The Florida Bar News
February 1, 2018
Board of Governors Candidates Platform Statements
Here are the platform statements for the 2018 candidates for The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Eighteen candidates are running for seven seats, on each of seven different circuits.
Ballots will be mailed around March 1 and must be returned to the Bar’s election company before midnight March 21. As in past years, members will have the option of voting with a paper ballot or online. Instructions will be included with the ballots.
First Circuit, Seat 1
Charles F. Beall, Jr.
In my discussions with colleagues, I keep hearing one constant refrain: I like my job, but I wouldn’t want to be a young lawyer today. I find this both sad and discouraging. I decided to run for the Board of Governors to do what I can to change that.
These are turbulent times in the legal profession with new technologies, new competition, and increasing pressure from clients to reduce costs. The Bar has too often been reactive — rather than proactive — in dealing with change. That trend has been slowly reversed in recent years, and I intend to make certain that the Bar continues on that path moving forward.
The single biggest issue facing the Bar in the next year will be the activities and recommendations of the Constitutional Revision Commission and the possible changes the commission may propose to our judicial system. If elected, I will devote my energies to monitoring those proposals and making certain that the public is aware of the potential impact of any changes on our system of justice. I will also work with the Bar president and other Board of Governors members to lobby the Legislature to ensure that our courts are adequately funded and that the Bar remains independent of the whims of the legislative branch.
I believe I am uniquely qualified for this role due to my past involvement in the Bar and the nature of my practice. I have been active in the state and local bar associations for my entire career and have worked closely with attorneys and judges across the Panhandle and the state to make the Bar stronger. My leadership positions in the Bar include the following:
• Florida Bar, Board of Legal Specialization & Education, 2014-2017.
• Florida Bar, Appellate Practice Certification Committee, 2004-2010 (Chair, 2007-2008).
• President, Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association, 2004-2005.
I am one of just five Florida attorneys board certified in both appellate practice and civil trial, which gives me a broad understanding of the diversity of the legal practice in our state. My practice is also unique because, in my appellate practice, I routinely represent both plaintiffs and defendants, and I have handled appeals in virtually every type of case from personal injury to commercial litigation to real estate to bankruptcy to family law. I can represent the interests of all attorneys in the First Judicial Circuit because I work with all types of attorneys in my practice on a daily basis.
I look forward to the challenge of working to make certain my colleagues will no longer be pessimistic about the future of the profession I love. I would appreciate your vote so I can have that opportunity.
Jeremy C. Branning
The members of Florida’s First Circuit are uniquely positioned in Florida’s westernmost region to influence statewide Bar policies. For that reason, it is critical that our circuit maintain the strong representation on the Board of Governors that we currently have and fortunately have had for many years. As a trial attorney, my 17 years of litigation experience has allowed me to work with lawyers across the First Circuit and in nearly every practice area. I have become well informed of the challenges and needs facing the lawyers in our circuit.
The authority and influence of the Board of Governors affects our careers and the way we do business. I suggest that what we need is an experienced advocate who understands the demands made upon us, and who is willing to stand up and fight for the services and support we need from the Bar.
As an active trial attorney, I handle cases throughout Florida and have strong relationships with lawyers across the state. Many of these relationships began as opposing counsel and developed into personal friendships. I am currently serving or have previously held the following leadership roles that have provided me the contacts and the information to understand your needs and to be your advocate:
• Executive Council, Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar (currently serving)
• Past President, Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association
• Executive Council, Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association
• Membership Chair, Pensacola Chapter of American Inns of Court (currently serving)
• Executive Council, Rehabilitation Foundation of Northwest Florida (currently serving)
• Former member, First Circuit Grievance Committee
• Department Chair and Executive Council, Clark Partington
It has been an honor to serve the legal profession in these roles, and I look forward to earning an opportunity to serve you on the Board of Governors. My ability to succeed in this profession is possible because of strong support both personally from my family and professionally from those I work with — from my legal assistant to my law partners. The strength and support of my wife, Nancy, and our three daughters, are critical to my ability to practice law and serve the legal community. My law firm, Clark Partington, has supported my growth as an attorney and in Bar and community service. I am fortunate and proud to work every day with some of the best talent in the profession.
If elected, the First Circuit can expect me to be an avid advocate on behalf of my peers and to serve with an open line of communication for matters facing the legal professional in the First Circuit and throughout the state. I would be honored to represent the First Circuit on the Board of Governors.
I respectfully ask for your vote in March.
I am proud to be a candidate for the Board of Governors representing the First Judicial Circuit.
