The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

2022-2023 ANNUAL REPORTS of Committees of The Florida Bar

Annual Reports

Annual Reports of the Committee of The Florida Bar

Admiralty Law

The Admiralty Law Committee continued to advance its core functions in the fiscal year 2022-2023 by: 1) fostering the practice of maritime law and continued learning, offering complimentary and well-attended seminars about recent developments and trends in this practice area; 2) outreach to the Florida legal profession and the public, through close interaction and cooperation with “sister” committees, having goals germane to ours; 3) close networking among our admiralty colleagues by making fora and participation to monthly zooms and coffee breaks became our habit; and 4) cross-exchanging information and notions complementary to the members of our respective groups.

Principally the exchange went on with the ABA TIPS International Transportation Committee, but also with the ABA Section of International Law. With the latter, we participated to works of their Liaison Committee for making bonds with bar associations of other nations, creating groups for ongoing living contacts with European bars (Italy, France, Germany, and others) and working for bars of South America and the Far East. Within the same scope, we participated to an encounter with members of the board of the Bar of Paris, France, visiting Miami in occasion of the world meeting of the International Bar Association, in November 2022.

We participated on regular monthly calls of the ABA TIPS International Transportation Committee, and some webinars. We had the same participation on coffee breaks held by committees of the Maritime Law Association of the United States in New York. With all we discussed hot topics.

On January 19, 2023, our committee convened at Orlando for The Florida Bar Winter Meeting, and we offered a whole day CLE, that addressed maritime law issues recently developed. The CLE got accreditation, covering recent developments in sensitive areas of maritime law. Alan Richard, chair of our Legislative Subcommittee, supplied a broad coverage of the major legislative updates. He was followed by a presentation about the present status of seamen under maritime law, by Kassandra Taylor, special counsel to Jones Walker, LLP, who delivered a PowerPoint presentation (PPT), “Are Seafarers Still Wards of Admiralty?” The answer of the speaker was “yes” upon review of a long line of precedents, although a 2021 precedent of the 11th Circuit may part away from the adage that contract ambiguities must be always resolved in seaman’s favor.

Laura Beck Knoll of Alley, Maass, Rogers & Lindsay talked on regulatory updates in yachting with an excellent PPT, “Marine Diesel Emissions Regulatory Updates.” This was again a topic of actuality, given the significant updates of regulations touching applicability, standards, compliance, penalties, certification, and most of all connection with the EPA Clean Air Act.

We then had a deep review of the updated status of the law for recreational boats, the Florida Boating Safety Act 2022 and the Federal Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act 2022. Samuel Higginbottom’s delivered a PPT on the “Florida’s Boating Safety Act of 2022,” opening a statute overview on collisions, accidents, and casualties and an overview of the amendment, followed boating safety education, vessel safety regulations for equipment and lighting, noncriminal infractions, mandatory education for violators, vessel registration, application, certificate, number, decal, duplicate certificate, liveries; safety regulations; penalty, impact on case law, potential expansion of tort liability, recent precedents and industry’s response.

Rod Sullivan followed with a PPT, “The Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act,” the widely debated statute that changed the rules of limitation of liability for small vessels. The Fairness Act had been signed into law by President Biden barely a month before the Orlando meeting, on Christmas Eve 2022, thus, raising great interest and attention with the attendants, being of intense actuality.

Rod’s coverage raised many proper uncertainties from the text of the law, buried inside the huge statute H.R. 7776 (117): James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, almost 1,800 pages long (the Liability Act being less than five pages). Among other things, Rod remarked that the removal of limitation does not mean unlimited liability, but instead a new regime of compensation that the Coast Guard is supposed to enact by rulemaking within 180 days from the act entering in force, thus, raising questions of the constitutionality of the rulemaking.

Following up on the leading remarks of Rod, we are now closely discussing with the Admiralty Committee of the Federal Bar Association to offer a joint whole day CLE at The Florida Bar Annual Convention on June 22, possibly joined by the ABA TIPS International Transportation Committee.

We are also studying the possible attendance by our members and board to the yearly meeting of the Maritime Law Association of the United States in New York, May 3-5.

During the term, our committee members attended in-person networking events (called “lunch and learn”) with students from the St. Thomas University School of Law on various occasions. In conclusion, we would like to repeat last year’s praise of Joanne “Jody” Foster and Adria Notari, and I add for this year, Gino Butto, for precious help to our committee, but sadly we had to say goodbye to our Bar staff liaison, Stefanie Svisco, who left her position beginning of January 2023, not before supplying our committee with the program for the Winter Meeting.

In closing, I repeat last year’s invitation by Chair Ryon I. Little to all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to attend the committee’s meetings, by using the committee preference forms that are posted online by The Florida Bar from December 1 to mid-January to begin work on the committee the following July 1 of each year. Many thanks go to Emily Young who is now giving our committee the most careful and valuable attention.

Attilio Costabel, Chair

Admiralty & Maritime Law Certification

This year, the Admiralty & Maritime Law Certification Committee continued its work of preparing, updating, and revising its comprehensive exam to test the knowledge, experience, and abilities of Florida lawyers for certification in the area of admiralty and maritime law. This unique area of the law provides a challenge to test preparers and test takers.

The certification exam covers 15 distinct areas of admiralty and maritime law, including admiralty jurisdiction, marine insurance, limitation of liability, maritime liens, and maritime personal injuries. Each area may contain as many as five or six subtopics, all of which are important areas of inquiry for the exam. The exam includes 100 mandatory multiple-choice questions, and a variety of fact patterns touching the primary substantive subjects in the discipline. The questions reflect the various specialties and test the applicant’s broad knowledge of admiralty procedure and maritime law.

During 2022-2023 year, the committee met numerous times virtually to prepare and finalize the test; to continue its review relative the application that was recommended for denial during the 2021-2022 year; continued its review of the applicable rules; and discussed changes to the exam questions by reducing the length of the factual patterns; by changing the fact pattern and questions regarding the marine insurance questions; and had its representative, Carlos Llinás Negret, attend the BLSE meeting held on January 20, 2023 regarding the committees’ recommendation to deny recertification of a member.

The committee also reviewed the applications submitted by potential test-takers to ensure applications met the minimum qualifications for certification. In addition, the committee reviewed applications for recertification and assisted the aviation section in reviewing some of their re-certification applications. Admiralty and maritime lawyers who were certified in 2001, 2006, 2011, or 2016, will be due to file a recertification application by May 31. The filing period for initial applications is July 1-August 31, 2023.

An important goal of the committee and the Bar is to increase the number of certified lawyers in the admiralty and maritime specialty. This helps to strengthen the field and to meet and overcome the effects of generational turnover. To this end, committee members advocate for admiralty board certification with their colleagues and at seminars/conferences/professional gatherings. Some other ideas are to track attendees of the Florida Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee seminars for possible attorneys that may be good candidates to apply for board certification. The committee would like to explore the possibility of promotional videos to advocate for board certification. The committee always encourages certified attorneys and law firms to mentor younger lawyers who are practicing admiralty and maritime law and will soon be meeting the five-year minimum experience requirement for taking the exam.

Thank you to the members of the 2022-2023 committee for their hard work and commitment to ensuring the highest standards for certification are maintained. Committee members for 2022-2023 are Vice Chair Howard T. Sutter, Tonya J. Meister, Barbara A. Kreitz Cook, Carlos Llinás Negret, Michael W. McLeod, Mark J. Buhler, Joanne M. Foster, and Anthony Cuva. A special thank you to our Bar staff liaison, Chyra Reynolds, whose hard work and support was indispensable to our work throughout this past year.

We invite all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in this exciting and expanding area of the law.

Robert L. Gardana, Chair

Adoption Law Certification

Since 2009, the Adoption Law Certification Committee has been offering certification for attorneys whose practices concentrates on the legalities and complexities of private adoptive placements of minors (both within and outside of Florida), intervention cases that arise out of the dependency system, and contested matters stemming from termination of parental rights and adoption proceedings, or appeals relating to same.

The committee year kicked off early with both the chair and vice chair attending the Board of Legal Specialization and Education and Area Certification Committee Forum at the June Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando where valuable exam-drafting information was taken back to the committee at-large who then incorporated it into the countless hours spent completing a new initial certification exam (with model answers) and updating our specialization area on the Bar website. With COVID-19 restrictions in the rearview mirror, the committee had nearly perfect attendance for an in-person committee meeting in Daytona Beach in October that was planned to coincide with the annual meeting of the Florida Adoption Council conference, a statewide organization of adoption professionals to which many of the committee members also belong. The committee continued its other work remotely not only evaluating its own members for recertification but reviewing dozens of recertification applications for the Marital and Family Law and Juvenile Law sections.

With the current number of adoption law board-certified members totaling but 28, this close-knit group of lawyers (and judges) by necessity cycle in and out of service on the committee thereby providing tremendous continuity from year to year, allowing newer board-certified attorneys to benefit from the veteran committee founders. This year one new applicant met the stringent vetting process and sat for the certification exam in March. The current committee consists of Vice Chair Robert Webster III, Orlando; Judge Christine Arendas; Kissimmee; Amy Hickman, Boynton Beach; Stephen H. Price, Orlando; Elizabeth Schwartz, Miami; Susan Stockham, Sarasota; and Mary K. Wimsett, Gainesville.

With much gratitude, I thank each of the committee members for their significant contribution of time, energy, thought, and passion which has contributed to a productive and successful year. And on our collective behalf, we express our appreciation to our new staff liaison, Kimberly Lisenby, who demonstrated incredible patience and support at every step.

Participating on the adoption law board certification committee is a meaningful way for an adoption attorney to give back to the profession while enhancing their own knowledge and skills. It’s a hands-on experience providing an unparalleled opportunity to network with and learn from colleagues from across the state. I invite those of you who are already board-certified in adoption law to join the committee and encourage other adoption attorneys to study for and sit for the next exam or to reach out to any of the current committee members should you have questions regarding your eligibility.

Susan M. Leivn, Chair


The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising Florida Bar members on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which meets periodically as needed, 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 Bar 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 different methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the committee’s Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation. The Handbook is regularly updated by the committee to reflect important changes that have occurred and is currently available on the website for easy access by Bar members. The Handbook and other information addressed in this report are available on the Bar’s website at

Similar to other recent years, 2022-2023 was a busy year for the Standing Committee on Advertising. In addition to reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar, the committee considered recommendations from Florida Bar members and the Board of Governors. Unfortunately, the committee was not able to meet during The Florida Bar’s Winter Meeting due to the unexpected passing of Rosanna Schachtele, one of the committee’s non-lawyer public members.

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 committee review of staff’s interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is requested by an advertising attorney. Advertisers may request review of committee decisions by the Board of Governors if they wish. 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.

Notable Advertising Decisions — Some of the committee’s decisions from the 2022-2023 fiscal year include the following: First, the committee determined that the following italicized language is not a statement that a prospective client can reasonably interpret as a prediction or guaranty of success or specific results: Caring, understanding, and hard work is how you win.

In another decision, the committee determined that the following language implies that the lawyer will use tactics that are prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct, court order, court rule, or law: Relationships with judges….For over 40 years — we’ve been building these relationships for you to prove the truth. These relationships are put to work every day for your benefit.

In a third decision, the committee determined that the law firm trade name, International Law Partners, is not false, misleading, or deceptive pursuant when the advertising law firm does not include any bona fide office locations outside of the U.S. but frequently represents clients outside of the U.S. in intellectual property matters.

Composition of the Committee and Florida Bar Staff — The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of non-lawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to the quality of our decisions and provides our committee with a broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I thank each of our committee members: Manohar Athavale, Michael David Barber, Vincent Cuomo, Chioma Rucshana Deere, Andrea Nichole DeMichael, Neidy E. Hornsby, Rian Meadows, Alexis Rosenberg, Shannon Brooke Schott, Christine Nicole Senne, Gemma Torcivia, and Jenny Maria Vargas de Perez-Coru. Further, I express my condolences to the family and friends of Rosanna Schachtele.

Finally, the committee thanks our Board liaison, Jeremy C. Branning, Division of Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Gypsy Bailey, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Huy-Yen C. Bailey, Joy A. Bruner, Nicholas R. Cavallaro, Susan E. Gray, Jeffrey M. Hazen, LiliJean Quintiliani, Deanna E. Rahming, Paralegal Donna Hostutler, Administrative Support 4 Pamela Brown, Administrative Support 2 Susan Permenter, and Administrative Support 2 Kelley Hamilton, headed by Ethics Counsel Jonathan D. Grabb. Without the participation, guidance, experience and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.

Joseph Buford Towne, Chair

Annual Convention

Ready, Set, CONNECT! 

The 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention will focus on connectivity: connecting lawyers across the Bar, connecting mentors and mentees, connecting the profession to our communities, and connecting digitally. The theme of building connections will cover the entire convention from committee meetings to receptions, luncheons and events to CLE seminars and hallway meet-ups, engaging Florida Bar members with the message that we are all linked together — regardless of where we live, what area we practice, or how we give back to the profession.

 The 2023 Annual Convention takes place June 21-24 at the newly renovated hotel, The Boca Raton. Special events include the Judicial Luncheon, featuring an address by Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz and the All Member Reception on Thursday, June 22. Friday will feature General Assembly, the 50-year Member Luncheon and Diversity & Inclusion Luncheon, as well as the Friday Night President’s Reception honoring 2022-2023 Bar President Gary Lesser’s connections across the Bar. This year’s President’s Showcase CLE offerings include Cybersecurity and the Practice of Law — What Florida Lawyers Need to Know in 2023, presented by The Florida Bar Board Technology Committee, and Corruption of the Best Things Gives Rise to the Worst: Helping Consumers Guard Against and Recover from Scams, presented by the Consumer Protection Law Committee. In addition, a variety of engaging CLE opportunities will be offered throughout convention alongside a full agenda of section and committee meetings. We also look forward to welcoming Bar members and guests to connect with exhibitors and convention sponsors, and to take advantage of all the opportunities for bonding and networking offered by the Annual Convention.

 It has been our privilege to chair the 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention and work alongside The Florida Bar Meetings Department, including Beth Anne Trombetta, Rodney McCammon, Krystal Owen, and Brooke Smith.

We look forward to making new connections and strengthening lasting bonds at the 2023 Annual Convention.

Kyleen Hinkle and Whitney Utiedt, Co-Chairs

Appellate Board Certification

The committee’s work started with a review of the 2022 examination results. Ten applicants qualified to sit for the examination, with eight passing the exam and earning appellate board certification. The committee gave careful consideration to the surveys completed by the 2022 applicants. Notably, 100% of the survey respondents indicated that the exam questions were clearly and logically written, and adequately tested the knowledge of an attorney eligible for certification. There was some constructive criticism that was noted, and was used to improve the exam for this year.

The committee recognizes that applicants for recertification report having more difficulty obtaining oral arguments for recertification in the current legal climate. However, the recent rule change (effective July 2021) that reduces the required oral arguments to three on the first recertification cycle, and two in subsequent recertification cycles, seems to present a more obtainable standard for most certified lawyers. The committee still anticipates that the lack of discretion to waive this recertification requirement, for just cause shown, may result in some inequities in the future.

We must repeat our frequent plea to all lawyers who receive requests for peer review, especially members of the judiciary, to complete the review forms thoughtfully and promptly. The certification process depends upon our ability to evaluate applicants’ reputations in the legal community. Committee members are prohibited from relying solely on their own knowledge of the applicants. We need the assistance of all lawyers in The Florida Bar to have an effective evaluation of candidates for certification and recertification.

By agreement of the sitting committee members, we have continued to meet and work remotely without the need for in-person gatherings. In our view, this is important to the diversification of the committee, and opens up participation by lawyers who would otherwise have to engage in unreimbursed travel four or more times per year. If the remote work continues, we hope the committee will be able to achieve more diversity in the geography of our members, as well as creating opportunities for small firm and government lawyers who may not have the financial support of a law firm for frequent Bar-related travel.

There are eight applicants who will sit for the examination on March 10, 2023. We have also received 35 applications for recertification. Currently, there are 203 appellate practice board certified attorneys.

As committee chair, I am extremely grateful to the committee members who take time from their busy practices to tackle this important work. I recognize and thank the members for their service: Vice Chair Forrest Andrews, Jack Pelzer, Andy Berman, Mark Tinker, Tom Hunker, Ed Guedes, Nancy Stamper, and Cristy Russell. It has been a pleasure working with each of you during my tenure.

We have been well-served by our Bar certification specialist, Ashleigh Bolstridge, whose hard work and dedication to the committee has been invaluable. We could not function without her efforts and expertise, and she makes this job look easy. Thank you, Ashleigh!

Duane A. Daiker, Chair

Appellate Court Rules

The Appellate Court Rules Committee (ACRC) has been busy and extremely productive in 2022-2023. It made great strides to timely process all the proposed amendments approved by ACRC this year, timely file comments and participate in oral arguments on proposed amendments approved by other rules committees and the Florida Supreme Court (court), and — perhaps, most importantly — clear a backlog of proposed amendments approved by ACRC in the last few years that have now been filed with the court for its consideration and approval.

This year, the court adopted several changes to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. First, the court adopted changes to several rules sets based on the report and recommendation of the Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19, about which ACRC provided comment and input. In re Amends. to Fla. R. Civ. Pro., Fla. R. Gen. P. & Jud. Admin., Fla. R. Crim. Pro., Fla. Prob. R., Fla. R. of Traffic Ct., Fla. Small Claims R., and Fla. R. App. Pro., 346 So. 3d 1105 (Fla. 2022). Among amendments to the other rule sets, the court amended Rules 9.320, 9.700, 9.720, and 9.740 to approve the use of communication technology in oral argument and appellate mediations.

Second, the court approved changes to Rule 9.142(d), about which ACRC provided comment. In re Amends. to Fla. R. Crim. Pro. 3.851, 351 So. 3d 574, 576 (Fla. 2022). In addition to changes to the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court approved a change to Rule 9.142(d) to expressly provide that review of a dismissal of a postconviction proceeding does not apply if the appeal was waived before the circuit court.

The court’s newly adopted amendments, however, do not account for the vast majority of the ACRC’s work this year. ACRC approved a number of its own amendments to the appellate rules and filed reports concerning same, which remain pending in the court:

Case No. SC22-1084 — ACRC proposed amendments to Rule 9.130 to permit nonfinal appeals of orders denying motions to dismiss or for summary judgment under Florida’s Anti-SLAPP statute. Three comments were filed, two of which were in opposition to the proposed amendments. ACRC filed a response to the comments in opposition. Oral argument was held on April 5, 2023.

Case No. SC22-1784 — ACRC proposed numerous amendments to the appellate rules related to criminal appeals, including Rules 9.140, 9.141, 9.142, 9.145, 9.146, and 9.310. Specifically, ACRC proposed the following: 1) amending Rule 9.145 to address concerns regarding the confidentiality requirements for electronic filings; 2) amending Rule 9.146 to clarify that review of a lower tribunal’s order on a motion for stay is by motion in the appellate court and to address concerns regarding the confidentiality requirements for electronic filings; 3) amending Rule 9.310 to clarify that review of a lower tribunal’s order on a motion for stay is by motion in the appellate court; and 4) amending Rules 9.140, 9.141, 9.142, 9.145, 9.146, and 9.310 to maintain consistency as to how clerks of the lower tribunal are referenced. The court dispensed with oral argument but has not yet issued its opinion.

Case No. SC22-1785 — ACRC proposed numerous amendments to the appellate rules related to attorney’s fees, including Rules 9.190, 9.400, and 9.440. Specifically, ACRC proposed the following: 1) amending Rule 9.190 to remove extraneous language about motions for attorney’s fees and review of orders on fee motions and, instead, require such motions comply with the detailed requirements of Rule 9.400; 2) amending Rule 9.400 to confirm to confirm that the deadline for serving motions for attorneys’ fees in discretionary review proceedings under Rule 9.210 is tied to service of the respondent’s brief on jurisdiction; and 3) amending Rule 9.440 to remove a reference to a form notice of termination of limited appearance and to conform the rule to the court’s recent changes to Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.505. The court dispensed with oral argument but has not yet issued its opinion.

Case No. SC23-33 — ACRC proposed numerous amendments to the appellate rules to make clear that filing fees are not jurisdictional and to better define the applicable clerk of court referenced in the particular rule, including Rules 9.030, 9.040, 9.100, 9.110, 9.120, 9.130, 9.160, 9.170, 9.360, and 9.430. The comment period expired on March 31, 2023.

Case No. SC23-145 — ACRC proposed new-Rule 9.148 governing appeals in Baker Act cases and several amendments to Rule 9.210 to address “word count” limits, remove word count and page limits for the reply brief portion of a reply/cross-answer brief, and include a reference to new Rule 9.148. The court has not yet published the proposed amendments for comment.

Case No. SC23-261 — ACRC proposed numerous amendments to Rules 9.020, 9.147, 9.180, 9.200, 9.320, 9.340, 9.420, 9.800, 9.900. These proposed amendments include: 1) adding motions to withdraw a plea after disposition under Florida Rule of Juvenile Procedure 8.075(f) as an authorized motion that tolls rendition under Rule 9.020(h)(1)(M); 2) amending Rule 9.147 to resolve an inconsistency between the rule and statute as to the deadline governing an appellate court’s disposition of an appeal of an order dismissing a petition for judicial waiver of parental notice and consent or consent only to termination of pregnancy; 3) amending Rule 9.180 to resolve concerns about the use of “approved” court reporters and transcriptionists and the deadlines for serving notices of estimated costs, to confirm that the failure to pay a filing fee is not a jurisdictional defect, among other things; 4) amending Rule 9.320 to confirm that the deadline for requesting oral argument is tied to service of a parties’ jurisdictional brief in a discretionary review case in the court; 5) amending Rule 9.420 to remove the requirement that original petitioner be served by e-mail and in paper format; 6) amending Rule 9.800 to remove an outdated hyperlink; 7) amending Rule 9.900(h) to include a reference to Rule 9.200(b)(4); and 8) amending several rules to maintain consistency as to how clerks of the lower tribunal are referenced. The court has not yet published the proposed amendments for comment.

In addition to the substantive amendments proposed by ACRC, all of the above reports recommended that certain stylistic changes be made as necessary to conform to In re: Guidelines for Rules Submissions, AOSC22-78 (Fla. 2022).

ACRC also filed comments in the court in cases involving several other proposed amendments:

Case No. SC22-122 — concerning the Report and Recommendation of the Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases. ACRC filed a comment in opposition to the workgroup’s proposed changes to the appellate rules and participated in the oral argument. Ultimately, the court rejected the workgroup’s proposed changes to a number of rule sets, deciding instead to make individual referrals to several of the committees to consider some of the workgroup’s proposed changes.

Case No. SC22-1123 — concerning the court’s sua sponte proposed amendment to Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.140 to reflect the procedure for a defendant’s commencement of an appeal of an order granting dismissal without prejudice under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191(p). ACRC filed a comment generally in support of the substance of the court’s proposed amendments, but recommending some minor changes to the procedure. ACRC requested an opportunity to participate in the oral argument. The court has not yet decided whether oral argument will be held.

Lastly, the ACRC approved amendments to Rules 9.020 and 9.400 within the last few months. These proposed amendments were published in The Florida Bar News and await comments, which were due by March 31, 2023. Assuming no comments are filed, ACRC will have presented those proposed amendments at the next meeting of The Florida Bar Board of Governors in May 2023.

ACRC’s work can only be accomplished by the tireless and dedicated service of its members. The subcommittee chairs deserve special recognition for their efforts in leading and coordinating that work, including Stephanie L. Serafin (Civil Practice), Judge Susan Hollis Rothstein-Youakim (Criminal Practice), Charles Morris Auslander (General Practice), Kristen Marie Fiore (Administrative Practice), Judge Carrie Ann Wozniak (Family Practice), Keith W. Upson (Original Proceedings), Melissa Nicole Madsen (Record on Appeal), Judge Edward L. Artau (Internal Operating Procedures), and Judge Mary Kemmerly Thomas (Workers’ Compensation). The committee’s officers also deserve special recognition. Vice Chairs William Aaron Daniel, Christine Riley Davis, Elaine D. Walter, and Sarah Todd Weitz were responsible for ensuring that referrals proceeded in a timely manner through the various subcommittees and assisted in authoring the reports listed above. Judge Eduardo I. Sanchez acted as parliamentarian and served as liaison to the Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee, prior to his resigning from ACRC as a result of his judicial appointment. Thank you to Thomas D. Hall for taking over as liaison to the Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee. Secretary Mihaela Cabulea also did an excellent job taking minutes at all of our meetings.

Last, but certainly not least, a special thank you goes to the ACRC’s Bar liaison, Heather Telfer. Her return to ACRC this year has been tremendous, and her can-do attitude, institutional knowledge, and wise counsel are invaluable to the ACRC in timely proceeding referrals and achieving its goals.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve among some of the best and brightest lawyers and judges in our state. After the Annual Convention in June, I have little doubt that ACRC will continue its great work in advancing the administration of justice.

Judge Andrew D. Manko, Chair

Aviation Law

Florida is a hub for the aviation industry, both commercial and private. It is home to numerous businesses and governmental agencies serving aviation and aerospace industries. The Aviation Law Committee supports its members, whose practices include aviation and space law, through continued education and networking with other experienced aviation lawyers.

