Annual Reports of Committees of The Florida Bar 2019-2020
Adoption Law Certification
The Adoption Law Committee had another productive year. Adoption law is still a comparatively new board certification section and continues to be a more exclusive area of practice. We currently have 27 attorneys board certified in adoptions, which includes some retirements and one new qualified applicant who was approved to sit for the exam in March 2019. Having achieved a passing score, we were delighted to welcome one new adoption law board certified specialist effective June 1, 2019. No attorneys were eligible for recertification this past year.
The committee met throughout the year via telephone conference calls and in person to review applications for certification and to prepare additional exam questions, thereby increasing the pool of available questions for use on future exams. The committee also reviewed and updated the model questions maintained on The Florida Bar website for the benefit of new applicants. As further support for candidates for certification, the committee continues to post information on adoption-related CLE courses for the benefit of applicants preparing to sit for the exam.
The BLSE Exam Drafting Roundtable held during The Florida Bar Winter Meeting in Orlando once again proved to be exceedingly helpful. The speakers were knowledgeable, well-prepared, and provided excellent information on best practices and techniques for exam drafting. It was an opportunity for members of all the committees to exchange ideas for encouraging and increasing BLSE participation throughout the general membership.
At the request of the Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education Section, the committee continues to edit the section of the Standards for Board Certification and Recertification in Adoption Law, in an effort to bring uniformity with other sections, where possible, and to increase readability and comprehension where necessary. Suggested changes included adding a new 14-year waiver provision, a health waiver provision, and a good-cause waiver provision to help retain certified members in the recertification process. The committee also edited the language regarding contested adoptions and interventions in dependency cases to bring consistency to the current language. The committee is continuing its effort to review the qualifications where practicable with the intent to broaden the applicant pool. The BLSE rules subcommittee approved the Adoption Law Committee’s proposed amendments and placed them in the full package for the BLSE email vote.
Recertification applications continue to be posted to The Florida Bar website. Recertification requirements must be met and the recertification application postmarked by May 31. If an extension to meet the recertification requirements is required, the extension request must also be postmarked by May 31. The filing period for initial certification applications begins July 1 and ends August 31. Although adoption law is a relatively small group, we consider board certification to be extremely important in this area of practice.
In an ongoing outreach effort to encourage our colleagues to apply to become board certified, the committee made a presentation at the Florida Adoption Council (FAC) annual conference held in the Fall at the Mission in Howey in the Hills. It is generally attended by most attorneys who practice adoption law. Additional outreach will be made this year to the juvenile dependency summits with the expectation of reaching additional potential applicants.
The committee extends its heartfelt thanks to all the judges and attorneys who have responded this year and in past years to requests for peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement. This feedback is heavily regarded in the vetting process. The extra effort to provide this information is very much appreciated.
Thanks also to my fellow committee members for their contributions this year: Vice Chair Ellen Kaplan, Michelle Hausmann, Amy Hickman, Richard “Jake” Jackson, Brian Kelly, Susan Levin, Peggy Senentz, and Rob Webster. We are especially grateful to have Paige Dooley-Levy as our new staff liaison. She has been a very quick study in her first year in this position. Her support has been invaluable to the committee. We appreciate her assistance and look forward to working with her this coming year.
Leenetta “Lee” Carden, Chair
The Admiralty Law Committee continues to advance the practice of maritime law and foster continued learning by offering complimentary live seminars about recent developments and trends in this practice area.
On June 26, 2019, the ALC meeting and seminar was held in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Convention at the Boca Raton Resort. The meeting addressed committee business, the leadership transition, and planning for upcoming seminars. Speakers included noted maritime lawyers Capt. Alan S. Richard (Florida maritime law legislative and regulatory updates), Matthew Valcourt (recent U.S. Coast Guard and customs crackdown on illegal charter businesses around the country), and Michello Otero Valdes (pending IMO 2020 limits, which would change how the U.S. Coast Guard handles MARPOL violations).
We are pleased to announce the completion of the Admiralty Law Committee’s 2019 publication, Florida Maritime Law and Practice (6th ed. 2019), a Florida Bar publication, written by ALC members and distributed by LexisNexis. It was published in 2019 and is now readily available. Many thanks to the several authors, the Steering Committee Chair Ryan Eslinger, and committee members for their hard work and diligent efforts to get this done.
On February 7, the ALC presented the Third Annual Passenger and Crew Claims Seminar at the Florida International University College of Law. Building upon the momentum of previous years, this event was a great success, with over 100 maritime practitioners and professionals in attendance. This complimentary event was sponsored by CED Technologies, Inc., Jeannie Reporting, and Florida International University College of Law. Panel presentations were comprised of highly skilled maritime attorneys, each of whom presented on a specific area of law and practice, then engaged the audience and fellow panelists in thoughtful discussion. We heard from some of the best maritime lawyers in the state, including Curtis Mase, Philip Parrish, Jonathan Skipp, Carlos Chardon, Michael Eriksen, James Walker, Tonya Meister, Brett Berman, Michael Guilford, Robert Peltz, and Adria Notari. The panel discussions were moderated by Tyler Tanner, Robert Gardana, and Ryon Little. All speakers were engaging, and the substance was all relevant, recent, and interesting. This seminar was a joint regional event with the American Bar Association-TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee. As a result, it received national attention through the ABA-TIPS AMLC’s affiliation and garnered great interest of the national admiralty bar.
Through the willing service and dutiful efforts of its membership and Vice Chairs Michelle Otero Valdes, Ryon Little, Samantha Loveland, and Christopher Hamilton, the ALC acted cohesively and is certain to build upon its momentum and continue to progress in 2020-2021. We invite interested members of the Bar to attend ALC meetings and encourage them to apply for committee membership. Tyler J. Tanner, Chair
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification
This year, the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee continued its work of preparing, updating, and revising its comprehensive exam to test the knowledge, experience, and abilities of Florida lawyers for certification in the area of admiralty and maritime law. This unique area of the law provides a challenge to test preparers and test takers. Recent court decisions in the 11th Circuit have added another layer of challenge to the exam.
The certification exam covers 15 distinct areas of admiralty and maritime law, including admiralty jurisdiction, marine insurance, limitation of liability, maritime liens, and maritime personal injuries. Each area may contain as many as five or six subtopics, all of which are important areas of inquiry for the exam. The exam includes 100 mandatory multiple-choice questions, and a variety of fact patterns touching the primary substantive subjects in the discipline. The questions reflect the various specialties and test the applicant’s broad knowledge of admiralty procedure and maritime law. Several lawyers took the 2020 exam.
An important goal of the committee and the Bar is to increase the number of certified lawyers in the admiralty and maritime specialty. This helps to strengthen the field and to meet and overcome the effects of generational turnover. To this end, the committee has been actively developing marketing lists of interested attorneys and law students who pursue admiralty and maritime law classes. The committee is also developing a protocol to initiate and maintain regular and welcome ongoing communication with potential applicants.
The committee always encourages certified attorneys and law firms to mentor younger lawyers who are practicing admiralty and maritime law and will soon be meeting the five-year minimum experience requirement for taking the exam. Presentations promoting certification have been made at admiralty and maritime conferences, including the Southeast Admiralty Law Institute, Mariner’s Club conferences in Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee meetings, the ABA TIPS — Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee, St. Thomas University Maritime Law Society, and during CLE seminars around the state.
During 2019-2020, the committee met numerous times both virtually and by telephone to prepare and review test questions. The committee also reviewed the applications submitted by potential test-takers to ensure applications met the minimum qualifications for certification. In addition, the committee reviewed applications for recertification along with applications for advanced admiralty and maritime law certification credits based on seminars and presentations given in Florida and around the country. Admiralty and maritime lawyers who were certified in 2000, 2005, 2010, or 2015, will be due to file a recertification application by May 31. The filing period for initial applications is July 1 through August 31. Thank you to the members of the 2019-2020 committee for their hard work and commitment to ensuring the highest standards for certification are maintained. Committee members for 2019-2020 are Vice Chair Tonya J. Meister, Ryan M. Eslinger, Howard T. Sutter, Theresa Montalbo Bennett, Barbara A. Kreitz Cook, Kassandra C.D. Taylor, Mark J. Buhler, and Robert L. Gardana. A special thank you to our Bar staff liaison, Ms. Chyra Reynolds, whose hard work and support was indispensable to our work throughout this past year.
We invite all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in this exciting and expanding area of the law.
Christopher R. Koehler, Chair
The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which meets periodically as needed, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to Florida Bar members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.
The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of different methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the committee’s Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation. The Handbook is regularly updated by Bar staff to reflect important changes that have occurred and is currently available on the website for easy access by Bar members. The Handbook and other information addressed in this report are available on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org.
This was a busy year for the committee. In addition to reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar, the committee reviewed numerous articles and opinions regarding significant national trends and developments in legal advertising and marketing.
• Proposed Amendments to Rule on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation — The Standing Committee on Advertising reviewed and redrafted amendments to the comment to Rule 4-7.18 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, which address solicitation at the request of the Professional Ethics Committee. The recommended amendments would clarify what types of exchange of information with prospective clients would be acceptable at professional gatherings as well as on social media. The Board of Governors approved the amendments, which will be filed in the next master petition in October 2020.
• Other Accomplishments — By far the most time-consuming task of the committee this year, as in past years, has been reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if committee review of staff’s interpretation of a rule or advertisement is requested by an advertising attorney. Advertisers may request review of committee decisions by the Board of Governors if they wish. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and to permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.
• Composition of the Committee and Florida Bar Staff — The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I thank each of our committee members: Manohar Athavale, Zachary Leo Catanzaro, Lisa Karray Crawford, Tyler B. Everett, Winston W. Gardner, Jr., Leland Eric Garvin, Ryan Larry Gilbert, Neidy Elina Hornsby, Anthony J. Jackson, Rosalind Burnetta Johnson, Alexis Rosenberg, Paul Alan Shapiro, Joseph Buford Towne, and Viviana Pedroso Varela.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Jeremy C. Branning, Division of Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Gypsy Bailey, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Huy-Yen C. Bailey, Joy A. Bruner, Jonathan D. Grabb, Jeffrey M. Hazen, LiliJean Quintiliani, Kelly N. Smith, and Heather S. Telfer, Paralegal Donna Hostutler, Administrative Support 4 Pamela Brown, Administrative Support 2 Susan Permenter, and Administrative Support 2 Kelley Hamilton, headed by Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
Jackson Wolfe Adams, Chair
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification
The Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification Committee consists of five board-certified members: R. Scott Palmer serves as the chair of the committee and Lizabeth Brady serves as vice chair. Other members include William Blechman, Judge Lori Rowe, and Gregory Hansel. Laurinda Jackson serves as the certification specialist to the committee with Mark Osherow serving as the BLSE liaison to the certification committee.
Antitrust law is the substantive area of law dealing with anticompetitive conduct or structure affecting consumer welfare. The federal Sherman Act and analogous Florida Statutes are the principal laws applicable to antitrust cases. Trade regulation law covers the substantive area of law dealing with deceptive, unfair, or unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair methods of competition under the Federal Trade Commission Act and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The Antitrust and Trade Regulation Certification Committee continues to work diligently to propose rule amendments to the standards for certification to expand the practice areas covered by this certification to include the practice of consumer protection law. This proposal is consistent with and reflects the practices of many Florida attorneys certified in antitrust and trade regulation law. Antitrust and trade regulation bar associations, including the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law, have similarly expanded their focus, recognizing that antitrust attorneys often represent clients in actions involving consumer protection law. Additionally, consumer protection law and antitrust law intersect and overlap in cases in which indirect purchasers are prohibited from seeking damages under the Sherman Act and Florida’s Antitrust Act but can seek compensation under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The proposed amendments would provide a pathway to board certification for attorneys whose practices focus on consumer protection law, including actions involving Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Given the fact that the committee is always seeking to increase the number of board-certified attorneys in antitrust and trade regulation law, adopting the proposed amendments would provide a much-needed boost to that number. The proposed rule amendments are proceeding through the Bar’s review process. The proposal has been most recently reviewed by the Program Evaluation Committee and a presentation has been made to the Consumer Protection Committee for their input and any alternative proposals.
Additionally, the Antitrust and Trade Regulation Committee cosponsored the Competition Policy Enforcement Conference at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business on November 1, 2019.
I thank each member of the committee for their commitment to professionalism and their diligent efforts to promote the growth of the certification area. It has been an honor to serve as chair of the committee, and I look forward to a successful year ahead.
R. Scott Palmer, Chair
Appellate Board Certification
The interest in appellate practice and appellate board certification remains strong!
The committee year started with a review of the 2019 examination results. Twenty-seven attorneys took the examination and 18 of them earned appellate board certification. These are the highest numbers the committee has seen in years. Many of these attorneys participated in the pinning ceremony at the annual convention.
The committee also reviewed the surveys that previous applicants completed. The committee took those comments and suggestions to heart. As a result, we implemented additional levels of review within the committee. We believe that these additional layers of review have led to a better and more comprehensive exam. It assisted us with drafting questions as more eyes were on each question throughout the year. Still, writing the examination is the committee’s most daunting task.
This year, we have received and reviewed 22 initial applications for board certification. Eighteen attorneys will take the test in March. We also received and approved 39 applications for recertification. Florida Bar board certified appellate attorneys continue to demonstrate expert-level professionalism, experience, and skill.
One issue that continues to hinder both the initial application and the recertification process is judicial and peer review. The committee must receive judicial and peer reviews before certifying a candidate, but many review forms are never returned. This requires our certification specialist to send additional requests for judicial and peer review and this slows down the process. If the committee does not ultimately receive enough reviews about an applicant, the application may be rejected for that year. It is important to understand that judicial and peer review is a crucial part of the certification and recertification processes and that reviews remain confidential. It is the best way for the committee to gauge the applicant’s standing in the community and his or her abilities. I urge everyone to promptly complete and return these forms upon receipt.
As chair of the committee, I am grateful to the committee members who take time from their busy practices to tackle the committee’s work. I would like to recognize and thank the committee members for their service: Vice Chair Andrew Berman, David Caldevilla, Jack Pelzer, Duane Daiker, Carrie Ann Wozniak, Tom Hunker, Forrest Andrews, and Manny Farach. It has been a pleasure working with each of you during my tenure on this committee. I treasure the bonds and friendships we have formed.
Likewise, we have been well served by our Bar certification specialist, Kelsey Pochedley, whose hard work and dedication to our committee has been invaluable. We also express our gratitude to Maritza M. McGill for her assistance throughout the year.
Kansas R. Gooden, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
Just as last year’s chair of the Appellate Court Rules Committee (ACRC), Courtney Brewer, noted about the 2018-2019 Bar year, the 2019-2020 year has also been a crazy year for ACRC. The committee passed and filed its three-year, regular-cycle report that includes a substantial number of changes to the rules. It might turn out to be an historic filing for a couple of reasons. First, because of the recent change to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.140, the process of rule adoptions and amendments by the Florida Supreme Court has completely changed, i.e., amendments are submitted as they pass and no longer wait to be filed in a regular cycle. Given that, this is the last ever three-year cycle report for ACRC. Also, some of the changes represent a major shift in appellate practice that recognizes the shift to the Florida Supreme Court’s goal of fully electronic courts. For example, no longer will there be a page limit for briefs or petitions. Instead, briefs and petitions will now be limited by the number of words contained in the document. In addition to no page limit, different fonts may be used; both new fonts proposed by ACRC, Bookman Old Style and Arial, are larger compared to the old fonts. When the new fonts are coupled with the font size required under the rules, 14-point type, it results in what seems to be a much larger brief. However, though it results in more pages, the content is the same, so the document is not really longer. The 2020 Appellate Court Rules Regular-Cycle Report can be found here.
As noted, the changes are extensive, and you should read them for yourselves. The summary chart, which must be included with the filing at the court, is 55 pages. Here are some of the more significant proposals:
• Creates Rule 9.045 to address the form of all documents filed in Florida appellate courts and alters the acceptable font styles for such documents;
• Amends Rules 9.100, 9.125, 9.141, 9.142, and 9.370 to change from page- to word-count limits;
• Amends Rule 9.110(d) to require the notice of appeal to indicate the pendency of a motion postponing rendition;
• Amends Rule 9.110(e) to change the timing of the transmission of the record on appeal so that the record is received prior to the due date of the brief;
• Amends Rule 9.225 to permit brief argument in a Notice of Supplemental Authority;
• Amends Rule 9.300(d)(13) to remove the requirement that motions filed in the Florida Supreme Court be accompanied by a separate tolling request to toll appellate deadlines;
• Amends Rule 9.320 to add procedures for requesting oral argument in the Florida Supreme Court;
• Creates Rule 9.425 as an appellate corollary to the civil procedure rule requiring notice be given to the attorney general when the constitutionality of a state statute or constitutional provision is called into question; and
• Amends Rule 9.440 to permit limited appearances by attorneys in the appellate courts.
There were some other rule changes in current cases, but those are unresolved and may change between writing and publication. Stay alert for rule changes from the court.
None of the changes would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of ACRC members. All of them deserve thanks not just from me but appellate lawyers statewide as the members have tried to make rules that allow the appellate courts to work efficiently and effectively. We have tried to make the rules understandable by all and not just the appellate geeks (a term of endearment by the way).
I thank my vice chairs: Nikole Hiciano, Judge Stephanie Ray, and Tom Ward, who were always willing to accept any assignment. I also thank Amy Farrior, our liaison to the Board of Governors of the Bar. She is always there if we need her to help. In addition, thanks to Aaron Daniel, ACRC secretary, who always produces a detailed set of minutes shortly after the meetings are over that is invaluable to the committee.
I thank the committee chairs who really kept things moving this year. In particular, without slighting the others, I thank Judge Andrew Manko, who chaired the General Subcommittee this year. That committee got an inordinate amount of work done this year, and spearheaded two very unusual motions for rehearing filed in two rules cases. Judge Manko has done a superb job in staying on top of things and pushing me to get things done.
However, the news was not all good this year. We lost our amazing liaison, Heather Telfer, to a promotion within the Bar. Last year, the chair’s message said it better than I could: “From an encyclopedic knowledge of past committee actions, to her love of efficient and organized meetings, through her firm but patient hand in working through technology issues (no matter how obnoxious the mic feedback got!), we simply would not be the fantastic committee we are without her.” Krys Godwin from the Bar has stepped in and is doing a great job filling in, but replacing Heather is impossible. In the years before term limits on Bar committees, I served almost 15 years on the Appellate Court Rules Committee. I have been on the committee for six years now. Although there were some great liaisons, none had the passion that Heather had for making sure “appellate” got it right. We wish Heather the best, but we miss her more than words can express.
Serving on a Bar rules committees is a true honor and privilege. The appellate courts of this state are lucky to have such a dedicated group of people helping to make the rules those courts operate under. The members are the best.
Tom Hall, Chair
Florida is a hub for the aviation industry both commercial and private. It is home to numerous businesses and governmental agencies serving aviation and aerospace industries. The Aviation Law Committee supports its members, whose practices include aviation and space law, through continued education and networking with other experienced aviation lawyers.
The committee holds semi-annual educational sessions in conjunction with The Florida Bar’s winter and summer meetings, covering topics within the broad area of expertise required of aviation lawyers, including criminal, tort, litigation, employment, products liability, transactional, and insurance defense, as well as administrative and regulatory practice before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board, and Transportation Security Administration. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, “drones”) have been of special interest to the committee over the past year. Attendance at the sessions satisfy, in part, CLE credit requirements of those who are Florida Bar Board Certified in Aviation Law. Additionally, committee members often present sessions during the Aviation Law Board Certification Exam’s review, held in January of each year immediately following the Embry-Riddle Aviation Law and Insurance Symposium. This seminar includes presentations on topics covered in the certification exam, including litigation, aeronautics and space law, aircraft registration and recording law, international treaties and conventions, airport land use, air taxi operations, airline labor law, and FAA enforcement and administrative actions.
The committee publishes an online newsletter, Vectors, available at https://www.floridabar.org/about/cmtes/cmtes-cm/cmte-cm015/.
The committee and its members work closely with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as well as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, International Air and Transportation Safety Bar Association, National Business Aviation Association and Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association. The committee endowed the Eilon Krugman-Kadi scholarship with Embry Riddle, in honor of a former committee member.
We welcome participation of Florida Bar attorneys with an interest in, or who practice, aviation law but are not yet members.
I thank Stefanie Svisco of The Florida Bar, and Forrest Owens, vice chair, for coordinating our February meeting and helping to ensure its success. In addition, I thank all members who presented at the January aviation law certification course. Finally, I thank those who attend our meetings and contribute to the transfer of knowledge, and committee members who assist The Florida Bar and its membership in this highly technical area of law.
Elisabeth Kozlow, Chair
Aviation Law Certification
The Certification Committee for Aviation Law has performed its routine mission of grading the exams for certification in aviation law and drafting the exam for this year. We will shortly meet to grade the exam just taken. In addition, our chair has attended the exam drafting workshop in Orlando in February to get a better idea of how to draft a fair exam for the upcoming years. Finally, we have undertaken to promote board certification among all members of our substantive law committee, as well as among fellow attorneys in the aviation law community who have not yet attempted to become board certified. We view board certification as an important step to inform and protect the public in need of our services as to the demonstrated high standards required of attorneys who are board certified.
Charles R. “Charlie” Morgenstein, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) has the responsibility to administer programs for regulation of 27 areas of certification. The BLSE also oversees the legal education offered to all members of The Florida Bar.
Established by the Florida Supreme Court, board certification is the highest recognition for ethics, character, professionalism, and credibility in the practice of law as recognized by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar is the largest certification program in the nation with more than 5,000 board-certified attorneys.
The BLSE is comprised of 16 members: Chair Steven B. Lesser; Vice Chair Philip R. Augustine, Frank T. Adams, G. Scott Baity, John F. Eversole, Joseph F. “Skooter” Kinman, Jr., Michele L. Lieberman, Robert A. Norgard, Mark Osherow, Colin M. Roopnarine, Elisha D. Roy, Elaine Thompson, Joseph J. Weissman, David C. Willis, Barbara C. Wingo, and Sean Moyles.
Each member of the BLSE is assigned as a liaison to designated areas of certification and monitors issues and events for the individual certification areas, as needed.
This past year, the BLSE has engaged in an outreach program to emphasize the value of becoming board certified and accomplished the following: 1) recruited new candidates to become board certified; 2) educated the public as to why it is important to retain a board-certified attorney; and 3) encouraged existing certified members to retain their board-certified status.
Board certification matters! A recent study found that of 1,400 visitors to The Florida Bar website to locate an attorney, 64% consider board certification to be the most important factor when retaining an attorney. This statistic supports our message to local bar associations, law schools, and area committee functions that specialization provides an opportunity to become a better attorney and distinguish your credentials from others. To emphasize this point, the BLSE commissioned a short promotional video to educate potential clients about the advantages of hiring a board-certified attorney. The video is posted on Facebook directly from The Florida Bar Board Certification page and available for download and dissemination by our members to clients and to consumers of legal services. The video can also be found on our YouTube channel. In addition, the BLSE is working with an outside consultant to further publicize the value to consumers that retain a board-certified attorney by promotion through social media, billboards, and public service announcements. Our goal is to publicize the value of board certification and elevate this distinction to a new level.