I have practiced law in Northwest Florida since 2004. I have focused on construction litigation and have been board certified in construction law since 2015. Throughout my career, I have always held service to the Bar as an important professional obligation. I served from 2011 to 2015 on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and am a graduate of the Florida Bar’s Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy. Currently, I serve on The Florida Bar First Circuit Grievance Committee. Prior to starting my commitment to service with The Florida Bar at the state level in 2011, I was active in the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar, serving in various capacities and as an officer on the young lawyers’ board. My history of Florida Bar service reflects the level of involvement I will have as a member of the Board of Governors.
Through my work with The Florida Bar, I have come to appreciate the challenges facing our profession, especially in Northwest Florida. Among these challenges are:
• Access to justice and resources available to our local courts.
• Availability of technology and resources to all lawyers regardless of firm size and the need to increase efficient delivery of all Bar services to members.
• The need to implement sustainable long-term guidelines and regulations concerning increasingly prolific, publicly available legal advice.
• Continued and enhanced efforts to address the problems that stem from unprofessional conduct.
Our profession faces challenges from increasingly prolific and widely available generic legal advice. Professionalism requires both efficiency and original thought, and our profession must find a balance to provide cost effective original thought in the face of readily available information (and misinformation). It is important that the Bar addresses the concerns of its members as the transition in the way services are provided reshapes how we practice law.
Our profession is self-regulated, and over my years-long involvement with the Bar on the state level, I appreciate the responsibility that comes with self-regulation. If elected, I will not take this responsibility lightly and will strive to ensure our profession’s commitment to self-regulation remains robust and independent.
As a member of the Board of Governors, I hope to advance the interests important to the Bar, especially Northwest Florida. My goal is to represent the First Circuit as we work through important decisions regarding technology, judicial independence, constitutional review, and self governance.
Finally, I am running for the Board of Governors seat vacated by Steve Echsner. I want to continue the good work of Mr. Echsner, who has served the First Judicial Circuit and the Bar across the state admirably.
It would be my honor to serve as your representative on the Board of Governors. I am committed to be readily available to all lawyers in Northwest Florida to always strive to address the concerns that impact our circuit.
Third Circuit, Seat 1
Andrew J. Decker IV
I am honored to be a candidate for the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. I have the privilege of practicing law in Florida’s Third Judicial Circuit, which has a special tradition of professionalism, collegiality, and excellence in advocacy. I ask for your vote and the honor of serving as your representative.
After graduating from Emory University, I attended Florida Coastal School of Law, graduating with high honors while serving as a staff editor for the law journal. I was also elected president of the Moot Court Honor Board. My practice has focused on civil litigation with an emphasis on real estate and commercial matters. I have handled jury trials as well as cases on the federal, state, appellate, and administrative levels. I also serve as attorney for the Zoning Board of Adjustment for Suwannee County.
I am grateful for my record of service to The Florida Bar and the Third Judicial Circuit. In 2011, I served as president of the Third Circuit Bar Association and created the organization’s first website to enhance communication among the members. I also served on The Florida Bar’s Rules of Judicial Administration Committee from 2008 to 2012, where I worked first-hand on issues relating to electronic access of court records and the use of electronic devices in the courtroom. Later, I served as chair of the Third Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission when it convened to fill a county judgeship in 2012, and I remain on that commission. I also served on the Third Judicial Circuit Professionalism Committee.
Technology and its impact on the practice of law is, and will remain, at the forefront of our commitment to professionalism, client development, and enjoying a quality of life. As The Florida Bar continues to address issues relating to technology’s role in the practice of law, I believe I can serve as a knowledgeable voice on these issues.
I served as lead appellate counsel in one of Florida’s first-impression cases involving civil discovery of electronically stored information on an iPhone. Last year, I attended the American Bar Association technology conference. I witnessed the cutting edge of legal artificial intelligence and software for case management, client development, accounting, research, and document preparation.
Although the technology was impressive, I found myself with a renewed appreciation and respect for the traditional, time-honored values of our profession. The core values of judgment, integrity, diversity, and service to the community can be enhanced and supported — but never replaced — by technology.
If I am elected to serve as your representative on the Board of Governors, I will speak for the values and concerns of the lawyers of our circuit. I will be ever mindful of the unique issues confronting the lawyers of the Third Judicial Circuit. I will listen to and consider the opinions of differing perspectives. I will endeavor to implement thoughtful, yet practical, solutions to the issues the Board of Governors will address. I appreciate your time and consideration of my candidacy.
Bruce W. Robinson
As the current Board of Governors member for the Third Circuit, I will continue to work to improve the legal profession and to attend to the interests of our members, as well as the public. It has always been my practice to be attuned to the needs of our circuit and similar circuits. As chair of the Disciplinary Procedure Committee, I have taken the position that, unless there is a well-defined problem that a proposed rule attempts to rectify, we do not need more rules. I continue to believe in that, and I continue to believe that the Bar should constantly strive to look out for the interests of all lawyers, both in the private and public sectors, and continuously endeavor to improve the image of the profession in the public’s eye. It is important for all lawyers to know that they are members of a profession that not only looks out for the interests of the public, but also looks out for one another. This is one of the reasons I have participated in the Bar’s mentoring program for a number of years. Another issue that has been, and continues to be, a priority of mine is that we maintain a grievance system that is fair and balanced for both the public and the attorneys involved.
