Annual Reports of Committees of The Florida Bar
Admiralty and Maritime Law
The Admiralty Law Committee has advanced the study of maritime law and kept abreast with recent developments in the field of admiralty law.
On June 21, 2017, the ALC meeting and seminar was held in conjunction with The Florida Bar Annual Convention at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. The seminar included a presentation on the implications of GPS data in marine incident investigations, presented by Robson Forensic, on the extraction and interpretation of maritime navigation data and its implications on marine incident investigations, followed by a hands-on workshop providing members with the opportunity to become familiar with the GPS instruments available to marine investigators, the NTSB, USCG, and FWC. Capt. Alan S. Richard presented “Florida Boating Law” and David Maass presented “Florida Vessel Sales.” A subcommittee was formed to address the conflict between the Middle District Local Rule 7.03(g), Southern District Rule C(7), and Northern District Rule C(7), led by Capt. Alan S. Richard.
On January 31, 2017, the ALC conducted its first annual Admiralty Law Update and Board Certification Review, hosted by Shutts & Bowen LLP, sponsored by National Maritime Services, SEA, and hosted by the University of Miami Maritime Law Society. The review tracked the Admiralty Law Committee’s 2017 publication, Florida Maritime Law and Practice (5th ed. 2017), a Florida Bar publication, written by ALC members and distributed by LexisNexis, including presentations on admiralty and maritime jurisdiction by Matthew Valcourt; practice and procedure by Andrew Craven; personal injury and wrongful death of seamen and other maritime workers by Stephen M. Moon; pleasure boats by Capt. Richard; workers’ compensation by Tony Cuva; carriage of goods by Lindsey Brock; charters by Professor Attilio Costabel; salvage by Professor John H. Thomas; general average by Chris Hamilton; collision by David Pope; marine insurance by Michelle Otero Valdés; maritime liens by Adam Cooke; limitation of liability by Richard Rusak; personal injury and wrongful death of passengers by Tonya Meister and William Milliken; Florida boating law by Capt. Richard; marina liability by retired Judge Thomas Snook; maritime security law by Robert L. Gardana; and vessel sales by David Maass.
The course was designed to provide a comprehensive review of admiralty and maritime law to assist candidates preparing for the admiralty law board certification examination and provided 10 CLE/certification hours, including one hour in technology. A working lunch was sponsored by LexisNexis and included presentations on benedict on admiralty, American maritime cases and new developments on LexisAdvance.com. This review update was the first of its kind in admiralty law in Florida.
As many ALC members practice in cruise industry litigation and Miami is the cruise capital of the world, on October 13, 2017, the ALC presented the Cruise Industry Passenger and Seafarer Claims Seminar hosted by the University of Miami Maritime Law Society and sponsored by Robson Forensic. This was the first ALC panel presentation, which facilitated open discussions, and practice pointers on passenger and seafarer injury litigation and arbitrations. The committee was honored to panel notable maritime attorneys Andrew L. (Andy) Waks, Michael Duke Eriksen, John H. (Jack) Hickey, Curtis Jay Mase, and Kassandra Doyle Taylor. The panel topics highlighted proof required in passenger medical negligence claims, apparent agency, and control to overcome independent contractor status of a physician, personal jurisdiction over foreign tour operators, cruise ship design cases, and discussions on the collateral source rule under general maritime law.
The Seafarer Claims Panel was comprised of skilled maritime attorneys Robert D. (Bob) Peltz, Tonya J. Meister-Griffith, Carlos F. Llinás Negret, retired Judge Norman S. Gerstein, and William F. Clair. This panel covered causes of action under Bahamian and Panamanian law in seafarer arbitrations, the maritime labour convention, ship owner’s liability for maintenance and cure under the maritime labour convention, and the application of U.S. law in seaman arbitrations and the effect of contrary provisions in seaman’s contracts. The last panel addressed the cruise industry standards and expert witness issues under Daubert, presented by Robson Forensic. Students from the University of Miami master’s program in international maritime law, UM law students, and St. Thomas University School of Law students attended.
All ALC 2017-2018 seminars were joint regional events with the American Bar Association-TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee. As a result, the committee is pleased to report that all the meetings and seminars were very well attended, each receiving national attention through the ABA-TIPS AMLC’s affiliation, marketed on its LinkedIn pages, encouraging professional development for all maritime practitioners and garnering great interest of the national admiralty bar, thereby increasing attendance at ALC meetings. Through the dutiful efforts of this year’s vice chairs, Tyler Tanner, Captain Richard, Barbara Cooke, and Raúl J. Chacón, who moderated the panel discussions throughout the year’s seminars, the ALC acted cohesively, and is certain to continue its educational efforts in 2018-2019.
The committee appreciates The Florida Bar’s leadership in recognizing the importance of outreach collaborations with other maritime law organizations. Recently, members of the ALC contributed to The Florida Bar International Law Quarterly, focusing on international aspects of maritime, admiralty, and transportation law (Winter 2018). Also, members of the committee recently testified before the Florida House of Representatives and Senate during its recent attempt to pass a salvage bill in Florida. The ALC Bar liaison, JoAnn Shearer, was instrumental and facilitated the committee’s effort in approving CLE and certification hours, and her efforts are greatly appreciated. The committee continues its efforts to encourage the participation of members in maritime and has fostered a closer relationship between the maritime bar and the community it serves.
On January 31, the ALC presented a Maritime Law 101; Second Annual Admiralty and Maritime Law Board Certification Update and Review; Ethics and Technology Tsunami: Striving for Technological Competence; and Unmanned Vessels, Smart Ships, and Automated Technology Panels at St. Thomas University School of Law. The seminar was designed for two audiences: those seeking an introductory course and an advanced course on admiralty and maritime law for those seeking board certification.
The Maritime Law 101 panel, consisted of Christine Dimitriou, Efrain Carlos, Matthew John Valcourt, and F. David Famulari, presenting on maritime terminology, federal and state jurisdiction of admiralty claims and saving to suitors clause in 28 U.S.C. §1333(1), admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, vessel arrest (ethical considerations) maritime liens, and marine insurance.
The Board Certification Update and Review Panel was split up into three subpanels. The first covered practice and procedure, personal injury and wrongful death of seamen and other maritime workers, personal injury and wrongful death of passengers (Pizzino update), and Florida boating law and was composed of Andrew Craven, Stephen Moon, William Milliken, and Captain Richard. The second panel included Michael Charles Black, Michael Conroy, Professor John H. Thomas, David Frank Pope, and Alan Kelly presenting on the carriage of goods, charters, salvage, general average and collision, and limitation of liability. The third panel covered the topics of pleasure boats, pilotage and towage, marine liability, workers’ compensation, and vessel sales, presented by members Anthony Cuva, James Hurley, Eric Thiel, and David Maass.
The Ethics Tsunami: Striving for Technological Competence Panel was based upon the joint article by Danielle Gauer and Kevin Cabrera, addressing the integration of technology into law practice, and technology demands and security, ethical considerations, supervisory obligations over IT consultants, telecommuting and cyber security, public Wifi issues, supervising clients and social media concerns, cloud computing, and conflict of interest.
The Unmanned Vessels, Smart Ships, and Automated Technology panel was honored to provide an in-depth review of international regulations affecting autonomous ships presented by Lieut. Commander Travis Noyes of the U.S.C.G. of Washington, D.C. The panel highlighted the regulatory legal framework for unmanned vessels, levels of autonomy, USV practical applications, labor union considerations, liability and insurance, port infrastructure, and cybersecurity and the international maritime organization’s inclusion of autonomous vessels on its agenda for March. Chair Robert L. Gardana presented on autonomous swarm vessels created by the Naval Research Organization and their usefulness in protection of harbors, from a maritime security perspective, and to eliminate such security risks as encountered by the U.S.S. Cole. Professor Costabel highlighted the practical aspects of unmanned vessels under both the COLREGS and burden placed on judicial interpretations of navigation regimes in the near future. In addition to being well attended by admiralty and maritime law practitioners, the meeting was also attended by law students from the South Florida area trying to gain perspective into board certification.
The committee is excited to move into 2018-2019 with renewed momentum. We invite interested members of the Bar to attend ALC meetings and encourage them to apply for committee membership. We have a maritime seminar, “Bracing for the After-Storm,” scheduled for Friday, June 15, at the Orlando Bonnet Creek Hilton, addressing the numerous marine insurance and maritime related issues existing following a hurricane.
Robert L. Gardana, Chair
Adoption Law Certification
The Adoption Law Certification Committee had another successful year. Board certification in adoption is relatively new and a more exclusive area of practice, having originated in 2011. We entered this past year with 28 certified applicants, including 17 attorneys who were recertified in 2016-17. One attorney was eligible for recertification.
This past year, the committee was pleased to receive two initial applicants, who were subsequently approved to sit for the examination in March. In preparation for this exam, the committee posted model multiple-choice questions to The Florida Bar website for the benefit of new applicants at the request of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. The committee also continues to post information on adoption-related CLE for use by potential applicants. Exams were graded April 12. Attorneys meeting all the requirements for board certification in adoption law and achieving a passing score on the examination will earn the designation as an adoption law board certified specialist effective June 1.
The committee met throughout the year by conference call via Skype Business to review applications for certification and recertification, and to prepare the examination and model answers. The initial application and applicant review process was utilized to confirm each applicant met the highest standards of professionalism and ethics by incorporating a comprehensive peer-review process. Each application submission was carefully considered by committee members. The committee is grateful to all of the judges and attorneys who responded to requests for peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement, understanding this feedback is heavily regarded in the vetting process.
The committee has continued its outreach to potential board certification applicants by email and by interfacing with the Florida Adoption Council (FAC) to promote board certification with the adoption attorneys in attendance at the FAC conference held in September 2017.
Recertification applications continue to be posted to The Florida Bar website. Recertification requirements must have been met by May 31 and the recertification application must be postmarked by May 31. If an extension to meet the recertification requirements is required, the extension request must also have been postmarked by May 31. The filing period for initial certification applications begins July 1 and ends August 31. We are a small but important group, who would love some new members!
Thank you to my fellow committee members for their contributions this year: Vice Chair Brian Kelly, Ellen Kaplan, Alan Mishael, Tammy Driver, Christine Arendas, Maxine Derkatch, Lee Carden, and Susan Levin. The committee is sorry to be saying goodbye to our current staff liaison, Maritza McGill, who was tremendous support and our right hand during the past year.
Michelle Hausmann, 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 Standing Committee on Advertising. 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.
• Amendments to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar — Recently, the Supreme Court of Florida issued two orders that amended the advertising rules. On November 9, 2017, the court addressed the biennial rules petition filed in October 2016. In the order, the court made changes to Rule 4-7.18 (direct contact with prospective clients). The changes to Rule 4-7.18 now allow contacting prospective clients by electronic means, including real-time communications. Further, the requirement for a contrasting advertisement mark on a direct-mail advertisement has been changed from each page or panel to once on each separate enclosure. The court declined to adopt a requested change to Rule 4-7.14 (potentially misleading advertisements) as it relates to the use of the terms “specialist,” “expert,” and other variations of those terms by attorneys who are not board certified. Instead, the court referred the matter back to the Bar for further consideration. The court also amended Rule 15-2.1 (membership and terms) to increase the number of members of this committee. The amendments went into effect on February 1.
On March 8, the court approved amendments to the rules regarding lawyer referral services and lawyer directories. It changed the title of Rule 4-7.22 from “Lawyer Referral Services” to “Referrals, Directories, and Pooled Advertising,” and deleted Rule 4-7.23. The new rule, which went into effect April 30, prohibits lawyers from participating with any “qualifying provider” that does not comply with the rule. Qualifying providers include any referral or matching service as well as any pooled or group advertising services, directories, and tips or leads services. Many of the requirements under the old rule remain the same. The new rule removes requirements that participating lawyers carry malpractice insurance, that advertisements state that the service is a lawyer-referral service and that the lawyers pay to participate, and the requirement that the service provide to the Bar quarterly the names of those that act on the service’s behalf. New requirements are that the providers not pressure lawyers to provide cross referrals, that the service provide participating lawyers with documentation of compliance with the rules, that when a referral is made the service disclose to the prospective client the location of the city or county of the lawyer’s office, that participating lawyers notify the bar when they begin and end participation with a provider, and that the service not use a name that implies it can practice law.
The committee has updated the Bar’s website and the handbook to reflect the changes, as well as issued various notices to members of the Bar and the public.
• Other Accomplishments — 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 the staff’s interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is appealed by an advertising attorney. Advertisers can appeal decisions of the committee to the Board of Governors if they wish to do so. 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.
The committee has also taken the lead in investigating services that may or may not be lawyer-referral services and has spent extensive time monitoring such services to protect the public and the lawyers of Florida from services that do not follow the advertising and ethical standards of The Florida Bar
The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a column in The Florida Bar News from time to time, “Advertising Updates.” Articles have been published explaining the most recent revisions to the advertising rules and providing information regarding recent opinions of the Board of Governors and the committee regarding advertising. The committee further updates the Bar’s website with new material and information when needed in order to provide Bar members with as much information as possible to assist them in compliance with the attorney advertising rules.
• 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: Jackson Wolfe Adams, Sammy Michel Cacciatore, Winston W. Gardner, Neidy Elina Hornsby, Anthony J. Jackson, and Viviana Pedroso Varela.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Sam Nicholas Masters; Division of Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Lori Holcomb; and our hardworking staff: Assistant Ethics Counsels Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan D. Grabb, Jeffrey M. Hazen, LiliJean Quintiliani, and Kelly N. Smith; Paralegal Donna Hostutler; Administrative Support 4 Pamela Brown; Administrative Supports 2 Susan Permenter and Joy Weaver; and Administrative Support 1 John Hynes 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.
Connie Reeves Bookman, Chair
Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law Certification
Antitrust law covers the practice of law dealing with anticompetitive conduct or structure that could result in reduced consumer welfare in the United States. This conduct is addressed under the federal Sherman Act and analogous Florida statutes. 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.
Throughout the year, the committee has continued working on proposed rule amendments to the standards for certification that would expand the practice areas covered by this certification. The draft amendments are consistent with the expansion of substantive expertise by antitrust and trade regulation bar organizations at the ABA and state levels and reflects the evolution of the practices of many Florida attorneys who are certified in antitrust and trade regulation law.
The proposed amendments would provide those whose practice focuses on Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act with a pathway to board certification. It would also provide the committee with a much-needed boost to membership. The proposed rule amendments are currently circulating through the Bar’s review process. The committee is always attuned to other methods for increasing the number of board certified attorneys in antitrust and trade regulation law.
I thank my fellow committee members for their contributions through the year: Vice Chair Judge Lori S. Rowe (2018), William J. Blechman (2020), Gregory Hansel (2020), R. Scott Palmer (2019), and our active and our hands-on BLSE liaison Mark R. Osherow. I give special recognition to our staff liaison, Maritza M. McGill, for her organization, guidance, and especially her help keeping me on track.
Liz Brady, Chair
Appellate Court Rules
The Appellate Court Rules Committee is charged with evaluating and proposing amendments to the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure that advance orderly and inexpensive procedures for the administration of justice. The committee’s primary method for proposing rule amendments is through its three-year cycle report. During the 2017-18 Bar year, the committee continued working on its new regular-cycle report, which will be submitted to the Florida Supreme Court by February 1, 2020.
The committee’s previous cycle report, which was submitted in early 2017, proposed amendments to 40 of the appellate rules. On June 6, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court held oral argument on the proposed amendments. Immediate Past Chair Kristin Norse and Judge Robert Luck did an excellent job representing the committee at oral argument. Although the court has yet to issue its decision on the proposed amendments, we expect it soon.
The committee’s work on the 2020 cycle report thus far includes proposed amendments to 20 of the 50 existing appellate rules and the creation of one new rule. Some of the more significant proposed amendments are:
Rule 9.040 is amended to require all appellate courts (including circuit courts sitting in their appellate capacity) to make publicly available on the court’s website all written opinions entered on an appeal or petition;
Rule 9.045 is created to address the form and font of all documents filed in Florida appellate courts;
Rules 9.100, 9.125, 9.141, 9.142, 9.210, and 9.370 are amended to change from page limits to word count;
Rule 9.110(d) is amended to require the notice of appeal to indicate the pendency of a motion postponing rendition;
Rule 9.110(e) is amended 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;
Rule 9.225 is amended to no longer forbid argument in a Notice of Supplemental Authority; and
Rule 9.320 is amended to add procedures for requesting oral argument in the Florida Supreme Court.
The committee also worked on several important issues that resulted in the filing of out-of-cycle reports with the Florida Supreme Court, including a joint report with the Rules of Judicial Administration that would eliminate the extra five days practitioners receive after a filing is served by email. The proposed end of the “five-day rule” for email service prompted spirited debate across the rules committees and before the Board of Governors. The committee worked with the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee and other committees to propose a compromise that addresses concerns about potential gamesmanship in serving documents before holidays and long weekends. While the compromise removes the five additional days for service by email, it also provides that the computation of time does not begin until the next business day after a filing. So, for example, if a document is served by email on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the computation of time for responding will not begin until the following Monday.
On December 6, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court held oral argument on the compromise proposal, and the committee participated in that argument. The committee expects the court will soon decide the issue.
The committee’s work could not be accomplished without the dedicated service its members. Most of the committee’s work is done in subcommittees, and their chairs deserve special recognition for efforts in leading and coordinating that work. The subcommittee chairs are Tom Ward (civil practice), Judge Robert Luck (criminal practice), Dwight Slater (general practice), Sarah Rumph (administrative practice), Henry Gyden (electronic filing), Wendie Cooper (family law practice), David Luck (original proceedings), Carrie Ann Wozniak (record on appeal), Michael Davis (internal operating procedures), Nicole Ziegler (workers’ compensation), and Tom Hall (Supreme Court conformity).
The committee’s officers also deserve special recognition. Vice Chairs Courtney Brewer, Tom Hall, and Stephanie Zimmerman spearheaded various special projects, and Parliamentarian Michael Davis helped keep the committee running smoothly. Secretary Tom Ward did an excellent job keeping the minutes again this year, and our liaisons to the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee (Stephanie Zimmerman) and the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee (Andrew Stanton) did an outstanding job keeping the committee apprised of the matters being discussed in those committees.
Last but certainly not least, a special thank you goes to the committee’s Bar liaison, Heather Telfer. Words simply cannot describe her value to the committee. Her institutional knowledge and steady hand have — for years now — sustained the committee’s success in achieving its goals.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve among some of the best and brightest lawyers and judges in our state. After the annual meeting this summer, Courtney Brewer will take over as chair. With her at the helm, I am confident the committee will continue its great work in advancing the administration of justice.
Lance Curry, Chair
Appellate Practice Certification
This past year, the Appellate Practice Certification Committee efficiently performed the usual core tasks of evaluating applicants for initial certification and recertification, as well as developing and grading the certification exams taken by initial applicants. The committee began the year by reviewing the results of last year’s examination, in which eight out of 14 examinees passed, raising the total number of board certified appellate lawyers in Florida to 181. The committee closely reviewed feedback from last year’s examinees to look for ways to improve the examination and the examination process.
The committee reviewed 14 applications for initial certification. Thirteen of those applicants took the exam on March 9. The examinations have not yet been graded as of the preparation of this report. Also during this year, the committee reviewed 30 applications for recertification.
Obtaining sufficient peer review for applicants for both initial certification and recertification continues to be challenging. Often, judges and lawyers either do not return peer review requests or simply state that they do not have sufficient knowledge to evaluate the applicant. This requires the committee to send out more requests for peer review and is one of the most time-consuming aspect of the application process. It is also a frustration to applicants as it delays action by the committee on their applications. As first implemented with the 2013 exam, the committee continued the practice of pretesting exam questions before use in the 2018 exam. This practice is extremely beneficial to the drafting and editing process. The committee expresses its gratitude to the following former committee members who gave up their free time to serve as pretesters: Tracy Carlin, Tampa; John Crabtree, Key Biscayne; Nancy Gregoire, Ft. Lauderdale; Rob Hauser, West Palm Beach; and Jack Reiter, Miami.
As has consistently been the case with this committee, all nine members were very engaged this year, and the committee did not miss a single meeting or deadline due to lack of a quorum or participation. The chair recognizes all eight of the other members of the committee for their substantial contributions: Vice Chair Andrea Cox, Christopher Carlyle, Barbara Eagan, Kansas Gooden, Marjorie Gadarian Graham, Jamie Moses, Paul Nettleton, and John Pelzer. Likewise, we have been well served by our Bar certification specialist, Arlee Colman, whose hard work and dedication to our committee has been invaluable. We also express our gratitude to the BLSE director, Diana Kellogg, for her assistance throughout the year.
David M. Caldevilla, Chair
Florida is home to leading manufacturers of all types of aircraft and aircraft components, has long been a major center for flight training, and is the world’s premier gateway to space. Aviation law practice incorporates aspects of administrative law, tort law, contract law, and labor and employment law, as well as requiring the practitioner to be familiar with the technical aspects of the operation of aircraft. The Aviation Law Committee brings together attorneys experienced in all of these diverse areas to review changes in the law, new regulations and statutes, and areas of concern to practitioners. The committee periodically publishes a newsletter, Vectors, containing articles on aviation law and practice authored by committee members.
Committee meetings in the past year included formal presentations on new or novel substantive law issues. In the past year, the committee participated in discussions about and heard presentations on forensic analysis of aviation accidents and computer animation, the Trump accelerated drone program, and strategies on getting back a client’s aircraft seized by the DEA and customs. In the short- to mid-term, the committee may have to discuss the legal and economic consequences to owners and operators of aircraft that may not meet the January 1, 2020, deadline to upgrade their cockpits to new ADS-B situational awareness standards imposed by the FAA.
The committee also traditionally organizes and presents a day-long seminar on aviation law topics in conjunction with the Embry Riddle Aviation Law and Insurance Symposium. This seminar has been open to any member of the Bar at no cost and includes talks by experienced practitioners regarding litigation, aeronautics and space law, aircraft registration and recording law, international treaties and conventions, airport land use, the regulations pertaining to air taxi operations, airline labor law issues, and enforcement and administrative actions by the Federal Aviation Administration. This comprehensive presentation is designed to help prepare applicants to take their certification examinations in aviation law. The presentation is also a good review for other attorneys. The committee plans to continue this outreach in the future.
Petra L. Justice, Chair
Aviation Law Certification Committee
Aviation law practitioners are a unique group of attorneys who deal with everything from aircraft crash litigation to airline labor law, airport land use to FAA pilot certification administrative proceedings, aircraft transactions, the law governing drones, and the law of outer space. In order to assist those preparing to take the certification examination, the certification committee publishes an examination study guide that sets forth in detail the matters that may be tested. The committee spends considerable time updating and verifying the accuracy of the certification examination study guide, and strongly believes preparation is the key to passing the certification examination.
