Seventy-five percent of the committee is in private practice while 25 percent are either judges or government lawyers. Given the recent budget cuts, the participation of the judges and government lawyers is appreciated even more. It has been an honor to lead this group, and I am grateful to The Florida Bar for the opportunity.
Jamie Billotte Moses, Chair
Appellate Practice Certification
The Appellate Practice Certification Committee has been active this year. In addition to carefully reviewing applications to ensure that each applicant met the substantial involvement criteria, the committee evaluated each applicant’s “peer review” from attorneys and judges who are familiar with the applicant’s skills and professionalism. These reviews were then used to evaluate the applicant’s character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism.
The committee also drafted, reviewed, analyzed, and finalized exam questions and prepared the 2012 certification examination, which was given in March. Through the examination, applicants are given the opportunity to demonstrate they have sufficient knowledge, proficiency, and experience to represent to the public, and to other attorneys, that they have special competence in the area of appellate practice and procedure. As of the date this report was submitted, the 2012 examinations had not yet been graded. Excluding the additional number who will be certified by the time this report is published, there are currently 171 Florida attorneys certified in appellate practice.
I had the opportunity to speak at the Appellate Practice Certification Examination Review presented by the Appellate Practice Section. There, I discussed how examination questions are developed, how the examination is generally administered, how examinations are graded, and available resources to study for the examination.
It has truly been a pleasure to serve as chair of this hard-working and enthusiastic committee. Those who devoted countless hours both independently and at meetings included Doc Blanchard, John Crabtree, Rob Hauser, Loren Levy, Jay Levy, and John Whitney. John H. Pelzer was our liaison with the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, and Juliet Murphy Roulhac was our Board of Governors liaison. Special thanks go to Vice Chair John Mills, who was always there for assistance and counsel, and to Roy Wasson, immediate past chair, who will be stepping down this year. Roy’s long-standing commitment to serving Florida’s appellate bar is admirable, and we will certainly miss his expertise and guidance. Finally, no report would be complete without a heartfelt thanks to our certification specialist and staff liaison, Carol Vaught, whose institutional knowledge has been invaluable. On behalf of all of our committee members, I thank her for her steadfast assistance throughout this year.
Shannon McLin Carlyle, Chair
Florida has always had a prominent place in national aviation and aerospace activities. Today, approximately one in four of the million jobs in Miami-Dade County are directly related to aviation activities, while Brevard County and Cape Canaveral form the nation’s “Space Coast.” Literally hundreds of general and commercial airports and “spaceports” throughout the state are the origin and destination for aviation operations globally, generating a large number of transactions and disputes that require aviation counsel. Indeed, The Florida Bar has recognized aviation law as a specialty since 1995 and Florida is one of the few states that qualify lawyers as “board certified aviation lawyers.”
Under current Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, “aviation law” includes all facets of the law dealing with the ownership, operation, maintenance, and use of aircraft, airports, and airspace. It also involves licensing and aeronautical issues encompassed by the Federal Aviation Act and associated federal aviation regulations, together with the laws developed to regulate the use of outer space.
A generalist may not recognize the intricacies of aviation law. A contract dispute involving an engine part may also involve particular recording, lien, or finance issues that are foreign to a garden variety civil lawsuit. Similarly, a trial lawyer who ventures into the realm of accident litigation may miss critical conditions precedent to suits against the government, misapprehend counter-intuitive evidentiary rules controlling the admissibility of accident reports, or fail even to recognize the mandatory application of international law for air transportation that appears totally domestic. Finally, transactional lawyers, too, may be unaware of the requirements of national and international registries that influence the purchase and sale of airplanes, not to mention sales and use tax, head tax and segment fees, depreciation and bonus depreciation, SIFL rules and other tax-related matters that are frequently a consideration in many areas of aviation law. Aviation lawyers offer real value in these situations.
In addition, aviation lawyers command an understanding of administrative law that frequently is outside the experience of other lawyers. For example, when an aviation professional’s license or medical certificate might be suspended or revoked, an aviation lawyer is needed to navigate through investigations and enforcement actions involving federal aviation regulations before the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The purchase and sale of airplanes likewise involves aviation law expertise, including a working knowledge of aviation insurance, aircraft leasing, management, and fractional ownership. Airports, too, present particularized property and regulatory concerns involving federal planning and improvement grants, airplane operators, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul facilities, about which an aviation lawyer is best suited to provide counsel.
Given the foregoing, over the last year, The Florida Bar Aviation Law Committee has worked vigorously to promote its work to the various lawyer and nonlawyer constituents of The Florida Bar. Specifically, we have carried through on our publication and continuing education initiatives. Steve Dedmon maintained our Vectors periodical (available online), while Harry Lee Coe IV jump started one of the best interactive committee meetings in recent memory, and Donald R. Anderson introduced a regular feature of our meetings, titled “Recent Developments in Aviation Law.” We also reached out to the aviation community at-large, welcoming Jack Haun, the aircraft maintenance director of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who presented “Six Things Pilots Need to Know and Where to Find Them in the Aircraft Logbooks.” Additionally, thanks to Jerry Trachtman, the committee again hosted an aviation law board certification review course that featured outstanding presentations by Edward Booth, Pat Phillips, Jeff Ludwig, Norris Rickey, Ed Curtis, Stuart Goldstein, and Donald Maciejewski. We continued to fortify our web page capabilities and reached out to other sections and committees of The Florida Bar to co-sponsor future programming. We also carried through on our two-year plan to increase our national presence, co-sponsoring the National Transportation Safety Board’s air show in collaboration with the Lawyer-Pilot’s Bar Association and featuring our members at conferences around the nation, including the ABA’s Aviation and Space Law Litigation Conference in Washington, D.C., as part of the Tort, Trial, and Insurance Practice Section, Aviation and Space Law Committee.
These substantial efforts were in addition to a full-year of programming, including presentations by Dennis Haber on “FAA Enforcement Actions: Evaluating a Claim from Beginning to End”; Elizabeth Kozlow on “FAA Registration Update: New Developments in Recording and Registration”; and an overview of “AOPA Legal Services Plan, EAA Legal Advisory Council, and Sun ’n Fun: Airshows and Airshow Waivers.”
Serving two consecutive terms as chair of any committee might seem like enduring a long flight, but as my journey as chair rolls to a full stop, my mind is already wandering to the next venture of The Florida Bar Aviation Law Committee. Indeed, as my days in office are complete, my days of service to The Florida Bar Aviation Law Committee certainly are not, and I am entirely confident about the committee’s current quality, future direction, and enduring purpose as my friend Charlie Morgenstein takes the “left seat.” With great thanks to W. Paige Graham, program administrator, and President Scott Hawkins for the opportunity to serve as part of his outstanding administration: Godspeed and blue skies.
Timothy M. Ravich, Chair
Aviation Law Certification
The Aviation Law Certification Committee continues to explore new and innovative ways to attract counsel practicing in this highly specialized area to become board certified. There are currently 33 board certified aviation lawyers in Florida. This is approximately 50 percent of the attorneys who practice aviation law in Florida and who are members of the Aviation Law Committee.
Aviation law board certified attorneys practice in subspecialties, which include defense of enforcement actions, brought by the Federal Aviation Administration against pilots, aircraft sales and purchases, airplane accident litigation, space law, airline labor law, and many other areas. The small number of counsel who practices in this certification area and the specialized legal knowledge required to do so emphasizes the necessity for aviation law as a certification area in order to better serve the needs of the public by identifying attorneys who are experts in this area.
This year, the committee worked with exam consultant Karen Barbieri to review and consider changes to the exam format. Barbieri’s comments were enlightening and the committee deeply appreciates her assistance and comments.
We had two applicants for certification this year, although only one candidate ultimately took the exam. We look forward to announcing the applicant’s results later this year and to generate interest in additional candidates for next year’s exam, for which the application deadline is August 31, 2012.
In an effort to encourage aviation law certification, the committee worked with the Aviation Law Committee to identify aviation CLE courses currently available and to increase their number so that potential candidates can more easily meet the CLE prerequisite. We are also currently exploring cooperation with other aviation law seminar entities to create online course availability.
I thank my vice chair, Robert L. Feldman, for his support during the year and each of the committee members, Walter Campbell, William Burd, Mary Burnett, John Eversole, Bruce Green, Frank Hassell, Timothy Ravich, and Michael Siboni, for all of their help. Lastly, I thank our Bar liaison, Lisa Morgan, whose guidance was instrumental in assisting the committee with its goals and responsibilities.
David M. McDonald, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
In 2013, we will celebrate our 30th year of board certification. We take great pride in the numerous accomplishments and milestones our program and our certified lawyers have achieved.
We are raising the profile of the program by celebrating our 30th year during our certified lawyers reception at the Bar convention in June. As part of the reception, we will proudly recognize those who have been certified for 25 years or more. Listings of their names, along with a letter of invitation, have already been mailed to each judicial circuit’s chief judge. The judges play a critical role in our confidential peer review process and aside from wanting to thank them personally, we want them to know the lawyers in their circuit who have demonstrated through board certification their longstanding commitment to competence and professionalism. We have come a long way from the inaugural 1983 specialists in tax law and civil trial to offer 24 specialty areas, more than any other program in the nation, and the strength of our program is reflected in the character of our participants.
During our reception, we will also present our annual Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award to a board certified lawyer or judge for exemplary professionalism, excellence, character, and commitment to The Florida Bar’s certification program. Our Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification Award likewise recognizes lawyers or firms that go above and beyond to educate both lawyers and the public about the program. Past recipients of these awards are among the Bar’s superstars and epitomize the program’s high standards.
Florida Bar President Scott Hawkins has said, “Board certification has the potential to be transformative in our profession. Florida Bar board certification is synonymous with the terms ‘specialist’ and ‘expert’ because of its high standards for professional excellence. Our board certification program is one of the finest in the country, and helps the public identify lawyers who have been evaluated by their peers for experience, competence, and integrity. As a board certified business litigation lawyer, I am personally committed and encourage others to take this important professional step.” We agree. What other Florida Bar program assesses the competence and professionalism of individual lawyers and also inspires those goals? What could be better for the legal profession to raise the bar for the practice of law? What could be more useful for consumers to help them make informed decisions when selecting legal counsel?
I am particularly proud of two accomplishments by the BLSE this year. The first involves a decision to follow the lead of the Supreme Court of Florida in its September 12, 2011, opinion amending the oath of bar admission to add: “To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.” Because this message also reflects the high level of professionalism expected of board certified attorneys, the BLSE recently made the oath part of the application for board certification and recertification to reinforce and reiterate its significance.
Secondly, the BLSE requested and has now received support to shift the majority of its public relations efforts from an internal focus that encourages lawyers to apply to an external message to better enlighten the public. When the original certification plan was proposed, the Florida Supreme Court articulated its value in The Florida Bar Re Amendment to Integration Rule (Certification Plan), 399 So. 2d 1385 (Fla. 1981), by stating:
As the Florida legal profession embarks fully into specialization, we emphasize its two-fold purpose. First, specialization establishes goals and provides incentive for continuing legal education which should improve the competency of the bar; second, it identifies for people both within and without the profession those lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skills, and proficiency in a specific field. We firmly believe that The Florida Bar and this Court must responsibly move forward to assist the public in determining those individuals who are qualified specialists and not leave that role to telephone directory editors, voluntary professional groups, or to entrepreneurs with high-sounding specialty certificates and advertising techniques.
One of the goals of the BLSE is to follow the court’s rationale and to develop a message that will prompt consumers to consider whether their particular legal issue necessitates the services of a specialist and, if so, to offer board certification as the gold standard. We eagerly look forward to continuing our work with the Board of Governors and to highlighting the laudable goals that board certification represents.
Indeed, the achievement of board certification is no easy feat, and those who earn this professional credential are to be commended for their initiative and their success. It is the only validation of a lawyer’s credentials by The Florida Bar and, unlike other lawyer lists, such as “Super Lawyers,” “Best Lawyers,” and “Legal Elite,” requires applicants to be evaluated based upon qualifications established by the Supreme Court of Florida as to experience, education, confidential peer review, and testing in their specialty field.
Among a variety of public relations efforts, we offer Capstone, our electronic newsletter for certified lawyers that has grown in scope to provide news and resources. We continue our outreach to consumer reporters and editors statewide to facilitate interviews, public service announcements, and consumer news stories focusing on the individual accomplishments of our certified lawyers. City magazines throughout the state will feature board certification and local certified lawyers. We are particularly pleased that the program has recently found a new niche through the efforts of former BLSE Chair Harry A. Payton, who has worked to establish board certified lawyers as a base for mentor referrals by judges in the 11th Judicial Circuit.
In September 2011, the BLSE again held its Certification Leadership Conference and Exam Workshop. We were gratified by the participation of well over 100 of our volunteers and to have President Hawkins, President-elect Gwynne Young, and President-elect Designate Gene Pettis attend and inspire our lawyer-volunteers. This conference has become the BLSE’s most important (now biennial) event bringing together those who serve on our certification committees, the BLSE, and our dedicated staff to learn and share ideas. Included in our program this past year was the first meeting of our Council of Committees with representatives from all our certification committees. Former BLSE Chair Joni Armstrong Coffey graciously facilitated the meeting, and although we have yet to fully tap the potential of this group, we know the BLSE now has an advisory pool that will serve the program well as it continues to evolve.
I was a participant in the ABA’s roundtable on legal specialization to explain our method of evaluating private certifying groups. Florida is one of the few states that have internal policy guidelines for evaluating these programs to ensure their standards are comparable and that there is no dilution of the term “board certified.”
In conclusion, I offer my personal appreciation to all the volunteer lawyers who serve on the certification committees, our grade review panels, and the BLSE. Having served the Bar in all of these positions, I can vouch for the laborious and time-consuming nature of the work of all these volunteers. I commend the dedication of each member and attribute the program’s success to their efforts. I am especially appreciative of the tremendous effort put forth year after year by Dawna Bicknell and her excellent staff. Without their efforts our program would not be the nation’s leader as it is today.
It has been a privilege to have served six years on the BLSE with colleagues who have consistently demonstrated their commitment to the mission of the board through their unparalleled integrity and abundant sense of fairness.
Terry L. Fogel, Chair
Business Litigation Certification
Applications for board certification in business litigation continue to be submitted at a steady rate. Sixteen attorneys are expected to sit for the 2012 examination. Currently, 228 attorneys are Florida Bar board certified business litigators.
In our efforts to increase the numbers, the committee, along with the help of Bar staff Jennifer Wilson and Lisa Tipton, created an advertisement in hopes of encouraging those business litigators who have not yet taken the extra step to apply for certification. As this report was submitted, committee members were finalizing the May 2012 business litigation certification examination. The examination tests for competency in the areas of procedure and substantive law relevant to the litigation of business disputes.
The Business Litigation Certification Committee members devote a significant amount of time to the application review process as well as the examination. I thank all the members of this dedicated, hard working committee, including Vice Chair Mark Osherow, Joseph DeMaria, Al LaSorte, Judge Matt Lucas, Steven Meyer, Garry O’Donnell, Amy Rubin, and new member Wade Bowden. On behalf of all of the members, I thank our hard-working Florida Bar certification specialist, Jennifer Wilson, who makes our job easier. The committee deeply appreciates all her efforts.
Paul R. Berg, Chair
The Florida Bar Citizens Forum is an advisory group of 12 citizens with varied interests and backgrounds who serve to provide two-way communication between the state’s major citizen constituencies and the Bar’s Board of Governors. Its objectives are to serve as a feedback mechanism and sounding board on Bar plans and programs and to advise the Bar regarding public understanding and support of significant legal and justice issues. Three attorney members are also appointed to the forum annually to serve as resources. The forum meets three times a year, often in conjunction with Board of Governors’ meetings.
For the 2011-12 Bar year, the forum studied and provided feedback on proposed amendments to lawyer advertising rules, the Clients’ Security Fund, the Bar’s Strategic Plan, and The Florida Bar Foundation, and it has provided input on a number of issues referred by board committees.
In addition, four members of the forum were appointed by the president this year to serve on Bar committees: Ron Lebio and Al Alsobrook are on the Special Committee on Lawyer Referral Services; and Carlos Halley, Marni Stahlman, and Al Alsobrook are on the Commission on the Review of the Legal System.
Two referrals from the board’s Program Evaluation Committee were discussed regarding changing names of certain Bar programs so that they may be better understood by the public.
The forum also provided input as to the Bar’s role in educating the public on judicial merit retention, recommending a statewide Bar program to educate voters on the merit system, and the 2012 retention elections.
A thorough study and debate was undertaken by the forum regarding marketing board certified lawyers to consumers, including the use of a slogan. Referred by the board’s Communications Committee, the proposal by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education was to refocus its efforts to concentrate 75 percent of its marketing resources on consumer marketing and 25 percent on marketing board certification to lawyers.
Discussion by members of the forum included the fact that only seven percent of Bar members are board certified and that many very good, successful lawyers are not board certified. Also, it was pointed out that there are not certifications for every area of law, only for 24 fields.
Although the forum members reached a consensus that they strongly opposed the use of a slogan that would indicate that only board certified lawyers are capable and skilled, most agreed that it would be acceptable to say that “sometimes a legal case requires an expert and a board certified lawyer may be the expert you need.”
Regarding the BLSE’s proposed shift of its resources to focus on consumer education and increasing the demand for board certified lawyers, the forum members agreed that instead the BLSE should focus the majority of its resources on marketing the program to lawyers. It would be of benefit to both the legal profession and the public for more lawyers who are eligible for board certification to pursue it as an indication of professionalism and specialized expertise in certain areas of law.
The third and final meeting of the current Citizens Forum membership will be held at the annual convention. Prominent on the agenda will be ways to educate the public on lawyer referral services.
Alvin V. Alsobrook, Chair
City, County, and Local Government Law Certification
City, county, and local government law is the practice of law addressing legal issues of county, municipal, and other local governments. The practitioner must be well versed in a variety of legal topics from sovereign immunity to public finance and must be prepared to face a variety of legal issues confronting local governments.
To be certified in city, county, and local government law, a lawyer must be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar, and must have practiced law for at least five years (four years if the lawyer received an LL.M. degree in urban affairs or a related field). Each certified lawyer must have substantial involvement — 40 percent or more — in the practice of city, county, and local government law during the three years preceding application. Also within those three years, each certified lawyer must have completed 60 hours of continuing legal education specific to topics in city, county, and local government law. Certification also requires lawyers to submit to rigorous peer review and pass a comprehensive written examination. We are proud to have 206 local government law attorneys currently certified in this multi-faceted and diverse area of the law.
This year, the inaugural group of certified city, county, and local government law attorneys were due to recertify, resulting in the committee reviewing an unprecedented 56 recertification applications. The committee reviewed 28 applications to sit for the exam, held on May 18, 2012, in Tampa, which represents a slight increase in first-time applications. The committee met several times to review applications, construct the exam, review requests, and grade examinations.
Throughout the year, members focused on structuring the exam pursuant to the BLSE suggested guidelines, and continued to work to ensure broad topic coverage according to the exam specifications and to ensure the exam remains fair, challenging, and pertinent.