The committee holds semi-annual educational sessions in conjunction with The Florida Bar’s Winter Meeting and Annual Convention, covering topics within the broad area of expertise required of aviation lawyers, including criminal, tort, litigation, employment, products liability, transactional, and insurance defense, as well as administrative and regulatory practice before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board, and Transportation Security Administration. Brexit, Part 91/135 Leasing Issues and Taxation Considerations have been of special interest to the committee over the past year. Attendance at the sessions satisfy, in part, CLE credit requirements of those who are Florida Bar board certified in aviation law. Additionally, committee members often present sessions during the aviation law board certification exam’s review, held in February. This seminar includes presentations on topics covered in the certification exam, including litigation, aeronautics and space law, aircraft registration and recording law, international treaties and conventions, airport land use, drones regulation, air taxi operations, airline labor law, and FAA enforcement and administrative actions.

The committee publishes an online newsletter, Vectors. The committee and its members work closely with Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, International Air and Transportation Safety Bar Association, National Business Aviation Association, and Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association.

We welcome participation of Florida Bar attorneys with an interest in, or who practice, aviation law but are not yet members. I thank Ricky Libbert of The Florida Bar and Vice Chair Patrick Neale for coordinating our January meeting, our February certification review course, and ensuring its success. In addition, I thank all members who presented at the February Aviation Law Certification Course. Finally, I thank those who attend our meetings and contribute to the transfer of knowledge, and committee members who assist The Florida Bar and its membership in this highly technical area of law.

Vanessa D. Torres, Chair

Aviation Law Certification

The Aviation Law Certification Committee has continued its efforts to attract attorneys that practice law in the specialized area of aviation law to become board certified. There are currently 47 board certified aviation law attorneys in Florida. Fifteen years ago, there were only 30. Factoring in attrition and considering that aviation law is a highly specialized area of the law, the growth is encouraging. One applicant applied to take the certification exam this year but withdrew for personal reasons.

To become a certified specialist, a lawyer must be an active member in good standing of The Florida Bar, have practiced law for a minimum of five years, pass a written examination in the specialty area, be favorably evaluated as to their ability and experience in the specialty field by judges and other lawyers, and exhibit outstanding character, ethics, and a reputation for professionalism. A member of The Florida Bar who has earned this career achievement may hold themselves out as “board certified,” “expert,” or “specialist.”

Board certification benefits members of the public by assisting them in locating an attorney who is familiar with the unique issues that arise only in this particular area of the law including FAA enforcement actions, aircraft sale, purchase, leasing, lien, import and export transactions, litigation, airline labor law, airport land use, airline and air taxi operations, and even space and drone law. And, for the both the client and the board certified attorney, as former Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead stated, board certification is “reliable proof of the character and commitment that sets a lawyer apart,” and it “should be the capstone for a lawyer’s professionalism goals.”

The committee members continue to actively recruit qualified attorneys to take the aviation law certification exam. Since CLE is a significant prerequisite for certification we make potential candidates aware of the various aviation-specific CLE programs that are available to help them meet the requirement. Examples include helping the substantive committee provide notification of the biannual CLE presentations given at the substantive aviation law committee meetings and the substantive committee’s aviation law certification exam review course given annually.

I thank my vice chair, David M. McDonald, for his invaluable support and dedication this past year. I also extend my thanks to all of the other committee members for their assistance and participation in furthering interest in aviation law certification and in ensuring that the nature and quality of the certification area is preserved.

Allison Armour, our Bar staff liaison, has provided invaluable knowledge, guidance, and support to the entire committee, and we thank her for her help and support of the committee and its goals.

Robert L. Feldman, Chair

Board of Legal Specialization and Education

The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) has the responsibility to administer programs for regulation of 27 areas of certification. The BLSE also oversees the continuing legal education offered to all members of The Florida Bar.

Established by the Florida Supreme Court, board certification is the highest recognition for ethics, character, professionalism, and credibility in the practice of law as recognized by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar is the largest certification program in the nation with more than 5,000 board-certified attorneys.

The BLSE is comprised of 16 members: Chair Elisha D. Roy; Vice Chair David C Willis, Philip Augustine, John F. Eversole, Robert A. Norgard, Norma Stanley, Kansas Gooden, Colin M. Roopnarine, Joseph J. Weissman, Judge William Henry Burgess III, Amy J. Fanzlaw, Howard Cohen, Jennifer Ficarrotta, Barry Stein, and Jowanna Oates (representative). The Board of Governors liaison to the BLSE is Greg Weiss.

The BLSE is comprised of seven subcommittees: Executive, Strategic Planning, Exam Task Force, Standards, Rules and Policies, Communications, and National Accreditation.

Each member of the BLSE is assigned as a liaison to designated areas of certification, monitors issues and events for the individual certification areas, as needed. This year, it was very important to ensure the area committees understood the role of the BLSE and how we can support one another. As such, each BLSE member was required to be active and involved with their area committee to open lines of communication. To that end, three different programs have been offered in conjunction with live meetings, including a test drafting session in June 2022, a grading session in January 2023, and upcoming in June 2023, a leadership training to include a better understanding of the role of the test matriculators and true goals of certification. In January 2023, the BLSE voted to continue laptop testing remotely through 2026. Hand writers will continue to test in-person.

At the beginning of the 2022-2023 Bar year, the BLSE discussed, at great length, comments from Alpine Testing Solutions who was retained in 2015 to review all area committee testing protocols. A new review is recommended every five to seven years, but with many changes that occurred in 2020-2021 due to COVID, five years did not make sense, and understanding that 2015 suggestions still needed to be implemented, 2022 truly did not either. Instead, the BLSE sought to do its best to implement recommendations and focus on a review in the following year.

Many of the recommendations seem to center around testing and pass rates, and as a result, the Exam Task Force created a new Test Writing Handbook that went to each area committee containing new requirements on lengths for questions, types of questions and drafting of questions. The goal is to create a fairer test that seeks to test knowledge of the practice area, not ability to take a test. This handbook will be modified as comments come in from the area committees with suggestions and comments as it is understood putting the plan into practice may show that some requirements are not successful, and others are quite successful. As of this writing, some changes have already been implemented based on meaningful feedback from the area committees.

The BLSE has also stressed, through communications with the area committees and presentations at events, for whom the test should be written, and that is not the person writing the test. Quite the contrary, the test should be written so that a person who meets the qualifications to apply, has the requisite practical knowledge and studies can pass the test. One area committee chair indicated he did not think he could pass the test, and the response was…rewrite it. While we are trying to find a new title, the concept is finding the “Appropriately Qualified Candidate.” Someone who has been practicing the requisite five or more years who truly understands their practice area but is not yet seasoned. Reminding the area committees that the goal is to adequately test knowledge to make sure the candidate is appropriate to be considered a specialist in their field. This change was also sparked by taking into consideration the recommendations in the Alpine Testing Report.

As intimated above, it is recommended that an updated evaluation from Alpine be completed in 2023-2024, giving one full year of the new test writing and grading protocols and implementation of the “Appropriately Qualified” candidate being defined by each area committee. This will ensure the new evaluation provides meaningful feedback as to the development and validation processes that included the people involved, processes, procedures, results, and decision rules regarding certification exams. The goal is to ensure a credible and fair exam for attorneys testing for board certification.

In addition to these more internal changes, the BLSE has engaged in an outreach program to emphasize the value of becoming board certified to accomplish the following: 1) recruit new candidates to become board certified; 2) educate the public as to why it is important to retain a board-certified attorney; 3) to encourage existing certified members to retain their board-certified status. Our goal is to publicize the value of board certification and elevate this distinction to a new level. This is being effectuated by Facebook and other social media posts, spotlighting board certified lawyers in those mediums, printing articles with test taking tips by newly certified lawyers, and several other campaigns to encourage board certification. This also includes showing up and speaking out, attending meetings of the various sections to provide information on board certification, speaking at YLD events, and having BLSE committee members speak at their own local events.

Board certification matters! A recent study found that of 1,400 visitors to The Florida Bar website to locate an attorney revealed that 64% consider board certification to be the most important factor when retaining an attorney. This statistic supports our message to local bar associations, law schools, and area committee functions that specialization provides an opportunity to become a better attorney and distinguish your credentials from others. To emphasize this point, the BLSE has encouraged board-certified attorneys to post this video on their law firm website to educate potential clients about the advantages of hiring a board-certified attorney. The video is posted on the Facebook directly from The Florida Bar Board Certification page and available for download and dissemination by our members to clients and to consumers of legal services. The video can also be found on our YouTube channel, The Board-Certification Advantage.

At The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton on Thursday, June 22, 2023, Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz or another justice will present the Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award in recognition of The Florida Bar Board Certified Lawyer of the Year. This award goes to the member who is board certified and who demonstrates outstanding excellence, professionalism, and commitment to the certification program, and to the practice of law in Florida. BLSE will present the Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification, which recognizes excellence and creativity by a Florida Bar board certified lawyer or a law firm in advancing the public’s knowledge of and appreciation for legal board certification. The BLSE will also conduct its annual “pinning ceremony” to recognize all newly board-certified attorneys.

Elisha D. Roy, Chair

Business Litigation Certification

The Business Litigation Certification Committee met the challenges brought during 2022-2023 and remains committed to supporting board certification in Business Litigation. I am very proud of and grateful for all of the committee members’ participation and contributions this year. I am also exceedingly appreciative of, and very grateful for, Florida Bar Staff Certification Specialist Chyra Reynolds, who did (and always has done) an excellent job for our committee.

The committee consist of nine members: Chair Andrew Patrick Lannon, Vice Chair Rachael Spring Loukonen, David Ferrentino, Stephen J. Padula, Steele Thomas Williams, Joelle Bordeaux, immediate Past Chair, Joanne Marie O’Connor, and Past Chairs Sheila Biehl and David Steinfeld.

The committee met twice through March 1, 2022. Due to the post-pandemic surge in work, our meetings have been by Zoom. Our committee expects to meet one more time before the year end. Our exam questions were reviewed and edited for 2023 to ensure compliance with the updated examination guidelines.

In May of 2022, there were 11 exam takers. There were 58 applications for the 2022 recertification, with 48 approvals thus far. Currently, we have seven applicants who are seeking initial certification and are anticipated to take the 2023 exam. There are 218 board certified business litigation attorneys.

It has been my great honor to serve as chair for 2022-23, and thank all Florida Bar staff and all committee members for their hard work and dedication throughout this year. We encourage all lawyers who want to excel in their field to work toward board certification. The time and investment that you make in yourself is more than worth the effort. To all of the members who are currently board certified, thank you for your continued support of the certification process and for serving as honorable and professional role models.

Andrew Patrick Lannon, Chair

City, County and Local Government Law Certification

The City, County and Local Government Law Certification Committee is responsible for the process of certifying attorneys as local government specialists, with the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE). This is the 26th anniversary for our area of board certification. The committee received 34 applications to sit for the examination, as well as 55 recertification applicants for a total of 302 board certified members.

The committee worked diligently to prepare and refine the 2023 certification examination. We continued to collaborate through Zoom, but for the first time in over three years held an in-person meeting in Tampa. In addition to evaluating applications and drafting the examination, the committee submitted a rule amendment proposal that is awaiting approval from the BLSE.

It was a privilege to serve as committee chair this year, and I extend my sincere thanks to Vice Chair Carl Brody and committee members Sarah Taitt, Derek Rooney, Nikki Day, Michele Samaroo, Elizabeth Lenihan, Lawsikia Hodges, and Robert Eschenfelder. The committee tasks could not have been accomplished without the hard work and tremendous knowledge of its members, as well as the steady guidance of our Bar certification specialist, Kimberly Lisenby.

To those who are currently board certified in city, county, and local government law, thank you for your support in raising the level of professionalism, collegiality, and diligence in our field. I encourage you to pursue committee membership if you are interested in becoming more involved in the Bar. There is incalculable value in forming relationships with fellow specialists, and the environment on the committee fosters an exchange of ideas and open communication that enhances your level of expertise in this broad area of law.

Henry Joseph Hunnefeld, Chair

Civil Procedure Rules

The Civil Procedure Rules Committee has been incredibly busy in 2022-2023 with work referred directly from the Florida Supreme Court as well as from practitioners.

On December 8, 2022, the committee participated in oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court regarding the proposals of the Workgroup on the Improved Resolution of Civil Cases to significantly revamp Florida’s civil justice system. The committee asked the court for the opportunity to focus on and refine a limited set of civil rules to achieve the court’s desired goals.

On January 12, 2023, the court granted that request by asking the committee to “propose amendments to Rules 1.200 (Pretrial Procedure), 1.201 (Complex Litigation), 1.440 (Setting Action for Trial), 1.280 (General Provisions Governing Discovery), and 1.460 (Continuances).” The court indicated that this would be “the first in a series of phased referrals to the committee for the refinement and study of the proposals submitted by the Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases.” The committee’s deadline is July 3, 2023, and the committee has been working diligently to meet that deadline.

In addition to this major project, the committee completed its usual work of improving the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.

On January 1, 2023, the committee’s proposed amendments to the Statewide Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs in Civil Actions became effective. These amendments include audiovisually recorded depositions and filing fees and service of process fees, to litigation costs that should be taxed. Additionally, fees and expenses for nonbinding arbitration and fees for testifying expert witnesses are added to the list of litigation costs that may be taxed as costs. See In re: Amendments to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure — Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs, 351 So. 3d 581 (Fla. 2022).

On January 19, 2023, the court adopted the committee’s proposed amendments to Rules 1.070 (Process) and 1.650 (Medical Malpractice Presuit Screening Rule) to address Laws of Fla. Ch. 2022-190. See In re: Amendments to Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.070 and 1.650, SC22-1715, 2023 WL 308214 (Fla. Jan. 19, 2023).

As of the date this report is submitted, several cases are pending at the court. In Case No. SC22-575, the committee asked the court to amend Rule 1.440 (Setting Action for Trial) and Rule 1.500 (Defaults and Final Judgments Thereon).

In Case No. SC22-802, the committee asked the court to amend Rule 1.351 to allow additional time to object to a notice of production from a non-party and proposed subpoena when the notice and proposed subpoena is served with the original service of process.

In Case No. SC22-803, the committee proposed a new rule regarding a jury request to review testimony on its own initiative. The committee noted that in Philip Morris v. Duignan, 243 So. 3d 426, 435 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017), the Second District extended the holding of Hazuri v. State, 91 So. 3d 836 (Fla. 2012) — a criminal case regarding read backs to the jury following a request for trial transcripts — to civil cases.

In Case No. SC22-1275, the committee asked the court to amend Forms 1.996(a) and (b) to address the “Protecting Tenants to Foreclosure Act” in federal law as well as F.S. §83.5615.

In Case No. SC22-1719, the committee proposes amendments to Rule 1.110 (Pleadings and Motions) to require pleadings with affirmative defenses to contain a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts supporting the affirmative defense; Rule 1.820 (Hearing Procedures for Non-Binding Arbitration) requiring a notice of completion of arbitration to be filed which will notify the court that the parties have been served with the arbitrator’s written decision; Form 1.923 (Eviction Summons/Residential) to simply the summons, new Form 1.923(b) (Summons Action for Back Rent or Other Damages) to provide a form for defendants to file defenses, and new Form 1.947(b) (Answer — Residential Eviction) to provide a form for the defendant to answer an eviction claim.

Thank you to my officers: Vice Chairs Cosme Caballero, Judson Lee Cohen, Amelia Hallenberg Beard, and Jason Bennett Sherry; and Parliamentarian Paul R. Regensdorf; and Secretary Melisa L. Bodnar.

I also thank the following subcommittee chairs: Merrick Lawrence Gross, Diane G. DeWolf, Jeffrey Martin Hearne, Jon Polenberg, Julie Aleve Fine, Peter Leo-George Tragos, Coretta Anthony-Smith, Thomas Stoneham Edwards, Jr., Timothy Andrew Kolaya, Rebecca Mercier Vargas, James Solomon Haliczer, William C. Gentry, and David Candido Thompson.

Special thanks to Maegen Peek Luka for taking the lead on the court’s referral regarding Improved Resolution of Civil Cases. This is a massive undertaking and the committee cannot reach the finish line without you.

Finally, special thanks to Heather Telfer, who has seamlessly assumed the liaison role for the committee. Her steady hand and hard work have allowed the committee to stay focused, organized, and effective.

Lance Curry, Chair

Civil Trial Certification

Civil trial law is one of Florida’s first certification areas, having been approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1983. Currently, less than 1% of Florida lawyers are board certified civil trial lawyers. Currently, there are 946 certified lawyers. More than 100 board certified civil trial lawyers have been continuously certified since 1983.

Civil trial law is the litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before Florida circuit courts or other equivalent courts of the state and federal district courts. In addition to the pretrial and trial process, civil trial law includes evaluating, handling, and resolving civil controversies prior to the initiation of suit.

The Civil Trial Certification Committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing and recommending 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. Our long-term goal continues to be helping facilitate the completion of the requirements for more board-certified trial applicants.

In the 2022-2023 year, we were able to conduct our meetings mostly in person and had excellent attendance. We continued with an online review process for applications and peer review for new applicants and applicants seeking recertification. We also had several in-person meetings where the applications were reviewed to timely complete the review process. We formed an ad hoc committee to revise the scoring for the certification exam with a goal of improving time restraint issues for the applicants. The subcommittee recommended changing the scoring for parts of the exam and reordered the various sections and balanced the exam so that each section will take approximately the same amount of time. We began exploring the addition of a webinar developed by our committee members for young lawyers in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division. This proposed webinar provides the education of the new rules and the benefits of being board certified.

We continued to increase our emphasis on peer review and continued to develop ways to recognize alternatives to trial participation for qualification purposes. The Supreme Court’s administrative order, which permitted a seven-year look back period rather than five years for quantitative elements of certification, came to an end but assisted applicants in being able to apply or get recertified. This year, we successfully reviewed over 139 applicants for recertifications and 35 applicants for initial certification with 33 qualifying to sit for the exam.

The committee thanks its members for their attendance at meetings, and to outgoing Vice Chair Sue Cole, for her support and input on policy and BLSE procedures; and of course, Brandon Flagler, our civil trial certification specialist from The Florida Bar, whom we welcomed mid-year. We also thank Maritza M. McGill, director of Legal Specialization and Education, for her tireless efforts to assist our committee, in addition to her many other roles at the Bar. I step down as chair knowing the program is in the best of hands.

Kathryn L. McHale, Chair

Clients’ Security Fund

The Florida Bar Clients’ Security Fund was established in 1967 as a voluntary, discretionary fund to reimburse clients who have suffered a monetary loss as a result of misappropriation, embezzlement, or other wrongful taking by a member of The Florida Bar when acting as the claimant’s lawyer. The Clients’ Security Fund is currently financed by $25 of every active and inactive Florida Bar member’s annual fees as well as each application to appear Pro Hac Vice in Florida and has over $2.7 million budgeted for fiscal year 2022-23 to pay claims brought by former clients. The Fund reimburses clients under two circumstances: When an attorney takes an advance fee, but then fails to provide any services up to a maximum amount of $5,000, and for misappropriation or theft of client monies up to a maximum amount of $250,000. In the last fiscal year, the Fund received 252 new claims and paid out over $2.6 million to clients for claims filed against 112 Florida lawyers. As of the date of this report, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, the fund has received 126 new claims against 69 lawyers and has currently approved 53 claims with approved losses of $211,853. Claims are paid only after a lawyer has been suspended, deceased, placed on the inactive list for incapacity not related to misconduct, or has had the member’s status as a member of The Florida Bar revoked or terminated. Fee claims, and misappropriation claims less than $1,000, are paid promptly after approval. All other claims, i.e., those over $1,000, are paid on a pro rata basis after the end of the fiscal year, if there are not enough funds available to pay 100% of the approved losses. Since its inception, the Clients’ Security Fund has processed over 13,600 claims and paid out over $50 million to victims of attorney theft.

Claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff and, when appropriate, referred to a voluntary member of the committee for investigation. The 2022-23 Clients’ Security Fund Committee is composed of 20 volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar’s president-elect. The committee meets four times during the year, but its volunteer members are actively engaged in the review and investigation of claims throughout the year. This is a true working committee. Membership on the committee involves extensive time and energy in the investigation of claims and preparation of reports. Guided and assisted by dedicated Bar staff, claims are thoroughly investigated, and members make recommendations for approval or denial by the committee. Many investigations require active debate at committee meetings and discussions of claims at meetings are spirited, but always with the goal of doing the right thing for the injured client as well as being good stewards of the Fund. Although committee meetings are confidential, final action on claims is subject to limited disclosure. committee recommendations are ultimately submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration.

As lawyers, we tend to hold ourselves in high regard, especially after the rigors of law school, scrutiny by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and continued oversight by The Florida Bar throughout our careers. Even though we feel this way about ourselves, during the investigation of claims and discussions with clients, we are repeatedly humbled by the notion that individual clients impart an unbelievable amount of trust in their chosen counsel. Breach of this trust may devastate clients financially and emotionally. Bar staff and the Clients’ Security Fund Committee are devoted to repairing the public’s trust in members of the Bar and the legal system.

There are more than 110,000 lawyers in the state of Florida and as of the last fiscal year claims under the Clients’ Security Fund were made against 0.1 % of Florida lawyers. The work of the Clients’ Security Fund is an integral part of recovery and mitigation of losses to clients and the public whose trust and confidence in the legal profession has been negatively impacted by the wrongful acts of a few. The Fund is one way in which the Bar strives to improve the public’s perception of Florida lawyers and to restore confidence in the profession.

I have served on this committee for five years and currently serve as chair. Each call to a client allows me and every investigating member of the committee the chance to right a wrong and attempt to reestablish lost trust in Florida lawyers. On the committee, I have met and served with some of the finest and most hard-working lawyers in the Bar. Without their dedication, the Clients’ Security Fund could not serve its valuable purpose. Each member of the committee is to be commended for their diligence and hard work in investigating and processing claims.

All who serve on a Florida Bar committee know that this important work would not be accomplished without the tireless dedication of the Bar staff. Committee members and the clients rely heavily on Bar staff and without their commitment, we could not do our jobs. Thank you to Stacey Thrash, administrative support; Celia Connell, CSF administrator; Rick Courtemanche, deputy general counsel; and Gypsy Bailey, general counsel/division director of Ethics and Client Protection, for the tremendous effort, work, and discipline they have given to this committee.

Amy Bandow, Chair

Code and Rules of Evidence Committee

The Code and Rules of Evidence Committee had a good 2022-2023 Bar year. In 2022, the Florida Legislature, with encouragement from the committee, approved Laws of Fla. Ch. 2022-100, which adopted F.S. §90.2035 (Judicial notice of information taken from web mapping services, global satellite imaging sites, or internet mapping tools). Then the committee asked the Florida Supreme Court to adopt the legislative changes to extent the changes are procedural in nature. The court agreed and adopted the changes to the extent the legislative changes are procedural in nature in In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, 347 So. 3d 312 (Fla. 2022).

The committee continues to monitor legislation for changes to the Florida Evidence Code during Session and Special Sessions. Hot Topics in Evidence, the committee’s annual CLE on evidentiary matters takes place at the Orange County Bar Association on June 2, 2023. The committee’s case summaries were published in the Fall 2022 edition of The Edge, a publication of The Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Section. Committee members attend other rules of court procedure meetings to keep updated on evidentiary issues that arise across practice areas.

Special thanks to Vice Chairs Sean Christopher Domnick, Katelyn Knaak Johnston, and Mara Waxman Marzano; subcommittee Chairs Christopher Michael Stephan Drury, Dan Cytryn, Michelle Nichols Delong, H. Scott Fingerhut, Joseph T. Murray III; and committee liaisons David Lanier Luck, Dana Gibson Bradford II, Seth Alexander Pajcic, Randall Harvey Richardson, Shahtia M. Gay-Hairston, Judge Ilana Felice Marcus, Jonathan Adam Galler, John Richard Caskey, and Zachary Morris Rothman.

Eric Hernandez, Chair

Constitutional Judiciary

The mission of the Constitutional Judiciary Committee (CJC) is to strengthen the public’s understanding of the role of the judicial branch of government, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the role of judges and juries in the administration of justice. The committee oversees the Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education program, The Florida Bar’s Merit Retention Poll, and the Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements.

After working with the University of Central Florida’s Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government (LFI) last year to make significant updates and improvements to the Benchmarks program, the CJC has continued to promote and grow the program. With the help of LFI, professional development modules and materials for the Benchmarks program were created and uploaded onto the Nearpod interactive teaching and learning platform as well as to the Bar’s Benchmarks webpage. Also on the webpage is the link to the Benchmarks Speaker Training Video, which allows attorneys who watch the video to become Benchmarks presenters while also earning CLE credit. After completing Benchmarks speaker training, attorneys are asked to register as a Benchmarks speaker with The Florida Bar Speakers Bureau. So far, the Speakers Bureau has received over 200 attorney requests to be listed as a certified Benchmarks program speaker.