As lawyers, we should reach out to one another as often as possible and offer assistance. More importantly, we should always be professional and civil in all of our dealings with each other. I will continue to make the best possible appointments to the Grievance Committee and the UPL Committee, which are part of the duties of the governor for the circuit. If re-elected, I will continue to look out for the interests of all lawyers and endeavor to make the Bar more user-friendly. For the benefit of our members, I will also continue to seek ways to provide more benefits. As the Board of Governor’s liaison to the Solo and Small Firm Section of The Florida Bar and the Military Affairs Committee, as well as being a member of the Investment Committee and chair of the Disciplinary Procedure Committee, I have done my best to serve your interests and the interests of our legal system. I firmly intend to continue doing so in the future.
Fourth Circuit, Seat 1
Wiley Braxton Gillam IV
I am honored to be a candidate for the Board of Governors, representing the Fourth Judicial Circuit.
For over 20 years, I have lived and practiced law in Jacksonville. My practice has primarily involved business and construction litigation, but has included significant trust and estate litigation experience. I am board certified by The Florida Bar in business litigation and civil trial.
Since election to the Board of Governors for the Young Lawyers’ Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association 18 years ago, I have been actively involved in Bar service. I served on the YLS board through 2004, when I served as president. Also in 2004, I began service on the Board of Governors for the Jacksonville Bar Association. I served as president of the Jacksonville Bar Association in 2013-2014. In 2015, I was appointed to The Florida Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee and have served on this committee since that time. The following year, I was selected to serve on the Executive Committee for the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar, and I continue to enjoy service on this committee.
I have also been actively involved in community service. In 2007, I was appointed to the Jacksonville Ethics Commission by Mayor John Peyton. After completing my predecessor’s unexpired term, I was reappointed and served two additional terms. During my final two years of service, I served as the Ethics Commission chair. In 2017, I was appointed by Mayor Lenny Curry to serve on the Downtown Investment Authority, and continue to serve on the DIA at this time. I am also a member of the Downtown Rotary Club of Jacksonville.
The motto of Rotary is “service above self.” I take this motto to heart. I see Bar service as a responsibility, and one that I have enjoyed. Looking back, I have made many lifelong friends through this service, and I am committed to continuing my service as a member of the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar.
The Bar and our profession are under increasing political fire. From court funding battles to attacks on the structure of our highest court, we must stand strong against inroads that could affect the independence of the judiciary. I am committed to working with the Florida Legislature through my strong relationships with our elected officials and to defending our court system and our profession.
I am proud to be a member of the Fourth Judicial Circuit and am humbled by the outpouring of support I have received from so many of you in connection with my candidacy. Please remember to vote between March 1 and March 21.
In the meantime, I welcome the opportunity to speak to you about any concerns you have for the Bar and how I could serve you as a member of the Board of Governors.
Michael Fox Orr
I respectfully ask for your support and vote to be your next representative on The Florida Bar Board of Governors. I have spent more than a decade serving in Florida Bar leadership positions, both in the Fourth Circuit and statewide, and am uniquely positioned to continue the outstanding leadership by our current board representatives. In addition to serving on the Board of Governors of the Jacksonville Bar Association (JBA), as president of the JBA Young Lawyers Section, and as Fourth Circuit representative on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Board of Governors, I had the privilege of serving as Florida Bar YLD President. In that role, I represented over 25,000 lawyers and served two years on The Florida Bar Board of Governors. The personal relationships I established through my years of statewide service will help our circuit on the board.
As your representative, my priorities will include working to:
1. Enhance the value of Florida Bar membership and the Bar’s relationship with its members;
2. Improve the public’s trust and confidence in attorneys and the justice system;
3. Provide more services and resources to solo and small firm lawyers;
4. Ensure a strong, independent, and properly funded judiciary;
5. Promote opportunities for Fourth Circuit lawyers in various Florida Bar leadership and service positions;
6. Preserve the excellent reputation of Fourth Circuit lawyers;
7. Increase the ability of lawyers to effectively use technology as a tool for practice management, service delivery, and business development; and
8. Carry on the Bar’s initiatives related to gender bias by seeking input from organizations like the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.
In addition to these and many other issues, one issue at the forefront of the Bar is the health and wellness of lawyers. When I was president of the YLD, we initiated The Florida Bar’s Health & Wellness Month (May). That program has evolved into a movement by The Florida Bar promoting health and wellness within our profession. We only have one life with our friends and our family. Our profession needs to do everything it can to develop the best working environment for lawyers. I will continue my demonstrated leadership to advance attorneys’ health and wellness.