The purpose of the certification exam is to assist the City, County and Local Government Certification Committee in identifying those lawyers who have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency in city, county, and local government law that distinguishes them from other attorneys who practice in this area. The exam tests the applicants’ knowledge of 12 practice areas: conflict of interest/financial disclosure, ethics, civil rights, home rule and exercise of police power, land use and zoning, practice and procedures before local government legislative and quasi-judicial bodies, sovereign immunity, public finance, public sector liability, sunshine law and public records law, procurement and public contracts, and eminent domain.
I had the pleasure of working with a tremendous group of knowledgeable, well-respected members of the local government law community. As chair, I thank my fellow committee members who worked so hard throughout the year: Paul Nicoletti, vice chair; Carole Barice, Don Crowell, Iris Escarra, Mary Helen Farris, Isabelle Lopez, Alan Prather, and Rodney Wade. Finally, I thank our committee liaison, Zachary Shrader, who in his first full year with our committee has proven himself a tremendous asset.
Michele L. Lieberman, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
The Civil Procedure Rules Committee consists of 49 members from a broad variety of areas of civil practice, all of whom have dedicated themselves to improving Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure. The committee deals with proposals that arise from many different sources — interested practitioners, judicial suggestions, bills from the legislature, and directions from the Florida Supreme Court. Our job is to sort through the many ideas for improvement, to identify those that have merit, to review the impact of the changes under consideration, and to present the Florida Supreme Court with clear, well-drafted proposals for amendments to the rules.
During the 2011-12 year, the committee completed a five-year process of developing amendments to the civil rules designed to improve the ability of practitioners and judges to deal with the discovery of electronically stored information under the rules. To accomplish this, the committee proposed the addition of language to Rules 1.200, 1.201, 1.280, 1.340, 1.350, 1.380, and 1.410. In many respects, the added language would mirror that found in the federal rules of civil procedure, but the proposed amendments would also account for important differences between Florida and federal procedure. The committee’s proposed amendments were filed with the Florida Supreme Court as an out-of-cycle proposal. After publishing the proposed amendments and soliciting comments, the court held oral argument on March 7, 2012. The committee is optimistic that the proposed amendments will be adopted, and believes that the proposed amendments will make it easier for judges and litigants to apply the rules to situations involving discovery of electronically stored information.
Throughout the year, members of the committee have worked to complete a number of proposals that we hope to include in our 2013 cycle report. Rick Nielsen and Greg Brown co-chaired a subcommittee recommending changes to the Uniform Guidelines for the Taxation of Costs, with an eye toward clarifying what costs associated with electronic discovery may fairly be taxed to an opponent at the conclusion of a case. Judge Claudia Isom led a subcommittee in addressing the impact of new privacy requirements for court filings and recommending changes to our rules. Jorge Lopez guided a subcommittee that developed a proposal to extend the time for serving motions for new trial.
The nature of our committee is that not every proposal makes it all the way to adoption. Our subcommittees often report that proposed rule changes are unnecessary, unworkable, or unwise. I want to thank all of the subcommittee chairs who carried out this important function for us. In particular, Dan Cytryn and Al Saikali led subcommittees that devoted extensive time to studying proposed changes in expert interrogatories and proposals for settlement. Although the committee ultimately voted not to make changes in these areas, the committee appreciated the tremendous amount of time and energy they devoted to studying and clarifying these issues.
In addition to considering rules proposals, the committee also took steps to improve its internal operations and efficiency. Vice Chairs Rick Nielsen and Russell Kent presented an orientation for new members immediately before our first meeting of the year, continuing a tradition established last year by our immediate past chair, Don Christopher. Tom Bateman’s Internal Operations Subcommittee produced a revised subcommittee report form that will help our subcommittees better present their work to the full committee. Finally, the committee is moving forward with plans to improve its page on The Florida Bar’s website.
The operation of our committee depends on the efforts of many people, and I would like to single out for recognition several who played key roles in 2011-2012. Greg Borgognoni and Robbie Landon once again did excellent work in supervising the efforts of the Drafting Subcommittee. Russell Kent served as our liaison to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee (a role that required significant commitment of additional time and expense on his part), and kept us well informed about the likely impact of e-filing and e-service proposals on our rules. Greg Ward cheerfully served as secretary, keeping detailed minutes of all of our meetings. Many others played important roles in keeping our committee functioning, and to the extent I have neglected to mention their contributions, they are no less worthy of recognition.
Finally, no report would be complete without a mention of the critical role played by our committee liaison, Ellen Sloyer. Our success as a committee is truly dependent on the many hours of work that Ellen has put in behind the scenes to produce our agendas, track the work of our subcommittees, assist our members in scheduling conference calls and conducting email votes, and refocus an all-too-easily-distracted chair on the tasks at hand. I know I speak for the entire committee in thanking her for her grace under pressure, her patient guidance, and her consummate professionalism.
Although the committee meets in person for only 12 hours each year, our members spend countless hours communicating with each other before and after the meetings to ensure that the work of the committee gets done. Without the deep commitment to that work that so many of our members have displayed, it would be impossible for this committee to carry out its important service to the Bar. It has been an honor to serve with so many truly dedicated individuals.
Kevin D. Johnson, Chair
Civil Trial Law Certification
Civil trial law is the practice of law dealing with the litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before state and federal courts and other tribunals. In addition to the actual trial and pretrial processes, civil trial lawyers evaluate civil disputes and counsel clients for the purpose of resolving disputes before litigation commences.
Civil trial law is one of Florida’s first certification areas, approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1983. Currently, Florida has 1,068 board certified civil trial lawyers. Approximately 160 lawyers have been continuously certified since 1983.
The Civil Trial Certification Committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing and suggesting changes to the standards for certification in civil trial law; evaluating applications for certification and recertification; and preparing and grading the annual examination, which is a requirement for all applicants. In 2012, the committee reviewed 165 applications for recertification; 51 applicants for initial certification were approved to take the March 2012 examination. The committee graded the examinations at the end of April, and the results will be announced before The Florida Bar Convention in June 2012.
This year, the committee continued its review of the standards for certification in civil trial law, in consideration of the declining number of civil trials, but reached no final conclusion regarding possible changes.
The committee also met with Karen Barbieri, a legal examination consultant, and implemented her recommended changes to improve the annual exam. A committee representative participated in The Florida Bar’s annual civil trial certification examination review course in order to provide information on the test to potential applicants. This year, as in recent years, a portion of the examination was presented by video so that the applicants would have an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of courtroom performance skills.
The committee is gearing up for 2013, when approximately 300 certified trial lawyers are scheduled to apply for recertification.
The committee — including Vice Chair Bill Hoppe, Judges Jessica Recksiedler and Jeffrey Fleming, Immediate Past-chair Susan Cole, and David Deehl, Robert Molettiere, Robert Reynolds, and Lewis Murphy — gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Lisa Morgan, The Florida Bar’s certification specialist, who made our jobs easier.
Jeffrey Michael Cohen, Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
With great pride and privilege, I submit this annual report on behalf of the Clients’ Security Fund. The Florida Bar Clients’ Security Fund (CSF) was established in 1967 to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss of their money as a result of misappropriation, embezzlement, or other wrongful taking or conversion by a member of The Florida Bar in the course of an attorney-client relationship when no other remedy is available. The Clients’ Security Fund is currently financed by $25 of every Bar member’s annual dues and has over $2.2 million budgeted for fiscal year 2011-12 to pay claims. The maximum payable on any misappropriation claim is $250,000. The fund also reimburses clients up to $5,000 for legal fees when the attorney fails to provide any useful services. In the last fiscal year the fund received 1,363 claims and paid out more than $2.7 million. As of the date of this report, the fund has received 250 new claims for this fiscal year against 142 lawyers and approved losses in excess of $5.8 million.
Last fiscal year’s numbers were largely due to the claims of the former clients of Louis S. Robles. Those claims are related to a large asbestos-related matter in which Mr. Robles misappropriated his clients’ settlements. Those clients had until May 1, 2012, to make a claim to the fund; after that date, those claims are time barred. Mr. Robles is currently serving a sentence in federal prison for his crimes.
Fee claims are paid as approved whereas misappropriation claims are paid on a pro rata basis after the end of the fiscal year. Since its inception, the Clients’ Security Fund has processed over 10,700 claims and paid out over $26 million dollars to claimants.
Procedurally, CSF claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff and, when appropriate, referred to a member of the committee for investigation. The 2011-12 committee is made up of 25 volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar’s president. The committee formally meets four times during the year, but its volunteer members are actively engaged in the review and investigation of claims throughout the year. Although committee meetings are confidential, final action on claims is subject to limited disclosure. Committee recommendations are submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration.
While we often do not know the reason for an attorney’s dishonesty, regardless of the reason, defalcations by attorneys profoundly damage the public trust in members of the Bar and the legal system. Too often, the image of the entire legal profession is tarnished by the acts of a few members. However, we are an integrated Bar and one of the most active in the nation. Given the size of our membership, with now more than 93,000 members, I must point out that claims are made against less than 0.2 percent of Florida lawyers. The work of the Clients’ Security Fund is an integral part of the disciplinary and regulatory process of the Bar and provides a vehicle of recovery and mitigation of losses to clients and the public whose trust and confidence in the legal profession has been impacted. The work of the committee is but one way to address the dishonesty and fractured trust of an errant lawyer. The fund is one more way in which the Bar strives to improve the public’s perception of the Bar as a whole and to restore confidence in the profession.
My tenure as a member of the Clients’ Security Fund Committee and the privilege of serving as chair has been both personally and professionally rewarding. I am reminded of the preamble to admission to The Florida Bar, which provides in part that the ability to practice law is not a right, but rather a privilege that is revocable for cause. The Clients’ Security Fund, along with all of the other committees and sections, are truly the backbone of our Bar and profession and service to the Bar is but one more privilege that a member can have.
I not only extend my thanks to our hard-working, diligent committee members, but especially to the Bar’s staff who support the committee with tireless commitment. They are Lori S. Holcomb, CSF director; Patricia J. Osborne, CSF coordinator; and Stacey Thrash, CSF clerk. You all are the best!
Catherine Day Hult, Chair
Code and Rules of Evidence
The Code and Rules of Evidence Committee (CREC) is dedicated to serving The Florida Bar and the legislature in matters relating to Florida’s Evidence Code and Rules of Evidence. In particular, the CREC 1) evaluates Florida’s Evidence Code and Rules of Evidence, 2) proposes changes during the three-year cycle and out-of-cycle, 3) acts as a resource to the legislature, and 4) strives to educate Bar members on evidence-related law. During this year, the CREC has worked and continues to work on several projects directed at these functions.
In connection with the first function, the CREC conducted an analysis of recently passed legislation and prepared its three-year cycle report potentially proposing changes to the Rules of Evidence. The Code Improvement Subcommittee, led by Thomas Shults, was most helpful in analyzing the related legislation and providing its recommendation to the members of the CREC concerning whether to recommend the proposed rule changes during the three-year cycle. As of this writing, the full CREC is considering the recommendations. This subcommittee has also embraced several other projects — some of which are the subject of continuing research — requiring the analysis and identification of significant evidence issues that could be resolved by changes to the code and/or rules. In addition, this subcommittee assisted the CREC by reviewing the more thorny potential changes to the code and rules separately identified by the CREC’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Code Revision.
The CREC’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Code Revision was established in 2009 to conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of the Florida Evidence Code, as was done with the Federal Rules of Evidence, to ensure the Florida Evidence Code is grammatically correct, temporally appropriate, and logically consistent. This year, the Ad Hoc Subcommittee reached a pinnacle by completing its evaluation, which culminated in a report identifying potential code and rule changes for the full CREC’s consideration. Some substantive changes were also noted. Thereafter, over several months, the CREC members scrutinized each potential change recommended in the report. After debate opportunities, the CREC members voted to propose certain changes, while other more thorny changes where referred to the Code Improvement Subcommittee, as noted above, for further analysis. Once all proposed changes (including those identified by the Ad Hoc and Code Improvement subcommittees) have been assessed by the full CREC, it is anticipated that the proposed changes approved by the CREC will be compiled and presented to the bench and Bar for review and consideration before submission to the legislature and/or Florida Supreme Court.
Thanks go to Michael Sharrit, co-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as Dominic MacKenzie, who co-chaired this subcommittee until his term expired in 2011, for their marked efforts in leading the Ad Hoc Subcommittee members.
Dovetailing with the CREC’s function noted above, the CREC is committed to being a resource to the legislature to provide technical assistance with regard to evidence-related bills that may be brought before the Florida Legislature. In that regard, the Legislative Relations Subcommittee, chaired by Pamela Cichon, extended our resources to the Florida legislators this year, as was done in the past. In connection with this effort, the CREC provided assistance to the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee in connection with its drafting of an evidence issues brief. Appreciation goes to Benjamin Reiss for leading the Ad Hoc Subcommittee of CREC members who promptly provided assistance. Since it is a goal of the CREC to continue to assist the legislature, the CREC encourages attorney-legislators to apply for appointment on the CREC. Senior lawyers, judges, and academics who are authorities in evidence law are also encouraged to apply to be appointed to the CREC.
Turning to another of the CREC’s functions, and in keeping with its yearly tradition, the Education Subcommittee, headed by Michael Sharrit, coordinated the annual Topics in Evidence Seminar, which was held on March 2, 2010, in Tampa. After several months of planning, the day-long event featured terrific presentations by litigators, and members of the judiciary and academia, on emerging and key evidentiary issues in products liability litigation, negligence trials, and white collar crime situations, as well as presentations on appellate review of evidentiary issues, privileges and prior adverse hospital incidents, hearsay, and ethics. Rounding out the event was a timely, practical, and dynamic presentation on presenting evidence from an iPad by CREC member, Charles Morehead. Those who were unable to attend the seminar are encouraged to purchase the compact discs through The Florida Bar. Thanks go to Mike for his hard work in organizing this seminar and sincere appreciation goes to all of the presenters for volunteering their time and generously sharing their knowledge.
In conclusion, although space does not permit further elaboration, gratitude is extended to all of the members of the CREC and its subcommittees who actively participated during this year. Special appreciation goes to those mentioned above, and Rob Eschenfelder, the immediate past chair, for his tremendous assistance and guidance. Much praise goes to Ellen Sloyer, the Bar’s staff liaison, for her tremendous experience and assistance. Thanks also to Clifton McClelland, Jr., the CREC’s liaison to the Board of Governors. It has truly been an honor to have served as chair. Thank you for the opportunity.
Alicia M. Menendez, Chair
The Constitutional Judiciary Committee concludes an extremely productive year in fulfilling its mission: to consider and implement various methods to strengthen Florida’s judiciary so that it can remain fair, impartial, and independent as Florida’s third branch of government.
As a point of information, during the 2011-2012 year, the committee’s name was changed from the Committee on Judicial Independence to the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. This was done at the urging of The Florida Bar with the hope that the name change would emphasize that the committee’s focus is on educating the public that the judicial branch is one of the three co-equal branches of government created by the U.S. Constitution.
The committee focused on three main projects during 2011-2012. The first was the continued rollout of the committee’s adult civics education program: “Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education.” Benchmarks is designed to give attorneys materials to teach the fundamentals of government and the courts to adult civic and community groups. Education is a critical mission for The Florida Bar. An informed public is the best defense of a vigorous democracy, the rule of law and an independent, impartial, and fair judiciary. Benchmarks aims to inform adults through engaging activities about judicial review; the Bill of Rights and reviewing laws to see if they are constitutional; facts and knowledge about U.S. government and the courts; court funding; and judicial labeling.
During the past Bar year, members of the committee presented the Benchmarks program to groups of lawyers statewide and nationally to get the materials into the hands of those who can use them. It is the committee’s continued hope that by reaching out to groups of lawyers statewide, these lawyers will then go into their communities and make Benchmarks presentations, enhancing adult civics education statewide. The committee is also working to have two new training modules approved on merit retention and judicial elections — two topics that are the subject of much statewide discussion. Benchmarks materials are available for download from www.floridabar.org/judicialindependence.
Special thanks go to Vice Chair Michael Napoleone and members Richard Levenstein and Debra Moss Curtis for their continued efforts to promote the Benchmarks program, as well as to Annette Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Related Education Association, for both her presentation and preparation of the Benchmarks materials. As with all accomplishments of the committee, Benchmarks’ continued success would not be possible without the extraordinary efforts of our Bar liaison, Zannah Lyle. Attorneys should also be aware that attorneys giving Benchmarks presentations are now eligible to receive up to three hours of CLE credit from The Florida Bar over the course of their reporting period for using the program in furthering education.
The second major project of the committee was finalizing and coordinating the distribution of a “Guide for Florida Voters” concerning judicial elections. The voters’ guide can be used statewide in connection with both the direct elections of circuit and county court judges and merit retention elections involving appellate judges. It was created with the input and guidance of the Judicial Evaluation and Administration Committee and will serve as a great tool to educate the public about judicial elections.
While judicial elections are only one piece of the problem regarding the independence of the judiciary, helping the public to understand why we have judicial elections and how they are run is crucial to the preservation of an independent judiciary. The final draft of the voters’ guide was approved by The Florida Bar Board of Governors this spring and 250,000 copies were ordered. The Florida League of Woman Voters agreed to help distribute the guide during this year’s election cycle. In addition to the committee members already mentioned above, special thanks go to committee members Jay Cohen, Jerry Beer, and Peter Webster for their roles in getting the voters’ guide finalized and published. Members who want to request copies to distribute to community groups they speak to can do so by emailing [email protected] or by calling (850) 561-5834.
The committee’s final major accomplishment this year was coordinating a symposium on merit retention and judicial elections. “Choosing Our Judges” was selected to be a Presidential Showcase Presentation at the 2012 Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando. Designed to put the spotlight on the way judges are chosen both in Florida and across the nation, the seminar will focus on one of the committee’s core values: the belief that fair and impartial courts promote equal justice and the rule of law while protecting individual rights.
To be moderated by Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, the program features retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Chief Justice Carol Hunstein of the Georgia Supreme Court; Justice Major Harding, retired from the Florida Supreme Court; Peter Webster, president of the American Judicature Society; Martin Dyckman, noted author and Florida journalist; and Scott G. Hawkins, Florida Bar president, as panelists. Special thanks go to Michael Napoleone and David Young, Steven Davis, Anthony Salzano, Richard Levenstein, and Debra Moss Curtis for their dedicated work in making the program a reality. The symposium will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 22 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando.
The committee is committed to continuing to reach out to The Florida Bar’s more than 93,000 members to provide them with tools that they can use to educate the public about the importance of ensuring that the judiciary maintains its constitutional status as a coequal and adequately funded branch of government. The committee continues to believe that it is of vital importance that attorneys use our status as members of the legal profession to ensure that Floridians understand the importance of the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the necessity of having a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary.
Merrick L. “Rick” Gross, Chair
Construction Law Certification
The Construction Law Certification Committee continued to refine, revise, and update the multiple choice and essay questions. One hundred percent of the multiple choice questions have citations. We have detailed model essays as well. All questions note the date they were prepared and the author.
We implemented a voluntary succession plan. The chair serves two years, the vice chair serves two years, and the vice chair identifies his or her successor. We are fully cognizant all of this is subject to the authority of the president of The Florida Bar to make appointments. Thus far the Bar presidents have agreed with my suggestions and made the requested appointments. This committee is very labor intensive and we feel we are well suited to identify, cultivate, and recommend the best leaders so the work gets done.