The BLSE has examined ways to encourage board-certified attorneys to retain their certification status. As our legal population ages, some board-certified attorneys find it difficult to satisfy the criteria to remain board-certified, particularly for those area committees that require a specified number of trials, hearings, appellate arguments, or other quantitative requirements. To address this reality, the BLSE has proposed certain changes to Chapter 6 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar to relax those requirements for attorneys that have been certified for three cycles and continue to be substantially involved in their specialty area of practice. These board-certified attorneys must also satisfy peer review and CLE requirements. In addition, board-certified attorneys that transition to full-time mediation, arbitration, or those that serve as a neutral can remain certified if all other certification requirements are satisfied. This is an important change because our current rules do not recognize mediators, arbitrators, or neutrals as engaged in the “practice of law.” Later this year, the BLSE anticipates that this proposed language will be considered by the Florida Supreme Court as an amendment to our current rules.
In its continuing effort to assure that members applying for board certification are treated fairly and uniformly across the various certification areas, the BLSE sponsored an exam drafting roundtable featuring Chad Buckendahl of ACS Ventures (our exam consultant) and Amy Fanzlaw, board certified in elder law and wills, trusts, and estates to speak to our area committees regarding practical tips on preparing, writing, and grading the board certification exam. This session was video-recorded and has become part of the BLSE educational library, along with instructional videos dealing with the peer-review process and handling grievances/ malpractice issues during initial and recertification of applicants. The BLSE anticipates adding to its educational library each year to assist our area committees in carrying out the board certification process.
BLSE continues to support the program, which coordinates, and makes available, board-certified lawyers to answer questions on a pro bono, “on call” basis, known as the CLOC program. The CLOC program has experienced an enthusiastic response to its services.
At The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando on Thursday, June 18, Chief Justice Charles T. Canady will present the Justice Harry Lee Anstead award in recognition of The Florida Bar Board Certified Lawyer of the Year. This award goes to the member who is board certified and who demonstrates outstanding excellence, professionalism, and commitment to the certification program, and to the practice of law in Florida. BLSE will also conduct its annual “pinning ceremony” to recognize all newly board-certified attorneys.
Steven B. Lesser, Chair
Business Litigation Board Certification
The Business Litigation Certification Committee is composed of nine board-certified business litigators, including two that are also sitting as circuit court Judges. Michael Freed is currently serving as committee chair with Sheila Biehl serving as vice chair. Other committee members include Hank Jackson, Andrew Lannon, Joanne O’Connor, Jeremy Slusher, Rachael Loukonen, Judge Kimberly Sharpe-Byrd, and Judge Janet Carney-Croom. Each committee member values board certification and has given freely of their time to actively participate in committee meetings.
The certification committee has had three meetings at which it has reviewed initial and re-certification applications, composed, edited, and reviewed exam questions, as well as discussed various ways to improve the initial and re-certification application process.
The committee received and reviewed 15 initial applications. The exam is scheduled for May 14. The committee will meet in conjunction with The Florida Bar’s annual convention to grade certification exams. The committee also received and reviewed 26 recertification applications. There are now 237 Florida attorneys who are board certified in business litigation.
Board certification remains one of the highest honors that a practitioner can achieve. To those who wish to become board certified in business litigation, we appreciate your interest in this certification area and encourage you to persist. To those who are currently board certified in this area, thank you for your continued support of the program.
I also personally thank each committee member for their hard work and dedication in enhancing the certification process and providing guidance to those who wish to become board certified and recertified in business litigation. It has been an honor to serve as chair of the Business Litigation Committee.
Michael Freed, Chair
City, County and Local Government Law Certification
It was a privilege to serve as the chair of the City, County and Local Government Law Certification Committee over the past year. The committee is comprised of an outstanding group of board-certified peers who stand dedicated and ready to accomplish the committee’s goals. In recognition of their service to the committee, I extend my sincere thanks to Vice Chair Dean DiRose and to members Donna Marie Collins, Henry Hunnefeld, Derek Rooney, Pamala Ryan, Robert Shillinger, Jr., Sarah Taitt, and Judge Suzanne Van Wyk.
During the year, the committee worked diligently to prepare and refine the 2020 certification examination. Additionally, the committee closely reviewed and analyzed applications for candidates seeking certification and recertification in city, county, and local government law. This year, the committee received 39 initial applications for certification and 45 applications for recertification. The committee’s efforts were aimed at ensuring that qualified and reputable attorneys were approved to sit for the examination.
The work of the committee could not have been accomplished without the stellar support of our Bar certification specialist, Paige Dooley-Levy. This was Paige’s first year serving as a committee liaison, but you would never have known it had she not told us. Paige kept the committee focused on the task at hand and kindly and steadily guided us to complete our work in time to meet the applicable deadlines. I speak for the committee in thanking Paige for her diligent efforts to keep the committee on track.
My participation in the City, County and Local Government Law Certification Committee has proven to be both a challenging and rewarding experience, but the time and effort pledged to the committee over the last several years has been well worth it. Membership on the committee has provided me with the opportunity to establish professional relationships with local government practitioners from around the state who face situations and challenges in their day-to-day practice similar to my own, and thus, they have become invaluable resources. I encourage any attorney seeking to become more involved in the Bar to pursue committee membership.
Katherine Latorre, Chair
Civil Trial Certification
Civil trial law is one of Florida’s first certification areas, having been approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1983. Currently, less than 1% of Florida lawyers are board-certified civil trial lawyers. More than 100 board-certified civil trial lawyers have been continuously certified since 1983. There are currently 988 certified civil trial lawyers.
The Civil Trial Certification Committee faced significant challenges this year. First, there is a general decline of interest in certification borne of the fact that any lawyer can claim to be a specialist in a given area of law. Second, the changing nature of trial practice meant we needed to examine our standards to ensure accessibility to qualified trial lawyers.
The committee responded. First, we continued overhauling the exam to make it more applicable to modern-day trial practice. Second, we recommended a rule change that would allow a certain number of county court trials to count toward certification. The committee also focused on promotion of certification and consideration of trial equivalents (i.e., the Bar’s Advanced Trial Advocacy program) to broaden our umbrella. Each member of the committee brought ideas to the table, and we continue to focus on better ways to promote certification. Committee members attend seminars, speak at ABOTA functions, and the like.
In 2019-2020, the committee successfully reviewed 186 applications for recertification. Thirty applicants actually sat for the exam (out of 42 initial applicants). The committee is currently in the process of grading the examinations, and results will be sent to newly board certified attorneys before June 1.
I owe special thanks to Jack McLuskey, my vice chair, and James Gassenheimer, both of whom went above and beyond all year in furtherance of our mission; and Fred Tromberg, whose experience, wisdom, and leadership will be missed. The committee also recognizes our fallen comrade Charles Morehead III, who left us suddenly last year and left a void that cannot be filled.
Finally, the committee owes special thanks to Jaclyn O’Hara, our staff liaison, who kept us on track all year, and Assistant LSE Director Maritza McGill, who kept me in line. I step down as chair knowing that our program is in the best of hands.
Michael B. Feiler, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
Throughout the past year, the Civil Procedure Rules Committee has continued its efforts to develop and improve the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Our committee has worked hard to respond thoughtfully and efficiently to proposals from judges, lawyers, legislative enactments, and directions from the Florida Supreme Court.
We are proud to report that the 2019 cycle report was submitted to the Florida Supreme Court, which approved the vast majority of the committee’s proposed amendments to the rules. The significant approved changes include the adoption of a new Rule 1.535 (remittitur and additur); Subdivision (b)(1) (failure to comply with order) of Rule 1.380 (failure to make discovery; sanctions); Subdivision (a); Subdivision (b) (mistake; inadvertence; excusable neglect; newly discovered evidence; fraud; etc.) of Rule 1.540 (relief from judgment, decrees, or orders); Rule 1.610 (injunctions); Form 1.984 (juror voir dire questionnaire); Paragraph 6 of Forms 1.996(a) (final judgment of foreclosure) and 1.996(b) (final judgment of foreclosure for reestablishment of lost note).
In addition to the 2019 cycle report, the committee has submitted a number of out-of-cycle reports to the Florida Supreme Court, including a joint out-of-cycle report of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee, Small Claims Rules Committee, and Appellate Court Rules Committee in response to the court’s direction regarding a legislative change increasing the jurisdictional amount for county courts found in Ch. 2019-58, Laws of Florida; a Joint Out-of-Cycle Report of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee, Small Claims Rules Committee, Appellate Court Rules Committee, and Family Law Rules Committee in response to the court’s February 11, 2019, letter asking the “committees to review their respective bodies of rules and propose rule amendments that will require documents that are to be served but not filed with the court to be served in accordance with Florida Rule of Judicial [Administration] 2.516 (Service of Pleadings and Documents, based on the court’s ruling in Wheaton v. Wheaton, 261 So. 3d 1236 (Fla. 2019))”; and a report in response to the court’s request on amendments to Form 1.923 (Eviction Summons — Residential) and additional new forms in response to the feedback given after the launch of DYI Florida landlord/tenant project.
The committee’s ongoing efforts include a proposal to create a jury read back rule for use during jury trials; continued monitoring of action by the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee relating to remote testimony and potential need for civil rule changes; reviewing the guidelines for taxation of costs for recommendation of changes therein; analyzing the need for filing requests for production and requests for admission with courts; reviewing Rule 1.380 in connection with R.J. Reynolds v. Ward, 238 So. 3d 408 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018); considering rule changes based on the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, 278 So. 3d 551 (Fla. 2019), replacing Frye standard with Daubert; and considering changes to Rule 1.525 relating to, inter alia, timing issues. The committee also continues to monitor changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and is currently considering, among other things, the potential of inclusion of initial disclosure requirements into the rules and changes to the expert disclosure rules to more closely conform to federal practice to provide uniformity for practitioners working in both systems.
The extensive and difficult work of this important committee is done by some of our state’s most esteemed practitioners and jurists, all of whom demonstrate a selfless devotion to improving the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure for all of us. I especially recognize my impressive team of co-chairs: Ceci Berman, Elliot Kula, and Jason Stearns, who have devoted tireless hours to leading the committee as well as chairing important subcommittees and standing committees. I also acknowledge the significant contributions of Judge Daryl Trawick for his ongoing efforts to review and revise all Supreme Court approved Civil Procedure forms; Keith Park, the committee parliamentarian and chair of numerous important subcommittees; and Siobhan Grant for her diligent and comprehensive work as the chair of the subcommittee on revisions to the civil cover sheet. I am also indebted to our immediate past chair, Scott M. Dimond, who continues to provide the committee with invaluable guidance and insight regarding rule changes. Finally, I thank our Florida Bar representative, Mikalla Davis, who provided me and the entire committee with vital assistance throughout the year.
It has been a great honor to serve as chair of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee. I am extremely proud of the committee’s extraordinary efforts and humbled by the shear dedication and commitment of the committee’s members. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to assist in the betterment of civil practice in Florida courts.
Ardith M. Bronson, Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
The Florida Bar Clients’ Security Fund was established in 1967 as a voluntary, discretionary fund to reimburse clients who have suffered a monetary loss as a result of misappropriation, embezzlement, or other wrongful taking by a member of The Florida Bar when acting as the claimant’s lawyer. The Clients’ Security Fund is currently financed by $25 of every active and inactive Florida Bar member’s annual fees as well as each application to appear pro hac vice in Florida and has over $2.6 million budgeted for fiscal year 2019-20 to pay claims brought by former clients. The fund reimburses clients under two circumstances: where an attorney takes an advance fee, but then fails to provide any services up to a maximum amount of $5,000, and for misappropriation or theft of client monies up to a maximum amount of $250,000. In the last fiscal year, the fund received 270 new claims and paid out over $2 million to clients for claims filed against 134 Florida lawyers. As of the date of this report, for the fiscal year ending June 30, the fund has received 130 new claims against 72 lawyers and has currently approved 31 claims with approved losses of over $3 million. Claims are paid only after a lawyer has been suspended, deceased, placed on the inactive list for incapacity not related to misconduct, or has had the member’s status as a member of The Florida Bar revoked or terminated. Fee claims and misappropriation claims less than $1,000 are paid promptly after approval. All other claims, i.e., those over $1,000, are paid on a pro rata basis after the end of the fiscal year if there are not enough funds available to pay 100% of the approved losses.
Since its inception, the Clients’ Security Fund has processed over 12,800 claims and paid out over $43 million to victims of attorney theft. Claims are filed in writing by the former client, reviewed by Bar staff and, when appropriate, referred to a voluntary member of the committee for investigation. The 2019-20 Clients’ Security Fund Committee is composed of 20 volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar’s president-elect. The committee meets four times during the year, but its volunteer members are actively engaged in the review and investigation of claims throughout the year. This is a true working committee. Membership on the committee involves extensive time and energy in the investigation of claims and preparation of reports. Guided and assisted by dedicated Bar staff, claims are thoroughly investigated, and members make recommendations for approval or denial by the committee. Many investigations require active debate at committee meetings and discussions of claims at meetings are spirited, but always with the goal of doing the right thing for the injured client as well as being good stewards of the fund. Although committee meetings are confidential, final action on claims is subject to limited disclosure. Committee recommendations are ultimately submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration.
As lawyers, we tend to hold ourselves in high regard, especially after the rigors of law school, scrutiny by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and continued oversight by The Florida Bar throughout our careers. Even though we feel this way about ourselves, during the investigation of claims and discussions with clients, we are repeatedly humbled by the notion that individual clients impart an unbelievable amount of trust in their chosen counsel. Breach of this trust may devastate clients financially and emotionally. Bar staff and the Clients’ Security Fund Committee are devoted to repairing the public’s trust in members of the Bar and the legal system.
There are more than 108,000 members of The Florida Bar, and as of the last fiscal year, claims under the Clients’ Security Fund were made against 0.1% of Florida lawyers. The work of the Clients’ Security Fund is an integral part of recovery and mitigation of losses to clients and the public whose trust and confidence in the legal profession has been negatively impacted by the wrongful acts of a few. The fund is one way in which the Bar strives to improve the public’s perception of Florida lawyers and to restore confidence in the profession.
I have served on this committee for six years and currently serve as chair. Each call to a client allows me and every investigating member of the committee the chance to right a wrong and attempt to reestablish lost trust in Florida lawyers. On the committee, I have met and served with some of the finest and most hard-working lawyers in the Bar. Without their dedication, the Clients’ Security Fund could not serve its valuable purpose. I am term-limited, and it will be difficult to end my tenure on the committee. Each member of the committee is to be commended for their diligence and hard work in investigating and processing claims.
All who serve on a Florida Bar committee know that this important work would not be accomplished without the tireless dedication of the Bar staff. Committee members and the clients rely heavily on Bar staff, and without their commitment, we could not do our jobs. Thank you to Stacey Thrash, administrative support; Celia Connell, CSF administrator; Rick Courtemanche, deputy general counsel; and Gypsy Bailey, general counsel/division director of Ethics and Client Protection, for the tremendous effort, work, and discipline they have given to this committee.
Daniel Davis, Chair
Code and Rules of Evidence
The Florida Bar Code and Rules of Evidence Committee (CREC) modernized its procedures and committees. The CREC conducted a massive overhaul to its internal operating procedures to allow CREC to better fulfill its mission “to carry out the mandate of Rule 2.140, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, concerning the proposal of new rules of procedure and changes to existing rules.” The CREC adopted the changes presented by the IOP ad hoc committee. After the CREC adopted the changes to its Internal Operating Procedures, the Florida Supreme Court conducted its own massive overhaul to Rule 2.140, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. Based upon this change, the CREC we will now reevaluate the internal operating procedures and proposed further changes.
The CREC deals with some of the weightiest issues that face The Florida Bar and its membership, and few things have been more critical than the standard for admitting expert opinion evidence. In 2013, the CREC issued a regular-cycle report recommending against the adoption of legislative changes to the Florida Evidence Code and F.S. §766.102 (2012), to the extent they were procedural. The Florida Supreme Court, after holding oral arguments on the matter, followed the recommendation of the CREC and The Florida Bar Board of Governors to not adopt the legislative changes. In 2019, without substantive notice to the CREC, the newly constituted Florida Supreme Court, on its own motion, in a 5-2 opinion, receded from its previous decision and adopted Daubert. The CREC voted overwhelmingly to file a motion for rehearing on the issue, but the court denied the motion. The CREC created an ad hoc committee to create a practical solution for litigants considering the court’s ruling. The ad hoc committee was also tasked with working with other standing committees of The Florida Bar that are working on the Daubert issue. The ad hoc committee will report its final proposals at the June meeting.
The Florida Supreme Court modified Form 1.997 with the amendments becoming effective on January 1. The amendments were not published for comment prior to their adoption and after they became effective, the CREC was informed of concerns regarding the changes. The CREC formed an Expedited Procedure Subcommittee (EPS) to address those concerns. The EPS worked and proposed solutions to the myriad of issues presented by the amendments. The solutions were adopted by the CREC and filed as a comment with the Florida Supreme Court. No further substantive action has been taken by the court on this issue.
The CREC also created an hoc committee to discuss the impact of remote testimony on the evidence code.
During my time as chair, the CREC had to create more ad hoc committees than normal in order to deal with the many shifting norms. Although the highest profile issues were addressed by the ad hoc committees, much of the work done by CREC was done in its subcommittees and by The Florida Bar standing committee liaisons. The decision on selecting liaisons and subcommittee chairs was made thoughtfully based on racial, gender, and geographic diversity, as well as practice areas and other expertise. The depth and excellence of the work product produced demonstrates that those aforementioned factors should continue to be on the forefront of the next chair’s mind while making these pertinent decisions. On the previous page is a list of the officers, liaisons, subcommittee, and ad hoc chairs, as well as committee member breakdown.
The CREC was staffed by Mikalla Davis and she was an incredible resource. On behalf of the CREC members, we extend our sincerest gratitude and thanks to attorney Davis for her skilled support. We also had a liaison from The Florida Bar Board of Governors, Paige Greenlee, who was constantly present, active, and informative. She was a great resource to the CREC.
The Florida Bar, as evidenced by the many paradigm shifts of the Florida Supreme Court, is in a state of transformation. I know that President John Stewart is intimately knowledgeable of all the changes and challenges that face The Florida Bar and, with that in mind, entrusted me to lead one of the most prestigious standing committees in The Florida Bar. It was not a charge I took lightly, and I am incredibly grateful to President Stewart for my appointment, which made me not only the youngest to chair the CREC, but also the first black lawyer to chair the CREC.
The work of The Florida Bar is challenging. We are the only profession that is intimately involved with an entire branch of government and, thus, every decision we make must be competent, forward-looking, and transparent. The lawyers who volunteer to serve The Florida Bar, in any capacity, make a substantive impact on our profession. I truly appreciate all the members of the CREC for their willingness to focus on improving the Florida Evidence Code and Rules of Evidence. As chair, I worked to put you on committees that piqued your interests, did my best to run efficient and productive meetings, and always had the utmost respect for your time and efforts. I hope that I was successful in that endeavor!
G.C. Murray II, Chair
Condominium and Planned Development Law Certification
The Condominium and Planned Development Law Certification, through the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, consists of 190 certified attorneys as of June 1, 2019.
This committee certifies attorneys whose practice of law involves 1) serving as counsel to community associations, developers, lenders, property owners, community association members, sellers, purchasers, governmental agencies, and investors in matters related to condominiums and planned developments; 2) drafting governing documents or their amendments and preparing filings with governmental agencies that regulate community associations or planned developments; 3) serving in or for governmental agencies that regulate community associations or planned developments; 4) representing parties in construction lien and defect claims, collection of assessment actions, covenant and rule enforcement and dispute resolution, such as litigation, arbitration, and mediations in matters relating to community associations or planned developments; and 5) planning, developing, constructing, and financing of condominium or planned development communities.
The 2019-2020 committee received 34 applications; 34 were approved to sit for the examination; and 23 applicants sat for the examination administered March 12.
During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the committee met numerous times by conference call and in person to 1) review any possible lessons learned from the previously administered examinations; 2) prepare a study guide and sample questions published on the certification website to assist applicants preparing for the examination; 3) review and evaluate the credentials of the applicants; 4) preparation of the current examination; and 5) grading of the examination.
Members of the Condominium and Planned Development Law Certification Committee are Joseph E. Adams, chair, Ft. Myers; Chad M. McClenathen, vice chair, Sarasota; Barry B. Ansbacher, Jacksonville; Shawn G. Brown, Tampa; Christopher N. Davies, Naples; Kenneth S. Direktor, Ft. Lauderdale; Peter M. Dunbar, Tallahassee; Russel M. Robbins, Coral Springs; and Margaret (Peggy) Ann Rolando, Miami. I thank each committee member for their outstanding contributions to the committee this year.
On behalf of the entire committee, I express our appreciation for the support of Jasmine Rodriguez, our Bar staff liaison.
I encourage all eligible attorneys to apply for certification when the application period opens in July. This designation identifies an individual to other attorneys and to the public as having specialized knowledge, and as importantly, having been evaluated by their peers.
Joseph E. Adams, Chair
The Constitutional Judiciary Committee’s dedicated objective is to strengthen the public’s understanding of the role of the judicial branch of government, the constitution, the rule of law, and the role of judges and juries in the administration of justice. To this end, the committee:
1) Oversees Florida Bar projects having to do with elections and informing the public about the judiciary. Those include The Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, the Guide for Florida Voters, and Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements that trial court judges get to post to The Florida Bar website.
2) Oversees The Florida Bar’s adult civics education program: Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education.
3) Formerly oversaw the Confidential Judicial Feedback Program.
• The Florida Bar Guide for Florida Voters — Published in elections years, The Guide for Florida Voters answers questions about judicial elections such as: What is the difference between a county, circuit, and an appellate judge? Are appeals court judges and Supreme Court justices elected? Why is it important to vote in judicial elections and merit retention elections? What is merit retention?
To prepare for the 2020 election, a subcommittee reviewed the guide’s content and format and suggested changes for the fifth edition. Thanks to Richard Levenstein for chairing this subcommittee and the members, Rebecca Vaccariello and Judge Joseph Williams.
In its fifth edition this year, the guide consists of six pages. It will be printed in English and Spanish. The goal is to distribute 100,000 copies statewide through county supervisors of elections, public libraries, voluntary bar associations, and local civic and political groups. Groups that want copies should request them by sending an email to [email protected]. The 2020 version should be available in early June.
• The Vote’s in Your Court — The committee oversees The Vote’s in Your Court page on The Florida Bar website. The page will serve as a hub for election-related information, posting results of The Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, links to The Guide for Florida Voters, and other voter resources and judicial biographies of the one Supreme Court justice and 24 appellate jurists who will be on the ballot Nov. 3 in merit retention elections.
• Merit Retention Poll — The Florida Bar considers it vitally important to attract and retain appellate court judges and justices with the highest qualifications to ensure that Florida’s courts have the confidence and respect of all Floridians. To this end, since 1978, the Bar has polled members to gain their opinions about appellate jurists on the ballot in merit retention elections and then widely publishes information to help inform voters.
In 2018, for example, through Election Services Co. of New York, 76,529 ballots were distributed to in-state Bar members, and 5,239 lawyers (6.85%) took part in the poll. That participation rate, only slightly less than in previous years, was not unexpected, considering that the confidential poll asks for direct knowledge of appeals court judges and Supreme Court justices. Only responses by lawyers saying they have considerable or limited knowledge of the judges are included in poll results. Results two years ago showed support for all 18 jurists on the merit retention ballot to be retained.
