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June 1, 2017

Annual Convention seminars abound

Annual Florida Bar Convention logo The theme of the 67th Annual Florida Bar Convention at the Boca Raton Resort & Club June 21-24 is “Inspire the Future,” and many events will focus on what lies ahead for the legal profession and the importance of collaborating with colleagues to bring about positive change.

“The convention will provide many opportunities for you to network with colleagues and members of the judiciary, earn multiple CLE credits, and hear many featured speakers address topics of interest at luncheons, section and committee meetings, and special events,” said President Bill Schifino. “There are also many opportunities to relax with family and friends, and explore all that the Boca resort has to offer.”

Melanie Griffin Melanie Griffin, chair of the 2017 Annual Convention Committee, said many excellent seminars and speakers are offered to registrants on a variety of current topics, and at no additional cost.

“The Practice Resource Institute and the Young Lawyers Division joined efforts this year to offer two half-day Wednesday seminars for those with interest in basic cyber security and law firm technology,” said Griffin, adding the two featured President’s Showcase seminars offered on Thursday and Friday include the "Constitution Revision Commission & Florida’s Judiciary," presented by the Constitutional Judiciary Committee, and the "2017 Masters on Ethics" presented by the Professional Ethics Committee.

“All members are encouraged to attend these and all of the additional outstanding seminars offered to enrich both your law practice and professional life,” she said.

If history is any guide, the newly seated CRC will consider amendments affecting Florida’s judiciary. “The Constitution Revision Commission and Florida’s Judiciary,” a President’s Showcase seminar, will examine the issues surrounding selecting and retaining Florida’s judges, with the goal of ensuring Florida Bar members are informed on how CRC proposals may affect the judiciary and, in turn, the practice of law in Florida.

Thirteenth Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco said the seminar is meant to be a continuation of the program the Bar’s Constitutional Judiciary Committee put on at last year’s convention, “A Respected Judiciary – Balancing Independence and Accountability.”

“The Constitutional Judiciary Committee feels it is important to educate Florida Bar members about the Constitution Revision Commission and its potential impact on the judiciary,” said Judge Sisco, who will also moderate the program. “We have another superstar panel, comprised of individuals from both the legislative and judicial branches of government, as well as three outstanding professors who have researched and written extensively on the issue of judicial selection.”

Sisco said the plan is to allow participants to submit questions to the panel members, “and we anticipate a very lively, thoughtful, and educational discussion.”

The CRC has already started its work, holding hearings around the state. Members of Florida’s Legislature have already said they expect the CRC will consider various amendments affecting Florida’s judiciary, specifically term limits. It has the power to place constitutional amendments directly on the 2018 ballot.

Seminar attendees will enjoy a frank and well-rounded discussion that will explore the various avenues for achieving the balance between judicial independence and accountability, as well as possible initiatives affecting the judiciary through constitutional amendments by the CRC or legislation.

The ever-changing nature of the law and technology present new challenges and opportunities for lawyers, but also may raise conflict and other related ethical issues. The 2017 Masters Seminar on Ethics will address such topics using experienced and dynamic speakers.

The conflict of interest topics to be covered in the seminar include:

Conflicts of Interest and Technology: Today’s technology can present lawyers with unique conflicts of interest when related to privacy and data security. This session will help attorneys analyze what they have, how they have it, and how they need to protect it. The session will also discuss what disclosures must be made and provide specifics around due diligence practices and other activities that help address conflicts of interest when faced with today’s technology. The session will also discuss how and where attorneys should keep this data.

Conflicts of Interest and Social Media: Most attorneys use social media sites such as Facebook, Avvo, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and Google + to promote their practice within the community. A professional presence in the digital world can result in ethical pitfalls based on technology present within a law practice. This panel will discuss several of the conflict issues social media sites can create and suggest ways to avoid potential ethical violations.

Conflicts of Interest and Disqualification Motions: The management of conflicts of interest are generally the responsibility of the lawyer undertaking the representation. Nevertheless, at times, a party in litigation will identify opposing counsel’s potential conflicts of interest, and even move for disqualification. A lawyer’s failure to properly manage conflicts of interest, and an opponent’s misuse of a disqualification motion, are both breaches of the rules of ethics and the standards of professionalism. This panel of experts will explore the lawyer’s duty of loyalty, the use of disqualification motions, alternative tools for resolving (or better yet, avoiding) the problems, and the ethical and professional nuances of managing conflicts of interest if and when they are raised by an opponent

Conflicts of Interest and Cannabis: Florida has approved medical marijuana use, creating business and health opportunities, but also potentially creating new challenges for lawyers. Personal conflicts may arise, as our profession knows from the persistence of alcoholism and addictions, and abuses can trigger additional duties to report. The uncertainties of state and federal enforcement also put lawyers in a difficult position when advising clients. This session will survey some of the emerging ethical issues related to marijuana law and policy in Florida.

More Seminars
More seminars slated for the convention on Wednesday, June 21, include:

• Basic Law Firm Data Security, Privacy and Cyber Liability;

•Basic Technology for Today’s Law Practice;

• Chapter 9 Legal Services Plans PLUS How to Market and Make Money Using Alternate Legal Services Plans.

Seminars slated for the convention on Thursday, June 22, include:

• Florida Law Update;

• Escalation Clauses in Cross Border Dispute Resolution: Why Your Client Wants Mediation;

• Mediation & Arbitration CLE: Tips for Improving Your Practice and Performance;

• 2017 Federal Judicial Roundtable.

Seminars slated for the convention on Friday, June 23, include:

• Maintaining Competency in the Face of Technology Advancements;

• Environmental and Land Use Section June Update;

• Veterans Benefits: An Overview for Attorneys;

• Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education;

• Animal Law in Florida;

• First Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Seminars slated for the convention on Saturday, June 24, include:

• Military Law Symposium;

• Hot Topics and Future Trends.

For complete schedules and other convention information, visit

[Revised: 05-20-2018]