I am honored to have the support of many attorneys in our circuit. A list of my endorsements, my bio, and additional information about the campaign can be found at www.electmikeorr.com.
Let’s work together to improve our profession. I welcome your questions and concerns about issues of importance to you and your practice. You can reach me at any time — [email protected] or (904) 358-8300. If you provide me the opportunity to serve as your advocate on the Board of Governors, I will continue to work tirelessly for all lawyers in Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties.
Thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to serve.
11th Circuit, Seat 3
Maria T. Armas
I am running for this vacancy and would appreciate your vote.
The Florida Bar should represent and have representatives from every constituency — including government lawyers. At this time, the 11th Judicial Circuit has no government lawyers among its representatives, and the Board of Governors has one government lawyer out of 52 seats. To continue improving the Bar and charting a course for the future, government lawyers must have a say to address issues ranging from the low salaries to the crushing student loan debt, to the lack of support staff, to the implementation of technological solutions, and the overall impact of these issues on the quality of services offered to the public.
I began my legal government service in 2000 with the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, then the Office of the Attorney General in 2005, and with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2007. I know the common issues facing local, state, and federal government lawyers. We are tasked with offering superior services with a tremendous caseload, but at the same time with greatly reduced resources. During the next two years, I will work with Bar leaders to address long-range solutions to issues such as: low pay, student loan debt, lack of support staff, the implementation of technological solutions, and the impact of these issues on public services.
• The Florida Bar, Young Lawyers Division, Board of Governors, 11th Circuit, Seat 4. Committees: Continuing Legal Education (program chair/moderator); Judicial Directory (11th Circuit coordinator); Practicing with Professionalism Seminars (program chair); Technology (chair); Long-Range Planning; Student Loan Task Force (chair); diversity initiative officer. June 2001-June 2006.
• The Florida Bar, Statewide Advertising Grievance Committee. Made determinations as to alleged violations of legal advertising and appropriate level of discipline as warranted. June 2005-June 2006.
• The Florida Bar, Grievance Committee “I”. Made determinations as to alleged ethical violations by Bar members and appropriate level of discipline as warranted. Vice chair. June 2006-June 2009
• The Florida Bar, Appellate Court Rules Committee. Made determination as to various proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. Vice chair — Electronic Filing Committee. June 2007-June 2013.
• U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Seventh District, Flotilla 6-5. Immediate past flotilla commander (2016-2017), flotilla commander (2014-2015), managed a team of 73 volunteers to provide safety patrols, public boating safety courses, safety vessel checks, as well as recruiting and training members. Flotilla vice commander (2013), FSO-secretary (2012). November 2010-present.
• Born and raised in Tampa.
• Bachelor of Science in business administration at the University of Southern California.
• Master of Arts in mass communication from the University of Florida.
• Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law.
Jordan A. Dresnick
I am running for an open seat on The Florida Bar Board of Governors to continue serving the legal community in Miami. Over the past 11 years, I have served our profession in every elected position of the Dade County Bar Association (currently as president), the American Inns of Court (currently as president of the Spellman-Hoeveler Chapter), the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr., Bar Association (as a former elected director), and the Board of Directors of the University of Miami School of Law Alumni Association (as a former director). My previous bar service speaks to the dedication I would bring to The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Under my leadership, for the first time in 100 years, the Dade County Bar Association has offered programming for Women’s History Month, Black History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as LGBT Pride Month. I have worked to bring the bench and bar together through programs such as the annual Bench & Bar Conference, View from the Bench, Over the Rainbow Pro Bono Benefit, SuperStars in Trial, Corporate Counsel Summit, Federal Bench & Bar Conference, Mental Health & Mindfulness Conference Series, Federal Judicial Nomination Commission Lunch featuring Sen. Bill Nelson, Diversity Summit, Expert Jury Selection, We Can Dream Benefit for the Cuban-American Pro Bono Project, Dade Legal Aid/Put Something Back, and Legal Services of Greater Miami, among others.
There are currently unprecedented attacks on our profession, such as legislative attempts to remove local lawyers from the judicial appointment process as well as allowing nonlawyers to provide legal counsel. The Florida Bar must be attuned to the needs of the everyday practicing lawyer. I am seeking your support so I can work to strengthen the practice of law, make technology more accessible to all attorneys, provide CLE seminars at significantly reduced rates, and to safeguard the practice of law and judiciary from over-zealous legislators. Sadly, biases still exist, and The Florida Bar must be more proactive in eliminating disparities in the legal workplace. Further, The Florida Bar can and should do more to foster diversity and inclusion, provide confidential mental health programs for members, and host more programs geared to assist young lawyers.
