2022-2023 ANNUAL REPORTS of Sections and Divisions of The Florida Bar
Established in 2010, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of The Florida Bar (ADR section) serves members of The Florida Bar who practice mediation and arbitration, as well as lawyers who practice before mediators and arbitrators, and members of The Florida Bar who are interested in alternative dispute resolution. In addition, because many ADR section members are also Florida Supreme Court certified mediators, who are therefore subject to regulation by the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), the ADR section serves these members by offering courses which may also satisfy some mediation certification requirements or Continuing Mediator Education (CME).
It is an objective of the section to represent the interests of all of its members while serving as an indispensable authoritative voice in the substantive area of dispute resolution in Florida.
In a few short years, the ADR section has gone from a period in which the ADR section experienced an operating budget deficit to a time in which the ADR section has generated operating surpluses sufficient to build a substantial reserve. The ADR section accomplished this by imposing a measure of fiscal discipline, implementing a program to recruit new members and offering a robust slate of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs.
• Collaboration — The ADR section seeks to increase collaboration, communication, and connection between it, the DRC, the Supreme Court Committee on ADR Rules and Policy, and all other sections of The Florida Bar. To that end, the ADR section is actively engaged in efforts to enhance dialogue with these groups on all levels and to cross-promote and co-sponsor events.
• Mentoring Academies — Florida attorneys are encouraged to mentor other practitioners. In order to meet this aspirational goal, the ADR section has created two signature programs, a Mediation Mentoring Academy, the first of which was held in 2019, and an Arbitration Advocacy Institute, the first of which was held in 2020. The inaugural programs for both academies were well attended and well-received. The section held its second Mediation Mentoring Academy on February 24 and 25, 2023, in Tampa, which was planned and executed by a planning committee lead by section Past Chair Chris Magee and ADR section executive council member John Salmon. The ADR section postponed this event in 2021 and 2022 as a result of the pandemic and Hurricane Ian.
• Continuing Legal Education — Through the efforts of the ADR section’s CLE Committee Co-chairs, section Past Chair Kim Torres and ADR section executive council member Hadas Stagman, and the ADR section CLE Committee as a whole, the ADR section maintains a robust roster of educational programs. Many of the ADR section’s CLE offerings have a dual purpose, providing CLE credits to members of The Florida Bar, as well as providing CME credits to ADR section members who are also certified mediators. During the pandemic, the ADR section added courses providing technology training for practitioners working remotely, as well as courses providing training for remote mediations.
In addition, the ADR section’s Arbitration Committee, chaired by Patricia Thompson, created a new monthly virtual program to facilitate dialogue among arbitrators — the Arbitrator Forum. The Arbitrator’s Forum is an open discussion of topics of interest to those interested in field of arbitration.
Finally, the ADR section collaborated with the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar to co-host the Bar’s first statewide, “Litigator Mediator Forum.” This effort was spearheaded by ADR section executive council member Harold Oehler. The Florida Bar selected this program as a President’s Showcase Program for the 2022 Florida Bar Annual Convention. The Litigator Mediator Forum not only provided continuing legal education on mediation advocacy skills and ethics but also provided Florida trial lawyers and mediators a long-needed platform to exchange ideas for improving mediation. The ADR section is now hosting various Litigator Mediator Forum events around the state.
• Communications — The ADR section communicates with its members and with the public through four different methods: 1) Flabaradr.com — the section’s website, which provides up-to-date information on section events and news; 2) Common Ground — the section’s biannual newsletter that showcases scholarly articles on ADR-related topics; 3) News and Tips — the section’s monthly email newsletter, which provides announcements, updates, and time-sensitive information; and 4) social media — the section’s regular and frequent communications on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
• Membership Recruitment and Retention — ADR section Chair-Elect and membership Chair Christy Foley has spearheaded the ADR section’s efforts to expand its membership. The ADR section’s membership efforts have had a dual focus of adding new members and retaining existing members. The ADR section also implemented a “free dues” period for new members of The Florida Bar to encourage interest in the ADR section early in these new lawyers’ legal careers. The ADR section intends to continue to market itself through programming directed to lawyers who wish to improve their skills during mediation or arbitration.
• Community Outreach — To celebrate Mediation Week, during the month of October, the ADR section held a number of Mediation Week Celebration events throughout Florida. The events were designed to friend-raise and draw attention to the ADR section and its mission of serving members of The Florida Bar who practice mediation and arbitration, as well as lawyers who practice before mediators and arbitrators.
• Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion — In June 2021, the section approved the creation of a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In December 2021 and 2022, the committee conducted a statistical analysis of Florida mediators and section members to assess diversity based on available data. As a result, the committee has begun a campaign to raise awareness of steps that can be taken to increase diversity in neutral selection as well as diversity the available pool or experienced neutrals.
• Budget and Sponsorships — The ADR section is a relatively new section of The Florida Bar. To improve the ADR section’s financial footing, for the past few years, the ADR section’s executive council focused on its budget. By increasing its membership, providing cost-effective, quality continuing legal education programs, and employing fiscal responsibility, the ADR section has been able to achieve operating budget surpluses during the last few years. The section’s budget surpluses have augmented the ADR section’s reserves, providing financial stability for the ADR section.
• Proposed Legislation and Rules Revisions — The ADR section has commented upon numerous proposed changes that impact alternative dispute resolution rules or policies. For example, after surveying its membership regarding the continued use of communication technology or online/remote mediations, the ADR section filed comment with the Florida Supreme Court supporting the continued use of technology to facilitate online and remote mediations and presented its position during oral argument before the court. The ADR section similarly commented upon proposed changes in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida regarding the use of technology for remote mediations. In addition, the ADR section commented upon the proposed changes to Part I and Part II of the Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, as initiated by the Supreme Court Committee on ADR Rules and Policy. Finally, the ADR section filed a comprehensive comment with the Florida Supreme Court as to those portions of the JMC Workgroup Final Report on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases that would have impacted alternative dispute resolution processes. The ADR section participated in oral argument as well.
• Strategic Planning — The ADR section has assembled a Strategic Planning Committee to update the section’s strategic plan. This committee, headed by ADR section executive council member John Salmon is developing a plan that will serve as a guide to implement the section’s long-range goals. As a first step, the ADR section commissioned a membership survey to ascertain the wants and needs of the section’s members to guide this process.
Kathleen McLeroy, Chair
The Animal Law Section (ALS) of The Florida Bar had another successful year of promoting the practice of animal law, providing unique opportunities and benefits to our members, and promoting animal welfare initiatives across the state.
We started the year off at the annual meeting in June with the seminar, “Animal Law Update: Manatees, Turtles, and Panthers, Oh My!” It was well attended by a live audience and was also recorded. Also, this year marked the return of the “World-Famous Puppy Pit.” Countless attorneys and judges, and their families, stopped by to cuddle with adoptable puppies and learn about the section. Thank you to all the sponsors and people who came by to visit with the adoptable dogs. We are currently planning for our annual seminar in Boca Raton along with a Puppy Pit for conference attendees.
The section has also continued to provide opportunities for learning about animal law through webinars. In September, the Equine Committee offered a free webinar, “Shining Light on Horse Sales in the Sunshine Sate — Understanding Florida Administrative Code 5H-26,” that was presented by section members Kimbrell Hines and Jason Sherman. In October, the Wildlife Committee hosted a webinar, “The Missing Link for a Reconnected World: The Prospect and Promise of an International Convention For Animal Protection.” This April, the section intends to host a free webinar regarding plant-based food labelling for members of the section, members of the Young Lawyers Division, and law students. Additionally, in May, the section hopes to host a webinar about the case of Alydar, once the top breeding racehorse in the country, whose suspicious death in 1990 led to an FBI investigation.
The section has pursued unique opportunities for its members and law school students to work with different animal organizations through its sanctuary field trips. In November, the section offered a volunteer opportunity at Rooterville in Melrose followed by a sanctuary tour. In December, the section coordinated a visit to Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce. The section organized visits to Critter Creek in Gainesville in January, and a trip to the Wild Horse Rescue Center in Webster in February.
The ALS continues to partner with other Bar sections. We are planning a joint webinar with the City, County and Local Government Law Section, which is planned for the fall. The section is also considering a partnership with the Environmental and Land Use Law Section in 2024. Stay tuned on that!
Our social media reaches thousands of folks and continues to grow. Recent analytics include: Facebook — 3100 likes/3,386 followers; Twitter — 1,749 followers; Instagram — 1,003 followers, 738 posts; and LinkedIn — 153 group members.
The section is also continuing its outreach to law students and young lawyers who demonstrate an interest in animal law by offering free membership. In this regard, the section supports each of the Florida law schools’ SALDF chapters and expects that one day, these students will become leaders of the section and The Florida Bar. Several of our recent executive council members started out with the section as law student members who continued on with the section after joining The Florida Bar.
The section is actively monitoring and supporting a number of bills introduced during the 2023 Legislative Session related to animals. One of the primary reasons the section petitioned to move from being a standing committee to becoming a section was the freedom to take legislative positions, and the section has had great success with the bills and initiatives it has supported in past sessions. This session, the section is focusing on a number of initiatives, including 1) supporting legislation that increases funding for manatees and protecting their habitat; 2) creating a public records exemption for information identifying individuals that adopt animals from government run shelters; 3) supporting legislation that provides for the appointment of advocates for the interest of animals in certain court proceedings; 4) preventing the removal of local ordinances that provide protection for animals that exceed the protection available at the state level; and 5) preventing pet leasing. We look forward to another productive session this year!
I conclude by noting that the section greatly appreciates the dedication of all its members. None of what we do would be possible without them, as well as the generous support of time and resources by our other officers, Ashley Baillargeon, Laura Roe, and Scott Guarcello, our other executive council members and committee chairs, Board of Governors liaison Paige Greenlee, and our Florida Bar program administrator, Ricky Libbert.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the section for many years and to have served as its 2022-2023 chair. The field of animal law and the interest in it have grown exponentially in the past decade. This growth will only continue as law students and young lawyers become members of The Florida Bar and look for opportunities to practice animal law. Further, it is my hope that more attorneys who are curious about the legal issues surrounding animal welfare will decide to join the section. You do not have to practice animal law to be a part of the section; all that is required is that you care about animals.
Michelle Ballard, Chair
The Appellate Practice Section is successfully advancing its goals thanks to our section members, officers, executive council, committee leaders, and judicial and Bar liaisons. We are also excited to welcome Paige Dooley-Levy as our new section administrator.
The section held its first international retreat in London in October 2022. We made up for the past years of virtual meetings with an educational, insightful, and exciting program building on the section’s goals of planning and development for the future. A special thanks to Kristin Norse, Courtney Brewer, Diane DeWolf, and Judge Forst for all their participation and enthusiasm on the Retreat Committee. It was a great deal of work to plan an international retreat in these uncertain times, and it definitely paid off with an amazing experience across the pond.