Since the launch of the newly revamped Benchmarks program, the committee has also held several successful in-person Benchmarks speaker training sessions. Last June, three well-attended in-person speaker training sessions were held in conjunction with the 2022 Florida Bar Annual Convention, and another two in-person trainings are scheduled to be held at this year’s 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention. A virtual training was also held in conjunction with the committee’s Winter Meeting in January. Furthermore, the committee has taken the step of planning in-person speaker training sessions at voluntary bars, holding an in-person training at the Broward County Bar Association in January with other sessions planned to be scheduled at statewide voluntary bars. Bar staff helped identify statewide counties and circuits that currently have few or no registered Benchmarks speakers so that future in-person training sessions can be targeted specifically to those areas. The committee continues to work with Sachs Media to promote the program, with significant progress shown via Facebook digital display ads.

The next step in the rejuvenation of the Benchmarks program is to identify and encourage local adult civics and/or community groups to request a Benchmarks presentation. To help with this task, a Benchmarks Outreach Subcommittee was formed with the purpose of identifying and compiling a list of statewide civics and community groups to which the Benchmarks program may be of interest and drafting a letter or advertisement to be sent to the identified groups promoting the Benchmarks program. The subcommittee, led by CJC member Tiffany Brown, will begin work in the next several weeks.

In addition to the Benchmarks program, the committee also continued work with the Bar’s Merit Retention Poll, Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements, and review of the “Guide for Florida Voters” brochure. Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements, collected in late June, received a 60% return rate. A web-based form was discussed to help improve the return rate for the next election cycle. The Bar’s Merit Retention Poll was circulated to Bar members in August with a 7.2% return rate. Results of the poll were released in September. Finally, the Guide for Florida Voters brochure, a resource of the Bar’s The Vote’s in Your Court project, was mailed to SOE officers and libraries statewide in both English and Spanish.

I thank the committee for its tireless work and dedication over the past year as well as specifically recognize Vice Chair Jason Silver and our subcommittee chairs for their exemplary leadership. Without the participation of our members and the assistance of Florida Bar staff, the continued work of the committee could not have been accomplished. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as chair.

Katherine Van de Bogart, Chair

Construction Law Certification

The Construction Law Certification Committee has continued to pursue additional initiatives to improve the quality of the construction law certification exam for 2023 and learn from the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including allowing applicants who test using a computer to do so remotely.

As of this date, there are 443 board certified construction lawyers, including 25 who passed the 2022 exam (out of 41 examinees). Also, 56 lawyers applied to take the 2023 exam in May.

We continue to employ virtual meetings to bring committee members together from across the state and advance the work of the committee. The certification exam has been issued both remotely and in-person for the past three years and will continue to be issued in this hybrid manner on May 11, 2023. This year, examinees who have chosen to hand-write their exam answers will be taking the test live in Orlando. There will not be the option to take the exam on a computer at the test site.

We also approved changes to the exam specifications to phase out the 2007 and 2009 versions of certain AIA form documents that previously appeared on the exam. Our committee also continues to create new multiple-choice and essay questions and update our test bank questions, consistent with the BLSE’s exam drafting guidelines.

This year, our exam will again consist of 100 multiple-choice questions and four essay questions, divided into four 90-minute segments. It will be further edited and evaluated prior to the May exam to ensure the finished product is one we all feel confident releasing to the examinees as they take the exam.

Our committee recertified over 70 lawyers who applied this year after reviewing applications, including careful consideration of peer review statements, grievance history, and CLE compliance.

Committee members have devoted countless hours writing exam questions and grading exams, and thoroughly reviewing certification and recertification applications. We continue to have outstanding staff support from our Florida Bar liaison, Allison Armour, and owe her the highest gratitude for her diligent efforts in assisting our committee during this challenging and busy year.

Finally, thanks to all our committee members for their steadfastness and devotion to ensuring that Florida maintains the highest ethical standards for construction law attorneys.

Jared S. Gillman, Chair

Consumer Protection Law

For more than 40 years, the Consumer Protection Law Committee continues to advance its mission to educate consumers and The Florida Bar about consumer protection laws and related current issues by providing public outreach events, public service messages, CLE programs, consumer publications, and expert resources for attorneys, judges, and lawmakers. The committee, which accomplishes its work through seven subcommittees, has been active this year. Among its accomplishments, the committee:

1) Organized a new CLE seminar to be held as part of the upcoming 2023 Annual Convention that was selected as one of President Lesser’s President’s Showcase Seminars. The 2023 seminar is: “Corruption of the Best Things Give Rise to the Worst: Helping Consumers Guard Against and Recover from Scams”; 2) Hosted a CLE seminar at the 2022 Annual Convention, “Foundations in Consumer Law and Strategies in Representing the Pro Bono Client”; 3) Planned cyberside chats with practitioners across the spectrum of data privacy related issues with CLE credit available; 4) Monitored legislation to assess how proposed bills would affect Florida consumers; gave The Florida Bar Consumer Protection 2022 Lawyer of the Year Award to Ellen Levine Cheek of Bay Area Legal Services, Inc.; 5) Updated the online submission form and mailed submission forms to relevant organizations to begin accepting new nominations for deserving attorneys to be selected for The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award for 2023; 6) Distributed the updated Bench Manual on consumer issues published by the Florida Court Education Council for use by Florida state court judges in both paper format and online;7) Coordinate content creation, maintain, and update The Florida Bar consumer pamphlets in both English and Spanish; 8) Maintained committee Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages to engage Florida consumers and attorneys as part of the committee’s outreach and education efforts.

Data Privacy and Cybersecurity — The Consumer Protection Law Committee formed this newly established subcommittee to educate and inform fellow Floridians and attorneys about the growing and evolving impact that data privacy and cyber issues have upon Florida consumers, lawyers, and business. Through “cyberside chats” hosting various subject-matter experts, this subcommittee will share knowledge, insight, and awareness regarding emerging trends and recent developments. These presentations will include topics ranging from providing a general overview on data breaches and ransomware and offering guidance to lawyers at small and large law firms about best security practices to sharing in-house, corporate perspectives on establishing protocols and policies to protect customer information, as well as reporting on developments with recent privacy bills introduced in the Florida Legislature. The subcommittee will be hosting a number of cyberside chats with practitioners across the spectrum of data privacy related issues. To increase uptake of the content, the subcommittee will be arranging for CLE for these programs, and we expect to have at least three hours of free CLE available. This subcommittee is headed by Chair Aaron Weiss of Carlton Fields, P.A, with the assistance of subcommittee members Kyle Dull, Jonathan Kline, Steven Silverberg, Tiffany Wax, and Richard Lawson.

CLE Seminar — The CLE Seminar Subcommittee organized the next committee CLE, “Corruption of the Best Things Give Rise to the Worst: Helping Consumers Guard Against and Recover from Scams.” The CLE was selected as one of President Lesser’s 2023 President’s Showcase Seminars! The program educates lawyers about various scams that can harm consumers, how to protect themselves and their clients from falling victim to such scams, and tools and strategies available to help consumers recover from harm caused by scams. The subject matter includes consumer scams relating to property insurance, protection from fraud in the construction industry, solar panel and other e-signature fraud, protection from electronic scams, tools to help consumers recover from identity theft (including the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Electronic Funds Act), and the risks of reverse mortgages for seniors. The seminar will be held during the Bar’s Annual Convention in June. Special thanks go to subcommittee Co-Chairs Jared M. Lee of The Consumer Rights Advocacy Firm and Jennifer H. Pinder of the Office of the Florida Attorney General with the assistance of subcommittee members David H. Abrams, Abbie B. Cuellar, Robert J. Neary, Adam C. Thoresen and committee Vice-Chairs Margery E. Golant and Ruth Jackson Lee.

Legislative — The Legislative Subcommittee has continued to track and monitor legislation to assess how various bills would affect Florida consumers and will prepare summaries of specific bills that may impact consumer law in Florida. The subcommittee remains available for consultation by Florida Legislators if they seek further insight and analysis on particular issues as in prior legislative sessions, where we have responded to requests for information from the legislature on consumer issues, such as PACE loans and high-cost consumer loans. This subcommittee is headed by Co-Chairs Rachel Bentley, of Gordon & Partners, P.A., and Mandy Mills, senior assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division of the AG’s office with the assistance of subcommittee members Lynn Drysdale, Jovita W. Kravitz, Nicholas T. Zbrzeznj and committee Vice Chair Margery E. Golant.

Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — For the 13th year, the committee honors an attorney for excellence, character, community involvement, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law. The Awards Subcommittee is led by Carol E. A. DeGraffenreidt, chief assistant attorney general in the Florida Office of the Attorney General with the assistance of subcommittee members G. Tyler Bannon, Genevieve A. Bonan, Lynn Drysdale, Steven J. Gard, and committee Vice Chair Ruth Jackson Lee. To enhance accessibility, the nomination form is available online and in PDF format. The committee reached out to legal aid organizations, voluntary bar associations, leaders in the community, and private firms to widen the pool of nominees.

Bench Manual for Florida Judges — The committee distributed The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee bench book covering six areas of law affecting consumers: the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; auto sales and finance; the state’s Lemon Law; credit card actions; residential evictions; and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. The manual is posted online, is available via QR Code, and was distributed in paper copy. The subcommittee continues to work on updating the manual and adding new areas of law. The subcommittee is led by Eric S. Matthew of Atlas Solomon, PLLC, with the assistance of subcommittee members David H. Abrams, Jeff P. Ehrlich, Taras S. Rudnitsky, David A. Schnobrick, Tiffany R. Wax, and committee Vice Chair Marena S. Ramirez.

Florida Bar Consumer Pamphlets — When consumers need basic legal information on a variety of topics from landlord-tenant issues to writing a will, they can turn to The Florida Bar’s 46 consumer pamphlets. The committee coordinates content creation, maintains, reviews, and updates these pamphlets. The committee coordinated the update of multiple pamphlets in both English and Spanish to provide critical information to consumers about their rights under Florida law. The subcommittee is led by Beth A. Norrow of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, with the assistance of subcommittee members Viviana Escobar, Brett A. Foster, Guillermo A. Levy, Juana C. Watkins, and committee Vice Chair Marena S. Ramirez.

Outreach and Social Media — Social media gives The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Committee a direct connection to the public. The Social Media & Outreach Subcommittee focused their 2022-23 efforts on building upon the foundation established by previous subcommittee members, which included continuing to regularly post on numerous online social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The subcommittee focused on highlighting the accomplishments and events organized by the Consumer Protection Law Committee’s other subcommittees as well posting updates on consumer-related issues and other relevant topics, such as, COVID resources and financial assistance updates from the CFPB and FTC. The subcommittee experienced the most success and engagement with posts related to “Member Spotlights” whereby focus on a social media post was dedicated to highlighting a member who directly worked on consumer-related issues. The Member Spotlight posts included a photo of the member, a short blurb explaining an exciting highlight, and a link to their webpage. The subcommittee is led by Vanessa Clark of Clark Law, PLLC, with the assistance of subcommittee members Nicholas Zbrzeznj, Harold Oehler, and Melanie Grant.

I thank Vice Chairs Margery Ellen Golant, Richard Polk Lawson, Ruth Jackson Lee, and Marena Sofia Ramirez. Their efforts, along with the efforts of our active members, contributed to another successful year for the Consumer Protection Law Committee.

Kaelyn S. Diamond, Chair

Continuing Legal Education

I am pleased to present a report on the work of the Continuing Legal Education Committee. The committee is comprised of attorneys who represent all Florida Bar sections and committees. The mission of the committee is the assist the members of The Florida Bar in their continuing legal education and to facilitate the production and delivery of quality CLE programs.

The CLE committee’s primary goal for this Bar year is the completion of the update to the CLE Committee Handbook. To complete this task, the committee divided into four subcommittees: Marketing/Advertising; Technology/Webinar; Increasing and Diversifying the Speaker Pool: and Handbook. The Handbook will provide helpful tools and tips that may utilized by each section and committee as they plan their programs.

The CLE committee held its annual retreat in Tampa on October 13-14, 2022. The retreat included a reception and CLE course on professionalism. On January 19, 2023, the CLE committee held a virtual meeting.

The CLE committee has continued to work the Bar to improve the delivery of CLE courses. Also, as in prior years, CLE committee members evaluate numerous courses and provide feedback to help improve courses for all members of The Florida Bar. I thank each member of the CLE committee for their hard work and commitment to professionalism. It has been an honor to serve as chair of the committee.

Jowanna Nicole Oates, Chair

Criminal Law Certification

The Criminal Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as either criminal trial specialists or criminal appellate 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 includes the following requirements: satisfactory peer review references, passing the certification examination (initial applicants only), substantial involvement in either criminal trial law or criminal appellate law, and a handling of either criminal trials or criminal appellate actions. For initial criminal trial applicants needed at least 25 contested criminal cases, with 20 jury trials tried to a verdict, 15 that involved a felony charge, and a minimum of 10 as lead counsel. For recertification criminal trial applicants need at least five contested criminal actions, with four that were before a jury, and three that involved a felony charge. For initial criminal appellate applicants need representation of at least 25 criminal appellate actions. For recertification criminal appellate applicants need representation of at least 10 criminal appellate actions. The time frame for qualifying criminal trials and appellate actions is within the five years preceding an application.

As committee chair, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida criminal lawyers. This year, the committee was once again comprised of 12 geographically diverse board-certified attorneys who practice in a variety of areas, including criminal trial, criminal appellate, criminal prosecution, and criminal defense. The committee consists of government attorneys, both prosecutors and public defenders, judges, and private practitioners. The committee began drafting the 2023 examination in August of 2022 and met in October 2022 (via Zoom) and in December 2022 (in person) to review initial and recertification applications. After pre-testing feedback, the examination questions for 2023 are in the process of being finalized to meet the high standards expected by both the committee members and The Florida Bar.

Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate certification 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 a criminal lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations in both Florida state court and federal courts. On May 12, 2023, applicants will answer these questions in four 90-minute sessions. The exam will be administered both remotely and in person for handwriters only in Orlando. Applicants are expected to be advised of their results by July 31, 2023.

At its final meeting of this term, the committee will grade the 2023 examinations within the parameters of a standardized rubric. 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 will earn the designation as a criminal trial law board certified specialist or criminal appellate law board certified specialist.

Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 412 are currently board certified in criminal trial law, and 43 are board certified in criminal appellate law. In 2022, 87 attorneys sought recertification in criminal trial law and criminal appellate law. In 2022, 14 attorneys obtained Criminal Trial Law Certification and three attorneys obtained Criminal Appellate Law Certification. At this time, 38 attorneys have applied to take the 2023 criminal trial law certification exam and three attorneys have applied to take the 2023 criminal appellate law certification exam. If an examinee is already board certified in criminal trial or criminal appellate law, they are only required to take the multiple-choice portion of the area in which they are seeking the additional certification.

The committee is grateful to the lawyers and judges 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.

It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year, along with Vice Chair Mitch Stone, Melynda Melear, Lawrence Avallone, Judge Donna Goerner, Ira Karmelin, Alison Lopes, William Ponall, Michael Salnick, Judge Kathryn Speicher, Roger Futerman, and Judge John Parnofiello. The committee is aware that none of our work could have been accomplished without our wonderful staff liaison, Laurinda Jackson! I thank Ms. Jackson and the committee members for their dedication and hard work.

Cyrus Toufanian, Chair

Criminal Procedure Rules

The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee has enjoyed another exciting and busy year working diligently to improve the Rules of Criminal Procedure. This year, the committee addressed proposals from judges, attorneys, and the court, provided comment on a high-profile amendment proposal from the Florida Supreme Court, and collaborated with other committees and agencies to gain additional insight on potential amendments the rules.

So far this year, the committee has filed two proposed amendments with the Florida Supreme Court. The committee proposed revisions to the Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet in Rule 3.992 for clarity and consistency with the statute. The committee also filed a fast-track proposal to Rule 3.790 in response to legislative changes to F.S. §948.01, authorizing the Florida Department of Corrections to supervise misdemeanor offenders that are placed on probation and removing a prohibition on private entities providing supervision for misdemeanor offenders.

The committee also worked to respond to the Florida Supreme Court’s sua sponte proposal to amend Rule 3.191 (Speedy Trial), which would, among other things, alter the rule such that the state will always have a recapture period upon the filing of a valid notice of expiration of speedy trial. This high-profile proposal has garnered significant public interest, with 18 comments filed from various organizations and individuals. The committee diligently worked to draft and file an extensive comment highlighting the various concerns raised by the court’s proposed changes. The committee has also requested an opportunity to present oral argument on this case.

The committee is continuing its work on several upcoming proposals. The committee is sending three proposals to The Florida Bar Board of Governors, including an amendment to Rule 3.704 that addresses cases in which the lowest permissible sentence exceeds the statutory maximum for an individual felony offense and an amendment to Rule 3.030 that adds additional exceptions to the documents that are required to be deposited with the clerk. In an effort to increase access to the courts and preserve judicial resources, the committee is sending a proposal to the Board of Governors to amend Rule 3.116 (Use of Communication Technology) to align with Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.530. This amendment would require judges to grant a request to use communication technology for pretrial conferences and non-evidentiary proceedings scheduled for 30 minutes or less absent good cause to deny the request. This is expected to reduce the logistical strain on courts, defendants, victims, and petitioners for routine and uncontested hearings.

The committee is collaborating with other committees and organizations to gain additional insight on pending proposals. The committee has established an ad hoc joint subcommittee with the Appellate Court Rules Committee to consider a referral from the Florida Supreme Court suggesting a new rule that would allow trial courts to consider claims of ineffective assistance of counsel filed by appellate counsel when ineffective assistance of counsel is readily apparent from the face of the record. Subcommittee II is working with other organizations to gain feedback and insight on a potential amendment to the 20-day time limit for a competency hearing under Rule 3.210(b).

I extend my gratitude and thanks to Vice Chairs Jason Blank, Judge Lorena Mastrarrigo, Judge Deborah Sisco, and James Stewart. In addition, I thank subcommittee Chairs Judge Stephen Everett, Esther Whitehead, Brian Workman, Judge Angela Dempsey, Judge Stephanie Silver, Andrew Stanton, and Brian Tannebaum for their leadership and service to the committee. The committee is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Florida legal community and owes special thanks to all members and everyone who devoted their time and efforts to improving the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Cynthia Cohen, Chair

Education Law

The Education Law Committee has had another great year of collaboration and professional development. In June 2022, the committee met at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando to conduct official business and consider education legislation that passed during the 2022 regular session.

Sara Clements presented a CLE, “2022 Legislative Session and K-12,” and Lacey Hofmeyer presented, “The 2022 Legislative Session, Colleges and the SUS.” The committee also heard from W. Scott Cole and Sacha Dyson on one of the hottest topics in postsecondary education: “NLRB: Student Athletes as Employees.”

On October 21, 2021, the committee spent the afternoon considering one of the most dynamic areas in education law with the help of Prof. Peter Lake from Stetson Law School: Title IX. David Struhs presented, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Learning Gains in Florida.” Kristi Patrickus took a page out of her recent publication in the Journal of College and University Law to present, “A Higher Education Due Process Primer: Resolving Procedural Due Process Inconsistencies in Favor of Greater Procedural Protections.”

To close out the year on December 8, 2022, the committee sponsored a Lunch-n-Learn by Sara Marken on “New USDOE Discipline Guidance Focused on Discrimination Against Students with Disabilities.” To start off the new year, on January 20, the committee sponsored its annual Education Law Workshop to help prepare lawyers to take The Florida Bar Education Law Certification Exam. Workshop topics included “Legal Ethics” by Nick Cavallaro, “Professionalism” by Katie Young, “FERPA and Educational Records” by Stephanie Langer, and “Charter School Law” by Shawn Arnold.

The committee co-sponsored for the second time the Stetson University National Conference on Higher Education Law & Policy in Clearwater Beach. Panelists from the SUS, college and K-12 system discussed the “Florida Individual Freedom Act: Implications for K-16 Education” on March 2.

On June 23, 2023, committee members are scheduled to come together in person again for The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in Boca Raton. Thanks to all of our panelists and CLE speakers this year. The committee has grown this year in part because the Bar approved longer terms for committee members. We are grateful for this rule change.

The committee published “Florida Education Law” with articles on Title IX, the Individual Freedom Act, and interplay between distance education, the ADA and academic freedom. Thanks goes to Jessica Merker, Lacey Hofmeyer, and Blaze Bowers for these articles. The committee also hosted social media sites to keep the membership in touch with current events in education law.

I sincerely thank Vice Chairs Lacey Hofmeyer, David D’Agata, Mary C. Lawson, and Gregg Morton. All of them contributed leadership. I could not have done it without them.

My personal thanks also goes to the leadership of The Florida Bar for the opportunity to lead the committee. Bar committee leadership is a professionally rewarding and important undertaking.

Nathan A. Adams IV, Chair

Education Law Certification

The Education Law Certification Committee serves to promote certification among attorneys who practice education law. “Education law” means the practice of law involving the legal rights, responsibilities, procedures, and practices of educational institutions (schools, colleges, and universities, whether public, charter, or private), students, personnel employed by or on behalf of educational institutions, and the guardians and parents of students participating in education. The practice area covers a broad range of legal matters, with the common element being that these legal matters are on behalf of, or related to, an educational institution. This year marks the 11th year of education law certification. As of the writing of this annual report, there are 45 board certified attorneys in education law, the committee reviewed 12 recertifications for the 2022-2023 year, and three applicants have been approved to sit for the March examination.

The committee met regularly through the year and continued its ongoing work to add, update, and improve the examination based on the ever-changing legal landscape of education law. The committee acknowledges the efforts of the Education Law Committee, which has promoted this certification area and provided the certification examination review course for the benefit of applicants and members of the committee alike.

The members of the 2022-2023 Education Law Certification Committee are Chair Laura Pincus, Vice Chair Dana Macdonald, and members John Paul Carland II, Lisa Carmona; Karen Chastain; David D’Agata; Mary Lawson; Melinda McNicol and Keven Pendley. I am grateful for the committee members’ dedicated service to our Bar. On behalf of the entire committee, I thank and commend Kathleen Scholz-Jaffe for her assistance in completing the committee’s work.

Laura Pincus, Chair

Elder Law Certification

The Elder Law Certification Committee is comprised of the nine board-certified elder law attorneys appointed by The Florida Bar president-elect. The committee members serve staggered three-year terms.

One attorney, Stacey L. Schwartz, was newly certified for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. The total number of board-certified elder law attorneys now stands at 115. During the year, the committee reviewed 14 re-certification applications and 13 initial applications. There are 11 attorneys are confirmed to sit for the exam on March 10, 2023. Good luck to all the examinees!

The committee has worked hard this year to create an examination that accurately and thoroughly tests the applicant’s knowledge and skill. We met through Zoom calls and had one in-person meeting to draft, edit, and refine the examination questions. Additionally, the questions were vetted by an exam consultant.

This year’s Elder Law Certification Committee was chaired by Marjorie Wolasky (Miami), and Matthew Linde (Ft. Myers) served as vice chair. Other members included: Laurie Ohall (Brandon), Christopher Likens (Sarasota), Jill Ginsburg (Ft. Lauderdale), Beth Prather (Ft. Myers), Alex Cuello (Miami), Jana McConnaughhay (Tallahassee), and Amy McGarry (Cape Coral). We are especially grateful to our certification specialist, Laurinda Jackson, whose organization kept us on task and efficient. Thank you also to our committee members who worked hard during the year.

Marjorie Wolasky, Chair

Eminent Domain

The Florida Bar’s stated function of the Eminent Domain Committee is to study and keep informed of recent developments in the field of condemnation of private property for public use by governmental agencies or private companies who have the power of eminent domain.

 Historically, the membership of the committee has been comprised of eminent domain practitioners on both sides of the aisle, and this year was no different. We have government employee attorneys, and we have attorneys in private practice. Many of our members exclusively represent private property owners, many others represent the condemning authorities, and still others take on representation from both sides.

 Committee Chair Brian E. Smith gratefully acknowledges the hard work of the vice chairs: Ryan Reese, Bruce Humphrey, Lauren Howell, and Trevor Hutson. The vice chairs were instrumental in planning the meetings, securing the speakers, selecting the topics, and were responsible in many other ways for this year’s success. The chair also thanks our liaisons, Sheridan Hughes and Emily Young, for securing meeting space, coordinating the sponsors, obtaining CLE credit, and handling all of the other logistics for making our meetings successful.

 The committee thanks the appraisal firm of Calhoun, Dreggors, & Associates for graciously sponsoring the breakfast for our January meeting at The Florida Bar Winter Meeting. Jay Small and Jay Mobley presented, “The Housing Problem, Rent Controls, and Takings”; Josh Stratton and Sidney Bigham III presented a “Case Law Update”; and Logan Opsahl presented, “Flooding and Eminent Domain: A Primer.” All three presentations were informative, thorough, and worthy of CLE credit, and the response from the committee membership was universally positive.

 Two major initiatives were undertaken by the committee this year. First, a subcommittee was formed to study and consider recommendations made by the Florida Supreme Court’s Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases. Eminent domain trials are uniquely structured and essentially present three trials within a trial: order of taking, valuation, and apportionment and fees. These cases do not fit neatly within the case management systems which were considered by the workgroup, and our committee members sought to ensure that those distinctions were considered by the workgroup.