Born and raised in Miami, I received a B.A. from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from the University of Miami, and an LL.M. from Columbia University. I have had varied work experiences, from practicing at two large, multi-national law firms to serving in-house. My practice focuses on trade regulation and antitrust law.
The practice of law has become an increasingly difficult endeavor. The Florida Bar must have an effective lawyer referral service of its own to counter the growing use of for-profit referral agencies. If given the honor of joining the Board of Governors, I pledge to continue my service to our community by preserving and promoting the practice of law, while safeguarding the independence of the judiciary.
Alexandra Bach Lagos
The 52 members of The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors consider policies that affect all our daily practices. I ask that you elect me to represent you because, as my experience demonstrates, I understand the working lawyer’s daily struggles and can effectively advocate on your behalf. I am a partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon and a past-president of the Miami-Dade Chapter of Florida Association for Women Lawyers. I actively participate in The Florida Bar: I served on The Florida Bar’s Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee for five years and received training as a fellow in the Bar’s year-long Leadership Academy. Aside from my Bar service, I am deeply committed to the community in which I was raised, live, and work. If elected, I will support the Bar with the same effort and passion that I apply to my practice. The issues I think are at the forefront of our practice include:
• Innovation: The pace of technology and innovation is evolving rapidly. It is critical that our Bar take a leadership role in addressing these changes to keep our lawyers at the forefront. The Bar should encourage technology that advances efficiency, but it should also protect consumers from becoming targets of unreliable self-help tools. As your representative, I will advocate that technological innovation does not cross the line into the unauthorized practice of law.
• Equality: All attorneys lose when minority status leads to unequal treatment. A diverse Bar is critical to promoting the public’s perception of a justice system that is equal and fair. Our profession has embraced diversity as a concept, but we have not yet realized it in practice. As a parent of two young children, ages 1 and 6, with my husband, attorney Christos Lagos, I have experienced challenges facing working parents. As your voice on the Board of Governors, I will consider it a duty and privilege to champion changes that encourage equality in our profession.
• Access: Lawyers have a responsibility to protect the independence of our judiciary. In recent years, our judiciary has come under executive, legislative, and partisan assault inconsistent with the separation of powers. I am the daughter of immigrants: Mercedes Armas Bach, a Cuban exile, and Gabriel Bach, an Israeli-born Jewish refugee whose parents fled Nazi Germany. My parents left everything behind to start new lives as Americans, pursuing freedom and opportunity. Their experience shaped my belief that America’s court system is the foundation of our democratic values. Meaningful access to courts is critical to the integrity of our justice system. I have dedicated hundreds of hours toward representing indigent Floridians pro bono in civil disputes, appeals, and immigration matters, and I frequently serve as a court-appointed guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children. As a member of the Board of Governors, I will continue to lead by example in supporting access to justice.
My professional experience has prepared me to advocate for workable and creative policies that will improve your practice and strengthen our Bar. I ask for your vote.
I’m honored to be a candidate for the Board of Governors representing the 11th Judicial Circuit. I have been a trial lawyer at Colson Hicks Eidson for 16 years focusing on plaintiffs’ personal injury, products liability, and complex commercial litigation. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be a practicing lawyer. I respectfully ask for your vote.
I am a “nuts and bolts” trial lawyer dedicated to the art of trying cases. I have served on the Southern District’s Ad Hoc Committee on Rules and Procedures, and served as an adjunct professor of legal research and writing at the University of Miami School of Law and Paralegal Program. I have lectured extensively about trial skills and recently co-authored a treatise on Florida Evidence and Procedure being published by American Legal Media. I have served as president of our local Inns of Court chapter and also serve on the board of directors for the Miami-Dade County Bar Association. My full biography may be found at www.colson.com.
My primary focus will be to support the core values of The Florida Bar in regulating attorneys and ensuring the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. I will devote my energies to assist in steering the Board of Governors’ mission toward:
• Equality of Opportunity: In recent years I have worked closely with Miami-Dade’s chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers on a program titled GOOD Guys (Guys Overcoming Obstacles to Diversity). GOOD Guys focuses on enlisting men in the fight for equal pay, promotion of women to equity partners, and to get women a meaningful voice at their firms’ executive levels. Further action must be taken to ensure that historically disadvantaged minorities have an equal opportunity for success.
• An Independent Judiciary: Recent unwarranted attacks on the judiciary by other branches of government undermine justice. Equally damaging are the organizational, budgetary, and staffing issues facing the judiciary that hinder its ability to manage its caseloads and be an accessible, affordable venue for the citizenry. Our democracy depends on it.