Due to a new Board of Legal Specialization and Education testing requirement, it became necessary to revise the 2018 certification examination format. The committee’s request to retain the existing and time-proven format was denied by the BLSE.
Four applicants were approved by the committee to take the 2018 examination, and two sat for it. Four recertification applications were reviewed and approved by the committee in 2017, and seven attorneys are expected to apply for recertification in 2018.
The certification committee continued its efforts to encourage attorneys practicing aviation law to become board certified specialists. Time is reserved at Aviation Law Committee meetings, as well as at the annual certification examination review course, to talk about certification and answer questions.
The Texas Bar Aviation Law Section has requested the Texas Bar to recognize aviation law as a certification specialty. The committee was contacted by the chair of the Texas Aviation Law Section to discuss aviation law certification in Florida, and to render any assistance as may be useful and permissible to gaining approval of aviation law certification by the Texas Bar.
My thanks to Vice Chair Chad Roberts, and to committee members Don Andersen, Galen Bauer, John Eversole III, Stuart Goldstein, Patricia Leid, Charles Morganstein, and Pat Phillips for their time and hard work, which made this a successful year. Special thanks to our Bar staff liaison of many years, Carol Vaught, for her help and guidance, and to Allison Armour who very ably took over for Ms. Vaught after her retirement.
Jerry H. Trachtman, Chair
Board of Legal Specialization and Education
The Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) is responsible for administering the The Florida Bar’s certification plan, approving continuing legal education courses, and verifying a lawyer’s compliance with CLE and basic skills course requirements. The BLSE’s source of authority is contained in Chapter 6 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, supplemented by policies that are adopted from time to time by the BLSE, subject to the approval of The Florida Bar Board of Governors. The BLSE has 16 members, most of whom have previously served as the chair of a certification committee.
There are now 27 areas of certification. The Florida Supreme Court approved International Litigation and Arbitration (Rule 6-31) effective February 1, 2018. Lawyers certified in this area practice law “dealing with disputes in court or arbitration arising from the relations between or among states and international organizations as well as the relations between or among nationals of different states, or between a state and a national of another state.” International law practitioners who specialize in transactions as opposed to litigation will continue to seek certification in International Law (Rule 6-21).
The Florida Supreme Court also approved inactive status (Rule 6-3.7), effective February 1. A board certified lawyer who is prohibited from practicing law (judicial officers), elects not to practice law (law professors, professional neutrals), is unable to practice law due to an extended substantial hardship, or is called to active military service, may elect inactive status. If an eligible lawyer elects inactive status, the lawyer’s certification can be reactivated if the lawyer decides or is able to practice law again ( e.g. , a judicial officer who returns to private practice).
Pending before the Board of Governors are proposed amendments to juvenile law (Rule 6-29) which, if approved, will bifurcate juvenile law into two certification areas: juvenile law/dependency and juvenile law/delinquency. Condominium and planned development law (Rule 6-30), which was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015, administered its first examination in March, and the BLSE will certify attorneys in this area of practice this summer.
The BLSE adopted a resolution to support legislation, which enhances compensation to attorneys in juvenile cases (dependency and delinquency proceedings) who are certified by The Florida Bar. Lead by the efforts of the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Foundation (Alan Abramowitz), a bill was filed in the Florida Legislature to increase compensation to a court-appointed board certified lawyer by as much as 10 percent over the limit applicable to lawyers who are not certified.
The BLSE encouraged board certified lawyers to participate in The Florida Bar’s Lawyers Advising Lawyers program as expert advisors. The BLSE is presently working with The Florida Bar Foundation to explore whether Florida legal aid organizations would benefit from the ability to consult with a board certified lawyer on a pro bono, “on-call” basis.
The BLSE continues to critically evaluate the certification examination process to ensure fairness and uniformity in testing the special skills and knowledge of lawyers who apply for certification. It considered recommendations of professional examination consultants, how other state certification programs test certification applicants, and a statistical analysis of its own examination results. The BLSE has implemented several changes, among which are the prohibition of using optional questions, the requirement for all certification areas to apply a uniform holistic grading scale for essay answers, and a uniform examination passing percentage for all certification areas.
I am pleased to report that the BLSE has continued to administer the certification plan within its existing budget. There have been no annual fee increases since 2007, and no imminent increase is anticipated. Despite the recent court decision, which allowed a lawyer to advertise that he or she is a specialist in a practice area even though he or she is not board certified, the number of applications for certification and recertification remain steady. I believe this is a recognition of the value of board certification by lawyers and the public alike as the best objective source of identifying lawyers who have special skills and knowledge in their practice areas, and who are ethical and professional. A lawyer who merely claims expertise in an advertisement has not been subjected to peer review, an examination, or an evaluation of ethics and professionalism. There are now more than 5,000 board certified certificates held by lawyers through The Florida Bar, and the certification plan is the largest one in the country.
The BLSE will host its annual reception for all board certified lawyers at the 2018 Florida Bar Annual Convention. The BLSE will honor lawyers who have been certified for 30 years and will announce the winners of the two most prestigious annual certification awards. The Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification recognizes excellence and creativity by a Florida Bar board certified attorney or law firm in advancing the public’s knowledge of and appreciation for board certification. The Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award will recognize The Florida Bar board certified lawyer of the year. This award recognizes exemplary professionalism, excellence, character, and commitment to the certification program and the practice of law. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead is a great supporter of board certification and is often quoted for what the certification program stands for: “Board certification is reliable proof of the character and commitment that sets a lawyer apart [and] is a visible way to demonstrate that lawyer’s commitment to professionalism and excellence.” This year, the Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award will be presented by Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston.
The BLSE will also host a certification forum at the 2018 annual convention for all area certification committee members. This traditional BLSE annual event promotes the exchange of ideas and the solicitation of suggestions on improving the best practices of evaluating the qualifications of lawyers who apply for certification. The forum will focus on peer review, substantial involvement issues, and examination grading techniques, among other topics.
It has been a privilege to serve as chair of the BLSE and as a member of the board for the past six years. The area certification committee officers and members are the backbone of the certification program, and I sincerely thank and appreciate their hard work, excellent efforts, and dedication this year. Likewise, the success of the certification program is attributed in great part to the expertise, leadership, and communication skills of the LSE staff.
I especially thank Diana Kellogg, the LSE director, for her professional and superb guidance and direction to me and the BLSE. I consider one of the prime benefits of serving on a Bar committee to be the opportunity to meet and work with the best people at The Florida Bar, who are also among the best legal personnel in the country. Diana and her staff certainly fit into that category, including (without limitation), Linda Cook, Arlee Colman, Maritza McGill, and Carol Vaught.
Finally, the year would not have been successful without the invaluable contributions, thoughts, and opinions of the BLSE members who are among the premiere experts in their fields of practice. Thank you to the subcommittee chairs and vice chairs for carrying out your responsibilities so well. Thank you to the Executive Subcommittee (Kim Ashby, Sue Cole, Steve Lesser, and Scott Rubin) for providing excellent advice and feedback, and deliberative decisions. An additional thanks to Sue Cole, who served as vice chair of the BLSE in an outstanding manner. I wish the BLSE continued success in the future.
Steven D. Rubin, Chair
Business Litigation Board Certification
The two primary functions of the Business Litigation Board Certification Committee are to review applications for initial certification and recertification and to grade the certification exam. In support of these functions, the committee reviews and improves the application forms, updates the exam, and seeks to clarify the rules applicable to business litigation certification.
This year the committee voted to request a change to Rule 6-16.3 Minimum Standards: (b) Minimum Number of Matters. This change would allow an approved advanced trial advocacy seminar to substitute for the current jury trial requirement. The committee believes the requested rule change will more accurately reflect what it means to be an experienced business litigator in today’s legal environment. The decreased opportunity to handle jury trials has precluded attorneys who are otherwise considered skillful business litigators from the opportunity to become certified as such. All of the sections and divisions that have reviewed our request have approved our proposed rule amendments. The amendments are now going back to the BLSE for a final review prior to approval.
The committee is composed of eight board certified business litigators and an additional one who is also a sitting circuit court Judge. Each member gives freely of his or her time to meet in person to review the initial certification and re-certification applications. The importance of the committee meeting in person has always been to allow a discussion of the applications between the committee members, which is difficult to achieve electronically. Our committee members are all active practitioners or judges who take time from their busy schedules to travel from across the state to meet. This year the committee saw a large number of recertification applications, supporting the fact that members of the Bar value the board certification program. The initial certification applications were reviewed, and the approved applicants have been cleared to sit for the exam. We anticipate that the proposed rule change will increase the number of initial certification applications in the future.
Each year the committee strives to make the exam challenging, but not impossible. Starting last year, the committee placed sample exam and essay questions with answers on its website alongside the existing list of suggested study materials. It is the committee’s goal to maintain a challenging exam so that the certification is accorded a maximum amount of respect by all members of The Florida Bar and the judiciary. Electronic discovery has and will continue to impact the practice of law in Florida and, business litigation is no exception. Electronic discovery issues have been incorporated into all parts of the exam. To ensure the integrity of the exam, one committee member drafts a section while another reviews the questions and answers. As a second level of review, the committee sends the exam to select board certified business litigators to pre-test the exam for certification credit.
Board certification remains one of the highest honors that any practitioner can achieve. Through its work, including committee members speaking at seminars on the certification process, the committee has hopefully reinforced that fact and supported the Bar’s overall certification program. Personally, it has been my great honor to chair the Business Litigation Board Certification Committee this year. I extend my gratitude to the members of the committee for their time, work, and commitment. I thank all those who applied for the open committee seats and encourage those who were not selected to seek appointment to a future seat.
To those the committee recertified and those who will shortly become newly certified, always remember that with the badge of board certification; you carry the obligation to demonstrate that you are the epitome of a professional and a true expert in business litigation. To those who will seek
certification in business litigation this fall, thank you for undertaking the effort and best of luck in your endeavors.
Donna Greenspan Solomon, Chair
Citizens Advisory Committee
The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is composed of 12 nonlawyer Floridians with varied interests and backgrounds who serve to provide two-way communication between the state’s citizens and The Florida Bar Board of Governors. The objectives are to serve as a feedback mechanism and sounding board on Bar plans and programs and to advise the Bar regarding public understanding and support of significant legal and justice issues. Up to three attorney members are also appointed to the committee annually to serve as resources. The committee meets three times a year, twice in conjunction with Board of Governors meetings and once at annual convention, and also meets by teleconference on certain matters between in-person meetings.
The committee was formally reviewed by the Board of Governors Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) during the last fiscal year, and all of the resulting recommendations are being implemented to increase meaningful participation, increase visibility among the board and members, and increase engagement of the committee members to assist the Bar in studying issues and implementing programs that affect Floridians. The CAC was featured in the March 15 Florida Bar News and in a segment of FloridaBarNews.TV; both can be viewed online at www.floridabar.org.
During the 2017-2018 Bar year, CAC will complete three meetings in person and three teleconferences. Lorna Brown-Burton, a member of the Board of Governors representing the 17th Circuit, served as chair, and Paul Martinez of Jacksonville, who is in his third year serving on the committee as a nonlawyer, served as vice chair. The lawyer members are Kristin Norse of Tampa, and as liaison from the BOG Communications Committee, Deborah Baker-Egozi of Miami.
At the first meeting in July 2017, President Michael Higer spoke to the committee and gave a presentation outlining the focus areas for the Bar this year: member benefits and services, technology, inclusiveness, health and wellness, and the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC).
An update on The Florida Bar Foundation was presented focusing on a “re-set” of the mission with three primary strategies: 1) maximize the impact and effectiveness of civil legal assistance to low- and moderate-income individuals and communities in Florida; 2) expand the role of The Florida Bar Foundation as an expert and facilitator of effective civil legal assistance; and 3) serve as a catalyst for broad-based systemic change and innovative solutions to reduce and eliminate the civil justice gap in Florida. One new foundation program, Florida Pro Bono Matters — a web-based pro bono service recruiting tool — will help more Floridians gain access to justice. Committee members recommended ways to tell the Foundation’s story and promote the new pro bono service program.
Also at the July meeting, the committee reviewed a possible new rule to create a diversion program for disruptive lawyers proposed by the Board of Governors Disciplinary Procedure Committee. The consensus was that this rule would have positive implications on the conduct of attorneys and a favorable effect on the Bar’s efforts to protect the public by regulating the profession. The committee members also received an informational brochure, “Local Professionalism Panels – Promoting Professionalism in Florida.”
Reports on legislative advocacy, the results from the 2017 session, and a preview of the 2018 session were presented, and committee members were invited to participate in the Bar’s Legislative Key Contact Program.
The PEC recommendations to improve the function of the CAC were reviewed and committee members agreed that all recommendations were equally important. The committee will also participate in a review of the CAC charter this year by the BOG Communications Committee to recommend any needed updates and changes.
Members were invited to join the speakers bureau for the Protect Florida Democracy: Our Constitution, Our Rights, Our Courts public educational program on the CRC and were encouraged to provide Bar staff with information on community groups in their areas that may be willing to host a speaker.
Committee members also received a written report and update on the work of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice and the new Florida Free Legal Answers program during the July meeting.
The next meeting was by teleconference in November, rescheduled after Hurricane Irma forced cancellation of a planned call in September.
An update on the CAC charter review was received favorably, as was an update on Protect Florida Democracy: Our Constitution, Our Rights, Our Courts and the work of the CRC. A current list of commissioner proposals that would amend Article V was reviewed and members were asked to assist in the distribution of “A Floridian’s Guide to the Constitution Revision Commission.” For information, an October 2 legislative update from the Bar’s lobbying firm, the legislative session key contact form and the July 17 CAC meeting summary were provided.
In January, in Tallahassee, the committee attended the legislative reception, met with the Board Communications Committee, and attended the Pro Bono Awards Ceremony, the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society Annual Dinner, and the Board of Governors meeting. During the committee’s own meeting, members learned about Florida’s Judicial Nominating Commissions and how the members are appointed, and they were updated on the 2018 legislative session, the CRC, and the Protect Florida Democracy public education program.
A March 2018 teleconference focused on reviewing and commenting on two proposed rule changes regarding lawyer advertising being considered by the Board of Governors Review Committee on Professional Ethics. The members expressed concerns about the public’s understanding of what it means to claim specialization or expertise and were also concerned that the public will be misled if the rule, as required by a federal court decision, is changed. They emphasized the need for a disclaimer to assist the public in understanding the difference between a board certified lawyer and one who advertises specialization or expertise. The committee also discussed another possible rule amendment confirming that it is misleading or deceptive for a lawyer to intentionally use the name of a lawyer not in the same firm or the name of another law firm as words or phrases that trigger the display of the lawyer’s advertising on the Internet or other media. For example, the proposal would ban the purchase of another lawyer’s name in Google ad words. Expressing concern for vulnerable consumers, the committee agreed that such a rule change should be considered.
The committee will have one more teleconference meeting in May. The last meeting will be in person at the 2018 annual convention in June, and they will also attend the judicial luncheon, the Foundation’s annual dinner, and the general assembly. During the June meeting, an orientation will be given to four new members who will be appointed by President-elect Michelle Suskauer for 2018-2021. Leaving the committee after serving three-year terms are nonlawyers Jan Jung of Sarasota, Ruth Lynch of Lauderhill, and Paul Martinez of Jacksonville. Maggie McGowan Davis of Pensacola completes a one-year unexpired term of a member who moved out of state. Their service has been greatly appreciated.
Lorna Brown-Burton, Chair
City, County and Local Government Law Certification
As chair, I acknowledge the collaborative efforts of the following people for contributions to the preparation and refinement of the 2018 exam: The City, County and Local Government Law Certification Committee, support staff at The Florida Bar, and volunteer board certified attorneys serving as pre-testers. Thanks to the dedication of the committee, staff at The Florida Bar, and volunteer pre-testers, we produced an excellent examination for this year’s board certification candidates. A special thank you to board certified attorneys serving as pre-testers. They provided the committee with a candid evaluation of the exam. The committee valued their opinion and incorporated suggestions for improvement.
It has been a privilege to serve as chair of the committee. The responsibility gave me an opportunity to appreciate every participant’s contribution to the final product. Allow me to recognize committee members: Dean DiRose, Anne Gibson, Katherine Latorre, Derek Rooney, Pamala Ryan (vice chair), Rosemary Perfit, Robert Pritt, and our staff liaison, Allison Armour. Together we reviewed 1) prospective candidates for first time certification; 2) applications for recertification; and 3) prepared an exam to assess the competency of attorneys seeking to distinguish themselves as specialists in the field of city, county, and local government law. Our collaboration has been informative and fruitful.
I enthusiastically urge attorneys to make time to serve The Florida Bar — an opportunity to meet new colleagues dedicated to the betterment of our profession.
Donna Marie Collins, Chair
Civil Procedure Rules
Over the past year, the Civil Procedure Rules Committee has been at the forefront of important developments and improvements to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Through rigorous analysis of proposed new rules and amendments arising from a variety of sources — such as judges, lawyers, legislative enactments, and directions from the Florida Supreme Court — the committee is proud to report on the passage of numerous revisions that will soon be presented in our upcoming cycle report to The Florida Bar Board of Governors.
Examples of rule amendments that have been approved for inclusion in the 2019 cycle report include modifications to the language of Rules 1.310, 1.350, 1.451, 1.650, and 1.730 designed to replace antiquated terminology; amendments to Rule 1.442 in order to ensure conformity with Kuhajda v. Borden Dairy Co. of Alabama, LLC, 202 So. 3d 391 (Fla. 2016), and Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. v. Gorka, 26 So. 3d 646 (Fla. 2010), as well as the creation of Form 1.952 for proposals for settlement; the creation of Rule 1.535 designed to address motions for remittitur and additur; amendments to Rule 1.540(b) to conform with the concerns raised in De La Osa v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 208 So. 3d 259 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016); amendments to Rule 1.610(b) designed to address the issues raised in Salas v. Alexander, 159 So. 3d 387 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015); and amendments to Rule 1.380(b) in response to CB Condominiums, Inc. v. GRS South Florida, Inc., 165 So. 3d 739 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015).
The committee also has closely monitored the development of Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(e) regarding when and to what extent a court may impose sanctions against a litigant that fails to maintain electronically stored information. After thoroughly studying and debating Rule 37(e) and sanctions for electronic discovery violations under Florida law, the committee has approved a proposal to amend Rule 1.380(e) to track the language of Rule 37(e).
In addition to the aforementioned proposals, the committee has handled a multitude of referrals and made recommendations regarding a wide range of topics, such as discovery deadlines under Rule 1.350, the striking of sham pleadings, and an analysis of local rules for the 17th Circuit, as well as local rules in complex business cases within the 13th Circuit. The committee is in the midst of working on numerous important projects intended to improve the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, such as a full review of all forms designed to ensure they are balanced by addressing the needs of both plaintiffs and defendants. Moreover, the committee is exploring the creation of a permissive and procedural cy pres rule relating to possible distributions of residual and unclaimed funds in class action lawsuits as part of a joint project with the Pro Bono Legal Services Committee.
Given the Florida Supreme Court’s emphasis on maintaining cooperation and communication between rules committees, the committee has been especially active this year in ensuring uniformity and consistency between different rule sets by submitting comments regarding proposed rules. Most notably, the committee provided several comments in Case No. SC17-882, regarding the elimination of the five-day extension of deadlines after electronic service found in Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.514(b), and participated in oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court.
Most importantly, it has been a privilege to work alongside so many brilliant practitioners and jurists from all over the state of Florida, all of whom are unbelievably dedicated to improving the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. I especially recognize my amazing co-chairs, Ardith Bronson, Miguel Chamorro, and Jane Kreusler-Walsh. Each of them has worked incredibly hard both as leaders of the committee and as chairs of numerous subcommittees. I also recognize the contributions of Keith Park in assisting the committee with Case No. SC17-882; Alan Landerman for his hard work on revising Rule 1.442 and drafting proposal for settlement forms; and Rachael Loukonen for her excellent research in the arena of electronic discovery under Rule 1.380. I am also indebted to immediate Past Chair R.J. Haughey II, who continues to provide the committee with invaluable guidance and insight regarding rule changes. Last but not least, many thanks to our Florida Bar representative, Mikalla Davis, who has provided me with vital assistance throughout my term as chair.
Ultimately, I am truly honored and humbled to have served as chair of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee over the past year and am very grateful to have had the opportunity to assist in the improvement of civil practice in Florida courts.
Judge Rodolfo Ruiz II, Chair
Civil Trial Certification
Civil trial law is the practice of law dealing with the litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before Florida circuit courts or other equivalent courts of the states and federal district courts. In addition to the pretrial and trial process, civil trial law includes evaluating, handling, and resolving civil controversies prior to the initiation of suit.
Civil trial law is one of Florida’s first certification areas, having been approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 1983. Currently, Florida has 1,043 board certified civil trial lawyers. More than 100 board certified civil trial lawyers have been continuously certified since 1983.
The Civil Trial Certification Committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing and recommending changes to the standards for certification in civil trial law; evaluating applications for certification and recertification; and preparing and grading the annual examination, which is a requirement for all applicants. In 2017-2018, the committee successfully reviewed 269 applications for recertification. There were 29 applicants for initial certification who were eligible to sit for the March examination. The committee is currently in the process of grading the examinations and results will be sent to newly board certified attorneys before June 1. Last year, we proudly welcomed 25 newly board certified civil trial lawyers!
As a trial lawyer gains experience and reputation, that lawyer usually handles more complicated matters, and, therefore, will try fewer cases. Because of this reality of trial practice, in 2016, the Board of Governors approved changes to Rules 6-4.1 through 6-4.4 — standards for board certification in civil trial law, which now offer multiple trial credits for longer jury trials. Many of this year’s applicants for certification and recertification successfully invoked these multiple trial credits.
A member of the committee participated in The Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Section’s Annual Civil Trial Update and Board Certification Review in order to provide information on the examination process. This year, as in recent years, a portion of the examination was presented by video so that applicants would have an opportunity to better demonstrate their understanding of courtroom performance skills. Chair Chuck Ingram, Vice Chair Henry Hunnefeld, and committee members Charles Morehead, Fred Tromberg, James Gassenheirmer, John McLuskey, John Wesley, Jeff Tutan, Michael Feiler, Troy Rafferty, and Woody Isom, gratefully acknowledge the efforts of our newly appointed civil trial certification specialist, Amanda Barrett, whose attitude, spirit, and competence made the application process smoother and our work so much easier.
The committee also offers a special thank you to our “retiring” vice chair, Henry Hunnefeld, for his extended and always enthusiastic support of the committee’s work.