We recently held our Section’s Officers Retreat in Savannah, Georgia. In addition to team building, the highlight was a strategic planning session where we reflected on successes we’ve had and planned for the section’s future activities. Topics of note included an annual leadership training and a membership orientation to coincide with The Florida Bar Annual Convention.
The section is also enthusiastic about participating in the revived Florida High School Appellate Brief Writing & Moot Court Program, a two-part program that gives competitors an opportunity to write appellate briefs and conduct mock arguments before the Florida Supreme Court. The section is recruiting high school teams to participate in the event, as well as attorney volunteers to review and grade appellate briefs submitted by the teams.
We are continuing our partnership with the Government Lawyers Section, with almost 100 joint members. This program features the section’s goal of interconnectivity with other Bar sections. Another primary goal is education and skill-building for our members. Our CLE Committee continues to crush that goal, offering innovative and timely programs, like the 10-part monthly audio webcast series that brings in over 100 participants per program, and in-person programming. Upcoming events include a “Year in Review” audio webcast and Appellate Practice Board Certification Boot Camp. A special thanks to committee Chair Elaine Walter and her entire committee for creating exceptional learning opportunities for our members and the Bar.
Our Pro Bono Committee’s partnership with the Statewide Guardian ad Litem continues to provide countless hours of pro bono appellate advocacy. We also have continued our expansion of pro bono services to include immigration appellate referrals from Catholic Legal Services, assisting veterans in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and appeals concerning family law, foreclosure, and small-claims cases referred to the section by legal aid organizations across the state and the Florida Supreme Court and district courts. Thank you to Chair Kimberly Berman and Vice Chair Samuel Alexander for their service and commitment to Pro Bono.
Thanks to Chair Tom Seider, the Publication Committee continues to fulfill the section’s commitment to publishing content that educates and informs members about interesting topics in appellate practice. We publish substantive articles in every edition of The Florida Bar Journal, and the Self-Represented Litigant Committee, under the leadership of Co-Chairs Chance Lyman, Stephen Senn, and Sandra Ramirez is working on an update to “The Pro Se Appellate Handbook: Representing Yourself on Appeal,” a unique service project that helps pro se parties navigate appeals.
This past year, led by Chair Laura Roe and Vice Chair Judge Stephanie Ray, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee partnered with The Appellate Project to bring in two student members to the section. This partnership helps empower law students of color to thrive in appellate practice. The committee also continued working on the Student Education Initiative, which is a multi-module pipeline project aimed at high school, college, and law school students of diverse backgrounds throughout the state.
Chaired by Jamie Moses and Brandon Breslow, the Fellows Program is thrilled to work with our Fellows this year, introducing them to appellate practice and providing hands-on appellate experience with the assistance of assigned mentors. The program has been very successful to date.
The Communications Committee, chaired by Dineen Wasylik, works on social media efforts and website updates to provide a direct interaction and relationship with our membership to highlight section activities and promote connectivity. Our secretary, Joe Eagleton, is chairing our Website Committee to improve our website and ensure it fully reflects all of our recent activities.
Similarly, the newly named Advocacy Committee (formally Legislative), chaired by Karla Ellis and Thomasina Moore, monitors legislative developments and potential changes to appellate practice, to ensure the section maintains its goals of exploring ways to inform section members and the public about those issues, and advising the section when section advocacy may be appropriate.
We are also in the process of combining our Outreach, Programs, and History committees so that their joint efforts can produce the best programming for the section in the future. A special thanks to Mary Walter, chair of the Outreach Committee, for her efforts in this regard.
We are eagerly planning our section’s meetings and festivities for the Annual Convention, including the much-anticipated Dessert Reception. Because our section is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, we will also host a reception to celebrate this milestone.
None of this success would be possible without the dedication of our section officers: Kansas Gooden, chair-elect; Courtney Brewer, treasurer; Joe Eagleton, secretary; and Kimberly Jones, immediate past chair.
Judge Carrie Ann Wozniak, Chair
It is a great honor to serve as chair of the Business Law Section (BLS), a role that my father served in many years ago. The section is full of wonderfully talented service-oriented professionals who generously give of their time and talent for the benefit of the section’s constituents throughout the state of Florida. With the return of a full year of live and in person meetings, the section flourished as members reconnected at events, meetings, and CLEs, all while continuing the hard work of the section through legislative initiatives and support, community leadership, and pro bono service. To show our commitment to pro bono service, all section meetings, whether committee, subcommittee, or task force, begin with a reminder of the section’s continuing commitment to pro bono service. In 2022, the section’s efforts were recognized by Legal Services of Greater Miami’s Equal Justice Impact Award, which was presented to the section at the group’s Annual Pro Bono Celebration. We are honored to have been recognized, and remain committed to encouraging pro bono legal service.
What follows is a brief summary of the section’s projects from the 2022-2023 Bar year, and upcoming events:
• BLS Legislation Committee — The BLS Legislation Committee, chaired by Peter Valori, is managing an important agenda for the 2023 Florida Legislative Session which is underway in Tallahassee as of the compilation of this report. Every year, the BLS focuses its energy on proactive legislation authored or supported by the section, while also taking an active role in reviewing proposed legislation from other sources that may impact our constituents. In addition, section members are often called upon to offer technical advice on certain pieces of legislation. We expect that the 2023 Legislative Session will be no different. In addition to several pieces of proactive legislation noted below, we expect that section members will provide input on the following issues during this session: digital currency, data privacy, mergers and acquisitions, and financial literacy. In terms of proactive legislation, the section is actively involved in legislative projects related to Judgment Liens, Series LLCs, and Assignments for the Benefit of Creditors. While utilizing the substantive expertise and talent of multipleBLS members, the legislative team works collaboratively with other sections within The Florida Bar like the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section, to ensure that proposed legislation has the best chance of making a positive impact throughout the state of Florida. In addition to engaging in the formal legislative process during Florida’s legislative session, the BLS plays a continuing role in the legislative process through our ongoing study groups. Among other things, BLS study groupshelp troubleshoot issues arising during the year that may impact our constituents.
• Continuing Commitment to Financial Literacy — For many years the BLS has been committed to the concept of financial literacy, primarily in service to Florida’s youth, but also to all citizens of the state of Florida. To that end, the BLS continues to host a Veterans’ Financial Literacy program in South Florida, and is working to expand that program throughout the state of Florida. The South Florida program is generally well attended and serves as a vehicle to provide critical resources for members of our nation’s military. Additionally, in 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Dorothy Hukill Financial Literacy Act into law. The new law requires financial literacy classes for graduating high school seniors. Following the enactment of Florida’s new financial literacy law, BLS members continue to monitor issues related to financial literacy and continue to look for new ways to make a positive impact for the citizens in the state of Florida.
• BLS Fellows Program — The BLS Fellows Program, which is intended to recruit, involve, and retain young and diverse members, once again added new members this year and is accepting applications for the 2023-24 Bar year. Our fellows are integrally involved in the committee work of the BLS and continue to provide great energy and perspective to our group.
• Bankruptcy/UCC Committee — Every year, this committee’s premier event is the View from the Bench program which is hosted on back to back days in Tampa and Miami. This year, the View from the Bench program was presented live and in person in Tampa and Miami, and once again proved to be a tremendous success.
On a solemn note, the founder of the View from the Bench program, Judge Michael G. Williamson, passed away in November of 2022. During the section’s winter meetings in Orlando, the Bankruptcy/UCC Committee, along with the Bankruptcy Judicial Liaison Committee, unanimously passed a resolution to name the BLS View from the Bench program in honor of Judge Williamson. A formal resolution was adopted by the BLS executive council, and as a result the Section’s View from the Bench program will now be known as the “Michael G. Williamson View from the Florida Bankruptcy Bench.” We are all honored to have known Judge Williamson, to have worked alongside him in the section, and to have learned from the wonderful example he set.
• Intellectual Property Committee — The IP Committee stays active through regular meetings designed to address/discuss hot topics as they arise throughout the year. These meetings are in addition to the regular substantive committee meetings. In 2023, the IP Committee will host its Annual IP Symposium March 29-30 at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa. The Annual IP Symposium will highlight significant legal issues in the IP space while also showcasing the wide array of talented professionals dedicated to the practice of intellectual property law in Florida.
• Business Litigation Committee — The Business Litigation Committee continued its work relative to the Florida Supreme Court’s Working Group for the Improved Resolution of Civil Cases, and continues to provide substantive caselaw updates throughout the year. In addition, the committee presented a CLE related to Florida’s new service of process law, which is the result of significant legislative effort by the BLS during the 2022 Legislative Session. Finally, the committee launched its inaugural Legislative Update program during the 2022 Labor Day retreat. The committee expects to build on the success of its first Legislative Update program with another successful program during the 2023 Labor Day Retreat in Naples.
• Corporations, Securities, Financial Services Committee — In addition to the committee’s effort related to the study, analysis and drafting of substantive legislation and its technical advice rendered on countless pieces of legislation and policy, this committee once again produced the Federal Securities Institute program — one of the finest of its kind in the entire country — in Miami this March. The Federal Securities Institute is a first-class program that brings together one of the finest collections of intellectual capital in the area of securities law. The institute would not be a reality without the tireless effort of one of the section’s great longtime leaders, Greg Yadley. We are grateful for Greg’s continuing leadership and mentorship, and thrilled with the continuing success of the Federal Securities Institute thanks to his incredible diligence and hard work.
• Labor Day Retreat — The BLS Labor Day Retreat serves as the section’s marquee event of the year. While often held at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, in 2022 we hosted the retreat at the J.W. Marriott in Marco Island. The section saw record attendance this year and enjoyed fantastic weather as we celebrated our successes, welcomed new members including scholars and fellows, participated in a service project, began a new tradition with our Legislative Update, and planned for the future. The Labor Day Retreat returns to the Ritz Carlton in Naples in 2023.
• Winter Meeting 2023 — This January the BLS met live and in person at the Sea World Renaissance in Orlando. All committees and task forces of the section met, as did the executive council. BLS members were grateful for the opportunity to meet in person and continue with the work of the section.
• Executive Council Retreat 2023 — As chair, I have planned a wonderful trip to the American Southwest. Members of our executive council, and other interested section members, will enjoy time at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona. In addition to time at Enchantment, attendees will visit historic natural wonders like Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Our program will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn the wonderful historic details of the American Southwest, enjoy local entertainment and culture, and experience time outside to reconnect and recharge.