 Second, the Standard Jury Instruction Committee (SJI) of The Florida Bar sought to develop standard jury instructions for eminent domain cases. Our committee responded by forming a subcommittee to interface with the SJI committee and ensure that the jury instructions accurately reflect substantive Florida eminent domain law. Historically, eminent domain practitioners in Florida have relied on The Florida Bar publication, Florida Eminent Domain Practice and Procedure, which contains jury instructions authored by members of the Eminent Domain Committee.

 Planning is underway for the next committee meeting at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in June. The meeting will include presentations regarding numerous topics of great significance in the area of eminent domain. Speakers and topics will be announced closer to the meeting. This meeting will be the conclusion of a productive year for the committee.

Brian E. Smith, Chair

Family Law Rules

The Family Law Rules Committee consists of 28 members. The committee is responsible for rules amendments to family law court rules. Referrals can come from individuals in the committee or from any interested person. Referrals can be triggered by new legislation, other rule changes in family or other court rules, the need for rule or form clarity, or for any other reason the proponent of the referral explains. The committee values each referral and does a thorough review of each.

The committee has had another busy year. Several reports to the court have been filed, all culminations of lengthy and detailed subcommittee and committee work. On December 15, 2022, the committee filed a fast-track report to amend Forms 12.975(a), 12.975(b), and 12.975(c) in response to legislation regarding grandparent visitation. The court approved these amendments on March 3, 2023.

Also on December 15, the committee filed a second report to amend Rule 12.285 and Forms 12.902(k) and 12.902(l) regarding financial affidavits with the main goal of addressing privacy concerns in filing detailed financial affidavits that are part of the public record. As of the drafting of this report, these amendments are still pending.

The committee also filed a report proposing amendments to Rule 12.070 (Process), Rule 12.280 (Discovery), and Rule 12.340 (Interrogatories). In Rule 12.070, the amendment clarifies that supplemental pleadings must be served within 120 days in response to caselaw. Proposed amendments to Rules 12.280 and 12.340 add language to align the family rules with the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Another important project for the committee was the referral from the court regarding vexatious litigation and sham pleadings. A subcommittee chaired by Magistrate K. Beth Luna reviewed the referral and the rules at length and drafted a proposal to the court proposing amendments to Rule 12.140 (Responses) and Rule 12.150 (Sham Pleadings).

The committee has also been working diligently to update forms for ease of use. Removing legalese and making the forms easier to understand will help self-represented litigants navigate through court procedure more easily. This includes proposals to the financial affidavit long form.

The issue of pregnancy status is also being considered and whether it should be included in Form 12.901. Liaisons to the Family Law Section are monitoring the development of the issue in the section.

A form for emergency motions has been in the process of being studied and drafted. A form will allow self-represented litigants to better understand what constitutes an emergency and allows for a self-represented litigant to file more easily if there is an emergency.

My year of service as chair was an exciting and busy one. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve on this committee and to have served as chair. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the committee. I personally add my acknowledgment and thanks to all the hard-working committee members. The members are truly dedicated to serving our profession and, in turn, the citizens of Florida. They understand and value that service is never for the promotion of one’s self but is, instead, for the promotion of others and for the greater good.

I specifically acknowledge and commend the committee leadership: Sheena Benjamin-Wise, vice chair and Family Law Section co-representative; Crystal Thornton, vice chair; Jeffrey Battista, vice chair and subcommittee chair; Susan Whitaker, secretary; Mark Sawicki, parliamentarian; Kemie King, Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration representative; Magistrate K. Beth Luna, subcommittee chair and Civil Rules Committee representative; Cory Brandfon, subcommittee chair and Family Law Section co-representative; and subcommittee Chairs Charis Campbell, Nadja Prias, and Roberta Walton.

I also thank Bar staff who work tirelessly to keep our committee running smoothly and efficiently, specifically, Division Director for Lawyer Regulation Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, and Senior Attorney for the Rules Program Kelly Smith. Without the hard work of staff, our committee would not have been able to accomplish everything we did this year. I, along with the entire committee, are truly grateful for their hard work.

Michael V. Andriano, Chair

Federal Court Practice

The Federal Court Practice Committee (FCPC) serves as The Florida Bar’s liaison to our federal courts, local Federal Bar Association chapters, and federal practitioners. The FCPC has had a successful year serving as a link between the federal courts and members of the Bar. The FCPC is made up of a main committee with approximately 60 members, and seven subcommittees, and has judicial representation from each federal district in Florida. The FCPC met virtually in October 2022 and in person at The Florida Bar Winter Meetings and The Florida Bar 2022 Annual Convention (and the upcoming June 2023 convention).

Our Long Range Planning Subcommittee was co-chaired by U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Irick and Dan Newman. The subcommittee is responsible for examining infrastructure and other considerations for how the FCPC can better serve the bench and bar. One of this subcommittee’s goals was to increase collaboration between the FCPC and Florida’s law schools. The FCPC now has liaisons from several law schools serve on the overall committee, which included this year professors Sergio Campus (University of Miami), Merritt McAllister (University of Florida), and Howard Wasserman (FIU). The subcommittee had also proposed including CLE components as part of meetings other than just the Roundtable at the Annual Convention. In January 2023, during The Florida Bar Winter Meeting, a CLE panel was held with U.S. Magistrate Judges Daniel Irick and Embry Kidd, which provided an in-depth discussion and insight into the roles and important work performed by magistrate judges.

The FCPC hosts its signature event, the Federal Judicial Roundtable, annually during The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention. This CLE event provides an opportunity for federal judges to engage in directly with practitioners, including younger practitioners, on issues of ethics, professionalism, court procedure, and technology. The Roundtable historically draws many federal appellate, district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges, and over 200 practitioners. The Roundtable includes a State of the District Update from each of the three federal districts in Florida. Following the conclusion of the CLE portion of the event, the Roundtable concludes with a reception honoring the federal judiciary. The Roundtable will continue to focus on cutting edge issues in federal court, with input from the judiciary on best tips and practice for writing, advocacy, presenting cases and successful arguments in federal court — through guided roundtable discussions between attorneys and the federal judges. The Roundtable Subcommittee is chaired by Joanne O’Connor and Andrea Nieto. The Roundtable is also expected to bring in sufficient sponsorships that not only cover the event costs, but support future programming and the work of The Florida Bar.

One of the goals of the FCPC was to increase CLE opportunities for members of The Florida Bar that have a federal practice focus. The Education Subcommittee has been led by Ginger Boyd and Bernice Lee. In March 2023, our Education Subcommittee put on a program on “How to Effectively Try a Civil Jury Trial in Federal Court” with a panel of federal judges from the Middle District of Florida. Our committee has also sponsored a program on “Roadways to the Bench,” part of a national program to expand the pool of qualified applicants to serve as federal judges, including bankruptcy and magistrate judges. Our Education Subcommittee is also preparing a CLE on mediation/settlement strategies for federal court cases. The programs have been a mixture of in person and virtual events, which has allowed the committee to broaden its reach to ensure many programs have a wider audience.

Our Pro Bono Committee, led by Kelly Garcia and Laura Boeckman, looks for opportunities to connect federal practitioners with pro bono opportunities in our courts, often in collaboration with local FBA chapters, pro bono service organization, projects, and clinics. The Pro Bono Subcommittee has organized an upcoming webinar on handling attorneys fee issues in pro bono cases. The Pro Bono Committee has also updated pro bono opportunities through the Bar’s website, and the committee actively promotes opportunities for pro bono cases throughout each of the three federal districts in Florida.

Another key component of the FCPC’s work is the Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida’s Federal Courts, or as it is more affectionately known, “the Guide” (available at As part of an ongoing effort, the FCPC polls members of the federal judiciary in Florida to learn their preferences on a wide array of topics and maintains the Guide as a resource for practitioners. This subcommittee has been chaired by Oliver Ruiz, who also serves as an 11th Circuit representative to the Federal Bar Association.

Another component of our FCPC is website and social media outreach. Our social media efforts create an active voice on various platforms through which the FCPC provides updates on relevant issues involving federal practice — everything from job openings in the courts to court updates. Our social media team has also allowed the FCPC to deepen its ties with the local FBA chapters by marketing CLE presentations and other relevant events. In addition to social media, our group maintains the Federal Corner on The Florida Bar’s website ( Under the direction of subcommittee Co-Chairs Christopher Brochu and Raychelle Tascher, every member of the FCPC serves as a “roving reporter” helping us distribute relevant content to the Bar.

We also recognize Lauren Millcarek and Kevin Ross for their service as co-chairs of the Federal Rules Subcommittee, which keeps members updated about new and proposed rules in each of the districts. We applaud the efforts of all of our committee members for making this year successful and productive.

Finally, the FCPC gives a special thanks and recognition to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Lani Fraser. She is the backbone of the committee, and makes things appear effortless. Lani’s devotion to the work of The Florida Bar, and specifically to the FCPC, allows this committee to achieve great results each and every year. Thank you, Lani!

Brian Koch, Chair

Florida Bar Journal and News Editorial Board

The Florida Bar Journal and News publications keep Bar members informed and educated, both online and in print. The Journal publishes scholarly articles on substantive law six times per year. The News covers stories and events in the legal community, 12 times per year in print, with online content updated on a daily basis.

The Editorial Board is 45 members strong this year and primarily serves as peer reviewers of feature articles for the Journal. The task of the board is to provide comprehensive and quality feedback (including recommended revisions) to authors who submit manuscripts for publication. Additionally, board members may volunteer to write book reviews for submission to the Journal, and have the option to participate on various other committees throughout the year.

I am grateful to all the authors who submitted articles to the Journal. The Editorial Board appreciates all contributions. The Florida Bar Journal Excellence in Writing Award is issued to an author every year. The board selected, for the 2022 award, George S. Reynolds IV for his article, “Murky Bottoms: Sovereign Submerged Land, Riparian Rights, and Locating the Highwater Line” (published in the September/October 2022 edition of the Journal). The Editorial Board congratulates the author, who has been recognized in the News, for his exceptional feature article.

The Journal and News are available in print and online at Every issue of the Journal since 2016 is available as a digital flipbook that can be downloaded as a PDF. The News and Journal’s extensive archive also includes over 25 years of articles that are available online in a searchable database. It is a useful research tool for Bar members and the public for free.

I thank each member for their dedication, hard work, and commitment to these excellent publications. I also thank Bar staff for their outstanding work with the Editorial Board and their commitment to ensuring the integrity and high quality of both publications. This year, the board saw the departure of Managing Editor Melinda Melendez, who retired after a 19-year career with The Florida Bar — we will miss her greatly, but are thrilled to welcome Rawan Bitar as the new managing editor. Rawan has been with the Bar for over nine years and is an invaluable member of the team — the Journal and News are definitely in good hands for the future. I thank Editor Mark Killian, and Rawan, for their continued hard work serving the board!

Between the volunteer members of the Editorial Board, section column editors, and authors, we thank each of you for your extraordinary contributions and look forward to a bright future for the Journal and News.

Elizabeth K. Mabry, Chair

Florida Probate Rules

The Florida Probate Rules Committee had a productive 2022-2023 Bar year. During the past Bar year, the committee filed a report with the Florida Supreme Court with proposed rule amendments, continued working on updates to conform its rules to changes in the Florida Probate Code and Florida Guardianship Law, worked with other rules committees regarding proposals affecting various areas of practice, and participated in oral argument at the Florida Supreme Court in response to the proposal from the Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases.

The committee filed a report on August 29, 2022, that proposed rule amendments to Rule 5.040 regarding notice, to clarify the requirements for proof of service, and to Rule 5.330 regarding execution by personal representative, to conform the rule to Florida Probate Rule 5.400. The committee report also proposed new Florida Probate Rule 5.930 to create a new form affidavit for a qualified custodian of an electronic will. The committee published its proposals for comment in The Florida Bar News prior to filing them with the court and received no comments. On February 2, 2023, the Supreme Court adopted the amendments, which became effective on April 1, 2023.

The committee is currently working on a number of requests for amendment to consider whether to expand proceedings that are deemed adversary, whether to allow formal notice on attorneys via e-service, whether to amend Rule 5.320, oath of personal representative relating to corporate fiduciaries, and whether to amend Rule 5.340 relating to values in an inventory.

As new legislation is passed, the Florida Probate Rules Committee will continue to review and analyze the legislation to determine whether resulting amendments to the Probate Rules are necessary. The committee continues to work closely with the RPPTL section in order to revise and update the rules to correspond with legislation promulgated by the RPPTL section.

Committee meeting schedules and agendas are posted on the Florida Probate Rules Committee website, The Bar’s liaison to the Probate Rules Committee, Heather Telfer, makes this information easily accessible to the committee members and others who have an interest in the committee’s work product and current activities.

We urge practitioners to monitor the The Florida Bar News for the publication of proposed rule changes, as well as the Florida Supreme Court’s webpage, which lists the pending rules cases. The Florida Probate Rules Committee always welcomes comments regarding any pending projects, as well as suggestions for rule changes based upon procedural problems encountered by courts and practitioners.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as co-chair of the Florida Probate Rules Committee this year. We thank all of the Probate Rules Committee members, The Florida Bar staff, and the members of the other rules committees for their contributions. Finally, we extend a special thanks to Alexandra Rieman (our vice chair), Zackary Zuroweste (our liaison to the Florida Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee), and Heather Telfer (our Florida Bar liaison), for all of their hard work and assistance this year.

James Grier Pressly III, Co-Chair

Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance

The Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance Committee, formerly known as Florida Registered Paralegal Standing Committee, reports another successful year since its inception in 2008. The committee’s primary purpose is to assist in the implementation of the Florida Registered Paralegal program (FRP), which determines whether a paralegal has met the education, training, certification and work experience required for registration as set forth in Ch. 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The duties of the committee include proposing rule amendments to Ch. 20, setting policy for the program and providing guidance to Bar counsel and the district paralegal committees.

In keeping with its enduring efforts to promote and preserve the FRP program, the committee continues to study the ways in which the program can be enhanced for its valuable and valued membership. In conjunction with its sister committee, The Florida Registered Paralegal Enrichment Committee, the Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance Committee aims at growing the program’s membership in several different ways.

Of significance, the committee voted in favor of amendment to Ch. 20-3.1 pertaining to FRP Requirements for Registration (attestation) reinstating the Designation by Attestation Provision (formerly “Grandfathering” Provision) for qualified FRP applicants meeting specific paralegal work-experience and continuing education criteria as set forth in Ch. 20. The provision would allow for applicants to be granted the FRP designation in the absence of other required criteria. The approved change to Ch. 20 to reinstate the designation by attestation provision is now in further review by the Bar Board of Governors.

In June 2023, at Annual Convention, the committee will consider whether to have a Student Affiliate Membership within the FRP program as recommended by the Florida Registered Paralegal Enrichment Committee. The purpose of which is to provide those who are studying paralegal studies at colleges and universities and those new paralegals currently working in a law office, in-house legal department, or government position the opportunity for networking with seasoned FRPs as well as access to education from attendance to CLE webinars and seminars and to foster camaraderie and cohesiveness of FRPs and other paralegals and legal assistants. This would require a rule change in Ch. 20.

Serving as committee chair for the past year has been a great privilege. A huge heartfelt thank you goes out to committee members Olga Patterson, Kendra Ann Hollern, Casey Marie Reiter, Rich Haberle, and Brian M. Rubright, as well as board liaison, Sandra Diamond — I know the committee is in capable hands. No words can express my thanks towards Francisco-Javier P. Digon-Greer, who has kept this committee moving forward and achieving success, he is truly the backbone of the committee! Serving on this committee for the last six years has been a wonderful experience and I thank the Bar, and everyone involved, for the opportunity.

Nicole Mariani Noel, Chair

Florida Registered Paralegal Enrichment

The Florida Registered Paralegal Enrichment Committee was formed in 2019 to meet the needs of FRPs and paralegals in Florida. The mission statement of the committee is to create awareness of the FRP program, enhance communication with FRPs regarding the benefits of membership, develop educational programing, and create a network of paralegals throughout the state to foster camaraderie and cohesiveness. The foundation of the FRP enrichment committee currently rests on six subcommittees: Patricia DeRamus, chair of the FRP Awareness Subcommittee; Karen R. George, chair of the CE Subcommittee; Melissa Battle and Luigi Caldieri, co-chairs of the Social Media Subcommittee; Shelly Zambo, chairs the Newsletter & FRP Corner Subcommittee; Irma Tharp, chair of the FRP Regulation Subcommittee; and Matthew Williams and Frank Springer, co-chairs of the Special Projects Subcommittee.

The FRP Awareness Subcommittee has made great strides this year in reaching out to local paralegal committees and associations, as well as colleges and universities with paralegal studies programs. The purpose of this outreach is to inform and educate about FRP designation and promote FRP membership. The FRP Awareness Subcommittee has also penned a flyer to all The Florida Bar sections and committees informing attorneys of the advantages to their clients and law firms to have their paralegals bear the FRP designated. A link to this flyer is here:

FRP applications have increased this year due to the efforts of this subcommittee. The numbers speak for themselves: 2020-2021 realized 283 FRP applications; 2021-2022, 312 FRP applications and from July 1, 2022, to March 7, 2023, The Florida Bar has received 220 FRP applications placing us on track to have more FRP applications submitted for 2022-2023 than the past two fiscal years. The FRP Awareness Subcommittee is the rainmaker of the FRP Enrichment Committee. It is this subcommittee’s constant outreach to the entire Florida legal community about the advantages of paralegals bearing the FRP designation that has us on track to exceed FRP applications over the past two fiscal years. We are very proud and grateful for the great work they have done to increase knowledge of the FRP program and FRP membership.

The CE Subcommittee began its free monthly webinars with, CLE credit approved by The Florida Bar, to address COVID lockdown as a way to meet our mission statement to provide FRPs with education. The first free webinar took place on June 19, 2020, and continues through today with record registration and attendance numbers. As of February 24, 2023, we have had 36,768 register and 27,500 attendees to our monthly webinars. These numbers exceed any The Florida Bar webinar registration and attendance records, ever. We are very proud of the work the CE Subcommittee has and continues to do to bring relevant and interesting speakers to the entire Florida legal community.

The Social Media Subcommittee posts information and announcements relevant to all paralegals and FRPs across all social media platforms promoting our free CLE monthly webinars, weekly helpful posts and announcing upcoming “FRP Day” events at the Annual Convention, to name a few. It is the work of the Communications Subcommittee that keeps the FRP committee in the eyes and minds of the Florida legal community in general and FRPs and paralegals especially. This subcommittee is the connection and platform between the committee and paralegals/FRPs. This subcommittee does the great work to fulfill our mission statement of keeping FRPs informed of what their FRP Enrichment Committee is doing for them.

The Newsletter & FRP Corner Subcommittee provides an e-newsletter four times a year, which contains articles by paralegals for paralegals about paralegals and their profession. This subcommittee is tasked with maintaining the FRP Corner with relevant and current information for paralegals and FRPs. The subcommittee has exceeded expectations with its professional and informative publication. We are very proud of the work and dedication of this subcommittee to provide a newsletter that looks good, reads well, and is informative and fun to read.

The FRP Regulation Subcommittee attends monthly national webinar meetings about advancements in the paralegal profession. They then provide the FRP Enrichment Committee with monthly reports regarding the substance of those webinars. This subcommittee keeps FRPs aware of what is happening with their profession throughout the country and Canada. The subcommittee is our connection to the paralegal profession everywhere, providing paralegals with information on how we can improve our profession in Florida. We are very thankful to this subcommittee for their time and dedication on behalf of the paralegal profession and FRPs.

Last but certainly not least is the Special Projects Subcommittee. This subcommittee has stepped up this year to take on every “special project” that was not under the purview of the aforementioned subcommittees. The Special Projects Subcommittee has always been tasked with creating a survey for the nomination of the “FRP Of The Year,” which is announced at the Annual Convention. They have also been tasked with putting together the networking/mixer for FRPs at the Annual Convention. But this year they took on the task to draft a student affiliate program/membership proposal. This proposal would amend Rule 20, which governs Florida Registered Paralegals to include a new membership tier of student affiliate member. This new student affiliate membership would be available to those attending colleges and universities studying paralegal studies. The purpose of this new student membership is to give students of paralegal studies the opportunity to have access to the FRP Enrichment Committee’s free CLE webinars expanding their understanding and knowledge of the legal profession as well as access to FRPs to answer questions about being a paralegal. When these student affiliate members graduate and work the requisite years under the guidance of an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida, they can become Florida registered paralegals, bearing the FRP designation and display the FRP logo on their firm communications. By bearing the FRP designation and using the FRP logo on firm communications it shows these FRP designated paralegals have met the education and experience criteria of FRP and are committed to continue their educational requirements of maintaining the FRP designation. This proposal was presented to the FRP Enrichment Committee at the Winter Meeting and was voted unanimously to be accepted and to move to the next step in the approval process. The next step has been completed by sending the Student Affiliate Membership proposal to the FRP Eligibility and Compliance Committee for review and consideration for vote. We are awaiting their edits or hopefully, approval. If approved the proposal will then move on to the next step of the approval process with the ultimate goal of having this new membership tier added to Rule 20.

The above list of each FRP Enrichment Committee subcommittee provides a brief description of what they are committed to and, some special projects each subcommittee has taken on this year to promote FRP membership, education, information and camaraderie. We are very proud of the work each subcommittee has done this year on behalf of paralegals and FRPs across the state.

As much as the FRP Enrichment Committee has accomplished since its inception in 2019 and continues to accomplish, none of it could have happened or can happen without the guidance and commitment of the committee’s liaison, Frank Digon-Greer, assistant director of the Bar’s Programs Division. Frank is not only a star at The Florida Bar, winning the 2022 Marshall R. Cassidy Award for his work and dedication to The Florida Bar, Frank is our committee’s biggest advocate as we maneuver our way through the rules of The Florida Bar. Frank is the greatest advisor we could have ever hoped for and we thank him at every step for all that he does for the FRP Enrichment Committee as well as for paralegals and FRPs throughout Florida.

It has been my honor to serve as chair of the FRP Enrichment Committee this year. This position has provided me the unequaled opportunity to support and promote the paralegal profession that I love and has been my career for so many years. I am proud of the work our committee members have done and I am proud to serve with professional paralegals who have dedicated themselves to the advancement of our profession, volunteering their personal time, sharing their education and vast knowledge for all paralegals and FRPs.

Karen R. George, Chair

Government Advocacy

The Governmental and Public Policy Advocacy Committee was approved in May 2016 by the Board of Governors to address the concerns of Florida lawyers who lobby or work within local, state, and federal governments. Since its inception, the committee has remained focused on advocating for those issues that specially impact its membership. On March 1, 2023, The Florida Bar Board of Governors approved a unanimous request from the Executive Subcommittee to change the committee’s name to the Government Advocacy Committee. The mission of the Government Advocacy Committee continues to be: 1) Promote professionalism among lawyer-lobbyists; 2) Provide appropriate and applicable legal education on matters of interest to (and tailored especially for) lawyer-lobbyists; 3) Provide mentoring and networking opportunities that are not available elsewhere; and 4) Provide an opportunity for lawyer-lobbyists to stay abreast of and collectively be heard by Florida Bar leadership on various Bar proposals (including proposed rules and ethics opinions) that may affect them.

In 2022-2023, the committee reaccredited its online CLE series, called “Connect at the Capitol.” This virtual interview CLE series allowed committee members and other attorneys to hear from state leaders.

The committee held its fall meeting on October 18, 2022, to establish its new organization and discuss ideas on membership and additional CLEs. The committee also sponsored a new CLE on the same day, “An Overview of Florida’s General Appropriations Act Process,” presented by Jennifer Hrdlicka and Richard Herring. The CLE was very well received.

The committee is meeting on March 17, 2023, and will sponsor another CLE at that time, “The Basics of Home Rule and Preemption,” presented by Herb Thiele. We will also hold a meeting, CLE, and reception for the first time at the Annual Convention of The Florida Bar.

GAC is steadily moving the ball forward as a relatively new committee of The Florida Bar. As we look to the future, the incoming leadership of this group is excited about the opportunity to make significant advancements in solidifying the structure of its working subcommittees and developing formal governing bylaws.

The current committee is comprised of approximately 150 members and our membership subcommittee is exploring opportunities to grow in membership, annually. If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact Joni Hooks at [email protected].

Patrick L. “Booter” Imhof, Chair

Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration

This has been a year of accomplishments for the Standing Committee on Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration, which would not have been possible without the continuing hard work undertaken by the committee’s various subcommittees. The Rules, Recruitment, and Communication/Training subcommittees continue to be actively engaged, and report to the committee on a quarterly basis.

The Rules Subcommittee, chaired by Christina Magee, recommended a number of rule amendments. These include changes that will empower fee arbitrators to resolve disputes involving both fees and costs, and mandatory disclosure requirements for both arbitrators and mediators. We hope the Supreme Court will adopt those amendments.

The Recruitment Subcommittee, chaired by Charles Samarkos, has continued to grow the roster of approved arbitrators and mediators. The programs now boast 193 approved fee arbitrators, and 208 approved grievance mediators.