J. Charles Ingram, Chair
Clients’ Security Fund
The Clients’ Security Fund (CSF) 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 in the course of an attorney-client relationship. CSF is currently financed by $25 of every active and inactive Florida Bar members’ annual dues as well as each application to appear pro hac vice in Florida and has over $2.5 million budgeted for fiscal year 2017-18 to pay claims brought by former clients. The fund reimburses clients under two circumstances: when an attorney takes an advance fee, but then fails to provide any services up to a maximum amount of $5,000; and for misappropriation or theft of client monies up to a maximum amount of $250,000. In the last fiscal year, the fund received 173 new claims and paid out nearly $2 million to clients for claims filed against 97 Florida lawyers. As of the date of this report, for the fiscal year ending June 30, the fund received 104 new claims against 68 lawyers and has currently approved 82 claims with approved losses of over $1.7 million. Claims are paid only after a lawyer has been suspended, disbarred, revoked, incapacitated, or in the event of a death of an attorney, when a client’s money is unaccounted for. Fee claims, and misappropriation claims less than $1,000 are paid promptly after approval by The Florida Bar Board of Governors. All other approved claims are paid on a pro rata basis after the end of the fiscal year if there are not enough funds available to pay 100 percent of the approved losses.
Since its inception, CSF has processed over 12,500 claims and paid out nearly $40 million dollars 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 Clients’ Security Fund Committee for investigation. The 2017-18 CSF committee is composed of 25 volunteer attorneys appointed from all regions of Florida by the Bar’s president-elect. The CSF 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 service committee. Membership on the CSF committee is not for the faint of heart and 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 initial approval or denial by the CSF committee. Many investigations require active debate at CSF committee meetings and discussions of claims at meetings are spirited, but always with the goal of doing the right thing for the impacted client as well as being good stewards of the CSF resources. Although CSF committee meetings are confidential, final action on claims is subject to limited disclosure. CSF committee recommendations are ultimately submitted to the Board of Governors for final consideration and determination of whether they are compensable under the fund rules and regulations.
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 claimants, we are repeatedly humbled by the notion that individual clients impart an unbelievable amount of trust in their chosen counsel. Breach of this trust can devastate clients financially and emotionally. Bar staff and the CSF committee are devoted to repairing the public’s trust in members of the Bar and the legal system in general. In return, the hard work is rewarded as most claimants are very grateful and appreciative of the CSF committee and board’s actions. Some claimants, even when claims are denied, are just grateful that someone cares about their ordeal, listened to them, and investigated the claim.
There are more than 105,000 lawyers in the state of Florida and claims under CSF are made against less than 0.1 percent 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 CSF is one way in which the Bar strives to improve the public’s perception of Florida lawyers as a whole and to restore confidence in the profession.
I have twice served on this committee for six-year terms. I was previously the chair and this past year, I again had the privilege of serving as chair. As is the case for every member of the CSF committee, each call to an impacted client allows me the chance to apologize for a few bad actors, right a wrong, and attempt to reestablish lost trust in Florida lawyers. On the CSF committee, I have met and served with some of the finest and most hard-working lawyers in the Bar. Without the dedicated and committed members of the CSF committee, the Clients’ Security Fund could not serve its valuable purpose. I thank every member of the CSF committee for his or her willingness to serve and their diligence and hard work investigating and processing claims.
All who serve on a Florida Bar committee know that this important work would not be accomplished without the dedication of Bar staff. CSF committee members and the claimants rely heavily on Bar staff and without their professionalism and commitment, we could not do our jobs. Thank you to P.J. Osborne, CSF administrator; Stacey Thrash, administrative support; and Lori S. Holcomb, division director of Ethics and Client Protection, for the tremendous effort, work, and discipline they have contributed to this committee and the mission of the Clients’ Security Fund.
I encourage any Bar member looking to give back to the Bar and society in general to give some thought to applying to the Clients’ Security Fund during the next round of committee applications. Your efforts are both self-rewarding and certainly appreciated by the claimants who need your efforts and skills in serving the Clients’ Security Fund and the public.
Mark Ragusa, Chair
Code and Rules of Evidence
The Code and Rules of Evidence Committee (CREC) had a productive year. CREC is somewhat unique among The Florida Bar rules committees. The committee’s efforts are ordinarily triggered when the legislature adopts an amendment to the Florida Evidence Code (Ch. 90). When that happens, the committee is tasked to review the legislation and make a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court whether it should adopt legislation as a rule of evidence to the extent the legislation is procedural.
When CREC was originally formed, it was contemplated that its scope of review would be limited only to legislation directly amending Ch. 90. In more recent years, however, CREC has commented on legislation outside of Ch. 90, where the legislation was seen as having what the committee considered an evidence component or evidential impact.1
CREC has also taken action in response to comments, inquiries, or suggestions from practitioners relating to the evidence code and possible changes to improve it. Such matters are initially reviewed by the Code Improvement Subcommittee. The subcommittee then reports back to the entire CREC with a recommended course of action. In 2017, the committee received and considered comments and questions related to hearsay exceptions and the accountant client privilege.
On occasion, other rules committees refer matters to CREC for its consideration. This year, the Probate Rules Committee asked CREC to join in an out-of-cycle report to the Florida Supreme Court.2 The out-of-cycle report asked the court to reconsider its prior decision not to adopt F.S. §90.5021 (2011) as a rule of evidence to the extent it was procedural.3 The court reconsidered its position and adopted that section as a rule of evidence to the extent it was procedural.
The Code Improvement Subcommittee continues to monitor developments in the law of evidence. This includes reviewing new caselaw from the Florida and federal appellate courts concerning evidence, activities of Congress related to the development of the Federal Evidence Code, and scholarly research discussing evidence law and trends.
CREC’s Legislative Relations Subcommittee, continues to monitor pending legislation for any items that may relate directly to Ch. 90 or have an evidentiary component. The subcommittee analyzes those matters and advises the full committee on any actions it should take.
The Education Subcommittee, under the guidance of its past chair, Lisha Bowen, hosted the 2017 edition of CREC’s annual Hot Topics in Evidence seminar. The 2018 seminar was scheduled for May 4 in Orlando. The annual seminar is produced by CREC and co-sponsored by the Trial Lawyers and Criminal Law sections. With a very qualified roster of speakers, including judges, professors, and leading practitioners, it should be an exceptional educational event. We look forward to seeing many Bar members there in person or joining via webcast.
Another of our subcommittees maintains a LinkedIn page and has established a newsletter that both serve to keep CREC members, and any others who subscribe, up-to-date regarding developments in evidence law.
Occasionally, an item of legislation having a direct impact on the evidence code or having a potential evidence-related impact will arise during or just before the legislative session begins. When that happens, CREC’s Fast Track Review Subcommittee monitors any such bills. “Fast Track” is an appropriate name for this subcommittee, as bills can proceed rapidly. The subcommittee is not called into action every year, but when it is, it ramps up quickly.
This year’s CREC Vice Chairs Wayne Hogan, Patricia Dodson, and David Jones, have been invaluable to CREC’s work. Melissa Bodnar has helped us stay organized and on track keeping the minutes of our proceedings. Our liaisons to other rules committees: David Jones, Sheila Norman, G.C. Murray, Jr., Patricia Dodson, Luis Delgado, Jr., and James Floyd regularly have kept CREC apprised of matters being considered in those other committees that may impact CREC’s work.
Our subcommittee chairs and co-chairs are vital to CREC’s operations. This year our chairs were Chris Searcy, Wayne Hogan, G.C. Murray, Greg Borgognoni, and Jim Floyd. They and their respective subcommittees do much of the legwork and “heavy lifting” associated with the work of the full committee. Without question, the committee as a whole could not achieve as much as it does in the limited time its members are together as a whole, were it not for the advance work done by the subcommittees under the leadership of their chairs.
The committee’s work this year has been ably supported by Mikalla Davis, CREC’s Bar liaison. As chair of CREC, for myself, and all the members, I say with great thanks, Mikalla, we could not have done our work without you. Thank you to Bar President Michael Higer for the opportunity to serve as chair of the committee.
Last, thank you to all the members of CREC. What President Lincoln said many years ago is still true today: “A lawyer’s time and advice are his [and her] stock in trade.” Your dedication to the practice and the service to your colleagues is a wonderful reminder of just how great this profession is.
To all of our colleagues in the Bar, I encourage you to reach out to the committee with any evidence-related idea, concern, or issue you may have. CREC will consider the matter and assist where we can.
1 See, e.g. , In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, 144 So. 3d. 536 (Fla. 2014) (discussing CREC’s recommendation on
Fla. Stat. §766.102(12) (2012)).
2 In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code – 2017 Out-Of-Cycle Report, 234 So. 3d 565 (Fla. 2018).
3 In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, 144 So. 3d. 536 (Fla. 2014).
Perry M. Adair, Chair
Condominium and Planned Development Law Certification
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.
This area of certification was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2016. The Florida Bar, through the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, will start to certify attorneys as Florida Bar board certified condominium and planned development law attorneys on June 1.
The committee was gratified by the number of applicants for certification: 142 practitioners submitted applications; 87 qualified for an exemption from the examination having practiced at least 20 years in this area of law; and 54 applicants sat for the first examination administered March 8.
During the 2017-18 fiscal year, the committee met 14 times by conference call or in person to 1) prepare a study guide and sample questions published on the certification website to assist applicants preparing for the examination; 2) review and evaluate the credentials of the first class of applicants; and 3) prepare and grade the inaugural examination.
Members of the committee are Margaret (Peggy) Ann Rolando, chair, Miami; Christopher N. Davies, vice chair, Naples; Joseph E. Adams, Ft. Myers; Peter M. Dunbar, Tallahassee; Mark F. Grant, Ft. Lauderdale; Lisa A. Lerner, Miami; Chad M. McClenathen, Sarasota; Karl M. Scheuerman, Tallahassee; and William P. Sklar, West Palm Beach. 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 knowledge and support of Carol Vaught, our Bar staff liaison, who recently retired; Cathy Fisher, our new Bar staff liaison; and Maritza McGill, who has so ably facilitated the transition. We also thank Steve Lesser, our Board of Legal Specialization and Education liaison, for providing key advice on Bar policies and procedures.
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.
Margaret A. Rolando, Chair
The charge of the Constitutional Judiciary Committee 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. In 2017, The Florida Bar Board of Governors merged the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee with the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. The 2017-2018 year is the first year of the merged committee.
In addition to Benchmarks and the Guide for Florida Voters, the committee now also oversees The Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll, Confidential Judicial Feedback program, and Judicial Candidate Voluntary Self-Disclosure Statements.
In pursuit of its mission in 2017-2018, the committee 1) redesigned and prepared to print the Guide for Florida Voters; 2) held Benchmarks training seminars at Florida Bar meetings, posted a new Benchmarks webinar, had members give Benchmarks and Protect Florida Democracy presentations throughout the state, and added a new Benchmarks presentation to the portfolio; 3) prepared the Bar’s Merit Retention poll (this fall, one Supreme Court justice and 19 district court of appeal judges will be on the General Election ballot Nov. 6 in retention elections); 4) prepared judicial voluntary self-disclosure statements to be posted on the Bar website; 5) sought voluntary bar association feedback about judicial/attorney evaluation.
• Guide for Florida Voters — The Florida Bar’s Guide for Florida Voters, a project of the CJC, answers questions about judicial elections such as:
What is the difference between a county and circuit court judge and an appellate judge?
Why is it important to vote in judicial elections and merit retention elections?
What exactly does a judge do?
This six-page guide will be in its fourth printing for the 2018 election, with 150,000 printed. The committee works with the League of Women Voters Florida, Supervisors of Elections, public libraries, tax collectors, and requesting citizens and civic groups to distribute the guide. The design was streamlined in 2018, and it will be printed in both English and Spanish. The committee works with the Cuban American Bar Association to print and distribute the Spanish version.
• Benchmarks — Benchmarks: Raising the Bar on Civics Education offers civics education presentations to adults after training attorneys how to make the presentations. Attorneys either attend a seminar to learn how to present Benchmarks or tune into a webinar.
Benchmarks is included in the Bar’s current strategic plan under the goal to “Enhance the legal profession and the public’s trust and confidence in attorneys and the justice system.” The committee works toward this goal through hosting seminars, recording webinars, and presenting to civic and community groups.
1) “Every 20 Years” webinar:
The committee posted an updated version of the webinar to its website about the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. The commission’s work of holding hearings and winnowing proposed constitutional amendments has concluded. Through the webinar, Annette Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Related Education Association, discusses the work of the CRC and reviews how citizens could become involved and informed about the CRC’s work as it was ongoing. Members then used the presentation to speak to their community clubs and civic groups.
2) Benchmarks at Florida Bar meetings: The committee held Benchmarks training seminars at The Florida Bar’s fall and winter meetings and is planning one for the annual convention.
3) New Benchmarks presentation:
A new Benchmarks presentation that will be unveiled at the annual convention will have participants naming what they consider to be the five most important elements in the U.S. Constitution. With the inclusion of the new presentation, the Benchmarks portfolio will have 14 presentations in three categories: Constitution and the Bill of Rights; courts and the judicial branch; and special topics. The new presentation can be used by attorneys when they are asked to speak for Constitution Day (Sept. 17) events.
4) Benchmarks presentations: Committee members continued to make Benchmarks presentations throughout Florida, as well as ones for Protect Florida Democracy to educate citizens about the Constitution Revision Commission. Members also attended CRC public hearings and reported back to the committee. Among the many presentations:
Chair Michelle Sisco presented with Carter Andersen about the CRC and the history of the judiciary in Florida; Arlene Acord presented to the University of Tampa’s Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity; Andrew Bennett did CRC presentations for the Center for Biological Diversity, North Pinellas Democratic Club, and North Citrus Democratic Club; Melina Buncome presented the history of the CRC to the Public Defender’s Office in Jacksonville, and gave an update on the status of some of the amendments; Judge Ross Goodman made a CRC presentation to the Pensacola Rotary Club; and Linda Leali discussed the work of the CRC at multiple venues.
• The Vote’s in Your Court — Once again, The Vote’s in Your Court webpage will serve as a hub for election-related information. It posts results of The Florida Bar Merit Retention Poll; and links to the voter guide, voter resources, and judicial biographies. This year, the page will amplify its reach with posts on both Facebook and Twitter (@VotesInYrCourt), providing information on merit retention as well as timely news.
• Merit Retention Poll — Every other year since 1978, the Bar has polled its members regarding jurists who will be on the general election ballot in merit retention elections. In 2016, the Bar sent out 74,859 ballots to in-state members in good standing and 5,967 lawyers participated. Only responses by lawyers indicating considerable or limited knowledge of the justices or judges are included in the poll results. The Bar poll is now overseen by the Constitutional Judiciary Committee. It 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 — The Florida Bar supports maintaining a high-quality judiciary and is committed to educating the public on the legal system. Therefore, the Constitutional Judiciary Committee offers The Florida Bar judicial candidate voluntary self-disclosure statement. It provides judicial candidates, both sitting judges and those running for office, the opportunity to share information about their history, credentials and other relevant information with the voting public. This year, statements will be posted to The Florida Bar website on July 9. In 2016, 103 of the 159 candidates in 91 judicial elections submitted forms.
• Judicial Evaluation — The committee inherited the task of judicial evaluation from the Judicial Administration and Evaluation Committee when it was merged into the CJC. The goal of judicial evaluation is to survey attorneys anonymously about the performance of judges and give that feedback to judges. The program historically and today has low participation rates. This year, the committee decided to survey voluntary bars about any of their programs that provide feedback to judges or attorneys. Results are pending.
Thanks to The Florida Bar leadership for appointing attorneys to the 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 and Protect Florida Democracy presentations.
I was helped most ably by Vice Chair Sacha Dyson. Also, the committee could not do the work it now does without Annette Pitts. She is a tireless worker on behalf of adult civics education, as is Richard Levenstein, one of the committee’s most dedicated Benchmarks volunteers.
To all of you, my thanks.
Judge Michelle Sisco, Chair
Construction Law Certification
The committee has continued to pursue additional initiatives to improve the quality of the construction law certification exam for 2018. As of this date, there are 383 board certified construction lawyers, including 22 who passed the 2017 exam (out of 51 examinees, for a 43 percent passing rate). We have 50 applications to take the 2018 exam in May.
Our committee continues to create new multiple-choice questions and revised our test bank questions to address certain past concerns. We have also tailored the 2018 exam to test evenly those subjects described by the specifications with the goal of testing examinees on whether they have “walking around” knowledge of construction law that would justify them becoming board certified. We continue to develop new essays and an essay bank.
As we have in the past, we presented a general overview to approximately 50 prospective examinees attending the certification review course at the 2018 Construction Law Certification Review Course held in March in Orlando. This included a description of the newly formatted questions, the revised specifications, and instructions for the exam as well as an explanation as to how the test will be graded. Additionally, for the first time, the committee has agreed to release past multiple-choice exam questions to provide examinees examples of test question structure, formatting, and difficulty level. We advised the examinees of this decision and the expected release date of the sample questions in late March/early April.
Finally, our committee recertified 31 lawyers who applied this year after reviewing applications, including careful consideration of peer review statements, grievance history, and CLE compliance.
The committee members have devoted countless hours writing exam questions and grading exams, and thoroughly reviewing certification and recertification applications. We have continued to have outstanding staff support from our Florida Bar representative, Rebecca Rudolph, and owe her the highest accolades for her diligent efforts in assisting our committee and making our work product ever better in 2018.
Finally, thanks to all our committee members for their steadfastness and devotion to ensuring that Florida maintains the highest ethical standards for construction lawyers.
Alex Espino, Chair
Consumer Protection Law
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. Since its last report in 2017, the committee has been extremely active. Among its accomplishments over the last year, the committee:
1) Had its “Bench Manual” on consumer issues accepted by the Florida Court Education Council for use by state judges.
2) Organized a three-hour seminar for the annual convention in Orlando focusing on public-private partnerships.
3) Monitored proposed legislation to assess the impact on Florida consumers.
4) Planned to give a deserving attorney The Florida Bar Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award for 2018.
5) Reviewed and updated 11 of The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlets.
6) Continued using Twitter to educate and share information and resources with consumers and attorneys.
• Bench Manual — The Publications Committee of the Florida Court Education Council approved use of the Consumer Protection Law Committee bench book, lauding it as a valuable resource for judges on consumer law issues. In granting approval, the committee spoke highly of the content as well as the concise presentation of the manual and said it looked forward to including the committee’s bench manual among those available to judges statewide. “We are so grateful to your committee for the excellent work you have done!” wrote Angela Cowden for the Publications Committee.
This project had been in the works for six years and was first suggested by (then) committee member Mary Ann Etzler. It was brought to successful publication by committee member Michael Ziegler, who guided the Bench Manual Subcommittee for the past two years. Going forward, the plan is to update existing chapters and add new ones as needed. Special thanks go to Ziegler and many members who have contributed this year and in previous years as well. They are
Barry Balmuth, Laura Boeckman, Delton Chen, Mary Ann Etzler, Steven Fahlgren, Shaunda Hill, Jared Lee, Lesly Longa, Patrice Malloy, Craig Rothburd, Taras Rudnitsky, Mark Schweikert, Elizabeth Star, Edrei Swanson, Alice Vickers, Dennis Wall, and David Weintraub.
T he manual is posted on the intranet of the Office of the State Courts Administrator. It covers Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; auto sales and finance; Lemon Law; credit card actions; residential evictions; Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act; homeowner’s and condo association issues; and home solicitation sales.
• CLE for Annual Convention — The committee is planning a three-hour seminar, “Doing Well While Doing Good: Public/Private Partnerships,” with 12 presenters at the annual convention in Orlando. The seminar will examine how private counsel can work with state and federal government offices — including the Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office — to develop cases to benefit their clients and citizens at large and how private counsel can partner with legal service organizations. Additionally, the seminar will include a panel on best practices to follow when partnering or working with a public entity. Seminar speakers include a regional director at the Federal Trade Commission; an assistant U.S. attorney; a director from the Attorney General’s Office; a city attorney; partners from a top national law firm; directors from legal services organizations; and top consumer litigators from Florida. Current Consumer Protection Law Committee Vice Chair Craig Rothburd along with committee members Jennifer Newton and Anthony Palermo will moderate the seminar’s three panels. CLE Subcommittee Chair Victoria Butler, who is director of the Consumer Protection Division in the Office of the Attorney General, is a presenter. The seminar will be held on June 15 at the annual convention at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
• Legislative Outreach — The committee tracked 24 bills of consumer interest, from consumer loans to telephone solicitation. Members of the committee discussed and analyzed the impact on consumers for proposed legislation. As in past years, the committee was available for legislators if they sought further insight and analysis on a particular legislative issue.
• Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year — For the eighth year, the committee will honor an attorney for excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law. New this year, in addition to nominations made in the current years, lawyers nominated in 2017 but not selected will be considered. Eight attorneys were nominated in 2017.
• 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 consumer pamphlets. The committee reviews and updates these pamphlets, which are available on The Florida Bar’s website. Special thanks go to Lisa DiFranza for leading for a second year this productive subcommittee and to Valorie Chavin, Brett Foster, Mark Schweikert, and Nick Taldone for making sure this valuable consumer information is accurate and up to date. Updates have been made on topics ranging between buying a home and your rights and responsibilities when applying for credit or loans.
• Social Media Outreach — The Consumer Protection Law Committee continued to use Twitter to communicate with and educate attorneys and the public on consumer law issues. Committee members Carrie Cromey and Katherine Kiziah led the way by posting to the committee’s two accounts. One account updates Florida attorneys on consumer law issues (@FLBarCPLCLawyer), while the other is geared toward consumers (@FLBarConsumer), highlighting the Bar’s consumer pamphlets, outreach events, and useful resources.
During National Consumer Protection Week, March 4-10, the committee helped to highlight the plight of a family in Northwest Florida whose home was about to be foreclosed on because of an error that had the home lot number of their neighbors. Outreach Subcommittee Co-Chair Cromey reached out to the Pensacola News Journal, which ran an article, “Clerical error may cost Cantonment women family home.” Following publication, several private attorneys offered to assist the Legal Services attorney helping the family save their home.
I thank Vice Chairs Craig Rothburd, Laura Boeckman, and Valorie Chavin for their dedication to the committee and their diligent work for both the committee and Florida consumers. Their efforts, along with the efforts of our active members, contributed to a successful year for the Consumer Protection Law Committee.
Jared M. Lee, Chair
Criminal Law Certification
The Criminal Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as either criminal trial specialists or 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 appellate actions or trials. For initial criminal appellate applicants: representation of at least 25 appellate actions. For recertification criminal appellate applicants: representation of at least 10 appellate actions. For initial criminal trial applicants: at least 25 contested criminal cases, with 20 jury trials, tried to a verdict, 15 which 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. The committee is comprised of 12 geographically diverse board certified attorneys who practice in a variety of areas, including criminal trial, criminal appellate, criminal prosecution, and criminal defense. The committee consists of government attorneys, public defenders, and private practitioners. The committee began drafting the 2018 examination in August 2017 and met in October 2017 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.