The section looks forward to a full schedule of committee and task force meetings in Boca Raton this June. As mentioned at the beginning of this report, it is a great honor for me to serve as chair of the BLS. Throughout my service as chair, I have marveled at the dedication of individual members, and the power of our well-organized committees and task forces. We remain grateful for our judicial chairs, as well as the other active members of the section from our state and federal judiciary. The investment of time and talent from our judicial members allows the section to thrive every year, and allows the section to make lasting positive impacts across the state of Florida. In addition, I have seen firsthand how the continued involvement of many of the BLS former chairs plays an enormous role in the function and operation of our section. Our Long Range Planning Committee consists of many dedicated former chairs that freely provide their institutional knowledge and support to the current BLS leadership team. In that regard, as chair I have been blessed to be surrounded by an outstanding leadership team. Our Executive Committee consists of Mark Stein (chair-elect), Manuel Farach (treasurer), Stephanie Lieb (secretary), Kacy Donlon (immediate past chair), and Greg Yadley (chair, long range planning). I cannot say enough good things about the commitment of the BLS Leadership Team, so I will simply say that it is a joy to work alongside each of them.
In closing, I honor the late Judge Michael G. Williamson. Growing up in the BLS, there was always an opportunity to learn from Judge Williamson. He taught us all through his example, through his intellect, through his wisdom, through his charm, and through his magnetic personality. He was always listening, always learning, and always there for the section and its members. We are all grateful for his years of tireless service to the BLS, and all committed to maintaining his legacy long into the future. Through Judge Williamson’s legacy I am reminded that although the foregoing summary of the various projects and events comprise the core of the ongoing work of the BLS, the true spirit of the section will always be found in its amazing members. Through our wonderful membership, the work of the section will continue.
Douglas Alan Bates, Chair
The City, County and Local Government Law (CCLGL) Section was established in 1973 and this year CCLGL celebrates 50 years of service to local government lawyers. Our section currently serves 1,817 lawyers who represent Florida local governments or otherwise practice in the area of local government law. The section has made several significant changes during the past five years and this 2022-2023 section year, leadership remains committed to continuously improve communication, continuing learning education, website upgrades, document management, and services provided to CCLGL members. Recent section successes, changes, and projects of note include:
1) Section Leadership: In 2022-2023, the Executive Committee consists of four long-term section members providing service as chair, chair-elect, treasurer, and secretary. This expansion of the Executive Committee provides a ladder approach to leadership and affords all members multiple years of service in leadership before taking the position as chair of the section. This change provides continuity among the leadership team.
2) Annual Conference and Certification Review: Each year, the section provides an annual update conference in local government law. This year the conference includes a full-day public finance seminar, two-day annual conference update that specifically includes networking events to bring attendees together in a social setting, as well as a two-hour seminar on various topics for the final day providing members the opportunity to learn from one another. The section also offers a comprehensive review course for those who wish to obtain certification in city, county, and local government law certification and serves as a practice overview and introduction for new lawyers in local government law.
3) Strategic Plan; Mission Statement; and Values Statement: The section’s executive council adopted a strategic plan to direct the section’s trajectory over the next one, three, and five-year periods, and to establish consistent and cogent goals to keep the section successfully fulfilling its duties to section members. During this first full year of implementing this strategic plan, the CCLGL section has already met several goals and objectives and continue to follow this plan to provide section growth.
4) Updated Sponsorship Program: For the 2022-2023 section year, the section is in its second year utilizing the enhanced sponsorship program providing sponsorship tiers and benefits, to help fund increased CLE offerings as well as enhanced networking opportunities. The first year of this program was very successful and this year sponsors are returning as they find value in sponsoring the section. Details on the program, and a thank you to our sponsors, can be found at: https://www.cclgl.org/about/sponsors/.
5) Website Update: The section launched its new and improved website (www.cclgl.org) in March of 2021. The new site includes significantly more content, easier navigation, and greater functionality than the prior site, and the section is already using it as a tool to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion in the section, and to encourage member involvement. New features on the site include a welcome page, a section for “hot topics” articles, a “hall of fame” listing past award winners, applications for fellowship and grant programs, an outline the goals of various section committees, a dashboard for sharing local government law job opportunities, a sponsorship page and recognition of annual sponsors, and an updated calendar of section events. The website also includes links to the section’s bylaws, mission and vision statements, strategic plan, and other resources for section leaders and members.
The CCLGL offers the following (briefly summarized) benefits to its members:
1) Invitations to section-sponsored events at discounted member pricing, including our annual seminars and conference and all CCLGL Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs. Annual seminars include: the Local Government Law in Florida Seminar (the section’s signature event); the CCLGL certification review course; Sunshine Law, Public Records, and Ethics for Public Officers and Employees; Land Use; and our alternating Public Finance or Public Employment Labor Relations Forum (PERLF) seminars.
2) Networking opportunities in-person, on social media, and through the section’s Listserve, where members share their expertise.
3) Access to the section’s grant awards program for funding summer law student interns, the section’s Diversity Fellowship program, and law student awards, which encourage new attorneys to enter the field of local government law.
4) Publication opportunities in the Stetson Law Review, section-sponsored Florida Bar Journal articles, The Agenda newsletter, & on CCLGL social media platforms.
5) Subscriptions to the annual Stetson Law Review Local Government Law Symposium and the quarterly The Agenda newsletter, to keep updated on local government hot topics and section news.
6) Leadership, mentoring, and service opportunities within the section.
The CCLGL Executive Committee thanks the section’s committee chairs, CLE program chairs, and executive council for volunteering their time and remaining dedicated to the CCLGL section. On behalf of the executive council, and all CCLGL members, we especially want to thank our Bar liaison, Ricky Libbert for all of her years of service. After 37 years of working with The Florida Bar, Ms. Libbert is retiring. She has served the CCLGL section since 2006. I personally feel honored and privileged of meeting her in 2007 when I joined the section and working next to her as chair during her final year. She has always treated me and our section members as an extended family. We wish her the very best as she moves on to her next adventure, but she will be greatly missed!
Janette M. Smith, Chair
The Elder Law Section continues to grow, advocate for Florida’s most vulnerable residents, and educate our members. We remain a vital resource for our members, The Florida Bar, the Florida Legislature, Florida courts, and Florida residents.
• Continuing Legal Education — During the Bar’s Annual Convention in June 2022, the Elder Law Section’s Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Committee hosted a half-day CLE covering exploitation of the elderly and disabled. This CLE represents the Elder Law Section’s continuing efforts to reach out to non-section members and to provide an opportunity to learn about elder law related topics to broaden awareness among attorneys in other practice areas.
In September 2022, the section held its twice-postponed annual retreat in Boston. This retreat was nearly postponed for a third time as Hurricane Ian hit Florida just days prior to the scheduled retreat; however, the section persevered and managed to keep the retreat on schedule, finally! Filled with CLE sessions and many opportunities to explore our historic city of Boston, our 2022 retreat was a resounding success.
In January 2023, the Elder Law Section hosted our three-day Annual Update CLE in person in Orlando. This was a huge win for our section as the prior year’s 2022 Annual Update program, although originally planned as an in-person event, was changed at the last minute to a virtual only event due to COVID concerns. The first day of our 2023 CLE consisted of an “Essentials” program covering the core concepts of a broad range of topics for those new to or transitioning to elder law. The second and third days provided a deeper dive into more advanced areas of elder law and special needs planning practices for seasoned practitioners. The event was a huge success and it was certainly nice to see everyone in person this time around.
The Elder Law Section will again present a half day CLE at the June 2023 Annual Convention in Boca Raton. The CLE, which is scheduled to be held on June 23, 2023, will focus on specials needs trusts. Also, the section is currently planning its 2023 retreat, which will be held in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina.
• Advocacy — Our Legislative Committee, chaired by Debra Slater and Travis Finchum, has been hard at work preparing for the upcoming legislative session, which commenced on March 7, 2023, and runs through May 5, 2023. Of particular importance was the successful adoption of a new legislative position related to a proposed comprehensive rewrite of Florida’s guardianship statute. The position of the Elder Law Section that any comprehensive revisions to Florida’s guardianship statute must substantially incorporate aspects of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act was upheld by a vote of The Florida Bar Board of Governors on December 2, 2022. This act, if adopted, will bring Florida in line with 46 other states that have passed a version of this law. The primary purpose of the act is to protect vulnerable adults who reside in Florida and are removed to another state and then prevented from returning home to Florida by the court in the other state because Florida did not adopt salient portions of the Uniform Act.
In addition, the Legislative Committee, which meets every other Friday prior to session and every Friday during session, monitors or provides input on more than 80 bills and various proposed amendments to existing statutes. All of this work includes virtually every substantive committee of our section.
• Public Relations — In a relatively new initiative, the section has retained a public relations firm (Sachs Media) to liaison with the press and help educate Florida consumers regarding elder law, guardianship, and special needs planning issues. The section formed the Public Relations Committee. The chair-elect serves as chair of this committee and, therefore, the chair changes each year. This year’s committee chair is Victoria Heuler. This endeavor has proven quite successful, and we believe it represents a model for other Bar sections in conducting the important comprehensive work that each section performs. Reporter requests are fielded by our PR experts and our designated elder law spokespersons may be interviewed or the PR team may select a different elder law attorney versed in the subject matter. Articles and news items are created and disseminated through various social media venues and news outlets. The PR team is collaborating with government agencies to create forums for critical public information about vulnerable adult exploitation and how to avoid becoming a victim. Through the PR effort, the section creates intentional and consistent messaging and outreach. In addition, our public relations firm assists the section in identifying areas of concern, confusion, and misconception among Florida consumers so as to educate, inform and address topics of importance to the general public.
• Introduction of Fellows Program — The Elder Law Section added a new committee this year under the leadership of Collett Small and Chante Jones: Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement. This committee is off to a great start, having rolled out a new initiative called the Fellows Program. Through this new program the section intends to increase inclusion, diversity, and engagement within the section and to recruit attorneys from diverse backgrounds, whether geographically, racially, ethnically, or otherwise, who have demonstrated an interest in practicing elder law and who are interested in becoming more involved in the section and its committees. The mission of the section Fellows Program is to cultivate dynamic and diverse leaders within the section by attracting attorneys who are new to the practice of elder law, providing them with meaningful opportunities to develop leadership skills within the section through section activities, and encouraging their continued involvement in the section.
• Communication with Section Members — The section is pleased to announce the adoption and implementation of its own listserv, which will be rolled out in the next several months. This new capability will allow the section to conduct its business outside of the normal protocol for delivering eblasts to section members currently available exclusively through the Florida Bar queue. This listserv capability will permit leadership of the section to send information, notices, alerts, and messages of importance to section members in a more timely and efficient manner. It will also allow for two-way communications among the members of each of the section’s committees, a functionality currently lacking within the section. Many thanks to Randy Bryan, who along with Jason Waddell and Amy McGarry spearheaded this effort on behalf of the section.
• Interacting with the Young Lawyers Division and Other Groups — This year, the section has devoted significant time and attention to cultivate our relationship with The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division. The section is grateful to Max Solomon, who has attended the National College of Probate Judges Conference as well as the Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Conference in furtherance of the section’s goal to educate newer lawyers and judges about the work the Elder Law Section does.
