Annual Reports of Sections and Divisions of The Florida Bar 2019-2020
The 2019-2020 term was a busy one for the Administrative Law Section. We worked on suggested revisions to the Uniform Rules of Procedure, generated numerous feature articles for publication, and rolled-out the first trial school for administrative law. We also continued our efforts to reach out to young lawyers and to give back to the community with a series of networking events in Tallahassee and through our South Florida Chapter. Finally, we continued the section tradition of sponsoring quality CLE programs dedicated to administrative law.
An ad hoc committee of the Administrative Law Section was tasked with reviewing the Uniform Rules of Procedure and recommending appropriate changes. The committee was chaired by Larry Sellers and included Judge Yolanda Green, Judge Elizabeth McArthur, Judge Li Nelson, Judge Dave Watkins, Paul Drake, Seann Frazier, and Shaw Stiller. The Uniform Rules of Procedure were last updated in 2013 based on recommendations from the section. Beginning in January 2019, the committee solicited suggestions and developed a draft revision that was distributed for comment. The committee received and reviewed numerous comments and has prepared more revisions, the latest of which is available for review on the section website. The suggested revisions will ultimately be considered at an executive council meeting. Any recommended changes approved by the executive council will be submitted to the Administration Commission, which has the exclusive authority to propose and adopt changes to the Uniform Rules of Procedure.
Thank you to Richard Shoop for writing a thoughtful article on qualified representatives. “Parties Beware: Your Qualified Representative in an Administrative Proceeding might not be Qualified to Represent You if You Decide to Pursue an Appeal” was published in the November/December 2019 edition of The Florida Bar Journal. Mr. Shoop was busy. He also contributed a feature article for the December 2019 edition of the Administrative Law Section Newsletter, an ALJ Q&A with the new Chief Judge John MacIver. Many others contributed feature articles to the newsletter, including Gregg Morton (“Off to a Great Start: the Administrative Law Section’s Inaugural Trial Academy”); Jowanna Oates and Cathy Sellers (“The End of an Era: Judge Scott Boyd Retires”), and Brittany Adams Long, Donna Blanton, and Travis Miller (“Practical Implications of Amendment 6 in Administrative Law Disputes”). Jowanna Oates and Tiffany Roddenberry are the co-editors of the newsletter and continue to do an outstanding job producing this first-rate publication. Before we leave the newsletter, I must recognize other regular contributors: Tara Price, Larry Sellers, and Gigi Rollini write the appellate case notes and Judge Gar Chisenhall, Mathew Knoll, Dustin Metz, Virginia Ponder, Christina Shideler, Paul Rendleman, and Tiffany Roddenberry prepare the DOAH case notes. Finally, thank you Lyyli Van Whittle for continuing to lead our section publication efforts.
The section held its first trial school, the DOAH Trial Academy, in fall 2019. The week-long academy was held at DOAH and was modeled on other immersive trial preparation training courses with a focus on skills that attorneys need for practicing in an administrative forum. The first class was limited to 20 students to ensure there was enough time for instructors to spend with each participant individually. The students participated in workshops to practice litigation skills, and the program culminated on its final day with a mock trial in front of ALJ Bob Cohen. The coaches also selected students for awards based on the skills taught during the academy: Virginia Edwards (best opening statement); Amanda McKibben (best direct examination); Johnny El Hachem (best cross examination); and Kristen Bond (best PRO). Thank you to the ALJs and coaches who made the program a success: Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, Judge Bob Cohen, Judge Gar Chisenhall, Judge Bruce Culpepper, Judge Yolanda Green, Judge Li Nelson, Ralph DeMeo, Seann Frazier, Kathy Hood, Gregg Morton, Louise St. Laurent, and Richard Shine. We plan to repeat the program in the fall with certain content improvements.
While this annual report is being drafted, we are unsure whether the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent the section from moving forward with two of its premiere live CLE events before the end of the 2019-2020 term. The Advanced Topics CLE, previous scheduled for March 27, is presently being rescheduled. We hope to move forward with the Pat Dore Administrative Law Conference presently scheduled for May 14-15. If the pandemic prevents us from moving forward as scheduled, the section is committed to presenting these CLE programs in live lecture formats before the end of 2020. The section sponsored CLE programs on interesting administrative law topics that are available now on demand on The Florida Bar website. For example, Judge John Van Laningham and Professor Mark Seidenfeld prepared a presentation on the status of deference to state and federal agencies in “Deference to Agencies: State and Federal Update and Forecast for the Future.” Thank you, Angela Morrison, for chairing this program. The section will present webinars in the spring on the following topics: administrative appeals, the role of the general counsel, proposed recommended orders, professionalism, section 1983 lawsuits, technology in administrative law, and overview of the Administrative Procedure Act and rulemaking. Thank you, Bruce Lamb, for chairing the section’s CLE committee this term.
The section continued its efforts to grow membership through networking/charitable events, including a backpack drive and “Yappy” Hour event co-sponsored with the Animal Law Section. Thank you to Tabitha Jackson, Matt Bryant, James Ross, Paul Drake, Ross Vickers, Virginia Ponder, Patty Nelson, Amy Schrader, and Judge Gar Chisenhall for their continued work in promoting these events. Special recognition is also warranted for Sharlee Edwards and Paula Savchenko for their efforts to kickstart the section’s South Florida Chapter.
The section recognized Judge Bob Cohen and Jowanna Oates for their contributions to the section and to the field of administrative law. Judge Cohen received the section’s Curtis Kiser Administrative Lawyer of the Year Award and Jowanna Oates received the section’s Outstanding Service Award for 2019. Their accomplishments and contributions are too many to list here, but can be found in the September 2019 edition of the newsletter.
I close this annual report by recognizing Calbrail Banner, the section’s program administrator. Ms. Banner is the behind-the-scenes support for all section activities. She never complains (well, almost never) and never lets us down. We could not have accomplished these tasks without her support. Thank you, Ms. Banner.
Brian Newman, Chair
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section of The Florida Bar has enjoyed a vigorous stage of growth for the past year. By engaging more members and offering new programing, we were able to increase our membership. By following the goals of providing more meaningful membership experiences and raising awareness of ADR processes with other organizations, we were successful in adding members to our section. These objectives were complemented by a deliberate effort to maximize our resources of funds and talent and to advance professionalism within the field of conflict resolution.