Both the criminal trial and criminal appellate law 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 criminal lawyer’s fundamental knowledge of the law, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On May 11 in Tampa, applicants answered 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 2018 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 105,000 members of The Florida Bar, 433 are currently board certified in criminal trial law and 48 are board certified in criminal appellate law. Forty-eight attorneys applied to take the 2018 criminal trial law certification exam. Twelve of these applicants submitted abbreviated applications after either failure or nonattendance at the 2017 exam. Five attorneys applied to take the 2018 criminal appellate law certification exam. The committee also reviewed 70 recertification applications this year.
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 Ilana Marcus (vice chair), Elizabeth Bourdon, Judge William Burgess, Joseph Caimano, Judge James Colaw, Pamela Koller, Lisa McLean, Luke Newman, Robert Norgard, Christina Pacheco, and Michael Ufferman. None of our work could have been accomplished without our staff liaison, Sheila Whaley. I thank everyone for all their hard work and great effort.
Jessica Travis, Chair
Criminal Procedure Rules
The Criminal Procedure Rules Committee is comprised of members from all areas of the practice of criminal law, including judges, educators, prosecuting attorneys, and both publicly funded and privately retained criminal defense attorneys. The professional diversity of its membership helps the committee ensure the issues arising in the arena of our criminal courtrooms are viewed from all perspectives.
Issues come before the committee through referrals, which can come from any interested person or entity, as well as the committee’s own review of relevant case and statutory law.
In January, the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee submitted its most recent regular-cycle report, which was largely completed under the outstanding leadership of former chairs Judge Meredith Charbula, Judge Samantha Ward, and Professor H. Scott Fingerhut. As a result, much of this year’s committee work has involved considering and responding to comments submitted by various individuals and groups to the cycle report.
Among the new issues addressed by the committee this year was a proposed amendment of Rule 3.220 to clarify that a defendant need to disclose in discovery only reports or statements of those experts it intends to use at hearing or trial. Because of the ongoing issues with the current wording of the rule (as reflected in Kidder v. State, 117 So. 3d 1166 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013)), this proposed amendment has been submitted out-of-cycle to the Florida Supreme Court.
Another matter addressed this year by the committee was the proposed adoption of a new Rule 3.116 governing the allowance of testimony via video communication equipment in criminal proceedings. The proposed rule grants the court discretion to allow such testimony upon stipulation of the parties or upon the motion of one party with good cause shown. This newly proposed rule will be included in the 2021 cycle report.
The committee also has worked this year with the other standing rules committees to address the merits of continuing the five-day extension for service by email. That matter is pending at this time before the Supreme Court.
As outgoing chair, I very much thank all of the dedicated members of our committee for their selfless hard work toward the betterment of our criminal justice system. I particularly thank our outstanding Florida Bar liaison, Heather Telfer, for her herculean efforts to keep us organized, on point, and on time in the many filings, comments, and responses required of the committee. Our incoming chair, Sheila Loizos, requires special mention for the excellent work she has done for the past several years as committee secretary — she will be a great asset to the committee as chair next year, but very hard to replace as secretary. On behalf of the committee, I also thank our Bar leadership for their continued support and assistance.
I encourage criminal law practitioners and others involved in criminal justice to submit referrals to the committee regarding rules changes perceived to be beneficial to the efficient practice of law in our criminal courts or the protection of the rights of the accused, victims, or the general public.
Jon B. Morgan, Chair
Diversity and Inclusion
This year, the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) continued to develop and implement a plurality of projects and programs to further its mission to increase diversity and inclusion in the Bar so that the Bar will reflect the demographics of the state, to develop opportunities for community involvement, and to make leadership roles within the profession and the Bar accessible to all attorneys.
The CDI administers the Diversity Leadership Grant Program, which provides funding to local and specialty bar associations for conferences, initiatives, and programs that encourage diversity, provide diversity training, and provides the opportunity for dialogue about diversity and inclusion issues in Florida. Vice Chair John Schifino led the team in partnership with more than 283 local and specialty bar associations, wherein all Bar funds budgeted for this program year were allocated and used to fund 28 diversity and inclusion programs around the state.
The Get Involved Subcommittee focused on building bridges and deepening connections with our colleagues. Vice Chair Nikki Lewis Simon directed this team and in doing so, established valuable partnerships with Florida Bar sections, divisions, and committees. Each of these groups appointed liaisons to serve on CDI to ensure we have an open, continuous, and consistent line of communication regarding issues of diversity and inclusion. working in conjunction, we will create a high-speed conduit among ourselves that will provide us with the ability to develop more impactful programming and implementing deeper dives into important diversity topics.
The CDI’s Law School Subcommittee, under the leadership of Co-Chairs Bruce Mount and Robert Saunooke, promoted and attended three minority mentoring events throughout the state. The 2018 Kozyak Passport to Success Minority Mentoring picnic at the Miami Zoo had over 3,000 attendees. The Central Florida Diversity and Inclusion Picnic was held at Barry Law School in Orlando. Lastly, the CDI joined the Supreme Court Standing Committee on Diversity and Fairness in participating in the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Diversity Networking Social.
This year, the CDI established the Program Development Subcommittee as an additional subcommittee to further its goals. Under Vice Chair Miriam Soler Ramos’ leadership, the committee was tasked with continuing to work on and finalize the “Bias-Motivated Took Kit,” which is currently being reviewed by the Bar’s general counsel for approval. The committee was also tasked with producing a video featuring President Higer’s message to the membership on the importance of diversity and inclusion, and with developing a database of sample agendas and videos on relevant training topics. The committee is responsible for the January/February 2019 issue of The Florida Bar Journal, which will be dedicated to topics related to diversity and inclusion. This will be our inaugural appearance as a cover feature in the Journal
Additionally, our team is continuing our work on two paramount special committees, Parental Leave and Gender Bias. Regarding our work on parental leave, in 2016, CDI unanimously recommended adoption of a parental leave continuance rule of procedure to the Board of Governors and the Florida Supreme Court. Subsequently, Past President Schifino created a special committee comprised of CDI members and members from the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee (RJAC) to explore the proposal of a rule regarding obtaining a continuance for a hearing or trial when the lead attorney in a case is having a baby or adopting a child that would otherwise prevent them from taking parental leave. Recently, the Florida Supreme Court requested that CDI and RJAC prepare a report with a thorough explanation of the special committee’s majority and minority positions on the proposed rule, as well as an explanation of the Board of Governor’s position on the issue. CDI representative Craig Leen is working closely with RJAC for the preparation of the requested report.
Last year, the Special Committee on Gender Bias produced a final report outlining the issue of gender bias in the profession. After a full study of the issue, the special committee developed a report outlining 12 recommendations for The Florida Bar to undertake to address the issue. These recommendations included the development of toolkits to assist women in the profession and firm leaders in educating the Bar on the issue, providing practical ways to address the issue and promoting best practices for attorneys and firms. The recommendations also included the development of a Blue-Ribbon Firm Program to recognize law firms that are actively addressing the issue of gender bias and promoting gender equality. Pursuant to the report, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee formed the Gender Bias Subcommittee, co-chaired by Fentrice Driskell and Paul SanGiovanni. Under their leadership this year, the subcommittee has developed a workgroup for each of the recommendations assigned to the committee and other workgroups to facilitate coordination of the Bar’s work on gender equality with the work of other sections and committees of the bar. Each workgroup has continued to diligently work on their recommendations. The work to date includes identifying other programs throughout the country, including programs of other bar associations, nonprofits, and corporations to review their work and effectiveness. Each workgroup continues to work toward development deliverables for Bar members to implement each recommendation. The roll-out of the deliverables will be phased commencing in 2018 and continuing through 2019, with the Gender Equality Toolkits this summer. This subcommittee’s work also includes interfacing with the Bar’s communications resources to promote and distribute the subcommittee’s message and deliverables, through the Bar’s media resources and website.
Finally, the CDI held its first-ever stand-alone Path to Inclusion Symposium aimed at developing competencies for creating a more inclusive legal profession in law firms, corporate law departments, and the public sector. The symposium offered participants a focused look at gender bias, implicit bias, and a multicultural inter-disciplinary approach to addressing bias and diversity issues. The full-day, multi-track program began with a plenary session on how implicit bias affects the legal system and particularly how our own implicit biases, that we are not aware of, can tilt the legal playing field. Attendees then had the opportunity to choose between three different breakout sessions based upon the subject matter that resonated most with them. The first set of breakout sessions was comprised of discussions on breaking the glass ceiling, mental-health issues affecting lawyers and clients, and a deeper dive into implicit bias and why it matters. The second set breakout sessions featured expanding pathways for gender equality, a multicultural “Acts of Understanding” workshop and a spotlight on the true impact implicit bias has on both business and the law. The third set of breakout sessions offered a sampling of gender bias in education, politics, and the legal profession, as well as the potential implicit bias in the courtroom and in alternative dispute resolution. This symposium provided attendees with 6.5 CLE hours and new perspectives on diversity and inclusion to improve their outlook, practice, and advance the administration of justice. The cutting-edge speakers had diverse backgrounds from a myriad of arenas, including education, politics, alternative dispute resolution, and business.
In closing, we are a uniquely inclusive committee with 138 members serving this year, including members of the judiciary, representatives from law schools and universities, members of other Bar committees, and representatives from many statewide, local, and specialty bar associations. We have no dues requirement and welcome the participation of all individuals and groups that support diversity within the legal profession.
We thank President Higer for his continued support and for appointing CDI’s BOG liaison, Jay Kim. We also thank the section chairs, committee chairs, and division presidents for appointing liaisons this year to ensure we are cross-pollinating our inclusive efforts.
Our CDI members have worked tirelessly and I thank each and everyone of them. I owe a significant amount of gratitude to our team members that carried the Path to Inclusion Symposium concept across the finish line, including (but by no stretch limited to) Susan Healy, Zarra Elias, Julian Jackson-Fannin, Amanda Jesteadt, Suzanna Johnson, Andres Oliveros, Jarred Reiling, Katherine Scott, and Grissel Seijo. On behalf of the entire CDI, I thank the Bar leadership; Arnell Bryant-Willis, the Bar diversity initiatives manager; Briana Wilson, the Bar diversity initiatives program coordinator; and other Bar staff for their dedication and support.
Brittany J. Maxey-Fisher, Chair
The Florida Bar Education Law Committee is a substantive law committee consisting of talented members hailing from diverse backgrounds, practice settings, and locations. The committee aims to create a collaborative forum for practitioners across the continuum of education law, including in-house and outside counsel serving K-12 and post-secondary public and private educational institutions, as well as attorneys assisting governmental agencies, students, parents or guardians with legal issues concerning education.
Committee members wear many hats, and routinely encounter a myriad of substantive legal issues, such as constitutional law, human relations, employment, labor, intellectual property, research, procurement, contracting, real estate, financing, tax, construction, administrative law, public records, Sunshine Law, tort liability, and more — all within the context of educational settings. Our institutional clients are challenged to comply with the latest decrees from various accreditors, the legislature, the Board of Governors, Department of Education, Department of Justice, and other regulatory bodies. In such a rapidly changing environment, the committee seeks to keep its members abreast of the latest developments and, most importantly, provides an open forum and network to promote discussion and growth among its members.
This year, the committee met during the Bar’s mid-year winter meetings in Orlando, via webinar in April, and during annual convention in June. Building upon fantastic programming provided in previous years, this year’s CLE offerings addressed issues including public records and Sunshine Law updates, First Amendment issues associated with free speech on campus, preparing for and responding to cyber incidents and breaches, campus security, legislative updates, and the Constitutional Revision Commission. I sincerely appreciate the hard work and dedication of Vice Chair Paul Carland, and all of our brilliant presenters who took time out of their busy schedules to organize presentations full of valuable knowledge and best practices.
The committee provided a wonderful resource in this year’s edition of the Florida Education Law Journal. Under the leadership of Vice Chair Joy Smith-McCormick, our authors thoughtfully addressed K-12 open enrollment, K-20 collective bargaining and labor relations, and issues arising out of the medical use of marijuana.
I am eternally grateful for the servant leadership of our vice chairs, contributions from from Holland & Knight through IT support, and the selfless effort of all of our presenters and authors. You have made our members better lawyers.
It has been a blessing to serve as chair this year. At its core, this committee is a bunch of men and women who have dedicated time and resources to support one another, our collective growth, and the well-being of the clients we serve. I am proud to practice with you and grateful for the opportunity to serve you.
In closing, I offer well-deserved recognition to an individual who constantly provides invaluable support to The Florida Bar. Throughout my Bar service, I have been blessed to serve on two bodies (the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and Education Law Committee) buoyed by Tom Miller, program administrator. Tom is much more than a program administrator. I have forced him to send far too many “reminder” emails and chase other priorities on my “to do” list in a way that is, frankly, unfair to him. Tom has never faltered and always remained patient, committed, and
organized. The committee could not have functioned this year without him, as I know is true for several other committees and The Florida Bar at large. Thank you very much, Tom. We sincerely appreciate you.
Robert W. Batsel, Jr. , 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 eighth year of education law certification. As of the writing of this annual report, there are 49 board certified attorneys in education law; with four applicants who sat for the March examination.
The committee met regularly through the year, both in person and by telephone. The committee continued its ongoing work to improve the examination and create a comprehensive and accessible test bank for the use of future committee members. The committee promoted education law certification to education law practitioners, most particularly through the Education Law Committee. The committee reviewed initial and recertification applicants for the area. Following a successful effort by last year’s committee to update the substantial experience section of the application for Education Law certification, this year’s committee was able to implement the new criteria for four new applicants. The committee members have worked to expand the recognition of this important certification area and to attract new applicants for certification.
The members of the 2017-2018 Education Law Certification Committee are Youndy Cook, chair; David Delaney, vice chair; Ned Julian; Marylin Batista; Karen Meta Chastain; Sarah Koren; Keith Martin; Gerard Solis; and Heather Wallace. I am very appreciative of the hard work each of the committee members put in this year. On behalf of the entire committee, I extend special thanks to our certification specialist with The Florida Bar, Charlotte Bell, for her cheerful support of the committee and her expertise.
The committee acknowledges the efforts of the Education Law Committee, which has promoted the certification area and provided a certification examination review courses for the benefit of applicants and members of the Education Law Committee alike.
Youndy C. Cook, Chair
Elder Law Certification
The Elder Law Certification Committee is responsible for administering the process of certifying attorneys as elder law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The certification committee had four meetings throughout the past year to process new applications for eligibility to sit for the certification exam, review recertifications, and prepare the 2018 board certification exam. Currently, there are 107 board certified elder law attorneys in Florida. The committee reviewed 12 recertification applications. This past year, nine attorneys applied to sit for the exam on March 9. It has been a successful year for the certification committee!
This year’s Elder Law Certification Committee was chaired by Victoria E. Heuler of Tallahassee, with John Sanders Clardy III (Crystal River) as vice chair, and consisted of members Edwin M. Boyer (Sarasota), Sara Caldwell (Daytona Beach), Alex Cuello (Coral Gables), Amy J. Fanzlaw (Boca Raton), Christopher Likens (Sarasota), and Laurie OHall (Brandon). Thank you to our wonderful certification specialist, Laurinda Babers, whose gentle and patient spirit makes us a more effective and efficient committee, and to all our fantastic committee members for their dedication and hard work to make this past year a success!
Victoria Heuler, Chair
The principal functions of the Eminent Domain Committee include monitoring developments in the practice areas of eminent domain and property rights, keeping the members of the Bar informed of significant developments in those areas, and considering related issues identified by the committee itself or the president of the Bar and the Board of Governors. The committee is comprised of experienced eminent domain practitioners throughout the state who routinely represent governmental agencies and nongovernmental entities with the power of eminent domain, as well as owners whose property rights are affected by such condemning authorities. The members of the committee collectively offer a depth and breadth of experience that is an important resource to the Bar and the profession.
Our committee meetings reflect a continued commitment to educate Bar members on recent developments in the field of eminent domain. This year, following the Bar and the Supreme Court’s recent requirement of technological competence of Florida lawyers, our programs included a recurring theme of technology. Topics addressed this year include the use of technology in trials with a perspective provided by Judge Gregory P. Holder of the 13th Judicial Circuit, and examples of specific uses of technology in discovery and trial by litigator Brian Bolves and trial consultant, Russell Wills. Practitioners Jason Pill and Michael S. Hooker provided valuable insight on practical suggestions and legal requirements to protect highly sensitive data in an era of cyberattacks as well as ethical obligations regarding the use of technology. Substantive programs on eminent domain related issues included a lively discussion on nonmonetary benefits by Jim Helinger and Tobyn DeYoung, and an overview by Blake Gaylord on the interplay between a landowner’s constitutional rights and its contractual obligations under a mortgage.
I give thanks to the following sponsors who made our meetings more enjoyable and provided information about how they can enhance the committee members’ practice in the field of eminent domain: Rusty Sievers of GAI Consultants (engineering, planning and environmental), Michael McElveen of UEI – Urban Economics, Inc. (appraisal), and Rick Dreggors of Calhoun Dreggors and Associates (appraisal). Also, my thanks to the following members who without fail participated in planning conferences and brainstorming efforts to develop this year’s programs: Vice Chairs Tobyn DeYoung, Heather Patchen, and Ken Pope; and also our Bar staff liaison, Charles “Chase” Early.
Lorena Hart Ludovici, Chair
Federal Court Practice
The Federal Court Practice Committee (FCPC) serves as The Florida Bar’s liaison to the U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Florida; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit; the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference; Florida-based chapters of the Federal Bar Association and other federal bar organizations; and federal practitioners throughout Florida (and beyond).
The FCPC’s signature event, the Federal Judicial Roundtable, will take place at The Florida Bar Annual Convention on June 14. This year’s theme is “Navigating Discovery, Technology, and Ethics in Federal Courts.” The moderator will be John M. Barkett, a partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP, and a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. In addition, federal judges representing each district have been invited to share remarks on the state of the federal judiciary in Florida. The roundtable is entirely complimentary and provides a rare opportunity for federal judges and practitioners to interface on a wide variety of substantive and procedural topics. Last year, over 25 federal appellate, district, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges attended, and even more are expected to attend this year. The roundtable is chaired by Sherril Colombo of Littler Mendelson, also a FCPC vice chair. Dora Kaufman of Liebler, Gonzalez & Portuondo serves as the roundtable vice chair. Jason Kairalla of Carlton Fields is the sponsorship leader.
Speaking of Florida’s federal judiciary, for the past 20 years, the FCPC has produced the “Guide to Judicial Practices in Florida’s Federal Courts” as a free resource for any practitioner. Over 80 percent of the state’s federal judicial officers have provided (and updated) information about their practices and procedures, and even more continue to contribute. The guide is accessible anywhere by simply visiting the “Federal Corner” on the Bar’s website. Barbara Junge of Miami is our Guide Subcommittee chair, overseeing its continual update with the assistance of William Armistead of Coppins Monroe leading the effort for the Northern District; Mark Rankin of Shutts & Bowen for the Middle District; Lawrence Goodman of Devine Goodman Rasco & Watts-FitzGerald for the Southern District; and Philip Rothschild of Holland & Knight also for the Southern District.
The 11th Circuit Judicial Conference was held on May 3-4 in Ponte Vedra. For the first time, we designated a liaison to represent the FCPC at the conference, Erik Matheney of Shutts & Bowen.
Similarly, another first is the FCPC’s appointment of liaisons for eight Federal Bar Association (FBA) chapters in Florida. This added structure helped us provide more complimentary CLE and other programs this year.
For example, in February, the FCPC and the FBA’s South Florida Chapter sponsored “The Cyber Threat — What Lawyers & Clients Need to Know from Top Experts in Cyber Security & Computer Crime.” Over 100 practitioners attended, either in person or via webinar. Ana Martinez of Miami, chair of the FCPC education subcommittee, organized the event, and all of our FBA liaisons assisted with its promotion.
Also, in April and May, we partnered with the FBA’s Tampa Bay Chapter to provide “Court Skills for the Federal Practitioner,” a four-part CLE held entirely in a real federal courtroom and providing attendees with hands-on, personal training. Judge Charlene Edwards-Honeywell, U.S. district judge and FCPC member, graciously provided her courtroom, and long-time FCPC member and past Vice Chair Thomas Palermo led its instruction. FCPC’s liaison to the FBA’s Tampa Bay Chapter, Katherine Yanes, helped promote it locally.
In addition, on the day before the annual convention in June, the FCPC is scheduled to partner with the FBA’s Orlando chapter in sponsoring a federal courthouse tour. That way, practitioners who plan to attend the annual convention can see something new while they are in town. In addition, later that month, the FCPC expects to partner with the Orlando chapter for a CLE to be held at the courthouse. Robin Nauman of Holland & Knight, FCPC’s liaison to the FBA’s Orlando chapter, leads this effort.
To assist more practitioners, earlier this year we contributed to State-to-State, the newsletter of the Bar’s Out-of-State Division. In an article, “The Federal Court Practice Committee: The Out-of-State Practitioner’s Friend,” FCPC Chair Andrew Doyle explained the committee’s work and service to the Bar.
For the past few years, the FCPC has relied on its Long Range Planning Subcommittee to ensure that we continue to fulfill our mission and effectively serve The Florida Bar and, by extension, the public. This year, Long Range Planning has been developing a plan of action for federal pro bono work across Florida. The need for pro bono representation has never been greater, as President Higer so eloquently explained at the beginning of his term when he outlined his priorities. FCPC vice chair Matthew Hall of Hill Ward Henderson leads this subcommittee’s efforts.
Finally, the FCPC continues a very active presence online and through social media. We are on Twitter (@FlaBarFCPC); LinkedIn (Federal Court Practice Committee, The Florida Bar); Facebook (Florida Bar Federal Court Practice Committee); and have a webpage. These tools allow us to better serve and communicate with practitioners, so they can learn all about local rule changes, judicial nominations, FBA chapter events, pro bono opportunities, and other federal practice matters. A prime example of our online service: earlier this year, we posted an informational video explaining proposed changes to federal procedural and evidentiary rules that were up for public comment. This effort was led by the FCPC’s Rules Subcommittee, chaired by Judge Amanda Sansone, U.S. magistrate judge of Tampa, and vice chaired by Jennifer Corinis and April Walker of Tampa. The success of this project inspired us to continue to broaden our reach, and the FCPC is working with the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division to provide additional content to the YLD’s new virtual resource, Legal Accelerator, available through the
member portal on the Bar’s website.
Andrew J. Doyle, Chair
Florida Bar Journal & News Editorial Board
The Florida Bar Journal provides scholarly, peer-reviewed articles on substantive Florida law topics, while the News keeps Bar members up to date on important news and events. Our more than 100,000 members of the Bar can currently access both publications in print and online on The Florida Bar’s website.