• Support — Our section seeks to help develop new members and emerging leaders through our New Practitioners Committee (chaired by Max Solomon), and our Mentorship Committee (chaired by Nicollette Gonzalez), with its new and improved mentorship program and our law school liaison, Enrique D. Zamora, who has generated interest among law students to become members of the section.
The Elder Law Section looks forward to a successful 2023-2024 year under the leadership of Victoria E. Heuler, B.C.S. (chair-elect), William Johnson, B.C.S. (administrative vice chair), Shannon Miller, B.C.S. (substantive vice chair), Amy Fanzlaw, B.C.S. (treasurer), Debra Slater, B.C.S. (secretary), and Travis Finchum, B.C.S., as our newest incoming officer. We are forever grateful for all of the hard work and contributions of our immediate past chair, Carolyn Landon, B.C.S., as she rotates off our Executive Committee. We will continue to work with the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys to represent the vulnerable residents of Florida, and we are looking for partnerships we can make with other sections, committees, and organizations who share our vision for Florida’s elderly and disabled community.
Finally, thank you to Guardian Trust and Elder Counsel for their continued support of the Elder Law Section. Thank you to the over 40 attorneys who volunteer as chairs and vice chairs of our section — we all know the work you do for the section takes a lot of time and we could not do this without you. The same is true for our section administrator, Emily Young — where would we be without you!
For more information, join the section or follow us at https://www.facebook.com/FloridaBarElderLawSection/ or on Twitter: @FlaElderlawSec.
Howard S. Krooks, Chair
This year, The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section worked hard to increase member engagement. The section hosted a couple of in-person events throughout the state. Specifically, we had a happy hour and dinner during the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando in January 2023. Our executive council member, Alan Fertel, worked with a sponsor from JP Morgan to arrange that event for us.
We also had a CLE and networking event at a music studio in Pompano Beach in February 2023. During that event, co-organized by executive council members Kimberly Kolback and Kenneth Lewis, section members attended a CLE, “New Age Tech Meets Ethics for the Ages,” received a tour of Maxx Volume Media Recording Studio, and enjoyed a happy hour.
Moreover, the section has sponsored a few big events this year to increase its visibility. For example, EASL sponsored the Affiliate Outreach Conference (AOC) hosted by the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) in February 2023 in Daytona Beach. Executive council member and section secretary Joseph Coleman attended that event on behalf of the section. AOC featured a sports theme, so EASL felt it was important to sponsor the event, given the section’s connection to sports law.
Plus, the section sponsored a women’s empowerment event at an Orlando Magic game on March 26, 2023, organized by executive council member Shannon Ligon. The section also sponsored the University of Miami’s Global Entertainment & Sports Law Conference on March 30, 2023, thanks to the efforts of executive council member and Chair-Elect Brittney Trigg.
Additionally, I am excited to report that our CLE Committee that is led by Teeluck “Tee” Persad has been working very hard to create CLEs for our section members that focus on emerging issues in the entertainment industry. For example, on October 28, 2022, the section hosted a free webinar for its members, “The USPTO’s New Re-examination and Expungement Procedures.” That webinar was hosted by Allison Imber.
The CLE Committee also planned the following CLEs for 2023: 1) January 26 — “Copyright Small Claims” hosted by Dineen Wasylik (free CLE for section members); April 27 — “When EASL & Tax Intersect,” hosted by Scott Tufts (free CLE for section members); May 25 — “Immigration Issues in Bringing International Talent to the U.S.,” hosted by Raquel Linda Trujillo-Oria; July 27 — “NCAA v. NIL: Reconciling the Student Athlete’s Interest & Legal Ramifications of the New NIL Regulatory Clarifications,” hosted by Tenisha Patterson; August 17 — “The Mechanical Licensing Collective,” hosted by Serona Elton; November 30 — “The Warhol Ruling and its Impact on Fair Use,” hosted by Heidi Tandy.
Finally, a number of EASL section members and executive council members spoke at the 34th Annual North American Law Summit that was held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on November 9-13, 2022. Specifically, executive council members Alan Fertel, Kimberly Kolback, Shannon Ligon, and Brittney Trigg spoke on panels at the event and represented EASL well.
Overall, the section is excited about how it has increased its member engagement during this Bar year. Thanks to the efforts of our committee chairs, we have been pleased to expand the benefits we provide to our members.
Christy L. Foley, Chair
In 2022-23, ELULS served the interests of over 1,350 members and affiliates in the fields of environmental and land use law. This report will set forth the accomplishments of the section this fiscal year, to date.
In September 2022, ELULS celebrated its 50th year anniversary with a special celebration (the ELULS 50th Year Update) at the beautiful Omni Resort in Amelia Island. The 50th Year Update was the section’s first live event in Amelia Island in over a decade and featured the many accomplishments of the section over the last five decades. Highlights included an ELULS executive council meeting, a welcome reception honoring all of the section’s past-chairs, a full day of CLE programming, a celebratory luncheon (with special guests and surprises) and a closing reception with live music.
In addition to the 50th Year Update, the section provided an excellent CLE program at The Florida Bar Annual Convention last summer. ELULS also continued its highly successful annual webinar series — topics included: Environmental and Land Use Law Section 2022 Florida Legislative Preview; Local Code Enforcement and State Procedures; Short Term Rental of Residentially Zoned Properties in Florida; Florida’s Derelict Vessel Law: Reducing Flotsam and Jetsam in State and Local Waters; and the Environmental and Land Use Law Section 2022 Florida Legislative Wrap-Up.
The section continues to provide a quarterly newsletter to its members (the Section Reporter), and for the first time in over 20 years, ELULS is offering a special commemorative 50th anniversary hard copy version of its treatise. The three-volume set will be available for purchase online soon. In addition to the hard-copy version, the section is working with The Florida Bar to make its treatise more widely available through Lexis in 2023.
Finally, the section is pleased to announce that it has welcomed several new members to its executive council, as well as a handful of new sponsors. The next ELULS executive council meeting will be held in conjunction with its long-range planning retreat in Nashville, Tennessee, later this spring (May 2023).
As always, we thank everyone who has been so supportive of our section and invite you to join us as we kick off the next 50 years of environmental and land use law in Florida!
Joshua C. Coldiron, Chair
The theme for the Family Law Section this past year has been to embrace our section’s diversity, in all of its forms, and to strive for better inclusiveness. With that theme as our guidepost for the year, I am happy to report that the section has had a successful year.
The Family Law Section is comprised of roughly 4,000 members and has 24 committees (i.e., 11 operational committees, eight substantive law committees, and four ad hoc committees). This year saw the addition of our newest permanent committees that have advanced from “ad hoc” status. First, our Diversity & Inclusion Committee was very capably led by Marck Joseph this past year; and second, our Special Needs Children Committee was co-chaired by two of our section’s experts in that area, Sarah Sullivan and Philip Schipani. We are anticipating great work being done by both of these new permanent committees in future years.
Our fall meetings also took place in conjunction with our biennial Leadership Retreat, at the historic Biltmore Coral Gables Resort on August 24-27, 2022. In addition to a day of very productive committees, we were joined by many of our section’s future leaders. Notably, the section was able to provide scholarships to six very deserving attorneys from across the state for this event. Our keynote speaker, Wilhemina Tribble, chief diversity officer at Florida Southern College, led a powerful diversity workshop for our attendees. Both the meetings and the Leadership Retreat were overwhelmingly successful — and a nice return to action for this particular event that unfortunately had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Event Co-Chairs Sonja Jean, Michelle Klinger Smith, and Jack Moring are recognized once again for a job very well done in Coral Gables.
On October 20-22, 2022, we held our In-State Retreat at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Sarasota. The In-State Retreat chairs, Belinda Lazzara and Magistrate Beth Luna, along with our section administrator, Wille Mae Shepherd, did a fantastic job of ensuring a great weekend at the Ritz (remarkable given the impact of Hurricane Ian to that area a few weeks earlier). Among other things, the section approved four donations of $2,500 each to assist legal aid organizations in counties most affected by the hurricane.
Our mid-year committee meetings were held on Thursday, January 26, 2023, immediately followed by our highly popular annual Marital & Family Law Review Course on January 27 and 28 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center. A record number of registrants (1,900) attended an outstanding course featuring one of the truly most diverse lineup of speakers that included several members of our judiciary and several highly regarded non-attorney experts lending their time and talents to our course. The section provided a total of 21 scholarships for qualified applicants to attend the course this year. This year’s course was very capably led by committee Chair Kristin Kirkner and her committee consisting of Michelle Klinger Smith, Julia Wyda, and Jack Moring (all board certified marital & family law members of the section). This included leading us through the review course’s first-ever fire alarm (thankfully a false alarm). The scope and diversity of this year’s course made this, once again, a huge success for the section and for our partner in this event, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Many thanks to chapter President Reuben Doupe, and administrator Susan Stafford and her team for all that they did to ensure this success.
Our executive council meeting was held on January 28, immediately following the review course. Among other matters addressed that day, I am thrilled to report that the Family Law Section authorized another annual contribution of $75,000 to The Florida Bar Foundation for this Bar year. This brings our section’s lifetime-giving to the Foundation to a total of $725,000. I know I speak for many within the section when saying that this continued support to the Foundation is truly one of our greatest “points of pride.”
Lastly, as part of this year’s theme of embracing our section’s diversity and seeking to be more inclusive, we held an all-day live CLE from the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort on February 24. CLE Committee Co-Chairs William “Trace” Norvell and Jamie Epstein, along with Kristin Kirkner, put together a great program on financial matters in family law. The faculty included many members of the judiciary from the Florida Panhandle, as well as local attorneys from that region of the state. This CLE has been the second of two CLES in three years (the other occurring in February 2020), and we were successful in building a stronger program this year from the lessons learned from the 2020 CLE. We saw roughly double the number of in-person attendees for this year’s program (54 versus 26 in 2020). Meanwhile, our webcast participation saw a much larger increase (62 virtual attendees versus 18 in 2020). I have recommended to future leaders of this section to return to this part of the state on a frequent basis going forward!
Finally, we concluded the year with our Out-of-State Retreat, in Austin, Texas, from March 22-26, 2023, at the historical Driskill Hotel, located near the Texas State Capitol Building. Out-of-State Retreat Chairs Aimee Gross and Cash Eaton, along with our section administrator, Willie Mae Shepherd, put together an impressive schedule of events and activities that appealed to all who attended. This included a very informative CLE presentation led by section trustee Elisha Roy regarding the key differences between Texas and Florida law with regard to financial relief in family law matters. The retreat also included the opportunity to tour the Texas State Capitol, to enjoy a reception at the nearby Bullock Museum of Texas State History, and to take in a rockin’ show by Elle King at Austin City Limits Live. The trip to see the legendary bats on the waterfront of Austin did not disappoint! We concluded with a true Texas-style celebratory dinner at Bob’s Chop & Steak House.