• Mental Health and Wellness: As lawyers, we spend significant time counseling our clients about their personal, business, familial, and financial issues while attempting to lead “normal” lives and spend time with our families and loved ones. The struggle to balance our professional and personal lives creates unmanageable levels of stress and anxiety. The Bar must provide every resource available to Florida lawyers for mental health and wellness. Ultimately, a lawyer’s mental health and wellness impacts clients and the judicial system. I fully support The Florida Bar’s efforts to identify ways to shatter the stigma around mental illness in the legal community and the newly formed and existing initiatives regarding mental health and wellness.
During these uncertain and transformative times, we look to the oath we took upon admission to The Florida Bar to support the United States and Florida constitutions, to respect the court and its officers, and to never reject the cause of the defenseless or oppressed. I would be grateful for your vote.
13th Circuit, Seat 4
Jeffrey Carter Andersen
I am running for The Florida Bar Board of Governors to represent the 13th Circuit in Seat 4. The seat is being vacated by Mike Hooker, who is not seeking re-election. There are many important issues facing our third branch of government in Florida, and I want to help solve the challenges and problems we face.
I believe that The Florida Bar Board of Governors should have the following among its highest priorities:
• Protecting a strong, independent judiciary.
• Serving the members of The Florida Bar.
• Safeguarding the legal needs of the citizens of Florida.
• Ensuring access to justice in Florida.
• Demanding integrity, professionalism, and civility in the profession.
• Promoting diversity and inclusion.
If elected, the focus of my service will be listening, learning, working hard, and finding solutions.
I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 1998, where I served on the Florida Law Review and in Florida Blue Key. And I received my B.S. in economics from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration in 1991.
I began my legal career at Jones Day in D.C., from 1998 to 2002, and I am now a shareholder at Bush Ross, P.A., in Tampa, where I have practiced for 14 years. I understand the issues facing lawyers in small and large firms. I specialize in commercial litigation, but also have spent considerable time early in my career as a transactional lawyer.
Practicing in Tampa since 2002, I served on the HCBA Board of Directors for nine years, culminating as president in 2015-2016. That year, we focused on important issues facing the Bar, and brought wonderful speakers, including four-star Gen. Ann Dunwoody and Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, to our members. We also hosted Judge Steve Leifman who taught us about the Criminal Mental Health Project that he initiated to serve the mentally ill in the 11th Circuit.
I have served in a Florida Bar seat on the 13th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission for seven years, and I currently serve on The Florida Bar Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee. I also served on Florida Bar Grievance Committee 13D from 2012 to 2015. Since 2004, I have served on the UF Law Alumni Council (2004-2011) and as its president in 2010, then on the UF Law Board of Trustees since 2012, and currently as its secretary. Since 2013, I have served on the Board of Directors of the University of Florida Alumni Association.
I am a proud graduate and active alumnus of both Leadership Tampa (2006) and Leadership Florida (Class XXXIII, 2015). These organizations taught me so much about the 13th Circuit and our state, and those lessons will help me serve our circuit and The Florida Bar.
I would be honored and humbled to represent the 13th Circuit on the Board of Governors. If elected, I commit to give my highest effort to represent our circuit. I would greatly appreciate your vote and your support.
Thank you for your consideration.
Paige A. Greenlee
The 13th Circuit needs another proven leader on the Board of Governors who understands our legal community and has demonstrated the work ethic and dedication needed to represent our interests. I am an experienced and committed leader of our profession at the local and statewide levels, and am the right choice to represent you.
Three years ago, I founded my own firm, and practice primarily in business litigation and bankruptcy. Previously, I practiced with a small firm and as a partner with one of Tampa’s largest firms. This experience helps me understand the issues facing the lawyers in our circuit and will allow me to truly represent your interests.
Throughout my career, I have served in leadership positions on a local level, including prior service on the Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA) Young Lawyers Division Board, and as a 13th Circuit representative on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Board of Governors. I currently serve on the HCBA board, the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers board, and one of our circuit’s grievance committees.
On a statewide level, I served as Florida Bar YLD president, leading our Bar’s largest division of approximately 25,000 young lawyers. This afforded me the privilege of serving on The Florida Bar Board of Governors for two years and on the Bar’s Executive Committee. I currently serve on the executive councils of both the Business Law Section and the Solo & Small Firm Section, and on The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors, where I chair its Development Committee.
Through each of these leadership roles, I have gained insight into all aspects of the Bar, from lawyer ethics and discipline, to interaction with the courts, legislature, and executive branch, to the board’s oversight of the Bar’s more than $43 million budget. I also understand the important dynamic between the board, its sections, divisions, and committees, and other Bar groups. My prior service and the relationships I developed will allow me to hit the ground running and immediately make an impact on the board.