The Journal & News Editorial Board, consisting this year of 34 members, works with staff editors to complete a fair and impartial peer review of articles submitted — largely by members — for publication in the Journal. The Editorial Board reviews, edits, and provides recommendations as to whether each article should be published. This year, the Journal published articles on a wide range of topics, including the admissibility of social media postings, mental health and wellness, collaborative law rules, noncompete agreements, dissolution of law firms, medical malpractice, pro bono opportunities, judicial nominating procedures, and many more.
The Journal also publishes columns each month on behalf of Bar sections. Editors for each section are appointed by the section chair and serve as peer reviewers and subject-matter experts in their field.
Each year, the Editorial Board selects an article that best exemplifies the principles of good legal writing. The 2017 committee selected, “It Is Time for Florida Courts to Revisit Gooding ” by Jed Kurzban, Lauren Gallagher, and Samira Arabnia as recipients of the Excellence in Writing Award. The board congratulates the winners, and the article can be found on the Journal’s website, www.floridabar.org/journal.
This year, the Program Evaluation Committee and Communications Committee jointly reviewed the Journal & News program. They developed several recommendations that were approved by the Board of Governors on December 8, 2017. These included:
• Reduce the number of Bar Journal issues from 10 to six at the start of the 2018-19 Bar fiscal year beginning July 1.
• Continue to publish all 24 issues of the Bar News online, but reduce the printed editions to once a month, also beginning July 1.
• Set a July 2021 target for ending all printed editions of the Journal and News, but continue them online.
• Increase marketing efforts by Bar staff to law firms and other companies to acquire more digital advertisers.
• In the next annual membership fee statement sent to all Bar members, ask if they want to receive both publications only electronically and forego printed copies.
• The Communications Committee should review advertising rates, media kits, and other items related to advertising in the Journal and News.
The recommendations could provide substantial long-term savings by reducing printing and mailing costs for both publications. In preparation for a more electronic future, staff is working to improve and strengthen the Journal & News electronic presence to ensure both publications continue to be the go-to source for news and substantive law articles. New platforms are being evaluated to identify the options that would best enhance members’ experience on the Journal and News websites.
Whether you prefer to read the content of the Journal and News in print or online, rest assured that the Editorial Board and staff are continually working to ensure the quality and integrity of both publications.
Misti Barnett, Chair
Florida Probate Rules
The Florida Probate Rules Committee had a productive 2017-2018 Bar year. During the past Bar year, the committee continued working on updates to conform its rules to changes in the Florida Probate Code and Florida Guardianship Code, proposed rule revisions to be submitted with the next regular-cycle report due in 2019, worked with other rules committees regarding proposals affecting various areas of practice, and considered the impact of amendments to the procedural rules within the Rules of Judicial Administration on the probate and guardianship practice.
During the past Bar year, the Supreme Court adopted F.S. §90.5021 — Florida’s fiduciary lawyer-client privilege — to the extent it is procedural, and held that the decision is retroactive to the Florida Legislature’s enactment of the statute in 2011. This was accomplished after much hard work by the committee, working in conjunction with the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee, going back several Bar years.
In addition, the Supreme Court has adopted the committee’s changes—made to conform to corresponding legislative changes — to the Petition to Determine Incapacity (Rule 5.550), dedicated to the timing of filing, service, and objections to examining committee members’ reports, and to the Annual Guardianship Report (Rule 5.695), to reflect the new statutory deadline.
The committee also passed numerous rule revisions, which will be included in the next regular-cycle report, including changes to the rules regarding the oath of personal representative (Rule 5.320), the burden of proof in will contests (Rule 5.275), and additional changes to the annual guardianship report (Rule 5.695).
Further, after considerable discussion about providing notice to beneficiaries of the right to request a copy of the will, a subcommittee was formed with the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section to create consistency between the rules and the probate code on this issue.
As new legislation is passed, the Florida Probate Rules Committee will continue to review and analyze the legislation to determine whether corresponding or related amendments to the probate rules are necessary and, if so, whether such amendments should be proposed on a fast-track basis or as part of the committee’s next regular-cycle report. The committee continues to work closely with the RPPTL section to revise and update the rules to correspond with legislation promulgated by the RPPTL section.
Meeting schedules and agenda for the committee are posted on the Florida Probate Rules Committee website. The Florida Bar’s liaison to the Probate Rules Committee, Heather Telfer, works to keep this information easily available and accessible to the committee members and others who have an interest in the committee’s work and current activities.
I urge practitioners to monitor The Florida Bar News for the publication of proposed rule changes, as well as the Florida Supreme Court’s webpage that lists the pending rules cases. The Florida Probate Rules Committee also 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.
It has been a privilege and honor to serve as chair of the committee. I thank all of the committee members, The Florida Bar staff, and members of other rules committees for their contributions during this Bar year. And a special thanks to Vice Chairs Sean Lebowitz and Cristina Papanikos, and our Florida Bar liaison, Heather Telfer, for all of their hard work and assistance this year.
Jonathan A. Galler, Chair
Florida Registered Paralegal
The 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, which determines whether a paralegal has met the education, training, certification and work experience required for registration as set forth in Ch. 20 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The duties of the committee include proposing rule amendments to Ch. 20 and setting policy for the program.
The committee met twice this fiscal year. Among many accomplishments were the proposed changes to Ch. 20. The proposed rule amendments would allow a non-Florida licensed attorney who is in good standing of a state bar to be eligible for the FRP designation without meeting the work experience requirement as defined in the rules. The other proposed rule amendment would require notification to an FRP’s supervising attorney of any changes to the paralegal’s registration status. At the time of publication of this report, committee members are working on a seminar and reception to be held at the annual convention. These are some examples of the many ways the committee is enhancing the program.
I have served on the committee for six years and as out-going chair, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with such a great group of people who are committed to maintaining the integrity of the legal profession. Moving forward, I wish the program much success!
Thomas Jerla, 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; 3) 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.
During the annual report period, the committee participated in the 2017 Young Lawyers Division Government Symposium. During this annual webinar, committee members lead a discussion on ethical issues in lobbying.
Later in the year, the committee held a CLE to educate lawyers who practice government affairs about rules of the Florida House of Representatives regarding lobbyist disclosure, provide updates on advances to the House online disclosure system, and to educate lawyers about new technology to assist in compliance efforts.
The committee also held a CLE in conjunction with the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists (FAPL) at the FAPL annual conference. The CLE provided attendees with a comprehensive briefing on the rules of the Florida Senate.
As featured in the September 15, 2017, edition of the Bar News, the committee has published a compendium of all city and county ordinances that govern lawyers’ interactions with local officials. This ordinance database is available as a resource to lawyers in the “committee materials and information” section of the committee’s website: /about/cmtes/cmtes001/.
The committee has grown to 138 members, and is actively planning additional CLEs in the near future.
If you are interested in joining the committee, please contact Joni Wussler at [email protected].
Andrea B. Reilly, Chair
Grievance Mediation and Fee Arbitration
Our committee has been concentrating on three substantive areas: rules, forms, and training. Subcommittees were formed and chairs were appointed. They have been meeting and reporting to the general committee. Each subcommittee has been working hard and we hope to have a full report by the end of the year.
I want to express my gratitude to all standing committees and Bar staff members for their hard work. This is an important committee that needs volunteers to allow fee disputes between attorneys and clients to continue outside of the court system.
Virginia Johnson, Chair
Health Law Certification
The Health Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as health law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Bar certified the first class of health certified specialists in 1995, and there are currently 129 health certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board certified specialists in health practice under a myriad of public and private sector health laws, providing advice and counsel in transactional, litigation, and appellate practices.
The committee reviews the applications for those lawyers seeking initial certification, as well as the renewal applications for certified attorneys seeking recertification every five years. To initially qualify for health certification, lawyers must be a member of the Bar for five years, be substantially involved in health law (at least 40 percent of their practice), 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 2017 health law certification exam. They include Sarah Eileen Goldmann Warden, Andrew A Morey, Thomas Blaze Ferrante, Jr., and Lori Coreen Desnick.
For the 2017-2018 certification year, the committee reviewed 15 initial applications. Of those, 15 will sit for the certification exam administered in May in Tampa. As of the publication of this report, exam results are still pending. The committee also reviewed and renewed 14 recertification applications this year. The committee met numerous times since June 2017, to review applications, and draft and grade the certification examination.
The hard working and dedicated members of the committee include Vice Chair Andrij B. Susla, Radha V. Bachman, Charmaine Chiu, William B. Eck, Carol Ann Kalish, Michael P. Levinson, Steven Resnick, and Adam J. Rogers. Thank you all for your efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification section. The committee also thanks our staff liaison, Jason Rawls. Our work could not have proceeded as smoothly without his dedication and attention to detail.
Erin Aebel, Chair
Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification
The 2017-2018 Florida Bar Immigration and Nationality Law Board Certification Committee consisted of Kari Ann Fonte, chair, and Elizabeth Blandon, vice chair; and members John Gihon, Gina Polo, Jacob Ratzan, Jennifer Roeper, Alan Seagrave, Alex Solomiany, and Francisco “Frank” Symphorien-Saavedra. Special thanks to Allison Armour of The Florida Bar for an outstanding job keeping our committee on schedule and working with us to achieve our objectives throughout the year.
We also recognize the board certified attorneys who served as pre-testers by giving their time to review the questions prepared for the 2018 exam. The feedback received helps to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the exam. I encourage each board certified attorney to participate as a pre-tester if invited to do so.
During 2017-2018, nine recertification applications were received and approved. Twenty initial applications for board certification were received and approved to sit for the exam. Of those, 15 took the exam. Grading is scheduled in April and results will be announced by The Florida Bar no later than June 1.
Presently, 72 attorneys are board certified by The Florida Bar in immigration and nationality law. An attorney meeting the requirements should consider applying for board certification. The ability to set yourself apart as a practitioner who is recognized by The Florida Bar as an expert in the field is invaluable.
It has been my honor to lead this committee this year. It has been extremely rewarding, and has provided a unique opportunity to learn from other attorneys at the highest level in our field. The committee strives to maintain the standards of excellence set for board certification in immigration since its inception in 1995. I am grateful to the committee and Bar staff for making this year a success.
Kari Ann Fonte, Chair
Intellectual Property Law Certification
Intellectual property law comprises the areas of patent prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, and copyright law. Board certified attorneys may practice in only one or a combination of these areas. A total of 138 attorneys now are board certified in intellectual property.
The committee has worked diligently to prepare for the 2018 exam, which was administered on May 10 in Tampa. Eight applications were received for this year’s exam. Applicants who are registered patent agents and/or attorneys with the USPTO, or are currently certified in either business litigation or civil trial, may waive a portion of the examination.
This year, lawyers who became board certified in intellectual property law in 2013 need to apply for recertification. Certification for 25 attorneys will expire this year. The recertification application currently is available online for download at www.floridabar.org/certification. Recertification requirements can be found in Rule 6-26.4, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, and must be met by July 31. Questions regarding certification or recertification should be directed to certification specialist Bekki Rudolph at 850-561-5777 or by email at [email protected] .
This year’s Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee was chaired by Heather Vargas, with Brian Gilchrist serving as vice chair, and consisted of members Francisco Ferreiro, John Fulton, Julee Milham, Woodrow Pollock, Jerold Schneider, Stefan Stein, and Dineen Wasylik.
Heather Vargas, Chair
International Law Certification
The International Law Certification Committee’s focus this year was directed to two areas: review and improve the international law certification examination, and promote efforts to make potentially qualified attorneys aware of the professional benefits of board certification in international law.
• Improvements to the Certification Examination — The committee has continued to review and revise examination questions that for any reason were determined to be less than optimal for their intended purpose. Questions were assigned to individual committee members for initial review and, when appropriate, revision, and then assigned to a second committee member for further review. At the same time, the examination specifications were reviewed to ensure that the areas of knowledge deemed necessary for a specialist in international law were appropriately covered by both the multiple-choice and essay examinations. As a result, the committee is confident that its examination is well-designed, up-to-date, and appropriate for testing expertise in international law.
• Promotional Efforts — One of the committee’s continuing concerns has been the number of qualified practitioners who, for whatever reason, have not pursued board certification. Beginning with the 2013-2014 year, the committee has identified potentially qualified practitioners (for example, through the International Law Section and similar professional organizations) and has discussed the benefits of certification as well as the certification process with them. In addition to clarification of the examination specifications, and the posting of sample questions on its website by the preceding committee, this year’s committee has decided to publish a study guide for applicants that should be made available to candidates taking the March exam.
The committee’s promotional efforts will continue, as certification will be promoted by committee members and Bar staff at the iLaw and the International Law Section Retreat.
• Concluding Remarks — I express my strong appreciation to all committee members for their efforts and contributions. This year’s members are Alvin Lindsay, vice chair, Robert Becerra, Angelika Hunnefeld, Felicia Nowels, Clarissa Rodriguez, Stephen Wagner, and Theodore Walters. On behalf of the entire committee, my thanks go as well to Bekki Rudolph, our committee liaison to The Florida Bar, for her support and guidance.
In closing, the International Law Certification Committee encourages all members of The Florida Bar for whom international law forms a substantial portion of their practice to seek board certification.
Penelope B. Perez-Kelly, 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 offers assistance to the governor with presenting an annual training program for all JNC commissioners and will continue to offer suggestions for improvements to the judicial nominating process. The committee will continue to keep commissioners apprised of any new legislation, rules, or court decisions that may affect their duties and will offer our full support to the governor’s office.
• JNC Training — Under a JNC Uniform Rule, new commissioners are required to undertake a training program within the first 12 months of appointment, which shall include segments regarding interviewing techniques and diversity sensitivity. This committee is currently working on putting together a video segment on implicit bias that will be posted on our committee page and offered as a free CLE.
• Featured Speakers — We thank our many speakers who gave up their time to come to our committee meetings and share information on the many facets of diversity: Lorna Brown-Burton, Florida Bar Board of Governors and Brittany Maxey-Fisher, Florida Bar Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
• Subcommittees —
1) JNPC Member Liaison with each JNC, Matthew Posgay, chair. The objective of this subcommittee is to let each JNC know that the JNPC is available to help them and what resources we have available to them. We encourage them to be mindful for the need for more diversity on the bench.
2) Diversity/Implicit Bias, chaired by Robert Vaughan. This subcommittee is looking at tangible goals for improving diversity and inclusion and the perceptions from the current global makeup of the JNCs and the judiciary. It is addressing concepts of implicit and explicit bias and will ultimately make recommendations to improve the nominating and training processes.
3) Liaison Between Voluntary Bars and the JNPC, co-chaired by Cory Person and Rebecca Ocariz. This subcommittee is looking at ways to get information to the voluntary bars who wish to educate their members about the JNCs. They are considering CLEs on “Demystifying the JNC Process” for applicants and one for YLD members to help groom young attorneys with judicial aspirations. This subcommittee also spearheaded a special issue of The Florida Bar Journal (coincidently this issue) with articles providing insight and education on the JNC process and how to serve on a JNC.
4) Subcommittee on the Implicit Bias Training Video, Judge Stacy Ross, chair. The subcommittee is identifying video resources that are already available and potential costs. The subcommittee is also investigating other options besides video, such as a possible PowerPoint presentation to be available for use.
5) Subcommittee on Data for JNC Demographics with Loreal Arscott, chair. The committee is tasked with collecting data on total judicial applicants compared to those selected; JNC applicants vs. nominated by Bar vs. selected. The committee also suggested that the subcommittee look at judicial demographics broken down by type of court: county, circuit, DCA, and Supreme Court.
This year has been one of exposure to many new ideas to enlighten and educate the JNC commissioner and for those that come before them, seeking the highest goal of some attorneys — becoming a judge. It is important to make this process transparent and those involved more knowledgeable.
Linda Bond Edwards, Chair
Juvenile Law Certification
The Juvenile Law Certification Committee was thrilled to see 95 lawyers become board certified in our first year. At the time of certification, approximately one-quarter of board certified lawyers were in private practice, and slightly more than one-quarter were employed by the Department of Children and Families. The rest were a fairly even mix of public defenders, state attorneys, regional counsel, and guardians ad litem with a handful of legal aid lawyers thrown in the mix. There are 72 applicants seeking certification in 2018, the final year where lawyers practicing 20 years or more can seek exemption from the certification exam.
The committee has submitted rule amendments ending a unified juvenile law certification that includes attorneys who primarily practice in dependency court and those who practice in delinquency court. Children often cross between systems, so the committee felt it is important for board certified lawyers to have knowledge in all arenas; however, going forward, the committee will not be allowed to offer separate exams to delinquency and dependency attorneys. If approved by the Florida Supreme Court, future applicants will be required to choose between board certification in juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency. The committee believed the most fair way to proceed was to separate the two areas into their own board certification under the umbrella of the existing committee.
Members of the Juvenile Law Certification Committee consists of Robin Rosenberg, chair; Rob Mason, vice chair; and Gerry Glynn, Tamara Gray, Meshon Rawls, Maria Schneider, Deborah Schroth, Whitney Untiedt, and Laura Vaughan-Bosco. Thanks to all for their expertise, passion, and for putting our children first.
On behalf of the entire committee, I thank our Bar liaison, Maritza McGill, for her wisdom, insight, expertise, and patience in guiding the committee through the process.
Applications for next year’s certification are currently available online, and the filing period will be open from September 1 to October 31. The examination will take place in May 2019, and we will welcome the third set of board certified lawyers in August 2019. I encourage all eligible attorneys to apply for certification; it’s a great way for a juvenile practitioner to advance one’s skills, professionalism, and ability to network.
Robin Rosenberg, Chair
Juvenile Court Rules
The Juvenile Court Rules Committee is comprised of members that practice in either the juvenile delinquency or dependency court. The volunteer members of the committee devote hours of their time to help accomplish the important work of the committee. The committee is divided into two subcommittees, one specializing in juvenile delinquency issues (primarily F.S. Ch. 985), and one specializing in juvenile dependency issues (primarily F.S. Ch. 39). These members bring their expertise and specialize knowledge of juvenile law to the subcommittees work and that results in a productive full committee.
This year, the committee has been busy on many fronts. The committee finalize the rules for our cycle report and filed the report in the Supreme Court’s Case No. SC18-174. The committee has started the long process of submitting rules to the court for their potential change. Many rules are currently under review and include: Rule 8.005 (ordering children into custody), Rule 8.045 (notice to appear), Rule 8.060 (discovery), Rule 8.080 (acceptance of guilty or nolo contendere plea), Rule 8.085 (prehearing motions and service), Rule 8.090 (speedy trial), Rule 8.100 (general provisions for hearings), Rule 8.110 (adjudicatory hearings), Rule 8.255 (general provisions for hearings), Rule 8.257 (general magistrates), Rule 8.320 (providing counsel to parties), Rule 8.425 (permanency hearings), Rule 8.435 (reinstatement of jurisdiction for young adult), Rule 8.947 (disposition order — delinquency), Rule 8.964 (dependency petition), Rule 8.965 (arraignment order), and Rule 8.991 (final order dismissing petition for judicial waiver of parental notice of termination of pregnancy). The committee proposes an adoption of a new Rule 8.953 (waiver of rights). The committee proposes deletion of Form 8.974 (petition to extend or reinstate court’s jurisdiction).
Additionally, the committee submitted a fast-track report to the court regarding changes to dependency rules in response to 2017 legislation in court case SC17-2040. The committee filed a joint comment regarding RJA’s cycle report in SC17-155, which opposed changes to Rule 2.140. and filed a comment in SC17-91 family law cycle report. The committee is now working with family law rules committee and the steering committee, in a joint committee to ensure that juvenile rules govern regarding children’s appearance in court in a unified family setting. The Delinquency Subcommittee is currently working on remote testimony and competency. The Dependency Subcommittee is reviewing all of the rules and is now working on new legislation passed in the 2018 session.
All this was accomplished due to the dedication and hard work of all committee members, especially Vice Chairs Linda Berman and David Silverstein. I am very grateful to them both and to everyone on the committee. I know that this hard work for the committee will continue in the coming year. I also thank Ward Metzger and Jeff Dean for all the amazing work they did in the prior year that put the committee in such good shape moving forward. I thank Mikalla Davis at The Florida Bar who has done a wonderful job and whose assistance to the entire committee, and to me personally, was so appreciated.
It has been a great honor to be the chair of the committee, and I thank The Florida Bar for this great opportunity.
Kara Ann Fenlon, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Certification
The Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee oversees the certification of attorneys as labor and employment law specialists recognized by The Florida Bar. The Bar certified the first class of labor and employment certified specialists in 2001, and there are currently 196 labor and employment law certified lawyers in The Florida Bar. Board certified specialists in labor and employment 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 percent 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 2017-2018 certification year, the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee reviewed 21 initial applications. Of those, 15 sat for the certification exam administered in March in Tampa. As of the publication of this report, exam results are still pending. The committee also reviewed and renewed 31 recertification applications this year.
The committee met numerous times, both in person and via telephone conference, since June 2017, to review applications and draft and grade the certification examination. In addition to the committee’s traditional application review and exam drafting duties, the Labor and Employment Law Certification Committee, in conjunction with a request from the Labor and Employment Law Section’s executive council, separately met to evaluate potential recommended changes to the current labor and employment law certification standards. That rule amendment was approved and effective January 26.
The hard-working and dedicated members of the committee include Chair Jim Craig, Vice Chair Michelle Nadeau, Katy Bremmer, Frank Brown, Erick Drlicka, Lori Hultman, Past Chair Sean Moyles, Brad Rothman, and Janet Wise. Thank you all for your efforts, diligence, professionalism, and commitment to upholding the high standards of this certification section. The committee also extends our greatest thanks to our Florida Bar staff liaison, Jason Rawls. Our work could not have proceeded as smoothly without his dedication and attention to detail.
James Morgan Craig , Chair
Law Related Education
The Law Related Education Committee (LREC) has had a productive year promoting effective law-related education programs in grades K-12 of Florida’s schools, with an emphasis on teaching young citizens respect for the legal system. The LREC continues to be involved in a variety of educational and civic-minded activities to further the knowledge and experience of not only Florida students, but the public at large. Here are a few of the projects the LREC has worked on this year:
• #JustAdulting Legal Survival Guide for New Adults — In 2016, the LREC designed a digital communication tool so tech-savvy teens could access the information electronically, a high-tech improvement on the legal guide pamphlet that had been distributed to high-school seniors statewide for decades. The #JustAdulting Legal Guide for New Adults was revised with updates based on legislative activity in 2017 and court rulings. Ashlee Pouncy worked with her Legal Guide Subcommittee to revise the guide, which includes 24 sections of Florida law of interest to young adults. The updated guide covers legal topics such as signing contracts, how to attain credit, the court system, alcohol laws, employment, texting while driving, and police encounters. New sections added this year included: U.S. immigration and citizenship; mental health and substance abuse; and medical marijuana in Florida.