• Membership — 1) Who We Are: The ADR Section of The Florida Bar is uniquely comprised of only attorney- mediators and attorney-arbitrators, with a smaller contingent of other attorney-dispute resolution professionals. It is our mission to address the needs of and provide services for this uniquely qualified segment of conflict resolution professionals.
2) Membership Recruitment: Through targeted efforts we contacted attorney-mediators who are not members of the section and attended various events of other sections and attorney-mediator groups. Membership in the section increased over the past year, much of it due to the creative efforts of our membership chair, Christy Foley. The ADR Section participated as an exhibitor in conferences of the YLD, Contract Law Institute, and DRC. We are looking at reduced or free dues for new members of The Florida Bar to encourage interest in the ADR Section from the beginning of the lawyer’s career.
3) Membership Survey: To better understand the needs and interests of our members, we conducted a survey (prepared by Michelle Jernigan and Lawrence Kolin) to guide us through a long-term planning process at our midyear meeting. Based on the responses, we created a plan on the best use of our energy, focus, and resources to provide for those expectations.
4) Updated Bylaws: The ADR Section raised the number of members on the executive council to allow for more interested conflict resolution professionals to participate. The revision of the bylaws also cleaned up the membership terms and provided for emeritus memberships. Thanks to Kelly Overstreet Johnson and Tom Bateman.
5) CLE Offerings: Targeted webinars are offered on an almost monthly basis, with dual CLE/CME credits for mediator certification, when appropriate. A series on tech webinars has been well-received and focuses on tech issues in a mediation, law, or arbitration practice. Mediation ethics is also a popular topic. A link to our webpage of CLE offerings has been posted on the DRC website. The Florida Bar has created a separate category for mediation within its list of on-demand CLE programs.
For more information on specific courses, credits, and structure, refer to the CLE Committee report of the ADR Section provided to the CLE Committee of The Florida Bar.
• Fiscal Responsibility — In-Depth Exploration of Budget: The officers of the section carefully scrutinized, with the assistance of The Florida Bar, the budget expenses and revenue sources. All members of the executive council participated in decisions for future events based on the findings. Kathy McLeroy, treasurer, was a tremendous leader through this process.
Revenue Enhancement: a) Increased membership dues this next year; b) made direct contact with attorney-mediators who are not members of the ADR Section; c) increased the number of webinars to monthly on topics in-demand for renewal of CLE and CME; d) created a signature program, the Mentoring Academy, to build upon in future years; e) developed a sponsorship program with the assistance of Kelly Overstreet Johnson.
Cost Control: a) Scrutinized our budget for accurate accounting, especially the CLEs; b) eliminated reimbursement for the expenses of officers of the section; c) transferred some responsibilities of the PR consultant to The Florida Bar personnel and eliminated the on-going commitment for her services; d) re-evaluated the need for a section retreat. Combined it with the midyear meeting.
• Public Relations — The section has enjoyed quality program development and outreach through the efforts of a professional public relations consultant, Lisa Tipton. This has provided inroads into other networks and resources, as well as greatly enhancing the quality of our programing. These services have significantly raised the visibility of the section.
• Collaborative Efforts — The ADR Section co-hosted seminars at the annual conference with the Business Law and RPPTL sections and a second seminar with the Labor and Employment Law Section. Articles and webinars have been presented by the ADR Section from members of the Family Law Section, Appellate Section, and Business Law Section. By cross-promoting our projects and CLE offerings between other sections, including the Trial Lawyers and Solo and Small Firms sections, our audience has multiplied significantly. Members of the executive council continue to present seminars at the annual conference of the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), our regulating body through the Florida Supreme Court.
• Publications — The ADR Section communicates with its members and the public through three vehicles that reach audiences of different demographics: 1) Common Ground: semi-annual formal newsletter; 2) News and Tips: monthly email with announcements and updates; 3) Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
• Professionalism — 1) Rules Revisions and Legislative Input: As the only Florida dispute resolution organization with a membership that consists exclusively of members of The Florida Bar, we are asked for, and often initiate, opinions or recommendations on proposed rule changes. We have been asked to provide input on changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, statutory proposals, and the ADR Rules and Policy Committee of the Florida Supreme Court. We believe that the ADR Section is uniquely positioned to be an asset on these matters and would like to focus our efforts in strengthening those relationships. Our goal is to attract more diverse members who practice in various areas of conflict resolution to provide insight for any proposed rule changes. The ADR Section has been asked to assist in providing a statutory and regulatory definition for elder law cases and elder mediation.
2) Mentoring Academy: The inaugural Mentoring Academy for Mediators was presented this year to provide a unique opportunity for experienced mediators to improve their skills under the guidance of respected and experienced practitioners. This first-time event was organized by Christina Magee and John Salmon, to create a signature program to recognize the ADR Section as a premiere organization for the most qualified and professional mediators. Due to the success of this event, we will be adding another Mentoring Academy for Arbitrators. It is our goal that this event will raise the level of professionalism and provide networking opportunities for dispute resolution professionals, as well as build into a dependable revenue source for the section.
3) Online Dispute Resolution: In an effort to provide our members with useful tools and keep apprised of recent developments in ADR, we have offered courses on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), which provide a practical and ethical perspective. A technology webinar is also being planned to review the types of technology available for ODR.
• Section Governance — 1) Updated Bylaws: The ADR Section raised the number of members on the executive council to allow for more interested conflict resolution professionals to participate. The revision of the bylaws also cleaned up the membership terms and provided for emeritus memberships. Thanks to Kelly Overstreet Johnson and Tom Bateman.
2) Long-Term Planning: At the midyear meeting, we facilitated a strategic planning session to drive our programs and expenditures for future years. Direction was solicited through a survey of our members (prepared by Michelle Morley and Lawrence Kolin) indicating which services they found most useful and what they sought to gain from their membership.
3) Program Administrator: With the assistance of our program administrator, Stefanie Svisco, we have been able to offer greater programming and more detailed analysis of our efforts. Stefanie was new to The Florida Bar and has made a tremendous effort to learn and advise of us of TFB processes. Together, with the support of our PR consultant, Lisa Tipton, they have moved mountains and made us look spectacular. We are looking forward to an even greater working relationship as we develop the potential of the section during the upcoming year.