Our profession is constantly changing. As YLD president, we made great strides in helping lawyers adapt to these changes, including addressing technological advancements and assisting lawyers with career development, mentorship, and practice assistance. As your representative, my priorities will include: continuing to help both young and seasoned lawyers adapt to constantly changing technology through education and practice enhancement programs; increasing access to justice and expanding the business community’s role in this important initiative; improving professionalism, ethics and civility among our membership; and providing more resources to assist lawyers’ practices.
If elected to the Board of Governors, I will actively seek out your questions, comments, and concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me any time ([email protected] or (813) 802-8215). Additional campaign information can be found at www.voteforpaige.com. It would be my honor and privilege to represent and advocate for you on the Board of Governors. I hope to earn your support, and I ask for your vote.
17th Circuit, Seat 4
My friends and colleagues, it is my honor to be a candidate for the Board of Governors 17th Circuit, Seat 4, being vacated by Jay Cohen. A very wise Eugene Pettis once said, “If we are lucky in life, there will be a moment when our life will transcend our self-interests and we will become an instrument of good, fulfilling a cause seemingly beyond our reach.” This is my moment.
My journey to Bar leadership has come full circle. As a graduate of Nova Southeastern University in 1997, I represented the 17th Circuit on The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. I also started my own solo family law firm and mediation company. Feeling the call to public service, I later joined the Guardian ad Litem Program in the Fourth Circuit representing the best interests of children who were abused, abandoned, and/or neglected, later becoming the program’s circuit director in the Fourth and 17th circuits. I am currently a partner at Benjamin-Wise Creary, a family law firm in Pompano Beach. My practice primarily focuses on divorce, paternity, dependency, and mediation, as well as court-appointed guardian ad litem cases.
I currently serve on The Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Committee, and the boards of the Caribbean Bar Association, the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, and the Jamaican Women of Florida. I am an active member of the Broward County Bar Association and the 17th Circuit’s Professionalism Panel, and an ambassador for the Pompano Beach and Margate Chamber of Commerce. I am a past president of the T. J. Reddick Bar Association, and a past vice president of the Broward County Women Lawyers Association. By far, my greatest accomplishment to date is my family: my beloved husband Daryl, my dear son Charles, who served his country with honor and of whom I am so proud, his dear wife Amy, and my grandson, Gavin Elijah, who holds my heart.
Although everyone’s career path may differ from mine, I understand the issues faced by small and solo firms trying to survive in this very competitive profession: their need for additional training resources, updated technology, and protection from those who seek an unfair advantage through unregulated online and referral services. I understand the need of large firms to maintain their competitive edge while also maintaining the public trust and confidence in our legal system. I understand the need for an independent, well-funded judiciary, and the need to work closely with our fellow branches of government to ensure its preservation. I also understand the need to have not just a judiciary that reflects the diversity of the citizens of Florida, but also a Bar leadership that reflects the diversity of the lawyers we represent.
I ask for your vote so that I may represent the interests of every lawyer in Broward County; but even if you do not vote for me, please vote. Your vote matters. Thank you.
For nearly a decade, Jay Cohen has represented the Broward County legal community by serving as a member of the Board of Governors. Thank you, Jay, for your service. Before Jay, Jesse Diner, past president of The Florida Bar, held that seat, and I am indebted to Jesse for his support and guidance over the past decade. Another distinguished Broward County attorney and past president of The Florida Bar, Eugene Pettis, and past president of The Florida Bar Foundation, Adele Stone, as well as Florida Bar past presidents William Schifino, Greg Coleman, and Ed Blumberg have honored me with their support. Attorney leaders from throughout our community have humbled me with their support, including Jack Seiler, George Moriatis, and Kenneth Keechl. There are far too many attorneys who support me than I can list here. I cannot express how thankful I am for their support.
Because our leaders have set such high standards, I know I must work tirelessly to meet the expectations incumbent upon a member of the Board of Governors. To do so, I draw on my Bar experience to inform me how to address present and future challenges. For over a decade, I have served the Bar by working in several positions, including as past chair of The Florida Bar’s Business Law Section, past chair of the Federal Court Practice Committee of The Florida Bar, and as a member of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Committee of The Florida Bar.
Community service also remains central to my obligations: past chair of the Government Affairs Committee of the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce; member of the Board of Directors for the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce; past chair of the Board for the Transplant Foundation; and chair of the Political Affairs Committee of the Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.
I look forward to addressing the following challenges:
1. Florida’s judiciary must remain independent and funded. Equally important is to adequately fund the state attorneys and public defenders to protect our community. Broward County must solve these challenges.
2. Our attorneys must have help to develop better work-life balance and lifestyles, especially considering the significant stressors in our profession.
3. The legal community has long discussed ways to encourage and promote diversity and inclusion. It is now time for action; the Bar must reflect our communities’ demographics.