The promotion and marketing of the guide is a major focus of the #JustAdulting subcommittee. Led by Annette Pitts, the subcommittee advanced the mobile website “JustAdulting” to help students become more knowledgeable about the laws affecting those 18 and older. LREC expanded the target audience to include college students. The web-based mobile site #JustAdulting was enhanced with an app that can be downloaded to mobile devices from Apple’s iTunes Store and Google Play for Android users or from www.justadulting.com .
Facebook advertising designed to drive users to the mobile app and mobile website increased the audience, as well as posts on Instagram. Media outreach and grassroots marketing efforts around graduation, summer break and back-to-school supported paid media and social media posts to create a strong message and awareness throughout Florida. More than 3,000 users have downloaded the app. Google Analytics for the mobile website and app indicate 1) significant growth in users and sessions; 2) significant increases in users during the 2017 reporting period as compared to all previous reporting periods; 3) greatest growth in 18- to 24-year-old users; and significantly increased access via mobile devices from 54 percent to 72 percent.
The marketing campaign, runs from April to July and will include animations and other engaging media to attract visitors and users for longer time periods. This will include interactive videos and Facebook advertising. Three 20- to 30-second animated videos will be produced about marijuana laws, drinking and fake IDs, and driving and the open container law. A whiteboard-style video is being produced on the court system and four 45- to 60-second videos are being produced on juvenile vs. adult responsibilities, jury duty, landlord/tenant, and cybersexual harassment.
All of the campaign enhancements can be viewed on the Bar’s website at www.floridabar.org/justadulting.
The campaign also reached out to the conferences and expos of education-related associations and legal organizations. The committee sought opportunities for presentations and/or exhibiting and included the #JustAdulting iPhone display and related materials.
Annette Pitts presented with Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince at the National Council for the Social Studies in San Francisco in November on expanding understanding of the judiciary. They presented a wide range of strategies and model programs, including #JustAdulting, during the supplemental resources component. More than 3,000 attendees received the materials.
Pitts assisted the Florida Supreme Court with its annual Justice Teaching Institute in February. The program hosts 25 teachers for a four-day institute addressing the state courts and the appellate process. This year, the #JustAdulting resources were highlighted during a session on instructional resources. A #JustAdulting exhibit was displayed throughout the week-long program.
Throughout the year, district-level presentations were made by FLREA/Pitts in local school districts to highlight FLREA and Bar resources including #JustAdulting. Multiple presentations were made in Miami-Dade as well as Palm Beach, Broward, Sarasota, and Duval counties, among many others. Teachers attending the FLREA summer institute for high-need schools at Florida State University College of Law also received training and resources on #JustAdulting as part of a week-long program addressing the courts and the Constitution.
Other demonstrations and presentations were made throughout the year, including student-focused assemblies during the Florida High School Mock Trial Competition in March. During the mock-trial competition, FLREA presented a session on #JustAdulting during its orientation assembly to more than 300 students, teachers, and parents. A display and resource materials were provided throughout the three-day program. Additionally, the resources were highlighted during every round of competition during the training of judges and attorneys participating in the program. This affected an additional 200 participants.
The #JustAdulting mobile app was showcased in February to more than 300 students, teachers, and parents during the “We the People…the Citizen and the Constitution” academic competition and assembly. Teachers from each school actively participated in the engaging presentation and answered questions from the Quiz Show, as students from their respective schools cheered on their instructors.
Presentations were also made at select universities and college campuses in Florida as part of Law Day and other targeted special events.
Pitts also assisted Justice Quince in her presentation of #JustAdulting to the 2018 Beaux of Tallahassee Links at the Florida Supreme Court. Shorter awareness presentations were also been made.
• Moot Court and Mock Trial — It was an extraordinary year for the Florida High School Mock Trial Competition. LREC members assisted with case development and review, and served as judges at the state and local competitions. The top five teams this year included TERRA HS Miami Dade; Lakeland Christian School; Fletcher HS Duval County; Charlotte High School; and American Heritage Boca Delray. The final round was close and competitive, and the teams were extremely prepared and professional. Our hashtag was #ajudgeineverycourtroom. Judge Steve Jewett assisted in securing county and circuit judges to preside over all rounds of competition. Local attorneys as well as attorneys from throughout Florida served as scoring judges. The final rounds took place May 7-8 in Tallahassee. A middle-school mock trial also took place statewide.
• Outreach and Development — The LREC Justice Teaching Awards subcommittee, under the leadership of Jason Rice, procures nominations for the annual Justice Teaching awards. Justice Teaching, founded by Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis in 2006, pairs a legal professional with elementary, middle, and high-school educators in Florida. Every year, nominations are sought for volunteer attorney of the year, judge of the year, and teacher of the year awards, with the winners selected by Justice Lewis. The awards are presented at a special ceremony coordinated by the LREC. Promotion of the awards program began with a Bar News article on the Teacher of the Year in the November 15, 2017 issue, followed by the attorney and judge winner in December and January. The LREC also acted on a recommendation from a previous award winner and renamed the Justice Teaching awards in honor of three constant champions of this outstanding program: Justice R. Fred Lewis Justice Teaching Judge of the Year Award ; Annette Boyd Pitts, Justice Teaching Educator of the Year Award; John F. Harkness, Jr., Justice Teaching Lawyer Volunteer of the Year Award.
• So You Want To Be a Lawyer — The digital consumer pamphlet can be found on the Bar’s website for persons considering a career in the law. As part of the college outreach, the site was also included in the #JustAdulting information for students to consider when deciding on a path after graduation. First-year law students were also invited to share the link and explore the recommendations made in the pamphlet about how to better prepare yourself for success after law school.
• LREC Facebook Page — The LREC also continued to share information with members and the public about the LREC, The Florida Bar, FLREA, and other law-related education programs and information.
It has been an exciting year for the LREC! Thank you to our committee members for their attendance and hard work on our committee projects. For more information, please visit our committee website, our Facebook page, the #JustAdulting app, the Justice Teaching website, and the Florida Law Related Education Association, Inc., website for more information on how you can get more involved in law related education.
Ashlee Pouncy, Chair
The William Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy (LA) will graduate its fifth class during the 2018 Florida Bar Annual Convention. Class V is comprised of 30 exceptional lawyers from Tallahassee to Miami, practicing law as solo practitioners, government lawyers, public interest lawyers, associates, and partners in law firms throughout Florida. The Leadership Academy Committee (LAC) is similarly populated with 41 lawyers and charged with administering the Leadership Academy.
Every year the Leadership Academy builds upon the success of the previous year to eventually create the ideal training program for lawyer-leaders. This year, the academy was enhanced by implementing recommendations from the Program Evaluation Committee and an outside consultant, Wendy Walker, who has more than 25 years of experience as president and CEO of Leadership Florida. Her insights were invaluable. In addition, we continued to rely upon session feedback surveys completed by the current fellows after each session. These three components of our ongoing self-evaluation have provided critical innovation for the betterment of the Leadership Academy.
One major change from previous years is that the size of the LA has now settled at 30 lawyers. The reduction in class size has increased the opportunities each fellow has to develop relationships with every other fellow. Moreover, we have found that a greater number of fellows are able to express themselves during our interactive sessions as well as have personal contact with the lawyers and professionals who present topics. This change alone has highlighted one of the advantages of the Leadership Academy — expanding a fellow’s personal network and sphere of influence.
Another innovation implemented this year was the creation of a Curriculum Subcommittee, which has been chaired with excellence by LAC member, LaShawnda Jackson. The subcommittee was created because this was the first year that the LAC and its staff were solely responsible for the programming of all six sessions and graduation. Many members of the Curriculum Subcommittee either participated in the Leadership Academy as a fellow or were on the LAC since the beginning of the program. The combination of actual experience and historical perspective produced our most interactive curriculum. The Curriculum Subcommittee identified relevant and timely topics ranging from leadership to self-improvement to mindfulness to mental health awareness to professional development and more. Furthermore, dynamic, accomplished, speakers gave their time to deliver outstanding presentations to the fellows of Class V. The Leadership Academy meetings usually begin on Friday afternoon, continue through Saturday morning, and close early Saturday afternoon. Thus, it can fairly be said that our presenters share some of their most precious time of the week with the academy and we are extremely thankful for their contributions.
Class V began the year by observing the graduation of Class IV and being welcomed by Bar leadership, President Michael Higer, President-elect Michelle Suskauer, and Florida Bar Executive Director Josh Doyle. Class V then began its first session with several presentations including encouragement from past President Eugene Pettis, who created the Academy, and Kathleen McLeroy, a shareholder with Carlton Fields who provided anecdotes, background, and insight about William Reece Smith, Jr., for whom the academy is named. In August, Class V attended Session II and were treated to an inspirational presentation by retired Circuit Court Judge Hubert L. Grimes, currently the interim President of Bethune Cookman University. The fellows shared in interactive sessions with Beatriz Lowery and our yearly DISC assessment provided by Dr. Mimi Hull. Session III occurred during the Bar’s Midyear Meeting in Tampa. The fellows welcomed visits from President Higer, President-elect Suskauer, and Mr. Doyle. This session included a presentation on technology from Adriana Linares of LawTech Partners and President-elect Designate John Stewart. Another memorable presentation was given by former Board of Governors member Carl Schwait who shared his personal story as part of his topic, “Delivering your Message: Presentation Strategies for Leaders.” Michelle Norris of Navigent Leadership, LLC, also shared the topic, “The Future at Work — Implications for Leaders,” which generated many questions regarding generational differences in the same workplace and how to make those differences benefit the employer.
Each year, the Leadership Academy has a session in Tallahassee at the same time as the Supreme Court Pro Bono Awards Ceremony and the meeting of the Board of Governors. Many fellows remember this session as particularly gratifying because of the opportunities to interact with leaders in the Bar. This year the fellows toured the Supreme Court and had a private audience with Chief Justice Labarga and Justice Pariente. In addition, the fellows observed the Supreme Court Pro Bono Award Ceremony and took advantage of the chance to network with the Supreme Court and recipients of the pro bono awards. The next day, the fellows attended a portion of the Board of Governors meeting and heard Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice LaBarga’s “State of the Court” remarks. The fellows next enjoyed lunch with members of the court and the Board of Governors.
In subsequent sessions the fellows of Class V have enjoyed interactive sessions presented by Nora Riva Bergman, president of Real Life Practice, LLC; original Leadership Academy Committee members, Liz McCausland, Karen Persis of Karen Persis, P.A.; and past Florida Bar President Mayanne Downs. The total number of presenters and topics are too numerous to name here, but each presenter’s contribution has been important to the effectiveness of the academy and we sincerely thank them all.
Every year the Leadership Academy fellows develop a project beneficial to The Florida Bar and endorsed by the president-elect. President-elect Suskauer was instrumental in identifying the two projects Class V prepared this year. The fellows worked diligently on these projects with the assistance of the LAC’s Program Subcommittee headed by Vice Chair Stefano Portigliatti. The first project is an e-book, A History of the Leadership Academy, Classes I-V. This effort is a significant step toward the Bar’s goal of improving diversity and inclusion as it highlights a group of more than 275 diverse attorneys ready to serve the Bar and their local communities. This e-book reveals a group of exceptional attorneys whose leadership skills have been enhanced by participation in the Bar’s leadership program, and who are ready and able to excel in leadership positions. As more Leadership Academy alumni take on leadership roles within the Bar, in employment, and in local communities, people will be able to refer to this e-book and track the fellows’ achievements in the vital inclusion aspect of diversity.
The second project is another e-book that focuses on An Orientation to The Florida Bar — What Does it Do and How Does it Work. This e-book will have a direct and immediate effect on members of the Bar, specifically those new to the practice. The idea behind this project was that newer attorneys usually spend their first few years of practice focused on improving in their area of practice and career. Consequently, many attorneys do not have an accurate understanding of the services that are provided by The Florida Bar and how to access those services. This e-book provides that information in one place that can be accessed quickly, safely, and repeatedly.
The Leadership Academy values the contributions of its growing alumni members and always seeks opportunities to engage the alumni. Anthony Visone chaired the Leadership Academy Alumni Relations & Recruitment Subcommittee (LAARRS) to its best year ever. LAARRS initiated the “Ask Me About the Leadership Academy” campaign, which many Bar members did at the 2017 Florida Bar Annual Convention. Those members who did not will have the opportunity to ask about the Leadership Academy by visiting the LAARRS table during the 2018 annual convention. LAARRS further planned and organized the Second Annual Leadership Academy Reunion during the Bar’s winter meeting, which featured a light dinner and entertainment. LAARRS further assisted throughout the Class V year with multiple receptions, dinners, and networking events for the current fellows as well as the alumni in multiple cities. LAARRS has maintained relationships with sponsors who have been long-standing supporters of the Leadership Academy, such as Florida Power & Light, Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, and the law firm of Cohen Milstein. Moreover, LAARRS has cultivated additional sponsors all to benefit the Leadership Academy and The Florida Bar.
The Leadership Academy program would not be as productive or effective without the contributions of our Florida Bar staff leaders. The academy was expertly coordinated and administered by Lori Holcomb, director of Ethics and Consumer Protection; Arnell Bryant-Willis, the diversity initiatives manager for The Florida Bar, and her former assistant, Briana Wilson; and Mike Garcia, the Bar’s Director of Research, Planning & Evaluation, who provided his expertise and created the surveys for the academy. We thank these friends of the academy for always doing their utmost to maintain the success of the William Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy.
Kevin A. McNeill, Chair
Legal Needs of Children
The scope and function of the Legal Needs of Children Committee (LNOCC) is to find ways to implement the recommendations of the 2002 Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children. The committee monitors and attempts to influence the legislative process where the legal needs of children are concerned. The committee also studies developments in this specialized area of practice of the law and keeps members of the bar informed of significant developments in this practice area through periodic updates. The committee meets regularly each year to consider current issues and to share new information related to this distinctive practice area.
The Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children released its final report in June 2002. The LNOCC, itself, has separately produced practice guidelines for attorneys who work in the fields of dependency and delinquency. Although these guidelines are not approved by the Bar’s governing board, and are, thus, non-binding, they have been most helpful to children’s attorneys throughout the state.
The 2017-2018 committee truly came alive during this period due to two unique occurrences: the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC); and The Florida Bar’s Special Committee on Child and Parent Representation (special committee).
Initially the CRC entertained more than 100 possible constitutional amendments. The LNOC decided there were three specific proposals upon which comments should be prepared: 40, 73, and 75. Proposal 40 endeavored to create a right to an attorney for all children subject to dependency proceedings. One of the LNOCC vice chairs, Robin Rosenberg, was asked to prepare the proposal analysis. The LNOCC prepared a written comment in support of the proposal and sent it to the CRC. This proposal could have moved Florida towards one of the LNOCC’s goals. However, it was defeated in its initial CRC committee.
Proposal 73 attempted to remove the ability of the state attorney to direct file certain juveniles to adult criminal court without judicial oversight. The LNOCC has advocated for several years to remove the ability for the state attorney to direct file any juvenile, regardless of judicial oversight. As such, the LNOCC prepared a comment to Proposal 73 as well. Proposal 73 ultimately was defeated. The LNOCC continues to support legislation that reduces the ability of the state attorney to direct-file juveniles to adult criminal court without judicial oversight.
Proposal 75 discussed the restricted confinement of juveniles while in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice or the Department of Corrections. The proposed amended language to Article 1 of the constitution made confinement of juveniles only permissible for the shortest time required to limit the harm to the juvenile or other juveniles in custody. Again, the LNOCC supported this proposal and a comment was drafted. However, the proposal was voted down.
During 2017-2018, the LNOCC had five subcommittees: advocacy, representation, treatment and services, confidentiality, and technology/education.
The Advocacy Subcommittee was to report to the full committee any legislation that may affect the legal needs of children. The committee would then decide whether any legislation was important enough to comment upon and if so, a position statement would be drafted, circulated, and approved for dissemination. This year the subcommittee focused its comments on the CRC proposals mentioned above.
The Representation Subcommittee was tasked with looking at ways in which juveniles are represented and to make recommendations on improving the quality of representation. During the 2016-2017 committee, legislation was drafted creating a State Office of the Child Advocate (SOCA). Although the LNOCC intended to move this legislation forward, Bar President Higer created the Special Committee on Child and Parent Representation, which was tasked with increasing the quality of representation for parents and children. With several members from the LNOCC sitting on the special committee, it is currently considering advocacy of similar SOCA legislation.
The Treatment and Services Subcommittee was tasked to find programs and providers in other states that have been successful in offering behavioral health assessments for children in state care. The subcommittee was then tasked with bringing these ideas to the LNOCC for possible implementation and creation of best practices. The subcommittee’s work is ongoing.
The Confidentiality Subcommittee partnered 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 Confidentiality Subcommittee to explore the following questions: How is the Department of Juvenile Justice/Department of Children and Families inter-agency 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.
Finally, the Technology/Education Subcommittee was tasked with reviewing ever-changing technology and how it impacts the representation of juveniles. As with the Treatment and Services Subcommittee, Technology/Education was then tasked with bringing their findings to the larger committee for discussion and possible implementation. Their work is also ongoing.
I thank the entire committee for their hard work this year. Though the committee generally meets a few times each year, this year required numerous telephone conferences and emails to coordinate discussion and voting. I thank all of my vice chairs who helped throughout the year: Tim Stevens, Robin Rosenberg, Shahar Pasch, and Amy McBride. Also, thank you to Rick Courtemanche, whose guidance has been invaluable, and Joni Wussler of The Florida Bar.
Matt Bachman, Chair
Marital and Family Law Certification
The Marital and Family Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as marital and family law experts and specialists recognized by The Florida Bar and for reviewing applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification because their terms are expiring. Initial certification includes extensive peer review by fellow attorneys and judicial officers, a required number of cases in which the applicant was substantially involved, a required number of family law trials and passage of a comprehensive all-day exam. Recertification is similar but does not include an exam. The committee encourages those attorneys who meet the criteria for board certification to join their colleagues in the select group who have been “evaluated for professionalism, tested for experience.”
As chair of the committee, I am happy to report another successful year. The committee is comprised of nine board certified attorneys who practice throughout the state. The committee first met by conference call on July 21, 2017, which was earlier than typical for the committee. Our aggressive start fortunately offset delays caused by Hurricane Irma. Over the ensuing months, the committee performed its traditional tasks of reviewing initial and recertification applications and drafting the exam. We also constantly undertake efforts to improve the quality of the application review and certification examination to meet the high standards established by The Florida Bar and the Board of Legal Specialization and Education.
Of the more than 105,000 members of The Florida Bar, only 275 are currently board certified in marital and family law. Fifty-four attorneys applied to become board certified in martial and family law this year. Sixteen of those applicants submitted abbreviated applications after either failure or nonattendance at the 2017 exam. Ultimately, 38 applicants sat for the exam. The committee also reviewed 54 recertification applications this year.
The marital and family law certification exam contains five essay, 30 multiple-choice and 25 short-answer questions. The exam is written to assess a marital and family attorney’s knowledge of family law and collateral issues arising in family law cases, analytical reasoning, and skill in applying knowledge to practical situations. On March 9, the exam was administered in Tampa. Grading is scheduled for late April, and the results will be announced no later than June 1.
The committee is grateful to the lawyers and judges who participate in the confidential peer-review process. Without candid commentary from applicants’ peers, the committee’s ability to properly review applicants’ qualifications would be severely curtailed. The committee emphasizes to Bar members and judicial officers that commentary is confidential and cannot not be divulged to any applicant.
I am honored to have served as chair of the committee this year, along with committee members Benjamin T. Hodas (vice chair), Alexander Caballero, Jennifer A. Ficarrotta, Joseph D. Hunt, Doreen Turner Inkeles, Mary E. Quinn, Douglas H. Reynolds, and Laura Davis Smith. Having been active in Bar activities the lion’s share of 33 years of practice, I can readily commend the committee members as some of the most hardworking and least recognized in The Florida Bar. Though probably not apparent, committee members devote many hours to vetting applicants, writing, and then grading the exam. Also, I recognize and thank our certification specialist and staff liaison, Sheila Whaley, for her hard work and assistance to the committee this past year.
Lawrence C. Datz, 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 communications methods, including print, broadcast, cable and emerging technologies. MCLC seeks to enhance the communication between The Florida Bar and the news media, focusing attention upon mutual problems and developing amicable solutions to those problems. The committee plans the annual Reporters’ Workshop and Media Awards competition, and produces the online Reporter’s Handbook.
• Reporters’ Workshop — Craig Waters, communications counsel for the Florida Supreme Court, chaired the 28th Reporters’ Workshop. The two-day event was held at the court, and was attended by 24 print and broadcast journalists from media outlets throughout Florida. Mark Caramanica (Thomas & LoCicero PL) served as workshop co-chair. Among the participants, Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston provided an introduction to the Supreme Court and led a courthouse tour. Reporters learned strategies for legal reporting and covering the state courts from lawyers, judges, and more-experienced journalists on topics including Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, Bar grievances, public records access, Florida’s death penalty and high-profile cases. They were welcomed by Bar President Michael Higer, and Justice Charles Canady spoke to them about the importance of the free press and the media’s role in strengthening democracy.
• Media Awards — The Florida Bar Media Awards 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. Monetary awards and plaques were presented to seven first- and second-place winners in online, print, and television categories. Samuel Morley, general counsel for the Florida Press Association, chaired the 62nd Media Awards Committee, comprised of three Florida media lawyers and two out-of-state newspaper and television news executives.
• First Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court — Continuing with its long tradition, the MCLC’s Annual Convention CLE program on First Amendment issues before the U.S. Supreme Court was organized by Thomas R. Julin (Gunster). In 2018, the panelists were Richard J. Ovelmen (Carlton Fields), U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Adalberto Jordan, U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, Prof. Lili Levi (UM), Prof. Howard Wasserman (FIU), Dean Lyrissa Lidsky (U. Missouri) and Timothy J. McGinn, Jr. (Gunster). The panel analyzed what Julin called “six of the newest and most controversial First Amendment cases decided by the Supreme Court,” including “whether legislators can intentionally discriminate against voters on the basis of political affiliation when drawing district lines.”
In closing, I recognize and thank Vice Chairs Mamie C. Joeveer and Dwayne A. Robinson for their outstanding service. Further, my gratitude and sincere appreciation to Karen Kirksey and Francine Walker for their support of the committee and the efforts of the members of MCLC.
Ana-Klara H. Anderson, Chair
The mission of the Member Benefits Committee is to review and evaluate existing benefit programs for Bar members, evaluate programs and services offered to the Bar for members, and make recommendations to the Board of Governors on changes or additions to the benefits program. During the past year, the committee, under the leadership of Ron Robins has taken this mission seriously and worked diligently evaluating existing programs and reviewing potential member benefit programs. The committee reviewed a dozen proposals from potential Bar member benefit providers during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and approved several new member benefits for recommendation to the Board of Governors. Some of those new member benefits have already been added to The Florida Bar Member Benefit program and are currently available to Bar members. Among the new member benefits are Amazon Business, Page Vault, Wellbeing Coaches, Frames4Diplomas, and Orlando Employee Discounts. Two additional potential member benefits, Local Hospitality and eHome Counseling, will be voted on prior to the 2018 Annual Florida Bar Convention in June.