There are 37 candidates qualified to sit for the exam.
I also want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Zina Jackson. She does a great job.
Michael C. Sasso, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
The Consumer Protection Law Committee’s mission is to educate consumers and Bar members about consumer protection laws and current consumer issues through public outreach events, public service messages, CLE programs, consumer publications, and nonpartisan, technical assistance memoranda on proposed legislation. The committee, individually and partnering with other public service organizations, advanced each of these goals during the 2011-12 Bar year. The efforts of the committee included the following:
• Public Outreach Events — The committee targeted several regions of the state for televised and in-person “Ask a Lawyer” events. In each of these events, the committee, alone and in connection with other public interest groups, worked to strengthen the impact of Bar involvement in their respective communities.
In December, committee members James Young and Lynn Drysdale partnered with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc., and the Jacksonville Bar Association in a live phone-in event televised by a Jacksonville NBC affiliate. In March, in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, Mark Aubin organized a cooperative effort with the Hillsborough Bar Association for a live phone-in event televised by the local Fox affiliate.
In April and May, committee member Tequisha Myles helped to organize an event with the Palm Beach County Bar Association as our partner to host a three-day series of Dial-A-Lawyer events. Margery Golant, Geoffrey Gilbert, and Frank Sato answered calls from the general public on consumer and foreclosure issues. Ms. Myles also recorded a 10-minute segment for a local public television station focusing on foreclosures and consumer issues, which aired during April.
• Consumer Brochures and Pamphlets — The committee continued its efforts to develop and update consumer law pamphlets, tips, and “spotlights” as guidance and tools for consumers and the media. Topics include homeownership, auto sales and repair, debt collection and debtors’ rights, and small loans. This year the committee developed the pamphlet “Small Claims: The Who, What, Where and Why of Collection Lawsuits.” The committee is notifying clerks of court of the availability of this online information, which can be linked to their respective web pages.
The committee also updated important consumer pamphlets relating to foreclosure (Margery Golant), Lemon Law and automobile sales (Alan Huss), buying a home (Steve Fahlgren), bankruptcy (Stuart Golant, Mary Ann Etzler), pay day loans, refund anticipation loans, debt collection (Lynn Drysdale). Each of these pamphlets can also be found on The Florida Bar website. In addition, the committee maintains more than 40 consumer pamphlets available online to consumers at no charge.
• Nonpartisan Technical Assistance Regarding Foreclosure Legislation — During the 2012 legislative session, several bills were filed with the Florida Legislature related to how best to address the foreclosure crisis in a way that would protect all parties in the foreclosure process, Florida communities, and the overall Florida economy. The committee provided several technical assistance letters and memoranda as well as proposed amendment drafts. The committee will continue to provide technical assistance to consumer advocates, the judiciary, and lawmakers in their efforts to seek a fair, balanced, and effective way of resolving the perceived problems with the foreclosure process that respects consumers’ rights and ensures integrity of the judicial process. The committee also monitored various other bills relating to consumer protections in connection with automobile sales, arbitration, the Uniform Commercial Code, and debt relief agencies.
• Continuing Legal Education — The committee organized the seminar “Significant Changes in Consumer Protection Law” for the annual convention in Orlando. Recognizing the fluid nature of consumer law and the need for attorneys to be aware of current trends, CLE Subcommittee Chair Janet Varnell and members of her subcommittee organized a group of speakers with judicial, legislative, and regulatory backgrounds to discuss recent trends in foreclosure, bankruptcy, and deceptive and unfair trade practices law. The distinguished panel of presenters included Deepak Gupta, former senior counsel for enforcement strategy at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz; and Florida Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Presenters also included committee members Margery Golant, James Young, John Yanchunis, Lynn Drysdale, and former committee Chair Victoria Butler. The course was designed to provide an overview of recent national and Florida cases and legislative efforts from the perspective of the three branches of government.
• Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — Led by James Young, a subcommittee took applications for the 2012 award to be presented during The Florida Bar’s annual convention. The award recognizes a Florida lawyer who has had a substantial and positive influence on consumer protection locally, statewide, or nationally through a distinguished career in consumer protection or involvement in notable projects, advocacy, or other activities advancing consumer protection.
The Consumer Protection Law Committee remains dedicated to educating consumers and Bar members about consumer protection laws and current issues through such means as highlighted by its 2011-12 activities.
Lynn Drysdale, Chair
Continuing Legal Education
The mission of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Committee is to assist the members of The Florida Bar in their continuing legal education and to facilitate the production and delivery of quality CLE programs and publications in coordination with the different sections, committees, law schools, and others who participate in the CLE process. Each section of The Florida Bar, the Young Lawyers Division, the Out of State Practitioners Division, and all ABA-accredited Florida law schools are represented on the committee.
The focus of the committee continues to be alternative delivery systems using technology while monitoring the quality of Bar CLE programs. Accountability, cost effectiveness, and Bar member needs continue to be key topics for committee discussions and review, and actions are taken when deemed appropriate. The CLE Committee serves the members of the Bar by ensuring quality CLE programming is available in a variety of formats. With on-demand programs and 24/7 access, there is greater opportunity to access CLE credits than ever before. Transition to electronic course material continues to be well received with all age groups of the Bar and the committee considers this move to be highly successful.
The Bar’s sections have continued to fully embrace live webcast, audio cast, webinar, and telephonic seminar technology, making video-replays obsolete. Attendance at live CLE programs and the purchase of audio-CDs and video DVDs were slightly down as a result of the increase in webcast offerings. The use of The Florida Bar’s 24/7 on-demand, online, and downloadable programming has continued to grow over the past year due to the availability of the increased, varied, and widely popular delivery systems. Members continue to embrace online and downloadable CLE programming to enable them to obtain continuing legal education and credit at their own time and place. The 24/7 on-demand catalog includes both online and downloadable education to meet member needs.
Following a request made by the Criminal Law Section at the September 22, 2011, meeting of the committee, Paul H. Chipok, graciously accepted the challenging task of chairing a CLE Fee Waiver Subcommittee to review the fee waiver policy to the CLE courses for legal aid attorneys. This committee has spent numerous hours reviewing and discussing the current policy, reviewing a 2008 study, CLE Committee meetings, reports, and held numerous subcommittee meetings. This matter has been thoroughly investigated and the findings will be presented to the full committee for discussion at the June 2012 meeting.
Special thanks to Terry L. Hill, director of the Programs Division, and Bar staff for their outstanding initiation, development, and implementation of The Florida Bar CLE programs. Our committee regrets the loss of Yvonne Sherron to the position of program administrator for the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section; however, we wish her continued success. The committee welcomes Dixey Teel and looks forward to working with her. I thank The Florida Bar president for encouragement and appreciation of the committee’s work. Lastly, upon reaching the end of my six-year term on the Continuing Legal Education Committee and as chair, I especially thank all of the members of the committee for their diligent work in all of its endeavors and have full confidence the committee will continue their dedicated service.
Candace S. Preston, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
As chair of the Criminal Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing criminal law certification. This committee is unique in that it oversees two separate certification areas (criminal trial and criminal appellate law). The committee is comprised of nine criminal law-certified attorneys who work throughout the state. The 2011-12 committee first met in September 2011 in conjunction with the 2011 certification leadership conference. During the following months, the essay and multiple choice questions were developed for both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law exams.
Of the more than 90,000 members of The Florida Bar, 429 are currently board certified in criminal law — 372 in criminal trial, and 57 in criminal appellate law. The 2011-12 applicant pool contained 53 criminal trial and seven criminal appellate submissions. Twenty of these applicants submitted “abbreviated applications” after failure or nonattendance of the 2011 exam. Of the 60 total applicants, at the time of this writing, 51 have been deemed eligible to sit for the exam. The committee reviewed 56 recertification applications and recommended 52 attorneys for recertification this year to date.
Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law exams contain five essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions addressing procedural and substantive law in both state and federal court. The exam is written to assess criminal lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 18, 2012, in Tampa, applicants answered these questions in two three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1, 2012.
The peer review process remains central to the certification program and the committee again extends its deepest gratitude to the lawyers and judges who actively participate in the program. We reiterate that all peer review is confidential and is not divulged to any applicant.
This year’s committee included myself as chair; Judge Angelica Zayas, vice chair; Rosemary Cakmis; Danny Castillo; Alexander Dombrowsky; Roseanne Eckert; James “Rusty” Franklin; Manuel “Manny” Garcia; and Michael Salnick. Danny Brown continued as Bar staff liaison to the committee.
Ethan Andrew Way, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee consists of educators, attorneys, and judges balanced over areas of practices to offer a wide breadth of discussion of the numerous issues confronting our criminal practitioners.
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee has maintained and continued its revisions and submissions of legislative changes and case interpretations, as well as numerous submissions of forthcoming technical changes.
The committee has had a very active year with its 2012 cycle report, with 11 issues as well as legislative issues like the “Andrew Widman Act.” We currently have eight cases before the Supreme Court in various stages. Most importantly, the committee has worked exhaustedly on the future of e-file, e-portal, e-service issues before the court. The committee continues its coordination with the Florida Supreme Court Criminal Court Steering Committee as to revision and submission of new postconviction procedures.
As my term as chair, as well as my term with the committee, comes to an end, I acknowledge the respect I hold for the members of the committee. Each of you exemplified the professionalism and dedication to our system of justice and due process. Your commitment and diligence to the work of the committee is greatly appreciated.
I offer special acknowledgment to Krys Godwin. She is the guiding hand of this committee, as well as others, who assists the chairs in navigating the procedural road map of submissions, reporting, and appearances. Thank you, Krys.
Donald Scaglione, Chair
Greetings from the Education Law Committee (ELC) of The Florida Bar. We invite participation from lawyers whose practice touches on the many areas of education law. The membership includes public and private university and college counsel, school district attorneys and private law firms that regularly represent these institutions and their employees, private attorneys that represent charter schools, and attorneys that represent parents and students. The purpose of the ELC includes the enhancement of professionalism and knowledge in the practice of education law, and provision of a forum where the knowledge and views of its members can be shared.
A significant portion of our membership serves in the public sector, and is, therefore, more subject to legislative limitations on travel and decreased funding than Bar members at large. Building upon the work of the two previous chairs, Joel Berman and Ed Marko, the ELC made opportunities available to members to participate in the section without incurring travel expenses by holding one of the membership meetings via webinar in a format that allowed all members to participate virtually in the give and take of the meeting. The ELC did hold one traditional meeting in September 2011 at The Florida Bar meeting site to better facilitate face-to-face meeting and networking.
The ELC had requested and The Florida Bar approve a specialization certification in education law, and the first exam was March 2011. To better help those members preparing to take the certification examination this year, the ELC held a full-day certification preparation session in January via webinar and at no cost to virtual attendees. Many thanks to Nathan Adams for coordinating the certification review session and for the dedication of time and effort by Chris Anderson, Mary Lawson, Ana Segura, David Koperski, and Tom Gonzalez for making the first review session a success. Special thanks must also be extended to Nathan Adams and Holland & Knight for their gracious hosting and technical support of both the ELC meeting and the certification review webinars.
I appreciate the opportunity of serving as the ELC chair and thank the members of the committee who devoted countless hours in making this year a success. Special thanks to Nathan Adams, CLE; Youndy Cook, membership; Donna Waters, publications; and Bar staff liaison Tom Miller. Congratulations also to our board liaison, Eugene Pettis, on his selection as president-elect designate of The Florida Bar. I take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, Ed Marko, for his leadership and guidance. Additionally, I acknowledge Certification Chair Larry Brown and the committee for their successful efforts to carry forward the new specialization in education law.
Daniel Woodring, Chair
Education Law Certification
This is the second year of certification in education law. After the first year, there are 23 lawyers certified, and as many as 18 may be added this year, pending the results of the examination in March. Therefore, in our second year there may be as many as 41 lawyers board certified in education law.
The Education Law Certification Committee worked very hard this year in drafting examination questions, working to improve the application and approval process, and promoting education law as an area of legal specialization. Attorneys specializing in the practice of education law are an important part of the K-12 and higher education systems in Florida. These specialists make a substantial contribution to the effective delivery of educational services and include lawyers who represent school districts, universities, community and state colleges, charter schools, as well as lawyers who advocate for the rights of students and their families. Although education law is not an area of specialization as large as other areas in Florida, such as real estate or civil trial, through the continued work of this committee and the Bar’s Education Law Committee, we expect a steady growth in the number of lawyers who will become certified in education law. This committee is committed to the value of certification, and we believe that certification serves both the public and the Bar.
The members of the Education Law Certification Committee are Jim Robinson III, vice chair; Marylin Batista-McNamara, Michael Cramer, Franklin Harrison, Mark Kamleiter, Eugene Pettis, Julie Shepherd, and Barbara Wingo. The chair thanks the members for their hard work this year. We held meetings continuously throughout the year and worked hard to develop a quality examination and an effective application and review process.
We encourage attorneys who practice in education law to consider becoming board certified. Applying for certification is a significant advancement in the professional development of an attorney, and for all of those who may be interested, the application for the 2013 exam is currently available for download online at www.floridabar.org/certification. Once on that site, click on “Board Certification and Recertification.”
The committee thanks The Florida Bar for its assistance throughout the year. A special thanks is given to Julie Coiro for her great organizational skills, hard work, and professionalism. Ms. Coiro keeps the members of the committee on task and working throughout the year. Without the service provided by Ms. Coiro, it is doubtful that the committee would have accomplished its goals or met its deadlines.
Questions regarding the certification process may be directed to Julie Coiro, certification specialist, at (850) 561-3143 or by emailing her at [email protected]
Usher L Brown, Chair
Elder Law Certification
Thirteen attorneys sat for the 2012 elder law board certification examination. The number of elder law board certified attorneys continues to increase at a steady rate. Currently, there are 87 board certified elder law attorneys in Florida.
The committee met several times throughout the year to review and process applications, and draft exam questions and model answers. Elder law attorneys deal with legal issues involving health and personal care planning, which encompasses all aspects of planning for aging, illness, and incapacity. The purpose of the elder law examination is to determine whether the examinee possesses the substantive and procedural knowledge expected of an experienced elder law practitioner whose clients are elderly or have special needs, as well as the skill to practically apply the knowledge to situations that are encountered by elder law attorneys in practice. Although some elder law attorneys specialize in a certain area of law within the practice of elder law, there are certain core areas of an elder law practice in which an elder law attorney is expected to possess proficiency in order to be deemed certified, since certification of an attorney in elder law represents to the public and the profession that the attorney possess a certain level of competence in the field of elder law.
Thank you to all the members of this dedicated, hard-working committee, including Vice Chair Carolyn Landon, Vicki Bowers, John Clardy, Colleen Duris, Ailish O’Connor, Beth Prather, Carolyn Sawyer, and new committee member Travis Finchum. On behalf of all of the members, I thank our hard working Florida Bar certification specialist, Jennifer Wilson, whose diligent efforts continue to make our job so much more manageable. Jennifer’s efforts are deeply appreciated by everyone on the committee.
Randy C. Bryan, Chair
The Eminent Domain Committee provides a forum for government and private attorneys to exchange ideas, discuss current legal issues, and receive continuing legal education in a professional and collegial environment. While the present economy has had an impact on eminent domain practitioners, the committee continues to strive to keep abreast of current issues and to increase its membership.
In 2011-12, our meetings provided interesting topics and brought together exceptional speakers from across the state. The annual meeting in June 2011 began with “Sharing the Pie, Apportionment and More!” presented by Joe Hanratty, Lee Pallardy, and Mitchell Burnstein. The panel provided a unique perspective on apportionment from the attorney and appraiser’s viewpoint. The next panel of speakers was Kurt Garber and Alex Ford who brought us up to date with “Old and New Issues Impacting Eminent Domain Cases.” The meeting concluded with the “Latest Update from the Department of Transportation” with a special appearance by the Florida Department of Transportation’s general counsel, Gerald Curington, and Greg Costas, senior appellate attorney.
The September 2011 meeting began with excellent practice tips provided by Paul Bain and Guy Minter in “Pre-Trial and Trial Motions in Eminent Domain.” Steven Levine showed us how to spot potential problems in “Surveying and Title Issues in Eminent Domain.” The meeting concluded with Sheila Thuma from the The Florida Bar presenting “Eminent Domain Practice, Ethics and The Florida Bar Rules.”
We plan to present another informative and interesting program at the annual convention on June 22 in Orlando. Topics at the meeting will include an update on economic trends, lawyer advertising rules, and regulatory takings.
I thank my co-chairs Mary Dorman, Tom Callan, Joel Settembrini, Dean DiRose, and Barry Balmuth for all their support and assistance. They have been instrumental in planning the meetings and contacting speakers. I thank all of the speakers who helped to make our meetings possible and Yvonne Sherron, our Florida Bar liaison, who always responded quickly and enthusiastically to our questions and helped to make this year a success.
Vivian Arenas-Battles, Chair
Federal Court Practice
The Federal Court Practice Committee serves as The Florida Bar’s liaison to federal courts, federal bar organizations, the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, and federal practitioners throughout Florida.
The committee’s signature event, the Federal Judicial Roundtable will be held at the Bar’s annual convention on June 21. The roundtable is a popular program that provides an opportunity for the federal bench and bar to work together during an interesting and practical seminar. For years, federal judges, lawyers, law professors, and law students have enjoyed the interactive and informal nature of the event. The objectives of the roundtable are to strengthen the relationship between the federal bench and bar and to improve practice before federal courts in Florida. The moderator for this year’s roundtable is Robert Josefsberg, a preeminent Miami trial lawyer and fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Mr. Josefsberg will join a panel of federal judges to report on current issues in their respective courts. Be sure to register early, as space is limited! Very special thanks to Vice Chair Melanie Damian for her leadership and service in coordinating this great event.
During the past year, the committee emphasized educational efforts by laying the foundation for future programs tailored specifically to enhance the exposure to federal courts and to promote substantive and professional development in federal practice. The committee is unable to fund a CLE, so we are developing innovative ways to present educational offerings to lawyers who practice in federal court. In partnership with the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar, the committee is planning a CLE titled “Demystifying Federal Practice” this fall. Similar to the YLD’s Basic Federal Practice seminar, the course will present subjects highlighting some of the particular aspects of practicing in federal court. Unique to this course will be an introduction to the three federal district courts within the state, their respective local rules, bar admission requirements, and available resources. The course will also introduce some of the resources that are available to federal practitioners, such as the Federal Bar Association, American Inns of Court, The Bench/Bar committees, and others. The committee is very appreciative of the YLD, their President Sean Desmond, and the YLD’s Board of Governors for supporting this joint educational program. Special thanks to committee member Kim Gustafson who serves on the YLD Board.
The education subcommittee, co-chaired by Ellen Collins and Jim Craig, together with Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, is planning an educational program to be attended by participants in several federal courthouses throughout the state simultaneously using digital video technology. Special thanks to these committee members, as well as Magistrate Judges Edwin Torres and Gary Jones, and the clerks of court offices, and IT staff for bringing this pilot program to life. We hope to make this a regular program.