The Communication and Training Subcommittee, chaired by Steven Lesser, continues to work on ways to encourage lawyers, law firms, and the general public to utilize the fee arbitration and grievance mediation processes. The Communication and Training Subcommittee is presently working on the production of two short videos, one geared to lawyers and the other to consumers, to inform and encourage each to utilize the fee arbitration program.

The success that the committee currently enjoys is due almost entirely to the efforts of its subcommittees, and most notably, to its subcommittee chairs who devote considerable time and effort to improve and draw attention to the fee arbitration and grievance mediation programs. The committee recognizes and thanks all three of these subcommittee chairs — Christina Magee, Charles Samarkos, and Steven Lesser — for their efforts and continued hard work throughout the year. This year, however, we would be remiss if we did not take a moment to acknowledge and thank the ACAP staff, who took on the unenviable task of stuffing envelopes with a recruitment letter for the ADR Conference. As a result of their efforts, the committee received a significant number of applications from arbitrators and mediators who attended the ADR Conference.

The Bar continues to utilize the video training sessions developed by the Training Subcommittee for use by both current and potential arbitrators and mediators. Given the age of these videos, and the number of rules changes that have occurred since the last training, the committee will be focusing on new training programs in the coming year.

Samuel A. Lewis, Chair

Health Law Certification

The Health Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as health law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Bar certified the first class of health certified specialists in 1995, and there are currently 129 health certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board-certified specialists in health practice under a myriad of public and private sector health laws, providing advice and counsel in transactional, litigation, and appellate practices.

The committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for health certification, lawyers must be a member of The Florida Bar for five years, be substantially involved (at least 40% of their practice) in health law, complete 60 hours of advanced CLE of approved health law credits, pass a rigorous peer review process, and pass a certification exam. The certification exam currently consists of 56 multiple-choice questions along with four essays.

The members of the Health Law Certification Committee include Vice Chair Lisa Taylor, Jacqueline Bain, Josh Boxer, Karen Davila, Richard Brooderson, Jodie Laurence, Ramona Thomas, and Ron Christaldi. We have been fortunate to have Kathleen Scholz-Jaffe provide us with assistance as our certification specialist. The committee members are responsible for the peer review process for initial and renewal applications as well as the drafting and grading certification exams. In the 2022-2023 term, the members worked diligently to improve and streamline the exam process based on the guidance of the BLSE.

It has been my great honor to serve as chair of the committee this year. The work of the committee, while time consuming and complex, has been very rewarding.

Bill Dillon, Chair

Immigration and Nationality Law

The 2022-2023 Florida Bar Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification Committee consisted of Chair Francisco “Frank” Symphorien-Saavedra, Vice Chair Maud Poudat, and members John Gihon, Jacob Ratzan, Michael Harris, Art Rios, Robert Bell, Claudia Del Castillo, and Jeffrey Devore. Special thanks to Florida Bar Staff Liaison Chyra Reynolds for keeping us on track, promptly answering our questions, and working with us to achieve our objectives throughout the year.

We also recognize the board certified attorneys who served as “pre-testers” by devoting their time to review the essay and multiple choice questions prepared for the 2023 exam. Specifically, we give special thanks to Denisse Ilabaca, Marcela Gyires, Lourdes Guiribitey, Luis Guerra, Isabel del Cid Castillo, Yova Borovska, Michael Bhotiwihok, Isadora Velazquez, and Sasha Westerman-Keuning for acting as pre-testers and making valuable contributions to the accuracy and integrity of the exam.

There are currently 79 Florida Bar board certified attorneys in immigration and nationality law. During the 2022-2023 term, our committee received and approved 10 recertification applications and five initial applications to sit for the exam.

At the beginning of our term, we held a successful Zoom Q&A on the requirements and advantages of board certification as well as general exam topics, exam format and applicable sources to reference as exam study materials. Several committee members participated in the Zoom Q&A, which was attended by interested attorneys.

It has been my honor to lead the committee this year and to be a member of the committee since 2016. Reviewing and processing applications for board certification and creating an appropriately challenging exam is a challenging but tremendously rewarding experience.

Board certification represents The Florida Bar’s highest standards for professionalism and ethics in the practice of law. Members of the committee are among the most knowledgeable and highly qualified immigration lawyers in Florida. Interacting with lawyers of such caliber presents regular opportunities for learning and growing as legal specialist in the field. I urge any attorney who meets the requirements to apply for board certification and volunteer on the board certification committee’s important work. I thank this year’s committee members for their dedication and commitment to achieving our objectives.

Francisco “Frank” Symphorien-Saavedra, Chair

Intellectual Property Certification

This last year has been a busy one for the Intellectual Property Certification Committee, due in large part to this being the 15th anniversary of the inception of board certification in intellectual property law. Every five years, a substantial number of board certified attorneys must recertify. This year, the committee received and processed 69 recertification applications.

The committee certifies attorneys as experts in intellectual property law (which covers four substantive areas of law: patent law, trademark law, copyright law, and trade secret law). Attorneys who are board certified in intellectual property law may only practice in one substantive area, or in some combination of substantive areas; however, to qualify for board certification, attorneys must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of all the substantive areas encompassed within intellectual property law.

In addition to the significant number of recertifications, the committee received five new certification applications. Three of those applicants have already been approved to sit for the upcoming certification exam, and two are pending review. There are currently 138 lawyers board certified in intellectual property law.

This year’s accomplishments are the result of significant time devoted by committee Vice Chair Paul Bianco, and by committee members Rick Fee, Kim Kolback, Julee Milham, Janet Moreira, John “Coy” Stull, Kelly Swartz, and the committee’s immediate Past Chair Woody Pollack. The committee would also be remiss if it failed to acknowledge Kathleen Scholz-Jaffe and the extraordinary support and assistance that she has provided.

Samuel A. Lewis, Chair

International Law Certification

With the publication of The Florida Bar 2020 International Desk Reference Book, written and published by the International Law Section, it became clear that the certification exam needed updating. The exam, the study guide, the resources, and the questions have undergone a complete makeover. This year the committee focused on the exam components themselves and bringing a fresh class of test takers to the table.

The committee reviewed, edited, added, and updated every single question in the exam to make sure the areas of testing are more representative of the various subjects covered in the exam. The questions are not only carefully crafted to comply with The Florida Bar’s new testing standards, but are also less focused on international litigation and arbitration, which is its own separate certification exam. Practitioners in international tax, trade and customs, international intellectual property, and international white-collar crime, will find the questions more familiar with their practice area.

The committee carefully considered the needs for a comprehensive essay question to determine the best way to make an exam candidate shine. Indeed, the essay offers the candidate the opportunity to showcase and highlight their area of practice, their knowledge, and their ability to issue-spot across 13 different subject disciplines within the exam.

After a few seasons of low or no applicants, this year the committee welcomed five new applicants and three examinees. Each applicant differed in practice area focus and experience making it the most diverse pool of candidates to sit for the exam in years. The committee continues its outreach to the International Law Section and other Bar sections for qualifying applicants.

Another great pride for the committee was reviewing the recertification application of several ILS members. The committee reviewed and recertified more than half a dozen practitioners.

The chair thanks the entire committee for their commitment and support in this multi-year endeavor.

Clarissa Rodriguez, Chair

International Litigation and Arbitration Certification

The year 2022-2023 is the fifth operating year for The Florida Bar’s board certification committee for the topics of international litigation and arbitration, having been inaugurated in 2018 and having prepared and administered examinations of qualified candidates for board certification in 2019 through 2022, as well as promoting the specialization recognition to eligible, seasoned Florida practitioners. The 2022-2023 year was the first in which no qualified candidates applied for board certification, permitting the committee to focus our energies on promoting the program to qualified international litigation and arbitration Florida Bar attorneys well ahead of the application deadlines which arise each early autumn, for the 2024 annual examination and years beyond.

In examination years, the committee focuses on candidate outreach and vetting, intensive preparation of that year’s examination — both multiple-choice and essay questions, in compliance with BLSE standards — and grading candidates’ examinations, all while continuously expanding and improving the quality of each year’s rigorous certification examination. In this non-test year, the committee is dedicating all its efforts toward promotion and recruitment of both eligible specialist certification candidates to seek certification and existing board-certified specialists to serve the committee and the Bar.

Roger S. Kobert, Chair

Judicial Nominating Procedures

The purpose and mission of the JNPC is to assist the governor and the Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNCs) in performing their duties under Fla. Const. art. V, §11, and under F.S. §43.291. To that end, the committee offers suggestions for improvements to the judicial nominating process by rendering best practices recommendations; rendering recommendations for amendments to the Uniform Rules of Procedure for all JNCs; and offering assistance with the annual training program for all JNC commissioners.

Committee Vice Chairs Ava Doppelt and Ingrid Suarez have been instrumental in spearheading the initiatives of the committee this year. Their dedication and commitment to the work of this committee is greatly appreciated. Richard Courtemanche, deputy general counsel to The Florida Bar, continues to be the true backbone of this committee and a valued asset; we thank him for his service to our profession and committee.

The JNPC is comprised of the following subcommittees: 1) Voluntary Bar Association Liaisons, chaired by Madeleine Mannello. This subcommittee has provided assistance to voluntary bar associations that wish to educate their members about the JNCs; 2) Diversity/Implicit Bias, chaired by Ingrid Saurez. This subcommittee is continuing to develop concrete goals for improving diversity and inclusion of the JNCs and the judiciary; 3) JNC Demographics, co-chaired by Ingrid Suarez, Annika Ashton, and Lauren Johnson. The committee has collected demographic data regarding the composition of the JNCs and the composition of the judiciary; and 4) JNPC Member Liaison. Each JNC in Florida now has a liaison from the JNPC committee. Each liaison is available to help their respective JNCs and make resources available to their respective JNCs.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our subcommittees, the JNPC has continued to offer solutions and recommendations to: 1) offer programming to explain the judicial nomination process from judges and JNC members; 2) offer suggestions for improvements to the judicial nominating process; 3) promoting dialogue between all JNCs and members of the committee through their work as liaisons with all JNCs; 4) promote best practices for those serving on the JNCs and best practices for the interview process; and 5) obtain and report on demographic data regarding the composition of all JNCs and Judicial offices in each circuit.

This year, the committee will host a seminar on what to expect in the JNC nominating process at the Annual Convention in Boca Raton on Thursday, June 22, 2023, from 2-4 p.m. Speakers will include current or former judges, a representative from Gov. DeSantis’s office, as well as JNC commissioner(s).

Finally, I thank the members of the committee for volunteering their time and energy in pursuit of our mission. I have been inspired by the professionalism and dedication of the members of this committee. Thank you for your service. It has truly been my pleasure to serve as chair and work with my esteemed colleagues.

Thank you, President Lesser, for trusting me to serve as chair of this committee during the past year.

A. Sheila Oretsky, Chair

Juvenile Court Rules

The Juvenile Court Rules Committee has concluded another great year of working to improve the Juvenile Court Rules. The committee has filed and continues to work numerous proposals to amend the rules. The committee is also working on a stylistic update of the Juvenile Court Rules to bring them in compliance with the Supreme Court’s Guidelines for Rules Submissions.

This year, the committee has filed three rule amendment proposals with the Florida Supreme Court. The committee filed a proposal to amend Rules 8.245 and 8.961 to make various changes to the rules for clarity, consistency throughout the rules, and compliance with Florida statutes. The committee filed a proposal to amend Rule 8.013 to add a new subdivision regarding the court’s required finding in a juvenile detention order when the child is detained on domestic violence charges. The committee has also filed a separate proposal to amend Rules 8.013 and 8.350. This was a fast-track proposal in response to the Florida Legislature’s recent amendments of the Florida statutes. The proposal to amend Rule 8.013 tracks the Legislature’s change to authorize the court to extend secure detention care and supervised release detention based on a totality of the circumstances, including preservation of public safety, and it implements the statutory directive that the court prioritize cases in which the child has served 60 or more days in secured detention. The proposal to amend Rule 8.350 tracks the Legislature’s changes to terminology from “residential treatment center” to “residential treatment program”; to define a “therapeutic group home”; to differentiate the qualifications of a qualified evaluator based on whether the evaluation is for placement in a therapeutic group home or for placement in a different program; and to require the department to provide the guardian ad litem and court the suitability assessment within five days’ receipt.

The committee is currently considering a proposal to amend Rule 8.265, regarding motions for rehearing, to track changes the Florida Supreme Court made to the civil and family rules. The proposed amendments would require a party to raise a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence in a motion for rehearing to preserve the matter for appeal. The committee is also in the process of a stylistic update of all the Juvenile Court Rules to comply with the Florida Supreme Court’s recent order. On October 24, 2022, the Florida Supreme Court issued Administrative Order AOSC22-78, Guidelines for Rules Submissions. This order provides guidance on how the Florida Rules of Court should be formatted and, among other guidelines, instructs proponents of rule amendments to avoid the use of “legalese” in the rules. The committee has begun the process of re-writing the rules using the court’s style guide.

I recognize and voice my appreciation to Vice Chairs Nazli Matt, Brandy Merrifield, and Cheo Reid for their dedication and leadership service to the committee. I also thank all the committee members for their time, dedication, and service in improving the Juvenile Court Rules.

Stephanie C. Zimmerman, Chair

Juvenile Law Certification

The Juvenile Law Certification Committee is pleased to report that a very high percentage of juvenile law certified attorneys pursued recertification this year. The year 2022 marked the first recertification period for attorneys who were certified during the first year that juvenile law was offered as a certification option by The Florida Bar. Additionally, a number of new applicants are seeking certification this year in an effort to be awarded with the privilege of the title of board certified specialist.

The Juvenile Law Certification Exam is uniquely difficult in that it examines and holds applicants to the bar of expertise in both delinquency and dependency law. This makes the examination a challenging one because most practitioners only specialize in one of the two subject areas covered on the exam. So oftentimes, examinees are expected to become experts in a practice area in which they may have never worked. With the help of our certification specialist, Ashleigh Bolstridge, the committee is implementing an option for future examinees to elect to partner with a practitioner who specializes in the alternate practice area for the purpose of studying in tandem for the examination. We hope that this will both encourage more practitioners to seek board certification and allow for more applicants to be successful on the examination in future years to come.

The committee this year has spent a great deal of time reviewing the recertification applications and scrutinizing the new applications as well pursuant to the Standards for Board Certification in Juvenile Law 6-29. We have also spent a good deal of time drafting new questions and reformatting questions used in past examinations to meet the word count limitations as outlined in the Board Certification Examination Requirements Guide revised in June 2022.

Our committee continued to meet using audio-visual technology this year for each of our committee meetings. Although this platform does have some disadvantages in lacking personal contact, we found that the benefits outweighed the negatives. Specifically, utilizing Zoom for meetings reduced the time away from our offices and eliminated travel costs and travel time delays, especially given the geographic locations of our members being across the state. This is particularly helpful when many of our committee members work for state agencies and could not be reimbursed for travel costs.

The committee continued to utilize our banked questions indexed notebook created in years past. We updated the notebook to further categorize the questions by word length to ensure future committee members can utilize this resource to quickly locate past questions that are in compliance with the current exam requirements.

The committee is eternally grateful to be able to work with our certification specialist, Ashleigh Bolstridge, who has been a continued source of assistance and support to the entire committee. I am eternally grateful to Vice Chair Belkis Plata, and our committee members for their countless hours of drafting and editing and reviewing applications: David Silverstein, Tamara Gray, Shannon Schott, Megan Leaf, Whitney Untiedt, Calianne Lantz, and Jeffrey Deen. Thank you to the BLSE for giving us the opportunity to do this important work and to promote the importance of board certification among Florida Bar members.

Gina Leiser, Chair

Labor and Employment Law Certification

The Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as labor and employment law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Bar certified the first class of labor and employment law certified specialists in 2001, and there are currently 175 labor and employment law certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board certified specialists in labor and employment law practice under a myriad of public and private sector labor and employment laws, providing advice and counsel for both employee and employer representation in transactional, litigation and appellate practices.

The Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for labor and employment law certification, lawyers must be a member of The Florida Bar for five years, be substantially involved (at least 50% of their practice) in labor and employment law, complete 60 hours of advanced CLE of approved labor and employment law credits, pass a rigorous peer review process, and pass a certification exam. The certification exam currently consists of 50 multiple-choice questions, 20 short-answer questions, and four essays.

For the 2022-2023 certification year, the committee reviewed 32 recertification applications. All were approved, with the exception of one that appears to be in the process of being denied. The committee also reviewed 13 initial applications, of which 11 were approved and scheduled to sit for the exam on March 10, 2023. Of the remaining two, one withdrew following a NOC, and one has not responded to a NOC as of the date of this report.

The committee has met numerous times since July 2022 to review applications and draft the certification examination. The hard working and dedicated members of the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee include Chair Patricia R. Sigman, Vice Chair Bradley Paul Rothman, and members Frank E. Brown (past chair), Sacha Dyson, Eric Keith Gabrielle, Ellen M. Leibovitch, Kendra Dawn Presswood, Bradley Paul Rothman, Shaina Thorpe, and Cathleen Ann Scott. Thank you all for your tireless efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification. The committee also extends our thanks to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Kathleen Scholz-Jaffe.

Patricia R. Sigman, Chair

Law Related Education

The Law Related Education Committee (LREC) provides law related educational programs for high school students and young adults, with an emphasis on teaching the target audience about the legal system as well as citizenship, respect for people, and property rights. The committee seeks to maintain and enhance the cooperative efforts of attorneys, educators, and the judicial system in the field of law related education in Florida.

This year, the LREC is proud to announce the official revival of the Florida High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Competition, a two-part program offering a unique opportunity for Florida high school students to learn about the appellate process. Schools across the state were invited to participate in a brief-writing and oral argument exercise using a case problem drafted by members of the LREC’s High School Moot Court Subcommittee, under the leadership of subcommittee Chair Brandon Breslow. The case problem consists of two items, a fictional majority opinion and dissenting opinion by a panel of Florida’s [fictional] Seventh District Court of Appeal that addresses two legal issues, and a fictional order by the Florida Supreme Court that accepts jurisdiction of the case for briefing and argument on the two issues. Fifteen Florida schools initially registered for the competition and by the submission deadline, 26 student teams from 12 different schools had submitted briefs for the competition. Briefs are reviewed and scored by qualified attorneys and judges recruited by the Appellate Practice Section of The Florida Bar and from within the LREC. In this revival year, preliminary rounds and the final round were held on consecutive dates in Tallahassee. The six teams with the highest graded briefs presented oral argument before the Florida First District Court of Appeal on May 2, with the top two teams advancing to oral arguments in the final round before the Florida Supreme Court on May 3. Information on the winning team and the awards given for Best Brief and Best Oralist can be found in the separate press release about this year’s competition. Next year, the competition will be expanded to include oral arguments in each of the six district courts of appeal from which district competitions the top teams will be invited to argue their briefs before the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. LREC is excited about the anticipated growth of the Florida High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Competition in the coming years. The tireless work of subcommittee Chair Brandon Breslow has been instrumental in this revival; all the credit for this year’s success goes to him.

The committee also continues work on The Florida Bar’s Legal Survival Guide: Florida Laws You Should Know project. In this first full year since the complete redesign and rebranding of the website that houses the online guide, our consultant Sachs Media continues to work on search engine optimization and provides regular reporting on the performance analytics of the site. The Legal Survival Guide features answers to frequently asked questions on topics like police encounters, criminal charges, driving laws, substance abuse laws, employment laws, family laws, self-defense laws, citizenship laws, and how the Florida court system is organized. Information in the guide is written in plain language and breaks down complicated legal concepts so that young people understand laws of importance to their adult lives. Allyson Smith and Allison Wiggins lead the subcommittee responsible for making updates to the guide’s online content, the most recent of which are in the areas of social media, credit, and student loans, with updated content scheduled to be posted to the site by this June. Rolling updates are made throughout the year so every section of the site remains current and reflects any new or major changes in the laws resulting from legislative action or judicial interpretation. This year the Legal Survival Guide Subcommittee has also been focusing on crafting policies for writing, posting, and periodically reviewing blog content for the website and is actively recruiting committee members to draft blog posts on relevant topics. Recent blogs have been written on various Florida gun laws and Florida voting law, with upcoming posts on hoverboards and fireworks related laws currently in the draft stages.

To support and reinforce the work of the Legal Survival Guide Subcommittee, the Social Media Subcommittee coordinates the crafting of timely, relevant, and audience appropriate legal content for social media posts on the LREC’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Patricia Carbone, LREC vice chair and Social Media Subcommittee chair, is spearheading the latest project, which aims to produce reels on various Legal Survival Guide topics to make the content even more accessible to the target audience. Scripts are under development and the committee plans to partner with members of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division to record the first set of reels at this year’s 2023 Annual Convention, with posting to follow shortly thereafter. This new and robust component of the committee’s work is sure to drive engagement with both the social media platforms and full Legal Survival Guide website.

Each member of this committee offers important contributions to the committee’s work and I greatly appreciate the unique skills and talents these dedicated volunteers bring to the table. The leadership of Vice Chairs Patricia Carbone and Allyson Smith as well as the subcommittee chairs has been exemplary and I am confident the committee will continue to thrive in their capable hands for years to come. The Florida Bar committee staff liaisons are the behind-the-scenes engines who make committee work happen and I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best this year — Leslie Smith, Cheryl Wright, and the inimitable Jeff Doran have my deep admiration and eternal thanks. LREC was my first committee assignment nearly six years ago; as my time as chair and on the committee comes to a close, I thank Past President Michelle Suskauer for giving me the initial opportunity to serve and current President Gary Lesser for allowing me the honor to lead as chair. It has been my distinct honor and pleasure.

Lori Ellen Ward, Chair

Leadership Academy

The Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy will graduate its 10th class during the 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention. Class X is comprised of 30 exceptional lawyers practicing law as solo practitioners, government lawyers, public interest lawyers, associates, and partners in law firms throughout Florida. The Leadership Academy Committee (LAC) consists of judges and attorneys charged with administering the Leadership Academy. The LAC is co-chaired by Nicholas Johnson and Lisa Capote, both Leadership Academy graduates.

Like previous years, this year’s LAC built upon the success of previous years to create a new and enhanced curriculum for Class X. While continuing to meet the goals of the Program Evaluation Committee (PEC), the LAC co-chairs began this year by reviewing the current and past LAC subcommittees and speaking with Past Chairs Brittany Maxey-Fisher and Nicholas Johnson to determine the subcommittees that could be phased out and the subcommittees that could be added to help the LAC succeed. At the end of these discussions, it was determined the LAC needed the assistance of four subcommittees: the Curriculum Subcommittee, chaired by Komal Mirza, the 10 Year Reception Subcommittee, chaired by Carlos Sardi, the Leadership Academy Alumni Relations Subcommittee (LAARS), chaired by Tiffany Hilton and Stephanie Chaissan.

This year, the Curriculum Subcommittee has worked diligently to create programming, which includes speakers, moderators, and panelists, for the Leadership Academy Class X Sessions. This subcommittee also expanded the range of presenters and panelists to include Leadership Academy alumni, judges, legislators, Florida Bar leaders, senior law enforcement leaders, and locally elected officials. Session I was conducted at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention, “Training Today, Leading Tomorrow.” During this session, the fellows received their DISC assessments and attended a training on their individual DISC profiles.

This year, Session II was in Jacksonville, and the curriculum included a diverse group of presenters, including Bar President Gary Lesser, Ashlea Edwards, Cyrus Zymorodian, Jamie Karpman, Mayor Chris Offman of Jacksonville Beach, Mayor Ellen Glasser of Atlantic Beach, and Mayor Elain Brown of Neptune Beach, and Judge Marcia Morales Howard.

At Session III, “The Power of Mentoring and Building Relationships,” included a presentation by Florida Bar President-elect Scott Westheimer, and G.C. Murray as well as a presentation by Jennifer Strouf on “How Using Improv Can Help You Become a Better Communicator.”

Session IV in Tallahassee included Class VIII and IX fellows since both classes’ Tallahassee sessions were cancelled due to the pandemic. The fellows had an opportunity to tour the Florida Supreme Court complex and the Florida State House of Representatives Chamber.

Leadership Academy celebrated its 10th year with a reception held during the Winter Meeting. The reception was financed 100% through the subcommittee’s fundraising raising efforts. The subcommittee, chaired by Carlos Sardi included Brittany Maxey-Fisher, Victoria Mesa-Estrada, Sarah Sullivan, and Judge Barbara Goiran, handled all aspects of the event with the assistance of Florida Bar staff members. The reception honored all those who have helped the Leadership Academy, including its founder, Florida Bar past President Eugene Pettis, as well as those alumni from the Academy who have gone on to exemplify the goal of the Academy.

As of the submission of this report, Session V will be held in Orlando and Session VII in Ft. Lauderdale, and both are in the finishing stages of planning implementation. The graduation for Class X will be held in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando, and we will welcome Class XI!

Each year, the Leadership Academy completes a class-wide project. This year, Class X implemented a project focusing on mentoring. The project’s objectives are to highlight the importance of mentoring in our profession, exemplify the spirit of servant leadership by setting a strong mentoring example for others to follow, plant the seed of mentoring in law students and encourage the participation of already barred attorneys, emphasize the positive impact mentoring has on attorney mental health and the community at-large, and enhance the positive public perception of the legal profession and The Florida Bar.