The ADR Section is in fantastic hands as we develop a succession plan to groom leaders and plan ahead. Thank you to our officers: Oscar Sanchez, chair-elect, Patrick Russell, secretary, Kathleen McLeroy, treasurer, and Christina Magee, immediate past chair.
Kim W. Torres, Chair
The Animal Law Section (ALS) is proud to continue its role in the forefront of promoting animal law issues, outreach to the Florida legal profession and the public, and building a lifestyle brand of incorporating animals as a part of attorney wellness. As stated by the Program Evaluation Committee in ALS’ first evaluation as a new section: “[T]he Animal Law Section has done an exemplary job during its beginning years and especially commended their efforts on excellent contributions to The Florida Bar Journal, highly rated continuing legal education seminars, unique marketing ideas, and creative events such as the Puppy Pit and Goat Yoga during The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention.”
We are continuing to build momentum as Bar members become more familiar with our mission and platforms. One of our basic missions is to ensure that our membership is kept aware of the latest updates in federal and state laws that affect animals in the state of Florida. Members of the ALS have been active in advocating for the implementation of such laws and educating the public for the necessity of such laws. This past year, the Florida Legislature passed conservation efforts that prohibit the import, export, and sale of shark fins (HB 401/SB 680); protected our bears from hunters during the closed seasons (HB 327/SB 688); and added green iguanas and Argentine black and white tegus to Florida’s list of prohibited species (HB 1415/SB 906). For domesticated animals, the Florida Legislature passed laws authorizing protection of pets in an domestic violence injunction (HB 241/SB 1082); ensured safety in shelters for pets during an emergency (HB 705/SB 752); and attempted to clarify requirements for emotional support animals in housing (HB 209/SB 1084). Finally, Florida Rep. Ted Deutch introduced and shepherded a federal animal cruelty law (HR 724) through the U.S. Congress that makes it a federal crime to produce and distribute animal crush videos.
Bills that did not pass this session, that we are hoping will be re-introduced include prohibitions for pet leasing (SB 186), banning the brutal practice of declawing cats (SB 48), requiring reporting for animal cruelty (HB 621/SB 1044) designating shelter animals as the official state pet (HB 1277/SB 240), providing emergency transport for police canines (HB 507/ SB 240), and requiring research facilities to offer up animals for adoption (HB 181).
As part of our mission to educate the membership on substantive areas of animal law, ALS has submitted for articles to The Florida Bar Journal and had numerous CLEs to bring awareness to the many opportunities within the field of animal law. Animal law includes virtually every substantive area of law: including but not limited to, estate planning, family law, environmental law, disability law including service animals, criminal law, entertainment law, and real property law. Animal law is everywhere and continues to grow in popularity.
During this past year, ALS has submitted articles to The Florida Bar Journal on the end of Greyhound racing in Florida by Ralph DeMeo, how mediation is the best bet when your stud is a dud by Jeffrey Marcus and Bruce Blitman, reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Act by John Powell, and how pets should receive special consideration in marital dissolution and domestic violence proceedings by Margherita Downey and Sherry Andrews.
ALS’ main publication is its Paw Review newsletter and blog. The section will be publishing its next Paw Review newsletter in March, which will be distributed at meetings and circulated electronically on social media and to section members.
ALS has also produced a series of four webinars through the year, including issues on “The Hairy & Scary World of Animal Law Ethical Issues,” “If the Stud’s a Dud and Other Horse Tales: Mediation of Equine Law Disputes May Be Your Best Bet,” ” Can You Trust Your Pet? Estate Planning for Pets…and their People,” and “What Fits the Bill — Emotional Support Animals.” ALS held the first cat café-style CLE at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, where we taught on issues in animal law while the attendees were able to play with and hold six-week-old kittens.
Each year at the annual Bar convention, the ALS holds a continuing education program highlighting many important areas of Florida law and how it affects our state’s animals. This year will be no exception. This year’s CLE will be “Don’t Be Cruel to a Heart That’s True — Preventing Child and Animal Abuse,” which will address the role of animals in dependency, domestic violence, and dissolution proceedings. Last year’s Goat Yoga and Puppy Pit were big successes. Almost all the dogs were adopted. We will repeat last year’s success with another Puppy Pit, and this year we will have Goat Yoga on the hotel grounds.
The Puppy Pit and Goat Yoga has been a very popular event and has been shared across the country on social media. In addition to helping adopt animals, the ALS has also used the Puppy Pit and Goat Yoga to promote the Bar’s health and wellness initiative by describing the mental and physical benefits associated with having a companion animal. In the same vein, ALS has announced that it will be sponsoring “Justice’s Best Friend Day” on June 12, which will celebrate the contributions of animals in the justice system in Florida.
Our unique marketing ideas contribute to the image of the Animal Law Section to promote a lifestyle brand of animals and animal law to promote wellness. To benefit our members and the general membership of The Florida Bar, we have developed a line of branded products, including t-shirts, socks, hot sauce, and decals. Our membership is over 500 persons, our social media outreach is many more. ALS has over 2,800 followers on Facebook, and the total reach of our posts routinely exceed 8,000 views. ALS Twitter account currently has 1,395 followers, with an average of 50,000 tweet impressions per month. While our social media presence is considerable, we plan on updating our website in conjunction with other sections and begin actively merchandizing our products and information resources once available.
As part of our outreach, ALS members frequently speak to and sponsor activities for animal law student groups at Florida law schools, law enforcement, and the judiciary. The section’s CLE programs for the judiciary have been well-received and we continue to receive requests for additional programs. ALS members have also enjoyed a number of field trips to rescue organizations around the state including the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa (www.bigcatrescue.org); Kindred Spirits Sanctuary in Citra (www.kssfl.org), and Save the Chimps in Ft. Pierce (www.savethechimp.org).
A current focus of outreach are law students that are interested in animal law. ALS supports each of the Florida law schools SALDF chapters and expects that the incredibly active SALDF students at FAMU, Stetson, and FSU will become leaders of ALS, and The Florida Bar. The ALS sponsors an annual writing competition and the 2019-2020 Eighth Annual Animal Law Writing Competition is now open. The winner will be featured in our newsletter and will receive a $1,000 honorarium. Furthermore, the ALS offers free memberships to students.
The Animal Law Section and its partner Pets Ad Litem have provided over 1,500 stuffed Rikki dog dolls to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare for distribution to children in its animal therapy program. The Rikki dolls resemble Rikki, a golden retriever therapy dog, who was the unofficial mascot for the Animal Law Section and was featured on the cover of The Florida Bar News.