The Bar’s merit retention poll is a valuable resource for the public and media with many media outlets publishing both news stories about the poll as well as editorials.
• Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements — This program was initiated a decade ago to assist the public in making educated decisions when voting for judicial trial court candidates and will be used for the 2020 primary and general elections. After qualifying ends in April, judicial candidates for county or circuit seats will be invited to submit 10-page statements with information about their backgrounds as well as personal statements. The statements will be posted on the Bar’s website.
This year, the committee appointed a subcommittee to review and suggest possible changes for this valuable voter education program. Subcommittee members were Chair Judge Augustus Aikens, Joseph Eagleton, Richard Levenstein, and Judge Joseph Williams.
• Benchmarks — Raising the Bar on Civics Education is a pioneering Florida Bar program that offers attorneys civics education presentations they can use when they are invited to speak to adult civic, community, and religious groups. All Benchmarks materials are available at www.floridabar.org/Benchmarks. Attorneys either attend a seminar to learn how to make Benchmarks presentations or watch a webinar. Presentations are grouped under Constitution and the Bill of Rights, courts and the judicial branch, and special topics.
Benchmarks support Objective 1 in The Florida Bar’s Strategic Plan to educate the public about the role of the courts system and the need to maintain a fair and independent judiciary. The committee accomplishes this goal through hosting seminars to train attorneys, recording webinars, and having committee members make presentations in their communities.
To understand more about how the program can be effective, the committee this year surveyed Bar members who have attended Benchmarks trainings. The committee also plans to offer training at the annual convention. Going forward, the committee wants to use social media to engage Florida Bar members about Benchmarks and find additional ways to create a wider market for the program.
• Confidential Judicial Feedback Program — This year, following a recommendation from the committee, the Program Evaluation Committee recommended to the Board of Governors that this program for attorneys to give confidential feedback to judges be discontinued. The BOG adopted the recommendation at its meeting in January. While the program had a laudable goal of giving needed feedback to judges, attorneys rarely participated.
Thanks to The Florida Bar leadership for appointing attorneys to this committee who are willing not only to attend meetings but also to teach fellow Floridians about the importance of the courts and the rule of law by making Benchmarks presentations. I thank and commend Annette Pitts for her dedication and support of Benchmarks and Vice Chair Richard Levenstein, who participates in training attorneys for Benchmarks, both in Florida and in other states that have adopted programs modeled after Benchmarks. Richard’s dedication to the committee’s work and continued support are most welcome.
Melina Buncome, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
Going strong for more than 40 years, the Consumer Protection Law Committee educates consumers and Bar members about consumer protection laws and issues, as well as provides expert resources to attorneys, judges, and lawmakers. The committee, which accomplishes its work through six subcommittees, has been active this year. Among its accomplishments, the committee:
1) Won Presidential Showcase status for its seminar scheduled for the annual convention in Orlando. The seminar is titled, “Consumer Law Meets Cyberlaw: Emerging Consumer Protection Issues in Light of Digital Innovation and Technology Advancements.”
2) Monitored legislation to assess how proposed bills would affect Florida consumers.
3) Planned to give a deserving attorney The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award for 2020.
4) Updated its Bench Manual on consumer issues published by the Florida Court Education Council for use by state judges.
5) Reviewed and updated Florida Bar consumer pamphlets.
6) Began re-evaluating whether Twitter was the best way to reach consumers and attorneys for the committee’s outreach efforts.
• Presidential Showcase Seminar — Digital innovation and technological advancements are changing the way consumers interact with businesses. The committee’s “Consumer Law Meets Cyberlaw” seminar focuses on relevant consumer protection issues facing both consumer lawyers and general practitioners. Panelists include veterans in the fields of consumer protection, cyber crime, data hostage negotiations, Bitcoin and digital currency, and data analytics. Additionally, the CLE is offering a live demonstration of the dark web and digital underground, to witness how a data breach occurs and what practitioners can do to protect themselves and their clients. The seminar will be held on Friday, June 19. Many thanks go to Vice Chair Anthony Palermo, who assisted the subcommittee, which is led by Co-Chairs Jennifer Newton and Judge Sarah Shullman with help from Ruth Jackson Lee, Jared Levy, Derek Mountford, and Robert Murphy.
• Legislative — The Legislative Subcommittee of the CPLC tracked 28 bills of consumer interest, covering subjects such as consumer loans, housing discrimination, residential evictions, consumer protection from unlicensed home repair contractors, vulnerable investor protection, medical billing disclosure, consumer data privacy, and background checks for home delivery service providers. Members of the committee discussed and analyzed the effect on consumers for the proposed legislation and monitored the bills as they progressed during the session. The subcommittee was available for legislators if they sought further insight and analysis on issues as in prior legislative sessions, where we have responded to requests for information from the legislature on consumer issues, such as PACE loans and high-cost consumer loans. This active subcommittee is headed by Charles Geitner with contributions and input from subcommittee members Barry Balmuth, Beth Norrow, Dan Rheaume, Dennis Wall, Rachel Bentley, and Robert Clements.
• Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — For the 10th year, the committee will honor an attorney for excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law. Vice Chair Victoria Butler assisted the subcommittee led by Carol DeGraffenreidt with Patrice Malloy and Steve Salzer. The committee reached out to legal aid organizations and pro bono coordinators to widen the pool of nominees. Last year’s recipient, Janet Varnell of Lady Lake, received the 2019 award in a special ceremony in November with Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried in Orlando. Her nominators wrote of Varnell: “Advocating for consumers and victims in David and Goliath cases is at the core of the work Varnell has done for the last 19 years. Her Florida firm, Varnell & Warwick, focuses on consumer class actions involving the day-to-day transactions that impact average people the most, such as the financing of a car, a house, or the sale of insurance. She has helped stop some of the most predatory lenders, debt collectors, and fraudsters in the market by making it less economical to prey on the vulnerable.”
• Bench Manual for Florida Judges — The Publications Committee of the Florida Court Education Council approved use of The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee bench book two years ago. The manual is posted on the intranet of the Office of the State Courts Administrator. The committee plans to have the manual printed and distributed to the bench. The manual covers six areas of law affecting consumers: the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; auto sales and finance; the state’s Lemon Law; credit card actions; residential evictions; and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. The subcommittee reviewing and updating the manual this year is led by Chair Anthony Bradlow, assisted by Robert Neary, Kaelyn Steinkraus, and Andrea White.
• Florida Bar Consumer Pamphlets Updated — When consumers need basic legal information on a variety of topics from landlord-tenant issues to writing a will, they can turn to The Florida Bar’s 47 consumer pamphlets. The committee reviews and updates these pamphlets, which are available online, www.floridabar.org/consumerinfo. Alex McClure chaired the committee this year assisted by Lynn Drysdale and Adam Thoresen. Pamphlets updated this year are:
• Buying a Home;
• What is Guardianship?;
• Consumer Bankruptcy in Florida;
• Homeowners Insurance;
• Legal Aid in Florida;
• Buying a Mobile Home;
• Credit Repair Fraud;
• Debtors Rights in Florida;
• How to Safeguard Against Fraud When You Buy Property;
• Your Rights and Responsibilities When Applying for Credit
• Social Media Outreach — Eight years ago, before social media became more prominent in communicating, the Consumer Protection Law Committee became The Florida Bar pioneer for social media, beginning to Tweet messages to consumers and lawyers via Twitter. Those two accounts were combined into one (@FLBarConsumer) last year, but the committee is now considering whether Twitter is the best platform to reach consumers and attorneys for the committee’s outreach efforts. Chair Janelle Weber led this subcommittee assisted by David J. George.
Finally, I thank Vice Chairs Victoria Butler, Charles Geitner, and Anthony Palermo. Their efforts, along with the efforts of our active members, contributed to another successful year for the Consumer Protection Law Committee.
Lisa DiFranza, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
The Criminal Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as either criminal trial specialists or criminal appellate specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, and for reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. The certification process includes the following requirements: satisfactory peer review references, passing the certification examination (initial applicants only), substantial involvement in either criminal appellate law or criminal trial law, and a handling of either criminal appellate actions or trials. For initial criminal appellate applicants: representation of at least 25 criminal appellate actions. For recertification of criminal appellate applicants, representation of at least 10 criminal appellate actions. For initial criminal trial applicants, at least 25 contested criminal cases, with 20 jury trials tried to a verdict, 15 that involved a felony charge, 10 as lead counsel, and five that occurred within the five years preceding application. For recertification, criminal trial applicants, at least five contested criminal cases with four that were before a jury and three that involved a felony charge.
As chair of the Criminal Law Certification Committee, I am happy to report another successful year of overseeing the certification of Florida criminal lawyers. This year, the committee was comprised of 11 geographically diverse board-certified attorneys who practice in a variety of areas, including criminal trial, criminal appellate, criminal prosecution, and criminal defense. The committee consists of government attorneys, public defenders, and private practitioners. The committee began drafting the 2020 examination in August 2019 and met in October 2019 to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee worked to continue the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by committee members and The Florida Bar. The committee also worked to finalize proposed rule amendments to Chapters 6-8, “Standards for Board Certification in Criminal Law.”
Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate certification exams contain five essay questions and 50 multiple-choice questions addressing procedural and substantive law in both state and federal court. The exam is written to assess a criminal lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 8 in Tampa, applicants will answer these questions in two three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by August 1.
At its final meeting, the committee will grade the 2020 examinations. The committee grades the examinations on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to committee members only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a certified attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as a criminal appellate law board-certified specialist or criminal trial law board-certified specialist.
Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 445 are currently board certified in criminal trial law and 43 are board certified in criminal appellate law. Thirty-three attorneys applied to take the 2020 criminal trial law certification exam, and four attorneys applied to take the 2020 criminal appellate law certification exam. This year, the committee also reviewed 64 criminal trial recertification applications and five criminal appellate recertification applications.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer-review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year, along with Pamela Koller (vice chair), Lawrence Avallone, Judge William Burgess, Ilana Marcus, Lisa McLean, Melynda Melear, Christina Pacheco, Michael Salnick, Cyrus Toufanian, and Jessica Travis. None of our work could have been accomplished without our wonderful staff liaison, Laurinda Jackson. I thank everyone for all their hard work and great effort.
Michael Ufferman, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee is comprised of members from all areas of the practice of criminal law, including judges, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and members of academia. Thoughtful selection of committee members by The Florida Bar leadership ensures a committee that is professionally and geographically diverse. This mindfulness of membership selection means that referrals presented to the committee receive consideration by a body that is reflective of all who practice in the area of criminal law.
Rules Committee members are assigned to subcommittees and referrals to the committee are assigned to the appropriate subcommittee for consideration. Referrals come to the Rules Committee from interested parties, legislative enactments, the judiciary, and the committee’s own review of relevant law. Upon receipt of a referral, the subcommittee is careful to consider whether the issue is appropriately within the scope of the Rules of Procedure; whether the issue under review is of statewide applicability and import; and whether a rule a change should be proposed to address a matter that is of rare occurrence.
The activities of the subcommittees and full committee are available for review on the Rules Committee’s page of The Florida Bar’s website. The Rules Committee meeting minutes will provide an interested party with the committee’s reasoning behind the actions it takes, including the positions advanced by proponents and opponents of proposed rule changes, as well as the results of voting on each matter.
A few of the matters considered by the Rules Committee over the past year include referrals relating to sealing and expunging of records for human trafficking victims; competency to proceed; withholding of adjudication; direct contempt procedures; and a rule change proposal to address disparities in sentencing. Rules Committee members have also been involved in the joint workgroup of committees that is addressing whether rule changes are needed in response to the passage of Marsy’s Law.
A matter of great concern to the Rules Committee this year came to it not by way of referral, but in the posture of whether the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee should comment on the significant changes proposed to Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.134 and 3.191. The committee determined the need for a comment and to give treatment to the proposed changes befitting of their significance. A special subcommittee was created to address the proposed changes. This subcommittee collectively created a comprehensive and exceedingly thorough analysis of the impact and consequences of the proposed changes. This work was presented to the full committee at its February meeting, at which time the full committee was able to discuss and debate the proposed changes and cast votes to formulate the committee’s position.
The Rules Committee welcomes the court’s recent amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration removing the three-year cycle for reporting proposed rule changes. This change will benefit all criminal law practitioners as proposed rule changes will now be processed without the delay that occurred as a result of the cycle reporting.
I extend my sincere thanks to all committee members for their hard work throughout the past year, and my grateful appreciation to Sheila Loizos, Judge Richard Hersch, Robert Scavone, Jr., Roseanne Eckert, Carlton Duke Fagan, Jr., Andrew Stanton, Varinia Van Ness, Judge Angela Dempsey, and Sarah Hatch.
Jane A. McNeill, Chair
Diversity and Inclusion
• Executive Council — We have found our 160-member committee size to be a detriment to our effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement. Accordingly, we installed a 17-member executive council that meets monthly either telephonically or in-person at regional meetings. We have implemented a strong subcommittee structure and have recently requested approval for a vice chair model and certain subcommittee requirements.
• Meetings — General committee meetings were held at the annual, fall, and midyear Bar meeting venues and regional meetings are held at selected venues: September, Sarasota and, in April, Jacksonville. These meetings have included special presentations designed to inspire and ignite continued passion for our mission.
• Subcommittees — The heart of our work is done in our subcommittees. We designated two committed lawyers to serve as co-chairs for each of those subcommittees, allowing for a “central point of contact.” Our subcommittees are Pipeline (Valeria Obi and Siobahn Shea), Get Involved (Katherine Scott and Nicholas Johnson), Multicultural (Julian Jackson-Fannin and Michael Andriano), Grants (John Schifino and Rashaundra Suggs), Gender Equality (Paul San Giovani and Lakisha Kinsey-Sallis), and Communications (currently an ad hoc committee; to be considered for standing committee status at our next meeting) (Sui Chung). Committee members joined the subcommittee of their choice. Those who did not indicate a preference were assigned to the ad hoc Communications Committee.
Each of these subcommittees has been required to hold monthly meetings with reporting to the executive council using a newly created Google form resulting in improved accountability, communication, and coordination.
• Proposed Subcommittee Requirements — We have proposed a pilot approach to encourage deeper engagement and more expansive outreach and to potentially streamline the number of CDI members overall. We have requested that starting in the 2020-21 Bar year, each sub-committee member be required to:
1) Participate in the planning and execution of at least one diversity-focused program or service project in their respective circuits within the bar year. The project can be done individually or with others in their circuit. This requirement may also be met by collaborating on a project with other CDI members outside of the circuit (e.g., a regional project or one spearheaded by a CDI subcommittee).
2) Members must provide certification of the completion of the selected project to the CDI chair on or before May 1 of the Bar year. CDI members who do not provide certification of the project completion will forfeit their appointment to the CDI in the following bar year. Those Bar members may re-apply for appointment to the CDI in the next bar year following the year of forfeiture.
• Resource Guides — The Multicultural and Gender Equality Subcommittees completed the Hate Crime and Gender Equality Resource Guides (formerly known as “tool kits”). These were presented to our entire committee, designated Bar leaders, and section liaisons on February 7 at a compelling Orlando summit, “Tools to Ensure a Diverse and Inclusive Future.” Panelists included Julian Jackson-Fannin, Michael Andriano, Judge Gabrielle Sanders-Morency, Lakisha Kinsey-Sallis, Judge Gil Freeman (Ret.), Paul Sandgiovani, and Harriet Williams. The subcommittees plan to share and present these resource guides with voluntary bar associations, FAWL, and other organizations.
• Symposium — Volunteers have been designated and plans are underway to present a significant February 2021 Diversity Symposium.
• Get Involved Subcommittee — Katherine Scott and Nicholas Johnson assembled a team to create a new enlightening and entertaining video that will highlight the mission and work of our committee and its members, as well as the commitment of The Florida Bar to diversity and inclusion. Filming of selected Bar leaders began in early February and we expect to premiere the video at the 2020 annual convention. Those interviewed include Gene Pettis, Nikki Simon, Charlie Ann Syprett, Brittany Maxey-Fisher, and Arnell Bryant-Willis. Pending interviews include Justice Peggy Quince, Gwynne A. Young, and Khurrum Wahid.
• Engagement of Section Liaisons — 1) Video: This subcommittee has endeavored to connect with Bar section and division liaisons to identify those sections with robust policies, practices, and programs promoting a diverse and inclusive leadership path within their organization and those with lesser or none. A survey created by our Communications Subcommittee was sent to all liaisons. After a poor response, the survey was revised, re-sent, and follow up phone calls were made. The collected information will be used to formulate a plan to assist where needed and to collaborate and support other sections and divisions. We identified several strong programs, including the RPPTL Section, and Michael Gelfand, section representative, spoke at our February meeting. He shared their program that promotes minority participation and leadership development within the section. We are reaching out to other sections and VBAs to encourage the development of a similar program.
2) Webinar: Cory Peterson, Cornelius Demps, B.J. Okcular, and Tiffany Hilton are working on a webinar that will guide lawyers through both the JNC and election process. It will be completed in 2021.
• Grants Subcommittee — The Grants Subcommittee reviewed applications and awarded over $50,000 in grants to 23 organizations. Co-Chair John Schifino announced that to encourage sections, divisions, and voluntary bar associations to adopt impactful programming consistent with our mission, we will now showcase the most successful grant recipient projects on our website. Others will then be able to readily replicate these proven programs.
• CDI Representation at Grant Recipient Programs — CDI members will be solicited to attend these events as CDI ambassadors.
• Calendar — Communications Subcommittee Chair Sui Chung created a CDI website calendar where all grant projects event dates are listed. All VBAs, sections, or divisions are now able to post their event dates on our calendar, thus, helping them market their events to a wider audience. The calendar is also an effective resource to other organizations looking for a program idea.
• Applications — Reshaundra Suggs and John Schifino amended to reflect that only new projects will be considered for grants.
• Surveying Voluntary Bar Associations and Bar Sections and Divisions — Valeria Obi and Siobahn Shea, with the help of the Communications Subcommittee, surveyed voluntary bar associations and Bar sections and divisions for the most robust high school, college, and law school pipeline projects.
• Study of Successful High School Pipeline Programs — In September, committee members traveled to Sarasota’s Booker High School Law Academy to learn about the Sarasota County Bar Association’s Pipeline efforts. Charlie Ann Syprett and Karimu Hill Harvey led the program that included a school tour, student presentation, and lunch with Judge Charles Williams and New College Chief Diversity Officer Bill Woodson, Ph.D., as speakers. CDI members learned about Sarasota’s one-on-one mentoring, mock-trial coaching, etiquette training, ticket sponsorship to relevant community events, college scholarship support, and special events, including plans to bring Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson to meet with the students and bringing the students to the Second District to hear oral arguments in Booker’s courtroom-classroom in May.
In April, the committee will meet in Jacksonville where CDI member London Kite and attorneys Lisa Page, Lara Mattina, and Latesha Campbell will present a full program that includes a similar review of the local pipeline effort and a tour of a historic courthouse and forensic art studio.
When the survey and tours are complete and the most impactful programs have been identified, a resource guide identifying and explaining successful high school programs will be created and distributed. This will help others in developing their own programs.
• Study of Successful Law School Pipeline Programs — Anika Harmon is leading the effort to study existing pipeline programs at Florida’s law schools and to identify the most impactful program. A similar resource guide will be created.
• Communications Ad Hoc Subcommittee — In addition to the Google form, the survey and the calendar, Sui Chung’s subcommittee is also exploring regular submissions to the Bar News, a monthly committee newsletter, and swag shop merchandise.
• Latimer Lunch — Wanting to reinvigorate our members, a more robust 2020 Henry T. Latimer Lunch program has been planned. In addition to the award presentations, we will recognize 30 lawyers and/or judges with a photo and bio as table centerpieces. Further, we are presenting the award-winning production of “Letters from Anne and Martin,” created by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. Letters was previously presented by two VBAs as part of their high school pipeline efforts. We hope to encourage others to present this powerful pipeline program in their jurisdictions. Justice Peggy Quince (Ret.) will then remind attendees of our duty to serve as stewards of the legacies of Anne Frank and Martin Luther King, Jr. The event is led by CDI members Charlie Ann Syprett (chair), Jen Smith Thomas, Michael Andriano, Kristen Palacio-Martinez, and Yumeko Motley, along with Grasford Smith and Kim Mosley.
It has been a year of restructuring so that the CDI can be more effective and efficient. We are razor focused on our mission and in creating compelling programs that will promote a more diverse and inclusive Bar and help all minority lawyers realize their full potential.
Charlie Ann Syprett, Chair
Bridge-building has been the theme of this year’s Education Law Committee. Our goal has been to facilitate understanding and professionalism in the corners of education law that have found it difficult to work together. All too often division in K-12 over IDEA and school choice or in post-secondary over Title IX have prevented lawyers from focusing on solving problems and building professional working relationships.
The Education Law Committee is trying to bridge differences by increasing membership to ensure the full diversity of the education bar is represented and able to dialogue. We sponsored a membership drive that caused the committee to grow from 78 to 115 members. The committee is heading the right way. In addition, on January 24, the committee hosted a workshop on education law to help lawyers brush up on the practice of education law and to expand the numbers of board-certified education lawyers. The CLE will remain available online for review.
The committee has also solicited new opportunities to work with education practitioners. We have tried to go where they are. The committee co-hosted continuing education programs with college attorneys and school board attorneys. On January 15, the committee co-hosted the “Community College Conference on Legal Issues.” Afterwards, we enjoyed a roundtable dialogue. On February 21, the committee co-sponsored CLE with the Florida School Board Attorneys’ Association at its winter meeting. We thank both organizers for making this possible.
The committee has also endeavored to keep its social media presence active and informative about legal developments and even education job openings. The committee publishes online Florida Education Law, focusing on Florida education legal developments. We especially thank Stetson Law School’s Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and its many fine law students for partnering with us in this endeavor. In future issues, we hope to feature point/counterpoint on the issues dividing our practice.
Heartfelt thanks also goes to the committee leadership, including Vice Chairs David D’Agata, responsible for CLE; Joy Smith-McCormick, responsible for publications; and Jane Windsor, responsible for membership. Gregg Morton deserves credit for maintaining our social media presence. Last, thanks goes to Thomas Miller, our Bar liaison, for his invaluable support. Each one has helped to build an education law practice where lawyers on both sides of pleadings come to share a common commitment to professionalism in the practice of education law and subject-matter mastery.
My personal thanks goes to President John Stewart and the leadership of The Florida Bar for the opportunity to lead the committee this year. Bar committee leadership is a professionally rewarding and important undertaking that I commend to my colleagues.
Nathan A. Adams IV, Chair
Education Law Certification
The Education Law Certification Committee serves to promote certification among attorneys who practice education law. “Education law” means the practice of law involving the legal rights, responsibilities, procedures, and practices of educational institutions (schools, colleges, and universities, whether public, charter, or private), students, personnel employed by or on behalf of educational institutions, and the guardians and parents of students participating in education. The practice area covers a broad range of legal matters, with the common element being that these legal matters are on behalf of, or related to, an educational institution. This year marks the ninth year of education law certification. As of the writing of this annual report, there are 51 board-certified attorneys in education law, with two applicants who sat for the March 13 examination.
