Two lawyers have filed to complete the final year of the Board of Governors’ term of Michelle Suskauer, who will become the Bar’s president-elect at the June Annual Convention. Below are the platform statements from the two candidates. Filing for the seat, representing the 15th Circuit, closed on May 15. Ballots were to be mailed around May 22 and must be returned no later than midnight June 12. Bar members in the 15th Circuit will have the option of voting electronically or returning a paper ballot to the Bar’s election company. Instructions on voting will be included in the ballot. The winner will be sworn in at the Bar’s June Annual Convention in Boca Raton.
Palm Beach County is a great place to live and practice law. There are over 7,500 lawyers in the 15th Circuit, and each of us has unique challenges. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to get to know many dedicated colleagues through my appellate law practice and Bar leadership positions on local, state, and national levels. I would be honored to have a seat on the Board of Governors (BoG), and I will continue fighting to help our profession advance.
Early in my career, Bar leaders encouraged me to contribute to the profession beyond the courtroom. I’ve enjoyed dedicating my time and energy to leadership roles with the Palm Beach County Bar Association, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, South Palm Beach County Bar Association, and the South Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL).
When I was president of state FAWL (2014-15), I served as an ex-officio member on the BoG for a year and observed the issues that come before the board. Working with many great lawyers through the years, I have heard of successes and struggles. Success starts with Bar leaders who are pushing limits, asking questions, supporting the membership, and looking for ways to improve. As a board member, I will ensure the lawyers in our circuit are in the best possible position to be effective.
Independence of the Judiciary
Our Bar has the responsibility to continue fighting for a well-funded, independent judiciary. I worked on implementing the Informed Voters Project of the National Conference of Women Judges to promote independence of the judiciary in Florida. This nonpartisan project helps to inform people on how judges are selected, retained, and why it’s important for them to remain impartial.
Gender equality and related policies are important to seeing our profession evolve for the benefit of all lawyers. I serve as chair of the FAWL Membership Advancement and Placement (MAP) Committee that assisted in getting a record number of women vetted and appointed to standing committees, and supported applications for appointment by the governor for openings on the bench. These efforts by men and women empowered many qualified women in this profession over the past three years.
I am the president-elect of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, and I continue to work on improving opportunities for women practicing at law firms and government agencies.
Mentoring and New Challenges
Lawyers face daily pressures, from increased competition to online service providers to the impact of technology. Everyone wants a healthy work/life balance, and the board can help make our workload more manageable by implementing the best technology without imposing additional burdens.
Navigating our careers isn’t always easy. Mentoring programs and utilizing technology to our benefit will improve and streamline our work.
I’m committed to the long-term prosperity of our profession. We need leaders who listen to their constituents within the Bar, and I promise I will do that. If you have suggestions, please contact me at [email protected].
Michael J. Gelfand
Why do Bar leaders, local and state, join civic leaders and legislators, to support my effort to serve you on the Board of Governors?
Like those who serve with me, they observe my significant accomplishments for the Bar, flowing from a deep dedication to the profession and a constant devotion to progress. Here at home in Palm Beach County, I have always been available, mentoring young attorneys to assist with how their practice can be effective and enjoyable and answering all attorneys’ legal questions as a professional courtesy.
As a small law firm owner, I recognize the need to adjust to changes in the law, community, and technology. The firm’s reputation is based upon hard work, reflecting the diversity of the community, and producing leaders. Reflecting my family’s enthusiasm for the law, my wife, also an attorney, and I welcomed our daughter to the profession when she was sworn in last month.
Each of us invested greatly to become lawyers, though now our profession is experiencing challenges as never before. At the end of the day, we have to be proud professionals, enjoying the practice, not just for our sanity, but also to encourage good women and men to join our profession. Thus, the future of our profession must continue to be our focus.
Many of you observed me anticipating change and challenging Bar and civic leaders. The Board of Governors witnessed for years not just my attendance, but effective advocacy to address the future and challenges of our profession, and on behalf of attorneys regarding client issues, practice issues, and the quality of life, successfully shepherding issues benefiting all attorneys. These have ranged from ethics issues; legislative initiatives; and, amicus briefs to the appellate courts. Subject matters include trust account security and confidentiality; admission of evidence; and board certification expansion. Broad concepts include
rethinking CLE; our presence on the internet; and legislation.
When asked why I am running to become a Florida Bar governor, I believe that my record provides the answer. Some highlights include:
• Chair: 10,000-plus member Real Property Probate and Trust Law (RPPTL) Section;
• Member: Judicial nominating commission;
• Chair: Numerous state and local bar committees;
• CLE innovator: Lunch webinars; inexpensive and free programs; “Law for Lawyers” series;
• Mentor: Countless attorneys, local and statewide;
• Municipal special master;
• Court special magistrate and arbitrator;
• Community volunteer: Law magnet; school construction oversight.
Click here to review my biography. http://www.gelfandarpe.com/attorney/michael-gelfand/
Where will our profession be in five years? My goal is to continue to help ensure that our profession has the tools to excel and meet the challenges of today, in five years, and beyond.
It would be an honor to serve as a governor for the 15th Circuit to further a positive, successful, professional life for each of us; thus, I ask for your vote.