The communications committee continues to support submissions to The Florida Bar Journal, as well as our popular newsletter, the Paw Review. The ALS is actively finalizing submissions for a Florida animal law treatise (the first of its kind) to be released before the end of the year.
As chair, I truly appreciate my board — the apostles of animal law, the hucksters of our unique merchandising ideas, and comrades in arms for our unconventional events. We have all made ourselves available to speak at many events, participate in outreach, and to fly the ALS banner.
We appreciate all members of the ALS and their efforts to continually grow and support our efforts. None of what we do would be possible without the generous support of time and effort of our executive council, committee chairs, Board of Governors liaison, F. Scott Westheimer, members, and our Florida Bar program administrator, Ricky Libbert.
Matthew W. Dietz, Chair
The Appellate Practice Section appreciates the opportunity to share this haiku and to update The Florida Bar on the section’s events and activities this Bar year. Hurricane Dorian’s grey clouds may have put a damper on the section’s plan for a September 2019 meeting in conjunction with the District Courts of Appeal Judicial Conference that had been scheduled to occur in Amelia Island, but even Mother Nature cannot stop the section from engaging in numerous other activities to ensure that appellate practice is fostered and enhanced statewide.
Among those activities is organizing a plethora of CLE opportunities useful both for appellate practitioners and for our colleagues throughout The Florida Bar. A sample of those CLE offerings this year are as follows: 1) A 10-part monthly audio webcast series; 2) “The William A. Van Nortwick Appellate Workshop 2020” live CLE; 3) “Practicing Before the Fifth DCA” live CLE and webcast; 4) “Advanced Appellate Practice and Board Certification Review 2020” live CLE and webcast; 5) “Prevailing in Dependency Court” standalone audio webcast; 6) “Practicing Before the First DCA” live CLE and webcast; 7) “Practicing Before the Florida Supreme Court” live CLE and webcast; 8) Comparison of the Florida District Courts of Appeal live CLE at annual convention.
To illustrate the magnitude of these CLEs, the recent full-day “Practicing Before the Fifth DCA” included a panel of six appellate judges simultaneously answering dozens of questions about the court and practice before it. Like most of the section’s live CLEs, the event was videotaped so that practitioners may later access these important CLE tools through The Florida Bar website.
Aside from production of CLEs, the Appellate Practice Section has taken to heart the Council of Section’s goal of interconnectivity by officially adopting a joint section membership program with the Government Lawyer Section. This program allows for the considerable overlap of government lawyers who engage in appellate practice and appellate practitioners with governmental clients to avail themselves of the opportunity to be a member of both sections simultaneously at a reduced cost. In the view of our section, this program has proven successful, increasing membership for both sections, and we anticipate maintaining this joint section membership into the future.
Our committees remain engaged and continue to push forward our section goals. Of note, the section’s Pro Bono Committee continues to do amazing work in partnership with the statewide Guardian ad Litem Program. This partnership has led to the first of its kind joint CLE program held in conjunction with the Bar’s midyear meeting, titled “Appeals for the Pro Bono Practitioner.” Special kudos are due to our pro bono chair, Joe Eagleton, and to the statewide GAL program coordinator Thomasina Moore, an active member of the section and visionary for appellate pro bono efforts.
Our CLE Committee, led by the indefatigable Kansas Gooden, has a roster of dynamic CLE presentations listed above and is developing a similarly robust lineup for the following year. Our Publications (led by Bretton Albrecht) and Communications committees (led by Dineen Wasylik, Jonathan Streisfeld, and Morgan Weinstein) have transitioned successfully into a new format for our section’s online publication, The Record, and we are exploring new ways to engage our members through online content, a revamped website, and social media. We have also successfully published articles in every issue of The Florida Bar Journal and expect to do so, well, forever if possible.
Our Self-Represented Litigant Committee continues to ensure the public’s accessibility to our section’s publication, The Pro Se Appellate Handbook: Representing Yourself on Appeal. The handbook has been translated into Spanish and French Creole and has been adapted for HTML and ADA compliance. Our Outreach Committee chaired by the unstoppable Mary Walters, is at the helm of our government and inclusion initiatives and is hard at work recruiting and engaging section members. Courtney Brewer and our Legislative Committee continues to do an excellent job keeping the section apprised of legislative developments, including the push to ensure adequate funding for courthouse facilities for the Second District Court of Appeal. Last but not least, Diane Dewolf and our Programs Committee is instrumental for planning our 2020 retreat set to take place in the historic Casa Monica in St. Augustine, and is developing plans for another exciting Dessert Reception at the 2020 Annual Convention. Always a good time for members of all sections, please come and join us! Vieni e divertiti!
Lastly, I would be remiss not to single out each of our officers who have enabled our section to rise and overcome all challenges, be they hurricanes, viruses, or court-funding issues. Chair-Elect Chris Donovan, Treasurer Kimberly Jones, Secretary Carrie Ann Wozniak, and Immediate Past Chair Sarah Lalou-Amine, completely the best officers any chair could hope for. Also, kudos to our immediate past chair, once removed, Duane Daiker, for interviewing the entire set of officers for an amazing session on his “Issues on Appeal” podcast! Tune in and listen to hear more about our section.
Again, the section appreciates the opportunity to update the membership on the section’s hard work for the Bar and our courts this year. Should members have any questions or ideas for collaboration with the section, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Nicholas A. Shannin, Chair
Business Law Section
The Business Law Section is celebrating its 50th year and is in the midst of another outstanding year due in large part to the commitment and dedication of its members and depth of leadership. In the constantly changing business world, the section remains at the forefront of monitoring and contributing to the development and improvement of business laws and regulations affecting the state of Florida and supporting and contributing to the professional advancement of Florida business lawyers.