The stated mission of LAC is to identify and train a diverse group of lawyers for leadership within the ranks of The Florida Bar, the bench, the government, and the community. LAC has proven itself to be a highly effective means of realizing these objectives. To date, alumni of the Leadership Academy have been appointed and/or elected to serve in the judiciary, on the Bar’s Board of Governors, on law school boards, on public boards, and on private boards.

The Leadership Academy program would not succeed or be as effective without the contributions of our Florida Bar staff leaders. The Leadership Academy’s activities are expertly coordinated by Arnell Bryant-Willis, the diversity initiatives manager for The Florida Bar. We thank these Florida Bar staff members, LAC members, our supporters, and sponsors for always doing their utmost to maintain the success of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy.

Nicholas Johnson and Lisa Capote, Co-Chairs

Legal Needs of Children Committee

The primary mission of the Legal Needs of Children Committee (LNOCC) is to monitor and promote the implementation of recommendations of The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children (Final Report, June 2002). The committee also studies trends and developments in this specialized area of practice and keeps members of the Bar informed of evolving issues through periodic updates, such as LNOCC’s 2022 CLE on the law governing special immigrant juvenile status and regarding representing parents prior to the filing of shelter/dependency petitions.

Members of the LNOCC have a breadth of knowledge and expertise that spans the substantive areas of juvenile law, from delinquency to dependency to mental health to education. LNOCC members also vary in their perspectives of representation, from private attorneys who volunteer as guardian ad litems, to government attorneys in state attorney and public defenders offices, to parents’ attorney and legal services attorneys. For this reason, LNOCC is often called upon to lend advice and perspective on various issues affecting the legal welfare of children. Our debates are robust and respectful, and provide members the opportunity to learn and share best practices from their communities.

For the past two years, the Representation-Delinquency Subcommittee, chaired by Usha Maharajh, has focused on extensively revising and updating the Florida Guidelines of Practice For Attorneys who Represent Children in Delinquency Proceedings (which was originally created by a subcommittee of the Legal Needs of Children’s Standing Committee and approved by the full Legal Needs of Children’s Standing Committee of The Florida Bar over 10 years ago). Since then, there have been substantive and procedural changes in juvenile law. The revised guidelines, which are nearing completion, seek to incorporate these changes through the addition of new sections and the updating of the existing sections. Members of the subcommittee and other highly qualified attorneys in various sectors have participated in revising and editing the guidelines. Five new sections have been drafted: Representing a Non-Citizen Child; Education; Collateral Consequences; Dually Represented Children (Crossover); and Children in Adult Criminal Court. The new sections have been through numerous revisions to ensure the primary issues are addressed and checked for accuracy. Once finished, the subcommittee will invite comments and review from the entire committee before presenting the Revised Guidelines to the Board of Governors. The subcommittee plans to increase available CLEs in juvenile law and make them easily accessible to attorneys whose primary practice is not juvenile delinquency representation.

The Overrepresentation of Minorities Subcommittee, co-chaired by Camille Frazer and David Silverstein, continued its efforts to build knowledge on how to best address the overrepresentation of minorities in the child welfare system by inviting child welfare professionals, such as Dr. Jessica Pryce (director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare), and Walter Honaman (Legal Aid Society of Broward County), to share their knowledge of best practices to reduce overrepresentation. The subcommittee examined how to increase awareness among child welfare professions regarding the disproportionate rate of removal of children from minority families and the related harmful impacts. The subcommittee then focused its efforts on submitting a workshop proposal for the Florida Children and Families Summit scheduled for 2023. The submitted proposal is titled, “I Don’t Want My Whole World to Turn Upside Down Today! Leading Initiatives to Avoid Shelter.” The workshop addresses “the leading initiatives in the state to reduce the number of children sheltered including the Beacon Center Parent Attorney Project for domestic violence survivors, the Relative Caregivers Project at Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County to assist caregivers with obtaining custody orders, the Prevention System Capacity Project from Florida Atlantic University to identify facilitators and barriers to prevention services, and the Office of Regional Counsel’s prepetition representation of parents during child abuse investigations.” Its goals are to motivate child welfare professionals to think critically on the impact of removals on children and families and help decrease the rate of removals, which should positively impact minority families.

The Dependency Representation Subcommittee, chaired by Brittany Rutan, partnered with the Public Interest Law Section (PILS) to prepare a CLE on crossover youth (also referred to as dually served youth). This CLE has been submitted to the Florida Children & Families Summit, and the subcommittee is working to create a webinar series for attorneys statewide. Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy Center for Juvenile Justice Reform representatives will be panelists discussing their Crossover Youth Practice Model. They will be accompanied by a member of the judiciary and the director of operations for the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office. The presentation will detail strategies for interagency and community engagement that address the root of child welfare involvement as well as crossover issues. It will allow the participants to apply their knowledge to develop outside-the-box strategies that can evoke change within their own organizations and their local courts.

Thank you to the entire committee for their hard work this year. Is has been an honor and a pleasure working alongside you these past several years.

Jennifer Coberly, Chair

Marital and Family Law Certification

The Marital and Family Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as marital and family law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar and reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification. This includes drafting and grading the annual exam (currently, five essays, 30 multiple-choice questions, and 25 short-answer questions), reviewing applications for initial and continuing certification that encompasses review of each applicant: 1) marital and family law cases for substantial involvement; 2) trial experience; 3) peer evaluations; 4) judicial evaluations; 5) completion of the required CLE; and 6) professionalism.

The 2022-2023 Marital and Family Law Certification Committee is comprised of the following nine members: Chair Bonnie Sockel-Stone; Vice Chairs Belinda Lazzara and Karen B. Weintraub; immediate Past Chair Laura Davis Smith; Christopher R. Bruce; Judge Sandy E. Karlan (Ret.); Sarah E. Kay; Catherine M. Rodriguez and Sandy Fox. Each member has been a valuable, active participant, bringing their unique skills, knowledge, and insight. The committee has greatly benefitted from the advice, guidance, and wisdom of immediate Past Chair Laura Davis Smith.

Presently, there are only 274 board certified marital and family law attorneys. That number reflects less than 1% of the entire membership of The Florida Bar. This year, the committee focused on implementing new guidelines for examination drafting and we are confident that the 2023 Marital and Family Law Certification Exam is clear, concise, and fair. The examination was administered on March 10, 2023, and the committee looks forward to congratulating the examinees who achieved passing scores.

The committee is extremely grateful to Maritza McGill, our interim Florida Bar staff liaison, for her extremely hard work and dedication. Ms. McGill is a pleasure to work with and a tremendous asset to the committee. The committee also acknowledges our BLSE liaison, Jennifer A. Ficarrotta, for her support and guidance.

The committee is also grateful to the judges and attorneys who offered thoughtful peer review for the committee’s consideration. Feedback from peers and judges is critical in the vetting process. We recognize the time and energy devoted to responding to the requests for review, and there is simply no substitute for this part of the process. We are also grateful to those board-certified lawyers who were willing to pretest the exams. The input from the pre-testers was invaluable in arriving at the final product.

I urge all my family law colleagues to apply for board certification. Participating in the application process and studying for the examination increased my knowledge, confidence, and referral base.

Bonnie Sockel-Stone, Chair

Media and Communications Law

The mission of the Media and Communications Law Committee (MCLC) is to facilitate the exchange of factual and legal information about the roles of America’s lawyers, judges, and elected officials and the importance of protections for free speech and communication conducted through print, broadcast, cable, internet, and emerging technologies in furthering public understanding of our institutions of government. The MCLC seeks to enhance the collegiality among members of the Bar and journalists and to serve as an active bridge for communication on topics of mutual interest and concern.

So far this year, the committee has held two successful all-member meetings as well as many subcommittee meetings to continue work on various committee projects. A third committee meeting is planned in conjunction with the 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention. The committee continues to help support the annual Reporters’ Workshop in conjunction with The Florida Bar and Florida Supreme Court, produce and update the virtual Reporters’ Handbook, coordinate the annual Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida and the Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to the state of Florida through journalism, and host the annual “1st Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court Seminar” at the Annual Convention.

The 2022-2023 fiscal year started off strong with the first live Reporter’s Workshop planned and held since the pandemic launching September 18, 2022. The two-day event included a pre-event meet and greet followed by two full days of educational sessions and was attended by approximately two dozen journalists who responded to a post-event survey with a 100% satisfaction rating. The Reporters’ Workshop Advisory Subcommittee, chaired by MCLC Vice Chair Mary Nguyen-Nodelman, maintains an active support role to The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court by helping to garner important sponsorships for the event and assist with securing speakers as well as provide feedback and general support for the program. Planning for the 2023 Reporters’ Workshop is underway and is tentatively scheduled for November 5-7, 2023.

The Reporters’ Handbook Subcommittee, also under the direction of MCLC Vice Chair Mary Nguyen-Nodelman, has been working this year on continued review and updates to the Reporters’ Handbook, a resource guide for members of the media and attorneys about topics in the legal profession, principally authored by the MCLC. The handbook serves as an important resource to assist journalists in quickly and easily obtaining information. The handbook’s content has been fully revised and added to a redesigned webpage for ease of access, and members of the subcommittee continue to identify articles and content in the handbook in need of updates and any new topics of relevance for addition to the handbook. Articles are continuously updated on a rolling basis so that topics in need of revision can be timely addressed and updated.

Each year, the committee also coordinates the annual Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida. Qualified entries for the Parker Thomson Awards cover materials published or produced between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022, and consist of stories that highlight the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians. Entry categories include print, television, radio, and online-only. The committee also presents the annual Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring a retired or working journalist who has written or reported extensively to educate the public on Florida’s legal and justice systems. Annual award winners receive a cash prize and a plaque honoring their work. Nominations for both awards opened in early March and will be presented at the Florida Media Conference, taking place July 20-21, 2023, in Sarasota.

Finally, former MCLC Chair David Karp will serve as moderator again this year at the MCLC’s annual 1st Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court Seminar, planned for June 23, 2023, at the 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton. The popular annual seminar will review U.S. Supreme Court first amendment cases from the past year as well as discuss upcoming cases for the 2023 term and features a superstar panel of justices, judges, attorneys, and legal experts.

In closing, I thank the committee for its hard work and commitment over the past year as we eased back to “normal” after the pandemic. Without the participation, guidance, and engagement of our members and Florida Bar staff, the continued work of the committee could not have been accomplished. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as chair.

Craig Waters, Chair

Member Benefits Committee

The mission of the Member Benefits Committee is to review and evaluate existing member benefit programs for Florida Bar members, evaluate potential new programs and services offered to The Florida Bar for members, and to make recommendations to the Board of Governors on changes or additions to existing member benefits and the overall benefits program. During the past year, the committee worked diligently to monitor existing approved providers and review potential new member benefit proposals. The committee reviewed a variety of proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers during the 2022-2023 fiscal year and approved four new member benefits for recommendation to the Board of Governors. Among the new benefits approved by the committee this year are TripPlanet discounted hotel and airfare, Smokeball legal trust accounting software; ezBriefs for auto generating Tables of Authorities and reviewing legal briefs, and eNotaryLog national remote online notarization.

The full offering of approved benefits can be viewed at Member Benefits at a Glance.

The committee will review two to three additional potential member benefit proposals during the June 2023 meeting of the Member Benefits Committee during the 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention. Chair Teresa Eyerman encourages Bar members to visit The Florida Bar Member Benefits Program site at to take advantage of the wide array of discounted professional and personal services offered to Bar members.

Teresa Eyerman, Chair

Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers

The Florida Bar established the Mental Health & Wellness of Florida Lawyers Committee to implement its Strategic Planning Priority to focus on the mental health and wellness of Bar members, which includes an educational component to: 1) destigmatize mental illness in the legal community (lawyers and judges); 2) educate employers, judges and lawyers how to identify and address mental-health illness of Florida lawyers and create “best practices” on how to address mental-health issues; 3) educate lawyers about the benefits of balancing personal life and career obligations; 4) provide health and wellness programs to provide Florida lawyers with healthy strategies to deal with the pressures of their practices to enhance the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers; 5) educate voluntary bar associations on mental health and wellness programs so they may better assist their members at the local level; 6) expand the accreditation definition so as to broaden the scope of what constitutes and health and wellness continuing legal education (CLE) program; 7) develop new and innovative CLE on mental health and wellness issues; 8) interface with Florida Lawyer’s Assistance, Inc., to broaden their reach to all members not limited to those members facing Bar grievance issues; and 9) create a special, inter-disciplinary committee to study and improve The Florida Bar’s rules and programming related to mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers and to ensure that Florida Bar members (including judges) are aware of mental-health issues and are able to access those services needed.

This year, the committee held two in-person meetings and one meeting via Zoom. Three subcommittees were formed to focus the work of the committee: Education, Judicial, and Communications.

The committee started an online Depression and Bipolar Diagnosis Support Group in partnership with Florida Lawyers Assistance. This support group started on Valentine’s Day and is still in development. The Working Attorney Mothers support group’s second anniversary occurred around Mother’s Day. In its first 22 months, it has attracted a core group of participants and is still going strong with weekly meetings.

The Communications Subcommittee is actively working with the Bar’s Communications Department to rebrand the Florida Lawyers Helpline. The Board of Governors has tasked the committee with increasing Helpline usage and committee leadership feels strongly that rebranding is needed to achieve this goal. We have discussed this with CorpCare, Georgia LAP leadership, and the Bar’s Communications Department and are planning to change the logo and accompanying copy, add a social media tag, and promote awareness though new channels. We are actively seeking consent from the YLD to show a promotional video for the Helpline during the Practicing with Professionalism CLEs. A new webpage was created that is dedicated to the Helpline for members which includes an outreach video by President Lesser and provides access to an added CorpCare benefit that is using BetterHelp for therapy sessions. This connects members directly to telehealth therapy without the requirement of first calling the Helpline.

The committee’s Mental Health and Wellness Resources flyer was mailed out for the first time to all recently admitted members along with their Bar cards in the New Member Packets. Well over 1,000 have already gone out to new members and it is downloadable on the Member Benefits page, as well.

The Florida Lawyers Helpline free therapy sessions were expanded from three to five per calendar year for all Bar members and the benefit was expanded to include Florida Registered Paralegals (FRPs). Members may also get consultations on finding childcare, arranging eldercare, nutrition, financial planning, and budgeting.

The committee secured a table for CorpCare and swag promoting the Helpline, for distribution at the 2023 Annual Convention. Our Education Subcommittee is producing a CLE on secondary trauma, the first video CLE on this topic by the Bar. An additional two CLEs on wellness topics are also being planned.

Our Judicial Subcommittee has been leading the charge on educating new judges on the mental wellness issues that affect lawyers and judges alike. The subcommittee is currently working on creating a judges-only safe space during The Florida Bar Annual Convention in June for judges to come and discuss any wellness issues that they are experiencing with a facilitator. The subcommittee is working through addressing potential judicial concerns relating to stigmatization of these issues and maintaining confidentiality.

The committee provided feedback, regarding changes to continuance rules, for the Bar response to the Judicial Management Council Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases. The workgroup’s revised report noted that rules for continuances should be applied humanely and consider the needs of lawyers and judges; they also added language referencing a parental leave rule. The committee also continued weekly postings of the Wellness Wednesday’s tips for the Daily News Summary.

Thank you to our board liaison Ronald Ponzoli, to Vice Chair Rich Rivera, to my fellow committee members Judge Susan Bedinghaus, Nora Bergman, Bruce Blitman, Peggy Bush, Cindy Campbell, Arielle Capuano, Stephanie Chaissan, Mandi Clay, Dr. Kristie Deblasio, Celia Dorn, Alexandra Echsner-Rasmussen, Karla Ellis, Judge Samantha Feuer, Sherri-Ann Grant-Clarke, Courtney Kilbourne, Judge Alicia Latimore, Marc Marra, Jacina Parson, Devona Perez, L.A. Perkins, Miriam Ramos, Joanna Sandstrom, Lisa Varon, Judge Andrea Wolfson, and to our Bar staff liaison, Christine Bilbrey.

Karl Klein, Chair

Military and Veterans Affairs

During the 2022-2023 year, The Florida Bar Military and Veterans Affairs Committee continued efforts to improve the practice of law for military service members, veterans, and their families residing in Florida. This year, the committee has started development on a statewide initiative to connect Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers transitioning out of the military with members of The Florida Bar who can act as mentors, aiding in the arduous process of acclimating back into civilian life as a member of The Florida Bar. For the coming year, the committee is interested in expanding access to pro bono and affordable legal services to service members and veterans by engaging local legal aid, bar associations, and law schools. Additionally, the committee wishes to aide in further collaboration between the multitude of legal resources available to service member and veterans throughout Florida.

James W. Heaton, Chair

Prepaid Legal Services

The Prepaid Legal Services Committee of The Florida Bar is — as it has been for all times since the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar first created this Public Service Standing Committee in 1974 — expressly entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that legal services plans submitted by members in good standing of The Florida Bar are in full and complete compliance with the rules and regulations of Ch. 9, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.

Moreover, the committee’s work furthers the Bar’s long-standing public policy position in support of the concept of legal services plans in the state of Florida, as so expressly codified in Rule 9-1.2, which provides, in relevant part, as follows: “Every citizen of this state should have access to the legal system.. . . To this end, it is the policy of The Florida Bar to support the concept and to actively encourage the establishment, operation, growth, and development of legal services plans as one means of increasing a person’s ability to obtain legal services at an affordable cost in order to have the opportunity to better gain access to the legal system (emphasis supplied).”

In addition to fulfilling its stated mission, the committee has, over the years, expanded its scope and focus to include educating the membership of The Florida Bar on the various rules and regulations that govern the operation of plans in the state of Florida, including:

1) The entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans by and under Ch. 9 (Ch.9 plan) — as fully set forth in the “Chapter 9 Plan Application Packet” [effective April 2, 2012], and made readily available, via PDF fillable format, to all Bar members on the committee’s website []; and 2) the availability of those certain other legal and business opportunities provided in the Legal Expense Insurance Act, as so codified by and under the provisions of Ch. 642, Florida Statutes, [providing authority for the organization of a legal expense insurance corporation (being a Ch. 642 company)].

Whereupon, during this 2022-23 Bar year, the committee has successfully carried out its responsibilities upon undertaking and completing various tasks and projects throughout the year. First and foremost, the committee has had the opportunity, since the first day of the New Year, to oversee the annual Ch. 9 renewal process whereby some 15 Ch. 9 plans were scheduled for renewal for this calendar year 2023. In addition, the committee is once again making arrangements to sponsor an informative CLE seminar during The Florida Bar 2023 Annual Convention at The Boca Raton, beginning on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. As of the time of this writing, the committee is in the process of finalizing the details of this year’s seminar; and, in all probability, consisting of a one hour presentation by the undersigned chair on the fundamentals of creating a successful Ch. 9 plan; a one-hour presentation by the undersigned chair on the requirements to organize and operate a Ch. 642 company; and a one-hour presentation by a panel of Florida practicing attorneys having a wealth of experience in running the day-to-day operations of a Ch. 9 plan.

Finally, the undersigned chair would certainly be remiss not to acknowledge the performance of a certain individual whose good and great work has contributed significantly to permitting the committee to accomplish its goals and, in turn, further its mission, during this Bar year.

As such, I thank and acknowledge the work of the committee’s program administrator, Jenny Dorminy, for her fine efforts to keep both the undersigned chair and the committee on task during the course of this Bar year.

In conclusion, it has been an honor to serve as chair of the Prepaid Legal Services Committee and I look forward to assisting and supporting the committee in any and all of its future endeavors as it continues to fulfill its mission moving forward, during the upcoming 2023-24 Bar year, and beyond.

John Schaefer, Chair

Pro Bono Legal Services

During The Florida Bar year 2022-2023, the Pro Bono Legal Services Committee worked on a number of initiatives and projects, both old and new. The committee was delighted that then-Bar President Mike Tanner recognized the good work of Francisco-Javier P. Digon-Greer at the 2022 Florida Bar Annual Convention by presenting the Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., Award to him for his service to the Bar and the committee as our Bar staff liaison. The award recognizes a Florida Bar or local bar staff member for extraordinary service to his or her bar. The committee could not accomplish what we have over the years without Frank’s superb assistance, responsiveness, and guidance.

During this past Bar year, the busy committee held a Pro Bono Summit during the Bar’s 2022 Annual Convention. The purpose of the summit was to collaborate on improvements in the infrastructure of the pro bono community, specifically the coordination of the placement of impact cases and improvements to technology tools used to recruit pro bono attorneys. The topics were targeted to reach many pro bono stakeholders, including the committee’s members from throughout the state, leadership of The Florida Bar Foundation, Circuit Pro Bono Committee (CPBC) representatives, non-profit legal services providers, the Bar’s Board of Governors and Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and other constituencies around the state. The committee thanks the following for coordinating the summit: Jayme Cassidy, Bankruptcy Judge Laurel Isicoff, Donny Mackenzie, Judge Norton, Sarah Lahlou-Amine, Karen Ladis, Judge Nardella, and Thomasina Moore.

The committee also produced and recorded a free, on-demand CLE program, “Pro Bono Service: Ethical Considerations and Trending Needs” (3.5 hours general credit/2 hours of ethics credit) during the Winter 2023 meeting. The CLE covers the following subjects: The meaning of pro bono, practical challenges in representing a pro bono client, where to find pro bono opportunities, and landlord-tenant and family law issues in particular. The program is available at

The program will be widely marketed: the committee will ask the CPBCs to share it with their contacts, alert local bars through the Voluntary Bar Committee, and provide the information to legal aid organizations. The Bar will circulate the CLE information to sections’ leadership for approval for Bar section staff to email section members. The committee thanks the stars of the show, Frank, moderator Ms. Lahlou-Amine, Juan Carlos Arias, Bethanie Barber, Jefferey Harvey, Patrice Paldino, and Hanit Simon.

The committee recommended that CPBCs organize and promote an advanced directives clinic. The committee provided CPBC chairs the necessary resources for preparing advanced directives and living wills, including software and forms.

The committee also continued to monitor and coordinate the hugely successful Florida Free Legal Answers, Florida’s version of the American Bar Association program. Florida is second in volunteer attorneys (out of 41 participating jurisdictions providing service), with 1,073 volunteers as of this writing. Illinois has just squeaked by us, so we need to try harder! Florida’s statistics for calendar year 2022: Total Volunteer Attorneys 1,067, Total Client Accounts 6,053, Total questions asked 5,932, Total questions answered 4,508, Overall answer rate 76%, Number of clients served 4,037. Florida Free Legal Answers also connects individuals in need with online intake programs run by various legal service providers throughout the state. By partnering with the providers, this next level of help provides the customers with even more access to free legal service.

The committee recommended to the Bar that the private profile portal of each Bar member include the number of pro bono hours and monetary donations reported on the member’s annual Bar membership renewal form, starting with reports from five years ago. The reason is to give members a non-public visual cue of how much (or little) pro bono service and support they have given. The Bar’s IT Department will review the recommendation to see if it is technologically feasible to implement.

The committee also recommended revised questions for inclusion on the Bar’s annual Membership Fee Statement concerning the Rule 4-6.1 pro bono reporting requirement. The questions will be reviewed and possibly implemented for the 2024-25 statement.

The committee approved creating a Judicial Advisory Pro Bono Committee, including its mission and purpose. The advisory committee will comprise judges from different courts (state and federal levels) so as to reflect diverse perspectives. The Bar will create a listserv/dropbox for advisory committee use to collect advisory committee members’ ideas. The chairs compiled a list of invitees based on committee members’ suggestions.

The committee also started an initiative to collect and catalogue free CLE programs that can be used to train pro bono attorneys in areas in which they do not currently practice in order to combat volunteer resistance to venture outside their comfort zone, which is often an area of highest need.

The committee requested CPBC chairs to investigate whether their state judicial circuits allow jurors to donate their compensation to a domestic violence shelter or guardian ad litem program as permitted by F.S. §40.24.

The committee continued to promote the distribution and viewing of the new One Promise campaign videos that were produced in the prior Bar year. The videos make the case for both the importance of pro bono work and how gratifying the work is. The committee asks all Bar sections and committees to show one of the videos at a meeting during Bar year 2023-24. Additionally, the committee urges all CPBCs to ensure that all local bar organizations, committees, and Inns of Court display one of the videos annually at an upcoming meeting. The videos are available at (the general video is at the top; scroll down to see versions for emeritus and young lawyers). The committee again thanks the Foundation for coordinating the production and procuring the pro bono services of the producer, Emmy Award winning Gary Yordon, and all of the donors who funded the hard costs of the production. Donations are still being accepted for ancillary promotional materials such as brochures and courtroom posters.

The committee continued to monitor Florida’s pro bono reporting compliance and trends in hours performed and monetary contributions compared with past years’ data. The committee was pleased to see that the 2021-2022 data show that both hours and monetary donations increased over the prior Bar year. The committee also continued its project to update and digitize the Circuit Pro Bono Committee Chair Handbook for dissemination to CPBC chairs.