The committee met regularly throughout the year, both in-person and by telephone. The committee continued its ongoing work to add, update, and improve the examination based on the ever-changing legal landscape of education law. The committee is also reviewing and making recommendations for revision to the exam specifications to ensure that the balance of questions on the exams is reflective of the current practice of education law. The committee reviewed initial and recertification applicants for this area. Last, the committee promoted education law certification to education law practitioners and worked to expand the recognition of this important certification area and attract new applicants for certification. The committee is currently working on a presentation that can be shown at various events involving education attorneys to promote certification and provide helpful information for those considering applying for certification.
The members of the 2019-2020 Education Law Certification Committee are Heather J. Wallace, chair; J. Paul Carland II, vice chair; Marylin Batista, Youndy Cook, David Delaney, Sarah Koren, Dana Macdonald, Karen Meta Chastain, and Laura Pincus. I am so grateful of the extraordinary efforts of the committee members this year. On behalf of the entire committee, I thank and commend Charlotte Bell for her assistance in completing the committee’s work.
The committee acknowledges the efforts of the Education Law Committee, which has promoted this certification area and provided certification examination review courses for the benefit of applicants and members of the Education Law Committee alike. Heather J. Wallace, Chair
Elder Law Certification
The Elder Law Certification Committee is comprised of nine board-certified elder law attorneys who are appointed to staggered three-year terms by The Florida Bar president-elect. The committee is tasked with identifying those elder law attorneys who have met the Bar’s standards for board certification in elder law.
The 2019-2020 fiscal year, began with the announcement of four newly certified elder law attorneys: Sara AuMiller, Oviedo; Heather Samuels, Delray Beach; Horacio Sosa, Davie; and Tracy Zanco, Orlando. Their achievement raises the total number of Florida Bar board-certified elder law attorneys to 110.
In identifying appropriate candidates for board certification, the committee reviews each applicant’s experience, knowledge, skills, and judgment. The criteria for certification includes substantial involvement in the active practice of elder law during the five years preceding application; sufficient practical experience as evidenced by providing legal services in at least 60 elder law-related matters; earning the minimum required continuing legal education credits for elder law; and passing an examination designed to demonstrate proficiency in elder law. Peer reviews help ensure that each applicant’s reputation evidences special competence and substantial involvement in the field of elder law.
During the past year, the committee reviewed 18 applications for board certification, and 15 of those applicants were confirmed to take the examination on March 13. To maintain board certification, an application for recertification is required every five years. This year, the committee reviewed and approved 29 applications for recertification.
Preparing the certification examination requires a substantial portion of the committee’s time and effort. The committee reviewed written feedback from the 2019 examinees, looking for ways to improve the examination and ensure that it is an accurate measure of an applicant’s knowledge and skill. The committee met many times throughout the year, both as a full committee as well as in smaller groups, to draft, discuss, edit, and refine examination questions.
Examination questions were submitted to an exam consultant, Chad Buckendahl, Ph.D., of ACS Ventures, who shared his expertise as a front-end psychometrician to improve the technical aspects of our examination immeasurably. The committee is grateful for the opportunity to work with such a skilled expert.
The committee also continued its practice of “pre-testing” examination questions before use in the 2020 exam. Pre-testing is extremely beneficial to the drafting and editing process, as it helps the committee gauge whether the examination is a fair and accurate measure of the substantive knowledge required for board certification. The committee expresses gratitude to Carolyn Landon and Ailish O’Connor, both former committee chairs, who volunteered their free time (during the winter holidays, no less!) to serve as pre-testers.
The committee is also indebted to the tireless grace and helpful spirit of Laurinda T. Jackson (née Babers), who we are fortunate to have supporting us through The Florida Bar. Her patience is truly unmatched.
Serving on a certification committee is a serious commitment of time, and it is not to be taken lightly. Committee members dedicate many hours working to ensure that all those who have met the qualifications for board certification are recognized. Seldom are the committee’s efforts publicly recognized or even noticed, but committee members understand the tremendous impact that their time and dedication have on the future of our practice as elder law attorneys.
To paraphrase a quote often credited to President Abraham Lincoln, time and advice are a lawyer’s stock in trade. Through my work with this committee, I have been honored to work with attorneys who exhibit daily that a lawyer’s time and advice have the power to change the world — or at least individuals’ lives for the better. Many thanks to the committee members whose dedication to elder law practice and whose service to our colleagues has been evident over this past year: Laurie E. Ohall, vice chair, Brandon; Sara Caldwell, Daytona Beach; John S. Clardy III, Crystal River; Jill R. Ginsberg, Ft. Lauderdale; Victoria E. Heuler, Tallahassee; Christopher A. Likens, Sarasota; Jana McConnaughhay, Tallahassee; and Beth A. Prather, Ft. Myers. Special thanks and recognition to Sara Caldwell and Victoria E. Heuler, both of whom complete six consecutive years of service to the committee this year.
Leading the committee this year has been my sincere honor and privilege. Thanks to the efforts of those who came before us, we had a solid foundation upon which to build. Leading the committee has also provided valuable opportunities to learn from respected practitioners of the highest caliber while offering an inimitable vantage point from which to see future talent developing in our elder law practice.
I am immensely grateful to all members of the committee and our Bar staff whose work and support helped us accomplish our set objectives and make this year a success. I am excited for what the future holds.
Amy J. Fanzlaw, Chair
The Florida Bar’s stated function of the Eminent Domain Committee is to study and keep informed of recent developments in the field of condemnation of private property for public use by governmental agencies or private companies who have the power of eminent domain. The Bar states that the committee should keep the members of the Bar informed of developments of great significance in this field, maintain liaison with private companies and governmental agencies who have and use the power of eminent domain, and study and consider legislation, law, or problems in the area of eminent domain law as developed by the committee or assigned by the president or the Board of Governors.
Membership in the committee has grown slightly since last year to the current 97 members. As in the past, members of the committee approach eminent domain from varying perspectives. The committee is made up of both government employee attorneys and private-practice attorneys. The private-practice attorneys represent both government entities (and utilities) and land/business owners in eminent domain matters; exclusively government agencies in these matters; or exclusively land/business owners in eminent domain matters. Some of the attorneys practice exclusively in the area of eminent domain, but many do not. Several of the committee members also serve as mediators in eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases.
Committee Chair Kenneth C. Pope acknowledges with gratitude the hard work of the committee vice chairs: D. Tobyn DeYoung and Deborah A. Ruster. The vice chairs have served on the committee for many years. The vice chairs helped plan the meetings, obtain speakers and sponsors, and introduced the speakers. Further, the chair gives great thanks to our committee liaison, Emily Young, who helped organize the resources for the committee meetings, including projectors, podiums, etc., obtained CLE credits, and was instrumental in setting up the committee’s email exchange. On behalf of the committee, the chair also notes the contribution of the committee’s liaison with The Florida Bar Board of Governors, Thomas P. Wert, and expresses appreciation for the interest of Florida Bar President John M. Stewart in the committee’s work.
The chair also expresses the committee’s appreciation of meeting sponsors Jim Helinger, Jr., and D. Tobyn DeYoung, of Helinger DeYoung; Raymer Maguire of Maguire Lassman Silbernagel, P.A., Orlando; Jay W. Small of Mateer Harbert, Orlando; and Prineet D. Sharma of Sharma Eminent Domain Lawyers, P.L.L.C., Winter Garden, who all raised the Bar for providing refreshments by generously underwriting exceptional omelet stations at the committee’s October and February meetings.
The chair also appreciates those who donated their time to serve as speakers for the committee meetings: David A. Miller, Dean R. DiRose, Judge Andrea Smith, Judge Lamar Battles, Judge John Conrad, Jay W. Small, Summer E. DeGel, Hector A. Cruz, T.C. Whittaker, and Michelle Ku. Last, but certainly not least, the chair thanks those committee members who regularly attended the meetings.
Planning is underway for the June 19 committee meeting. The meeting will include presentations regarding numerous topics of great significance in the area of eminent domain, as well as a case law update. Speakers and topics will be announced closer to the meeting. This meeting will be the conclusion of a productive year for the committee.
The leadership of the committee is in good hands going forward with Blake H. Gaylord taking over as chair, and Matthew R. Silbernagel, and Aloyma M. Sanchez being appointed as incoming vice chairs for the upcoming year.
Kenneth C. Pope, Chair
Federal Court Practice
The Federal Court Practice Committee (FCPC) serves as The Florida Bar’s liaison to our federal courts, local Federal Bar Association chapters, the 11th Circuit Judicial conference, and federal practitioners throughout our state and beyond.
The FCPC hosts its signature event, the Federal Judicial Roundtable, annually at The Florida Bar’s annual convention. The CLE event provides an opportunity for federal judges to engage across the table with practitioners, including especially young practitioners, on issues of ethics, professionalism, court procedure, and technology. This year’s roundtable features a series of vignettes organized by working groups within the committee. After presentation of each vignette, there will be a period of discussion among judges and lawyers about issues presented. The roundtable historically draws dozens of federal appellate, district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges, and over 100 practitioners. The roundtable will conclude with a reception honoring the judiciary. This year’s roundtable is chaired by Phil Rothschild and Erik Matheney.
In addition to the roundtable, the FCPC presents CLEs through our members and in cooperation with Florida Federal Bar Association (FBA) chapters. We are also planning for a series of podcast episodes discussing issues in federal practice. Robin Nauman and Pater Sartes, co-chair of the Education Subcommittee, which is spearheading the podcast series. Another key component of the FCPC’s work is the “Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida’s Federal Courts,” or as it is more affectionately known “the Guide,” https://www.floridabar.org/directories/courts/fcpc-guide/. As part of an ongoing effort, the FCPC polls members of the federal judiciary in Florida to learn their preferences on a wide array of topics and maintains the Guide as a resource for practitioners. This subcommittee is co-chaired by Anitra Raiford and Barbara Junge.
Another component of our FCPC is website and social media outreach. Our social media efforts create an active voice on various platforms through which the FCPC provides updates on relevant issues involving federal practice — everything from job openings in the courts, to relevant decisions, to court closures. Our social media team has also allowed the FCPC to deepen its ties with the local FBA chapters by marketing CLEs and other relevant events. In addition to social media, our group maintains the “Federal Corner” on The Florida Bar’s website, http://www.floridabar.org/directories/courts/fed-corner. Under the direction of subcommittee co-chairs Andy Doyle and Erik Johanson, every member of the FCPC serves as a “roving reporter” helping us distribute relevant content to the Bar.
Another significant initiative of the FCPC is its Pro Bono Subcommittee. Led by Ana Maria Martinez, this subcommittee looks for opportunities to connect federal practitioners with pro bono opportunities in our courts, often in collaboration with local FBA chapters, pro bono service organization, projects, and clinics. The committee is also proud of our Long-Range Planning Subcommittee, which helps steer the FCPC forward and serves as a key component to our growth over recent years. Immediate Past Committee Chair Matthew Hall leads this subcommittee. We also need to give proper recognition to Judge Amanda Sansone and Jennifer Corinis for their leadership of our Federal Rules Subcommittee, keeping members updated about new and proposed rules in each of the districts. We applaud the efforts of our committee members for making this year successful and productive.
Finally, the FCPC also gives special thanks and recognition to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Lani Fraser. She is one of the hardest working people in Tallahassee. Her devotion to and relentless effort in all aspects of the FCPC’s work has allowed the committee to continue to grow and better achieve its mission. Thank you, Lani!
Jason P. Kairalla, Chair
Florida Bar Journal & News Editorial Board
The Florida Bar Journal publishes scholarly, peer-reviewed articles on substantive Florida law, while The Florida Bar News is the premiere source of information on important news and events in the legal community. The Bar’s more than 106,000 members can access the News and Journal in print or online at https://www.floridabar.org/news/news-journal/.
Members of the Editorial Board serve as peer reviewers and subject-matter experts during the evaluation of feature articles in the Journal. This year, the board approved articles on wide-ranging topics, including the Daubert expert standard, implied easements, coerced confessions, indemnification, and social media. The Editorial Board annually selects the best feature article of the year for The Florida Bar Journal Excellence in Writing Award. This year, “Flying Baseballs, Injured Fans, Uncertain Liability: Why Legislative Action is Needed in the Sunshine State” by Robert M. Jarvis was selected as the recipient of the 2019 award. The Editorial Board congratulates Mr. Jarvis, who will be featured in an upcoming issue of the News.
During this Bar year, the News and Journal continued to improve its digital footprint with daily content and increased promotion on social media. The online edition of the News is updated daily with fresh content and is also produced once a month in print. The Journal is published six times per year in print and online, with more than 20 years of articles available in a searchable archive. This valuable research tool is available to Bar members as well as the public. The Journal is also offered in a digital edition flipbook. New in 2019, a digest of News and Journal articles is emailed once per month to Bar members, which has increased ad revenue for the publications.
Members of the Editorial Board work diligently in coordination with Bar staff to ensure our Bar publications are of the highest quality. The board thanks the hundreds of authors and section column editors who take the time to volunteer their knowledge, skill, and talents to help produce the Journal.
Edward Comey, Chair
Florida Probate Rules
The volunteers serving on the Florida Probate Rules Committee had another busy year. During the 2019-2020 Bar year, the committee filed its regular-cycle report, as well as two out-of-cycle reports and a fast-track report. In addition, the committee reviewed inquiries from practitioners about probate and guardianship procedures and worked with other rules committees regarding proposals affecting probate and guardianship practices.
An out-of-cycle report was filed with the Florida Supreme Court on August 13, 2019, in Case No. SC19-1370. This report was in response to a referral from the Florida Supreme Court and based upon a report from the Guardianship Workgroup established under the Florida Supreme Court’s Judicial Management Council. The report recommended changes to 1) Rule 5.550 (petition to determine incapacity); 2) Rule 5.560 (petition for appointment of guardian of an incapacitated person); 3) Rule 5.649 (guardian advocate); and 4) Rule 5.900 (expedited judicial intervention concerning medical treatment procedures).
New forms were proposed for inclusion in the Florida Probate Rules, including the creation of forms for guardianship proceedings: 1) Rule 5.901 (petition to determine incapacity); 2) Rule 5.902 (petition for appointment of guardian and order); 3) Rule 5.903 (letters of guardianship); 4) Rule 5.904 (initial and annual guardianship plans); 5) Rule 5.905 (petition, notice, and order for appointment of guardian advocate of the person); 6) 5.906 (letters of guardian advocacy); and 7) 5.910 (inventory).
A notice of the proposed changes was published in The Florida Bar News on October 1, 2019. The Florida Supreme Court requested a supplemental report from the Probate Rules Committee to address the need for a certificate of service in the proposed guardianship forms, which was filed on February 27. As of the date this report was submitted, the Supreme Court had not yet issued an opinion.
A regular-cycle report was filed on February 1, 2019, in Case No. SC19-164. Rule 5.020 was amended to align the deadline for service of a motion for rehearing in a probate or guardianship proceeding with the deadline in civil proceedings, which is 15 days after the filing of the order or judgment. A revised opinion was issued on December 19, 2019, with the changes becoming effective January 1.
1) Subdivision (a)(3)(D) of Rule 5.040 was added to provide for service by first-class mail when only in rem or quasi in rem relief is requested and service by certified mail is not possible or has been accepted by the addressee. The rule was also updated to address the completion of service when service by regular mail is permitted in subdivision (a)(5).
2) Rule 5.200 was amended to require statements within a petition for administration to confirm the petitioner’s priority for appointment as personal representative under F.S. §733.301 (2019), or a disclosure of the identity of any persons with higher priority. A new subdivision (k) was added to require an affirmative statement that the petitioner is qualified to serve under the applicable Probate Code sections.
3) Rule 5.275 was amended to correspond to legislative changes in F.S. §733.107 (2019). Subdivision (b) was added to reflect the presumption of undue influence that arises under the statute and the resulting shift for the burden of proof under F.S. §§90.301-90.304 (2019).
4) Rule 5.636 was amended to clarify the threshold for a guardian ad litem in cases involving the settlement of minors’ claims, which applies to claims which equal or exceed $50,000. The rule now reflects the language in F.S. §744.3025 (2019).
A fast-track report was filed on December 12, 2019, in Case No. SC19-2071, to address statutory changes relating to electronic notarization and electronic wills. The committee worked to incorporate changes resulting from Laws of Florida, Ch. 2019-71. Amendments were made to 1) Rule 5.015 (general definitions); 2) Rule 5.043 (deposit of wills and codicils); 3) Rule 5.120 (administrator ad litem and guardian ad litem); 4) Rule 5.200 (petition for administration); 5) Rule 5.210 (probate of wills without administration); 6) Rule 5.215 (authenticated copy of will); and 7) Rule 5.230 (commission to prove will). An opinion was issued by the Florida Supreme Court on January 16, with the changes taking effect immediately.
On January 7, the Probate Rules Committee filed an out-of-cycle report addressing the need for standardized forms relating to F.S. §825.1035 (2019), which creates a cause of action for an injunction for the protection against exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The Florida Supreme Court previously adopted amendments to Rule 5.025 proceedings for an injunction against exploitation to the list of adversary proceedings and to exclude such proceedings from the formal notice requirements for adversary proceedings. The proposed forms follow the applicable statutes, but include additions to address procedural matters. The proposed Rule 5.920 includes 1) Petition for Injunction; 2) Temporary Protective Injunction Against Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult; 3) Order Denying Injunction and Notice of Hearing; 4) and Final Protective Injunction.
Notice of the proposed changes were published in The Florida Bar News on March 1. The comment period for the submission ended on April 15.
The Probate Rules Committee also has monitored and offered comments to other committees who have proposed rules that affect probate and guardianship procedures. For example, the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee has the monumental task of standardizing court procedures for all practice areas as much as possible. There are instances, such as the use of formal notice in a probate or guardianship proceeding, where procedures differ. The probate rules comment has also offered comments to the Florida Dispute Resolution Center, which proposed amendments to the Florida Probate Rules relating to mediation.
Several bills pending in the Florida Legislature’s 2020 session could result in the need to amend or revise specific probate and guardianship rules of procedure. As the bills are signed into law, the Probate Rules Committee will work quickly to prepare and submit a “fast-track” report to the Florida Supreme Court to ensure that the rules of procedure are consistent with the substantive provisions of new legislation.
The Florida Supreme Court website contains information on pending rules cases, including the full text of proposed changes: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Case-Information/Rules-Cases-Proposed-Amendments. This makes it easy to access information about proposals across all practice areas. Proposed rules are also published in The Florida Bar News. The Florida Probate Rules Committee welcomes comments to the published proposals and pending projects, as well as suggestions for rule changes based upon procedural problems encountered by courts and practitioners.
Meeting schedules, agenda, minutes, and information on pending projects for the committee are posted on the Florida Probate Rules Committee website. The committee webpage is maintained by The Florida Bar’s staff liaison to the Probate Rules Committee. Heather Telfer served in this capacity for the first half of the year and then Krys Godwin finished the year. They both worked to keep the committee’s web site up to date and our projects on track. Their assistance has been invaluable and essential to the mission of the Florida Probate Rules Committee.
It has been a humbling privilege to work with the dedicated professionals who volunteer to serve on the Florida Probate Rules Committee during the past year. I am grateful to all of the Probate Rules Committee members, The Florida Bar staff, the members of the other rules committees, and those who commented on pending rules or suggested changes to existing rules. I also appreciate the time and efforts of committee members who accepted additional responsibilities: Cady Lynne Huss (vice chair), Lee McElroy (vice chair), Julie Frey (Board of Governors liaison), Michael Kangas (subcommittee chair), Stacy Rubel (subcommittee chair), Jean Spurbeck (subcommittee chair), Colleen Beinhauer (subcommittee chair), Al Stashis (subcommittee chair), Alexandra Rieman (chair, Ad Hoc Committee on Guardianship Rules and Forms and liaison to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration Committee). Thank you all for a great year!
Jeffrey S. Goethe, Chair
Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance
The Florida Registered Paralegal Eligibility and Compliance Committee formerly known as Florida Registered Paralegal Standing Committee reports another successful year since its inception in 2008. The committee’s primary purpose is to assist in the implementation of the Florida Registered Paralegal program. The Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) program determines whether a paralegal has met the education, training, certification, and work experience required for registration as set forth in Ch. 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The duties of the committee include proposing rule amendments to Ch. 20, setting policy for the program and providing guidance to bar counsel and the district paralegal committees.
This year, the committee’s initiatives focuses on paralegal education, institutional outreach, and student partnerships. The committee is always looking for ways to improve and increase the awareness of the existing program. The committee is currently exploring ways it can create an affiliate program with paralegal students to streamline the transition from a student to an FRP. Additionally, the committee will host at this year’s upcoming annual meeting in Orlando, an outreach program for all Florida institutions with a paralegal program to attend. The purpose of this outreach program is to educate the schools about the FRP eligibility requirements and its benefits.
I have served on this committee for five years and as chair for the past two years. As a member of the Bar and paralegal educator, I am committed to not only expanding the FRP program but maintaining the rigorous academic and professional requirements needed to obtain and maintain the FRP designation. This year would not have been a success without the time, dedication, and hard work of all committee members, Vice Chair Steven Sanchez, Kendra Ann Hollern, Faith Litvack, Nicole Noel, Olga Patterson, and Richard Tejeda. Lastly, but not least, a special appreciation for The Florida Bar staff and Shannon Fleming, FRP counsel, whose dedicated efforts continue to make this committee a success. I’m thankful to have worked with an outstanding group of professionals and look forward to even more success in the upcoming year.
Cary A. High, Chair
Florida Registered Paralegal Enrichment
The FRP Enrichment Committee is pleased to report its first highly successful year as a new committee of The Florida Bar. It proudly serves its Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) members, which is 4,741 strong. This large committee of 39 members is divided into four subcommittees, which work cohesively as a group to fulfill its mission. The committee’s primary purpose is to create awareness of the FRP program, enhance communication about the benefits of FRP membership, develop educational programming, and create networking and social events in order to foster camaraderie and cohesiveness of FRPs and other paralegals throughout Florida.
Our committee has worked hard all year and continues to do outstanding work for its members. While the work of our committee is exceptional, certain efforts are worthy of special mention in this annual report.
• Communications Subcommittee — This committee was tasked with a very tall order: establishing direct communications with FRP members after many years of neglect. Margo Valenti, along with her very energetic subcommittee, are responsible for having dusted off and revamped the “FRP Corner.” The committee established various social media platforms (i.e., Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) in order to keep the lines of communication open to all members. On October 1, 2019, the committee’s inaugural e-newsletter, FRP Times, went live and is now linked it to the FRP Corner. The spring newsletter is nearing publication and slated for release in late April. Lastly, the committee alerted its members regarding the recent American Bar Association’s change of the 1997 definition of “paralegal” to the new definition approved by the House of Delegates at the February meeting.
• CLE Subcommittee — The CLE committee was tasked with presenting substantive continuing education programs for paralegals. Co-Chairs Shelly Zambo and Karen George led their committee and presented the first-ever CLE seminar and networking reception at the 2020 winter meeting. The complimentary CLE Ethics seminar was held on February 7 and very well-received by all who attended. Scott A. Shelton and paralegal D
eAnne Martin of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., presented, “What You Need to Know About Trial — Aside from the Facts”; Michael McCartney, President of Avalon Cyber, presented “Cyber Security: Corporate Risks and Challenges”; and Amy Singer, Ph.D., president and CEO of Trial Consultants, Inc., presented “Jury Selection: Psychology of Jury Selection.” Immediately following the seminar, the committee hosted an outstanding networking reception for its membership and the attendees of the CLE.