• Committees — Through the section’s substantive law committees, members stay on top of changes to laws governing business, as well as keeping updated on developments in the caselaw. The section’s nonsubstantive committees continue to tackle challenges facing the section, such as continuing legal education, communications, and inclusion. The section has demonstrated a profound sense of giving back through pro bono activities and a desire to improve diversity by the incredible work performed by the Pro Bono and Inclusion, Mentoring and Fellowship committees. The section’s task forces are also undertaking important projects, including blockchain and cryptocurrency (Woody Pollack, chair), restrictive covenants (Brian Barakat, chair), creating a statewide system of business courts (Jon Polenberg and Judge Gill Freeman, co-chairs), financial literacy (Amanda Finley, chair), Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act (Amanda Fernandez and Kenny Murena, co-chairs), and health and wellness (Irwin Gilbert and Dineen Wasylik, co-chairs). Working together, the section’s various committees and task forces not only strive to enhance the business environment for the state of Florida, but also to provide Bar members with opportunities for growth and contribution. We are a community of professionals working to enhance our profession and provide better legal services to clients and the community.
• BLS Fellows and Scholars — The section continues to expand and develop its Fellows and Scholars programs. We now have 14 active fellows — young business lawyers with diverse backgrounds — each receiving a $2,500 per year stipend to participate in section meetings. Current and prior fellows have already taken important leadership roles in the section and beyond. Our section also works with the majority of Florida law schools to provide opportunities to students interested in business law careers. These scholars are provided opportunities to join in section activities and learn about what we do. The section will continue to support these important programs and provide opportunities to law students and young lawyers seeking to become outstanding Florida business lawyers.
• Pro Bono — The section has consistently supported pro bono efforts of its members. The section encourages all members to take on a pro bono matter through The Florida Bar Foundation’s Florida Pro Bono Matters portal. At the midyear meeting, the section approved a match of up to $10,000 for section members who sign up to be Florida Bar Foundation members. The section will continue its support of The Florida Bar Foundation and numerous other pro bono programs around the state.
• CLE — In addition to the educational programming offered at the section’s retreats and committee meetings, the section also continues to deliver unparalleled educational programs for business lawyers. This year, the section once again presented premier programs from our substantive law committees, including 1) “The Federal Securities Institute,” co-chaired by Greg Yadley, Keith F. Higgins, Steven A. Rosenblum, Lisa A. Schmidt, and John White, on behalf of the Corporations and Financial Services Committee; and 2) “A View from the Bench,” chaired by Judge Michael Williamson and Stephanie Lieb, on behalf of the Bankruptcy/UCC Committee.
The Intellectual Property Law Symposium, chaired by Samuel Lewis, on behalf of the Intellectual Property Law Committee was rescheduled and will be held October 15-16 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
The section’s Electronic Discovery and Digital Evidence Committee, chaired by Darren Spielman, is once again presenting a CLE at The Florida Bar Annual Convention and also presents at judicial education programs around the state on these developing topics
• Labor Day Weekend Retreat — The section’s showcase 2019 Labor Day Retreat was canceled due to Hurricane Dorian. Despite this disruption, Retreat Chair Russell Landy helped navigate a tough situation and is to be commended for his steady presence and hard work. Planning for the September 4-7, 2020, retreat at the Naples Ritz Carlton is underway. The 2020 retreat, chaired by Paige Greenlee, will be the 25th annual, celebrate our 50th year as a section, and have a roaring 20s theme. Section members and their guests will be able to enjoy a family casino night, kayaking, whiskey tasting, wine tasting (benefiting The Florida Bar Foundation), and, of course, entertaining and educational CLE programs, including the annual Business Court Roundtable. The section is especially grateful to all its sponsors, who contribute in numerous ways to the retreat’s and section’s continued success.
• Executive Council Retreat — This year’s executive council retreat was scheduled for April 29-May 4 in Greece, but with the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19, we determined it was in the best interest of the section and the health and welfare of our members to cancel this trip.
• The Florida Bar Annual Convention — The section will meet at The Florida Bar Annual Convention, June 17-19 at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. All the section’s committees and task forces are expected to meet, culminating with the annual meeting of the executive council, which will feature the passing of the gavel to the 2020-21 section leadership team to be headed by Chair-Elect Leyza F. Blanco.
• Legislation — One of the most important activities of the section is its extensive legislative efforts to support favorable business-related legislation in Florida. This year, the section, through the Legislation Committee, chaired by Mark Stein, proposed bills to update Florida’s corporations statute and pass the Uniform Commercial Real Estate Receivership Act. The section also actively monitors and provides technical advice for other legislative efforts, including bills relating to blockchain technology, service of process, court jurisdiction, restrictive covenants, and many others.
• Special Thanks — While the success of the section is no doubt due to the dedication and hard work of its members, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the importance of the section’s Long-Range Planning Committee, made up of the section’s past chairs, with their focus on leadership development, and the section’s judicial chairs, and other active members of the section from our state and federal judiciary. The section owes these individuals a tremendous debt of gratitude for their leadership and guidance.
Finally, I thank all the members of the section’s executive council for your hard work and dedication, including especially the members of the Executive Committee, who always have my back: Leyza F. Blanco (chair-elect), Kacy Donlon (treasurer), Doug Bates (secretary), Michael Chesal (immediate past chair), and Greg Yadley (chair of Long Range Planning). It has been an honor and privilege to serve as section chair with you. I could not have survived without your constant input and support, along with the support of our program administrator, Stefanie Svisco.
May we continue to grow and succeed in our endeavors, serve others, our profession, and the interests of justice with fairness, integrity, and civility, and do so in good health.
Jay Brown, Chair
City, County and Local Government Law
As the section’s year draws to its close, the current COVID-19 situation is at the top of everyone’s mind. As this is written, the section’s leadership is considering postponing three in-person programs, including our annual general membership meeting. Everything is uncertain, everything is in flux.
But, while we are all ending the year with question marks, there is no question that the City, County and Local Government Law Section of The Florida Bar has had a busy, successful, and, speaking personally, gratifying year.
The CCLG section, with approximately 1,700 members, serves lawyers who represent local governments or otherwise practice in the area of local government law. The section sponsors several annual programs, some of which are multi-day events, and ad hoc seminars on topics of emergency interest. The section hosts a very active Listserv, where practitioners can get immediate feedback from colleagues on whatever pertinent topic they may be facing or where members (and others — the Listserv is not restricted to members) can engage in lively discussions of real-life local government law issues. The section offers scores of hours of continuing legal education credits every year. Certification in city, county, and local government law is available through the Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization. Currently, almost 300 members of The Florida Bar hold this certification, including many who practice in city and county attorney offices and in the offices of the general counsels of other local government entities. For many years, the section has collaborated with Stetson Law Review to produce the law review’s annual Local Government Law Symposium issue. The section offers grants to local government attorney offices for hiring student interns and annually gives scholarship awards to students at Florida law schools.