4. Bridging the access-to-justice gap is not only critical to securing our democracy, it is the embodiment of our oath. The Bar must facilitate ways for Floridians to have access to justice.
5. The Bar must shore up its ability to protect the legal community from suffering harm from nonlawyers performing legal services in Florida and prevent technology from hampering the Broward County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service.
To learn more about me and my candidacy – visit http://jonpolenberg.com/.
Please honor me with your vote.
18th Circuit, Seat 1
I am running for the Board of Governors, 18th Circuit, Seat 1, which is being vacated by John Alpizar. Mr. Alpizar has served our circuit well, and I am honored to have his endorsement to now fill this seat. I am also honored to have the endorsements of more than 150 local attorneys who are supporting my candidacy.
I am running for the Board of Governors because I believe The Florida Bar can do more to help its constituent lawyers. Our dues should be something we pay in return for a service rather than a tax we pay for the privilege of serving.
Continuing legal education, including the ever-elusive ethics, can be more readily available and more easily affordable. At the same time, more can be done to protect Bar email addresses from CLE spam. Periodic updates of significant changes in the law can be provided on the Bar’s website and sorted by area of practice. With less than 1 percent of the state’s budget being allotted to the courts, the Bar must do more to persuade the Legislature to adequately fund our courts, including our state attorneys and our public defenders.
We all worked hard to earn the privilege of practicing law. We continue to work hard to keep up with its demands. The Florida Bar must likewise work hard to help us maintain the level of professionalism and competence our clients expect and deserve, while also understanding lawyers have only a limited amount of time. Rules and regulations can be crafted in such a way as to ensure the protection of the public and the integrity of our profession while also giving due consideration to the needs of lawyers to balance that time.
Your next representative should have both experience and roots in the 18th Circuit. My involvement in the legal community includes the following:
• Past president, Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents (statewide)
• Past president, Seminole County Bar Association
• Past president, Volie A. Williams, Inn of Court
• Past president, Seminole County Legal Aid Society
• Member, Board of Directors, Florida Council of Bar Association Presidents
• Member, Board of Directors, Seminole County Bar Association
• Member, Board of Directors, Seminole Inn of Court
• Member, Brevard County Bar Association
• Former Florida Bar presidential appointee, Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee
• Recipient of the Whigham-Gray Award for Professionalism
• Recipient of the Edward C. Smith Award for Pro Bono Services
It has been an honor to serve in the foregoing positions. From those boards, and early on as an assistant state attorney, later as a sole practitioner, as managing partner of a larger firm, as a civil litigator, and more recently as a mediator, I have listened to the issues that concern lawyers. I share those concerns. As your representative, I will promote the changes that will help all of us. If you believe as I do, that The Florida Bar can do more for its members, then I ask you to elect me to serve as your next representative on the Board of Governors.
James G. Vickaryous
The practice of law has changed immensely since a small group of Brevard and Seminole County lawyers convinced the Legislature to create the 18th Judicial Circuit in 1967. Over the past half-century, the relationships binding the Brevard and Seminole county bars have built the 18th Circuit into the best place to practice law in Florida. Despite technological change and an increasingly competitive environment, the essential element of lawyering has persevered since the days of the Roman lawyer Marcus Cicero: A client’s interests must always come first. The practice of law will continue to change, but The Florida Bar, and the lawyers that make up its membership, must be mindful to keep our clients’ interests as our primary concern. As your representative on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, I will ensure that this fundamental element of practicing law is preserved.
In order for a lawyer to preserve his or her client’s interests, we must fight for and preserve fair and impartial courts and the rule of law. While serving as a military police platoon leader in Bosnia, it occurred to me that their civil war was a direct result of the lack of a trusted court system where citizens could bring their problems. In order to maintain our justice system, we need more judges and more funding for the 18th Judicial Circuit. I have been making the case to our Legislature for more funding for the 18th Judicial Circuit for a number of years. I will be in Tallahassee in February 2018 asking our representatives to adequately fund our circuit.
Unlike larger circuits, the 18th Circuit only gets one representative on the Board of Governors. Elect a leader as your representative that has a proven record of representing the 18th Circuit’s interests. Below are some of my highlights:
• 24-year member of The Florida Bar
• President, Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association (2017)
• President, Seminole County Bar Association (2015)
• Founded a successful Seminole County law firm
• Fellow, Florida Bar Foundation since 2008
• U.S. Army Veteran, NATO Medal for Service in former Yugoslavia (Bosnia)
• Chair, Seminole County’s only full service homeless shelter (2010-16)
• Member, 18th Circuit Court Local Professionalism Panel
• Member, All Souls Catholic Church
• B.A., University of Miami
• J.D., Stetson University College of Law
• M.B.A., Stetson University
The 18th Circuit is a great place to practice law. I ask for your help and your vote to help make it even better.