The committee thanks its subcommittee chairs for their work the past year: Donny MacKenzie, Rules Subcommittee; Circuit Judge Virginia Norton, All Circuits Subcommittee; and Donald Workman, Law Firm Subcommittee.

The committee is also grateful for the express recognition by Bar President Gary Lesser and President-elect Scott Westheimer of the committee’s essential work in the pro bono sphere. And we are grateful for Frank, who continues to be the committee’s guiding light and ensures that we stay on track with our many initiatives.

Judge Catherine Peek McEwen and Kathleen S. McLeroy, Co-Chairs

Professional Ethics

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 The committee also provides informational packets and topical information on the website. A link to “Rules, Ethics, & Professionalism” is included at the top of every page of the website. This link leads to a landing page with a link to the main Ethics page, which includes links for Formal Ethics Opinions by subject and by number, the Rules of Professional Conduct, Informational Packets, Bar News and Journal articles on ethics issues, and other topical information relating to lawyer ethics.

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 it appropriate or if the inquiring attorney seeks review of an informal staff opinion. In addition, the committee sponsors an annual professional ethics seminar. The committee met three times this year to consider a variety of ethics issues.

Formal Advisory Opinion Procedures — The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics govern the process by which ethics attorneys issue informal oral and written staff opinions and by which the committee issues formal opinions. The committee may issue formal opinions on review of staff opinions and existing formal opinions. Additionally, the Bar Board of Governors may request that the committee issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to certain facts. When issuing proposed formal opinions, the committee publishes an official notice in The Florida Bar News, inviting Bar members to comment. The committee values the input provided by these comments and encourages Bar members to comment on proposed ethics opinions.

Draft Proposed Advisory Opinion 23-1 — The Draft Proposed Advisory Opinion considers whether a Florida lawyer may be a passive investor in an alternative business structure (ABS) that allows non-lawyer ownership of a law firm in another state. The issue came before the committee after staff initially declined to issue an opinion due to the lack of previous precedent or underlying bar policy on which to base an opinion and the inquiring lawyer appealed the denial. At this time, the committee is scheduled to consider a draft proposed opinion at its June 2023 meeting.

Review of Written Staff Advisory Opinions — At its meetings, the committee considers appeals by lawyers of written staff advisory opinions in response to inquiries submitted by the lawyers. The committee affirmed a staff opinion concluding that pursuant to Rule 4-4.2(a), lawyers in the state attorney’s office may communicate directly with defendants regarding criminal matters completely unrelated to the cases where the defendants are represented by counsel. The opinion cautions that such discussions may not include any information relating to the subject matter of the representation and that it may be difficult in practice to restrict the communications to matters where the defendants are unrepresented. Further, the opinion warns that whether a defendant is represented in a matter is a question that is beyond the scope of an ethics opinion. The committee’s affirmance was then affirmed by the Board of Governors.

The committee also considered an appeal of a staff opinion addressing whether a lawyer could share de-identified case information with a third-party data company that collects and analyzes information about personal injury cases and uses the collected data to assist personal injury attorneys in evaluating claims. The committee directed staff to revise the staff opinion to conclude that disclosure of de-identified case information was permissible provided that the disclosure did not lead to the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to a client’s representation that could be used to identify the client. The committee ultimately approved the revised staff opinion.

The committee also considers appeals of denials of staff opinions. The committee affirmed staff’s denial of an opinion regarding whether another lawyer should have access to the inquirer’s trust account records and closing statements, and whether the other lawyer possesses a valid lien because the inquiry involved the conduct of another lawyer; legal questions beyond the scope of an ethics opinion; and matters related to a pending Bar complaint.

Masters Seminar on Ethics — The committee’s yearly CLE program addresses ethical issues of great significance to Bar members at the Annual Convention. The Seminar Subcommittee is chaired by Steven Teppler. The other members of the subcommittee are James L. Bell, Robert William Borr, H. Scott Fingerhut, Carolina Saavedra, and D. Culver Smith III. The seminar will be presented at the June 2023 Annual Convention and 4.0 hours of general CLE credit (3.0 Ethics and 1.0 Technology) will be sought for the seminar. The 2023 Masters Seminar on Ethics will include a discussion of trends in the Bar grievance system, including what types of conduct are resulting in attorney discipline; a practitioners’ panel on how to run a practice ethically and avoid bar complaints; and a discussion of how technology affects lawyers’ ethical duties. The seminar will also include a judicial panel addressing the ethical issues judges see in their courtrooms and how they address those issues. Speakers include Judge Wendy Williams Berger, Judge Luis Delgado, Jr., Judge Tarlika Teresa Nunez-Navarro, Judge Carrie Ann Wozniak, Patricia Ann Toro Savitz, D. Culver “Skip” Smith, and Steven Teppler.

Informal Advisory Ethics Opinions Service — The advisory 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 thanks the staff members of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. For fiscal year 2022, staff had another busy year on the Ethics Hotline, handling 20,268 hotline calls, in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.

Finally, the committee thanks our Board of Governors liaison, Michael J. Gelfand; Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Gypsy Bailey; Ethics Counsel Jonathan Grabb and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Huy-Yen Cam Bailey, Joy A. Bruner, Nick Cavallaro, Susan Gray, Jeffrey M. Hazen, Deanna Rahming, and LiliJean Quintiliani; and Paralegal Donna Hostutler. Without the participation, guidance, experience and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.

Lansing C. Scriven, Chair


The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism (SCOP), through its working groups, assists The Florida Bar and the Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism (the center) “to promote the fundamental ideals and values of professionalism within the legal systems and instill those ideals of character, competence, commitment, and civility in all those persons serving and seeking to serve therein.” The ideals are practiced by committee members composed of judges and attorneys throughout Florida by the promotion of professionalism events and activities.

This year’s emphasis has been on mentorship, professionalism and civility, education and resources, health and wellness, gender bias, and the recognition of outstanding professionalism through SCOP’s Professionalism Awards.

Jason D. Berger served as the 2022-2023 chair of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism, Rebecca Bandy served as the director of The Florida Bar Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, and Katie Young served as assistant director of center. As such, the parties were charged with assisting The Florida Bar, the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, and the 44 members of the committee in leading this year’s efforts in promoting, championing, and instilling the ethical and professional practice of law through CLEs, blogs and other educational resources.

The Florida Bar President Special Committee on Mentoring — Bar President Gary Lesser called upon the committee to assist with the established Florida Bar President’s Special Committee on Mentoring. Katie Young staffed the special committee, while Chair Jason Berger served as a member of the special committee. The committee was charged with creating a statewide mentoring program aimed at Florida lawyers with three or fewer years of experience (and in firms of three or fewer lawyers). The program will be using a web-based platform (to match perspective mentors and mentees and to administer the program curriculum). Marketing for the program has commenced. The program is set to launch during The Florida Bar Annual Convention in June.

Mentoring Initiatives Working Group — This subcommittee was led by Ita Neymotin, chair. This year, the working group assisted with the newly established “I Used to Be You” series by marketing, submitting graphics, and sharing stories explaining personal mentorship relationships. The mentoring subcommittee will be holding, “Mentoring Makes a Difference III,” a two-hour statewide CLE using Zoom webinar. Further, the subcommittee has also addressed the concept of additional mandatory mentoring CLE requirements for new attorneys and additional mandatory mentoring CLE requirements for those sanctioned (including diversion) by The Florida Bar.

Local Professionalism Panels — President Lesser addressed the work that the Special Committee on Professionalism completed last year. He addressed how the recommendations from the committee are currently with the Supreme Court. He addressed the Local Professionalism Panels, with hopes of making these more uniform across the circuits.

Education and Resource Working Group — The chair of this subcommittee was Shannon Nash. This subcommittee worked diligently in fulfilling their charge of collecting Pro Tip Tuesday professionalism campaign videos, locating and publishing potential professionalism reports, writing and collecting articles for the center’s newsletter and assisting with a data bank of case law on professionalism issues. Further, this subcommittee has also promoted The Florida Bar’s Speaker’s Bureau by signing up speakers for the topic of Professionalism.

Health and Wellness Working Group — The chair of this subcommittee was Rachel Curtis. This subcommittee was charged with investigating and reporting on the Bar’s health and wellness initiative. The subcommittee, via attorney Stephen Lesser, proposed a CLE on the steps attorneys can take to avoid getting into trouble. The idea was to identify the problem, identify steps to avoid the problem, and provide resources to support those members who may be struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

Gender Bias Working Group — Led by Chair Abby Spears, the subcommittee’s charge was to assist with development of materials and programming related to gender bias. The subcommittee assisted Judge Desai with the “Never Contemplated” series. The committee listened to and shared the episodes with law schools. These podcasts are eligible for CLE credits. The series focuses on various topics, and includes female judges, attorneys, and law school deans. This season, Judge Desai has focused on women in the state legislature and other high-powered positions. Further, the group has assisted in updating the Gender Bias Toolkit. The subcommittee is also finalizing a CLE on “Why Women Leave the Practice of Law.”

Awards Working Group — Led by Judge John Badalamenti, chair, this subcommittee marketed and solicited nominees from individuals, the voluntary bar associations, all chief judges, and all Florida law schools. The subcommittee will recommend this year’s professionalism award recipients, including the recipients of the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award, the Law Faculty/Administrator Award, and the Group Professionalism Award. This subcommittee was also charged with considering a mentoring award and, if approved, proceed with its full development and promotion. Review of the nominations and award recommendations will go to the full committee by March 10, 2023.

Center for Professionalism’s Website and Library — The committee assisted in updating and providing resources for the Center for Professionalism website. Resources include the center’s blog, “The Professional,” articles, photographs from events, along with national and statewide professionalism resources. This year the center produced the Your Honor Series hosted by Paul Lipton. The committee assisted in updating and providing resources for the Center for Professionalism’s on-demand library. The library includes free CLEs for mandatory professionalism credit on mentoring, health and wellness, and the attorney-client relationship, among others.

The Professionalism Handbook — This year, the Center for Professionalism updated the Professionalism Handbook. A limited number of handbooks were distributed in hardcopy (and the digital format is located on the center’s webpage.) The handbook is an excellent resource as it contains the Professionalism Expectations, the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and other professionalism-related resources. The handbook is also of great assistance to law students, as it is designed to help students learn critical ethics and professionalism information.

Professionalism Seminar — The Standing Committee on Professionalism submitted a Professionalism Seminar utilizing the Pro Tip Tuesday videos as a model for consideration for the President’s Showcase during The Florida Bar Annual Convention. The committee plans to present the seminar during convention as a separate CLE.

Gratitude from the Chair — It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to serve as chair of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism this year. I extend a heartfelt thank you to Bar President Gary Lesser, Director Rebecca Bandy and Assistant Director Katie Young of The Florida Bar Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism, the center staff, Vice Chairs Chardean Hill and Magdalina Ozarowski, each of our subcommittee chairs and each of our 44 committee members. I would opine that collectively we have “moved the needle” and we have “made a difference.” Thank you all so very much for the opportunity to serve!

Jason D. Berger, Chair

Real Estate Certification

For the year 2022-2023, members of the committee are Chair Kenneth Lee Bohannon of New Smyrna Beach; Vice Chair Ofonedu-Ime Goodwyn of Coral Gables; Deborah Boyd of Port Saint Lucie; D. Michael Chesser of Shalimar; Michelle Gomez Hinden of Orlando; Sebastian Jaramillo of Miami; Robert M. Schwartz of Boca Raton; William Jeffry Stein of Oviedo; Rebecca Wood of Gainesville; Jacqueline Marzan of Doral; Ashley Rogers of Santa Rosa Beach; and Wiley Boston of Orlando

The committee is charged with evaluating and approving lawyers who apply to become board certified in real estate law, evaluating and approving existing board-certified real estate lawyers for recertification (every five years), and preparing and grading the annual certification exam. The latter process takes up the bulk of the committee’s time and effort.

As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of applicants involves the determination of whether an applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This process is often difficult and is taken very seriously by the committee members. The committee strives to prepare the exam from year to year in a manner that best tests those high standards as well as the knowledge, proficiency and skill expected of members of The Florida Bar holding themselves out as experts in real estate law.

The real estate certification program was established in 1986 with the first-class becoming board certified in 1987. Real estate has historically been the second-largest area of certification in terms of number of individuals who are board certified by The Florida Bar. There are currently 5,261 board certified lawyers in Florida with 428 being certified in real estate law. This year, we have 52 applicants wanting to sit for the 2023 exam.

The present format of the exam includes 45 multiple-choice questions, six mandatory short-answer essay questions, a long-answer homestead essay question, and a long-answer transactional analysis law question. The exam is divided into four 60-minute modules. While not everyone will pass the exam, we regularly receive feedback that the process of preparing for the exam causes every examinee to be a better real estate lawyer. Of those who do not pass the exam on the first try, many find success in the year that follows.

We encourage all experienced and eligible lawyers to apply for board certification. Certification identifies a lawyer to the public and to other lawyers as having specialized knowledge, skills, and capabilities. We also encourage board certified lawyers to apply to serve on the committee; it provides invaluable exposure to other real estate law experts in a collegial and intellectually stimulating setting.

As chair of the committee, I thank the members for their hard work and dedication to the exam preparation and applicant review process. Additionally, the committee extends its thanks and gratitude to those who have graciously volunteered their time to serve as exam pre-testers: Mike Mirrington, Sebastian Jaramillo, Charles Klug, Jr., and Bradley Tennant.The committee members thank David Willis, our BLSE liaison to the committee, and acknowledge the hard work and service of Emily Cole, our Bar staff certification specialist. Our jobs would be impossible without her talented assistance and dedication to the committee.

Kenneth Bohannon, Chair

Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration

The Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee (RGPJAC) consists of 45 members, some of whom are representatives of the other rules committees, the Board of Governors, and the clerks. The committee is responsible for rules amendments to this set of rules as well as serving as the central rules coordinating committee.

The committee has had another busy year. Two reports to the court have been filed. On September 30, 2022, the committee filed a report to amend Rule Gen. Prac. & Jud. Admin. 2.540 to address the use of service animals, SC22-1277. On January 4, 2023, the committee filed a second report to amend Rules 2.420 and 2.533. In Rule 2.420(d)(1)(B)(xv), the amendment aligns the rule with the statute that clearly requires the settlement itself to be kept confidential. The report also proposes new Rule 2.533 (Oaths and Affirmations in Court), to address a gap in authority regarding oaths administered in court to jurors and witnesses.

One project this year was to continue working on review of the entire chapter to remove legalese and make the rules easier to understand by self-represented litigants. The subcommittee has made great progress and initially presented the final product at the April virtual committee meeting.

Another project was continued work on the electronic rules package. The subcommittee has been working tirelessly on a final proposal that encompasses the court’s order in SC21-990 that amended the rules to incorporate suggestions from the Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19.

On January 12, 2023, the committee was sent a referral from the court to file a report regarding Rules 2.215, 2.250, 2.546, and 2.550. The referral came after the court declined to amend the rules based on the recommendation of the Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases. A subcommittee is holding bi-monthly meetings to have a report finalized and filed with the court by the court’s deadline of July 3, 2023.

In its role as the central rules coordinating committee, all other court rules committees send their committee’s approved amendments to us for review and determination if the proposed amendment effect any other committee’s rules. This year, the committee has reviewed amendments from several rules committees including Civil Procedure, Traffic, Small Claims, Family, and Appellate Court Rules. It has been a productive year.

The committee has also been working closely with the other court rules committees in evaluating the rules amendment process based on the report commissioned by the Bar that evaluated the development and review of court rules proposals by the court rules committees. Each court rules committee was asked to designate a representative to a workgroup for the review and possible implementation of the suggestions in the report. The discussions have been robust and I am grateful to have chaired the workgroup in this initiative.

My year of service as chair was an exciting one. I personally add my acknowledgment and thanks to all the hard-working committee members. I specifically acknowledge and commend the committee leadership: Corinne Cotton Hodak, vice chair; Kristin Norse, secretary; Judge John D. Campbell Newton II, parliamentarian; Stanford R. Solomon, FCTC liaison; and subcommittee Chairs Amy Singer Borman, Michael Robert Ufferman, Santo DiGangi, Michael Theil Debski; Judge Samantha Lee Ward, Judge Elizabeth Ann Blackburn, Antonio Jaimes, Alison Leigh Churly-Davis, and Keith Park. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not thank Bar staff Elizabeth Clark Tarbert and Kelly N. Smith.

Judge Stephen R. Jewett, Chair

Senior Lawyers

The Senior Lawyers Committee consists of members in good standing of The Florida Bar, most of whom are appointed utilizing the committee preference form. Some members have joined after the appointment period upon a request to The Florida Bar. Any member in good standing, regardless of age, who is interested in the mission statement of the SLC is welcomed to apply to the SLC. Up until December 2022, SLC members were appointed to one-year terms, and could apply, on an unlimited basis, for an additional one-year term each year. In December 2022, The Bar, on its own initiative, decided to appoint members to staggered terms with the goal of eventually having each SLC member serve a three-year term rather than a one-year term. The Bar randomly assigned each SLC members an appointment expiration date. Any SLC members that requests re-appointment prior to the expiration of their term, can be re-appointed for a three-year term.

The key leadership team of the SLC consists of Chair Andromeda Monroe, Vice Chair James “Dick” Caldwell, and Vice Chair Susan Healy, all three appointed by President Gary Lesser. The SLC’s Board of Governors’ liaison is Michael Gelfand and its program administrator during this fiscal year changed in October 2022 from Cheryl Wright to Paige Levy-Dooley.

The SLC met in August 2022, October 2022, and January 2023 in a hybrid (virtual and in-person) format. At least, two additional meetings are contemplated. Meetings of subcommittees and a focus group (as later described) have been held, as necessary.

The SLC has continued with its initiatives, which are 1) greater accessibility to Bar functions for senior lawyers and others with disabilities; 2) inclusion of retired attorneys in the Bar and pro bono programs of legal aid services or pro bono organizations; 3) creation of a Senior Lawyers Resource Center; and 4) determining whether the SLC should seek division status within the Bar. The initiatives were developed in recognition of the SLC as a service committee of the Bar, the aging population of the Bar, the need to address this unique demographic group, and the perceived desire for senior lawyers to remain active in the Bar after they stop practicing law full-time, move from a law firm to solo or small firm practice, or start second careers or hobbies that utilize their legal skills.

The SLC has six subcommittees and one focus group as indicated below.

1) Retired Lawyers Inclusion Subcommittee, Dick Caldwell, chair: This special subcommittee is exploring ways that lawyers who have retired from the Bar can continue to serve in the Bar and the legal community. This subcommittee was formed when a retired Florida attorney was referred to the SLC to address his concern that the Bar, unlike another jurisdiction in which he had been a practicing attorney, precluded him from being involved in the Bar and from providing any legal services, even on a pro bono basis. Under the existing Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, lawyers who have permanently retired from the Bar can never be admitted to the practice of law in Florida again and lawyers who have been retired for more than five years cannot practice law in Florida unless they have applied and are readmitted by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and the Florida Supreme Court, which means, among other things, passing the Florida Bar Exam again. Inactive lawyers have the ability to reactivate at any time, provided certain educational and other requirements (exclusive of taking the bar exam again) are met. Some senior lawyers do not maintain active or inactive status due to limited financial resources and some senior lawyers who plan on practicing periodically or on a very limited or pro bono only basis find the active or inactive lawyer membership fee too onerous for such a limited practice. Some other integrated (mandatory) bar associations permit emeritus status for lawyers over a certain age which enables them to actively practice law only on a pro bono basis, permit continued bar membership for the limited purpose of committee/section membership (subject to any section fees), or permit a retired lawyer to return to active practice upon meeting certain non-bar exam related requirements. The ability of retired lawyers to return to the practicing of law to assist on a pro bono basis would be advantageous to those unable to afford an attorney and for the delivery of legal services to those whose income fall below a particular standard.

This subcommittee developed two surveys to assess the interest that lawyers over 55 and in good standing and those currently retired have regarding continued membership or involvement in the Bar following retirement from the Bar. After discussions with Bar staff, the surveys were amended to a format satisfactory to both the SLC and Bar staff. The link to the survey geared to active lawyers over the age of 55 was emailed on February 1, 2023, to 3,000 randomly selected members of the defined target group and the link to the survey geared to retired lawyers were emailed to 3,000 randomly selected members of the defined target group. The SLC was informed that the randomly selected survey recipients were determined using a statistically valid methodology. The response date for the surveys was March 3, 2023, and the results are pending.

2) CLE Subcommittee, Dick Caldwell, chair: This subcommittee plans the free CLE’s offered by the SLC. Members of this subcommittee work to identify topics, invite speakers, and organize program agendas for upcoming programs. The most recent webinars included “As Senior Lawyers Age…” (January 2023), “Tech Tips to Optimize Efficiency and Reduce Stress for Senior Lawyers, Including The Florida Bar Tech Helpline” (October 2022), and “What Every Lawyers Should Know About the Brave New World of Cryptocurrency, MFTS, the Metaverse, Web 3.0, Cybercrime, and Cybersecurity” (June 2022). A CLE webinar (topic pending) is planned for The Florida Bar 2023 Annual Convention. We anticipate that the webinars held during this fiscal year have been posted to the SLC webpage.

3) Newsletter Subcommittee, Susan Healy, chair and editor: This subcommittee develops and organizes the official SLC newsletter, “Experience Matters,” that is distributed to SLC members two to three times per year to update members on key issues impacting senior lawyers and to share articles, poems, book reviews, and book excerpts written by senior lawyers. This subcommittee had its start during the beginning of the SARS Cov-2 pandemic. The winter edition has been published and the next addition is being planned.

4) Webpage Subcommittee, Colleen Sachs, chair: This subcommittee locates and vets material for posting on the SLC’s webpage, advises the Bar on how to post such material, arranges for updates to the webpage, and is continually developing a Senior Lawyers Resource page where senior lawyers can go to locate governmental and other information helpful to their practices, downsizing, career changes, and their mental and physical well-being. The SLC webpage was recently updated and streamlined and now includes links to a cognitive screening test and The National Hearing Test.

5) Accessibility Subcommittee, Andromeda Monroe, chair: This special subcommittee identifies and advocates for improvements to The Florida Bar to assist senior lawyers with physical or other limitations that relate to ADA disabilities or other medical conditions that may not rise to the level of ADA disability but for which some accommodations should be made, such as closed captions on all Florida approved CLE, remote attendance at Bar meetings for those unable to attend in-person meetings due to health or limited walking/standing ability, unique dietary needs at Bar functions, and similar issues.

It is working on a process to encourage senior lawyers’ attendance at meetings and conventions of the Bar by promoting an inclusive and accessible environment that addresses the physical and dietary needs of senior lawyers and others with certain limitations in a seamless manner, without the necessity of a reasonable accommodation request. The committee chair met with the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee during the Bar’s Winter Meeting to discuss certain inclusiveness issues relating to senior lawyers.

6) The 50-Year Member Anniversary and Senior Counsel Luncheon Advisory Subcommittee, Arlene Udick, chair: This subcommittee assists in advising the Bar, upon request of Bar staff, on the planning of this luncheon, including arranging for program emcees and other details surrounding the event. Last year, this subcommittee notified the law school of each honoree of the 50-year milestone and members of SLC key leadership team greeted the keynote speaker and attendees and co-hosted the luncheon event with President Michael Tanner.

7) Membership Focus Group, Andromeda Monroe and Randi Starrett, co-chairs: This subcommittee initially was examining various ways to have individuals join the SLC, other than via the committee preference form. This subcommittee is currently exploring whether the SLC should pursue division status and has had discussions with various BOG members relating thereto. It will continue to examine whether a formal process can be added to the Standing Board Policies, Operational Policies of The Florida Bar, rather than appointment being made on a policy exception basis.

Andromeda Monroe, Chair

Small Claims Rules

The Small Claims Rules Committee had another productive year, thanks to the active participation of its members. The committee currently consists of 25 members. We value input from the public, encourage participation in our committee and subcommittee meetings, and welcome all comments and suggestions regarding the Florida Small Claims Rules.

During the past year, a number of proposals affecting the Small Claims Rules were reviewed and evaluated. Legislation was reviewed to determine if there was an effect on the small claims court rules. One was State Bill 1062. Another was Laws of Fla. Ch. 22-103.

The committee assisted the Consumer Protection Law Committee in reviewing and updating the informational consumer pamphlet that is published on The Florida Bar’s website.

The committee is reviewing amendments to the internal operating procedures. The suggested changes update the procedures to reflect current technology and the ability to hold electronic meetings. They also aim to speed up the rules amendments process by eliminating multiple votes on the same matter and allowing for electronic meetings and voting at the chair’s discretion.

I am very grateful for the significant amount of time and effort invested by numerous members in ensuring that the Small Claims Rules continue to allow the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of small claims actions. On behalf of the committee, I sincerely thank Vice Chair Chantel Christine Wonder; Judge Augustus Davis Aikens, Jr., Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration liaison; Judge Olga Maria Gonzales-Levine, subcommittee chair; and Alison Verges Walters, subcommittee chair. I also extend our heartfelt appreciation to Kelly N. Smith, our Florida Bar rules liaison. The commitment and enthusiasm of each of you has made it an honor and privilege to lead this committee. I continue to encourage all Florida attorneys to apply for appointment to the Small Claims Rules Committee, and thereby help our citizens obtain justice in our courts.