As chair, I announced three priorities for the section at the beginning of our section year in June 2019.
First, our newly established Technology Committee was tasked with addressing a massive spike in litigation against local governments based on alleged inaccessibility of websites in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The committee was charged with reviewing and researching the litigation to help develop effective legal responses that local governments could make if sued. Moreover, and more importantly, the committee was to identify and develop and make available information and tools for local governments to achieve and maintain accessibility of websites. A year later, the tide of lawsuits has receded, in part through the efforts of our members and leadership, and we continue to develop compliance tools and advice.
Second, we determined to complete a long-running project to update the section’s bylaws. A team of members from the section’s executive council worked through the year to bring to completion the policy and drafting issues this presented. The result is that we have passed a full draft to present for a vote of our general membership, which will allow us to submit the proposed new bylaws to The Florida Bar for review and approval.
Third, we undertook to modernize and rationalize the section’s social media outreach. With help from Florida Bar staff, we have developed and are implementing comprehensive guidelines and are developing a distinctive mission and “voice” for our social media face to the public.
These areas of special focus did not distract from the section’s ongoing work. Our newsletter, The Agenda, has been revitalized and expanded and, with more and larger issues, provides practical and in-depth legal analysis in our field. The section continues a vigorous program of submission of columns to The Florida Bar Journal.
Each year, the section provides a comprehensive review course for those who wish to obtain certification in CCLG law. Many practitioners use this course as a good refresher; other managing lawyers send junior lawyers to the course as an introduction to local government law. This year, the section determined to expand the course offerings by 50% and extend it to two days after numerous requests by attendees for more information and presentations.
The section has faced a number of challenges this year. None has been bigger than that we all face now. Our members are leaders in the front lines of local governments’ responses to this situation. As our new leadership prepares to take office, we are confident that they will bring their own clients and constituents through this and will also be strengthened and fired to make the section stronger than ever.
David C. Miller, Chair
At the June meeting in Boca Raton, the Criminal Law Section sponsored a presentation by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Gilbert King followed by a panel discussion. The event was titled, “Justice Lost and Found: Gilbert King and Conviction Integrity in Florida.” Mr. King’s talk centered on the history and events detailed in his book, Devil in the Grove. The event was part of the Presidential Showcase.
Following Mr. King’s talk, a panel discussion was presented. Benedict Kuehne served as moderator. Andrew Warren, state attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, and Melissa Nelson, state attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, participated as panelists.
The section presented its 2019 Selig Goldin Award to Larry Gibbs Turner of the Gainesville law firm, Turner, O’Connor, Kozlowski P.L. Turner was honored at a luncheon during the June Bar meeting. The luncheon, co-sponsored by the criminal procedure and rules committee, was well attended. Hank Coxe of Bedell, Dittmar, DeVault, Pillans, and Coxe, Jacksonville, was the keynote speaker at the event. Melissa Nelson, state attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, made introductory remarks.
Through a section-wide survey, live meetings of the executive council, and telephonic conferences, the section is actively participating in the comments process for the proposed changes to Rules 3.134 and 3.191, Florida Criminal Procedure. Given the impact of potential rules changes in the criminal justice system, the council has devoted a great deal of time and discussion to this issue. The section plans to file comments this month.
In July, the section offered the Gerald T. Bennett Public Defender and Prosecutor Trial Training Program at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. The program is now entering its 42nd year. A faculty of experienced judges, prosecutors, and criminal trial lawyers, including a distinguished British barrister, worked with over 70 young prosecutors and public defenders in the program.
In addition to the trial program, the section offered several other CLE courses in various formats. These include The First Step Act: Six Months Later (telephonic CLE), Statutory Changes in Florida Criminal Law (webinar), Daubert Hearings in State and Federal Court (telephonic CLE), and Masters of DUI (live program in Ft. Lauderdale). Upcoming CLEs during this cycle include the Criminal Law Update and Advanced Federal Practice.
The section continues to post monthly caselaw updates for its members. Efforts are currently underway to develop and expand educational materials in an e-library. Through several active committees, including the CLE committee, the legislative committee, the membership committee, the federal practice committee, capital cases, and long-range planning, the section seeks to foster high standards of practice and professionalism in the criminal court system.
In January, the section participated in the Young Lawyers Division Affiliate Outreach Conference in St. Petersburg. The section also participated at the silver sponsorship level in the South Florida Legal Mentoring Picnic in Ft. Lauderdale in February.
The section made contributions in furtherance of criminal justice during this cycle. A contribution earmarked for endowment, legal aid grants for children, or loan repayment assistance was made to The Florida Bar Foundation. A contribution was made to the University of Florida Foundation for the Gerald T. Bennett Public Defender and Prosecutor Trial Training Program Endowment Fund. Scholarships were offered to assistant state attorneys and public defenders to attend and participate in the Keble Criminal Trial Training Program in Oxford, England.
Jennifer Zedalis, Chair
The Elder Law Section (ELS) continues to grow and develop in exciting ways. We are advocating, educating, and implementing a strategic plan to help protect Florida’s most vulnerable residents — seniors and individuals with disabilities/special needs. In light of Florida’s longstanding tradition as the nation’s premier retirement destination, combined with the increased number of individuals reporting special needs, the Elder Law Section stands as a vital resource to The Florida Bar, the Florida Legislature, Florida courts, and the residents of this state.
The Elder Law Section offers multiple ways for Florida attorneys to become engaged in our plan. I appreciate the opportunity to provide this report as an overview of the many ways our section members are accomplishing our plan to make Florida even better.
• Continuing Legal Education — ELS is finding an increased demand for webinar and telephonic CLEs. ELS has increased the frequency of these types of CLEs, providing bi-monthly “Tricks of the Trade” webinars, a webinar on the SECURE Act following its last-minute passage by Congress and continuing to offer webcasts of our major live events.
In January, we hosted our three-day annual update in Orlando. The first day is an “essentials” program covering fundamentals of a broad range of topics for those new or transitioning to elder law. The second and third days provide a deeper dive into more advanced areas of an elder law practice for seasoned practitioners. Steve Hitchcock chaired this year’s event, which was a huge success. Beyond overwhelming positive feedback from attendees, we continue to have event sponsors immediately sign up for the following year as the spots are selling out months before the event!