In addition to these events, the section had a very busy year on the legislative front. Many thanks go to Legislation Committee Co-Chairs Magistrate Beth Luna and Andrea Reid for spearheading the section’s efforts this year. Important changes to the laws as to alimony, domestic violence, and parentage are anticipated to be made by the end of this session in the late-spring. Stay tuned for what should be a most important Legislative Update this summer to be put on by the section in June or July 2023.
Philip S. Wartenberg, Chair
We began a series of initiatives that we continue working on throughout 2022 including: CLE programs lead by Russell Kent, Florida Law School Lunch & Learn, GLS panels across the state lead by the executive council, the Voice publication lead by Maria McCorkle, combined membership with other sections, teaming up with local bar organizations, continued outreach to law students and young lawyers entering the public service sector and more.
We are actively working on ways to enhance our membership and outreach by using technology. As part of this initiative we launched a new website and are hosting meetings with zoom capabilities. We had a successful virtual winter meeting and will be hosting a virtual long range planning meeting later in March 2023.
We are currently in the process of awarding a new law school student scholarship that will be named after Bob Butterworth, who has been an exemplary government attorney and educator. The scholarship will be intended for rising 3Ls who have shown an interest in government or public service.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped us throughout the past year. We especially thank Calbrail Banner who is always by our side. Thank you.
Angela Huston Miller, Chair
The mission of the Health Law Section is to serve as a forum for members to interact and develop expertise in health law and to provide education and resources emphasizing health-law issues in Florida. Since the 2022-2023 Bar year, the section has been active on multiple fronts, including educational offerings, membership engagement, marketing, and sponsorship opportunities for our members. We document some of our efforts below.
Continuing Legal Education is central to the mission of our section. The section has been investigating ways to reduce the overall spend for its CLE programming by identifying locations that might offer alternative pricing for room use and food and beverage. Like other Bar sections, the section has struggled with in-person attendance at CLE events. The lack of in-person attendance has impacted the ability to secure high level speakers and identify the correct spaces for holding events. Analyzing and updating the CLE delivery process will be a major focus initiative for the section in the coming year. With that said, the CLE events our team put on this year were well done. We retained our traditional schedule with four main CLEs with three Lunch and Learns and other shorter presentations that were well attended with an additional three Lunch and Learns on the calendar.
In January, for the first time, the section recorded a Legislative Update whereby key members of the section presented on new legislation and expectations for the upcoming legislative session. A second webinar will be recorded in June to discuss the results of the legislative session. While not eligible for CLE, we have offered these webinars as a free section benefit. They are available via link from the section’s website.
The section engaged marketing consultant Lisa Tipton, who has been actively engaged in increasing the section’s social media presence and has provided the section with a multitude of ideas for further expanding its reach. She has been a great addition to the team.
In terms of membership engagement, we have focused on creating dynamic events that will engage and connect our members. In May 2023, we will be holding the second annual Top Golf social event in multiple locations throughout Florida where members can mingle with each other and collaborate. Events are planned for Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. A corresponding event is planned for the same day in Tallahassee at a local restaurant. These events are complementary for members.
Our formally constituted Sponsorship Committee (constituted this fiscal year) has worked tirelessly to create sponsorship materials and secure sponsors for the Top Golf event. We are happy to report that the sponsorship opportunities for this annual event are nearly sold out. In the coming year, we hope to expand the offerings for other events and CLE programming, thus, creating a steady stream of additional revenue for the section and engagement with groups and organizations that value the section membership.
The formally constituted Member Spotlight Committee (constituted this fiscal year) has also been active. Six section member spotlights have been published so far and are available on our website: https://flabarhls.org/member-spotlight/ and on the section’s social media pages. We have found this to be both a rewarding and valuable addition to the activities of the section.
The section continues to direct efforts to engage with Florida law schools to collaborate with some of the student associations affiliated with these schools. The intent being to foster interest and participation in the practice of healthcare law in the formative stages of professional development. We have had several law students attend section meetings and events and offer assistance in preparing written materials for the section.
This year, our section program administrator, Emily Young, has done a wonderful job, never fails to exceed expectations, and demonstrates the utmost capability. She will be a valuable resource for years to come for our section.
We look forward to another successful and engaging year for the section in 2023-2024 under Jason Mehta’s leadership.
Radha V. Bachman, Chair
On behalf of The Florida Bar International Law Section (ILS), we submit our section’s annual report. The mission of our section is to promote and facilitate the practice of international law in Florida. Our section serves as a forum for the sharing of knowledge, experience and “best practices” that improve the administration and application of the statutes, rules, and regulations pertaining to the practice of international law, including international business transactions, taxation, customs and trade, litigation, and arbitration. Our section is also tasked by the Bar with vetting applications of those seeking certification by the Bar as certified foreign legal consultants. This certification allows foreign attorneys to practice the law of their respective countries in Florida. We also offer two unique board certification exams.
Over the past year, our section has continued to provide new experiences and fresh opportunities for our members to collaborate with colleagues and further enhance the practice of international law in Florida. Some of our major projects, events, and accomplishments include:
1) iLaw: the ILS Global Forum on International Law: On February 17, 2023, the ILS held its annual flagship conference, “iLaw,” at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Miami. The conference featured the highest quality programming and panelists from around the world and cemented its standing as one of the premier international law conferences worldwide.
2) The International Vis Pre-Moot Competition: On February 18, 2023, the ILS held its annual Richard DeWitt Memorial Vis International Pre-Moot Competition at JAMS. The ILS continues to be one of the few Bar sections across the country that offers law students worldwide a pre-moot competition prior to participating in the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Moot Arbitration, held in Vienna. This year, 14 teams competed both in person and virtually, which allowed for the opportunity to compete against more foreign participants. All Florida law schools that participated received a stipend from our section.
3) Invirtiendo en EEUU: Aspectos Legales: On March 6, 2023, in conjunction with the Ilustre Colegio de Abogacia de Madrid (the Madrid Bar Association), the ILS hosted its first ever international investment conference. Chair Villalba and Past Chair Eduardo Palmer, along with several other ILS members, proudly carried the ILS flag to Madrid and presented on key legal topics related to investing and doing business in the U.S. The conference was developed in furtherance of the cooperation agreement signed with the Madrid Bar Association. With more than 70 attorneys in attendance, the conference was a great success and another example of what the ILS does consistently — promote the uniform application of law and enhance the proficiency of international law practitioners.
4) Cooperation Agreements with other Bar Associations: On October 28, 2022, the ILS welcomed the Milan and Bergamo bar associations for our Cooperation Signing Ceremony and Luncheon. The ILS entered into a cooperation agreement with these two organizations to create new professional friendships, increase and facilitate collaboration between our respective jurisdictions, promote the uniform application of the rule of law, and further the practice of international law.
On November 1, 2022, the ILS welcomed the Paris Bar Association for our Cooperation Signing Ceremony and Reception. The ILS renewed its cooperation agreement with the Paris Bar as a symbol of our continued commitment to promote collaboration among members of each organization, promote the uniform application of the rule of law, and further the practice of international law.
5) International Arbitration Battle Royale — Civil vs. Common Law: On October 29, 2022, the ILS, in conjunction with the Bar Council of England and Wales, CIArb Brasil Branch, and Club Español de Arbitraje, hosted the first International Arbitration Battle Royale. This exciting exhibition brought together practitioners from the U.S., U.K., Spain, Brazil, Hong Kong, and France.
6) ILS Annual Holiday Reception: On December 15, 2022, the ILS held its annual holiday reception at the Bayshore Club in Coconut Grove. This year, the ILS hosted the section’s first ever toy drive to collect toys for local children. Among many other critical services, Americans for Immigrant Justice brings joy to children in immigration detention by ensuring they receive gifts during the holiday season. During the reception, ILS collected over 100 toys for Americans for Immigrant Justice.
7) ILS Orlando Networking Luncheon: On November 17, 2022, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ILS was able to bring back its annual Orlando Networking Luncheon. Held annually at the Citrus Club in Orlando, it was a wonderful opportunity for ILS to connect with members from central and northern Florida.
8) ILS Lunch and Learn Series: The ILS continued its engaging Lunch and Learn Series. The series has a talk show type format, with a prominent international law practitioner being interviewed regarding his/her personal journey to a thriving international law career.
9) ILS webinars: The ILS continues to provide webinars to its members covering topics such as immigration, trade, and arbitration in a virtual format. These webinars provide important information, substantive review, and CLE credit which can also be used for board certification.
10) The ILS Gazette: The ILS continues its publication of The ILS Gazette, our section’s weekly email newsletter informing our membership of the activities of our section and member news, among other timely information. The Gazette reaches more than 2,000 individuals worldwide.
11) The International Law Quarterly: The International Law Quarterly is ILS’ flagship quarterly magazine on international law issues. It is a glossy, bound magazine, available in print and digital formats. The most recent issue, Winter 2023, focused on immigration. The magazine is distributed to Florida law schools and can be accessed on the ILS website at www.internationallawsection.org.
12) The ILS Foreign Legal Consultant Committee: The ILS is single handedly responsible for working directly with The Florida Bar and the NCBE in the evaluation, vetting, and approval of foreign attorneys to the Florida Supreme Court for certification. The ILS Foreign Legal Consultant Committee is comprised of a handful of ILS member volunteers who review applications and work with candidates on the application process. Each year, the ILS receives approximately 20-40 applications for review, and the process takes upwards of 10-12 months to complete. The committee continues its exemplary work processing applications.
Jacqueline Villalba, Chair
The Labor and Employment Law Section of the Bar continues to provide exemplary service to the Bar, its membership, the judiciary, and the public. Our mission is and has remained our steadfast focus. We are building on our strong network and fulfilling our mission to serve and support section members and others through opportunities for education, leadership, networking, professionalism, and public service.
As we all know, the last few years have been challenging, to say the least, and we have learned many lessons that will stay with us. One of those lessons — together is better — has been our polestar this year. Our section continues to be a shining example of what can be achieved when we work together — whether we represent individuals, union, or management or serve in a neutral capacity — to become stronger as a section and provide better representation to our clients and service to the public as a whole. Our section has a long history of overcoming disparate interests to work together and, as our Hall of Fame so aptly demonstrates, we all stand on the shoulders of giants in labor and employment law.
Working together, we have hosted four live seminars this year in October, December, January, and May. All of these programs are available for purchase through the Bar. On October 20-21, 2022, we continued our long-term, successful partnership with the City, County and Local Government Law Section in jointly-sponsoring the 48th Annual Public Employment Labor Relations Forum in Orlando. The success of this program was due, in large part, to the talented program chairs, Glenn Thomas and Janeia Ingram, and the insightful and knowledgeable speakers. The program spanned the topics of public employment, including updates on the 11th Circuit, PERC, pension issues, mental health, ADA and FMLA compliance, labor arbitration, and personnel manuals.