As a gateway to our committee, projects, and federal news, the committee maintains The Federal Corner on The Florida Bar website. The committee has enhanced The Corner this past year and utilizes it as the easiest and most cost effective way to communicate with our members and, more importantly, with all members of The Florida Bar. All rule amendments, proposed changes affecting federal courts, announcements, and other news of note are timely posted on The Federal Corner. In addition, it maintains links to proposed amendments to local rules, as well as federal rules of procedure, and lists sponsors who help support the committee’s activities. Special thanks to John Badalamenti for ensuring The Corner is current and informative.
This past year produced a flurry of proposed and final amendments in nearly all of the rules of procedure affecting federal courts. Special thanks to vice chair, Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, and the rules subcommittee for compiling and publishing these amendments to the committee and to the Bar membership through The Federal Corner.
The committee maintains the Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida’s Federal Courts on the Bar’s website. Many of Florida’s federal circuit, district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges participate in the guide by responding to surveys about various subjects and practice areas. The guide serves as an invaluable resource to both in-state and out-of-state practitioners that appear before the judges. Thanks to Rob Norway, vice chair, who has worked diligently this year with the Bar’s staff to update the guide.
This committee recognized years ago that combining rather than competing for resources will bring the best result. In this regard, the committee emphasizes the need to work with Federal Bar Associations across the state and other organizations whose purpose is to enhance and progress practice in federal courts. Thanks to Vice Chair Stefanie Moon, who is working with the South Florida chapter of the Federal Bar Association to jointly present Judge Jay Zaney, from the Eastern District of Louisiana, to speak on Support of Lawyers/Legal Personnel — All Concerns Encouraged (SOLACE), a program that impacts many lives.
Some final words of appreciation: This committee could not operate without the dedication and hard work of our Bar staff liaison, Lani Fraser. Although her work is unseen by the majority of our committee, she has been an incredible resource.
We have six members terming off the committee after serving six years. Barbara Arco, Patty Barksdale, James Craig, Stephanie Luongo, Sheila Norman, and Senior Judge William Stafford were leaders of this committee and always active in the committee’s mission and projects. Thanks to each of you!
Michael Spellman, Chair
Florida Bar Journal and News Editorial Board
Since 1927, The Florida Bar Journal has chronicled the evolution of law in this state and remains the premier source of practice articles on Florida law. Dedicated to “advancing the competence and public responsibility of lawyers,” some of this year’s articles covered the following topics: mortgage assignment, condemnation cases, title insurance, RICO, the economic loss rule, and judicial disqualification.
Many of the Bar’s sections provided regular columns in their area of practice on subjects such as appellate practice, tax, real property, probate, and trust law, trial practice, environmental and local government law, as well as family practice.
While columns are published under the auspices of the section and its appointed editor, the Journal editorial board reviews and approves all feature articles for publication and is responsible for the submission policy applicable to all Journal articles. Although the submissions are examined for substantive and stylistic content, the board also must check the citations and evaluate the article’s thoroughness and originality.
The editorial board and I encourage members of the Bar to submit articles for publication consideration in the Journal. In addition to the recognition of your peers, publication can result in an award of CLE credit. Articles are also posted on the Bar’s website and in the WESTLAW and Lexis databases.
In recognition of superior writing, the annual Excellence in Writing Award was presented to Fred Goldberg for his 2011 article “Enforcement of Settlements: A Jurisdictional Perspective.” The Editorial Board made its decision based on the article’s quality, difficulty, and style.
The Florida Bar Journal is published 10 times annually, with combined issues in July/August and September/October.
The first issue of the News was published in 1974 and is produced by a staff of professional journalists. The twice-monthly tabloid provides readers with information regarding all levels of the Bar including Board of Governors’ action, legislation, and official notices of court rules and the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as well as regular announcements of CLE offerings. Additionally, the News has featured articles on e-filing of court documents, advertising rules, and court funding. Always popular are the regular columns: “News and Notes” and “On the Move.”
The News classified ads pages serve as a helpful placement service for the Florida legal market.
The Journal and News generate revenue through advertising, royalties, and subscriptions, thereby offsetting some of the costs of printing and postage.
The Board of Governors has approved a mobile app for the Bar News so that users can receive top Bar stories and breaking news virtually instantaneously. The app will offer a list of the top 15 recent News stories, offer access to News’ classified ads, and allow a favorite story to be saved for future reference or shared with friends. Viewers of the classified ads will be able to use their devices to respond directly to advertisers who list email addresses. The app will be available in the near future on various online app stores for iPhones, smart phones, and other devices.
Both the Journal (www.floridabar.org/journal) and News (www.floridabar.org/news) are available on the Bar’s website and have searchable databases for back issues.
The Florida Bar Journal and The Florida Bar News reach approximately 90,000 readers with articles about Florida law, the legal profession, and Bar activities. The editorial board and the staff are committed to maintaining a standard of excellence for the Bar’s official publications. These publications are critical to busy Bar members as a means of keeping up to date on all types of matters affecting their daily practices, as well as developments and trends in the substantive law.
Sorraya M. Solages, Chair
Florida Registered Paralegal
The Florida Registered Paralegal Committee’s purpose is to assist in the implementation of Rule 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar relating to registering for and maintaining Florida registered paralegal status. The committee advises on eligibility, as well as rules changes, as needed.
There are 5,394 Florida registered paralegals (FRPs) as of April 2, 2012, the fourth year of existence for this significant credential for paralegals which indicates a level of achievement and commitment to maintaining a code of ethics.
This year, the committee has focused on improving communication for FRPs and attorneys. The committee was particularly pleased with the recommendations made by the Board of Governors’ Program Evaluation Committee and approved by the board in May that seek to improve communication with and about FRPS.
Several of the recommendations have been accomplished through the steadfast work of the Bar staff. The publication of the FRP Corner in the The Florida Bar News has been expanded.
Links to paralegal associations were added to The Florida Bar website’s links section. A link to the Bar’s Career Center was also added to the FRP link on the Bar’s homepage. Attorneys and paralegals can now conduct a name search by city and by name to confirm a paralegal’s registration status.
The committee was also very pleased with The Florida Bar’s commitment to further enhance the program by the hiring of attorney Shannon Fleming as the assistant director of the FRP program.
The committee also addressed some of the sections of Rule 20 requiring clarification. The committee voted to recommend rule changes to the sections relating to eligibility for registration, registration requirements, reinstatement, duty to update, disclosure of FRP status, and continuing education.
I have been honored, these past four years, to serve with the FRP members of the committee, as well as the attorney members, all of whom are committed to upholding the ethical and eligibility standards required for FRPs. I have also been fortunate to work with the dedicated Florida Bar staff, particularly attorneys Lori Holcomb and Shannon Fleming, and Melanie Woodall and Jacquelyn Reshard, whose efforts truly ensure the success of the program.
Carin M. Gordon, Chair
Health Law Certification
Health law is the practice of law involving federal, state, or local law and rules or regulations regarding the delivery of health care services. In addition to health care provider issues and regulations of providers, health law includes legal issues regarding relationships between and among providers and payors. The area of health law certification was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1994 and currently numbers 116 certified health law attorneys.
To qualify for the health law exam, attorneys must be members of The Florida Bar for five years, be engaged in the full-time practice of law, and be substantially involved (at least 40 percent) in health law for the last three years of their practice. Attorneys seeking health law certification must also complete at least 60 hours of advanced continuing legal education of approved health law credits and pass a stringent peer review process. All currently certified attorneys must apply for recertification every five years.
During the 2011-12 certification cycle, 20 applications to sit for the exam were received and reviewed by the committee. The committee also received and reviewed 22 applications for recertification. The exam was held on May 18, 2012, in Tampa. By the end of this certification cycle, the committee will have held three in-person meetings and two conference calls to review initial and recertification applications, construct the exam, review and respond to requests, and grade examinations.
The 2011-12 Health Law Certification Committee included Michael P. Gennett, vice chair; G. Scott Baity, Jonathan D. Fleece, Vivian M. Gallo, Bernabe A. Icaza, Joshua M. Kaye, Stephanie A. Russo, and Craig H. Smith. Committee members devoted numerous hours to the review and approval of initial applicants to sit for the exam and review of recertification applications. Multiple peer references were obtained and evaluated for each applicant.
Committee members devoted a substantial amount of time to reviewing, updating, and revising the exam, which consists of multiple choice and essay questions. Careful attention was paid to updates and changes in health law and to the fairness of the exam. G. Scott Baity, Michael P. Gennett, Benabe A. Icaza, Zachary Shrader, and I attended the Certification Leadership Conference in September, and our committee benefited from instruction from Karen Barbieri, the BLSE’s exam consultant, as well as from breakout discussion groups focused on various areas for improvement in the certification program.
Additionally, the Board Certification Council of Committees held its inaugural meeting at the leadership conference in September. This committee was launched for, among other purposes, fostering communication among the certification committees and promoting consistencies and efficiencies in the administration of board certification. Counsel delegates representing the Health Law Certification Committee and who attended the inaugural meeting were Paula A. Willis, Michael P. Gennett, Bernabe A. Icaza, and G. Scott Baity.
Since the inaugural meeting, the Health Law Certification Committee collaborated in providing a comprehensive response to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education for its recommendations for promoting the strengths of the certification process.
The committee extends thanks and gratitude to our staff liaison, Zachary Shrader, for keeping us focused and productive. I also sincerely thank Vice Chair Michael Gennett, and all the other members of this year’s committee for their hard work, dedication, and professionalism throughout this certification year.
Paula A. Willis, Chair
Immigration and Nationality Law Certification
Immigration and nationality law is the practice of law dealing with all aspects of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act and implementing regulations. Certification in this field was approved in 1994, and we currently have 57 board certified attorneys. During the past year, the committee has discussed several ways in which more members of the Bar will be encouraged to apply for certification. This year we had one of the largest groups of applicants to apply for certification since the program began. We are extremely encouraged by the number of applicants, and we hope to have several new members once this year’s exams have been graded.
Nearly all attorneys who practice immigration law are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). This national organization with more than 10,000 members has two chapters in Florida: The South Florida Chapter and the Central Florida Chapter. The committee acknowledges the assistance of the officers of the two Florida chapters of AILA in publicizing the advantage of board certification for Florida attorneys. We hope to continue working with AILA to promote board certification as we aim to get to at least 100 board certified attorneys in the next several years.
As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of each applicant necessarily involves the determination of whether the applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. The committee appreciates all of the attorneys who responded to the committee’s requests for the submission of peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement in this area of law. Every applicant can be assured that the information provided was carefully considered by the committee in the evaluation of the applicant.
The committee took many hours to draft, review, and revise the examination. Numerous meetings were held, both in person and telephonically, to assure that the questions were well prepared and that they fairly tested the knowledge of the examinees.
This year’s committee members included Carmen R. Arce, vice chair; Roger A. Bernstein, Kashmira I. Bhavsar, Ramon Carrion, Jeffrey Adam Devore, Linda Marguerite Osberg-Braun, Dilipkumar Patel, and David H. Stoller. I appreciate the hard work and dedication that all of our members put forward to make this year a success. I also want to recognize and thank our Florida Bar liaison, Alexzina Jackson, for her effort and assistance throughout the year.
Finally, I strongly encourage other board certified attorneys to volunteer for service on the committee for this upcoming year and in the future. I am sure you will find it a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Philip M. Zyne, Chair
Intellectual Property Law Certification
The Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee is pleased to report that five attorneys became board certified in intellectual property law following the exam on May 12, 2011. The pass rate for the exam was 100 percent. Intellectual property law was the only area to achieve a 100 percent pass rate in 2011.
Intellectual property law comprises the areas of patent prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, and copyright law. Attorneys may practice in one or a combination of these areas.
The committee diligently worked to prepare for the 2012 exam, May 17 in Tampa. Fourteen applications were received for this year’s exam. Applicants who are registered patent agents and/or attorneys with the USPTO, or are currently certified in either business litigation or civil trial, may waive a portion of the examination.
This year, lawyers who became board certified in intellectual property law in the inaugural class of 2007, will need to apply for recertification. The recertification application is currently available online for download at www.floridabar.org/certification. Recertification requirements can be found in Rule 6-26.4, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and must be met by July 31, 2012. Questions regarding certification or recertification should be directed to certification specialist Julie Coiro at (850) 561-3143, or by email at [email protected]
This year’s Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee was chaired by myself with Jeanne Seewald, vice chair, and members Michael Chesal, Ava Doppelt, Richard Fee, Alexander Fernandez, Ury Fischer, Janet Moreira Gamble, and Mark Terry.
Jeff Lloyd, Chair
International Law Certification
This was an active year for the International Law Certification Committee. The September 2011 meeting and training program for certification committees in Orlando was the springboard for two initiatives that defined the committee’s activities during the 2011-12 year: 1) A review of the questions asked on the certification examination; and 2) a study and ultimate recommendation to the Board of Legal Specialization and Education that a separate certification be created for international litigation and arbitration. These initiatives are described below.
• Review of Certification Examination — The September training program had included instruction from Karen Barbieri, a legal education consultant, concerning common errors in drafting multiple choice questions. Based on Ms. Barbieri’s comments, a number of committee members felt a review of the multiple choice questions was appropriate. Therefore, the committee divided the questions according to the areas of expertise of the individual committee members, followed with a second assignment to review suggested revisions from the first reviewer. In this manner all of the multiple-choice examination questions were reviewed and about one-third of the questions revised, with some of them rewritten entirely. Based on this analysis, the committee believes that the certification examination is not only fairer but also more accurately predictive of the examinee’s individual ability.
• Recommendation for Separate Certification in International Litigation and Arbitration — This has been an issue that has plagued the International Law Certification Committee for a number of years. It was voiced again at the September meeting, and discussions were briefly had with members of the Business Litigation and Civil Trial Certification committees. There was general support voiced for exploring international litigation and arbitration, either as a subspecialty or as a separate area of certification. In part, this reflected a belief that some litigators whose practice is largely international have not pursued certification because of the broad range of the certification examination for international law. Accordingly, a committee was appointed consisting of representatives of both the International Law and Civil Trial Certification committees to analyze, among other things, whether the practice of international litigation and arbitration was sufficiently different from the general practices of international law and of civil litigation to merit different treatment from both of those specialties, whether there would be sufficient interest among Florida’s lawyers to support a separate specialty area, and, alternatively, whether simply treating international litigation and arbitration as a subspecialty would be an appropriate alternative, and finally, whether the public would be served by a certified specialty in international litigation and arbitration.
The committee met both by telephone and in person and concluded that there were indeed strong reasons for a separate specialty area. In particular, the committee confirmed that the area of international litigation and arbitration is a growing area of the law with specific and unique requirements and that there are a number of Florida lawyers whose practice substantially consist of cases in this area. The committee, therefore, prepared a proposed definition of the certification area and identified proposed areas of expertise and general certification requirements. Necessarily, because of the international aspect, there are similarities with the requirements for certification in international law, but international litigation and arbitration is not a subspecialty. The committee has since obtained the approval of the International Section of The Florida Bar and has filed the proposed amendments with the Board of Legal Specialization and Education.
• Certification Examination — Four applicants sought certification in international law in the 2012 examination. As of this writing, the examinations have not been graded.
Dixon F. Miller, Chair
Judicial Administration and Evaluation
The Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee has many responsibilities regarding The Florida Bar and its support of Florida’s judiciary. In addition to reviewing legislation related to the judiciary and making recommendations to the Board of Governors, the committee works with the Florida Supreme Court to administer the Judicial Feedback Program. Every other year when elections are held, the committee also oversees the merit retention poll of Bar members regarding district court of appeal judges and Supreme Court justices.
During the past year, the committee has continued work on a number of projects in support of its mission with subcommittees expected to report back on their work at the June meeting.
The topic of judicial recusal remains a focus of the committee, with subcommittee members Judge Wendy Berger, Judge Lisa Davidson, Dora Kaufman, Gerald Richman, and Judge Barry Stone leading the committee’s work. Several members spoke with Professor Geyh of Indiana University, a recognized expert on recusal, on a number of issues. The subcommittee reviewed the proposal submitted by Gerald Richman and held discussions concerning grounds for disqualification, campaign contributions, using or not using peremptory strikes, granting a motion with comments or granting a motion, but not admitting or denying the accusation, etc. The subcommittee will report to the committee in June.
Jay Kim, vice chair of the JAEC, has been meeting with members of the Constitutional Judiciary Committee, formerly the Judicial Independence Committee, about contested judicial elections, an independent judiciary, and the ongoing need for Benchmarks, the Bar’s adult civics program. In the 2010-11 year, a subcommittee worked with the Constitutional Judiciary Committee to develop a guide for Florida voters containing questions and answers about Florida judges, judicial elections, and merit retention. That guide will be distributed to thousands of voters before the fall elections.
The Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Program, begun in 2010, will be used for the 2012 primary and general elections. The program is designed to assist the public in making educated decisions when voting for judicial candidates. Under the program, judicial candidates can post on the Bar website, www.floridabar.org, statements with information about their backgrounds as well as personal statements. For this year’s elections, statements should be available on the website by July 1.
Vice Chair Jay Kim has also been working on developing a candidate poll for local bar associations. After receiving some suggestions from Mike Garcia, staff liaison to the Board of Governors Program Evaluation Committee, regarding response rate, unsettled areas of law, candidates’ written work, and timeliness of written decisions, he plans to review the suggestions and look at other bar association online polls and report back to the committee in June.
My thanks go to the entire JAEC membership for their commitment and hard work. In particular thanks go to members of the recusal subcommittee for their outstanding work and my vice chairs, Jay Kim and Judge David W. Langham, for their dedication to the committee and its mission.
Andrew V. Tramont, Jr., Chair
Judicial Administration Rules
The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee continued in its role of developing rule strategies to allow the Florida courts and lawyers to properly function within the technological realities of the 21st Century. Nearly everything that was addressed by the RJA Committee this past year was in some fashion related to making a transition from the “paper world” to the electronic future that we are now only beginning to embrace. Additionally, the RJA Committee’s tasks are necessarily complicated by its designated role as the omnibus rule authority for all of the disciplines of practice in Florida and the RJA Committee’s duty to coordinate the other nine rules committees’ efforts to maintain consistency with the RJA.
Since accomplishments are not possible without the participation of individuals, I begin by acknowledging and thanking the only indispensable person serving with the RJA Committee: Jodi Jennings. Jodi is The Florida Bar liaison to the RJA Committee and is the heart and soul of the committee. Quite simply, the RJA Committee could not function without Jodi, and the members of the RJA Committee serve as mere handmaidens to her efforts.
Alexandra Rieman (chair-elect) is at the top of the list of people who made our accomplishments possible. Alexandra served triple duty as the vice chair, secretary, and a subcommittee chair and provided needed assistance and counsel with nearly every subcommittee.
The life blood of any rules committee has been and will continue to be the subcommittee structure. Any rules committee is only as effective as its subcommittees; and the effectiveness of any subcommittee is premised on a dedicated subcommittee chair and members who are committed to successfully completing their tasks. This past year, the RJA Committee was blessed to have both outstanding members and devoted subcommittee chairs. The membership of the RJA Committee is comprised of outstanding and motivated practitioners and judges who are committed to the improvement of our court system for the benefit of all and I thank them for their unparalleled service. I am grateful for the exemplary efforts of the subcommittee chairs: Alexandra Rieman; Murray Silverstein; Corinne Hodak; Mark Romance; David Jones; and Judge Jon Morgan. Additionally, I would be remiss in my acknowledgements if I did not express my gratitude to Paul Regendsdorf who has made himself available whenever called upon and has provided invaluable assistance to me, the RJA Committee, and The Florida Bar on a variety of RJA issues.