• FRP Awareness Subcommittee — Patricia DeRamus and her active subcommittee have done an amazing job spreading the word about the FRP Program while continuing to bring new paralegals into the fold. The committee is responsible for having developed the “Benefits of Being a Florida Registered Paralegal” brochure, which has been distributed to colleges, paralegal associations, and local bar associations throughout Florida. A special presentation tailored to incoming paralegal students regarding the benefits of being a Florida Registered Paralegal was held at Florida Atlantic University. Other paralegal presentations are currently being planned for later in the year.
• Special Events Subcommittee — Led by Asha Maharaj-Lucas, the Special Events Subcommittee has been highly active throughout the year. The committee, tasked with conducting CLE seminars and networking events at the annual Florida Bar convention, recently established an annual FRP of the Year Award, which will be tentatively presented at the June annual convention. In June 2019, the committee presented a complimentary CLE seminar at the convention with keynote speaker U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Luck. Judge Faye Allen, attorney Bruce Blitman, and Professor Jane Dwyer-Lee presented an enlightening CLE program focused on alcohol and substance abuse. The seminar was immediately followed by a well-attended paralegal networking event and ended with dinner, cocktails, and dancing at The Florida Bar President’s Reception. Preparations are currently in high gear for the 2020 CLE seminar and networking reception. The event will be held in Orlando on June 19 at the 70th Annual Florida Bar Convention at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria.
The FRP Enrichment Committee has done an outstanding job of increasing awareness of the FRP program, enhancing communication with FRPs, presenting substantive CLE seminars, and hosting social events throughout the year. This year would not have been a success without the time, dedication, and hard work of the entire committee. My profound thanks to each committee member for having volunteered their valuable time in order to make this committee one of the most active and successful committees of The Florida Bar.
I extend my deepest gratitude to our board liaison, Wayne Smith, for his undying support of the committee and its paralegal members; Assistant Program Director Frank Digon-Greer, whose dedication is greatly appreciated by the entire committee; Co-Vice Chair Wendy Toscano for her tremendous support and guidance as we endeavored the creation of this new Florida Bar committee; and Co-Vice Chair Margo Valenti for her dedication, expertise, and service to the FRP Enrichment Committee. It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve as committee chair alongside an outstanding group of professionals. While the experience has been extremely rewarding, I am ready to pass along the torch to our incoming chair, who will continue to raise the bar and reach for the stars.
Lori M. Spangler, Chair
Governmental and Public Policy Advocacy
The Governmental and Public Policy Advocacy (GPPA) Committee was approved in May 2016 by the Board of Governors to address the concerns of lawyers who deal with local, state, and federal governments.
The mission of the GPPA Committee is to 1) Promote professionalism among lawyer-lobbyists; 2) provide appropriate and applicable legal education on matters of interest to (and tailored especially for) lawyer-lobbyists; 3) provide mentoring and networking opportunities that are not available elsewhere; and 4) provide an opportunity for lawyer-lobbyists to stay abreast of and collectively be heard by Florida Bar leadership on various Bar proposals, including proposed rules and ethics opinions, that may affect them. The current committee is comprised of 153 members.
Since its formation in 2016, the GPPA Committee has conducted an annual CLE session in Tallahassee to educate lawyers who practice government affairs about rules of the Florida House of Representatives on lobbyist disclosure; provide updates on advances to the House online disclosure system; and to educate lawyers about new technology to assist in compliance efforts.
In 2019, the Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) conducted a review of the GPPA Committee. The review determined that the GPPAC is doing “remarkably well” and made several recommendations. Among those recommendations, the PEC suggested that more meetings be held outside of Tallahassee, the committee work with Bar leaders to develop a more convenient re-enrollment strategy, and the committee consider a joint podcast with the Young Lawyers Division. In January, the Board of Governors approved the PEC recommendations without objection.
If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact Joni Hooks at [email protected].
Gregory K. Black, Chair
Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration
The Standing Committee on Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration has been focused in three substantive areas: rules, forms, and recruitment. Subcommittees in all three areas are now actively engaged and report to the general committee on a quarterly basis. Last year, the Rules Subcommittee promulgated revisions to Ch. 14, which were presented to the Board of Governors. This subcommittee is hard at work on potential revisions to rules to allow the recovery of costs as well as fees and to allow law firms to be joined as participants in fee arbitration proceedings. Additionally, the Forms Subcommittee is hard at work on revitalizing and updating the mediation and arbitration manual for use by our volunteer arbitrators and mediators in the program. The newly created Recruitment Subcommittee is now engaged in finding and implementing the best means to publicize, advertise, and recruit new volunteer mediators and arbitrators for the program throughout the state. This activity follows last year’s most significant accomplishment by the Training Subcommittee, which created and implemented training sessions that were videotaped at the January 2019 winter meeting for use by both current and potential arbitrators and mediators. As of February 6, 79 arbitrators and 59 mediators have viewed the videos. We are hopeful that the training sessions will continue to be useful to all those participating in the grievance mediation and fee arbitration process.
Grey Squires-Binford, Chair
Health Law Certification
The Health Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as health law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar certified the first class of health certified specialists in 1995, and there are currently 127 health certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board certified specialists in health practice under a myriad of public- and private-sector health laws, providing advice and counsel in transactional, litigation, and appellate practices.
The Health Certification Committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for health certification, lawyers must be a member of The Florida Bar for five years, be substantially involved (at least 40% of their practice) in health law, complete 60 hours of advanced CLE of approved health law credits, pass a rigorous peer-review process, and pass a certification exam. The certification exam currently consists of 56 multiple-choice questions along with four essays. Congratulations to those who passed the 2019 health law certification exam. They include Erica Mallon, Ryan Wierenga, and Jon Gatto.
For the 2019-2020 certification year, the Health Law Certification Committee reviewed 24 initial applications. The committee also reviewed and renewed 19 recertification applications this year. These numbers represent a marked increase from previous years, and we are excited that more of our peers are seeking certification. The committee has convened several times, both in-person and via conference call, since June 2019, to review applications, discuss changes to the Bar rules involving health law certification, and draft and grade the certification examination.
The hard-working and dedicated members of the Health Law Certification Committee include Vice Chair Adam Rogers, William Eck, Steven Resnick, Ryan Zika, Ramona Thomas, Lisa Taylor, and Bill Dillon. We are excited that two of our members, Ramona Thomas and Lisa Taylor, are practicing out of state but maintain their Florida licenses and certification. In addition, four of our members are also active in The Florida Bar Health Law Section and have been great advocates for certification through their participation on that Bar committee. In January, Adam Rogers and I attended the exam drafting workshop hosted by the Bar at the midyear convention. We found the tips and tools provided by the speakers to be extremely useful, and we passed on much of the information to the rest of our committee.
Thank you all for your effort, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification section. The committee also wishes to extend our thanks to our amazing staff liaison, Paige Dooley-Levy. Our work on the committee could not have proceeded as smoothly without her dedication, patience, and attention to detail.
Radha V. Bachman, Chair
Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification
It has been a pleasure and honor to serve as chair of the 2019-2020 Florida Bar Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification Committee alongside Vice Chair Jacob Ratzan and committee members Robert Bell, Kristin Figueroa-Contreras, Michael Harris, Maud Poudat, John Gihon, Frank Symphorien-Saavedra, and Jacqueline Villalba. I thank each of them wholeheartedly for the time and energy they expended in support of this worthy endeavor.
Florida Bar Certification Specialist Chyra Reynolds also deserves special thanks. Chyra provided invaluable assistance to ensure that the committee maintained its focus, achieved its objectives, and produced an Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification examination that appropriately reflects our practice-area exam specifications.
The entire committee’s deep appreciation is extended as well to the board-certified attorneys who served as our “pre-testers.” Their analysis and contributions were key to helping us ensure the accuracy and integrity of our exam content.
The Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification examination that we produced is a closed-book test consisting of a combination of three essay questions and 50 multiple-choice questions covering the entire gamut of immigration law. During the 2019-2020 cycle, seven applicants passed the required peer review and sat for the March 12 exam. We also received and approved nine recertification applications submitted by previously board-certified attorneys who continued to meet the ongoing requirements. Exam grading will take place in April and The Florida Bar will announce the results by June 1. We look forward to adding to the ranks of the 78 attorneys who currently hold Florida Bar Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification.
I am grateful to The Florida Bar for providing me with this opportunity to serve. It has been a rewarding professional experience that has introduced me to many outstanding immigration and nationality law experts from around the state of Florida. It was great to interact with all of them.
Making the decision to seek board certification is not always an easy one due to the commitment it entails, but I have found it to be a worthwhile addition to my legal credentials. Board certification is an objective assessment of legal skills that sets a practitioner apart as a subject-matter expert. Equally important, it also identifies the board-certified attorney as an individual who meets The Florida Bar’s highest standards for professionalism and ethics in the practice of law. I would, therefore, urge any attorney who meets the requirements to apply.
Alan Seagrave, Chair
Intellectual Property Certification
The Intellectual Property Certification Committee certifies attorneys as experts in intellectual property law, which includes the areas of patent prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, copyright law, and trade secrets law. Board certified attorneys may practice in only one or a combination of these areas, but must demonstrate proficiency in all of the areas to become certified. We currently have 140 attorneys board certified in intellectual property. This year’s committee was chaired by Dineen Pashoukos Wasylik, with Francisco Ferreiro serving as vice chair, and rounding out the committee were members Randi Karpinia, Samuel Lewis, Julee Milham, Woodrow “Woody” Pollack, Kelly Gaston Swartz, Jeff Lloyd, and Paul David Bianco. This year we revamped our examination to comply with the new Board Certification Committee guidelines to ensure that every test-taker takes the same test. We have six applicants hoping to take the test scheduled for May 7. This year, there are 15 lawyers who became board certified or recertified in 2015 who will have to apply for recertification by July 31. Questions regarding certification or recertification should be directed to Certification Specialist Charlotte Bell, [email protected], 850-561-5768, or email Chair Dineen Wasylik at [email protected].
Dineen Wasylik, Chair
International Litigation and Arbitration Certification
This year was the second year for The Florida Bar’s board certification in the area of international litigation and arbitration. The committee was engaged this year in designating sample multiple-choice questions and a sample essay question for the website. In addition, the committee administered the second application process, including analyzing and judging the applications of prospects who will take inaugural exam this year and also examining the applications of long-term practitioners in this area who are eligible to waive the requirement of sitting for the exam. Special emphasis was placed on those practitioners who have practiced in the area for 20 years and have had international litigation and arbitration as a substantial part of their practice since this was the last year that they would be eligible to be grandfathered in. The committee is excited about the response it received this year from prospects, particularly individuals subject to being grandfathered in, and has marketed the new certification to various interested groups, including The Florida Bar International Law Section and the Miami International Law Society, among others. Next year, the committee will be focusing on continuing its efforts to raise awareness of this new certification, continue to work on the certification exam, and attempting to broaden the group that will take the exam for certification next year.
Annette C. Escobar, Chair
Juvenile Law Certification
The Juvenile Law Certification Committee is pleased to report that after three years of existence, there are currently 146 members. We anticipate that 12 attorneys will sit for the certification examination in 2020. Our committee members are a representation of the dependency and delinquency disciplines of juvenile law. The members and the executive board are comprised of attorneys from the sectors of non-profit organizations, state agencies, law firms, the judiciary and solo practitioners.
The energy and focus of the committee has been in developing essays and multiple-choice questions to comply with the Bar requirement that certification committees are no longer permitted to give subspecialty examinations. Previously, examinees would “declare” their area of specialty in the field of either dependency or delinquency. The examinees would take the same exam in the morning. The chosen field of subspecialty would dictate the afternoon exam. The unitary exam concept requires that the same examination should be given to persons regardless of the area of specialty.
The committee is hopeful that the unitary exam will not have a chilling effect on the future number of applicants who are interested in juvenile law certification. Although the ideal juvenile law practitioner should have both the breadth and depth of practice over the entire spectrum of areas in which children require legal representation, the reality is that there are far too many legal issues affecting children for this to be true for the majority of juvenile law practitioners.
I am truly grateful to the members of the executive board of the Juvenile Law Certification Committee for the countless conference calls, meetings, and hours of test review dedicated to finalizing the 2020 certification exam. My hat is off to current members of the executive board: Vice Chair Gerry Glynn, Immediate Past Chair Deborah Schroth, Robin Rosenberg, Laura Vaughn-Bosco, Laura Klossner, Whitney Untiedt, Laurence Scher, and Shannon Schott. Special thanks to our Bar liaison, Charlotte Bell, who keeps us on task and makes the impossible become possible.
Tamara Ilene Gray, Chair
Judicial Nominating Procedures
The purpose and mission of this committee is to assist the governor and the Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNCs) in performing their duties under Fla. Const. art. V, §11, and under F.S. §43.291. The committee commends Gov. DeSantis, his general counsel, and all those in the General Counsel’s Office for appointing qualified jurists to the bench, while also promoting diversity to strengthen the civil and criminal justice systems in our state. The committee has continued to assist the governor with presenting an annual training program for all JNC commissioners and continues to offer suggestions for improvements to the judicial nominating process. The committee also spent time this year promoting dialogue between all JNCs and members of the committee through their work as liaisons with all JNCs. The committee has also discussed ways to help promote best practices for those serving on the JNCs and best practices for the interview process. The committee is also thankful the ABA video on implicit bias has been added to The Florida Bar’s website. The insight and hard work of Vice Chairs Craig Gibbs, Alice Sum, David Prather, and Richard Bush have been greatly appreciated this year. Deputy General Counsel of The Florida Bar Richard Courtemanche has done a great job working with our committee this year and is also thanked for his service to our profession.
• Featured Speakers — We thank all the speakers who gave up their time to come to our committee meetings and share information about the JNC process this year and the importance placed on this committee by members of The Florida Bar. Special thanks go to president-elect candidates Mike Tanner and Renée Thompson.
I thank all members of the committee for being dedicated volunteers to the members of our profession through their service on the committee this year. Additional thanks must be given to several members of the committee as well. They include Loreal Arscott for her continued efforts to obtain and report on demographic data regarding the composition of all JNCs and judicial offices in each circuit; Will Spicola, Annika Ashton, Loreal Arscott, and Joseph Small for analyzing specific rule changes the committee will recommend be implemented with all JNCs; and Ava Doppelt and Alice Sum for proposing best practices for all JNCs to follow in their work and in the interview process. Thank you, President Stewart, for trusting me to serve as chair of this committee during the past year.
Finally, I thank all of those that have served on this committee during the past six years. I have learned from all of you, and I am blessed by the friendships that have developed through our service on this committee.
Matthew Posgay, Chair
Juvenile Court Rules
The Juvenile Court Rules Committee consists of volunteers who practice the areas of juvenile delinquency or juvenile dependency. The committee is divided into two subcommittees: one specializing in juvenile delinquency issues and one specializing in juvenile dependency issues. Committee members devote a lot of time working on rule changes, participating in monthly meetings and volunteering for ad hoc and joint subcommittees.
While the committee has previously employed Skype for its meetings, the committee recently expanded the use of Skype to conduct new member orientation, instead of taking valuable time away from the committee’s October 2019 meeting.
This year, the committee considered and addressed many issues, including participating in a joint subcommittee to address rules to implement Marsy’s Law in the Rules of Judicial Administration and a joint subcommittee to promote remote testimony rules. In addition, Stephanie Zimmerman led an Electronic Documents Subcommittee and Kelly Schaeffer led a subcommittee to update the committee’s Internal Operating Procedures.
On August 19, 2019, the Supreme Court asked the committee to review Marsy’s Law and propose any rule changes that were necessary. Both the delinquency and dependency subcommittees reviewed Marsy’s Law and decided that no action was necessary with regard to the Juvenile Court Rules.
On August 27, 2019, David Silverstein represented the committee during oral argument in front of the Supreme Court regarding the Parental Leave Rule with amendments to accommodate the juvenile practice areas, which was adopted by the court on January 10.
On December 11, 2019, the Supreme Court adopted the committee’s fast-track, out-of-cycle report (SC-19-1818) amending several dependency rules, including changes to existing rules for computation of time, shelter hearings, post dispositional relief, and child placement, to name a few.
After tireless work by the delinquency subcommittee, changes to Rule 8.095 (procedure when child believed to be incompetent or insane) were concluded, making this rule user-friendly and separating the competency procedure from the insanity procedure. In addition, the delinquency subcommittee worked on a proposal from former chair of the Juvenile Court Rules Committee, Rob Mason, for an amendment to Rule 8.060 (discovery) regarding telephonic appearances. The subcommittee is also taking a second look at minimum standards for attorneys practicing in juvenile delinquency to see if a rule is appropriate.
The dependency subcommittee continues its overall review of the dependency rules and considered a proposal from former Chair Ward Metzger to make changes to Rule 8.235 (motions).
An important note for the committee was that the Supreme Court removed juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency from the Florida bar exam (SC19-2018). The court removed these subjects from the bar exam because they are areas of law that require specialized knowledge.
On February 6, the Supreme Court eliminated cycle reports (SC19-2104) effective June 1. Thus, the committee plans to submit what was previously the 2021 cycle package this year, which includes amendments to existing Rules 8.120 (post disposition hearing; 8.060) Discovery; 8.332 (order finding dependency); 8.095 (procedure when child believed to be incompetent or insane); and Form 8.933 (advisory notice to minor).
All of this was accomplished due to the hard work of the many committee members who volunteer their time to making improvements in the delinquency and dependency court systems. I especially thank Vice Chairs Matthew Wilson and Candice Brower for their leadership and support. A special thank you to Matthew Wilson for continuing an amazing job as the committee’s liaison to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee. I also thank Joel Silvershein, David Silverstein, Stephanie Zimmerman, and Kelly Schaeffer for taking on additional responsibilities this year to help move the committee’s agenda forward. Finally, I thank Mikalla Davis, our Bar liaison, for a wonderful job and whose assistance to me and the entire committee was exemplary.
It was an honor serving as chair of the Juvenile Court Rules Committee, and I thank The Florida Bar for this opportunity.
Linda M. Berman, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Certification
The Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as labor and employment law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar certified the first class of labor and employment certified specialists in 2001, and there are currently 194 labor and employment certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board-certified specialists in labor and employment law practice under a myriad of public- and private-sector labor and employment laws, providing advice and counsel for both employee and employer-side representation in transactional, litigation, and appellate practices.
The Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for Labor and Employment Law Certification, lawyers must be a member of The Florida Bar for five years, be substantially involved (at least 50% of their practice) in labor and employment law, complete 60 hours of advanced CLE of approved labor and employment law credits, pass a rigorous peer-review process, and pass a certification exam. The certification exam currently consists of 50 multiple-choice and 20 short-answer questions, along with four essays.
For the 2019-2020 certification year, the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee reviewed 12 initial applications. Of those, nine sat for the certification exam administered in March in Tampa. As of the publication of this report, exam results are still pending. There were 21 recertification applications submitted this year, the committee reviewed and renewed 16 recertification applications and another committee reviewed and renewed the recertification applications of five members of the committee.
The committee has met numerous times since June 2019 to review applications and draft and grade the certification examination. The hard-working and dedicated members of the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee include Chair Erick M. Drlicka, Vice Chair Janet E. Wise, Frank E. Brown, Sacha Dyson, Ellen M. Leibovitch, Michelle E. Nadeau, Bradley P. Rothman, Patricia R. Sigman, and Shaina Thorpe. Thank you all for your efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification section. The committee also wishes to extend our thanks to our Florida Bar Staff Liaison Paige Dooley-Levy. Our work on the committee could not have proceeded as smoothly without her dedication and attention to detail.
Erick M. Drlicka, Chair
Law Related Education
The Law Related Education Committee (LREC) provides nonpartisan, law-related educational programs to students and adults with the goal of increasing their knowledge of political institutions, systems, and processes. The following are a few of the LREC’s activities for the 2019-2020 year.
Under the leadership of committee members Lori Ward and Patrick Zalman, the LREC reviewed and updated the content in the #JustAdulting Legal Survival Guide, a mobile-friendly website, app, and printed pamphlet designed to help young adults understand the legal rights and responsibilities that will greet them when they turn 18 years old. #JustAdulting provides specific tools and resources outlining how Florida laws impact young adults. For decades, the committee developed the guide as a printed pamphlet and distributed it to high-school seniors statewide. To adapt to the changing digital landscape, the committee focused its efforts in recent years on maintaining and promoting the #JustAdulting website and app. Printed copies of the guide are still available upon request.
The LREC continues to monitor analytics tracking use of the #JustAdulting website and app. Since the launch of the digital tool in 2016, there has been tremendous growth in new users, correlating with the committee’s Facebook, Instagram, and retargeting advertising promotions. The 2019-2020 #JustAdulting digital ads campaign is on track to garner one million ad impressions. The LREC also developed and promoted an animated YouTube video library with videos highlighting topics in the #JustAdulting Legal Survival Guide, including the court system, jury duty, judicial selection, landlord/tenant matters, and Florida’s new texting and driving law. The committee also collects feedback from individuals in the targeted age groups to ensure that the #JustAdulting materials are engaging and consistent with the learning styles and communication methods of young people who will benefit from the LREC’s efforts.
This year, the committee updated the #JustAdulting website and app to include an internal search bar; developed a survey to collect feedback on the website and app; and produced Facebook and Instagram ads featuring Q&A-style video clips of committee members well versed in an area of law covered in the #JustAdulting Legal Survival Guide. These include videos in criminal law, texting and driving, and immigration law.
The LREC experienced a transition year, as the Florida High School Mock Trial Competition is now sponsored by the Justice Teaching Center for Civic Learning at Florida Southern College. Previously, it was presented by the Florida Law Related Education Association (FLREA), which received funding from The Florida Bar before the FLREA was dissolved. Under the leadership of committee member Stephen Renick, LREC members assisted with this transition by helping to draft the case for the 2020 competition, in which a teams of six to eight students simulate the roles of both attorneys and witnesses in a fictional trial situation. The Florida Bar is not providing funding for the Justice Teaching Center at Florida Southern College. However, the LREC has offered to seek funding and support for future Florida High School Mock Trial Competition events.
Thank you to our committee members for their attendance at our meetings and hard work on our committee projects. Our new staff liaison, Holly Brooks, has been instrumental in administering the committee and providing extensive support, utilizing her experience and knowledge in digital communications. For more information on LREC initiatives, please visit our committee web page at FloridaBar.org and the #JustAdulting Legal Survival Guide at JustAdulting.com. An overview article of the #JustAdulting initiative and the committee’s promotional efforts was recently featured in The Florida Bar News.