During The Florida Bar’s annual convention in June, the ELS’s Special Needs Trust Committee (chaired by Howie Krooks and Amy Fanzlaw) will host a half-day CLE covering Special Needs Planning for the Non-Special Needs Planning Attorney. This CLE represents the continuing efforts of the ELS to reach out to non-section members to provide an opportunity to learn about topics related to elder law to broaden awareness and enable better issue-spotting in other areas of practice. At last year’s convention, we provided CLEs on topics related to guardianship and, in partnership with the Consumer Protection Law Committee, on consumer protection for the elderly and the military.
The section is headed to Boston in the fall for its annual retreat; however, this past October, the section hosted the retreat in Napa Valley. Those who attended the retreat heard from experts on planning for retirement accounts in an elder law practice, with a focus on the potential changes coming from the SECURE Act. Now that the SECURE Act is law, this will be followed-up with a webinar in April on the SECURE Act and the critical planning issues all attorneys need to understand to assist their clients.
• Advocacy — We started this year poised to address three specific legislative initiatives on behalf of vulnerable adults in Florida: 1) A “glitch” bill to tweak the exploitation statute we were previously instrumental in getting passed to, among other things, include a provision allowing an agent under a durable power of attorney to file a petition for an injunction to protect a vulnerable adult from exploitation; 2) the Florida Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act to bring Florida in line with 46 other states who have passed a version of the law to protect vulnerable adults who are taken from Florida to another state and then prevented from returning to Florida by the court in the other state because Florida did not adopt a version of the Uniform Act; and 3) a bill creating exploiter disinheritance provisions to create a financial disincentive for someone found guilty in a criminal court or in a civil action for exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
We were very well positioned to bring each of these legislative initiatives forward in the 2020 legislative session until a series of investigative articles by the Orlando Sentinel highlighting a number of alleged improper actions by an Orlando professional guardian created a political firestorm that resulted in the sidelining of our legislative initiatives. Fortunately, the ELS was one of the groups Sen. Kathleen Passidomo reached out to when forming a work group to discuss new potential legislative initiatives to address some of these new issues.
Our Legislative Committee Co-Chairs Shannon Miller, Travis Finchum, and Debra Slater, and Legislative Advisor Brian Jogerst, led the section’s efforts on the workgroup creating draft language we were optimistic would satisfy the concerns of legislators. Unfortunately, as often happens in the legislative sausage-making process, the workgroup’s proposed language looked drastically different when it emerged from bill writing. As a consequence, many of the stakeholders initially invited to the table pushed their chairs away cutting off active engagement or transitioned to only providing “technical” advice. Our section, however, remained actively engaged.
We pushed back strongly on several provisions included in the first version of the bill we believed were unworkable and potentially harmful to the clients we serve. Our Guardianship Committee, led by Co-Chair Twyla Sketchley, worked around the clock to draft and advocate for alternative language more in line with the language initially proposed by the workgroup. Armed with the new language, Brian Jogerst tenaciously represented our interests in the House and Senate. Although our efforts to modify the bill language initially ran in to numerous roadblocks and seemed unlikely to change legislators’ position on the bill, our team did not give up and remained engaged. This continuous engagement was rewarded when the House and Senate both passed amendments to the bill removing the language we believed would be unworkable and included the language our Guardianship and Legislative committees advocated. The bill passed both the House and Senate, and, as of this writing, is sitting on the governor’s desk.
The ELS was also instrumental in getting protective language included in a vulnerable investors bill. This bill sought to, among other things, provide financial advisors with the opportunity to delay a disbursement or transaction of funds or securities from an account when the advisor believes the account owner was subject to potential financial exploitation. Although the intent of the bill was supported by the ELS, we expressed concern that certain less scrupulous advisors may attempt to utilize this delay tactic as a sword to maintain control over the funds rather than the shield for which it was intended. For this bill our Legislative Committee teamed with our Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Committee, led by Co-Chairs David Weintraub and Ellen Cheek, to come up with language that would allow for the protection of potentially vulnerable investors, while also creating a disincentive for advisors to use the protections afforded by the proposed legislation to unreasonably delay or hinder a valid request from an investor to move the funds to a new advisor. Greg Black, the other member of our dynamic legislative advising team, worked with members of the House and Senate and succeeded in getting our language included in the final bill that is also now sitting on the governor’s desk.
In addition to those important matters, our amazing Legislative Committee chairs, Shannon M. Miller, Travis Finchum, and Debra Slater, along with virtually every substantive law committee, followed or provided input on more than 40 other bills this legislative session. There simply isn’t room to cover every bill or committee (so join the section and get The Advocate).
• Support — Getting started in a new field of law or in the practice of law is difficult. The ELS appreciates this fact and seeks to help develop new members and emerging leaders in multiple ways. Our Mentor Committee, chaired by Dayami Sans and Jodi Murphy, has continued pairing new members with mentors upon request. They have also continued the Tricks of the Trade bimonthly CLEs, which are free to members.
• Looking Forward — The Elder Law Section seeks to continue to grow on its prior success. We are meeting in May to revisit our strategic plan; the nomination committee is working to determine the best and brightest to help lead our organization; and we are looking for other partnerships we can make with other sections, committees, and organizations who share our vision for Florida.
• Our Thanks — Finally, a thank you to Guardian Trust and Elder Counsel for their continued support of the Elder Law Section. Many of the strides in recent years have come as a result of their continued financial support.
Our section has over 40 attorneys volunteering their time as chairs of various committees. Many prior leaders continue their work as members of committees, and new members are stepping forward to serve. These individuals don’t volunteer their time for praise or notoriety. They act because it is the right thing to do and it seeks to make the world a little better. I believe they are accomplishing their goal. For more information, join the section or follow us at https://www.facebook.com/FloridaBarElderLawSection/ or on Twitter: @FlaElderlawSec.
Randy C. Bryan, Chair
Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law
This year, the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section was able to provide great programing on a variety of topics and further expand our educational offerings.
Our section kicked off the year in Ft. Lauderdale with our annual retreat. The event included our annual meeting, and seven outstanding presentations:
• “The Music Modernization Act: What’s in It, Why Is It in There, and Is It a Good Thing,” presented by Stephen Carlisle, Nova Southeastern University
• “Mechanical Licensing Before and After the Music Modernization Act,” presented by Serona Elton, University of Miami Frost School of Music
• “Manager, Talent Agent, and Artist Disputes, and the Related Legal Ethics Considerations,” presented by Richard Wolfe, Wolfe Law Miami, P.A.