I personally thank all of the other rule committee chairs and their representatives/liaisons who served on the RJA Committee for their dedicated cooperative efforts, which have benefited the citizens, lawyers, and courts of Florida. The representatives/liaisons from other rules committees must not only serve on their own committees, but are also required to serve on subcommittees with the RJA Committee and they are applauded for making this unusual commitment. But for the collegial spirit that the other rules committees have shown, the RJA Committee would not have enjoyed the high level of success we can all be proud of achieving. Although the various rules committees are dedicated to serving the best interests of their particular disciplines, it has been my experience over the last several years that the rules committees have been more committed than ever to working together for the common good of the entire Bar. To that end, The Florida Bar liaisons for the rules committees have all been quite helpful, more than dedicated and the RJA Committee could not properly function without the necessary assistance of the liaisons who serve all of the rules committees: Jodi Jennings, Ellen Sloyer, and Krys Godwin.
As an additional matter, pursuant to an order from the Florida Supreme Court, the RJA Committee and the Florida Courts Technology Commission (FCTC) established a workgroup that included practitioners and judges from across the state for the purpose of responding to eservice and efiling rules inquiries by the court (SC10-2101 and SC11-399). One could not overstate the dedication and spirit of cooperation that existed among the many participants seeking to resolve these very complicated issues. Due to the large number of participants, I am unable to thank all of the people who contributed to the endeavor and who were all specifically listed in the workgroup’s report to the Supreme Court. However, it is noted that we could not have competently completed our assigned tasks without the assistance of Judge Judith L. Kreeger, Judge S. Scott Stephens, and Paul Regensdorf.
The tasks undertaken by the RJA Committee during the past year included:
Proposed amendments to Rule 2.140: Because of the number of referrals received by the RJA Committee that involve the need to join efforts with other committees, rule amendments have been proposed that would accommodate a formal and consistent process for handling such joint assignments. The proposed rule amendment was finalized by the subcommittee chaired by Murray Silverstein and approved by the RJA Committee. The proposed amendment was recently submitted to the Supreme Court and remains pending.
Proposed amendments to Rule 2.420 (SC11-2466): In an effort to properly balance the privacy rights of litigants with public access to court records, the Supreme Court implemented the existing revised rule in March, 2010. Since the implementation of this complex and lengthy rule, the RJA Committee undertook an equally lengthy review of the manner in which the rule has been operating. The RJA subcommittee initially chaired by the undersigned and more recently chaired by Corinne Hodak made a significant and substantial number of recommendations designed to improve the operation of the rule and correct discovered “glitches.” The subcommittee and others who participated in the project are to be commended for completing a very arduous task. These amendments were approved by the committee and submitted to the Supreme Court for consideration. The Supreme Court recently determined that the matter would be considered without oral argument.
Proposed Rule 2.451: The Supreme Court requested that the committee address the use of electronic devices in the courtroom by jurors and other nonmedia attendees. Based on concerns raised after the proposed rule was published for comment, the proposal was further amended and is in the process of being submitted to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Proposed Rule 2.514 (SC10-2299): The Uniform Computation of Time rule was argued before the Supreme Court by George Tragos on October 6, 2011, and we await a ruling by the court.
Proposed Rule 2.516 (SC10-2101): The email service rule was orally argued before the Supreme Court by Paul Regensdorf on June 8, 2011, and we await a ruling by the court. As part of the on-going electronic service issues, the subcommittee chaired by Corinne Hodak is currently considering potential rule amendments related to any service issues that may arise based on the implementation of the anticipated statewide electronic portal.
Proposed Amendments to Rule 2.525 (SC11-399): The eservice rule was orally argued before the Supreme Court by the undersigned on November 3, 2011, along with rules submitted by other rules committees to accommodate electronic filing in the court system. Based on discussions that occurred at oral argument, the Supreme Court entered an order on December 6, 2011, requesting the FCTC and RJA Committee to form a joint workgroup to consider further limitations on the proposed exceptions to electronic filing; whether institutional nonparties should be required to file electronically; and how the implementation of email service (proposed Rule 2.516) should be coordinated with electronic filing. The workgroup, which included a substantial contingent from the RJA Committee, toiled relentlessly for nearly three months to resolve the complex issues. The response filed by the workgroup on March 6, 2012, included significant amendment revisions to Rule 2.525. We await a ruling by the court.
Review of Rule Proposals from Other Committees: The task of reviewing all of the other rule committees’ rule amendment proposals was handled by a subcommittee composed of all of the other rule committee liaisons chaired by vice chair/chair-elect, Alexandra Rieman.
Amendments to the Internal Operating Procedures: The subcommittee chaired by Judge Jon Morgan has been diligently considering a complete revision of the RJA Committee’s internal operating procedures. Their proposals will be considered at the June meeting.
It has been an honor and a privilege to be allowed to serve as the 2011-12 chair of the RJA Committee.
Keith H. Park, Chair
Judicial Nominating Procedures
The purpose and mission of this committee is to assist the Governor and the JNCs in performing their duties under Fla. Const. art. V, §11 and under F.S. §43.291. Our primary tasks are to plan and organize the JNC training seminar for all commissioners; to plan and organize JNC Rules conventions when needed; and keep commissioners apprised of any new legislation or rules that may affect their duties. The committee assists the governor’s office in administering the judicial selection process in Florida to ensure the nominating process runs efficiently and effectively.
The Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee is comprised of an enthusiastic and dedicated group of 43 members, who serve staggered terms in order to promote institutional history. The members met twice this past year at our Florida Bar meetings on June 24, 2011, and September 23, 2011. With enthusiasm and deliberation, the committee focused its efforts on planning and preparing for a successful JNC Training Seminar.
Under the dedicated leadership of committee vice chair and Fifth District Court of Appeal Judge Bill Palmer, the committee developed and produced a JNC training that was held on October 28, 2011, at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. The program was taped for the purpose of providing a DVD to each commission so that those unable to attend could benefit by watching. Attorney participants received 6.5 hours of CLE credit. More than 80 JNC commissioners attended the day-long training that addressed their responsibilities, ethics, and the sunshine laws, the psychology of effective judicial interviewing, and diversity. The program featured a panel discussion comprised of current or former JNC commissioners speaking on all aspects of the nominating process. Other featured speakers were Virlindia Doss, executive director of the Florida Ethics Commission; Patricia Gleason, special counsel for open government from the Attorney General’s Office; and Dr. Deborah Day, a psychologist who also served on the Supreme Court JNC. Conscious of encouraging diversity in not only our JNCs, but the judicial nominees, our JNC training included a segment on diversity sensitivity lead by Arnell Bryant-Willis, diversity initiatives manager for The Florida Bar.
Governor Scott’s then general counsel and Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee member, Charles Trippe, addressed and welcomed the trainees, encouraging commissioners to seek out people of character and to treat every judicial applicant with the utmost respect. Mr. Trippe expressed that judicial restraint was a quality important to judicial appointment based on it being “crucial to the separation of powers; it is crucial to the role of limited government; it is crucial to predictability in the law; and all those things are crucial to the maintenance of the rule of law.”
Additionally, the JNC commissioners were inspired by Bar President-elect Gwynne Young, a former Second DCA JNC commissioner and current federal JNC commissioner, who told the attendees their role in the merit selection process is “a critical part in ensuring we have a high quality, fair, and impartial judiciary.” Ms. Young said the process “takes politics out of this process, to some degree, and provides a screening process that . . . looks for the best quality candidates who can ensure we have a fair and impartial judiciary.” Ms. Young challenged each new commissioner to do the very best job to provide the governor with a list of judicial nominees who are the most qualified, who maintain the highest integrity, and reflect the diversity of this state and of our profession.
In addition to the JNC training, the committee continued its work on the following projects:
• JNC Newsletter — The committee developed the newsletter to increase knowledge and communication among JNC commissioners throughout the state. It is transmitted electronically to all sitting commissioners by the governor’s office.
• JNC Application — The judicial application was last updated on September 11, 2009. At that time, the committee did not address the financial history page. Subsequently, we solicited input from the JNCs as to what information or suggestions they had for revising the financial history page, as well as other aspects of the application. The subcommittee continues to analyze the responses, and will be proposing changes to the Financial History Page and possibly revised questions that contemplate appellate practice experience. Once approved by the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee, the proposed changes will be subject to a future JNC rules convention.
• Review of Uniform Rules of Procedure — A subcommittee was formed headed up by member Jerry Curington, who has gathered information and analyzed potential changes to the Uniform Rules of Procedure governing JNCs. The proposed changes pertain to conformity with redactions made to applications and Florida’s Sunshine Law. The changes, if approved by the full committee, will be subject to a future JNC rules convention.
Our committee members actively engaged and sacrificially served on this standing committee of The Florida Bar this past year. The committee has appreciated and enjoyed the dedication of our President Scott Hawkins, as well as other Bar liaisons, including Vicki Brand, who work to keep our members apprised of any legislative changes so that our committee can adjust and collaborate with the governor’s office to train the JNC commissioners according to the law and rules governing their vital work. We look forward again to serving with and seeing our next Bar President Gwynne Young.
Kara Rockenbach, Chair
Juvenile Court Rules
This year has been the proverbial calm before the storm for the Juvenile Court Rules Committee. While preparing for the upcoming consideration of the three-year cycle report, the committee worked on reforming some of its forms in all the areas covered by these rules. Additionally, this committee was active within the Rules of Judicial Adminstration and in the Florida Supreme Court with the proposal regarding uniform computation of time and the upcoming implementation of electronic filing and electronic service.
On October 20, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court approved changes to the disposition order form in delinquency, along with amendments and new rules proposed to address changes made by the legislature to F.S. §390.01114. Thanks to Deborah Schroth, who chaired the special subcommittee concerning this issue, and other matters arising from the legislative session.
I must also thank Vice Chairs Judge Daniel Dawson and Whitney Untiedt, and Bill Booth, our immediate past chair, for their help in guiding our committee through another year. Most of all, I need to thank our Florida Bar liaison, Ellen Sloyer, without whose diligence and patience, we would be lost.
The members of this committee are experienced and caring professionals, and it was of great comfort and joy that many past members of the committee returned to add their years of experience and institutional knowledge. I am truly honored to have been the chair of this committee during the 2011-12 Bar year, and I look forward to continuing to serve in the upcoming year.
Joel M. Silvershein, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Certification
The area of labor and employment law certification was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2000 and currently numbers 186 certified labor and employment law attorneys.
The practice of labor and employment law encompasses advice and representation concerning the application and interpretation of public and private sector labor and employment law principles, as well as employment discrimination and employment-related civil rights law.
To qualify for the labor and employment law certification exam, attorneys must be a member of the Bar for five years, be engaged in the full-time practice of law, and be substantially involved (at least 50 percent) in labor and employment law. Attorneys seeking labor and employment law certification must also complete at least 60 hours of advanced continuing legal education of approved labor and employment law credits and pass a stringent peer review process. All currently certified attorneys must apply for recertification every five years. Attorneys interested in applying for board certification in labor and employment law may find the application, standards, and committee policies on The Florida Bar’s website.
For the 2011-12 certification year, the committee reviewed nine initial applications for certification. Of those, seven sat for the exam administered on March 9, 2012, in Tampa. As of this writing, the final exam grades have not been approved by the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. The committee also reviewed an unprecedented 96 recertification applications.
The committee met in person three times to review applications, and to draft and grade the examination. In addition to the in-person meetings, the members of the committee also devoted many hours of personal time to perfect and review examination questions, as well as collaborating over conference calls.
The committee extends thanks to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Zachary Shrader. Members of the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee include Angela Elaine Outten, vice chair, William H Andrews, Don R Boswell, Mary Li Creasy, Thomas A. Delegal III, Eric K. Gabrielle, Robyn S. Hankins, and Kathryn S. Piscitelli. Members who have served a full six years and are completing their service with the committee are Thomas A. Delegal and Ryan D. Barack. We thank them for their service.
Ryan D. Barack, Chair
Law Related Education
The Law Related Education Committee wrapped up yet another productive year serving its mission promoting law-related education programs for K-12 students throughout Florida. This past year our committee advanced its partnership with Justice Teaching, continued its involvement with the state’s mock trial and moot court competitions, organized another YouTube contest, disseminated our annual educational pamphlets, and continued to search for additional programs that will help promote respect by Florida’s youth for the legal system.
The Law Related Education Committee is proud to announce it has collaborated with Justice Teaching, a program established by Justice Fred Lewis of the Florida Supreme Court in creating an annual award for the Justice Teaching volunteer and Justice Teaching Select Committee judge of the year. The aim of Justice Teaching is to pair an attorney with every school in Florida in order to promote civic and law-related education in the classroom. The program is organized by Justice Lewis and a select committee of judges each responsible for coordinating training and volunteer activity within their district. The LREC has created an award, nomination and selection process that will recognize an outstanding volunteer and judge for the past year. This year will mark the first time the recognition is awarded and the winners will be presented with this distinction during The Florida Bar Convention’s Judicial Luncheon this June. Further information regarding the Justice Teaching program and the award nomination process may be found at http://www.justiceteaching.org/info.shtml.
The year 2012 marked another successful year of collaboration with our committee and the Florida Law Related Education Association, a Florida nonprofit whose mission closely mirrors our own. Both the LREC and the FLREA strive to promote the civic and law-related education of Florida’s youth through the development and implementation of educational programs. The LREC once again worked closely with Annette Boyd Pitts, long-time committee member and executive director of the FLREA, as well as her staff on the development of the competition packets for our state’s 22nd annual Florida High School Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions. The team cultivated a hypothetical revolving around the interesting, educational, and topical issue of cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking. The effort was spearheaded by Vice Chairs J. Scott Slater and Melina Buncome. Their contributions were exemplary and epitomized the meaningful work that Florida Bar committee volunteers conduct in addition to their many personal and professional responsibilities.
This year the committee also organized the second annual YouTube contest in which Florida high school students compete by submitting public service videos dealing with issues presented in The Legal Guide for New Adults. This educational pamphlet, created and disseminated by the LREC is aimed at educating high school seniors about their rights and responsibilities once they reach the age of majority. The guide is distributed to schools throughout the state and is filled with valuable information on a variety of pertinent issues, including but not limited to, the importance of voting, jury duty, maintaining car insurance, and entering contracts. The YouTube contest helps readers of the guide foster a better understanding and raises awareness for the issue through the vehicle of social media. Subcommittee team leader Dion Hancock was the driving force behind both projects and personally awarded the winners of the inaugural YouTube Contest from Edison Contest in Lee County. Mr. Hancock traveled to Lee County on his own time, despite a demanding personal and professional schedule. Mr. Hancock’s dedication to our committee’s efforts not only inspired his colleagues, but added a personal touch to the award that was greatly appreciated by the winners.
Many sincere thanks and much respect goes to all who volunteered or helped serve as a member of the committee or in furtherance of one of our programs. We will endeavor to persevere in support of all Florida youth and their absolute right to know and better understand the law. We shall, therefore, move forward into the next year striving to continue the success of existing programs while being vigilant in the pursuit of new opportunities that may further our mission.
Pete DiPace, Chair
Legal Needs of Children
Through its subcommittees, the Legal Needs of Children Committee endeavored to focus on legal issues vital to the well-being of Florida’s children. The Legal Needs of Children Committee has six subcommittees whose accomplishments are updated below.
• Human Trafficking Subcommittee — The Human Trafficking Subcommittee was co-chaired by Mary Cagle, state director of Children’s Legal Services, and William Booth of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. The committee approved positions proposed by the subcommittee supporting the establishment of safe houses for trafficked children and the empowerment of law enforcement to treat these children as victims and not delinquents. The 2012 legislature passed SB 202/HB 99, which creates safe houses for children who have been trafficked for sex, and passed HB 7049, which consolidates existing human trafficking laws to aid in the arrest of traffickers. The Florida Bar News featured two articles on the subcommittee’s work. These articles brought the issue of trafficking of children to the entire Bar. As a result, the subcommittee was contacted by others in The Florida Bar wishing to assist the subcommittee. The subcommittee’s plan is to develop and present trainings on human trafficking to the entire Bar.
• Certification Subcommittee — The exciting news from the Certification Subcommittee is that The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Certification (BLSE) has approved in concept a joint proposal from the Public Interest Law Section and the Legal Needs of Children Committee to establish board certification in the field of children’s law. This matter will come before BLSE in the coming months for final approval. Once BLSE signs off on a final version of the proposal, the matter will advance to a committee of the Bar’s Board of Governors. After that, approval of the full Board of Governors and the Florida Supreme Court is required before certification will come into existence.
• Graham Subcommittee — In May 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida ruled that it is unconstitutional to give children a sentence of life without parole for nonhomicide offenses. In that opinion, Florida was highlighted for having a disproportionate number of inmates who were given this sentence when they were children. In the opinion, the Court identified 77 inmates in Florida out of the 129 nationwide. In response to this opinion, the Legal Needs of Children Committee explored how The Florida Bar could help Florida address this problem. The committee took two actions. At the June 2011 meeting, the committee hosted a panel presentation on the topic, which included many perspectives, moderated by the outgoing chair, Mary Cagle. The committee also sought and received permission from the Bar’s governing board to support legislation that recognizes children sentenced in adult court for more than 10 years have a meaningful opportunity for early release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation. Although bills to address the court’s decision were debated in the Florida Legislature this year, no legislation was passed. Nonetheless, the committee hopes to continue its advocacy in the next legislative session.
• Direct File Subcommittee — The direct file subcommittee was created in 2010 and is co-chaired by Joyce Cohen and Scott Janowitz. Direct filing is the criminal prosecution of children as adults in adult court. The subcommittee was created to analyze and provide recommendations consistent with the 2002 report of The Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children concerning the prosecution of children as adults.
Pursuant to the subcommittee’s recommendations, the Legal Needs of Children Committee unanimously passed legislative positions supporting legislation to restore judicial authority to determine the appropriateness of whether a child should be prosecuted in adult court, and supporting legislation to implement an array of sentencing options for children in adult court, including blended sentences. Working in conjunction with the Public Interest Law Section, these two legislative positions were approved as a committee position by The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
• The Regis Little Subcommittee — The Regis Little Subcommittee is a working group formed to convert the recommendations set forth in the “Final Report of the Regis Little Task Force” into meaningful and achievable improvements in the web of systems and services charged with helping children. Priorities identified in the original report, published April 7, 2010, are youth-specific data and geography, adult connections for foster youth, and foster youth with disabilities turning 18. Late in 2011, the subcommittee, chaired by Professor Gerard Glynn, produced “Confidentiality-based Barriers to Advocacy and Survival: A White Paper for Empowering Foster Youth in Memory of Regis Little,” which calls for action steps to commence the creation and implementation of a web-based, information-sharing system for use by everyone responsible for the child’s well being. The subcommittee, co-chaired by Jodi Seitlin and Rosemarie Farrell, continues to work with the Department of Children and Families to find increased efficiencies within existing resources and improve the process and architecture of acquiring, retaining, and making best use of youth-specific data. The subcommittee is also moving forward with a guardianship project directed at youth with developmental as well as nondevelopmental disabilities, aging out of the foster care system. Subcommittee member Deborah Schroth has authored “Review of Guardianship Issues for Children with Disabilities Who Age Out of Foster Care” which will be presented to the Legal Needs of Children Committee in June to lead the effort to address the legal needs of these young adults.