James L. O’Leary, Chair
Legal Needs of Children
The mission of Legal Needs of Children Committee (LNOCC) is to monitor and promote the implementation of recommendations of the Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children June 2002 Final Report. The committee also studies developments in this specialized practice area and keeps members of the bar informed of significant developments through periodic updates. Members of the LNOCC have a breadth of knowledge and expertise that spans the substantive areas of juvenile law, from delinquency to dependency to mental health to education. LNOCC members also vary in their perspectives of representation, from private attorneys who volunteer as guardian ad litems, to government attorneys in State Attorney and Public Defender offices, to parents attorneys to legal services attorney. For this reason, LNOCC is often called upon to lend advice and perspective on various issues affecting the legal welfare of children. Our debates are robust and respectful and provide members the opportunity to learn and share best practices from their communities. The committee meets regularly throughout the year to consider current issues and share new information related to this distinctive practice area.
For many years, the LNOCC has focused its efforts on the worthwhile issue of legal representation for children. During 2018-2019 term, the LNOCC decided to give attention to related legal issues the members agreed were equally pressing, were ripe to be addressed, and to which LNOCC members could lend their expertise and leadership. In an effort to make significant progress on these issues, the LNOCC decided to move from a subcommittee format to workgroups with distinct objectives, a model I continued this year as chair. The workgroup on solitary confinement ultimately became a statewide workgroup on solitary confinement with members from a wide variety of agencies and organizations, both state and national. The workgroup is not under the umbrella of LNOCC so that it can engage in legislative advocacy. The group, however, includes members of the LNOCC who report back to the committee on the state group’s work.
The Parent Guideline Workgroup has continued diligently working to create a Florida-specific Guideline for Practice for parent’s attorneys. The workgroup is working from the ABA Model Standards of Representation for Attorneys who Represent Parents in Abuse and Neglect Proceedings. LNOCC Workgroup members worked on an initial review of the national standards to come up with a draft of standards from the LNOCC. We have circulated the draft to other Florida Bar committees for comment and are now working through those to develop a final draft of the standards.
During the 2018-2019 term, the LNOCC created a workgroup to address issues related to the deposition of child-victims of sexual assault. At the end of the 2018-2019 term, the LNOCC voted to put on a seminar to address trauma to children in legal and quasi-legal proceedings. The committee has been planning a three-hour seminar at annual convention that will cover trauma to children 1) in giving testimony in depositions and court, 2) in school administrative disciplinary proceedings, and 3) in Baker Act proceedings. We have speakers lined up for each segment and are looking forward to the seminar in June.
The Workgroup for the University of Miami Report on Confidentiality continued to monitor progress on the report the LNOCC commissioned with the Youth and Family Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law to determine how the recommendations of LNOCC 2002 report have been implemented. To further this effort, Professor Bernie Perlmutter and his students have undertaken research on behalf of the LNOCC to explore the following questions: How is the Department of Juvenile Justice/Department of Children and Families interagency agreement being implemented across circuits? Which judicial circuits have access to school district and Department of Juvenile Justice liaisons in the courtroom? How can the judicial bench book be updated to better address issues of confidentiality? What are best practices with regards to attorney ad litem access to confidential records? Results of this research will be used to develop best practices regarding the representation of children in dependency.
Additionally, this term, the committee has undertaken a comprehensive review of the 2002 final report. At the winter meeting, we broke up into workgroups to review various sections of the 2002 final report to determine what recommendations still need to be addressed, what recommendations have become outdated and need to be deleted or modified, and what recommendations have been fully implemented. We continue to work on this and expect this work to continue into the 2020-2021 term and for an updated report to be presented to the Board of Governors at that time.
Thank you to the entire committee for their hard work this year. Thank you also to the vice chairs and workgroup chairs who helped throughout the year: Usha Maharajh, Stephen Teaster, Josefina Maria Tamayo, and Anthony “Tony” Musto. Thank you to Sharon Middleton, the Bar’s liaison for LNOCC. Finally, a special thank you to Rick Courtemanche for his invaluable and patient guidance.
Kimberly Hosley, Chair
Marital and Family Law Certification
It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I am able to report a most productive and efficient term for the 2019/2020 Marital and Family Law Certification Review Committee. Even though our first meeting in September was cancelled due to impending Hurricane Dorian, we had completed our review of cert and re-cert applicants by the conclusion of our November 2019 meeting and were able to begin reviewing essay questions as a group at that time. By the end of our mid-December meeting, we had all exam questions almost finalized, with the essays and model answers complete, subject to some final editing by the chair. The committee was pleased with the exam that was administered as being challenging but fair.
Everyone worked extremely well together, and there was robust discussion on some select files. Likely because we our liaison from last year passed unexpectedly in February 2019, we were faced with a unique situation that involved a re-cert applicant who had mistakenly been granted re-cert unbeknownst to the committee after the committee had twice voted against it. This matter was brought to the attention of BLSE and other Bar administrators by the full committee and is being addressed with the applicant in accordance with the rules and policies. We also voted on a rule amendment which was submitted to BLSE.
In light of the social distancing due to the coronavirus, we have received word that we will be grading in teams rather than as a group. We await further instruction on this; however, we expect that there will be no delay in grading because of this issue.
I had the opportunity to participate in a video presentation on a topic regarding review of applications that have a Bar grievance or malpractice complaint involved, which was circulated to the various committees along with other relevant topics covered by other presenters. We had our table at cert review in January, as well for promotional purposes.
Blaire Bisbee was our liaison this year, and she had big shoes to fill after the passing of Sheila Whaley. She put forth great effort, worked very hard, and overall did a very competent job. I’m sure that next year it will be smoother sailing for her after her experience this year learning everything. I want to be sure that our committee members, Jennifer Ficarotta (vice chair), Ben Hodas, Laura Davis Smith, Mary Quin, Sam Jubran, Karen Weintraub, Belinda Lazarra, and Bonnie Sockel-Stone, receive proper recognition and high praise. Our work this year was nothing short of a team effort.
Thank you for allowing me to submit this annual report. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Doreen Inkeles, Chair
Media and Communications Law
The Media and Communications Law Committee (MCLC) shares information about free speech and communication, exploring legal issues on a range of communication methods, including print, broadcast, cable, and emerging technologies. The MCLC seeks to enhance communication between The Florida Bar and the news media, focusing attention on mutual problems and developing amicable solutions. The committee plans the annual Reporters’ Workshop at the Florida Supreme Court; coordinates the annual Media Awards, which honor reporters and their work with the Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism and the Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award; and produces the online Reporter’s Handbook.
The committee set a priority this year of updating the Reporter’s Handbook. Authored principally by MCLC, the Reporter’s Handbook serves as a resource guide for members of the media and attorneys about topics in the legal profession. It had been several years since the 18 chapters of the handbook had been updated. Under Chair Dwayne Robinson’s direction, the format and the online infrastructure will become easier to navigate and search for topics. Each chapter has been assigned to a committee member, and the content will be updated by summer.
Craig Waters, communications counsel for the Florida Supreme Court, chaired the 30th Annual Reporters’ Workshop. Twenty-five journalists from around the state participated in the two-day workshop on legal reporting in Florida, which included sessions on libel and privacy, lawyer regulation, elections, and a Q&A with two of the Supreme Court justices.
Always a well-received event, this year’s workshop garnered extra praise for the panelists and Supreme Court justices who presented. Specifically, Tom Julin, MCLC member and partner with Gunster, P.A., moderated a panel that brought together the judge, attorneys from both sides, and the plaintiff in a defamation case raising First Amendment issues. The session had everyone attending on the edge of their seat. Folita v. The New York Times will be remembered as one of the best sessions in Reporters’ Workshop history.
At a formal dinner with the justices and reporters, the MCLC presented the annual Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award to Barbara Petersen the long-serving and then outgoing president of the First Amendment Foundation.
The 64th Annual Florida Bar Media Awards, chaired by Sam Morley, general counsel of The Florida Press Association, are presented annually to recognize outstanding legal journalism. Qualified entries consist of stories that highlight the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians. The awards selection process is currently underway.
The Media Awards name was changed to The Parker Thomson Media Awards in 2019. This will be the second year for the Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida — named for an acclaimed First Amendment attorney who coincidentally was a mentor and/or colleague to several MCLC members. Awards are presented in multiple categories: radio, television, print, and online.
The 2019 Media Awards will again be included with the Florida Media Law Conference, hosted by the Florida Press Association this summer in Sarasota. The call for entries went out in March, and for the first time, the nomination forms will be accepted online through The Florida Bar’s website. The MCLC will continue to be involved with organizing judges for the contest. Another change this year will be awarding the Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award at the Florida Media Law Conference along with the Parker Thomson Award for Outstanding Legal Journalism.
Continuing with its long tradition, the MCLC’s annual convention CLE program will explore on First Amendment issues before the U.S. Supreme Court and be organized by Tom Julin. The panel analyzes the newest and most controversial First Amendment cases decided by the Supreme Court. This year, Julin and his panelists will honor Richard Ovelman, who passed away this year. Ovelman was a renowned First Amendment and media lawyer who, for years, was an annual participant in the First Amendment panel.
In 2019, the panelists were U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan; U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks; University of Miami Law Professor Lili Levi; Florida International University Law Professor Howard Wasserman; Leslie Rothenberg, retired chief judge, Florida Third District Court of Appeal and partner at the Ferraro Law Firm; Carlton Fields Jorden Burt shareholder Richard J. Ovelmen; and Timothy J. McGinn of Gunster Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.
In closing, I recognize and thank the entire committee for its outstanding service, especially Craig Waters, Tom Julin, and Joseph Coleman. Further, my gratitude and sincere appreciation are extended to Leslie Smith, who seamlessly replaced Karen Kirksey as our Bar liaison and has done a fantastic job on behalf of the MCLC.
D. Dwayne Antonio Robinson, Chair
The mission of the Member Benefits Committee is to review and evaluate existing member benefit programs for Bar members, evaluate programs and services offered to The Florida Bar for members, and to make recommendations to the Board of Governors on changes or additions to the benefits program. During the past several months, the committee has taken this mission seriously and worked diligently evaluating existing programs and reviewing potential member benefit proposals. The committee reviewed a number of proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers during the 2019-2020 fiscal year and approved several new member benefits for recommendation to the Board of Governors. Among the new benefits approved by the committee this year are the TrustBooks trust accounting software, TimeMiner time capture app, Technologies for Justice Equity in Sentencing Analysis Software (ESAS), Practice42 website design, PaperStreet website design, Horizon Legal Solutions translation and interpretation services, Smith.ai live call receptionist/website chat serviced, and the indexed I/O e-discovery solution. The committee will review four to five additional member benefit proposals during the June meeting during The Florida Bar Annual Convention. Chair Jennifer Parker encourages Bar members to visit, www.floridabar.org/MemberBenefits to take advantage of the wide array of discounted professional and personal services offered to Bar members through The Florida Bar member benefits program.
Jennifer Parker, Chair
Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers
The Florida Bar established the Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers Committee to implement its Strategic Planning Priority to focus on the mental health and wellness of Bar members, which includes an educational component to 1) destigmatize mental illness in the legal community (lawyers and judges); 2) educate employers, judges, and lawyers how to identify and address mental illness of Florida lawyers and create “best practices” on how to address mental-health issues; 3) educate lawyers about the benefits of balancing personal life and career obligations; 4) offer health and wellness programs to provide Florida lawyers with healthy strategies to deal with the pressures of their practices to enhance the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers; 5) educate voluntary bar associations on mental health and wellness programs so they may better assist their members at the local level; 6) expand the accreditation definition so as to broaden the scope of what constitutes and health and wellness continuing legal education (CLE) program; 7) develop new and innovative CLE on mental health and wellness issues; 8) interface with Florida Lawyer’s Assistance, Inc., to broaden their reach to all members not limited to those members facing bar grievance issues; and 9) create a special, inter-disciplinary committee to study and improve The Florida Bar’s rules and programming related to mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers and to ensure that Florida Bar members (including judges) are aware of mental-health issues and are able to access needed services.
The committee had three meetings this year and formed three subcommittees: Mental Health Helpline; Member Benefits; and Clearinghouse/Coordination, to better focus the work of the committee.
• Accomplishments — 1) The Mental Health Helpline subcommittee, chaired by Carl Schwait, reviewed the responses to the request for information (RFI) and researched the companies that responded. Subcommittee members voted to advance CorpCare as the preferred provider to the whole committee, which then approved the recommendation. A proposal for a new Florida Bar program, a fiscal impact statement, and a proposed contract from CorpCare have been sent to the Bar’s Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) in time for the Board of Governors meeting in March. If approved, this program would provide a 24/7/365 confidential helpline staffed by mental health professionals and, if needed, three in-person therapy sessions at no cost to eligible Bar members.
2) The Member Benefits Subcommittee, chaired by Román Ortega-Cowan, divided into four groups: physical fitness and nutrition, counseling, mindfulness, and CLE to investigate and identify vendors in each category. Three new benefit proposals were approved by the committee and forwarded to the Bar Member Benefits Committee: Fresh Meal Plan delivery, Equinox Fitness, and a meditation app called Waking Up.
3) The Clearinghouse/Coordination, chaired by Michael Higer, formed three smaller groups: Website Review, Communications, and Speakers Bureau. The Website Review Committee is auditing and redesigning the Mental Health and Wellness Center website. The Communications Committee submitted an article to the VBLC newsletter and sent out a survey to voluntary bar leaders, section chairs, and committee chairs. The Speakers Bureau Committee completed four PowerPoint presentations: compassion fatigue, stress management, yoga and meditation, and lawyers needing wellness. The presentations will be available on the Mental Health and Wellness webpage along with a list of qualified speakers.
Thank you to our fellow committee members for their contributions this year: BOG liaison Ronald Ponzoli, Onchantho Am, Judge Susan Bedinghaus, Nora Bergman, Bruce Blitman, Peggy Bush, Hillary Cassel, Mandi Clay, Dr. Kristie Deblasio, Alexandra Echsner-Rasmussen, Ashlea Edwards, Karla Ellis, Eric Epstein, Judge Samantha Feuer, Christian George, Benjamin Gibson, Karl Klein, Judge Alicia Latimore, Román Ortega-Cowan, Miriam Ramos, Richard Rivera, Judith Rushlow, Judge Nushin Sayfie, Jane Springer, Alexis Sykes, Lisa Varon, Judge Joseph Williams, and our staff liaison, Christine Bilbrey.
Carl Schwait & Michael Higer, Co-Chairs
Military and Veterans Affairs
The scope and function of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee is twofold: first, to gather and disseminate information, share expertise, and advise the members of the Bar on all matters relating to the practice of military law in Florida; and second, to have general jurisdiction regarding any problem that may arise relative to the provision of legal services to, for, or by members of the military establishment. Its function shall be to address issues unique to representation of military members and their families in both civil and criminal matters arising within Florida. Further, the committee will consider all possible means of enhancing or increasing the cooperation and communication between the local bar, the legal offices, and the judge advocates of the various military installations within the state.
• Military Spouse Rule — The Military and Veterans Affairs Committee (MVAC) authored and sponsored the Military Spouse Rule, Ch. 21 to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, which authorizes attorneys, who are the spouses of full-time active duty members of the United States armed forces, to engage in the practice of law in Florida while their military spouses are stationed within the state of Florida. Since approval by the Florida Supreme Court of the Military Spouse Rule, nine military spouses have been certified under the rule and are practicing in Florida.
The MVAC has developed a Military Spouse Attorney Mentor Network Plan and has appointed an MVAC subcommittee to oversee the mentorship of attorney spouses practicing under the rule. The subcommittee identifies volunteer mentors who have at least five years of expertise in the area of law in which the applicant plans to practice, maintains quarterly contact with the military spouse attorney to ensure compliance with his or her CLE obligation, trust accounting rules, and other requirements under Ch. 21. The subcommittee also acts as liaison between the MVAC and Florida Board of Bar Examiners when a military spouse attorney submits a certification application.
Finally, the MVAC is in the process of seeking approval for CLE accreditation to award CLE credit to attorneys who are serving as volunteer mentors under the Military Spouse Attorney Program.
MVAC Vice Chair William C. Henry has worked tirelessly from the rule’s inception and authorship, throughout the approval process, and continues to dedicate his time and talent in implementing the mentorship and CLE components. Jessica Linney and Patrick Murphy have volunteered for the subcommittee monitoring the Mentor Program and acting as liaisons.
• 2019 Military Law Symposium — The 2019 Military Law Symposium, #MilToo: Military Law in the #MeTooEra, was a great success. Timely and informative topics were presented by well-respected, prominent professionals in each of their respective fields. The presentations were educational but also highly entertaining and enjoyed by all in attendance. Notable speakers and topics included an overview of Military Law 101, presented by John Tuthill, CPT, Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corp (Ret.); Military/Civilian Sex Offenses and DOD Sexual Harassment/Retaliation, New Domestic Violence Statute (Article 128b) presented by Major Kristen Fricchione, U.S. Army, associate prof., The Judge Advocate General’s School, Charlottesville, VA; Intersection of State and Federal Prosecution under the Military Justice System by Charles H. Rose, director, Center for Excellence in Advocacy, Stetson University College of Law; and Administrative Separation Process Overview presented by Lieutenant Commander Phil Rohlfing, JAGC, USN Regional Service Office Southeast. Additionally, Ally Sacket, incoming Vision Director of Lawyer Regulation of The Florida Bar, presented an excellent ethics segment.
• 2020 Military Law Symposium — Congratulations are in order for the 2020 Military Law Symposium Subcommittee, chaired by Judge Tina Caraballo and Scott Johnson, which has planned an exciting 2020 Military Law Symposium. The symposium has been selected as a Presidential Showcase to be presented at the 2020 Florida Bar Annual Convention in June. Topics include “Cyber Threats: Applying the Law to Malicious Cyber Activity by State Actors,” “Military Related Naturalization and Immigration,” “Drone Warfare,” and a “Panel Discussion: 245 Years of Applied Lessons Learned.”
• Veteran and Service Members Legal Assistance/Pro Bono Initiative — Chris Vallandingham, MVAC vice chair, is instrumental to this program and continues to work on developing a comprehensive resource-based database with the goal of providing a “triage system” by which veterans and service members can be directed to the most appropriate resources and organizations for assistance. These services include identifying programs to assist with homelessness where VA services are not available. The program will contain a list of attorneys that could assist with obtaining VA benefits and other social services. The subcommittee is developing a method to identify the inquirer’s needs with respect to identifying legal resources and ways to address those needs, including the provision of pro bono or reduced-rate services, creating a pool of volunteers to field questions, and identifying technology to track inquiries. Terry Hill is assisting and providing insight on potential solutions and procedural guidance.
• Transitioning JAGs — Scott Johnson and Edward O’Sheehan have proposed a new MVAC initiative related to assisting and easing the challenges of staff JAGs transitioning from active duty to civilian life. The concept is to pursue a rule, mirroring the Military Spouse Rule, where a non-Florida Bar member residing in Florida may apply for a waiver to allow time for JAGs to transition to civilian life with the intent to alleviate the prospect of JAGs having to prepare for the Bar exam while serving on active duty. Edward O’Sheehan, Scott Johnson, Chris Vallandingham, John Tuthill, and Jessica Linney have volunteered to serve on the subcommittee to research the proposed initiative.
• Veterans Treatment Courts — The committee is staying abreast of new Veterans Treatment Courts being established in the various judicial circuits and is offering assistance and volunteers as appropriate. The Military and Veterans Affairs Committee recognizes and thanks Leslie Reithmiller, program administrator and liaison, for her continuing dedication and commitment in service of the MVAC.
Deborah Ann A’Hearn, Chair
Prepaid Legal Services
The Prepaid Legal Services Committee of The Florida Bar is — as it has been for all times since the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar first created this Public Service Standing Committee in 1974 — expressly entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that legal services plans submitted by members in good standing of The Florida Bar are in full and complete compliance with the rules and regulations of Ch. 9, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
Moreover, the committee’s work furthers The Florida Bar’s longstanding public policy position in support of the concept of legal services plans in the state of Florida, as so expressly codified in Rule 9-1.2, which provides, in relevant part, as follows: “Every citizen of this state should have access to the legal system…. To this end, it is the policy of The Florida Bar to support the concept and to actively encourage the establishment, operation, growth, and development of legal services plans as 1 means of increasing a person’s ability to obtain legal services at an affordable cost in order to have the opportunity to better gain access to the legal system” (emphasis added).
Further, in addition to fulfilling its stated mission, the committee has, over the years, expanded its scope and focus to include educating the membership of The Florida Bar on the various rules and regulations that govern the operation of plans in the state of Florida, including:
1) the entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans by and under Ch. 9 — as fully set forth in the “Chapter 9 Plan Application Packet” [effective April 2, 2012] and made readily available, via. pdf fillable format, to all members of The Florida Bar on the committee’s website, https://www.floridabar.org/public/prepdsrvs/; and 2) the availability of those certain other legal and business opportunities provided in the “Legal Expense Insurance Act,” by and under the provisions of F.S. Ch. 642.
During this 2019-20 Bar year, the committee has successfully carried out its responsibilities upon undertaking and completing various tasks and projects throughout the year. First and foremost, the committee had the opportunity — beginning at the committee’s 2020 winter meeting February 7 — to oversee the annual Ch. 9 renewal process, whereby some 20 Ch. 9 plans were scheduled for renewal for calendar year 2020.
In addition, at The Florida Bar 2020 winter meeting, the undersigned chair was privileged to serve as one of the three panelists on the panel presentation, “Bridging the Gap: Generating Outside Income and Revenue Streams,” on February 7 as part of the Solo & Small Firm Conference for 2020, and wherein the undersigned provided an overview of the benefits resulting to Florida attorneys in private practice who make Ch. 9 a part of their global business plan for the purpose of, ultimately, expanding their overall private client base.
Finally, the committee will once again be privileged to co-sponsor with the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Company an informative CLE seminar during The Florida Bar 2020 Annual Convention to be held at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria on June 17. As of the time of this writing, John Joseph, the committee’s chair of the 2020 Annual Meeting CLE Seminar, is in the process of finalizing the details of the committee’s participation in this year’s seminar; and, historically, consisting of a one-hour presentation by the chair on the fundamentals of creating a successful Ch. 9 plan and a one-hour presentation by a panel of Florida practicing attorneys having a wealth of experience in running the day-to-day operations of a Ch. 9 plan.
Finally, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the performance of several individuals whose work has contributed significantly to enabling the committee to accomplish its goals and, in turn, further its mission, during this Bar year.
As such, I thank and acknowledge the work of the committee’s program administrator, Jenny Dorminy, for her efforts to keep both the undersigned chair and the committee on task during the course of this Bar year; the committee’s vice chair, John P. Joseph — who has more than ably served, as well, as chair of the 2020 Annual Meeting CLE Seminar — for his dedication and commitment for always giving best efforts to fulfill the mission of the committee; and the committee’s immediate past chair, Kelli E. Lueckert, whose outstanding leadership skills have permitted her, by and through her great efforts, to serve the committee with utmost distinction throughout her tenure on the committee.
In conclusion, it has been an honor to serve as chair of the Prepaid Legal Services Committee during this past Bar year and it is now my great privilege to pass the torch of leadership to John and Kelli as the committee’s presumptive incoming chair and vice chair, respectively, and wish them both well as they continue to strive to fulfill the committee’s mission moving forward during the upcoming 2020-21 Bar year and beyond.