The committee and the overall Member Benefits Program underwent a comprehensive Board Program Evaluation Committee review this past year. The review resulted in the committee reviewing the approximately 60 member benefit providers as well as working with providers to increase marketing, awareness, and communications of their member benefits discounts on products and services or free trials to Florida Bar members. Member Benefits Committee Chair Ronald Robins coordinated with Fastcase, the Bar’s complimentary legal research provider, to collaborate on routine article on Fastcase legal research usage and research tips on how to get the most from this free member benefit for the Bar News. Chair Robins encourages all 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. Please also check out the expanded member services available through The Florida Bar Legal Publications https://store.lexisnexis.com/florida_bar and The Florida Bar 24/7 OnDemand CLE https://tfb.inreachce.com.
Ronald S. Robins, Chair
The scope and function of the Military Affairs Committee includes gathering and disseminating information, sharing expertise, and advising members of The Florida Bar and other attorneys on all matters relating to the practice of military law in Florida. The committee also provides review of new policies and procedures affecting Florida’s military and veterans when needed. The committee is a liaison between The Florida Bar and the active duty, reserve, National Guard, and retired military attorneys within Florida and outside the state.
The committee’s members are volunteers from the Bar and include active-duty judge advocates generals (JAGs), reserve and National Guard JAGs, members of large and small law firms, sole practitioners, and state agency attorneys. The committee is composed of Bar members with an interest in furthering the ability of our profession to provide assistance to active or reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces, retired members, and all veterans. Prior military service is not a requirement for committee membership.
v 2017 Military Law Symposium — The highlight of the committee is the annual Military Law Symposium, a full day of continuing legal education held last year during the annual convention in Orlando. Our 2017 symposium featured a roundtable discussion on Veterans Treatment Courts, with special guests Judge Tina Caraballo, Ninth Judicial Circuit; Richard Hornsby, defense attorney, Veterans Treatment Court; and D.J. Reyes, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) senior veteran mentor/coordinator, 13th Judicial Circuit Veterans Treatment Court. In addition, Judge Susan St. John, Sixth Judicial Circuit, offered valuable insights into issues of active duty, veterans, and their families related to military divorce and family law issues. Stephen Moss, founding chair of United Way of Broward County and member of the Mission United Advisory Council,
Ken Juede, United Way of Broward County and James W. Heaton, lead project attorney for the Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project presented a roundtable discussion on the mission of the organization and the veterans’ community it serves. The honored keynote speaker was Sen. Audrey Gibson, District 6, Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Chair.
• 2018 Military Law Symposium — The 2018 Military Law Symposium will be held on June 16 during the Florida Bar Annual Convention. This year the symposium will focus on post-traumatic stress disorder. The committee is excited to welcome Judge Michael P. Allen, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, who will provide an update on legislation and recent developments related to veterans’ disability benefits. The committee welcomes back Judge Susan St. John, Sixth Judicial Circuit, who will provide a family law update related to the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder and guns in family law and domestic violence cases. Presentations from Col. Thomas Gray Bowman, U.S.M.C., and Dr. Claudia Chavez, Psy.D, related to continuing care for veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder will be featured, and the symposium will conclude with a panel discussion related to PTSD and military sexual trauma reporting. We encourage Bar members to attend this day of outstanding CLEs and join us in support of America’s heroes and their families.
Military Affairs Subcommittees:
& #x2022; Military Law Symposium — Each year, a small group of dedicated members take on the task of finding distinguished speakers to present information and discuss topics relevant to attorneys who represent active-duty military, veterans, and their families for the ccommittee’s symposium. Special thanks go to Symposium Subcommittee members Deborah Ahearn, Vanessa Brice, John Tuthill, Christopher Vallandingham, and William Gwaltney for their fantastic efforts in pulling the 2018 Military Law Symposium together.
& #x2022; Military Affairs Committee Website — The Military Affairs Committee continues to work diligently on creating an online resource to inform and connect veterans, active-duty military members and their families to the legal resources available to them in Florida. Christopher Vallandingham is leading this subcommittee to continue with upgrades to the Military Affairs Committee webpage to provide a more comprehensive resource for Florida veterans, active-duty military, and their families. Other subcommittee members include Andrea Keiser, Patrick Murphy, Elizabeth Hapner, and Johanna Nestor.
& #x2022; Pro Bono — Eric Hughes leads the Pro Bono Subcommittee to provide legal resources and identify attorneys who wish to assist Florida’s military community. The subcommittee is evaluating ways to promote participation from other members of The Florida Bar to provide services to the Florida military community on a pro bono and reduced fee basis. Other subcommittee members include Patrick Murphy, Jamos Mobley, and Jeffrey Mackowski.
& #x2022; Veterans Treatment Courts — Spurred on by the valuable information and insight the committee gained from the Veterans Treatment Court panel discussion at the 2017 symposium, a subcommittee was established to evaluate existing Florida Veterans’ Treatment Courts in an effort assist other counties with establishing VTCs. The committee thanks members William Gwaltney, William Beard, Kate Cooper, and Jamos Mobley, who have volunteered to champion this initiative.
• ABA Commission on Veterans Legal Services — In response to a request for support from the American Bar Association Commission on Veterans Legal Services Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel, the committee voted to lend its support to ABA Resolution 120. ABA Resolution 120 urges the administration, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Defense to upgrade the provision of legal services to veterans and improve the functioning of the tribunals that adjudicate the rights of veterans, establish standards of proof and evidence for determining post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and military sexual trauma (MST) in discharge panels, and support increasing the availability of legal services to veterans, including civil legal aid and pro bono legal services.
• Clayton Burton Award of Excellence Recipients — Each year, the committee sponsors the Clayton Burton Award of Excellence. Named for the founder of the Military Affairs Committee, the award is presented to the person or persons who demonstrate outstanding character and leadership and dedicated service to Florida military members and their families. The award was presented to Vanessa Brice and Deborah A’Hearn at the annual committee meeting on June 24, 2017, and will be presented to a new recipient at the annual committee meeting following the symposium on June 16.
It has been an inspiring and incredibly productive year for the Military Affairs Committee. Thank you to all committee members for their dedication in supporting the mission of the Military Affairs Committee, and a special thanks to Jeremy Citron, liaison to the committee, for his positive attitude, diligence, and exemplary service.
Tina M. Fischer, Chair
Prepaid Legal Services
The Prepaid Legal Services Committee is — as it has been for all times since the Board of Governors 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 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
In addition to fulfilling its stated mission, the committee has, over the years, expanded its scope and focus to include 1) educating the membership of The Florida Bar on the various rules and regulations that govern the operation of legal services plans in Florida, including the entrepreneurial aspects of the creation and establishment of plans by and under Ch. 9 and 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; and 2) creating a greater awareness among Florida consumers that membership in plans affords plan members with tangible, real-life benefits, and, most importantly, the opportunity to better gain access to the legal system.
During this 2017-18 Bar year, the committee successfully carried out its responsibilities upon undertaking and completing various tasks and projects throughout the year.
The committee had the opportunity to review, discuss at length, and, ultimately, approve, amend, or deny the submission of a number of Ch. 9 plans.
The committee was again privileged to co-sponsor an informative CLE seminar with the Florida Lawyers Legal Insurance Company during the 2018 Florida Bar Annual Convention.
I thank and acknowledge the work of the committee’s program administrator, Ricky Libbert, for her great efforts to keep both the undersigned chair and the committee on task. I also thank the committee’s vice chair, Kelli Lueckert, who has ably served as chair of the committee’s annual meeting CLE seminar for 2018.
It has been an honor to serve as chair of the committee during these past two Bar years, and it is now my privilege to pass the leadership to Kelli Lueckert and John Schaefer as the committee’s incoming chair and vice chair, respectively, and wish them both well as they continue to strive to fulfill the committee’s mission moving forward into the upcoming 2018-19 Bar year, and beyond.
Benjamin Carpenter, Chair
Pro Bono Legal Services
During Bar year 2017-18, the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services saw several of its current objectives fulfilled:
The Rules Subcommittee, chaired by Dominic MacKenzie, oversaw important rule changes aimed at increasing pro bono participation and opportunities:
1) Amendments to the Emeritus Rules, Ch. 12 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, were approved by the Florida Supreme Court with an effective date of February 1. These amendments expand the definition of emeritus attorneys to include more than 6,000 additional eligible attorneys in Florida.
2) The Standing Committee passed a resolution recommending, the Board of Governors adopted, and the Florida Supreme Court approved in October 2017, Rul. Reg. Fla. Bar 4-6.6. Modeled after an ABA standard, the new rule addresses conflicts of interests for lawyers providing short-term limited legal services under the auspices of a program sponsored by a nonprofit organization or court.
3) The Rules Subcommittee also drafted and approved changes to the cy pres award rule in response to suggestions from the Access to Civil Justice Commission. The proposed rule is supported by Bar leadership and is presently under review by the Bar’s Civil Rules Committee. Cy pres provisions for residual funds in class-action lawsuits can benefit The Florida Bar Foundation or other designated nonprofit legal services providers ( see “The Florida Bar Foundation receives $70,000 cy pres award,” The Florida Bar News, March 15, 2018 at 4). Serving as the Bar’s charitable conduit for the funds, the Foundation uses the funds to benefit consumers and pro bono programs.
The committee approved, and the efforts of immediate past Bar President Bill Schifino persuaded the Bar to implement, a national ABA program, Florida Free Legal Answers. The program has provided thousands of online consultations with lower-income consumers without charge, via https://florida.freelegalanswers.org.
The Bar’s Board of Governors approved, and Bar staff has implemented, the committee’s recommendation that the Bar modify the annual dues online renewal statement. Now members must complete the required pro bono reporting entries, and there will be follow-ups for incomplete dues statements that are returned by mail.
The All Circuits Subcommittee, now led by Jacksonville Circuit Judge Virginia Norton, organized a third meeting of all 20 circuit pro bono chairs at the Bar’s fall meeting. The subcommittee has attained its initial goals for the circuit committees: identifying all legal aid providers and pro bono work in each circuit; producing a one-page listing of all pro bono activities of the Circuit Committee; and having all statewide pro bono opportunities listed on the circuit’s webpage, floridaprobono.org.
The All Circuits Subcommittee works closely with the director of pro bono programs with the Florida Bar Foundation and has now set up quarterly telephonic conferences to coordinate statewide efforts to increase overall pro bono hours and lawyer participation.
All Florida’s pro bono legal services participants mobilized to provide legal assistance to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, following the disastrous flooding and damage wreaked by those storms in August and September 2017. Assisting telephonically for victims in Texas and Puerto Rico, and in person throughout Florida in the case of Hurricane Irma, Florida attorneys, pro bono coordinators, nonprofits, and law schools collectively contributed thousands of hours and substantial financial resources for the recovery effort.
The pilot triage program implemented in Clay County for the Florida Legal Access Gateway (FLAG), a project of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, continues to have the full support of the committee for implementation statewide.
U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz, of the Southern District of Florida, received the Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice’s 2018 Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award. The award was presented at the Supreme Court’s annual pro bono awards ceremony in Tallahassee in January. Among other efforts, Judge Seitz worked closely with the committee, The Florida Bar Foundation, and the Miami-Dade Circuit Court Committee to implement and test a pilot program (later scaled up to statewide application) for the online pro bono opportunity menu at thefloridabarfoundation.org/florida-pro-bono-matters. This highly successful application has also been presented to the ABA committee on pro bono for adoption in other jurisdictions.
Committee co-chair, Third District Court of Appeal Judge Vance E. Salter was awarded the Chief Justice’s 2018 Distinguished Judicial Service Award in that ceremony as well.
Through the united efforts of so many pro bono stakeholders, including the committee’s 25 members from throughout the state; The Florida Bar Foundation; circuit pro bono committees throughout the state; the Florida Supreme Court and its Commission on Access to Civil Justice; nonprofit legal services, legal aid, and voluntary bar programs; and law school clinical programs, Florida continues to make improvements in the delivery of pro bono legal services to low-income Floridians.
The committee also gratefully acknowledges the support provided by past, present, and future Bar presidents and presidents-elect, including Ramón A. Abadin, William J. Schifino, Jr., Michael J. Higer, and Michelle R. Suskauer. The continuity of that leadership from the top for pro bono activities is a vital underpinning of the committee’s work over the years. Current Bar President Michael Higer has made access to justice and pro bono legal services one of the five themes or pillars of his term, and Florida Bar Executive Director Josh Doyle has ably assisted President Higer in those efforts. Bar staff liaison attorney Francisco-Javier P. Digon-Greer also has helped us every step of the way.
Kathleen S. McLeroy
& Judge Vance E. Salter, Co-Chairs
The purpose of the Standing Committee on Professionalism (SCOP) is to assist the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility, The Florida Bar, and The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism (the center) in implementing programs, events, and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. SCOP is divided into several working groups that change from year to year based on the specific tasks SCOP is directed to undertake. To streamline and to better “market” its goals and message, SCOP unanimously voted to adopt the following mission statement:
• Advancing Professionalism and Civility in the Practice of Law — SCOP had some transition with the early fall 2017 departure and relocation to Clearwater of Jacina Haston, who had led the center and worked as a liaison for SCOP. The center and SCOP were fortunate that the exceptionally skilled assistant director, Rebecca Bandy, was offered and accepted the position of executive director in January. She continues to work with SCOP to achieve the goals set out this past year and to advance the #MentoringMatters initiative, which SCOP’s chair identified as a target source to improve professionalism in the beginning of a young lawyer’s career. The center’s new assistant director is Adriannette Williams, who has experience in civil litigation and in adult education.
• Awards Working Group — Led by Matthew Feeley, chair, and Ita Neymotin, co-chair, this group oversaw the entire process leading up to the selection of all three significant professionalism award recipients, including the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award, the Law Faculty/Administrator Award, and the Group Professionalism Award. Additionally, the working group developed a strategy to promote and educate members of the Bar about the awards, reviewed nominations, and made recommendations to the full standing committee regarding selected recipients. These awards will be announced at annual convention.
• Circuit Professionalism Working Group — Chaired by U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Barksdale, this working group was responsible for helping collect and compile circuit professionalism reports from Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. The reports were submitted to Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, chair of the Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility. Group members were assigned to circuits to ensure that the reports were timely collected and summarized for use by The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism. Designed to measure the effectiveness of professionalism programs and efforts around the state, the report serves as an invaluable resource for the bench and the Bar. To avoid duplicative efforts by the center and best utilize the time and talents of committee members, Judge Barksdale recommended, and the committee approved, that the working group fold into the Education and Resources Working Group.
• Education and Resources Working Group — This working group, led by Chair Kirsten Davis and Co-Chair Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, provided the center with articles and personal submissions for use in The Professional,
the center’s tri-annual newsletter, and on the Henry Latimer Professionalism Library Guide. This year, the use of a theme for each newsletter produced more article submissions and subscribers. Kirsten Davis is also presently working with the center to make the professionalism handbooks more law student-friendly in a transition to a new electronic format.
• Mentoring Initiatives Working Group — This working group, chaired by Starling Hendriks and co-chaired by the Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel, reviewed the mentoring initiatives of other state bars and compiled a report to use as they begin updating SCOP’s Mentoring Toolbox, which can be found on the Center for Professionalism’s website. Members of this working group have been promoting mentoring initiatives across the state and have provided personal and inspirational stories for publication in The Professional. This working group has also contributed articles and resources on mentoring for the Bar’s social media and for inclusion in the center’s library guide.
& #x2022; Marketing and Public Relations Working Group — Both co-chairs, Whitney Untiedt and Cherine Smith Valbrun, have worked closely with the center staff to develop outward-facing materials to promote the work of SCOP and professionalism throughout the legal community. These targets for professionalism pockets have included social media strategies and development of a mission statement for the committee. Working group members researched successful branding and publicity campaigns and created a mission statement to clearly and concisely reflect the committee’s goals. During the Bar’s winter meeting, the Standing Committee on Professionalism unanimously voted to adopt the proposed mission statement: “Advancing professionalism and civility in the practice of law.”
• Stakeholders Workshop Committee — This group was formed by immediate SCOP Past Chair Tim Chinaris to address professionalism issues among Florida law school students and recent graduates. The vision of the committee is to conduct a workshop as an informal gathering of persons who work directly with law students in helping them develop, understand, or apply professionalism as it relates to law students who will seek admission to the bar. The workshop is slated for fall 2018. Invited participants include Florida Supreme Court justices, Florida Bar officers, deans of Florida law schools, law faculty who work directly with law students who face professionalism issues, and lawyers who represent applicants in bar admission proceedings. The primary goal of the workshop is to build relationships among the various stakeholders who have key roles in encouraging and evaluating the professionalism of tomorrow’s lawyers. An additional goal is to share information and help develop best practices to meet the growing challenge of helping law students develop a positive professional identity.
I express my heartfelt gratitude to all members of our committee and the center’s staff members for their hard work this past year. Not only did each member bring his or her enthusiasm to our meetings, each one served as an “ambassador of professionalism” in their legal communities. It was a privilege to work with you to enhance professionalism among our members. As the issue of professionalism continues to be a significant emphasis in all of Florida’s courts, the efforts of our hardworking committee members have and will continue to achieve great strides in advancing and protecting the legal profession.
Kara Berard Rockenbach, Chair
Professional Ethics Committee
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 Bar 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 and will meet again during the annual convention to consider a variety of ethical issues.
& #x2022; 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, the Board of Governors may request that the committee issue a formal opinion concerning the application of the ethics rules to certain facts. When issuing proposed formal opinions, the committee publishes official notice in the 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 Florida Bar’s website by choosing the Rules & Ethics link and then the Ethics link on the resulting landing page.
& #x2022; Final Advisory Opinions —
Advisory Opinion 17-1. Opinion 17-1 addresses the issue of whether a Florida Bar member may divide fees with out-of-state co-counsel, with whom the Bar member is otherwise authorized to divide fees, where the out-of-state attorney is in a firm with a nonlawyer owner and the firm is in a jurisdiction that allows nonlawyer ownership of law firms. The opinion concludes that Florida Bar members may divide legal fees with an out-of-state lawyer whose firm includes nonlawyer ownership if 1) the out-of-state lawyer is providing only services that the out-of-state lawyer is authorized by law to provide; 2) nonlawyer ownership of the out-of-state firm is permitted in the jurisdiction where that law firm is located; 3) the out-of-state firm is in compliance with that jurisdiction’s requirements; and 4) the division of fees complies with Florida Bar rules on fee divisions. The opinion does not address the situation of a Florida Bar member becoming a partner, shareholder, employee, or any other formal arrangement with a law firm with nonlawyer ownership.
& #x2022; Appeals of Written Staff Opinions — At each of its meetings, the committee considers appeals by attorneys of written staff opinions in response to inquiries submitted by the attorneys and/or appeals where staff declined to issue an opinion. Among such appeals considered by the committee were the following: a staff opinion addressing whether attorneys may charge the cost of the premium of litigation cost protection insurance to a client in contingency fee cases where the contingency occurs and a denial of a staff opinion regarding the division of fees in the appeal of an estate matter.
• Withdrawn Opinions — The committee also reviews existing formal opinions to determine if those opinions should be withdrawn. Formal Ethics Opinion 71-22 regarding an attorney’s contact with potential witnesses who may also hire the attorney as part of a class action was withdrawn in light of later rules and caselaw regarding communications to prospective clients. The committee also withdrew Formal Ethics Opinions 73-37, 75-15, and 88-9, all dealing with advertising issues, in light of subsequent changes in changes to Bar rules regarding attorney advertising, caselaw, and changes in statutes.
& #x2022; Masters Seminar on Ethics — The Professional Ethics Committee’s yearly CLE program addresses ethical issues of great significance to Bar Members at the annual convention. The seminar subcommittee is chaired by Brian Denney. The other members of the subcommittee are Jeffrey Blostein, Anne Dalton, Loula Giannet, and Robert Pritchard. The seminar will be presented at the June annual convention and provide 4.0 hours of CLE credit (3.0 ethics and 1.0 technology). The 2018 Masters Seminar on Ethics will present an array of ethical topics, including cybersecurity, defending lawyers in disciplinary hearings, and a panel discussion focusing on the interplay between legal ethics and lawyer health and wellness. Speakers scheduled to participate are John T. Berry, Richard Bush, Dori Foster-Morales, Ken Landis, Henry Paul, Judy Rushlow, and Steven Teppler.
• Informal Ethics Opinions Service —
The 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 25,000 calls, in addition to providing hundreds of written staff opinions and other ethics correspondence.
Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Thomas R. Bopp; Ethics and Consumer Protection Division Director Lori Holcomb; and our hardworking staff: Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Assistant Ethics Counsels Cynthia E. Booth, Joy A. Bruner, Huy-Yen T. Cam, Gail E. Ferguson, Jonathan Grabb, Jeffrey M. Hazen, Kelly Smith, 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.
Alexcia L. Cox, Chair
Real Estate Certification
The Real Estate Certification Committee has faced a challenging year. On October 5, 2017, Meredith E. Level, a former chair and current committee member, lost her very private battle with cancer. In addition to being a beloved and tireless member of the committee, Meredith was a beloved community activist and shareholder at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. As a close, working committee, her death left us with both an immense sense of loss and a challenge in terms of the work we had to accomplish. In response, we have worked harder and become even closer.
In January, Carol Vaught, the Bar staff certification specialist who worked with the committee for almost 20 years and provided invaluable guidance, experience, and continuity retired. The committee misses sorely both her wry sense of humor and her unceasing push of our members to excellence. Following her retirement, we were grateful for the assistance of Arlee J. Colman, our temporary staff liaison, and are now looking forward to training our new staff liaison, Cathy Fisher.
Our list of challenges would not be complete without the mention of Hurricane Irma, who left many of our committee members without power for extended periods of time, forced the cancellation of one of our meetings, and upended our schedules and deadlines.
As chair, I have enjoyed and been fortunate to work with the other members of the committee, consisting of Denis Cohrs (vice chair), William S. Kramer (immediate past chair), Diana Basta, Deb Boyd, Robert Fleitas III, Jane Hunston, Michelle Hinden, Charles Klug, Jr., and Lynn Lovejoy. I thank the committee members for their hard work and dedication to the exam preparation and applicant review process. Additionally, I thank several former committee members who have served as exam pre-testers: James Campbell, Howard Cohen, Josh Escoto, Lloyd Granet, Richard Grant, Richard A. Miller, Michael Mirrington, Russell Robbins, Richard D. Sneed, Jr., John Soileau, and David Weisman. I also thank Karen Barbieri, the BLSE examination consultant, for her counsel and exam expertise.