• Representation Subcommittee — It’s appropriate to end the Legal Needs of Children summary with discussion of the Representation Subcommittee. The Legal Needs of Children Committee’s goal of assuring the right of children to have legal representation has been a strong legislative resolve of The Florida Bar thanks to the efforts of former committee Chair Howard Talenfeld, who helped craft a position that all could rally around. The committee will likely advocate that position again after it lapses and The Florida Bar revisits its legislative platform prior to the 2013 legislative session.
Alan Abramowitz, Chair
The Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) Advisory Board exists to make law practice more efficient and more effective for the many Florida Bar lawyers who practice solo or in small- to mid-size law firms. The Advisory Board participates by providing guidance and assistance to the LOMAS staff. LOMAS Director Judith Equels leads talented and experienced staff members Jerry Sullenberger and Debbie Farrell, who perform the day-to-day duties of one of the Bar’s most valuable departments. Bar membership surveys consistently rank LOMAS as one of the most desirable programs that the Bar offers. This recognition is due to the hard work of the LOMAS staff. Each member has years of experience working with a myriad of law practice essentials, such as technology, law firm administration, trust accounting and fiduciary responsibilities, management, and human resources.
LOMAS is in its 32nd year of providing outstanding service to Florida lawyers. From its infancy, the program has remained true to its four basic goals: 1) investigate, accumulate, and evaluate information, technology, and materials in order to assist lawyers in the effective management of their practices, while promoting professionalism in all aspects of practice and awareness of risk reduction procedures; 2) present, publish, and disseminate, in a cost-effective manner, information, techniques, and materials to assist lawyers with effective practice management; 3) assist, upon request, individual lawyers and small firms in the evaluation and solution of their management problems; and 4) anticipate and advise The Florida Bar about perceived trends, problems, and developments in professionalism and practice management.
LOMAS accomplishes these goals in a variety of ways. During 2011-12, the staff continued to reach out to more than a third of The Florida Bar’s membership by offering free on-demand continuing legal education, website resources, no-charge telephone consultations, and low-cost video consultations. Regarding the latter, LOMAS personnel have successfully transitioned from the former practice of on-site consultations to video conference administrative management consultations for lawyers and their law firms. This improvement has resulted in reduced expenses and greater service availability to our busy Bar members.
LOMAS has developed four new online, on-demand CLE seminars that are free to viewers. With these new offerings, the LOMAS catalog now has 13 free online CLE seminars covering various law practice management topics. The four new seminars are:
• Professional Liability Insurance: Everything You Need to Ask;
• Risk Management for Law Firms;
• Business Plans for Start-up Law Firms (produced in conjunction with the University of Miami Law School’s Legal Corps organization); and
• New Rule 2.526: Digital Accessibility of E-filed Court Documents.
Additionally, LOMAS personnel are regular and sought-after presenters at The Bar’s Professional Enhancement School and at the Young Lawyers Division’s “Practicing with Professionalism” programs, held throughout the state.
Finally, in addition to assisting hundreds of individual lawyers and law firms each year, LOMAS participates at the macro level in the advancement of the legal profession. LOMAS staff members have made themselves and the program’s resources available to members of The Florida Bar’s Hawkins Commission, which is reviewing a multitude of issues relating to senior lawyers. The program also supports the Bar’s core functions by making useful LOMAS consultations available not only to lawyers on voluntary basis, but also to lawyers facing discipline.
The Florida Bar Law Office Management Assistance Service is a leader in its field. Thousands of Bar members have benefitted through its programs and its people. Lawyers and the public they serve are more prepared and professional than ever as a result. The LOMAS Advisory Board is privileged to assist in this extremely valuable and effective program.
Tim Chinaris, Chair
Marital and Family Law Certification
I am pleased to report that this year was another milestone year for the Marital and Family Law Certification Committee. The number of new applicants continued its upward trend, with this year having the largest number of applicants ever: 69. Likewise we had the largest number of applicants ever to take the exam: 41. Because last year was the recertification cycle for the initial class of 1985, the number of recertification applicants was down slightly: 40. Very positive feedback was received from the “Tips and Nibbles” program, which was part of the marital and family law review course in January and is offered to assist the exam takers.
With regard to the examination itself, this year proved to be particularly challenging as one component of the format changed this year. As the suggestion of Dr. Barbieri, for the first time, the marital and family law certification examination had multiple choice questions instead of true/false questions. Writing multiple choice question presented challenges and certainly enlivened the discussions and debates over the proposed questions. Fortunately, the assistance and information provided at the leadership conference was very beneficial and helpful in constructing the questions. Having the leadership conference in September, as opposed to November, was also greatly beneficial.
Overall, the Marital and Family Law Certification Program continues to grow in size and prestige. At the present time, there are 278 attorneys board certified in marital and family law (out of 3,649 members of the Family Law Section.) This is the fourth largest certification area behind civil trial, criminal trial, and real estate. Fellow family law attorneys and judicial officers recognize the importance of board certification as is evidenced by the response to the request for peer review.
I want to make a special point to thank everybody who has been involved in the marital and family law board certification program and process this year. The success of the program would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, including each member of the committee (Allyson Hughes, Maria Gonzalez, Mark Rabinowitz, Elisha Roy, Debra Sutton, Barry Wayne, Caryn Green, and Tyrone Zdravkovski). The six years I have served on this committee has been one of the highlights of my legal career. I am a better attorney and better person for knowing every one with whom I have served. I think anyone who has not served on this committee cannot fully understand and appreciate the sacrifice, dedication, and hours of hard work performed by the members of this committee. Also, just as important as any member of this committee, is our board certified specialist, Stacy Piland. She is truly the “glue that holds” this committee together. Lastly, I want to thank all of the members of BLSE, especially Terry Fogel, whose input has been invaluable. The relationship between BLSE and the certification committees is a symbiotic one and one cannot fully succeed without the other. I know that the dedication and sacrifice of the members of BLSE matches our own, and likely exceeds it.
Jeffrey A. Conner, Chair
Media and Communications Law
The Media and Communications Law Committee is excited to end its 2011-12 year with a Media Law Conference on Friday, June 22, during The Florida Bar’s 2012 annual convention. The topics for the conference include:
• A panel on reporting issues for the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Tampa this year;
• The use of intellectual property in campaign advertising;
• A panel discussion on the legislation and subsequent lawsuits regarding whether doctors can talk to their patients about guns;
• And issues dealing with anonymity of bloggers.
The committee provides Bar members a forum for sharing information about the law applicable to free speech and communications, and we think that the topical legal issues to be addressed during the Media Law Conference will accomplish that goal.
The committee explores legal issues pertaining to the full spectrum of communications methods, including print, broadcast, cable, and social media. We have a busy committee with active members who, in addition to the media law conference at the annual convention, helped to plan the following successful programming during the 2011-12 year:
• The CLE seminar, "First Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court," which usually attracts a sold-out audience at the annual convention;
• The Reporters Workshop, a two-day seminar during the fall held in Tallahassee at the Supreme Court, which educated reporters from around the state who cover legal issues;
• And the media awards, which recognized outstanding journalism, highlighting the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians.
The committee was fortunate to have many Florida Supreme Court justices and government leaders attend our media awards ceremony in Tallahassee.
Media and Communication Law Committee members also regularly work with the Florida First Amendment Foundation on its Sunshine seminars, which are one-day workshops in which committee volunteers travel to various Florida cities to educate the public about open government and media law issues.
Committee members also keep abreast of issues dealing with privacy, court records, and electronic filing and how they affect access to the courts and the court system.
I thank the members of the Media and Communications Law Committee for a fantastic year.
I also encourage anyone interested in working with the committee to join us.
Jennifer A. Mansfield, Chair
The mission of The Florida Bar Member Benefits Committee is to review and evaluate existing benefit programs for Bar members, evaluate programs and services offered to the Bar for members, and make recommendations to the Board of Governors on changes or additions to the benefits program. During the past year, the Member Benefits Committee has taken this mission seriously and worked diligently evaluating existing programs and reviewing potential programs. The Member Benefits Committee continues to actively pursue discounted member benefits for the members of The Florida Bar. The committee reviewed more than 13 proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers during the 2011-12 fiscal year and has launched three new programs including a mobile website design and Internet marketing benefit (Association Benefits International), a legal forms benefit (US Legal Formspass), and an online flowers and gifts benefit (FTD.com). The committee has continued to expand existing member benefits agreements with Bank of America (business and personal credit cards and business and personal banking needs), BPC Financial (The Florida Bar member benefits insurance and retirement programs), LawPay (attorney-specific law firm merchant account), and LexisNexis (client development solutions). At the request of committee Chair Mark Ragusa, BPC Financial conducted an in-depth study of the group health insurance market in Florida and initiated a multi-carrier request for proposal process for group health insurance and other potential healthcare alternatives. Chair Ragusa encourages all Bar members to visit the www.floridabar.org/memberbenefits web site to take advantage of the wide array of discounted personal and professional services offered to Bar members through The Florida Bar member benefits program.
Mark Ragusa, Chair
The Military Affairs Committee promotes the collaboration of members of The Florida Bar whose mission includes coordination with military commands and their attorneys to assist with and improve the delivery of legal services to active duty and reserve military service members, their families, and to veterans.
Through Operation Standby, lawyer-to-lawyer advice is available to military attorneys concerning Florida law and practice. The members of the Military Affairs Committee are a tremendous resource of information with varied practices across the spectrum of the law, many with impressive military backgrounds and credentials, but all with an abiding and dedicated desire to assist our uniformed personnel.
Some of our members are involved in incentives, such as the expansion of Veterans Courts Programs in Florida and consulting with the judiciary, state attorneys, and public defenders on behalf of veterans and problems specific to them. Others of our committee provide substantial assistance to community law programs, the legal problems of homeless veterans and their families.
Networking among the committee is a tremendous strength.
The committee also sponsors the Clayton Burton Award of Excellence, named for the founder of the Military Affairs Committee, which is presented to the person who best demonstrates character and leadership in promotion of the quality of legal services to military personnel serving in Florida. The recipient for 2010 was Colonel Howard O. McGilliin, Jr., U.S. Army and for 2011, the Honorable James A. Ruth, U.S. Army National Guard of Jacksonville. The award presentations were made at our annual Mi1itary Law and Legal Assistance Symposium, scheduled during Florida Bar’s annual convention in June 2011.
Attendees included active and reserve military service members, interested civilians, and committee members. Topics included international law, detention operations (including Gitmo), elder law, legislation affecting military members and families, and update of veterans advocacy, and an ethics panel. Our keynote speaker was Colonel Larry D. Youngner, USAF, who gave an enlightening talk on “What JAGs Do in Florida.”
Aleks Jagiella and her symposium committee did an outstanding job in putting together this well-received program. The 2012 symposium will be June 23, 2012, in Orlando and Miriam Victorian and her committee have an excellent symposium planned.
An ongoing effect to reach out to established organizations and groups who represent or counsel veterans was spearheaded by Captain John Tuthill and Colonel Hal Youmans and is meeting with success.
A highlight of the year was committee’s collaboration with the Stetson University College of Law to jointly present veterans law accreditation training over Veterans’ Day weekend at the Tampa Law Center. The well-attended program provided the approved training necessary to represent veterans before the Veterans Administration and the Court of Veterans Claims.
Among the many who worked hard to make this happen, the committee especially thanks Professor Charlie Rose of Stetson and Mary Ann Obos of The Florida Bar.
We anticipate our joint training with Stetson University College of Law will be an annual event to train advocates for our service members and their families who have given so much.
John E. Tuthill, Chair
Prepaid Legal Services
The Prepaid Legal Services Committee of The Florida Bar is expressly entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that legal services plans submitted by members of The Florida Bar are in full and complete compliance with the rules and regulations of, what is now known as, Ch. 9, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
In addition to fulfilling its stated mission, the committee has, throughout the years, expanded its scope and focus to include 1) educating the membership of The Florida Bar on the specifics of the Florida regulatory system of legal services plans, including a) the entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans by and under Ch. 9, and b) the availability of those certain other legal and business opportunities provided in the Legal Expense Insurance Act, by and under the provisions of F.S. Ch. 642; and 2) creating a greater awareness in the consuming public of the benefits afforded upon membership in plans.
The committee had the opportunity to review and discuss at length during its meetings held on June 23, 2011, and February 3, 2012, the renewal process, involving some 36 Ch. 9 plans for the current calendar year.
The committee, during its meeting held on February 3, 2012, also approved the expansion of the current committee page under The Florida Bar website. Headed up by Vice Chair Nancy R. Berger, this effort will allow members of the Bar to access prepaid legal plan documents more readily along with access to general information about legal services plans. In addition, past Chair John Schaefer embraced the responsibility of drafting a standardized managing attorney agreement and several other documents for members of the Bar to assist them in creating a legal plan for their practice. Final review and approval by members of the committee has allowed the documents to be on the Bar website around the time this report is published. Kudos to John and Nancy for their hard work!
Finally, on June 20, 2012, at the annual convention of The Florida Bar, the committee will once again be privileged to join forces with the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Company in order to co-sponsor an informative CLE seminar, “The Nuts and Bolts of Legal Services Plans Practice in Florida.”
This year, the committee will have John Schaeffer speak on the newly approved forms and process for members to create a legal plan. His presentation is titled “Request for Approval of Chapter 9 Plan Application: Practical Considerations and Tips on Completing the New 2012 Committee Forms.” Afterwards the committee is planning on a panel discussion, “Operational Aspects of Legal Services Plans in Florida,” wherein a panel will be able to address practical questions and inquiries from attendees on legal plans on a more general basis. It will be evident to all who attend that this CLE will be invaluable for members of the Bar who are considering creating a legal plan.
At this time, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the performance of several individuals whose hard work have contributed significantly to permitting the committee to accomplish its agenda and, in turn, further its mission, during this Bar year.
As such, I thank and acknowledge the efforts of the committee’s vice chair, Nancy R. Berger, who has served with distinction for her dedication and commitment to expanding the role of the committee and promoting the concept of legal services plans among attorneys throughout Florida. Also, a thank you is in order to committee member Kent Showalter for his hard work making our CLEs so successful. Finally, I appreciate the efforts of John Schaefer. His volunteerism both as a speaker and author has been invaluable not only to the committee, but also the Bar in general.
In conclusion, it has been an honor to serve The Florida Bar as chair of the Prepaid Legal Services Committee for the past two years. During that time I believe our committee has helped the public gain easier access to legal services while assisting members of the Bar desiring to expand their practices.
John Paul Joseph, Chair
During the past year, the Probate Rules Committee has worked on updates to conform the rules to changes in the Florida Probate Code, proposed rule revisions to be submitted with the next triennial report due in 2013, joint projects initiated by the Florida Supreme Court dealing with electronic filing and electronic service, and the movement to consolidate rules common to many different areas of practice within the Rules of Judicial Administration. The committee also focused on nurturing its relationship with The Florida Bar’s Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section. Among other things, whenever possible, the committee scheduled its meetings to coincide with meetings held by the RPPTL section.
Each year the Probate Rules Committee reviews and analyzes legislation to determine whether amendments to the rules are necessary to conform to substantive changes in Florida’s probate and guardianship laws. The rule amendments implemented in response to 2011 legislation are set forth in the Florida Supreme Court’s September 28, 2011, opinion in Case No. SC11-1575. In particular, Rule 5.025 (adversary proceedings) was amended to add proceedings to reform a will, modify a will, and determine pretermitted status to the list of specific adversary proceedings under 5.025(a). Additionally, Rule 5.025(d)(2) was amended to exclude Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.525 (motions for costs and attorneys’ fees) from the requirement that the Rules of Civil Procedure govern adversary probate and guardianship proceedings. Finally, Rule 5.240 (Notice of administration) was amended to require that a notice of administration include a statement that “the fiduciary lawyer-client privilege in F.S. §90.5021 applies with respect to the personal representative and any attorney employed by the personal representative.”
The committee also participated in oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court in Case No. SC11-399, which deals with the procedural aspects of electronic filing. Probate proceedings involve original documents, such as wills and codicils that must be handled differently than pleadings that are more adaptable to electronic filing. At the time of this report, this case is still pending before the court.
The committee continues to monitor the status of pending legislation to ascertain the need for conforming changes to the rules of procedure. The meeting schedules and agenda are posted on the Florida Probate Rules Committee website, which is accessible at https://www.floridabar.org/cmdocs/cm230.nsf/WDOCS. The Florida Bar’s liaison to the Probate Rules Committee, Krys Godwin, has worked to keep this information easily available to the committee members and others who have an interest in the committee’s activities.
We urge practitioners to monitor The Florida Bar News for the publication of proposed rule changes, as well as the Florida Supreme Court’s web page, which lists the pending rules cases. The Probate Rules Committee also welcomes comments to the published proposals, comments on pending projects, and suggestions for rule changes based upon procedural problems encountered by courts and practitioners.
It has been a privilege and honor for us to serve as co-chairs of the committee this year. Thank you to all the Probate Rules Committee members, The Florida Bar staff, and the members of other rules committees for your contributions during the past year.
John C. Moran and Tasha K. Dickinson, Co-chairs
Pro Bono Legal Services
In 2011, The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services continued to focus its efforts on raising the level of awareness regarding the need for pro bono legal services. Building off the second year of the One Campaign, the committee sought to improve pro bono activities at both the state and local level in the following ways:
• Worked with The Florida Bar to actively nominate specific leaders within Florida’s legal community who are committed to improving pro bono to serve on the committee;
• Submitted a rule change for the makeup of the committee to better reflect a membership structure that can provide long-term leadership for pro bono in Florida;
• Supported the work of local One Campaigns through coordination of statewide resources and speakers to local events;
• Identified “One Ambassadors” across the state who actively led local pro bono efforts;
• Participated in the advancement of Florida’s legal services organizations by assisting with the development of webinars and program workshops;
• Contributed to the revamping of a statewide pro bono website aimed at providing better resources to volunteer attorneys, law students, and legal service organizations;
• Assisted in the development of new/revitalized circuit committees.
Several new projects laid the foundation for expanded pro bono efforts in 2011. The committee reached out to the Business Law Section of The Florida Bar, which sponsored two projects: funding the framing of One Campaign posters for all civil circuit court judges in Florida and sponsoring nonprofit clinics in three cities in which transactional attorneys provided legal advice to nonprofit organizations.
Through the work of the committee, great strides have been made in improving pro bono legal services in Florida. The Florida Bar Foundation reported a 14 percent increase in the number of attorneys providing pro bono legal services through organized programs and a 26 percent increase in the total number of hours contributed in 2010. These numbers are phenomenal in light of the decreased participation amongst volunteer attorneys in previous years. Committee chairs Cori Lopez Castro and Judge William Van Nortwick agree that this increase should be celebrated, but acknowledge more work needs to be done to increase access to justice for Florida’s most disadvantaged residents. In light of massive budget cuts for all legal services organizations, it is the goal of the committee to be an even stronger advocate for pro bono services in 2012.