Cristen Heather Martinez, Chair

State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice Exam

Currently, there are 73 board certified lawyers in state and federal government and administrative practice. Our committee covers a broad practice area that includes state and federal rulemaking, administrative adjudication, and agency interaction, along with state and federal government practice areas.

This year, 11 attorneys applied for certification. We are working closely with the Administrative Law Section to encourage administrative practitioners to apply for certification. The committee has revised the scope and specifications of the exam to focus more on state law rather than federal law, as most section members practice state administrative law. Through the section, we have altered potential candidates to the revised focus of the exam, which has increased interest in obtaining certification. We are supporting section efforts to identify possible modifications in our certification rules and requirements and will continue to do so. In October 2022, two certified attorneys, Brittany Griffith and Judge Gar Chisenhall, published an article in the section newsletter including a guide to becoming certified,

The 2022-2023 committee has been very active and dedicated. Members have spent a great deal of time reviewing our current examination and question bank to assure viability, compliance with BLSE requirements, and our revised examination focus. We are fortunate to have an experienced Bar liaison, Allison Armour. We greatly appreciate her hard work and assistance.

If you have any questions about certification in state and federal government and administrative practice, please visit The Florida Bar’s website, or call Allison Armour at 850-561-3143.

Bruce D. Lamb, Chair

Student Education and Admission to the Bar

I am excited to update you on the accomplishments of the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee (SEABC) for the period of July 2022 to June 2023. Our committee had three main initiatives for this year, and I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress on all of them.

First, the committee endeavored to present a professionalism CLE on a topic important to those who were applying to and recently admitted to the Bar. On March 9, 2023, our SEABC vice chair, Tequisha Myles, moderated a successful CLE, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” Panelists Debra J. Davis, a partner with Smith, Tozian, Daniel & Davis, P.A., and practices in the area of ethics and Bar defense, along with Josh Magidson, a 43-year member of the Bar and shareholder with MacFarlane, Ferguson & McMullen, P.A., shared their insights on terminating the relationship the right way. They began with determining when the attorney-client relationship starts and when it should end (i.e., the case finished, a conflict, or other reason). They discussed the professional considerations related to terminating the attorney-client relationship. Finally, they discussed the actual mechanics of terminating the relationship. The webinar was recorded and is available on The Florida Bar website for all members to view for free.

Second, we have been working diligently to provide law students and new lawyers with educational resources, including the completion of our handbook for prospective law students and contributing to the center’s Pro-Tip Tuesday initiative, which has provided valuable information and advice to our members. Additionally, we are currently working on expanding our video resources to cover topics such as financing law school, debt management, mental-health prioritization, and applying to the Bar. All of these resources will be available on the Center for Professionalism’s website.

Lastly, our Mentoring Initiative Subcommittee has been busy collecting data from law schools to coordinate mentorship initiatives effectively. We are also working on several blog posts for the Center for Professionalism, which will provide our members with valuable insights and advice on mentorship.

To support our committee’s and The Florida Bar’s 2022 goal of encouraging successful mentorship relationships, we are excited to offer a free in-person CLE at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in June. SEABC chair (and improv performer), Jennifer Strouf, will teach an interactive CLE, “Rethinking How Mentors Communicate.” The workshop will utilize improv exercises to simulate barriers to communication that impact the success of the mentor/mentee relationship. The committee is applying for ethics and bias elimination CLE credits. The June CLE is open to all members of the Bar who are also welcome to attend the SEBAC meeting following the workshop.

SEABC could not have had such a successful year without the dedication of each of its members and the Bar staff who support our efforts.

In summary, we are proud of the progress we have made this year and are committed to continuing our efforts to support the education and professional development new and future members. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to updating you on our future initiatives.

Jennifer Hope Strouf, Chair

Tax Law Certification

As the 2022-2023 chair of the Tax Law Certification Committee, I am pleased to provide this report. Members of the committee are responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as tax law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, for reviewing applications of current Florida Bar board certified tax attorneys seeking recertification at the expiration of their terms, for improving the tax certification examination, and for reviewing and approving certain continuing legal education courses as qualified for tax law certification credit.

The certification process consists of four requirements: 1) an active practice in tax law; 2) excellent peer review references; 3) sufficient continuing legal education in tax law; and 4) passing the certification examination.

The committee is comprised of nine board certified tax law attorneys who practice throughout the state. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee continued to conduct its meetings via Zoom. For the 2022-2023 term, the committee first met via Zoom on August 5, 2022, to begin drafting the 2023 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. This year, the committee revised the 2022 examination to adapt it to improve the exam’s ability to distinguish attorneys with high level of competence to meet the high standards expected by the committee and The Florida Bar.

The 2023 exam reflects a change in format and is comprised of two sections that together comprise the long answer essay question and two sections each with five multi-part, shorter answer essay questions that address procedural and substantive law. For the various subjects, the committee updated questions from previous examinations to reflect the change in format and any changes in law, and created new questions to adapt to changing law. The committee seeks to ensure that the exam is a fair but rigorous test of an applicant’s expertise in all aspects of federal and state tax law.

Unfortunately, only two attorneys applied to sit for the 2023 exam. One attorney withdrew his application when the committee asked him about inconsistencies on his application and learned of a material omission on his application that would likely preclude him from sitting for the exam; the other applicant notified the committee he would not sit for the exam. As a result, no exam will be administered in 2023.

Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 186 are currently board certified in tax law. The committee also reviewed 35 recertification applications. 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.

It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year. This year’s committee included Gerrard Grant as vice chair, Michael A. Lampert, Kelly Helmuth, Thomas F. Hudgins III; Shawn Wolf, Brian Harris, Mitch Goldberg, and me. We also appreciate the indispensable hard work of our staff liaison, Chyra Reynolds.

Marvin C. Kloeppel, Chair


The Standing Committee on Technology consists of 43 members with a stated interest and competence in technology, data security, and privacy. For the 2022-2023 Bar year, the committee aimed to focus its efforts on developing technology-related continuing legal education courses and materials for Florida Bar members. The scope and function of the Committee on Technology is to interact regularly with LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar to ensure that technology tools for lawyers and educational assistance concerning technology related to practice management are readily available to Florida lawyers. The committee is chaired by Kevin Johnson (Johnson Jackson, Tampa) with Carlos Baradat (Law Office of Carlos A. Baradat, P.A., Naples) and John Giantsidis (CyberActa, Inc.) serving as vice chairs.

In December of 2022, the Programming Subcommittee, chaired by Diane Perez, submitted a proposal for the Technology Symposium to be considered as a selection in the 2023 Florida Bar Annual Convention President’s Showcase for a second year in a row. Though the Technology Symposium was not ultimately selected, the symposium remains a top priority. Plans for the all-day symposium are well underway. The committee is in the process of confirming speakers and expects the final symposium schedule to be finalized within the next few weeks. This subcommittee is also finalizing its work on a webinar on the security of court filings whose speakers will include IT representatives from the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers and a county clerk. The subcommittee is also developing a webinar, scheduled for May release, on the basics of ChatGPT and other large-language models, as well as their ethical and competitive implications for law practice.

The Practice Management Subcommittee, chaired by Carlos Baradat, is working simultaneously on several projects. The first is a guide to responding to cyber-intrusions which is in the final stages of development and tentatively scheduled for a mid-April publication. The subcommittee also has two webinars in development, one on forensics and e-discovery and another on practice management which is scheduled for an early-May release. This subcommittee has also assembled a workgroup, led by past committee President Beau Blumberg, to handle the committee’s ongoing review of the LegalFuel website specifically focusing on the website’s Technology Section. Initial review of the Technology Section is scheduled to be completed by April 14, 2023.

At the start of the Bar year, Chair Kevin Johnson appointed several committee members to serve as liaisons to various Bar groups with the goal of facilitating technology-related communications across the Bar. The Board Technology Committee liaisons are John Giantsidis on cybersecurity, Ken Burke on technology education, and Michelle Gilbert on Florida Bar website/portal enhancements. The section and committee liaisons are Woody Pollack for the Business Law Section, Xavier Alban for the City, County and Local Government Law Section, Michelle Gilbert for the Solo & Small Firm Section, Pamela Martini for the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section, and Anthony Palermo for the Consumer Protection Law Committee. The BOG, section, and committee liaisons have kept the Standing Committee on Technology abreast of important technology-related updates and events being offered by their respective groups and they’ve also raised awareness of the work being conducted by this committee. This collaboration culminated in the Standing Committee on Technology’s first ever newsletter, “The Florida Bar Technology News.” The newsletter was developed by committee member Pamela Martini and it was distributed to the Board Technology Committee and the Council of Sections in January 2023. At least two more editions of The Florida Bar Technology News are expected to be published by the end of this Bar year.

We thank the committee officers, members, and the staff liaisons for their hard work and dedication.

Kevin Johnson, Chair

Traffic Court Rules

The Traffic Court Rules Committee has concluded another year of working to improve the Rules of Traffic Court. The committee has filed a proposal to amend numerous rules and continues its work on several other proposals.

This year, the committee advanced work initiated by Past Chair Carter Hillstrom to remove obsolete or redundant portions of the Rules of Traffic Court. The committee’s proposal deletes some rules in their entirety that the committee determined to be obsolete under the current practice of traffic law or redundant with the Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Florida Bar Board of Governors has recommended approval of the committee’s proposal to amend Rules 6.080, 6.090, 6.180, 6.183, 6.190, and 6.300. This proposal will reduce the overall size of the Rules of Traffic Court.

The committee also filed a proposal with the Florida Supreme Court to amend Rules 6.040, 6.130, 6.445, 6.455, and 6.490. This proposal would revise language in the definitions to reflect virtual court proceedings under Rule 6.040, automatically consolidate cases with multiple citation arising out of the same incident under Rule 6.130, require citing officers record an identification number unique to the specific speed measuring device used under Rule 6.445, add procedures for voluntary dismissals by the issuing officer under Rule 6.455, and increase the timeframe in which officials may reduce a legal penalty under Rule 6.490.

The committee is also currently considering several proposed amendments at the subcommittee level. The projects include a proposed amendment to the sample forms under Rule 6.340 intended to make the forms simpler and easier to understand for pro se litigants, and an amendment to Rule 6.455 that addresses due process concerns from officers amending a citation to increase the fine on the day of the hearing, an amendment to Rule 6.480 that would give all defendants at least 30 days to pay any imposed fines, and an amendment to Rule 6.291 to clarify how withheld adjudications are handled for matters involving driving with a suspended license.

I express my appreciation to Vice Chair Howard Williams and subcommittee Chairs Jennifer Printz, David Haenel, Mary Ann Etzler, Rick Silverman, and Tina Seifert for their excellent performance of the leadership roles they hold in the committee. I also thank all the committee members for their service and dedication to continuous improvement to the Rules of Traffic Court.

Andrew Joseph Decker IV, Chair

Unlicensed Practice of Law

The standing committee had a busy year addressing formal advisory opinion requests. Under Rule 10-9 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, an individual or organization seeking guidance as to the applicability of the state’s prohibitions against the unlicensed practice of law may request a formal advisory opinion from the standing committee. After holding a public hearing to receive input from interested parties, the standing committee, at its discretion, may file a proposed formal advisory opinion with the Florida Supreme Court containing its interpretation of the law. The court then reviews the proposed opinion and can approve, modify, or disapprove the advisory opinion with the ensuing opinion having the force and effect of an order of the court. The standing committee declined to hold public hearings in two formal advisory opinion requests it received; in one case the standing committee felt that the request did not involve a matter of statewide importance and in the other the standing committee felt that current Florida Supreme Court caselaw provides appropriate guidance.

In March 2023, the standing committee filed its proposed formal advisory opinion with the Florida Supreme Court in a Goldberg request for advisory opinion in the case of Wildstein v. Core Contents Restoration, LLC. The petitioner is the plaintiff in a Palm Beach County Circuit Court case (Case No. 50-2020-CA-006656-XXXX-MB), who alleged, among other things, that one of the defendants engaged in the unlicensed practice of law by acting as and holding themselves out as a Florida company’s general or in-house counsel without being a member of The Florida Bar or certified as an authorized house counsel under Rul. Reg. Fla. Bar Ch. 17. The circuit court, citing Goldberg, found that it did not have jurisdiction over the unlicensed practice of law claim and dismissed that count pending a determination by the Florida Supreme Court on whether the conduct constitutes the unlicensed practice of law. The court, in Goldberg v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., 35 So. 2d 905 (Fla. 2010), held that the standing committee must issue a formal advisory opinion in such circumstances. The court will either approve, modify, or disapprove the standing committee’s proposed advisory opinion with the ensuing opinion having the force and effect of an order of the court.

The standing committee and The Florida Bar UPL staff continued their efforts to protect the public from UPL. We approved litigation for injunctive relief against individuals and businesses for holding themselves out as attorneys and providing legal services in immigration, personal injury, and estate planning matters. The standing committee also approved litigation for indirect criminal contempt against two individuals/businesses for continuing to engage in the unlicensed practice of law after previously being enjoined by the Florida Supreme Court.

We continue to receive complaints against out-of-state licensed lawyers for assisting individuals with Florida legal issues. Under the MJP (multijurisdictional practice of law) rules, out-of-state lawyers may provide limited legal services in Florida on a temporary basis under certain circumstances. The rules also subject out-of-state lawyers to the disciplinary authority of the Florida Supreme Court while providing those legal services. Thus, 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 lawyers who appear in a Florida court or arbitration to file a copy of their pro hac vice motion and verified statement, respectively, with The Florida Bar. To check whether opposing counsel has complied with these filing requirements, you can contact the UPL Department at 850-561-5840.

As we conclude this year, I thank all the public members and lawyers on the standing committee for their dedicated service. It has been my sincere 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 thank and recognize Jeffrey Picker, UPL director; and UPL Branch Counsels Jacquelyn Needelman (Miami), Ali Vazquez (Ft. Lauderdale), Ghunise Coaxum (Orlando), Maria Torres (Tampa), and their excellent support staffs. These dedicated and hard-working public servants do an incredible job year after year.

It has been my honor and pleasure to work with you all.

Antonette Russell, Chair

Voluntary Bar Liaison

In 2022-2023, the state of Florida boasted 300 voluntary bar associations consisting of diverse subgroups of thousands of community-involved lawyers across the state. The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee (VBLC) serves as the connection between The Florida Bar and these organizations. The committee is composed of both attorney and executive director representatives. The mission of the VBLC is multi-faceted and includes: 1) Improving communication between The Florida Bar and voluntary bar associations; 2) coordinating programs of The Florida Bar involving voluntary bar associations; 3) advising the Communications Department on the public relations needs of the voluntary bars; 4) providing a resource and information bank with activities and tools to address the problems of voluntary bar associations; and 5) advising the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of The Florida Bar programs to voluntary bar associations and individual members.

Annual Leadership Conference — Each July, the VBLC hosts the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, which is a culmination of the committee’s yearlong planning efforts. The 2022 conference was held July 8-9, 2022, at The Vinoy in St. Petersburg. The event was themed as a Boot Camp to assist leaders at all levels achieve their goals for bar leadership. Amelia Hallenberg Beard and Beth Feder served as co-chairs of the conference. The committee secured diverse speakers throughout the state, representing all facets of bar organizations. Dr. Damon Friedman, a nationally recognized speaker, was the keynote speaker, and he shared valuable skills from his lessons learned leading elite military operators and over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector. Sponsorship goals were surpassed and reached an all-time high exceeding $33,000 led by St. Pete Bar Executive Director Melissa Byers.

Online Presence — The committee continued its efforts to connect and communicate outside the annual conference. To this end, with the leadership and assistance of The Florida Bar Communications Team, the VBLC has focused on three online initiatives: 1) Facebook Group for Voluntary Bar Leaders. A Facebook group continued the exchange of ideas among leaders across the state. The group has nearly 300 members and is often the first stop for leaders to ask questions and bounce off ideas; 2) Facebook Page. To promote and recognize voluntary bars, while continuing the sharing of ideas, a Facebook page created for Florida Voluntary Bars continued to grow. The page shares news, events and other announcements about the great work of Florida’s voluntary bar organizations with more than 550 bar leaders; and 3) the Voluntary Bar Center, which houses a collection of resources and information to assist Florida’s local and specialty bar associations with leadership, operations, and membership. The database also has served as a resource for The Florida Bar when attempting to collect data on certain programming activity. Recognizing the success of the Voluntary Bar Center website (, the committee continues its efforts to expand the database and available resources.

Committee Appointments Initiative — The committee continued its’ efforts to ensure circuit representation/diversity and for recruitment of future Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee members. All circuits are now represented, and the committee has received the benefit of new members. The committee continues to monitor vacancies anticipated due to term limits. Committee members have performed extensive outreach seeking interest and the results have been recognized by leadership.

2023 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference — The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee looks forward to hosting an amazing Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in 2023: July 14-15 at the W in Ft. Lauderdale. The event is themed, “Let The Good Vibes Roll,” to assist leaders at all levels and help them achieve their goals for Bar leadership. Beth Feder and Braulio Rosa are co-chairs of the conference. The committee is working diligently to secure diverse speakers throughout the state, and actionable programming for all-sized organizations. Dr. Keita Joy, a nationally recognized speaker, has been secured as the keynote, and she will share valuable skills from her life experiences to empower, enrich and encourage bar leaders to lead in a life full of purpose and passion. The 2023-2024 Florida Bar President Scott Westheimer will also be a big player in this year’s conference. This year’s sponsorship efforts are expected to surpass the high goal set by the previous conference.

Thank you to everyone who participates in the VBLC, but most of all, a deep and sincere thank you to Bar staff. Without them, the VBLC’s many accomplishments would not be possible.

Amelia Beard, Chair

Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification

The Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification Committee consists of nine board certified attorneys. David A. Shulman currently serves as chair of the committee with Anthony P. Guettler serving as vice chair. Other committee members include Laurence Blair, Forrest Bass, Joshua Keleske, Seth Marmor, Jennifer Okcular, John Farina, and Louis Nostro. Amy Fanzlaw is currently the appointed Board of Legal Specialization and Education liaison to our committee.

The committee worked diligently to review applications, and to prepare, review, and update exam questions. During our meetings, we discussed ways to enhance the standards for certification and various topics specific to certification in wills, trusts, and estates. In the last year, the committee received and reviewed 62 recertification applications and 20 initial applications. The 2023 exam will be held on Friday, May 12, 2023, in Orlando. There are currently 283 board certified wills, trusts, and estates attorneys.

It has been my pleasure to serve as chair of the certification committee. I thank each of the committee members and The Florida Bar certification specialists for their hard work and dedication to the committee. A special thank you goes to our committee’s certification specialist, Ashleigh Bolstridge. To those that are currently certified in the area, thank you for your continued support, and to those aspiring to become certified in the area, thank you for your interest and best wishes in your endeavors.

David A. Shulman, Chair

Workers’ Compensation Certification

Charged with overseeing the certification of practitioners as specialists recognized by The Florida Bar in the area of workers’ compensation, the Workers’ Compensation Certification Committee takes that responsibility seriously. Countless hours are spent vetting applications for certification, as well as for recertification, paying particular attention to an applicant’s legal experience as well as their reputation among their colleagues and the judges they appear before. In that regard, the committee thanks all those who received and returned a request for peer review on an applicant. The peer review process is completely confidential, seen only by those committee members assigned to review a particular applicant’s application. Given the thoughtful consideration given to each peer review in assessing an application, the information provided is invaluable.

The committee’s efforts and attention to detail carry over to their drafting of the certification exam. Re-written each year, given the ever-changing landscape of Florida workers’ compensation, each committee member is responsible for drafting a series of questions within a defined subject area, so that those subject areas are adequately covered on the exam. Exam subjects include benefits, defenses, rules of procedure, and other unique issues practitioners often encounter in their claims. Every question is then reviewed and re-reviewed by members of the committee that did not draft them, to ensure their accuracy and applicability. Beyond that, the committee uses pre-testers, practitioners who are not committee members but are board certified, who take portions of the exam as if they are sitting for the actual exam, and offer feedback on the questions reviewed. This process ensures that every question is thoroughly vetted for inclusion on the exam. The committee’s work does not end there, however, as they then grade the exam.

The committee’s work extends throughout the year, as the application review process begins in August, and ends once the last exam is graded in June. To accomplish their tasks, the committee meets several times a year, by telephone, videoconference, and in person.

Presently, the workers’ compensation bar has 185 certified members. This year, the committee approved 25 recertifications, and nine initial applications.

The dedicated members of this year’s committee include Vice Chair Juliana Curtis, Judge Jill Jacobs, Mark Touby, Matthew Carillo, Gray Sanders, Lawrence Anzalone, Frank Wesighan, and Mary Spagnola-Hills. My thanks go to each for their time, diligence, hard work, and professionalism in carrying out their responsibility of ensuring the high standards of board certification in the area of workers’ compensation. Special thanks also goes to those board certified attorneys who served as pre-testers, as well as to our Bar staff liaison, Kimberly Lisenby, who always kept us on task and on time. We could not have completed our work if it were not for her assistance and attention to detail.

Mark K. Eckels, Chair

Workers’ Compensation Rules Advisory

The Workers’ Compensation Rules Advisory Committee (WCRAC) submits proposed amendments to the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) and Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), which are empowered by F.S. §440.45(4), to promulgate the Rules of Procedure for Workers’ Compensation Adjudications, located in Fla. Admin. Code Ch. 60Q-6.

In May 2022, as the term of immediate Past Chair Wendy Loquasto was winding down, the WCRAC formed an Ad Hoc Technology Committee, chaired by Cathy Agacinski and including additional members Jodi Middleton, Barbi Feldman, and Frank Taddeo, for the purpose of proposing amendments to address the technology changes that have come about during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mediators using Zoom and motions for live or video trials. The committee drafted proposed changes to Rule 60Q-6.110, Mediations.

At the August 22, 2022, meeting of the WCRAC, Chief Judge David Langham discussed with the committee that OJCC and DOAH would be working to amend the Rules of Procedure for Workers’ Compensation Adjudications to accommodate the reality of virtual attendance at state mediation. Subsequent to the meeting, WCRAC submitted the proposed New Rule 60Q-6.110(5), as redrafted by the WCRAC, to OJCC Deputy Chief Judge David Langham on August 30, 2022.

The WCRAC, OJCC, and DOAH provided a notice of development of rulemaking and scheduled two rule development workshops on October 31, 2022, and November 9, 2022, via Zoom. OJCC Deputy Chief Judge David Langham presided at the workshops, which were attended by WCRAC Chair Jodi Middleton, WCRAC Vice Chair Neil Ambekar, and WCRAC Vice Chair Frank Taddeo, among many others.

In the nearly six years I have been on the WCRAC, this was the second rulemaking undertaken in just two years. The OJCC, DOAH, and the WCRAC have put forth a significant amount of effort into keeping up with the changes our industry has experienced due to COVID-19 and the more recent advances in technology with the use of Zoom and other such platforms. The OJCC and DOAH published its Notice of Proposed Rules in the Florida Administrative Code Register in January 2023. The new rules became effective on March 15, 2023. Many thanks to all the members of the WCRAC.

To continue to work cooperatively with other Bar committees and groups, the WCRAC has official liaisons to the Workers’ Compensation Section’s Executive Board, Conference of the Judges of Compensation Claims, Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee, and Appellate Court Rules Committee. Those liaisons, as well as Florida Bar Board of Governors liaison Lorna Brown-Burton, share the work of the WCRAC with these other groups and have been added to the WCRAC’s agendas to report on the pertinent actions of those groups.

Although the 60Q Rules have recently been amended, the WCRAC will continue its work to better the rules for practicing workers’ compensation. Check the WCRAC homepage at for more information. Rule amendment suggestions from everyone are appreciated, so if you have ideas to improve the 60Q Rules, please send them to us.

As chair, I take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to each member of the WCRAC for dedicating their service. The committee includes Vice Chair Frank Taddeo; Vice Chair & Secretary Neil Ambekar; subcommittee Chairs Cathy Agazinski, Frank Taddeo, and Barbi Feldman; Liaison to the Rules of General Practice and Judicial Administration Committee Michael Tempkins; Liaison to the Workers’ Compensation Section Executive Council Barbi Feldman; and Liaison to the Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims Judge Jeffrey Jacobs; members Barry Stein, Roberto Mendez, Joanna Pino, Rebecca Gardiner-Bess, Monica Amor, Ryan Reif, Chelsea Bellew, Teri Bussey, Dawn Traverso, Robert Swain, Maureen Proctor, Anne Santomaggio, Paolo Longo, Elaura Hodgetts, David Wieland, Michael Tempkins, Tracey Kort Parde, Judge of Compensation Claims Jack Weiss, Kenneth Schwartz, Mark Touby; and Florida Bar Board of Governors liaison Lorna Brown-Burton.

We acknowledge the wonderful job and dedicated service of our Florida Bar liaison, Benjamin Morris, who has provided support to our committee. We look forward to our meeting in June 2023 and continuing to provide service to The Florida Bar, the Workers’ Compensation Section, and the Office of Judges of Compensation Claims.

Jodi k. Middleton, Chair