We then hosted the return of the Litigation Skills seminar on December 2, 2022, in the historic Le Meridien Hotel, which is located in the former U.S. Courthouse in Tampa. The seminar room, a former courtroom, brought back many nostaglic memories for the attendees and speakers alike. We had a lunchtime presentation by Prof. James M. Denham who reminded us of the monumental cases decided in the courthouse. The program, masterfully designed by Benjamin Yormak, LaKisha Kinsey-Sallis, and Samuel Horovitz, is one that no litigator should miss. It covered from beginning to end of a case with expert tips for navigating jury selection, developing a trial theme, addressing tricky discovery issues, and handling summary judgment motions in state and federal court. We are grateful for our speakers, including several federal judges, who volunteered their time to make this program a great success.
We returned to Orlando in January 19-20, 2023, for the 23rd Annual Update and Certification Review Seminar. This seminar was expertly crafted by Karen Evans-Putney and Chelsie Flynn who recruited fantastic speakers to provide an update on the world of labor and employment law. This program provides a comprehensive tour into every aspect of labor and employment law in Florida. On May 19-20, 2023, we will host our Advanced Labor Topics seminar at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Resort on Amelia Island. This exciting program is coordinated by Lisa Berg and Janet Wise and includes presentations on hot topics in traditional labor law, remote work, internal investigations, mediation, federal court practice, and practicing before DOAH.
We also had executive council meetings during each of our live events this year and will be hosting a meeting and reception on June 22, 2023, during the Annual Convention. At the Annual Convention, we also have the pleasure of honoring the future leaders in labor and employment through law student scholarships. We welcome all to join us.
In addition to our seminars and meetings, our section continues to publish informative articles that address emerging issues concerning the practice of labor and employment law through its newsletter, The Checkoff, and our section column in The Florida Bar Journal. Viktoryia Johnson, Mimi Hobbs, and Alicia Koepke deserve special thanks for their hard work to keep the section’s publications at the forefront of contemporary legal discourse and scholarship.
Our executive council also has been busy. In the fall, we adopted a sponsorship policy to enhance our outreach efforts and create additional opportunities for section members to connect to local bar organizations and other entities. We also our studying our CLE programming to make sure we are providing the best value we can to section members. Finally, we have embarked on an ambitious history project with our past section chairs to document their words of wisdom so we can remember our past and ensure a connection to our future.
Our section continues to be vibrant and strong. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as chair this year. I thank my fellow officers — Gregg Morton (chair-elect), Yvette Everhart (secretary/treasurer), Robert Eschenfelder (legal education director), and Scott Atwood (immediate past chair) — for their dedication and partnership in accomplishing our goals for the section.
We are so grateful for all of the volunteers who give their energy, talent, and countless hours for the betterment of our section. Thank you all for your many contributions. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our section administrators — Angela Froelich and Paige Dooley-Levy. Without their steady hand, continuing support, and extraordinary hard work, we would not be able to accomplish our goals or serve our mission.
I am excited about the 2023-2024 Bar year, and I look forward to working with our new chair, Gregg Morton, to continue to make the Labor and Employment Law Section of The Florida Bar the best in the country.
On behalf of our officers and its executive council, I urge Bar members to consider the benefits and camaraderie of joining the section and attending its live CLE events and meetings.
Sacha Dyson, Chair
The Out-of-State Division (OOSD) of The Florida Bar is pleased to provide its annual report. The purpose of the OOSD of The Florida Bar is to provide an organization for all Florida Bar members who reside outside the state of Florida. The OOSD does not focus on any specific practice area, but rather on the common interests and needs of out-of-state Florida Bar members as a whole. Among the many roles of the OOSD is establishing a network of out-of-state members, aiding in the development of laws that eliminate disparate treatment of out-of-state members, providing a forum for discussing issues of interest, and developing and maintaining professional relationships between in-state and out-of-state members. The OOSD accomplishes this by hosting networking events throughout country, reviewing proposed legislative and policy changes for potential negative impact to out-of-state members, and communicating with members through its regularly distributed newsletter and social media.
There are currently more than 15,000 Bar members who reside outside of Florida. For comparisons sake, that is more than the number of in-state attorneys in 26 states. Florida Bar members live in every state across the U.S. and its territories as well as in 52 countries around the world.
This year, we were excited to have our joint meeting with the Board of Governors in St. Louis. We are also excited to once again have a joint meeting (for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic) with the Young Lawyers Division in New Orleans. At each of our meetings, we are encouraging our members to bring their laptops so that members can attend virtually via Zoom and we can also save on meeting expenses at the hotels. In addition, Zoom has allowed for the ability of out-of-state lawyers to participate and we have had new members join in recent years.
As in previous years, the Out-of-State Division continues the electronic distribution of its quarterly newsletter, State to State, to all Bar members residing outside of Florida. Each edition contains articles written by out-of-state attorneys relating to their area of law or general topics such as technology or marketing as well as information on upcoming events and meetings and in-depth reviews of the latest actions taken by The Florida Bar Board of Governors. State to State also provides out-of-state members multiple means to market themselves and their practice through regular advertising or as part of the newsletter’s attorney spotlight feature. As a reminder to everyone reading this report, articles may be submitted by any Florida Bar member and is a way to quickly reach over 15,000 recipients of the newsletter.
The Out-of-State Division remains committed its efforts to increasing engagement on its social media accounts, as this is a key method of reaching Bar members throughout the country. Social media platforms provide great opportunity for the OOSD to interact directly with its fellow out-of-state members…and to have a little fun at the same time.
Much of the work that the Out-of-State Division accomplished this year would not have been possible without the assistance of our program administrator, Emily Young.
The Out-of-State Division will continue serving the interests of out-of-state Florida Bar members and looks forward to finding new ways to serve its constituents next year. The Out-of-State Division also thanks its officers, members of the executive council, its four Board of Governors representatives, and all out-of-state Bar members that made this successful year. The OOSD looks forward to providing more benefits to out-of-state members in future years and continuing to collaborate with other sections/divisions of The Florida Bar.
Brandon L. Wolff, President
The Public Interest Law Section continues to grow as a section. Through our different workgroups and committees, we bring advocacy work to our legislative positions. As we move into this new legislative session, we are paying attention to the different bills that are being filed and were we can advocate as a section. We have co-sponsored multiple free CLE’s this year. On behalf of our section, our member Anthony Musto has filed comments on speedy trial rules, and the Bar discipline rules case. Our networking committee put together a public interest attorney panel event for law students at Nova Southeastern University School of Law. Law students were encouraged to engage with attorneys in different areas of public interest law. Further, the law students at Nova Southeastern, have been conducting interviews with our different members to put together our annual newsletter.
PILS is grateful to our members who provide an array of expertise in public interest to the citizens of Florida. We are looking forward to meeting together at the Annual Convention to award those who have dedicated their careers to this field. As always, please follow our website and social media for our upcoming CLEs and events.
Ashley Kogan Weed, Chair
The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law (RPPTL) Section is one of the largest and most active sections of The Florida Bar. Our executive council consists of over 289 actively engaged members and meets in conjunction with our section committees five times yearly. The section committees are generally divided into three divisions: the General Standing Division (S. Katherine Frazier, Tampa, division director and chair-elect); the Probate and Trust Division (John Moran, West Palm Beach, division director); and the Real Estate Division (Wm. Cary Wright, Tampa, division director).
The section is robust and busy with a variety of substantive committees that produce quality educational programs and legislative proposals. The Probate and Trust Division has 14 different substantive committees touching on virtually every conceivable area of the estates, trusts, and guardianship planning, administration, and litigation practice. The Real Property Division has 18 of its own committees addressing issues, such as title insurance and standards, construction law, residential real estate, commercial real estate, leasing, development and land use, and real estate litigation. The general standing committees of the RPPTL section generally assist with internal section business and matters of interest to both sides of the aisle. In addition, the section has designated liaisons who interact with over 21 related organizations and Florida Bar sections to enhance coordination with key real property, probate, and trust organizations.
RPPTL section committees are open to all Florida Bar members and consist of an education component as well as discussion of legislative initiatives. The committee meeting format is vitally important because most RPPTL initiatives originate in committee and are refined, debated, and vetted at length in our meetings. The committees also provide opportunities to share ideas and fellowship with expert lawyers throughout the state.
This year all in-state section meetings have been or will be held in a hybrid format with in-person attendees and virtual attendees able to interact. This platform is unique to the RPPTL section and has helped section outreach to new members, as it provides access to meetings without the time and cost associated with travel to in-person meetings. As a result, the section has grown by nearly 700 new members since the section began zoom or hybrid meetings in the spring of 2020.
Below are the highlights of RPPTL activities over the past year:
Amicus Committee and Proposed Revisions to the Rules of Civil Procedure: In May of 2022, the section provided substantial comments on the Florida Supreme Court’s Report and Recommendations of the Workgroup on Improved Resolution of Civil Cases. The workgroup adopted most of the section’s comments, and we are thankful for their hard work and attention to the section’s concerns. The Supreme Court scheduled oral argument for the Report for December 8, 2022. The section participated in that argument, through our Amicus Committee chair, Bob Goldman, and ultimately the section’s concerns were alleviated by the court in its decision.
Law Student and Young Lawyer Mentoring: The section spent significant time mentoring young and future lawyers, through their on-campus outreach and through their Fellows program for young lawyers. The section currently has a Student RPPTL Program on campus in every Florida law school. Further, the section has eight young lawyers who are part of our Fellows Program. The Fellowship Program provides a unique and exciting opportunity to receive one on one mentorship and experiences in section-related activities, with a goal of identifying the section’s future experts and leaders.
Continuing Education: The section’s CLE Seminar Coordination Committee continues to produce top-notch CLEs on topics of interest to section members such as the section’s Annual Legislative Update, certification review courses, Attorney Banker Officer Conference, Attorney Trust Officer Conference and webcasts on: Guardianship, Ethics, Fair Housing, Uniform Title Standards, Asset Protection Trusts, Probate Law, and Trust Law. Many of the section’s CLEs are available for after-market sales on The Florida Bar’s website.
Pro bono Efforts: The RPPTL’s At Large Members (ALMs) have spearheaded two ongoing projects to assist with legal aid efforts: 1) No Place Like Home; and 2) Hurricane Ian Relief. The section is continuing its efforts in the No Place Like Home program and planning a two-hour CLE to train lawyers in how to handle quite title to inherited property. The section has also been in touch with local legal aid providers to assist in Hurricane Ian relief efforts. The ALMs have assisted legal aid organizations with title issues, landlord tenant, probate, insurance, contracts, etc.