John Schaefer, Chair
Pro Bono Legal Services
During Bar year 2019-2020, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services has undertaken a number of initiatives and projects. Specifically, the committee is:
1) Contemplating a summit among the many pro bono stakeholders, including the committee’s 25 members from throughout the state; leadership of The Florida Bar Foundation; circuit Pro Bono Committee representatives; the Florida Supreme Court and its Commission on Access to Civil Justice; non-profit legal services providers; The Florida Bar Board of Governors and YLD Board; representatives of the Office of State Courts Administrator; representatives of the federal and state judiciary; representatives of the Clerks of Court and Clerks’ Association; representatives of the public library systems; representatives of the various lawyer referral service systems; and other constituencies around the state, to discuss coordination of efforts and improvements in the delivery of pro bono legal services to low-income Floridians. The committee contemplates that the summit will be held during the fall Bar meetings in conjunction with the Circuit Pro Bono Chair’s Meeting.
2) Monitoring Florida’s improved pro bono reporting compliance following modifications to the Bar’s online annual renewal statement that now require Bar members complete the pro bono reporting entries. The committee will continue to monitor the Bar staff’s follow-up with its members who submit incomplete dues statements by mail. Additionally, the committee is coordinating communications to Bar members who have not performed pro bono work during the prior reporting year to remind them of the opportunities in their community to perform pro bono work.
3) Formulating a plan to encourage the circuit courts to utilize F.S. §40.24, which allows jurors to donate their jury service fee to a guardian ad litem program or domestic violence shelter as specified on a rotating annual basis by the clerk of court in the circuit for the juror’s county of residence.
4) Developing a proposal to be submitted to the chief justice and Florida’s Judicial College for mandatory judicial education concerning pro bono service using an on-demand, online, blended-learning format.
5) Exploring a challenge campaign to urge Florida Bar sections to offer a match challenge for section members who become fellows of The Florida Bar Foundation.
6) Assisting with the dissemination of The Florida Bar Business Law Section’s “Best Practices Guide for a Firm Pro Bono Policy” to law firms in Florida.
7) Disseminating to the circuit chairs a list of retired and inactive attorneys in each circuit who qualify to serve as an emeritus pro bono attorney pursuant to the Emeritus Rule in Ch. 12 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar as a resource in each circuit for pro bono work.
8) Continuing to work with The Florida Bar’s Appellate Practice Section to provide pro bono counsel to unrepresented domestic violence victims in appeals relating to domestic violence protection orders.
9) Revising the “Circuit Pro Bono Committee Chair Handbook” for dissemination to the current Circuit Pro Bono Committee Chairs.
Additionally, the Rules Subcommittee, chaired by Dominic MacKenzie, continues to propose important systemic changes aimed at increasing pro bono participation and opportunities. During this year, the Rules Subcommittee drafted language to codify the doctrine of cy pres to encourage the donation of residual funds in class-action lawsuits to non-profit legal services providers.
The All Circuits Subcommittee, led by Jacksonville Circuit Judge Virginia Norton, again held joint meetings with all 20 circuit pro bono chairs at the fall meeting of the Bar. The All Circuits Subcommittee works closely with the director of Pro Bono Programs with The Florida Bar Foundation and participates in quarterly telephonic conferences to coordinate statewide efforts to increase overall pro bono hours and lawyer participation. The All Circuits Subcommittee is focusing on identifying ways to engage more young lawyers in pro bono service.
The committee also gratefully acknowledges the unrelenting support provided by past, present, and future Bar presidents and presidents-elect, including but not limited to William J. Schifino, Jr. (2016-17), Michael J. Higer (2017-18), Michelle R. Suskauer (2018-19), and John M. Stewart (2019-20). The continuity of that leadership from the top for pro bono activities is a vital underpinning of the committee’s work over the years. Francisco-Javier P. Digon-Greer, our superb Bar staff liaison attorney, also has helped us every step of the way.
Judge Catherine Peek McEwen & Kathleen S. McLeroy, Co-Chairs
Through its working groups, The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism (SCOP) helps The Florida Bar and The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism implement lawyer professionalism events and activities. This year’s emphasis has been on record-keeping initiatives for the local professionalism panels, supporting lawyer health and wellness, addressing gender bias, promoting mentoring, and recognizing outstanding professionalism through SCOP’s professionalism awards.
• Local Professionalism Panels — When the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility dissolved in 2019, SCOP was entrusted with the duty to keep track of the activities and facilitate the work of the Circuit Local Professionalism Panels (LPPs). The panels were created by the Florida Supreme Court to address unprofessional lawyer behavior that does not rise to an ethical breach. After the commission disbanded, SCOP was formally charged with taking over the commission’s programs. In late 2019, the Education and Resource Working Group and the center gathered contact information for the LPPs in each of the 20 judicial districts. The center has now sent a survey to the chairs of the LPPs to gather information that can help the center and SCOP better understand the processes and activities of the panels, and SCOP will be looking to that data as a way to assess what the LPPs need in their work. The center is also collecting court opinions that refer to the LPPs and will be posting those on the center’s website as a resource. As an additional step, SCOP is exploring hosting a summit with LPP committee chairs at the annual convention in June.
• The Professionalism Handbook — Every other year, the center publishes a handbook for law students that includes select Florida ethics and professionalism materials and is designed to help students learn critical ethics and professionalism information. This year, the SCOP chair authored a new component of the handbook, “Introduction to Professionalism in Florida: An Overview,” which is meant to help students understand the various sources of the professionalism expectations in Florida.
• Awards Working Group — Led by Elizabeth Hunter, chair, and Judge Jim McCune, co-chair, this group solicited nominees for and will recommend this year’s professionalism award recipients, including the recipients of the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award, the Law Faculty/Administrator Award, and the Group Professionalism Award. Part of the work of the group this year was to develop new marketing for the awards and to reformulate the criteria for the Group Professionalism Award. Award winners will be announced at the 2020 annual convention.
• Education and Resource Working Group — This group’s charge includes locating potential professionalism articles and videos to enhance the Center’s Library Guide, which is located on the website. Led by Chair Howard Marsee, members contributed articles on professionalism for publication in The Professional. The group also led the effort to collect updated information on the LPPs.
• Gender Bias Working Group — The Gender Bias Working Group is led by Chair Magdalena Ozarowski and Co-Chair Matthew Feeley. The group’s charge for the year is to assist with development of materials and programming related to gender bias. The group is currently planning a CLE on gender bias and professional dress.
• Health and Wellness Working Group — This group is led by Sarah Zabel, chair, and Joshua Wright, co-chair. This group is charged with developing health and wellness-related materials and programming, and this year it assisted with the Health and Wellness CLE that was sponsored by the Center at Ava Maria Law School in September 2019.
• Mentoring Initiatives Working Group — This group is led by Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, chair, and James Stephan, co-chair. This year, the working group is planning a CLE presentation on mentoring, which highlights the challenges of mentoring the millennial lawyer and success of structured and unstructured programs. In addition, members are surveying local bar associations and sections to update the center website information on mentoring programs around the state. Finally, the group is considering a number of ideas for future programming to raise awareness of/interest in mentoring, such as creating a mentoring program award and finding ways to connect newly admitted attorneys to members of their local bars and sections.
It has been an honor to lead SCOP this year. My thanks to Vice Chair Ita Neymotin, Board of Governors Liaison Steven Davis, Center Director Rebecca Bandy, center staff, and all the committee members.
Kirsten K. Davis, Chair
The Professional Ethics Committee is responsible for providing guidance to bar members on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Formal committee opinions are available on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org. The committee also provides informational packets and topical information on the website. A link to “Rules & Ethics” is included at the top of every page of the website. This link leads to a landing page with a link to the main Ethics page, which includes links for formal ethics opinions, the Rules of Professional Conduct, informational packets, Bar News and Journal articles on ethics issues, and other topical information relating to lawyer ethics.
The committee is staffed by the Bar’s Ethics Department. The Bar’s ethics attorneys research and draft informal staff opinions and maintain the toll-free Ethics Hotline for Bar members. The committee reviews informal written opinions issued by the Bar’s ethics attorneys and reconsiders them sua sponte if the committee deems appropriate or if the inquiring attorney seeks review of the informal staff opinion. In addition, the committee sponsors an annual professional ethics seminar. The committee met twice this year to consider a variety of ethics issues.
• Formal Advisory Opinion Procedures — The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics govern the process by which staff issue informal oral and written opinions and by which the committee issues formal opinions. The committee may issue formal opinions on review of staff opinions and existing formal opinions. Additionally, Board of Governors of The Florida Bar may request that the committee issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to certain facts. When issuing proposed formal opinions, the committee publishes official notice in The Florida Bar News, inviting Bar members to comment. The committee values the input provided by these comments and encourages Bar members to comment on proposed ethics opinions. The procedures are available on the bar’s website at www.floridabar.org by choosing the “Rules & Ethics” link and then the “Ethics” link on the resulting landing page.
• Proposed Advisory Opinion — The committee is currently working on Proposed Advisory Opinion 20-1. This proposed advisory opinion addresses how lawyers may ethically respond to negative online reviews in light of the duty of confidentiality owed to clients and former clients under Rule 4-1.6 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The proposed advisory opinion notes that the majority of states that have issued opinions on the subject conclude that a lawyer may not reveal confidential information when responding to a negative review. The proposed advisory opinion further notes that Rule 4-1.6 makes all information relating to the representation of a client confidential, whatever the source of the information, and that the duty of confidentiality is owed to both current and former clients. The proposed advisory opinion states that none of the exceptions in Rule 4-1.6(c) apply to the situation. Therefore, the proposed advisory opinion counsels that, if the lawyer responds to the negative online review, the lawyer cannot reveal confidential information absent the client’s informed consent. The proposed advisory opinion concludes that a suggested proportional and restrained response stated in a Texas ethics opinion would be permissible and that the lawyer could also state that the lawyer disagrees with the facts stated in the review.
Proposed Advisory Opinion 20-1 was published for comment on the Bar’s website and in the Bar News under the Procedures for Ruling on Questions of Ethics. The deadline for comments was March 31. The committee will consider any comments received at its June meeting. At this time, Proposed Advisory Opinion 20-1 is not a final opinion and may be changed. All opinions are advisory only.
• Withdrawn Formal Advisory Opinions — The committee withdrew Florida Ethics Opinion 76-37 in light of amendments to Rule 4-1.5(h), which now allow lawyers who accept payment by credit plans, such as credit cards to charge clients the actual charge the credit plan imposes on the lawyer for the transaction. Florida Ethics Opinion 76-37, based on a prior version of the rule, concluded that lawyers could not pass on the charge to clients.
• Rules Amendments — The committee at times proposes amendments to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. In 2019, the committee drafted proposed amendments to the commentary to the solicitation rule, Rule 4-7.18, that address lawyers initiating the exchange of contact information with prospective clients at business events and social media that were approved by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar on January 31, and which will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court in the fall.
The committee also is frequently asked to review proposed amendments to the rules by other individuals or entities. The committee also reviewed and recommended approval of amendments to Rule 4-1.14, client under a disability, to more closely adhere to amendments made to the corresponding ABA Model Rule at the recommendation of the Ethics Commission 2000.
• Review of Written Staff Advisory Opinions — At its meetings, the committee considers appeals by lawyers of written staff advisory opinions in response to inquiries submitted by the lawyers. Appeals considered by the committee included a staff advisory opinion as to whether a law firm could be owned as tenants by the entirety by two spouses who are both members of The Florida Bar; a staff advisory opinion concerning interstate law firms; and a staff advisory opinion concerning ethical issues where a client contracted with a public adjuster prior to hiring the lawyer.
The committee also considered ethics inquiries where staff declined to issue an advisory opinion, including a denial of a staff advisory opinion concerning whether a former staff lawyer for a court could obtain court documents authored by the lawyer while working for the court.
• Masters Seminar on Ethics — The committee’s yearly CLE program addresses ethical issues of great significance to Bar members at the annual convention. The seminar subcommittee is chaired by Steven Teppler. The other members of the subcommittee are Robert Borr, Anne Dalton, Loula D. Giannet, and Caroline Johnson. The seminar will be presented at the June annual convention and provide 4.0 hours of general CLE credit (4.0 ethics and 2.0 technology). The 2020 Masters Seminar on Ethics will present an array of ethical topics related to technology including cybersecurity awareness, the challenges presented by computer-generated information; including telling deep fake and other impersonation-related technology from authentic information and a discussion of professionalism issues arising from new and emerging communications technology. There will also be a judicial panel on litigation ethics, including issues of candor, competency, and fairness. Speakers scheduled to participate are Eric Hibbard, Tatiana Melnik, Caroline Johnson, Judge Donald A. Myers, Jr., and Judge John Jordan.
• Informal Advisory Ethics Opinions Service — The advisory ethics opinion process continues to rate as among the most desirable services on membership surveys. The committee is committed to providing ethics guidance to bar members. The committee thanks the staff of the Ethics Department for their dedication, assistance, and support in providing such guidance throughout the year. Staff had another busy year on the Ethics Hotline, handling over 29,000 hotline calls, in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Thomas R. Bopp, retired Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Lori Holcomb, new Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Gypsy Bailey, and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan Grabb, Jeffrey M. Hazen, Kelly Smith, Heather Telfer, LiliJean Quintiliani, and Paralegal Donna Hostutler. Without the participation, guidance, experience, and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.
I want to single out for special mention Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert without whom neither our committee nor the Ethics Department would run as smoothly as they do. While committee members, chairs, and vice chairs come and go, are term-limited and replaced, Ms. Tarbert provides the stability, institutional memory, and guidance, which are the basis for the ability of the Ethics Department and the PEC to operate at the highest professional level as one of the jewels in the mission of The Florida Bar to assist lawyers in their ethical practice and protection of the public.
Randolph Braccialarghe, Chair
Real Estate Certification
The Real Estate Certification Committee had another busy year. In addition to the chair, the 2019-20 members of the committee are Chair Robert Fleitas III of Miami, Vice Chair Michelle Hinden of Orlando, Diana Davis Basta of Palm Harbor, Michael Chesser of Shalimar, Charles Klug, Jr., of Tampa, Kenneth Bohannon of New Smyrna Beach, Liliana Avellan of Miami, Sebastian Jaramillo of Miami, Robert Schwartz of Boca Raton, Wiley Boston of Orlando, and Deborah Boyd of Port Saint Lucie. By having committee members from all over Florida, we are able to construct a complete examination that is representative of the practice of real estate law throughout our state.
The committee is charged with the task of 1) evaluating and approving lawyers who apply to become board certified in real estate law; 2) evaluating and approving existing board-certified real estate lawyers for recertification every five years; and 3) drafting and grading the annual certification exam. As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of applicants necessarily involves the determination of whether an applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This process is often difficult and is taken very seriously by the committee members. The committee strives to prepare the exam from year-to-year in a manner that best tests those high standards as well as the knowledge and skill expected of board-certified real estate lawyers.
The real estate certification program was established in 1986 with the first class becoming board certified in 1987. Real estate law has historically been the second-largest area of certification in terms of number of individuals who are board certified by The Florida Bar. There are currently 445 board certified lawyers, and 39 lawyers are anticipated to sit for the 2020 exam.
The present format of the exam includes 45 multiple-choice questions, six mandatory short-answer essay questions, a homestead essay question, and a transactional analysis question. The exam is scheduled for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. While not everyone will pass the exam, we regularly hear that the process of preparing for the exam causes every examinee to be a better real estate lawyer.
We encourage all experienced and eligible lawyers to apply for board certification. Certification identifies a lawyer to the public and other lawyers as having specialized knowledge and capabilities. We also encourage board-certified lawyers to apply to serve on the committee; it provides invaluable exposure to other board-certified real estate lawyers in a collegial and intellectually stimulating setting.
As chair of the committee, I thank the members for their hard work and dedication to the exam preparation and applicant review process. Additionally, the committee extends its thanks and gratitude to several former committee members who have graciously volunteered their time to serve as exam protesters. The committee members also thank David Willis, our new BLSE liaison to the committee, and Steve Rubin who is our immediate past BLSE liaison. Finally, the Real Estate Certification Committee acknowledges the hard work and service of our Bar staff certification specialist, Jasmine Rodriguez, who joined us this year and is an invaluable asset to our committee.
Roberto F. Fleitas III, Chair
Rules of Judicial Administration
My term as chair of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee started with a pronounced bang as Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.420(d) (procedures for determining confidentiality of court records) was amended by both the court and the committee in reaction to legislative amendments defining additional documents that must remain confidential by clerks of court. Aware of the amended statute effective date, the court quickly reacted to amendments within F.S. §§119.0714(1)(k) and 394.464 (SC19-1049 (Ch. 2019-39 and 2019-51, Laws of Florida)), June 2019 and November 2019). Following further review of the legislative amendments, the committee proposed and had adopted another amendment to Rule 2.420(d) by including a reference to F.S. §39.202, within subdivision (d)(1)(B)(i) (SC19-1531 (Ch. 2019-49, Laws of Florida)). Also, in reaction to 2019 legislation, the court amended the trial court jurisdiction amounts within Rule 2.240 (SC19-1932). That jump-start energy was further enhanced by another amendment initiated by the court: Rule 2.230 (Trial Court Budget Commission; membership and organization) (SC19-533).
That energy by the court was embraced by the committee who welcomed significant changes to the rules and the procedure for rule amendments. In 2018, the committee filed a landmark proposal of a rule to establish parental leave as a basis for a continuance of a trial. This proposal underwent several amendments and much publicity as it was worked on by the committee and The Florida Bar Board of Governors. In December, the court released new Rule 2.570 (parental-leave continuance) that fine-tuned the proposal submitted by the committee by adopting case and professional protection for attorneys and parties (SC18-1554).
The year 2019 ended with two significant filings by the committee. First, after several years of proposing, discussing, reviewing, and fine-tuning, the committee filed two new and five aggressively amended rules to clarify for courts and practitioners the filing, serving, and executing of documents. Specifically, new Rules 2.345 (electronic signature of court official) and 2.511 (Florida Courts E-Filing Portal), and amendments to Rules 2.514 (computing and extending time), 2.515 (signature certificates of attorneys and parties), 2.516 (service of pleadings and documents), 2.520 (documents), and 2.525 (electronic filing) were filed and are before the court (SC19-2163). Second, after much discussion at both subcommittee and committee level, the committee filed a no-action report in reaction to a court records access concern raised by counsel for the media coalition who sought an amendment to Rule 2.420.
The end of December energy carried over into January when the 2020 regular-cycle report was composed and filed. This is a packet of rule amendments that were developed over the past three years and which, though very significant to the practice, did not have specific time urgency or demand for submission. The amended rules in this cycle report are 2.110 (scope and purpose), 2.265 (municipal ordinance violations), 2.330 (disqualification of trial judges), 2.420 (public access to and protection of judicial branch records), 2.505 (attorneys), and 2.510 (foreign attorneys) (SC20-165). Several of the proposed amendments are aggressive updates of the rules for current practice.
One point that was emphasized this year is the joint goal of the court and the committees to get procedural rules and rule amendments to practitioners in as smooth, yet quick, a manner as possible. A significant delay to rule amendments is the three-year cycle schedule of filing proposed amendments. This pattern made sense in the past, but the court, in recognizing the rising speed of the practice, initiated conversation with the committee leaders. Research about the review and filing process of other states was conducted. With that research in mind, the committee was proud to receive the court’s amendment to Rule 2.140 (amending rules of court). The amendments remove the three-year cycle schedule and gives authority for committees to file proposed rule amendments once comments have been sought and the board has reviewed them for acceptance. Once this new procedure is in place, there should be a significant reduction of the lag time between a committee proposal and court approval of rule amendments (SC19-2104).
Another court-initiated amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration of which practitioners should be aware is the altering of standard jury instruction amendment procedure. Currently committees recommend to the court new or amendments to current standard jury instructions. Beginning April 1, the court will adopt Rules 2.270 (Supreme Court committees on standard jury instructions) and 2.570 (standard jury instructions). These rules provide direction for the SJI committees on how they may approve and publish the instructions for practitioners without court filings or court opinion (SC20-145).
Though many filings have been completed and the opinions have been released, there is still much work to be done. Subcommittees are actively drafting a rule in reaction to the constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law, creating a proposed rule to address ex parte motions for discovery costs in criminal cases and fine-tuning amendments to Rule 2.540 to address current ADA requirements and the use of service animals in the court. Following the Rule 2.420 non-substantive rewrite, the subcommittee is now focusing on potential substantive document access and confidentiality concerns within this rule. The committee is also working jointly with other committees to address remote testimony concerns and with the board to address foreign attorneys’ fees.
This not-yet-finished busy year could not have been so successful without the hard work of the committee members. Though I fear I will forget someone to whom appreciation should be voiced, I would like to say a special note of thanks to my vice chairs, Michael Korn, who kept subcommittee focus on track, and Craig Leen, who lead the parental leave cause, and to Secretary Judge Liz Blackburn for her incredible and timely minutes. Also a shout out to the wonderful chairs and vice chairs of the many subcommittees who produce great work: Michael Schmid, John Roman, Ben Robinson, Jennifer Mansfield, Etan Mark, Judge Samantha Ward, Debra Jenks, Judge Jon Morgan, Steve Williams, Chris Maranges, Judge John Newton, Michael Sasso, Justin Horan, Kristin Norse, Susan Warner, Beau Blumberg, Judge Jeff Kuntz, Matt Wilson, Sandy Solomon, and Judge Jackie Woodward. A special note of appreciation is also shared for Tom Hall’s hard work and spokesman’s talent in board and FCTC meetings, and past-chairs Amy Borman and Judge S. Scott Stephens for their continued dedication to the Rules of Judicial Administration. Thank you all.
Judge Josephine Gagliardi, Chair
The Senior Lawyers Committee membership is composed of primarily experienced lawyers over the age of 55, but is open to any member of The Florida Bar. Our membership includes lawyers who are in different stages of their legal careers: some are semi-retired, while others are contemplating a change of career, early retirement or retirement, or practicing law forever. The Senior Lawyers Committee, which currently has no limit on the number of one-year terms to which members can be reappointed, provides a way for members to continue their service to the Bar and the profession. We provided invitation cards, which were available at the midyear meeting, to invite senior lawyers to join our mailing list to receive our newsletter, participate in our upcoming meetings and CLEs, and join our committee for free during the committee preference season.
Due to the anticipated increase in the aging of the members of The Florida Bar, we are or will be larger than any other Bar section or committee. It is our intention to explore becoming a division so that all lawyers over the age of 55 will be able to automatically belong and be aware of the benefits that we offer.
Our structure includes a Leadership Team (Chair Leslie Stein, Vice Chairs Andromeda Monroe and Mark Dobson, and Immediate Past-Chair Susan Healy) and our Bar staff liaison, Cheri Wright. The Leadership Team reviews the work of the committee’s Focus Groups, who are the teams of member volunteers that do the heavy lifting on the committee’s projects. The Focus Group structure grew out of our recognition that at this stage in our careers, we senior lawyers prefer to work on those discrete tasks that are of particular interest to us, as opposed to joining standing subcommittees that look impressive on our resumes.
The 2019-20 Focus Groups are:
1) 50-Year Member Luncheon Focus Group: This group is responsible for planning and hosting the 50-Year Members Luncheon being held at the 2020 annual Bar convention. Last year we initiated collecting and displaying pictures of our honorees at the luncheon. This year we have invited Florida law schools to take pictures of their graduates for their publications.