Judge William A. Van Nortwick, Jr., and Corali Lopez-Castro, Co-chairs
The Professional Ethics Committee is responsible for providing guidance to Bar members on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Formal committee opinions are available on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org. A link to “Ethics Opinions” is included in a blue bar near the top of every page of the website. The committee also provides informational packets and topical information online. The committee is staffed by the Bar’s Ethics Department. The Bar’s ethics attorneys research and draft informal staff opinions and maintain the toll-free Ethics Hotline for Bar members. The committee reviews informal written opinions issued by the bar’s ethics attorneys and reconsiders them sua sponte if the committee deems appropriate or if the inquiring attorney seeks review of the informal staff opinion. In addition, the committee sponsors an annual professional ethics seminar. The committee was busy during the past year, meeting several times and considering many ethical issues.
• Formal Advisory Opinion Procedures — The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics govern the process by which staff issue informal oral and written opinions and by which the committee issues formal opinions. The committee may issue formal opinions upon review of staff opinions and existing formal opinions. Additionally, the Board of Governors may request that the committee issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to a particular set of facts. When issuing proposed formal opinions, the committee publishes official notice in The Florida Bar News, allowing members to comment. The committee values the input provided by such comments and encourages bar members to comment on proposed ethics opinions. The procedures are available on The Florida Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org by choosing the link for “Ethics Opinions.”
• Final Advisory Opinion, Representation of the State in Child Support Enforcement Matters — Florida Ethics Opinion 11-1 addresses whether attorneys representing the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) in Social Security Title IV-D support cases have conflicts when they proceed against a parent on whose behalf they had previously proceeded. Because there is a statute and case law stating that there is no attorney-client relationship between the parent and the attorney representing DOR, there is no ethical limitation on the lawyer representing DOR in providing services to a parent, regardless of prior representation in which services were provided to the other parent. The opinion also states that Rule 4-4.3 regarding communications with unrepresented parties still applies.
• Issue Currently Under Consideration, Waiving Ineffective Assistance of Counsel — The committee is considering adopting a proposed advisory opinion based on an inquiry from a Florida Bar member. The inquirer asked whether a criminal defense lawyer has a conflict of interest that prevents the lawyer from advising a client whether to accept a plea offer that requires the client to waive any past or future ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyer, and whether a prosecutor may make an offer that requires the client to waive any past or future ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct postconviction claims. After considering comments, the committee voted to direct staff to draft a proposed advisory opinion for the committee’s consideration which concludes that a criminal defense lawyer has a conflict of interest that prevents the lawyer from advising a client whether to accept a plea offer that requires the client to waive any past or future ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyer, and that it is impermissible for a prosecutor to make such an offer. The draft will be discussed at the June meeting.
• Appeals of Written Staff Opinions — At each of its meetings, the committee considers appeals by attorneys of written staff opinions issued by staff in response to inquires submitted by the attorneys. Among the issues considered by the committee in such appeals this year were a lawyer’s obligation when affidavits are filed that are signed by persons with no personal knowledge of the contents and that have been improperly notarized; the ethical propriety of a lawyer participating in a managed foreclosure presuit mediation program as a mediator manager where a nonlawyer company owns the entity that manages mediation; a lawyer’s ethical responsibility when the lawyer has been ordered by a state court to withdraw in a pending federal case because of an agreement the inquirer signed in another case, while the federal court has denied the lawyer’s motion to withdraw; whether a lawyer has a conflict when at mediation the opposing side made a settlement offer that specified the amount of attorneys’ fees and costs to be paid the lawyer, which the lawyer believes is well below the amount of attorneys’ fees and costs the lawyer has in the matter; whether a lawyer referral services fee arrangements with participating lawyers constitute improper division of legal fees with a nonlawyer; and the ethical propriety of working for a nonprofit organization run by nonlawyers to provide immigration services.
• Masters Seminar on Ethics — The Professional Ethics Committee’s popular yearly CLE program addresses areas of ethics of great significance to Bar members. The committee again will sponsor a Master’s Seminar on Ethics at the 2012 annual convention. The committee anticipates the seminar will provide 3.5 hours of ethics CLE credit and will include the following topics: ethical issues in social media, issues arising from the use of for-profit referral and legal support services, ethical restrictions implicated in lawyer mobility, and ethical issues regarding cloud computing and electronic discovery. The speakers will include Ethan Wall, Culver “Skip” Smith III, Mark Criser, Patrick M. Causey, and Maura Grossman.
• Informal Ethics Opinions Service — The ethics opinion process continues to rate as among the most desirable services on membership surveys. The committee is committed to providing ethics guidance to Bar members. The committee would like to thank the staff of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. Staff had another busy year on the Ethics Hotline as staff handled over 29,400 hotline calls during fiscal year 2010-2011 in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Adele Ilene Stone, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Kathleen M. Bishop, Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jeffrey M. Hazen, and LiliJean Quintiliani, Legal Assistant Donna Hostutler, Administrative Secretary II Pamela Brown, Administrative Secretaries R. Bryan Arnette and Caleb Ramos, and Program Assistant Ervin Johnson, headed by Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Gary Steven Betensky, Chair
The scope and function of the Standing Committee on Professionalism are to assist the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, The Florida Bar, and The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism in implementing programs, events, and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. This year, the standing committee was divided into six working groups and focused its efforts in the following key areas:
• Random Acts of Professionalism — Pursuant to a request from The Florida Bar’s Program Evaluation Committee (PEC), the Random Acts of Professionalism working group, chaired by Denise D’Aprile, explored the feasibility of developing a new program for The Florida Bar modeled after an initiative of the Washington State Bar Association called “Random Acts of Professionalism.” The program is designed to recognize lawyers who demonstrate an exemplary level of professionalism to reinforce and encourage professionalism and civility in our profession by honoring positive role models. After extensive research and a number of in-person and teleconference meetings, the working group prepared a detailed proposal for the PEC’s consideration, which outlines program design, cost, and implementation.
• Circuit Professionalism Committees — At the request of the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, this working group worked diligently to “develop a plan to have in place a Circuit Professionalism Committee in each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits while also developing a long-term plan to regularly affirm, encourage, nurture, equip, support, and coordinate those committees such that they thrive and serve as engines to drive professionalism awareness and growth throughout all of the professional communities of practice in Florida.” Toward that end, the working group, chaired by George Knox, submitted an action plan to the commission which included a proposed letter for chief judges of each judicial circuit to use to encourage the implementation and reporting of professionalism programs and initiatives, and a proposed administrative order relating to the circuit professionalism committees which addresses their 1) organizational structure; 2) purpose/mission; and 3) standardized reporting. The working group is also exploring how to support the Center for Professionalism in an ongoing effort to collect materials on professionalism programs and resources and maintain them for use by the circuit professionalism committees.
• Aging Lawyers — Led by Michael Cohen, this working group has been an integral part of the Aging Task Force, a joint project of the standing committee, The Florida Bar, the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, and Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. The objective of the task force is to determine the extent of the issue (aging, dementia, and other age-related impairments) among Florida judges and lawyers, create CLE and education programs to inform Bar members of the issues and resources available, and develop interventions, testing procedures, and monitoring programs for attorneys exhibiting signs and symptoms of age-related impairments. The committee’s work has been guided in large part by the 2007 joint report of the National Organization of Bar Counsel and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers. A copy of the report is available on the Florida Lawyers Assistance website at http://fla-lap.org/literature/aprl-nobc-report/.
• William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award — The William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award working group, chaired by Irwin Gilbert, coordinated the recruitment and selection for the “Hoeveler Award,” an award presented annually to a judge who best exemplifies strength of character, service, and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant. The standing committee approved the working group’s recommendation for the recipient of this year’s award, and the award will be presented to the recipient at the judicial luncheon at The Florida Bar annual convention.
• Ad Hoc Support of Commission on Professionalism — At the direction of the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, this working group assisted the commission in its initiative to formalize a process for resolving professionalism complaints in Florida. At its October 2011 meeting, the working group presented research and survey materials to the commission regarding professionalism enforcement models in other states. Throughout the year, the working group has met in person and by teleconference to prepare and revise proposals for this initiative to reflect the specific direction and goals articulated by the commission.
• Lawyers Helping Lawyers — The Lawyers Helping Lawyers program was developed by the Law Office Management Assistance Service (LOMAS) to provide extra help to lawyers who are out of work or who are in need of special services. This working group, chaired by Jeffrey Pearson, provides expertise and resources as needed to assist in making Lawyers Helping Lawyers a valued and useful resource.
Judge Stephanie W. Ray, Chair
Real Estate Certification
As has been ably described in prior years’ reports from the chair, the Real Estate Certification Committee is charged with review of applications from prospective board certified real estate attorneys and preparation of the annual certification exam. The committee is also called upon to evaluate applications for recertification of those attorneys already board certified and who apply for renewal every five years.
In addition to a passing score on the certification exam, all applicants for board certification are expected to meet the Bar’s highest standards for continuing legal education, substantial involvement in real estate law, professionalism, and ethics. The committee relies heavily on both applicant-selected and random peer review as part of this process.
At the present time, there are 442 board certified real estate attorneys in Florida. This figure represents a small percentage of the membership of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the Bar and identifies the board certified attorneys as a very select group.
Over the last several years, the committee has made a conscious effort to make the certification exam a more practical test of “meat and potatoes” real estate law as opposed to a measure of memorization skills. The historical HUD-1 preparation question has given way to a transaction analysis short-answer series based on presented documents and a fact pattern. The number of multiple choice questions has been reduced from 60 to 45. The committee attempts to measure each applicant’s knowledge by testing on issues and procedures that a highly proficient real estate attorney would be expected to have mastered.
Personally, I have found my year as committee chair to be most interesting and professionally rewarding. In this endeavor, I have been extremely fortunate to have a highly skilled and motivated committee behind me. Great thanks go to my committee Vice Chair Lloyd Granet for all of his help and counsel over the past year. I would also like to acknowledge the sustained efforts of members Deborah Boyd, Joshua Escoto, Richard Grant, Malcolm Pitchford, Russell Robbins, Richard Sneed, and John Soileau and thank all of them for their hard work. This is truly a highly capable and motivated group of real estate attorneys. Best wishes and thanks to past Chair John Soileau as he now leaves the committee after six years of service.
Special thanks also go out to Deborah Boyd. Deb is immediate past chair of the committee and as chair was instrumental in shaping the direction of the committee to adopt and pursue the positive changes to the exam content which are now in place. No list of committee kudos would be complete without special thanks to the committee’s Bar staff liaison, Carol Vaught. Carol truly keeps the committee going with her hard work and assistance to the chair. The committee members truly appreciate her efforts all year long.
I would like to encourage all real estate attorneys in Florida with at least five years of practice to strongly consider becoming board certified. Those who are already board certified I would like to encourage to volunteer for service on the Real Estate Certification Committee. Each December 1, committee volunteer forms are posted on the Bar’s website. Service on the committee requires serious effort but is very rewarding and does carry with it an award of CLE and certification credits from the Bar. As mandatory pretesting of certification exams may soon be in place; please also consider volunteering your time as a pretester if and when approached by the committee.
In closing, many thanks once again to the fine committee I have worked with this past year and to the committee’s Bar staff liaison. All of you have combined to provide a great service to our fellow Bar members.
Michael E. Mirrington, Chair
Small Claims Rules
The Small Claims Rules Committee continued to evaluate requests for rule changes based on the implementation of the new RJA rules regarding e-service, e-filing, and reduction of filing of sensitive information. The committee approved changes to Rule 7.040(a)(2) incorporating a reference to RJA Rule 2.425 regarding reduction of filing of sensitive information. The committee carefully considered and rejected removing phone numbers of litigants from forms filed with the court.
The Florida Supreme Court rejected the committee’s proposed change to Rule 7.090 dealing with the pretrial conference. The proposed rule change would have required that litigants appear before a judge during the pretrial conference. In several counties, the pretrial conference was being successfully conducted by nonjudicial court personnel. Rule 7.090(b) mandates that the court consider six factors at the pretrial conference: 1) simplification of issues; 2) amendments to pleadings; 3) admissions of fact; 4) limitations on witnesses; 5) settlement; and 6) any other matters within the court’s discretion. The Supreme Court suggested further review by a subcommittee.
The committee recently voted to approve a proposed change to Rule 7.140(f). This amendment will allow the introduction of telephonic testimony. This proposed rule change will go into the 2013 three-year cycle report for consideration.
The committee voted on a proposed change to Rule 7.010(b) to clarify that small claims rules apply to all actions, whether in law or equity, as long as they involve $5,000 or less. This proposed rule change will go into the 2013 three-year cycle report for consideration.
The committee will also be submitting proposed new Form 7.235, a consumer information pamphlet as part of the 2013 three-year cycle report. This pamphlet answers frequently asked questions for judgment creditors seeking to collect a judgment in small claims. Thank you to Thomas Thompson for putting this pamphlet together.
Thank you to all of our committee members who donate their time and expertise to improve the rules that regulate the “people’s court,” also known as small claims court. As chair, I wanted to give special thanks to Florida Bar liaison Krys Godwin, Past Chair Michele Cavallaro, past vice chair and incoming Chair Thomas Thompson, past RJA liaison Judge Robert Lee, incoming Vice Chair Nicole Young, and incoming RJA liaison Gary Lesser.
Judson Lee Cohen, Chair
State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice Certification
There are 102 lawyers certified in state and federal government and administrative practice. Rule 6-25.2 describes the practice area to include “the practice of law on behalf of public or private clients on matters including but not limited to rulemaking or adjudication associated with state or federal government entity actions such as contracts, licenses, orders, permits, policies, or rules.” The examination covers both the state and federal administrative procedure acts, as well as civil actions involving state and federal government. The examination is six hours in length and is equally divided between an essay section and a multiple choice section.
Certification is only available for those qualified applicants who pass an examination. The committee administered the sixth certification examination on May 17, 2012, in Tampa. Five applicants took the examination.
Concerned that the number of new applicants may not be sufficient to sustain, much less expand, the pool of certified state and federal government and administrative practice attorneys, the committee has continued its exploration of creating two “sub-tracks” within the practice area. The two areas presently under consideration are state and federal government practice and state and federal administrative practice. The committee circulated some draft rule and test specification changes to interested sections of The Florida Bar and others in recent months, and is in the process of gathering comments from the Bar sections whose members constitute most of the certified state and federal government practice attorneys and the pool of future certification applicants. The committee welcomes your thoughts on these or alternative proposals to better serve our certification practice area.
A state and federal government and administrative practice certification review course, not sponsored by the committee, was also held on April 27, 2012, in Tallahassee.
The 2011-12 committee consisted of Judge Cathy M. Sellers, chair; Allen R. Grossman, vice chair; Mary F. Smallwood; Judge Charles Stampelos; William E. Williams; Francine M. Ffolkes; Kirk Lee Burns; Charles Robert Fletcher; and James Aaron Peters. Our excellent staff liaison is Zina Jackson. The committee extends its gratitude to its members and staff liaison for the many hours of hard work devoted to performance of the committee’s duties.
If you have any questions about certification in the area of state and federal government and administrative practice, please visit The Florida Bar’s website, or call Zina Jackson at (850) 561-5768.
Cathy M. Sellers, Chair
Student Education and Admission to the Bar
The Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee is tasked with evaluating how well law schools prepare their students for the practice of law, while simultaneously supporting such efforts through recommendations to the Bar’s Board of Governors and law school deans. The committee monitors and reviews proposed legislation affecting legal education, and observes and encourages the success and availability of scholarship programs benefiting minorities.
After hearing the informative speakers at last year’s annual Bar meeting address the importance of nurturing the emotional and mental health of law students and lawyers, the committee explored these issues in our early meetings of the 2011-12 committee year.
Since our membership is comprised of a diverse group of judges, lawyers, law professors, law school deans, and others with varied perspectives, SEABC enjoyed quality, in-depth debates and discussions in exploring the topic. The discussions included references to stress, depression, financial challenges, desperation, Bar discipline cases, student dropouts, and marital crisis. We concluded that mental and emotional support of both our students in law schools, and of our learned friends and colleagues, must continue with focused efforts. We presently observe that the majority of this type of support is provided through nonmandatory programs in the law schools and by Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc.
Law school representatives were among the first of our members to proclaim that there are many students who would greatly benefit from this type of support and education, but expressed some frustration about wanting very much to help their students in this area, yet being somewhat limited in their abilities to do so. Only “so much” on the topic can be packed into the mandatory curriculum, which must be largely tailored to academic and practical training. Because they may fear repercussions and/or stigma, students often do not seek or accept assistance even when available. We recommend that mental and emotional support be included as a small component in as many continuing education programs, law school classes, and legal staff meetings as possible. We also recommend that law schools continue to include this topic in the orientation process of new law students.
Putting our recommendations into practice ourselves, the Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee’s members worked together toward the presentation of a panel discussion for our final meeting of the committee year, “How to Keep Your Integrity and Avoid Disciplinary Action from Law School Through Retirement.”
At the time of this article, our members are working hard to ensure quality of the event with the goal of reaching out to many while obtaining continuing legal education credit in the area of ethics for the program. The program will be focused on precisely what the title suggests, with emphasis on how managing stress and getting needed support can help attorneys maintain their integrity and avoid disciplinary action. Our confirmed and highly appreciated panelists include Dean Douglas Ray of St. Thomas School of Law; Jan K. Wichrowski, chief branch discipline counsel, The Florida Bar–Orlando; and Michael Cohen, executive director of Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc.
I extend many thanks to our generous and gracious seminar panelists, as well as great appreciation to Karen Kirksey, Bar staff liaison; Neil Archibald, vice chair; and the following members who put an extra ordinate amount of hours and special effort into our presentation: Kimberly Kanoff, Patrice Behnstedt, Nancy Benavides, Heidi Anderson, Warren Channell, Wilhelmina Curtis, Adam Goodman, Thomas Jerla, Vicki Ryan, Sarah Sullivan, Nicole Fried, Maja Holman, and Judge Errol Powell.
SEABC would like to especially remember the enthusiastic participation of our late member, Yaw Akuoko, whom we lost to a tragic accident this year. He is missed.
Julie Jo Adams, Chair
Tax Law Certification
The Tax Law Certification Committee is pleased to report another successful year of overseeing tax certification of Florida lawyers. Tax law is one of the two original certification areas implemented by The Florida Bar in 1983, and though tough economic times have slowed the area’s growth, the number of tax certified lawyers has increased each year since 2009. This year’s committee, comprising nine tax lawyers, eight from various cities in Florida and one from Michigan, first met in October 2011 to begin drafting the 2012 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee worked to continue the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar.
Of the more than 93,000 members of The Florida Bar, 252 are currently board certified in tax law. Five attorneys applied to take the 2012 tax certification exam. In addition, 17 tax certified lawyers applied for recertification. After a thorough review of each applicant’s qualifications and certification requirements, including extensive peer review, each initial applicant was approved to sit for the March 2012 exam and each recertification applicant was approved for another five years of certification.