Legislative Initiatives: The section has multiple legislative initiatives before the 2023 Florida Legislature relating to real property, probate, and guardianship. The section continues to provide technical assistance on multiple other bills to help reduce the likelihood of unintended bad consequences. Looking ahead, they are also working on bills that address a wide scope of topics including: 1) The Ad Hoc Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) Assistance Committee has been working on recommendations concerning the intestacy rights of a child born by artificial reproductive technology; 2) The Ad Hoc Guardianship Law Revision Committee has concluded a multi-year project to do a comprehensive rewrite of the Florida Guardianship Code. After analyzing and incorporating suggestions from other stakeholders, the re-write is now complete and before the Florida Legislation for consideration in the 2023 Legislative Session; 3) The Principal and Income Act Committee has been working hard for a couple of years on a proposed re-write of the Florida Uniform Income and Principal Act, which is expected to be a future RPPTL section legislative initiative in the 2024 Legislative Session; 4) The Revocable Terminate on Death Deed Committee is working on a proposal to bring RTOD deeds to Florida. These deeds will ease the burden of probate courts and permit easier access to justice by allowing a cheaper and easier means to pass title to real property; 5) Construction Law Committee has proposed legislation regarding construction liens and bonds; 6) Condominium and Planned Development Committee has proposed legislation relating to hurricane protection for condominium associations; and 7) Title Insurance and Title Insurance Liaison Committee is working to address difficulties faced in clearing title to real property when a probate was involved and the probate records are no longer available.
Section Outreach: The section has also done significant outreach to other sections of the Bar. The section recently worked in conjunction with the Business Law Section on numerous BLS initiatives, including a re-write of Ch. 517 on Secured Transactions and Ch. 617 Not for Profits, as well as new legislation on series LLCs.
Additionally, the section has been working to resolve the differences between the RPPTL and Elder Law sections regarding legislative initiatives, and to formulate a process to resolve differences before they get to the legislative floor. In February of 2023, RPPTL Chair Sarah Butters coordinated the first ever Joint Meeting of the Elder Law and RPPTL sections in conjunction with the section’s Sandestin meeting. Key leaders in both sections attended, along with numerous members of The Florida Bar Board of Governors and staff. The joint meeting produced a better understanding of each section’s operations and priorities, and also opened new lines of communication between sections. Future joint meetings are being coordinated for later this year.
In addition to CLE and legislative initiatives, the section’s substantive committees routinely publish quality articles for ActionLine (the RPPTL section publication) and The Florida Bar Journal.
Sarah S. Butters, Chair
Thank you for the opportunity to provide a written report on the current status of the Solo & Small Firm Section of The Florida Bar. We have enjoyed great success over the last several years and believe that we are positioned to continue that success into 2023. Our focus remains on expansion of the types of services that we offer our membership along with the expansion of our membership itself.
Our CLEs remain a top priority for the section and have become the backbone of our offerings to the membership. This past year, our two large CLE events, the annual Florida Law Update and annual Ethics Seminar saw tremendous support. We are also continuing to grow our Solo & Small Firm Conference, which will be held virtually this year on February 24, 2023. The theme of this year’s conference is “Automation to Levitation — Tactics for Small Firm Business Owners” and will include five credit hours of CLEs on topics that will provide insight and tips on successfully owning your own firm.
This year our longtime CLE Chair Linda Calvert Hanson stepped down to have more time to enjoy her retirement (Linda served as CLE chair for four years despite being retired from practice). The financial success of the section is due in no small part to her immense contribution to the section over the last half decade. We owe her a great deal of gratitude and, for her contributions, the section awarded Linda with its Tradition of Excellence Award this year at the annual meeting. The section’s CLEs will move to the very capable hands of Jennifer Kuyrkendall Griffin who, in addition to being a former chair of the section, was also the creator of one of the section’s most well-received CLE programs — the Wednesday Wisdoms. The Wednesday Wisdom program is a one-hour, monthly CLE program that provides our members with CLE on a myriad of topics that cover the range of firm operation, to ethical considerations, to ways to decrease life stress. We appreciate Jennifer providing her time to ensure the continued success of the section and we thank Linda for her efforts to make the section stronger and better for our members.
In addition to the Tradition of Excellence Award, the section continued its work in the pro bono space by providing non-profit entities an award for the great work they do in our Florida communities. The 2022 L. Michael Roffino Pro Bono Award recognizes the Florida pro bono organization that has worked over the last year to expand its reach and provide the best program. Since 1990, the Solo & Small Firm Section awarded $180,500 to organizations that are making a difference in their communities. The winners are selected by the executive council with a focus on innovation. This year, we were proud to award the section’s pro bono award and a $4,000 grant to Venture Law Project of Dade Legal Aid. The section also provided the runners up, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida and Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association with $2,000 grants each.
Our section also had the pleasure of working with President Lesser this year on growing his mentorship initiative. The initiative focuses on lawyers with three or fewer years of experience working in firms of three or fewer lawyers — all of which fall within our membership. We are working in partnership with President Lesser to provide him the resources and information on our membership that will ensure the programs’ success for years to come.
We have also had the honor of having one of our own appointed to the Board of Governors by President Lesser to provide additional insight to the board on the needs and interests of our section. Our current chair-elect, Cristina Alonso, has been serving in that role for several months and has already found a place on the Program Evaluation Committee and the Communications Committee. We are very proud of Cristina’s work and her efforts to ensure our membership is heard and considered in board meetings.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve the membership of the Solo & Small Firm Section and am privileged to serve as its 2022-2023 chair. The growth of our section can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of the section’s executive council and those we work with that provide our membership with valuable insight into the business of running a law firm. We encourage anyone interested to participate in our CLEs or to get involved and help ensure the continued success of the section.
Christopher C. Johnson, Chair
During this fiscal year, the Tax Section made a significant impact on tax policy by submitting comments on multiple proposed Treasury regulations. These comment projects, led by Brian Malec, Mark Parthemer, and Christopher Callahan, covered important areas such as clawback issues related to gifts, deduction of estate administration expenses under I.R.C. §2053, and penalty issues under Form 3520. The comments were reported in Tax Notes, and the clawback project was published by Forbes.
The section also continued its popular monthly Zoom CLEs, which are free to all members, on a broad range of topics. Some of these programs provided content to support board certification in tax law, including a partnership tax review by Adam Smith and S corporation tax review by Daniel Ebert. The free CLEs consistently have attracted more than 100 registrants, and nearly 250 registered for a recent program presented by Mark Brown and Chris Weeg on estate planning updates.
The biggest development in the Tax Section this year was the celebration of its 70th anniversary. The section is one of the oldest sections of The Florida Bar, and we value the special traditions that have developed over the years. To commemorate the 70th anniversary, we unveiled the Tax Section Cup, which lists the names of all past chairs. The cup is displayed at every in-state directors’ and Tax Section meeting and will be updated each year with the outgoing chair’s name plate.
By the end of the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the section will have completed four in-person meetings. The year started at Amelia Island with the Organization Meeting from July 1-5, 2022. The section held its Organization Meeting in Amelia Island for more than 30 years, and it is an important part of its history. Other great traditions that continued during this year’s Organization Meeting included the Ullman Year in Review, a seminar covering major tax related topics during the year, and the popular family and adult hospitality suites.
The Fall Meeting took place October 27-29, 2022, at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in Naples. To support the local community and businesses in Naples, the section proceeded with the meeting despite the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Nicole. The highlight of the meeting was the October 28 Real Estate Tax Conference chaired by Christopher Callahan and Abrahm Smith.
The Directors’ Meeting was held at the JW Marriot in New Orleans from January 19-21, 2023. Ten former section chairs gathered to lead a “Hot Topics with Past Chairs” CLE chaired by David Bowers. Aside from this all-star-level CLE, the section enjoyed a cocktail party and dinner at the legendary Brennan’s and a team building cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking.
The section will hold its Annual Meeting at the Don CeSar Hotel on April 27-30, 2023. A CLE on Structuring Business Deals and M&A Transactions, chaired by Michael Wilson and Greg McLaughlin, will take place on April 28. The next day, we will host a major dinner event honoring Tax Attorneys of the Year William B. Lane, Jr., and Cristin Keane.
While not a regular meeting, the section’s most popular CLE, the renowned International Tax Conference, took place on January 12-13, 2023. The ITC, as it’s known, is a jointly sponsored event with the FICPA and had over 400 people in attendance between live and virtual attendees. Keeping with tradition, the ITC has been held for over 40 years and this partnership keeps getting stronger.
The section already is planning for upcoming fiscal years. Shawn Wolf is the current chair-elect and is planning an exciting slate of events. Mark Scott is the chair-elect designate and intends to bring back the section’s popular trip back to Washington, D.C., to meet with the IRS, DOJ, Treasury, and members of the Florida congressional delegation.
Indeed, the section had an exciting and meaningful 2022-2023. From celebrating its 70th anniversary in style, working on multiple Treasury regulations comment projects, hosting the ITC and free Zoom CLEs, to fantastic live meetings, the section offered incredible professional, networking, and just plain fun opportunities to its members.
Mark R. Brown, Chair
The Trial Lawyers Section will soon conclude another successful year of supporting and enhancing the skills of Florida’s trial lawyers through its seminars and publications and representing the interests of Florida’s trial lawyers to our government and communities through in-person outreach and community programs. All of this is done with a focus on the purposes of the section described in our bylaws, including, promoting the art of trial advocacy, promoting civility professionalism and ethics, assisting the courts in improving the administration of justice and preserving and protecting the constitutional right to a trial by jury.
Three of our four premier programs have already taken place. In January, our yearly Trial Summit was held at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee. The summit included the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition, which was contended by 18 teams from nine Florida law schools. The competition was chaired by Whitney Untiedt and Mark McLaughlin, circuit and county court judges from throughout Florida served as judges for the competition trials and attorneys from throughout the state served as jurors, judging the teams. In addition, the Teachers’ Law Symposium was held in conjunction with the summit. Each year we provide the highest quality judges and lawyers to speak to over a hundred civics and social studies teachers from middle and high schools, about the importance and functions of our jury trial system. This year was notable for the presence of Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz, who presented on the Supreme Court and the Florida Constitution. The program was chaired by James Gassenheimer.
The annual Civil Trial Update and Board Certification Review seminar was held February 9 and 10, in Tampa. This program is chaired every year by Edward K. Cheffy and provides trial lawyers with essentially all the legal information and resources to effectively litigate their cases.
On February 21, a contingent of the Trial Lawyers Section Executive Council attended meetings with various legislators in Tallahassee to discuss current legislation and the interests of Florida’s Trial Lawyers. We spoke with numerous legislators about court funding and supported bills providing for increased due process resources and pandemic recovery support.
In May, our annual Advanced Trial Advocacy program will again take place in Gainesville at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. This program is chaired by J. Charles “Chuck” Ingram and Kurt Alexander.