2) Website Focus Group: At our winter meeting, this group previewed the excellent committee webpage that was created and is maintained by Andromeda Monroe. It is now launched and contains links to various items of interest to senior lawyers. The committee’s past CLE presentations can be reached from this webpage, as well as its new and exciting newsletter titled Experience Matters.
3) CLE Presentations: This group plans the free CLE programming offered in conjunction with the Senior Lawyers Committee’s winter and annual convention meetings. Our winter meeting featured a free CLE presentation titled, “Florida’s Legal Profession and History: Celebrating the Past and Looking to the Future,” 2.5 General CLE Credits, 1.0 Technology CLE Credit. The CLE presentation featured Judge E.J. Salcines and Jonathan Israel (LegalFuel). The presentation was recorded and is available on the committee’s webpage free of charge for those Bar members who missed the live presentation.
4) Generations Conversations Focus Group: This group is partnering with YLD and the Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion to develop programs addressing the issue of generational diversity and commonality, encompassing both unstructured social conversation and CLE programming.
5) Member Benefits Focus Group: This group is working with The Florida Bar Member Benefits Committee to identify benefits programs of interest to senior lawyers.
6) Newsletter Focus Group: This group is responsible for an email newsletter, Experience Matters. This newsletter was created and is edited by Susan Healy.
7) Pro Bono Opportunities Focus Group: This group identifies volunteering opportunities involving opportunities outside the legal field, as well as law-related and pro bono opportunities for members who are looking for new ways to continue to serve in the community as they leave their practices or reduce their hours.
Senior Lawyers Committee meetings have had a high percentage of members attending remotely. To accommodate our members’ preference for remote rather than in-person attendance, we have provided video or phone conferencing and recorded our meetings and CLEs so they can more fully participate.
As of March, we have either completed or made significant progress on our strategic planning goals, including the Program Evaluation Committee recommendations. We look forward to continuing our work during 2020-21.
Leslie Reicin Stein, Chair
Small Claims Rules
The past year was an exciting one for all members of The Florida Bar, and committee members, from the increase in the jurisdictional amounts of the courts to the various amendments to the Florida Constitution. The Small Claims Rules Committee’s year was no exception, and thanks to the participation of its members, the committee had another successful year.
The committee receives referrals from all interested individuals. This year the committee received two referrals from the Florida Supreme Court. The first referral requested a review of the proposed amendment to Rule 7.010 (title and scope), as well as a review of the remaining rules to determine whether any additional amendments were necessary to address the jurisdictional amount increase, in reaction to Ch. 2019-58, Laws of Florida. The proposed amendment was approved, and after review of the rules and forms, the committee determined that no additional amendments were necessary. The approved proposed amendment was submitted in a joint, out-of-cycle report and adopted as proposed (SC19-1354).
The second referral from the Supreme Court requested a joint, out-of-cycle report examining Rule 2.516 (service of pleadings and documents) of the Rules of Judicial Administration to propose rule amendments that will require documents that are served but not filed to be served in accordance with Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516. After examination of the rule by a joint committee, the joint, out-of-cycle report was submitted for the court’s consideration on December 31, 2019, and is currently pending (SC19-2162).
In the preceding three years, the committee conducted an extensive review of the rules and forms with the objectives of removing archaic language and ensuring consistency within the rules and with the language of all Florida court rules. In February 2019, the committee submitted its regular-cycle report proposing amendments to 16 rules, 11 forms, as well as the addition of six new forms. On December 12, 2019, the committee’s 2019 regular-cycle report was adopted as proposed, with only two exceptions, by the court.
Finally, after receiving comment from various courts and members of the Bar regarding the impact that the increase in jurisdictional amount has had on the small claims divisions of county court, the committee is currently examining whether an amendment is necessary to increase the time limitations set forth in Rule 7.090(b) and (d) (appearance; defensive pleadings; trial date).
I acknowledge the contributions and thank each member of the committee for their dedication and hard work over the last year, especially Judge Olga Levine (vice chair), Kevin Stone (vice chair), Chantel Wonder (secretary), and Judge Kristine Van Vorst (Drafting Committee chair). On behalf of the committee, I offer our appreciation and gratitude to our Florida Bar liaisons, Heather Telfer and Krys Godwin. Without their depth of knowledge, the generosity of their time, and their guidance the committee would not have been able to successfully navigate the past year.
It has been my honor to serve as chair of the Small Claims Rules Committee. I am proud of the committee’s continued efforts, its accomplishments, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve.
Maureen B. Walsh, Chair
State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice
Currently, there are 79 board certified lawyers in State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice. Our committee covers a broad practice area that includes state and federal rulemaking, administrative adjudication and agency interaction, along with state and federal government practice areas. This year, five people applied for certification. A total of three certified attorneys submitted applications for recertification in 2018-2019.
We are working on encouraging administrative practitioners to apply for certification. Last year, we revised the scope and specifications of the exam to focus more on state law rather than federal law. We advertised the revised exam, which significantly increased applications; however, we have more work to do to increase membership in this certification area. The committee has continued its effort to modify our certification rules and requirements, and we are working with the BLSE and other persons within the Bar leadership to implement our revisions.
While we are working to revise our criteria for the future, our committee has also determined that it needs to work harder on promoting certification in this area. We are establishing a group within the committee that will work with the BLSE to implement strategies to increase participation in the certification area, which will continue into next year.
The 2019-2020 committee has been very active and dedicated. Vice Chair John Rimes has been very helpful to the committee in pursuing our long-term goals. Tim Atkinson has continued to lead the charge for our rule changes and has worked very hard for this committee. Tad Delegal has also remained active and assisted greatly with this endeavor. Our other committee members, Kenneth Hayman, Michael Cook, Bruce Lamb, Douglas Sunshine, and Judge John Van Landingham have each provided great service to this committee. We are fortunate to have an excellent, professional, and very friendly liaison, Allison Armour. We greatly appreciate her hard work and assistance as we work through the rule change process.
If you have any questions about certification in the area of state and federal government and administrative practice, please visit The Florida Bar’s website, or call Allison Armour at (850) 561-3143.
Brittany Adams Long, Chair
Tax Law Certification
As the 2019-2020 chair of the Tax Law Certification Committee, I am pleased to provide this report for the committee. Members of the committee are responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as tax law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar, reviewing applications of current certified attorneys seeking recertification at the expiration of their terms, and reviewing and approving certain continuing legal education courses as qualified for tax law certification credit. The certification process consists of four requirements: an active practice in tax law; excellent peer-review references; having sufficient continuing legal education in tax law; and passing the certification examination.
The committee is comprised of nine board-certified tax law attorneys who work throughout the state. The committee first met telephonically in August 2019 to begin drafting the 2020 examination and to review initial and recertification applications. Over the next several months, the committee worked to continue the prior committees’ improvement of the quality of the certification exam to meet the high standards expected by the committee and The Florida Bar.
The 2020 exam reflects a change in format and is comprised of one long answer essay question and 10 multi-part, shorter answer essay questions that address procedural and substantive law. For the various subjects, the committee updated questions from previous examinations to reflect the change in format and any changes in law, as well as created new current questions to adapt to changing law. The committee seeks to ensure that the exam is a fair but rigorous test of an applicant’s expertise. On March 13, in Tampa, applicants took the exam in two three-hour blocks and will be advised of their results by June 1.
At its final meeting scheduled for May 1, the committee will grade the 2020 examination on an anonymous basis, with each examinee identified to the committee only by a number assigned by Florida Bar staff. Those attorneys who meet all requirements for a board-certified tax law attorney and achieve a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as a tax law board certified specialist.
Of the more than 100,000 members of The Florida Bar, 196 are currently board certified in tax law. Five attorneys sat for the 2020 tax law certification exam. The committee also reviewed 32 recertification applications.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers who participate in the confidential peer review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and will not be divulged to any applicant.
It has been an honor for me to serve as chair of the committee this year. This year’s committee included me as chair, Ft. Myers; Daniel Martinez, vice chair, Miami; Gerrard Grant, Winter Park; Thomas F. Hudgins III, Naples; Marvin C. Kloeppel, Jacksonville; Michael A. Lampert, West Palm Beach; Karen Lapekas, Miami; Lee Osiason, Miami; and Robert “Bo” Trudeau, vice chair, Jacksonville. We also appreciate the hard work of Chyra Reynolds.
Erin E. Houck-Toll, Chair
The Committee on Technology consists of 36 members with a stated interest and competence in technology, data security, and privacy. The scope and function of the Committee on Technology is to interact regularly with LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center to assure that technology tools for lawyers and educational assistance concerning technology and the law is readily available to Florida Lawyers. The Committee on Technology was chaired by Al Saikali (Miami) with Christine Senne (Lake Placid) Joshua Marks (Sunrise), and Robert “Beau” Blumberg (Miami) serving as co-vice chairs. During the 2019-2020 Bar year, the committee held two in-person meetings in conjunction with The Florida Bar fall meeting and annual convention.
For the 2019 Florida Bar Annual Convention, the committee collaborated with LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center and the Business Law Section to put on two technology seminars. These seminars highlighted current trends and best practices in technology as well as cybersecurity and data privacy. The seminars were recorded and are available on LegalFuel.com for free for CLE credit.
The committee conducted a survey of Bar sections and committees to determine interest of individual sections and committees to collaborate with the Committee on Technology initiatives. A subcommittee has been tasked with reaching out to the sections and committees who responded to the survey. This subcommittee will coordinate with the responding sections and committees to develop technology-focused education, articles, or other resources to assist members of the responding sections and committees.
The committee drafted guidelines for Bar members to use to secure and protect their data and information technology infrastructures. The committee has also drafted a companion document which outlines all the rules, statutes, and other legislation that affects data security and privacy. This document explains each item, why an attorney should be concerned, and links to resources to assist attorneys to ensure compliance. These documents have been published on LegalFuel.com for Bar members to reference and download.
We thank the committee members for their hard work and dedication.
Al Saikali, Chair
Traffic Court Rules
With the enactment of Marsy’s Law, the Traffic Court Rules Committee took the bull by the horns and was the first committee to amend its rules to effectuate the constitutional mandate. Provisions of Marsy’s Law were added to Rule 6.040 (definitions), most importantly adding the definition of a victim and providing for the rights of a victim. Chapter 2019-167, Laws of Florida, also required additions to Rule 6.040. The legislature overrode judicial interpretations of what is a suspended, revoked, cancelled, or disqualified driver’s license by redefining those terms. The new definitions were added to the rule. Finally, Rule 6.040 was reorganized to place all provisions in alphabetical order for the user’s ease.
Ira D. Karmelin, Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
The standing committee had a busy year addressing formal advisory opinion requests. Under Rule 10-9 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, an individual or organization seeking guidance as to the applicability of the state’s prohibitions against the unlicensed practice of law may request a formal advisory opinion from the standing committee. After holding a public hearing to receive input from interested parties, the standing committee, at its discretion, may file a proposed formal advisory opinion with the Florida Supreme Court containing its interpretation of the law. The court then reviews the proposed opinion and can approve, modify, or disapprove the advisory opinion with the ensuing opinion having the force and effect of an order of the court. The standing committee declined to hold a public hearing in three of four formal advisory opinion requests; two of the requests did not implicate UPL, and in the third, current Florida Supreme Court caselaw and rules provide appropriate guidance.
In February, the standing committee held a public hearing on a formal advisory opinion request from an out-of-state licensed attorney who would like to work remotely for his out-of-state law firm from his Florida home on federal intellectual property rights matters (and not Florida law). After the hearing, the standing committee directed staff to prepare a draft proposed advisory opinion for its review in June. At that time, it will decide whether to file the proposed advisory opinion with the court.
The standing committee and The Florida Bar UPL staff continued their efforts to protect the public from UPL. We approved litigation for injunctive relief against individuals and businesses for holding themselves out as attorneys and providing legal services in immigration, bankruptcy, eviction, and criminal law matters. The standing committee also approved litigation for indirect criminal contempt against two individuals for continuing to engage in the unlicensed practice of law after being enjoined by the Florida Supreme Court.
We continue to receive complaints against out-of-state licensed lawyers for assisting individuals with Florida legal issues. Under the MJP (multijurisdictional practice of law) rules, out-of-state lawyers may provide limited legal services in Florida on a temporary basis under certain circumstances. The rules also subject out-of-state lawyers to the disciplinary authority of the Florida Supreme Court while providing those legal services. Thus, while out-of-state lawyers may not be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law if their activity falls within the rule, they can be disciplined for unethical conduct. The MJP rules also require out-of-state lawyers who appear in a Florida court or arbitration to file a copy of their pro hac vice motion and verified statement, respectively, with The Florida Bar. To check whether opposing counsel has complied with these filing requirements, you can contact the UPL Department at (850) 561-5840.
As we conclude this year, I thank all the public members and lawyers on the standing committee for their dedicated service. It has been a pleasure working with you. The standing committee gives a special thanks to the circuit committees; we know you are the unrecognized heart and soul of UPL enforcement for the court. All committee members, who contribute their valuable time and energy in protecting the public, are especially appreciated.
I also thank and recognize Will Spillias, UPL director; Jeffrey Picker, assistant UPL director; and UPL Branch Counsels Jacquelyn Needelman (Miami), Ali Vazquez (Ft. Lauderdale), Ghunise Coaxum (Orlando), Maria Torres (Tampa), Karen Dexter (Tallahassee), and their excellent support staffs. These dedicated and hard-working public servants do an incredible job year after year.
It has been my sincere honor and pleasure to work with you all.
Susanne McCabe, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
In 2019-2020, the state of Florida boasted 287 voluntary bar associations consisting of diverse subgroups of thousands of community-involved lawyers across the state. The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee (VBLC) serves as the connection between The Florida Bar and these organizations. The committee is composed of both attorney and executive director representatives. The mission of the VBLC is multi-faceted and includes: 1) improving communication between The Florida Bar and voluntary bar associations; 2) coordinating programs of The Florida Bar involving voluntary bar associations; 3) advising the Public Information and Bar Services Department regarding public relations needs of the voluntary bars; 4) providing a resource and information bank with activities and tools to address the problems of voluntary bar associations; and 5) advising the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of The Florida Bar programs to voluntary bar associations and individual members.
The VBLC undertook several new projects this year, which are directly in line with the above stated mission. First, we expanded the services offered to voluntary bars through our Voluntary Bar Center. A complete redesign of the center webpage was arranged so Bar leaders could have access to a wealth of information including: 1) bar listings; 2) the SideBar News; 3) Bar Leaders Conference; 4) voluntary Bar calendar; and 5) resources. The Voluntary Bar Center houses a collection of resources and information to assist Florida’s local and specialty bar associations with leadership, operations, and membership.
Under the resources tab, bar leaders can now find a new “Plug and Play: Free CLE” listing of programs that bar associations can use in a voluntary bar member event. The Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee is very excited to begin to regularly offer prerecorded plug-and-play CLEs as another service from The Florida Bar to our statewide voluntary bar community. The concept is to share relevant content between voluntary bar associations so that programs and materials are easily available and accessible to voluntary bar leaders. The Jacksonville Bar Association was most generous in offering us the opportunity to record a Grievance Process Workshop, one with a subject matter that has bar-wide appeal and is very important that we all understand. Following the example set by Craig Shoup and the JBA, other bars followed and provided recordings or the opportunity to record a program to help voluntary bar members in other parts of the state.
In addition, VBLC’s Information Clearinghouse has been expanded to include a section on what voluntary bars are doing to promote health and wellness. The Clearinghouse continues to expand with sample documents and useful materials to assist voluntary bar leaders in managing and leading their respective bar associations. These materials were donated by a variety of voluntary bar associations across the state to create a diverse database. They are organized by relevance and topic to help leaders quickly find what they need. This project is ongoing, and documents will continue to be added to the website as they are received.
The VBLC also provides monthly highlights of the incredible work of voluntary bar associations through the digital delivery of SideBar. The newsletter is a great source of inspiration to plan an event in your community. Stories and photos are gathered from social media or submitted by bar leaders.
Also, on the resources page is a series of free webinar recordings designed to teach voluntary bar leaders how to build and strengthen their leadership, management, and technical skills throughout the year — not just at our yearly conference. These webinars are conducted via Skype, and they are then posted on the Voluntary Bar Center under the resources tab. Participants who join the live webinar can interact with the presenter through the question and answer function of Skype. In addition to the social media webinars offered in spring 2019, we also hosted two sessions in 2020 with Melissa Byers, executive director of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, on sponsorships and health and wellness. An hour of CLE credit was given for each. It is our goal to roll out a new topic six times during the year.
Of notable significance was a new initiative and efforts of our committee to ensure circuit representation/diversity of future Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee members, beginning this coming appointment period. Amelia Hallenberg Beard spearheaded an effort to have at least one member of the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee from every judicial circuit in the state. Beard identified the Third, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 20th circuits, and she and the subcommittee members reached out to and encouraged Florida Bar members to submit a committee preference form for service on the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee.
Finally, the VBLC currently hosts a calendar of events on the Voluntary Bar Center to showcase the programming of associations across the state. At this time, we rely on the voluntary bar associations to submit their events to the VBLC at [email protected].
Every July, the VBLC hosts the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, which is the culmination of the committee’s yearlong planning efforts. It was Anchors Aweigh! When the 2019 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference set sail in Tampa on July 12-13 with more than 130 voluntary bar leaders, 61 speakers, and 23 sponsors contributing to the successful voyage. The Hillsborough County Bar Association had the single largest number attending from the 63 different voluntary bars participating. Special thanks to the 2018-19 committee chair, Lillian Ewen, and to Vivian Cortes Hodz and Kimberly Lopez, conference co-chairs, for making it a productive and enjoyable conference for everyone.
For the second year at the conference, the committee chose to recognize two voluntary bars for the Healthy Hour Challenge award. This award challenges a voluntary bar to submit creative health and wellness-themed events that they have hosted. More than 150 participants took the Orange County Bar Association Health and Wellness Challenge in May 2019. This single event that lasted an entire month was recognized as the most well-attended wellness event among voluntary bars. The challenge encouraged physical exercise, wellness, and camaraderie among the OCBA members. Participants were required to sign up on the website Countit.com, a free application that allows groups to sync a variety of fitness trackers to count steps. If a participant reached the goal of 5,000 steps in a day, they received five points for each day that this goal was met. Many bonus challenges along the way helped to keep it interesting. The group was presented their award during the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference.
The Hillsborough County Bar Association Young Lawyer Division took home the Most Creative Event Award in the Voluntary Bar Healthy Hour Challenge for its first annual Health and Wellness Bingo Challenge held throughout May. The challenge promoted healthy choices, active lifestyles, and mind-body practices through a Bingo challenge and two workout events. The challenge kicked off with an indoor cycling event at CAMP Tampa, followed by a raffle, networking, and a healthy, catered meal prepared by Fresh Kitchen and Whole Body Fuel. The remainder of the challenge involved members performing a variety of health-related activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office, drinking eight glasses of water, and racking up 10,000 steps in a day. Challenge participants completed the health and wellness tasks listed in bingo squares. All completed bingo cards were entered for a prize raffle featuring items donated from local wellness-oriented companies.
The 2019 conference experienced a much higher than expected attendance, and the attendees left feeling enthusiastic and inspired to begin their Bar leadership year. The attendees’ positive feelings toward another successful conference were reflected in the favorable survey reviews. The VBLC is very grateful to everyone who helped put on such a successful event. We also appreciate our sponsors, including the continued sponsorship of the Young Lawyers Division, which pays to send 18 of its members each year.
The 2020 iteration of the conference will be held July 10-11 at the Margaritaville Resort in Orlando. The conference is co-chaired by Kimberly Lopez and Amelia Beard. The theme is “Make A Splash — Your Best Bar Year Ever!” More information about this year’s conference can be found on the Voluntary Bar Center under the conference tab.
Thank you to everyone who participates in the VBLC, but most of all, a deep and sincere thank you to The Florida Bar staff. Without them, the VBLC’s many accomplishments would not be possible.
Vivian Cortes Hodz, Chair
Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification
The Wills, Trusts, and Estates Certification Committee is charged with annually testing applicants desiring to become board-certified wills, trusts, and estates attorney. In other words, it’s the committee duty to determine if an applicant has the specialized knowledge, skills, and proficiency in wills, trusts, and estates and the professionalism to warrant being so certified. The committee annually prepares and grades a certification examination for all new certification applicants and on an on-going basis reviews such applicant’s and existing wills, trusts, and estates certified attorneys qualification for certification, i.e., substantial involvement in this area of the law, CLE requirements, professionalism, and peer review to determine whether such individuals deserve the opportunity to obtain or maintain, as the case may be, such certification.
The nine-member committee consisting of Gary B. Leuchtman, Beverly Herin Furtick (vice chair), Forrest Jackson Bass, Laurence Ian Blair, Charles Woods Callahan III, Curtis Bruce Cassner, Nancy Sue Freeman, Daniel Medina, and Kristopher D. Robinson, have spent countless hours insuring and preserving the integrity of the wills, trusts, and estates certification process and insuring a fair, but comprehensive examination is utilized to test applicants. The committee meets not-less frequently than monthly from September through March and spends countless additional hours outside of meetings diligently doing committee work, i.e., reviewing applications (including peer-review, substantial involvement in wills, trusts and estates law, insuring satisfaction of CLE requirements and insuring the professionalism of each attorney), preparing and grading the certification examination, and otherwise enhancing and insuring the relevance and suitability of the certification standards and rules.
This year’s wills, trusts, and estates certification exam will be given on May 8 at the Tampa Hilton Westshore Hotel. There are currently 311 board-certified wills, trusts, and estates attorneys. That means that approximately 0.3% of Florida licensed attorneys are board certified in wills, trusts, and estates.
As chair, I thank and commend the committee members for their hard work, devotion, and dedication to The Florida Bar and the citizens of the state of Florida as exhibited by their service on the committee. Without such unselfish service the integrity and credibility of The Florida Bar certification system would not be the envy of all other states and the foremost certification system in the USA.
In closing, to those individuals that are currently certified, thank you for your participation and support of the certification system; and to those that are aspiring to become certified, thank you for your interest, best wishes in your endeavor and carpe diem.
Gary B. Leuchtman, Chair
Workers’ Compensation Certification
The Workers’ Compensation Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as worker’s compensation law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. There are currently 189 workers’ compensation-certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board-certified specialists in workers’ compensation handle both claimant and employer/carrier practice under the guidelines provided by F.S. Ch. 440. The practitioners are required to be quite orderly and efficient as there is a limited time frame from filing petition to the final hearing.
For the 2019-2020 certification year, the Workers’ Compensation Certification Committee reviewed 11 initial applications. The committee also reviewed 29 recertification applications this year.
The committee met numerous times throughout the year, both in-person and by telephone conference, to review applications, draft the upcoming certification exam, and prepare to grade the certification exam after it is given. The hard-working and dedicated members of the Worker’s Compensation Committee include Vice Chair Mark Touby, Jill Jacobs, Lawrence Anzalone, Frank Wesighan, Matthew Carrillo, Catherine Agacinski, Mark Eckels, and L. Gray Sanders. I thank the committee for their efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification area. The committee also thanks our Florida Bar staff liaison, Charlotte Bell. Our work on the committee could not have proceeded as smoothly without her dedication and attention to detail.
Barry A. Stein, Chair