This year’s exam followed the format adopted by the committee in past years. The exam is comprised of 10 short-answer questions, of which examinees must answer seven, a choice of entity question, and a long essay question on a topic of the examinee’s choice. During a six-hour day of testing on March 9, 2012, applicants answered these questions in three, two-hour blocks. The exam covered a variety of tax law topics including corporate tax, partnership tax, federal transfer taxes, Florida state and local taxes, international taxes, and more.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
This year’s committee included me as chair, Tampa; Vice Chair Vivian Rodriguez, Miami; Harris Bonnette, Jacksonville; Linda Griffin, Clearwater; Gary Huston, Pensacola; Cristin Keane, Tampa; Donna Litman, Miami; Richard Shapack, Bloomfield Hills, MI; and Michael Wilson, Sarasota. Danny Brown continued as our Florida Bar liaison and we cannot thank him enough for his superb work and responsiveness.
David Burke, Chair
Traffic Court Rules
The committee proposed a change to Rule 6.460, Florida Rules of Traffic Court, to modernize the language regarding recording of traffic court hearings, which will no longer limit the format to cassette tapes and allow for use of newer recording methods.
A subcommittee considered possible amendments to the traffic court rules regarding boating violations. After much consideration, research and discussion, the subcommittee concluded that the rules could not be amended to include boating violations without several statutory amendments. A request to consider lobbying on the committee’s behalf and suggested legislative amendments were shared with The Florida Bar.The committee proposed changes to two rules, both of which have received some opposition and are set for oral argument before the Supreme Court on June 6, 2012. The proposed change to Rule 6.340 would ensure that the accused in a traffic infraction hearing may not be compelled to give testimony against himself or herself. The proposed change to Rule 6.600 would allow defendants who have received a citation to request a hearing up to 180 days after the issuance of the citation upon payment of any late fees.
The committee also considered changes regarding e-filing. Criminal traffic cases are largely governed by the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, pursuant to Rule 6.160, Florida Rules of Traffic Court, therefore, e-filing amendments proposed for the Rules of Criminal Procedure would apply to criminal traffic cases as well. The Traffic Court Rules Committee proposes no additional amendments to the criminal portion of the traffic rules.
Regarding traffic infractions, the rules contain no provisions related to filing or service of documents. Therefore, the rules will not be affected by e-filing and the committee proposed no amendments to the traffic rules at this time. The committee agrees that additional issues are likely to arise as the portal becomes fully functional and the courts proceed with implementation of electronic records and e-filing.
The committee proposed several minor, but important changes regarding e-service. Rule 6.370 is amended to substitute “document” for “paper” to allow for service of materials other than paper. The rule is also amended to broaden the types of service available. The title of the rule is amended to allow for all types of service, except hand delivery.
The committee worked with the Rules of Judicial Administration committee and the Criminal Procedures Rules Committee regarding privacy changes. This issue had greater impact on the criminal rules and, as a result, the traffic rules — though not directly. The necessary amendment to protect both criminal and traffic files and rules was something the court asked the committees to do subsequent to the privacy opinion’s publication, which resulted in fantastic teamwork between the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee, Criminal Procedure Rules Committee, and the Traffic Court Rules Committee. Hours of research and conference call discussions resulted in the filing of case SC11-2141, which is suggesting to the court an amendment to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.425(b)(8).
The committee also addressed the issue of computation of time and accepted the new Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.514 by adding a reference to such in each book.
Thanks to everyone on the committee for their hard work, and everyone who served on a subcommittee. Special thanks to Vice Chairs Marynell Hardee and David Haenal, and to Bill Trappen, William Abramson, Alan Richard, Krys Godwin, and Jodi Jennings.
Jill Marie Hampton, Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
Given the large number of foreclosures in Florida, UPL staff continued to receive inquiries regarding nonlawyers assisting distressed homeowners with loan modifications, short sales, and other foreclosure-related rescue services. Several years ago, the standing committee, finding that it could not create a bright line test, declined to issue a formal advisory opinion on foreclosure assistance companies and decided to investigate companies and individuals on a case-by-case basis. Recent state law changes mean that the Attorney General and Office of Financial Regulation also have regulatory authority over individuals and businesses that provide foreclosure assistance and loan modification services. Last year, in response to a request for a formal advisory opinion, the standing committee held a public hearing on the issue of nonlawyer assistance in short sale transactions. After much deliberation, the committee voted to decline to issue a formal advisory opinion and to continue its existing policy of reviewing such matters on a case-by-case basis. The committee’s guidance in this area can be found at the following Bar website link: http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBLawReg.nsf/9dad7bbda218afe885257002004833c5/34fac28eda9ca382852579ac006aff21!OpenDocument.
The standing committee and The Florida Bar UPL staff continued their efforts to protect the public from UPL. The types of cases the standing committee saw this past year are similar to those in past years — immigration, foreclosure assistance and loan modification companies, and nonlawyer document preparers to name a few. We obtained injunctions from the Supreme Court of Florida against individuals and business for engaging in the unlicensed practice of law, including individuals who provided immigration services, divorce services, and a nonlawyer who worked as in-house counsel for a Florida company despite not being licensed to practice law in any state. The court also found an individual guilty of indirect criminal contempt for violating a previous order of the court.
We continue to receive complaints against out-of-state licensed attorneys for assisting individuals with Florida legal issues. However, under the MJP (multijurisdictional practice of law) rules, out-of-state attorneys may provide limited legal services in Florida on a temporary basis under certain circumstances. The rules also subject out-of-state attorneys to the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court of Florida while providing those legal services. So, while out-of-state lawyers may not be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law if their activity falls within the rule, they can be disciplined for unethical conduct. The MJP rules also require out-of-state attorneys appearing in Florida courts and arbitrations to file a copy of their pro hac vice motion and a verified statement, respectively, with The Florida Bar. Anyone wishing to check whether opposing counsel has filed their pro hac vice motion or verified statement with The Florida Bar may do so by contacting the UPL Department at 850-561-5840.
The standing committee will be holding a public hearing in June, to be held at its meeting during the Bar’s annual convention, on the activities of community association managers. The committee first addressed this issued in 1996 when it issued an advisory opinion on the subject, but changes in the law since then have prompted this latest request. The standing committee considered several other requests for formal advisory opinions. In each instance, the standing committee voted not to issue an opinion, as current case law addressed the area or the question did not involve a matter of statewide importance.
Some of the more interesting issues the standing committee addressed involved out-of-state licensed attorneys. These issues included advertising, regular presence in Florida for the practice of law, and whether admission to the federal courts permits the opening of an office in Florida.
As we conclude my year as chair of the standing committee, I want to thank all of the public members and lawyers on the standing committee for their fine service. It has been a pleasure working with you. The standing committee gives a special thanks to the circuit committees: We know you are the unrecognized heart and soul of UPL enforcement for the court. All committee members, who contribute their valuable time and energy in protecting the public, are especially appreciated.
I also want to thank and recognize our staff counsel: Lori Holcomb, UPL director; Jeffrey Picker, assistant UPL director; UPL branch counsel, Jacquelyn Needelman (Miami); Janet Morgan (Ft. Lauderdale); Ghunise Coaxum (Orlando); Maria Torres (Tampa); and Monica Armster Rainge (Tallahassee), and their excellent support staffs. This dedicated and hard-working staff does an incredible job year after year.
It has been an honor and pleasure to work with you all.
Mark James Ragusa, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
The Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee (VBLC) continues to serve as a liaison between The Florida Bar and the voluntary bar associations throughout the state. The mission of the VBLC is to improve communication between The Florida Bar and voluntary bar associations, coordinate programs of The Florida Bar, such as the annual Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, provide a resource and information bank of activities and the concerns of voluntary bar associations, and advise the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of The Florida Bar programs to voluntary bar associations and individual members.
Attorneys and association executive directors of more than 20 local bar associations serve as 2011-12 VBLC members. The Florida Bar leadership is continually supportive of bar associations and their activities. President Scott G. Hawkins has taken an active interest in the VBLC, attended and spoken at numerous local voluntary bar association functions throughout the year, and emphasized the important services that voluntary bar associations provide within the Florida legal community. The committee welcomed a new Board of Governors liaison, Sandra Upchurch, this year, who continues the tradition of active support for the committee and voluntary bar organizations throughout the state, as did her predecessor, John Jacob “Jake” Schickel.
Members have been working on VBLC activities year-round. The 2011 conference held July 15-16 at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota was a tremendous success. The Sarasota and Manatee bar associations co-hosted the conference and treated attendees to a tour of portions of the Mote Aquarium prior to dinner, in keeping with the conference marine theme. The conference conveyed the VBLC’s goal to provide practical and useful advice to voluntary bar leaders around the state. The 111 conference attendees were impressed with the entire conference and rated it very high with tremendous feedback to the committee. The success of this conference was due in large part to the excellent event planning of dedicated VBLC members and conference Chair Michael J. Faehner. The conference participants benefited from workshops on planning CLE programs, membership recruitment and retention, non-dues revenue generation, and pressing issues affecting both staffed and nonstaffed bars. Bar President Scott G. Hawkins hosted a roundtable, “Conversation with The Florida Bar President” that was welcomed enthusiastically. President-elect Gwynne Young participated in many aspects of the conference as well. Voluntary bar leaders came away from the conference energized and excited to implement the ideas and suggestions offered by the qualified and experienced speakers and other conference attendees. Thank you to the attendees for providing great ideas, energy, and insight to help fellow voluntary bar leaders!
During its teleconference in September, VBLC members reviewed the overwhelmingly positive evaluation results from the 2011 conference and voted to accept the offer of the Jacksonville Bar Association to host the 2012 conference, which will be held at the One Ocean Resort in Atlantic Beach on July 19-20. The committee voted to hold the conference on a Thursday-Friday, a departure from the annual Friday-Saturday event, to obtain lower room rates in light of tough economic times. Planning has been underway in earnest since September, with members proposing breakout session topics, suggesting and contacting speakers and panelists, and organizing related events.
In 2011, the committee also took on the task of assisting The Florida Bar on the important issue of defining a voluntary bar association, related to problems with for-profit bar referral services trying to utilize the resources of The Florida Bar. The full committee evaluated the issue on a series of teleconferences and made recommendations for a definition that would exclude for-profit entities.
This year the VBLC has also undertaken its biennial revision of the Voluntary Bar Leaders Handbook. Thanks to the diligent efforts of several VBLC members and The Florida Bar staff, the handbook has been updated so that it can continue to serve as a valuable resource for voluntary bar groups and attorneys in our state.
The VBLC continues to strive to provide topical and quality programs for attendees of the conference, improve communication between voluntary bar associations and The Florida Bar, serve as a resource of practical, helpful information to voluntary bar associations around the state, and strengthen relationships specifically with The Florida Bar Foundation and the Young Lawyers Division. With full staff and financial support of The Florida Bar, the VBLC will continue to serve as a viable link between the state bar and the voluntary bar associations while providing support for the valuable efforts of attorneys throughout the state.
My sincere thanks and appreciation to the members and The Florida Bar staff who worked so hard to ensure that the VBLC had a productive year and fulfilled its mission!
Suzanne Van Wyk, Chair
Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification
The Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as wills, trusts, and estates specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, and for reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. The certification process consists of three requirements: an active practice in wills, trusts, and estates law, excellent professional peer reviews, and passing the certification examination.
The Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification Committee has met in person four times and by telephone conference call once prior to this report, and will meet at least one more time before our work is complete. The committee has reviewed and approved 25 requests from lawyers seeking to take the certification exam, and 95 applications for re-certification.
The committee discussed methods to improve the multiple choice questions and implemented modifications to the multiple choice format based on suggestions given at the BLSE conference in September 2011. Among the changes was to reduce the possible multiple choice answers from five to four.
The committee has prepared the multiple choice and the essay questions for the 2012 examination. For the various subjects, the question writers utilized updated questions from previous examinations, as well as created new questions that are current. The exam is reviewed and revised each year to reflect changes in federal tax law and Florida estate and trust law. The committee seeks to ensure that the exam is a fair but rigorous test of an applicant’s expertise.
At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2012 examination and establish the pass-fail score. The committee grades the examinations on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to committee members only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a certified attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination this year will earn the designation as a wills, trusts, and estates board certified specialist.
This year the committee also reviewed and discussed the appeal by an attorney who was denied certification because of unacceptable peer review, and a committee representative will appear on behalf of the committee before the BLSE to explain the basis for the committee’s decision.
It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year with members William M. Pearson (vice chair), J. John Farina, Robert Wilkins, Jr., Tasha K. Dickinson, Shawn C. Snyder, Howard Payne, Norma Stanley, and Jean Coker (our immediate past chair). All committee members actively participated in the work of the committee, and I am thankful to them for the numerous hours of their personal and professional time they contributed toward this important task. We also appreciate the assistance of Stacey M. Piland, our Florida Bar staff liaison, who has provided us invaluable assistance in coordinating meetings and preparation of the exam.
On behalf of the committee, I want to reaffirm our belief in the value of The Florida Bar’s certification programs in all areas, including wills, trusts, and estates, and to congratulate those applicants who will achieve passing scores on the 2012 examination and who have met all other requirements to be recognized by The Florida Bar as specialists in the areas of wills, trusts, and estates.
Paul B. McCawley, Chair
Workers’ Compensation Certification
The Workers’ Compensation Certification Committee has spent another year diligently overseeing the certification area. Despite tough economic times and a period of adjustment after the 2003 tort reforms, the workers’ compensation area has certified new attorneys each year for the last decade. As always, this year’s committee was comprised of nine workers’ compensation attorneys from around the state, who had the opportunity to supervise the application and testing process in accordance with the rules and policies of the BLSE. This year’s committee first met in August 2011 to begin drafting the 2012 examination, as well as review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the draft essays and multiple choice questions were developed for the May 2012 exam. Researching, drafting, and editing the questions for correctness and validity are the primary goal of the committee when writing the exam.
Of the more than 93,000 members of The Florida Bar, 207 are currently board certified in workers’ compensation. The 2011-2012 applicant pool consisted of 11 applicants. Of these, three applicants were taking the test following nonattendance or failure during the previous year. In addition, the committee reviewed 27 recertification applications from previously certified workers’ compensation specialists and recommended 25 for recertification at the time of this writing. After a thorough review of their qualifications and certification requirements, including extensive peer review, each initial applicant was approved to sit for the May 2012 exam.
The committee takes its responsibility for administering the policies and procedures of the BLSE quite seriously. As board certified practitioners are permitted to market themselves as “experts” and “specialists,” the general public is deserving of relying on the certification designation to identify high-caliber attorneys. The work of the committee is aimed to certify or recertify the very best practitioners who apply each year.
This year’s exam followed the format adopted by the committee in past years, including three essays and 100 multiple choice questions. During a six-hour day of testing on May 18, 2012, applicants answered these questions in two three-hour blocks. The exam covered a variety of workers’ compensation topics including compensability, medical issues, indemnity benefits, statutory defenses, and more.
The committee extends its deepest gratitude to the lawyers and judges who actively participate in the confidential peer review process. In addition to the requisite trials and substantial involvement in the practice of workers’ compensation law, the peer review process remains central to the certification program. The committee cannot adequately review an application without the candid comments relating to the ability, knowledge, and reputation for professional and ethical conduct of applicants for certification or recertification. The committee continues to strive to ensure Bar members and judicial officers that their comments are confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
This year’s committee included Chair Tracey Hyde, Panama City; Vice Chair Gray Sanders, Tampa; Philip Augustine, Maitland; Mark Eckels, Jacksonville; Kristy Gavin, Bunnell; Eric Lakind, West Palm Beach; Barry Stein, Miami; Thomas Vecchio, Lakeland; and Scott Williams, Orlando. Danny Brown continued as Bar liaison to the committee.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Hawkins for appointing me and past chair Judge Thomas Sculco for his hard work as chair last year. This is now my fourth year on this committee and I am humbled by the hard work and commitment of all involved. We are fortunate to have Danny Brown as our liaison, and he works very hard on our behalf. I wish incoming Chair Mark Eckels continued success in the upcoming year, as we work to continue to promote excellence and professionalism among workers’ compensation attorneys.
Tracey Hyde, Chair
Workers’ Compensation Rules
Each year, the workers’ compensation arena always seems to have a flurry of activity, either through legislative proposals or interesting case decisions that impact all stakeholders. This past year has been no different. And, just as the legislative and judicial branches have been busy, so, too, has the rules committee.
The committee’s first meeting took place at the annual Florida Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference in Orlando in August. Since then, the committee has had several telephonic conferences.
The committee has worked on a number of issues including the service of process of electronic court filings, procedures for appearing before state mediators, the jurisdiction over certain issues by mediators, a cost “safe harbor” provision, and a rule similar to a judgment on the pleadings that is available in civil litigation matters. Various subcommittees were formed to address these and other issues that have been raised by the committee members. From these topics, two specific rule proposals have been drafted, and are currently being circulated among the workers’ compensation bar for comments. Those two rule proposals pertain to the service of electronic court filings and a cost safe harbor provision.
In regard to the service of court filings, the concern among the committee members involved parties electronically filing documents with the court, as required, but then simply placing copies of the filed documents to opposing counsel in regular mail. The committee members believed that service on the opposing side should be contemporaneous with the electronic filing of the documents with court “where available.” To the extent that documents are being filed electronically with the court, they should be served electronically on the opposing side. Of course, there are those instances where one side, such in the case of an unrepresented claimant, may not have email, which is why the rule provides for contemporaneous service where available.
The cost rule proposal grew from a groundswell of concern over the requirement that all costs claimed by claimant’s attorneys in settlements be specified and fully documented. It was agreed that there are those routine claims for which nominal costs are claimed that should proceed to settlement and be approved by the judge of compensation claims without the need for exhaustive documentation of those costs. The result was a proposal for a rule that provided a “safe harbor” amount for costs. So long as the costs claimed do not exceed a certain amount, they will not require the requisite documentation.
I have served on this committee in its current and previous form since July 2003. The victim of term limits, this is my final year of service on the committee. Over the years, I have had the honor and privilege of serving with some of the brightest and the most professional practitioners in the workers’ compensation bar. It has been a joy to witness an idea take root and be discussed and get reduced to writing and become an eventual rule, especially when the inherent nature of our practice is adversarial and we all are coming from diverse backgrounds and bring to the table certain biases. Yet, the beauty of the committee occurs when all of those biases and the diversity yield to common ground and resolve to address issues and concerns that affect each one of us. The results are rules that make the practice of workers’ compensation better for everyone. With that backdrop, I am confident that the work of the committee over the past year will not have been in vain.
As with past committees, the current membership is equally bright and professional. Indeed, the combined years of legal experience that makes up this year’s committee, as well as the diversity of practices, is truly remarkable. I would like to thank each member of the committee who serves with me. The committee includes Barbara Case, Philip Augustine, Robert Donahue, Paul Doolittle, Rosemary Eure, Neal Falk, Al Garcia, Al Hilado, Susan Marks, John McLain, Clay Meek, Eric Sandler, Chris Smith, Mark Touby, Tom Ueberschaer, and Judge of Compensation Claims Ray Holley. In addition, I extend thanks to our Bar liaison, Jodi Jennings, who keeps us on track. I invite any workers’ compensation practitioner to contact any committee member if any idea, issue, or concern arises for which a possible solution may exist in the rules. This committee is devoted to ensuring that the practice of workers’ compensation is fair for everyone.
Mark K. Eckels, Chair