This year, the section, for the first time, has engaged the services of a marketing company, Compass Legal Marketing. The section entered into a contract with Compass to assist and oversee our outreach to lawyers and the communities we serve, through management of our social media sites, website, email blasts, and press releases (when appropriate or necessary). We believe the use of Compass will improve our communication with our constituents and be a greater asset to our sponsors.
As we look forward to the next Bar year, the section continues to expand its sponsorship program, allowing us the opportunity to access additional resources to further improve our programs and outreach. We thank our “Signature Sponsor,” Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhardt & Shipley, P.A. We are in the process of seeking legislative financial support for the Teachers’ Law Symposium that will allow us to further enhance the program and provide greater access to the program for even more teachers throughout the state. Efforts are already underway to edit the Florida Handbook on Civil Discovery, which will be ready for publication in late 2023 (every other year). The Handbook is chaired by Jeremy Branning.
The section receives tremendous support from The Florida Bar and thank you for assisting us in making 2022-2023 another very successful year.
Weston Smith, Chair
The Workers’ Compensation Section currently has over 1,200 members. Our continuing goal to increase involvement moved forward this year.
We continue to provide our members with educational programs that are targeted to the members’ practice area. The Forum (board certification review seminar) that we present in cooperation with WCCP (Workers Compensation Claims Professionals) traditionally has over 400 attendees. This year it is anticipated to exceed 500. In addition to the in-person seminars, we have continued our successful series of Lunch and Learn seminars coordinated by CLE Chair Roger Turner. He is our newly appointment CLE chair. Roger, thank you for your service and leadership.
The section has continued the Judicial Town Halls that we started in 2020. These town halls are a web-based format that allow practitioners throughout the state to participate in a town hall format with judges in each of the Office of Judge of Compensation Claims Districts. Additionally, Chair-Elect Paolo Longo has coordinated in-person judges round tables that are co-sponsored with local county bar associations.
Our quarterly publication, News and 440 Report, was energized by Sean McCormack and Courtney Bahe. In addition to the great content, their team has broadened the reach of engagement. They have continued to inspire more people to contribute articles and share ideas. For the 2023-2024 calendar year, Ken Hesser and Matthew Troy will take over the reins as co-editors of the News and 440 Report. Thank you to Sean and Courtney for your service.
Our Technology Chair Richard Manno continues to serve in that role and our section’s website and social media presence flourishes under his leadership. Richard, thank you.
The section, in collaboration with the Office of The Judge of Compensation Claims and FWA, has created a committee to promote professionalism in our practice. As part of our efforts, we will be using our social media platforms to spotlight a section member of the month who has demonstrated exemplary professionalism in the practice of workers’ compensation. Additionally, to promote professionalism with our new practitioners, the section is creating a Young Lawyers Division.
For the first time in several years, our section attended The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando and sponsored a reception. This year, we plan on meeting at the convention again in June and hope to make this an annual occurrence.
I thank all the members who have dedicated their time and talent to making our section better. We would not have achieved the level of success without their service. I also thank Willie Mae Shepherd, our section program administrator. No one works harder for our section than she does — and always with a smile. Thank you, Willie Mae!
Philip Augustine, Chair
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) continues to be the heart and change-agent for The Florida Bar. #YourYLD is stronger than ever before through our intentional efforts to advocate, educate, connect, and serve Florida’s young lawyers. I am proud of the work the YLD Board of Governors, YLD’s over 60 affiliates, and our 23,000 members have accomplished this year. Although it’s impossible to detail everything we achieved, and are still working to achieve this year, visit https://flayld.org/2022-23-yld-yearbook/ for more information.
Maria McCorkle elevated the communication and interconnectivity between YLD and the Bar’s sections and divisions. She interacted with every section and division of the Bar advocating for the creation of young lawyer committees and inclusion of young lawyers on executive councils. Based on these discussions, look out for a new YLD website synthesizing information from each section and division on how young lawyers can become involved in The Florida Bar.
The Inclusion and Equality Committee, led by Ciara Willis and Randall Baskin, continued one of our newest initiatives, #TakeoverTuesday, which allows YLD affiliates to take over the YLD’s social media for a day. So far, #TakeoverTuesday has featured Paul C. Perkins Bar Association and Miami-Dade Bar Young Lawyers Section. The next takeovers feature the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers and Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association. The Inclusion and Equality Committee is in the final stages of a new YLD Survey on the Legal Profession to gather useful data to provide insight on various issues faced by young lawyers and spur discussion amongst Bar leaders, managing partners, and judges on how to address those issues. Additionally, the survey will aid in the development of a guide on how to recruit and retain young talent so legal organizations and employers may better serve young lawyers, improve young lawyer retention in the profession, and increase overall satisfaction in the profession.
The Health & Wellness Committee, chaired by Kayla Richmond and Ben Thomas, is gearing up for the YLD Olympics to be held May 1-31, 2023. Get your teams together and prepare to #RaiseYourTorch; this YLD Olympics will be the best one yet!
As a government lawyer who made $40,000 living in Miami, I had to prioritize fiscal health and wellness. Many young lawyers are in the same position so Marianne Curtis and Gio Giarratana through the #YLDMoneyTalk webinar series are educating young lawyers on how to manage student loans, retirement, financial planning, and advocate for a raise or other financial incentives at work. All #YLDMoneyTalk episodes may be viewed at https://flayld.org/yld-webinars/. To accompany each webinar, the Advocacy and Education Committee, under the direction of Giselle Gutierrez and Kelly Kibbey Smith, created #YLDRoadmaps, which is a roadmap of key points, resources, and action items discussed during the webinar.
There are currently over 15 Basic Skills Courses and 30 Introductory Courses available on topics such as bankruptcy, criminal law, trial practice, appellate practice, and more. The newest Basic Skills Course titled, “Federal, State, and Local Government,” was filmed in January and includes topics such as Preemption/Home Rule, Procurement, Litigating For and Against the Government, and Leveraging Your Experience in Government. Thank you to CLE Chair Mike Levine for providing more CLE content than YLD has ever had before and Celia Dorn and Kelly Kibbey Smith for organizing and executing this new course.
The YLD also produces the Practicing with Professionalism (PWP) program that new lawyers are required to complete in their first year of practice. On December 8, 2022, under the leadership of Sarah Morris, the YLD held its first synchronous virtual PWP that included a variety of new professionalism related topics such as lawyer wellness, Florida Bar and YLD resources, and professionalism while practicing in the virtual world. Additional topics included ethics and professionalism, The Florida Bar’s disciplinary system, and legal malpractice. Most notably for the first time, attendees heard from the Florida Supreme Court justices on professionalism and ethics and participated in virtual networking with the justices and YLD governors. The next PWP is scheduled for May 25, 2023. Sarah Morris is also working with the Engle Small Working Group to produce vignettes on professionalism as educational materials for lawyers and law students. The new website housing these videos will be released in June.
The YLD’s largest event — the Affiliate Outreach Conference (AOC) — was held at Hard Rock Daytona Beach in February 2023. Ashlea Edwards and Brandon Sapp worked exceptionally hard to ensure Affiliates throughout the state were fueled up for #YLDAOC2023. The theme for AOC was “Driven to Success,” and was an opportunity for The Florida Bar’s emerging leaders to develop their leadership skills, make presentations for grant awards, and network with other leaders statewide. Thanks to Tiffany Pereira, Haley VanFleteren, Lolita Fernandez, and Celia Dorn, $50,000 in grants were awarded and over eight awards presented for outstanding grant presentations, exceptional programming, and innovative partnerships. CLE speakers at AOC included Volusia County Court Judge Rachel Myers, who spoke about overcoming adversity; Sue-Ann Robinson, award-winning renowned civil rights attorney and commentator, who shed light on being your most authentic self; and vice president of business and legal affairs for NASCAR, Ben Odom, and senior corporate counsel for LPGA, Kelsey Copeland, regarding their paths to legal careers in sports.
To continue its efforts to increase education and involvement of law students, Chair Rachel Ponte is organizing the Robert Orseck Moot Court competition held every year. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Robert Orseck Moot Court competition, YLD is hosting a formal dinner at the 2023 Annual Convention. The YLD expects commitments from all Florida law schools that they will host a team for the competition, in which the final round is judged by the Florida Supreme Court.
In the wake of Hurricane Ian, the YLD lept into action to coordinate the delivery of legal services to those most impacted. First, under the leadership of Tom Graham and Bar administrator Tom Miller, YLD activated the Disaster Legal Services Hotline, a toll-free hotline for hurricane survivors to obtain pro bono legal assistance, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division. To coordinate the recruitment of pro bono attorneys, market the Disaster Legal Services Hotline to the public, and create educational materials for volunteers, the YLD met weekly with state legal aid organizations, FEMA, and the ABA YLD. To date, the Disaster Legal Services Hotline has helped over 800 hurricane survivors. The coordination of pro bono services between YLD, FEMA, and the ABA YLD influenced the creation of the inaugural Disaster Resiliency Symposium held in March 2023 to inform organizations on how various factors influence behavior to disasters and how to respond quicker and more effectively to our communities impacted by a disaster. Additionally, within a week after Hurricane Ian landfall, President-elect Anisha Patel and her husband Mitch Patel, Reno Pierre, Warren Chin, Ben Thomas, and myself delivered truckloads of supplies to areas impacted by Hurricane Ian. Thank you to the YLD Board of Governors, Bar President-elect Scott Westheimer, and bar organizations across the country that donated monetary contributions and supplies.
In addition to the new meeting summaries sent to YLD members, social media updates, promotional videos, Yearbook releases, and website revisions, we were also intentional about improving communication within the board. Thank you Rebekah Taylor, Karina Rodrigues, Selina Patel, and Jessica Kramer for ensuring effective and timely communication of our initiatives to the public and within the board. Thank you to Danny Aller and the entire Florida Bar communications team who have highlighted our work this year.
For someone who didn’t know a lawyer before law school, serving as president of the YLD is an immense honor. I’ve enjoyed traveling across the state to participate in young lawyer affiliate events, representing young lawyers at section and division meetings, and speaking about the influential work of young lawyers before the Supreme Court. YLD’s 2023 Pro Bono Awardee Irina Shabetayev is a great example of how easy it is to brag about the impact of my members. Thank you to my family, friends, and colleagues for your support and making my service as president possible. This year, we had record breaking support from our sponsors who believe in the power of The Florida Bar’s next generation of leaders! Visit https://flayld.org/sponsors/ for more information on these superstars. I am indebted to the YLD Board of Governors (including their families) for their steadfastness, sacrifice, and passion to serve on this board. Program Administrator Tom Miller is a steadying influence in all the work we have done and he deserves credit for all the accomplishments listed above and more. I look forward to cheering on YLD as it continues to thrive under the leadership of President-elect Anisha Patel and President-elect Designate Ashlea Edwards.
Iris A. Elijah, President