The Certification Committee is charged with evaluating and approving attorneys who apply to become certified in real estate, evaluating and approving existing Board certified real estate attorneys for recertification (every five years) and preparing and grading the annual certification exam. This work takes up the bulk of the committee’s time and effort. As dictated by the Florida Supreme Court, the evaluation of applicants includes the determination as to whether an applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. With respect to the exam, the committee strives to prepare the exam from year to year in a manner which best tests the applicants’ expertise and experience in the real estate field.
The format of the exam may change slightly from year to year. The 2018 exam, in addition to the standard 45 multiple-choice questions, has six mandatory short-essay questions, a homestead essay question, and a longer transactional analysis question.
The Real Estate Certification program was established in 1986 with the first class becoming board certified in 1987. There are currently 452 board certified real estate attorneys, 13 of which (out of 32 exam takers) became certified in 2017. Fifty-three attorneys are anticipated to sit for the 2018 exam.
Real estate has historically been the second largest area of certification in terms of the number of individuals who are board certified by The Florida Bar. I encourage all experienced and eligible attorneys to apply for board certification. In addition to identifying the attorney to the public and other attorneys as being an expert in the field, many attorneys find the process itself to be beneficial to their practice. I also encourage board certified attorneys to apply to serve on the committee because it provides invaluable exposure to other real estate law experts in a congenial and intellectually stimulating setting.
Mary A. Robison, C hair
Rules of Judicial Administration
The Rules of Judicial Administration Committee (RJAC) underwent a bit of an existential crisis in 2017. Okay, that may sound a touch dramatic for a Florida Bar rules committee but, let me explain. This is my sixth year of serving on the RJAC, and this past year I have had the pleasure of serving as its chair. Over the past six years, I’ve watched as skilled lawyers and judges on our committee crafted important rules that affect all areas of court practice. These rules helped usher in monumental shifts in how lawyers and pro se litigants practice before the court. The RJAC drafted rules for e-service of pleadings, e-filing of pleadings with the clerk and rules to help control the filing of confidential materials in this new digital era. Over the past years, the RJAC dealt with proposed changes regarding such basic concepts as how attorneys file their notice of appearance and what it means to be “counsel of record.” We have addressed proposed rule changes on how to file a motion to recuse the judge on your case. Despite these and other more recent proposed rule changes, the RJAC members found that most Florida attorneys were completely unaware of the Rules of Judicial Administration and had no idea that these rules governed their areas of practice.
That introduction helps explain why I think it is important to lead off this report of recent proposed rule changes by singling out a seemingly unimportant proposed change. The RJAC is considering a proposal to change the name of the Rules of Judicial Administration. Several members initially considered changing the rule set name to “Hey you, please read these rules, they are very important and we worked really hard on them.” Okay, that may not be true; I think that may have been my suggestion. Still, the attempt at humor underscores the purpose for the proposed name change. Namely, to alert practitioners that the Rules of Judicial Administration contain many rules that directly affect their practice, regardless of whether they are in probate, family law, civil procedure, etc.
During the last year, the RJAC worked on rule changes that altered how one would serve a pleading electronically on the judge (like when it is required for a motion to disqualify). The RJAC helped define who was the filer of a pleading when it is uploaded electronically. For example, is it the attorney whose signature is on the pleading, the attorney whose e-portal log in credentials were used to upload the pleading, or both? We made modifications on how a practitioner can electronically sign a pleading and whether electronic service (as opposed to mailing) changes the computation of time for a reply. The RJAC modified the rules that define and address what materials are considered confidential or private, whether those materials can be filed with the court and if they are filed, how that is to be done. The RJAC had to make additional changes to those confidentiality rules when the legislature adopted new laws that made certain materials confidential. Our committee worked on rules that helped determine who could view online court documents in specific cases. The RJAC is also preparing a report, at the direction of the Florida Supreme Court, on a proposed parental leave rule that addresses motions for continuance by lead counsel based on things like pregnancy or the birth of a child.
You might notice, I have not cited specific rules for any of these proposed or enacted changes. That is intentional. Many of these concepts affect multiple rules, such as the filing of private information, service of electronic documents, electronic signatures, etc. Providing an exhaustive list of citations to the proposed and affected rules would do little to help the reader understand the nature of the changes. Besides, saying that there were important changes in many of these areas is a shameless ploy to get folks to simply read the current version of the Rules of Judicial Administration.
If it helps, practitioners only need to read the first half of the Rules of Judicial Administration. Only those rules affect court practice. The second half of the Rules of Judicial Administration deal with internal court administration, which is relevant to only judges and court personnel. Because the RJAC lacks the authority to make changes to these internal court administration rules, the RJAC has no changes to report to those rules.
Another reason why specific rules were not cited, is that some of the proposed rule changes were rejected. For example, the proposed change to the notice of appearance rule was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court with instructions that essentially said to re-work the proposed rule and re-submit the proposal. In addition, there are other rule changes that have been presented to the Florida Supreme Court, and the changes are pending a ruling by the court, such as the computation of time for pleadings served by email.
In closing, as the chair of the RJAC, I thank the members of our committee who work to improve the Florida legal system with their service on this committee. I also thank our Florida Bar liaison, Krys Godwin. Without her help, we would have no meetings, no rules, and absolutely nothing to show for our efforts! I look forward to my continued service on the RJAC.
Judson L. Cohen, Chair
Senior Lawyers Committee
This year has been a booming year for this relatively new committee. In October, for the first time in the committee’s history, we were able to send an email communication with a survey to each member of the Bar who is over 55 or who has practiced for more than 40 years. Over 900 attorneys responded, and with the survey results, we were able to determine a focused direction for the committee to better serve our lawyers. For example, we learned that the primary desires of senior lawyers include that they receive some concession on annual dues or CLE, that the committee offer CLE with subjects relevant to this age/stage of practice, and that in terms of serving on more committees or subcommittees of the Bar that they would rather be playing golf or fishing.
The Senior Lawyers Committee is unique in several ways, not the least of which is that many attorneys in this stage of their practice are looking at their options to “start up” (into some type of community, pro bono or mentoring service after successfully practicing and serving for many years) or “wind down” (methodically wind down their practices into less legally active retirement). Coincidentally, this is the title of our next free CLE at the annual convention: “Starting up and Winding Down.” Further making the committee unique is that the committee does not cater to a specific area of practice or service to the general Bar. In fact, anyone, even a young lawyer, who might be concentrating in the area of elder law can be a member. There are no committee dues but instead, simply the desire to attend and participate in the meetings either in person or by phone.
In January, at the midyear meeting of the Bar, and with the new contact email list developed from the October 2017 survey, we held what may have been the best attended free CLE at that meeting with 65 attorneys attending by phone and another 50 in person. The subjects, “navigating the Medicare supplement vs. advantage minefield” and “successfully using your iPad,” were addressed by professionals who were informative and practical. Following in the steps of this highly successful initiative we have planned another free CLE program for the annual meeting. If you have any interest in “Starting Up or Winding Down,” be sure to register to attend either in person or by phone.
Bill Davell, Chair
Small Claims Rules
The Small Claims Rules Committee had another successful year for the 2017-2018 term thanks to the active participation of its members. It has been a pleasure to serve as chair of this committee, and I look forward to remaining on the committee after my term has ended. During the past year, the committee has worked on finishing many items that will be submitted with our regular-cycle report and a couple of new proposals that will help pro se litigants navigate the People’s Court.
The committee has been active this term in providing comments on other matters. In 2017, the committee commented and opposed the proposed amendment to Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.514, “computing and extending time,” regarding computation of time for documents served via email. As chair of this committee, I appeared before the Florida Supreme Court and argued in opposition to the proposed amendment to Rule 2.514 that could lead to confusion in the computation of time. We are currently waiting for the court’s ruling on this change proposed by the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee.
Our subcommittees and full Committee have approved updates to 18 small claims rule and 11 forms during the past term. The Small Claims Rules Committee also receives requests from members of the community for rule additions and changes. From these requests, the committee has approved several new forms to assist litigants in small claims court, including a designation of email address, change of address, and a statement of claim for account stated. These forms will be included in our next regular-cycle report.
On the behalf of the committee and myself, I thank every member of the Small Claims Rules Committee for their hard work and dedication over the last year and especially Christina Magee (vice chair), Amanda Duffy (vice chair), Brooke Teal (secretary), and Maureen Walsh (Drafting Committee chair). In addition, I must extend my appreciation to our Bar liaison, Heather Savage Telfer, whose time and guidance to this committee has allowed it to accomplish so much this term.
Committee work is not always glamorous, but is it necessary. Many of us have received much from our privilege to practice law in Florida. I encourage all members of The Florida Bar to get involved in committee work and give back to the profession by applying for appointment to the Small Claims Rules Committee or another committee.
Michael Thiel Debski, Chair
State and Federal Government and Administrative Practice
Currently, there are 82 board certified lawyers in state and federal government and administrative practice. This comprises a broad practice area that includes state and federal rulemaking, administrative adjudication, and all such agency interaction along with state and federal government practices and practice areas. The area and, as such, the examination require a thorough working knowledge of both state and federal administrative procedure acts, as well as civil actions involving state and federal government. As with many other areas of board certification, certification in this area is only available for those qualified applicants who pass an examination, meet the minimum practice requirements, peer review, and CLE requirements ( See Rule 6-28.3). The most recent examination was May 10, and next examination will be May 16, 2019.
In 2017-2018, there were two initial applicants, of which one sat for the exam and received a passing score. A total of 37 certified attorneys submitted applications for recertification in 2017-2018.
In addition to reviewing all initial and recertification applications, the committee this year focused on a comprehensive review, edit, and legal update of the SFGAP examination and question answers.
The 2017-2018 committee consisted of Timothy P. Atkinson, chair; Thomas Albert Delegal III, vice chair, Martha Harrell Chumbler; Kenneth Hayman; Judge James Hardin Peterson III; Michael Cooke; Patricia Denise Smith; John Rimes III, and Brittany A. Long. We were fortunate to have an excellent, professional, and highly capable liaison, Allison Armour, without whose assistance our work would not have been of the highest quality. Her hard work and dedication are greatly appreciated. Many thanks also to the committee members who worked on a number of matters without the slightest hesitation.
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.
Timothy P. Atkinson,
Student Education and Admission to the Bar
The purpose of the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee (SEABC) is to assist the The Florida Bar and its Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism (the center) in determining whether law schools are adequately preparing their students for the practice of law and to make specific recommendations to the Board of Governors. Historically, SEABC has monitored and reviewed proposed legislation affecting legal education and sought to establish a means to track the success of minority scholarship programs to help institutions in the disbursement of minority scholarships, thus, allowing these institutions to maximize the benefits of these minority programs. In recent years, SEABC has worked closely with law school deans from around the state of Florida to learn more about how best to advance SEABC’s core mission.
Beginning this year, SEABC became a part of the Center for Professionalism. Our past pursuits are still top priority for SEABC as we transition, and we are excited about the opportunities that will be available for SEABC moving forward as part of the center. Organizationally, for the first time this year, SEABC is now divided into several working groups based on the specific tasks SEABC has been directed to undertake. SEABC is thrilled to be part of the center and is extremely fortunate to work closely with Rebecca Bandy in her new role as the executive director of the center. Her work with SEABC will help us continue to advance our newly established working groups and will help SEABC lay the groundwork for many successful projects in the years to come. Our key working groups are as follows:
• Mission and Vision — Chaired by Ashely Wells Cox, this group is working to complete a revised and significantly updated mission statement that will capture and convey the reinvigorated purposes of SEABC. In addition, this group is working on a strategic plan that will detail the goals and initiatives for SEABC over the next five years.
• Mentoring Initiatives — Chaired by Annika Elaine Ashton, this group is focused on finding new and creative ways to pair aspiring attorneys with helpful mentors, and to ensure that mentoring relationships continue to help grow a diverse and inclusive practice of law in the state of Florida. Specifically, this group is working to devise a mentoring program for law students that can be implemented by SEABC in the future. As part of their work to implement a successful mentoring program, this group is considering strategic partnerships with various groups within The Bar and with all Florida law schools.
Law School Gender Bias: Chaired by Camille Marie Evans, this group is committed to studying law school activities designed to address gender bias. Through its work, this group is also studying industry initiatives outside the practice of law and working to identify successful programs that can be implemented by The Florida Bar.
• SEABC Practice of Law Handbook — Chaired by J. Rhiannon Arnold-Rogers, this group is working to create a handbook that will give aspiring law students details on everything that they need to know before considering law school as a career path. Ultimately, the handbook will be distributed to high school and undergraduate students who are seriously considering attending law school.
• Legal Education Reform — Chaired by Rachel Ann Lowes, this group is dedicated to researching all sources of legal education reform in order that SEABC might identify ways that law school education can be improved to suit the needs of a dynamic and ever-changing population and profession.
Each of our newly formed working groups have worked hard during this transitional year to organize and begin building new momentum that will carry SEABC forward in coming years. It has been a great honor and privilege to have the opportunity to work with the many amazing professionals that serve as members of SEABC during this transitional year. The team at the center has proven, once again, to be a magnificent group, and has done a wonderful job facilitating a smooth transition for SEABC into the work of the center. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the many professionals who have given their time for the benefits of students, professors, administrators, and aspiring attorneys from all walks of life. The members of SEABC rose to the challenge of a transitional year and made significant progress. Our working groups are now fully functioning laboratories for new ideas and positive change. The hardworking members of SEABC will continue to help ensure that the future of the practice of law in Florida is bright, and that students who want to achieve the dream of becoming an attorney in Florida will have every opportunity to succeed.
Thank you, once again, to all the SEABC members for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your chair.
Douglas Alan Bates, Chair
Tax Law Certification
As the 2017-2018 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, for reviewing applications of current certified attorneys seeking recertification at the expiration of their terms, and for 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 2017 to begin drafting the 2018 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 2018 exam is comprised of two long-answer essay questions and 10 short-answer essay questions that address procedural and substantive law. For the various subjects, the committee updated questions from previous examinations, 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 February 21, 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, the committee will grade the 2018 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, 214 are currently board certified in tax law. Eight attorneys sat for the 2018 tax law certification exam. The committee also reviewed 39 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, Coral Gables; Robert “Bo” Trudeau, vice chair, Jacksonville; Erin Houck-Toll, Ft. Myers; Thomas F. Hudgins III, Naples; Ben Jablow, Tampa; Marvin C. Kloeppel, Jacksonville; Michael A. Lampert, West Palm Beach; Daniel Martinez, Miami; Barbara E. Ruiz-Gonzalez, Coral Gables. We also appreciate the hard work of Maritza McGill.
Lee J. Osiason, Chair
Traffic Court Rules
The Traffic Court Rules Committee reviewed all of the rules within its purview to remove outdated language, incorrect references. In the regular-cycle report filed in January, the committee submitted linguistic changes to the majority of the rules in order to provide easier reading and understanding of the rules, especially for the benefit of pro se defendants. Redundant language and legal flourishments were revised or eliminated.
The highlights of other proposed changes in the regular-cycle report are as follows:
• Rule 6.330 (election to attend traffic school) — The rule as proposed would allow a defendant who has been ordered to attend a driver improvement school to be able to attend that course online if one is available. The vote to revise this rule was not unanimous and a minority expressed concern over removing the decision of requiring a defendant to attend in-person school from the judge or hearing officer.
• Rule 6.455 (amendments) — The rule as proposed would require that the officer who issued the traffic citation be required to make any substantive changes to the citation at least five days before any hearing. The proposal is in response to officers amending citations not to fix irregularities or scrivener’s errors on the citation but to increase the penalties just prior to the hearing.
• Rule 6.490 (correction and reduction of penalty) — The rule as proposed would expand the time frame by which a judge could hear motions to correct and reduce penalties. The current deadline is 60 days. All too often defendants are unaware of the harsh penalties, including habitual traffic offender (HTO) classification, until after the 60 days have elapsed. The committee’s proposal will allow judges discretion on a case-by-case basis as to whether such penalties are warranted.
I thank everyone the committee for their hard work and dedication to the community. I would also like to give a special thanks to Heather Telfer, attorney liaison, without whom I cannot begin to believe this committee would work as well or efficiently.
Sergio Cruz, Chair
Unlicensed Practice of Law
The standing committee filed its formal advisory opinion with the Florida Supreme Court in a Goldberg request for advisory opinion in the case of Shore v. Wall. The petitioner, a defendant in an interpleader action filed by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Manatee County (Case No. 2014 CA 3155), alleged in his response that a co-defendant asserting a claim to surplus funds from a tax deed sale engaged in the unlicensed practice of law. The circuit court, citing Goldberg, found that it did not have jurisdiction over the unlicensed practice of law claims and stayed the case pending a determination by the Florida Supreme Court on whether the conduct constitutes the unlicensed practice of law. The court in Goldberg v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp., 35 So. 2d 905 (Fla. 2010), held that the standing committee must issue a formal advisory opinion in such circumstances. The briefing period has ended, and the proposed opinion is pending final court action. The court 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 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 lawyers and providing legal services in immigration, family law, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and traffic ticket defense legal matters. We also approved litigation for indirect criminal contempt against individuals and businesses that were previously enjoined from engaging in the unlicensed practice of law by the Florida Supreme Court for continuing to hold themselves out as lawyers and providing legal services in bankruptcy and debt collection matters.
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 staff. 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.
Kellie Scott, Chair
Voluntary Bar Liaison
In Florida, there are currently 283 voluntary bar associations. The Florida Bar Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee (VBLC) serves as a liaison between The Florida Bar and these voluntary bar associations. The mission of the VBLC is to improve communication between the Bar and voluntary bar associations, coordinate programs of The Florida Bar, such as the annual Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, provide a resource and information bank of activities and the concerns of voluntary bar associations, and advise the Board of Governors regarding interpretation of the Bar programs to voluntary bar associations and individual members.
In 2018-19, the committee accomplished several new projects in fulfilling its mission. The voluntary bar center’s webpage, website, and newsletter were extensively redesigned in both design and content. The committee created new resources for bar leaders, including informational checklists for those who serve in board of director, president, president-elect, secretary, and treasurer positions in voluntary bars. These resources are posted on the voluntary bar center’s webpage and will be used in a breakout session at the 2018 annual Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference.
The committee worked with the Board of Governors on implementation of the strategic plan priority of inclusiveness. The committee developed a summary of processes to be implemented with voluntary bar associations on behalf of The Florida Bar when a judicial vacancy occurs. In addition, the committee created the Voluntary Bar Leaders Guide to Committee Appointments, a toolkit for voluntary bar associations to use for submission of endorsements for members who are interested in Florida Bar appointments on committees.
As its on-going assigned project, the committee works year-round to plan the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference, which is held annually in July. The Orange County Bar Association and the Brevard County Bar Association hosted the 2017 conference on July 13-14 at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn/Walt Disney Resort in Orlando. The theme of the conference was “Creating a Magical Year for Your Association.” The conference conveyed the VBLC’s goal to provide practical and useful advice to the voluntary bar leaders across the state by offering break-out sessions on CLE programs, membership recruitment and retention, revenue generation, and many other pressing issues affecting both staffed and nonstaffed bar associations. Along with opening remarks from Florida Bar President Michael Higer, attendees enjoyed a keynote address by Lenn Millbower on applying Disney’s methodology to succeed as a leader. Debbie Lundberg addressed the group in a closing session giving tips on effective leadership in voluntary bar associations. At the conference, attendees had the opportunity to discuss current issues impacting voluntary bars and interact with Florida Bar leadership, including Michael Higer, Michelle Suskauer, Lorna Brown-Burton, and John Stewart. The conference experienced a high attendance number and conference attendees provided the committee with positive feedback at the close of the conference utilizing an immediately available on-site evaluation survey system. Conference attendees left energized and excited to implement the myriad of ideas and suggestions offered by the panelists and fellow attendees. The committee is very appreciative of all who donated their time and resources in organizing and implementing the very successful conference.
Following the success of the 2017 conference, plans were made to hold the 2018 Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference at Hutchison Shores Resort in Jensen Beach, Florida. The theme is “Catch the Wave to Success” and the conference co-chairs are Lillian Ewen and Vivian Hodz. Registration for the conference has recently opened and may be found on the Voluntary Bar Center website, /event/2018-voluntary-bar-leaders-conference .
In support of The Florida Bar’s Mental Health and Wellness campaign, the VBLC Committee, initiated a “Healthy Hour Challenge,” asking voluntary bar leaders to host health and wellness related events and share the success of these programs on the VBL webpage.
This has been a very active year in the VBL committee due to the work of the many volunteers on the committee generously donating countless hours and energy to develop and coordinate all of these initiatives. We had support from many community sponsors, the Young Lawyers Division, and the Brevard and Orange County Bar associations. My sincere thanks and appreciation to all of the members of the VBL committee who are a fantastic team of professionals and The Florida Bar staff who worked tirelessly in assisting the VBLC to accomplish its multiple projects.
E. Ashley Hardee, Chair
Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification
The Wills, Trusts and Estates Law Certification Committee is responsible for overseeing the process of certifying attorneys as wills, trusts, and estates law specialists recognized by The Florida bar. It is also responsible for reviewing the applications of currently certified attorneys seeking recertification at the expiration of their terms; certified attorneys must be recertified every five years. Of the more than 105,000 members of The Florida Bar, there are currently only 319 wills, trusts, and estates board certified attorneys.
The initial certification process consists of three requirements: 1) the active practice law substantially devoted to the area of wills trusts and estates; 2) excellent peer-review references; and 3) passing the certification exam. The recertification process consists of two of those initial three requirements: the active practice law substantially devoted to the area of wills trusts and estates and excellent peer-review references.
As chair of the committee, it is my honor to report another excellent year of overseeing the certification and recertification of attorneys in the area of wills, trusts, and estates. The committee is comprised of nine attorneys who are all specialists in wills, trusts, and estates and who span the state of Florida. The committee had four in-person meetings, as well as several conference calls, during which time it worked diligently at the process of reviewing the 24 applications for certification and 70 applications for recertification, as well as drafting and perfecting the 2018 Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification Exam set for May 11. The committee will grade the exam, which consists of essays and multiple-choice portions, and the examinees will be apprised of their results by the beginning of August. The 2019 Wills, Trusts and Estates Certification Exam will be held on May 17, 2019.
Our committee is grateful to the lawyers and judges who served the process of peer review, and to the board certified attorneys who assisted us by giving their time and intellectual firepower as pre-testers.
It has been a privilege to work with the Florida Bar staff, particularly our liaison, Laurinda Barbers, who keeps the wheels of our committee running. It has also been an absolute honor to serve with the hardworking members of the committee: Curtis Cassner (vice chair), Duane Pinnock (immediate past chair), Laurence Blair, Charles Callahan III, Guy Emerich, Nancy Freeman, Beverly Furtick, and Gary Leuchtman.
Daniel Medina, Chair