• “The Super Bowl: A Cottage Industry for Entertainment, Intellectual Property, and Sports Lawyers,” presented by Alan K. Fertel, Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, P.L.
• “To “B” or not to “B”: Florida Benefit and Social Purpose Corporations and B Lab Certification,” presented by Tom Player, Player Entertainment Law
• “Copyright in Motion — A Survey of a Year in the Law,” presented by Julee L. Milham, Julee L. Milham Attorney at Law.
The 2019-2020 Audio Webcast Series offered a variety of topics. Programs included:
• “Keeping Marital Matters Engaging and Sporting” presented by Cynthia Dienstag, Cynthia Dienstag, P.A.
• “Legal Tips for Social Media Influencers” presented by Christie L. Foley
• “Look! Up in the Air, a Guitar?” Building Configuration Trademarks, presented by Miriam Richter, Richter Trademarks, P.L.
• “Mobile Applications, Gaming and Entertainment Patent Law,” presented by Peter A. Koziol, Assouline & Berlowe, P.A.
Our section leadership and membership provided expertise far beyond these programs as executive council members participated in programing with the 31st Annual North American Law Summit in Cancun in November as well as providing expertise at numerous panels at universities and entertainment law events throughout the state and the country. The information and inspiration shared with college students, law students, and practicing attorneys has helped further the knowledge base and interest in our field of law.
We updated our website this year to a more modern look and feel, helping us convey who we are to potential members, and brought on new sponsors One South Florida Wealth Advisors and the Frost School of Music | Frost Online.
Chair-Elect Tania Williams is planning her chair retreat in Amelia Island for early June. This program will focus on legal updates and recent developments in entertainment, arts, and sports law. Visit www.EASL.info for more details on this program.
EASL remains strong and relevant to its members through the hard work of our dedicated officers and executive council. I am grateful to my officers for their support this year: Tania Williams (chair-elect), Cassandra Willard (immediate past chair, and chair of our Legislative Committee), Marc Stollman (secretary) and Tom Player (treasurer). It has been a pleasure to work with each of you throughout this term.
In addition, I am thankful to the entire executive council for all of their work and contributions this year: Joseph Coleman (chair of our Student Engagement Committee), Tom Dobbins, Porpoise Evans, Alan Fertel, Christy Foley, Jon Ingram, Kim Kolback (chair of our CLE Committee), Spensyr Krebsbach, Sharon Middleton (board liaison), Brittney Trigg (chair of our Membership Committee), and Elliot Zimmerman. A very special thank you on behalf of the section to Kim Kolback, our CLE Committee chair, who ensured that we provided outstanding programming for the section yet again. The section’s Listserv has been supported by Steven Eisenberg, who I want to recognize for his dedication to the role. I also thank members Zachary (Scott) Lombardo and James Martin Paul for their work on our Sponsorship Committee. Lastly, I thank Angie Froelich, EASL’s section administrator, for her continued support to our section.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as the section’s leader for 2019-2020. I am looking forward to seeing how next year unfolds under the section’s next leader, Tania Williams.
Serona Elton, Chair
Environmental and Land Use Law
The Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Law Section (ELULS) continues to play a critical role in educating Florida attorneys on the latest developments in their field of practice and in helping the next generation of environmental and land use law attorneys hone their practice. With an infusion of new enthusiasm on the section’s executive council this year, we have refocused efforts on outreach and updating the various resources we provide to our section members.
Our primary outreach is through a diverse range of timely and well-attended CLEs. CLE Committee Co-Chairs Robert Volpe and Josh Coldiron spearhead our webcast series. Topics include: “Florida’s Emerging Coastal Resiliency Policy and Law,” featuring Whitney Gray (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) and Thomas Ruppert (Florida Sea Grant); “What in the Devil is PFAS and Why Should I (or My Clients) Care?,” featuring Chris Teaf (Hazardous Substance & Waste Management Research) and Ralph DeMeo (Baker Donelson); “ELULS 2020 Legislative Forecast,” featuring Gary Hunter (Hopping Green & Sams) and Janet Bowman (The Nature Conservancy); and “Navigating Affordable Housing,” featuring Thomas Ingram (Sodl & Ingram PLLC) and Alberto Vargas (Orange County Planning Division). Our thanks to Byron Flagg (Byron Flagg, Esq.), Angela Morrison (Earth & Water Law Group), Amanda Rivera (Lee County Hearing Examiner), and Jonathan Huels (Lowndes) for their help in organizing these informative CLEs.
We also continue in-person programming to educate our members and provide networking opportunities. Our major events are the annual Advanced Topics series in Tallahassee in partnership with the Administrative Law and Government Law sections, coordinated by Lauren Brooks (Baker Donelson), and our annual ELULS June program coordinated by Susan Martin (South Florida Water Management District) and Lauren Brooks, as part of The Florida Bar’s annual convention in Orlando. The program coordinators have thoughtfully ensured that these events include those hard-to-find credits for Bar certification, ethics, and technology. We have also held mixer social events in Orlando, Tallahassee, and Delray Beach, with more to follow!
ELULS is also diligently working on its several publications. In addition to the section’s contributions to the Bar Journal, Jake Cremer (Stearns Weaver) and Nikki Williams (Watson Sloane) work with various authors to publish our newsletter, The Reporter, featuring important updates on cases, hot topics, and law school environmental programs. Jacki Lopez (Center for Biological Diversity), Stacy Bjordahl (Charlotte County), Pamela Jo Hatley (Pamela Jo Hatley, P.A.), and Felicia Kitzmiller (Hopping Green & Sams) are managing updates to the ELULS Treatise, a key resource for Florida practitioners.
Our law school liaison, Joan Matthews (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services), has continued our strong partnership with Florida law schools. Most notably, ELULS is proud to have provided block grants to 11 schools totaling $11,000 to support conferences, guest lecturers, clinical work, and environmental moot court participation.
We are excited to soon plan for the year ahead, with an upcoming long-range planning meeting in Sarasota. The section welcomes input from all members as we discuss strategies to broaden our membership base, better engage members electronically, and continue providing valuable content to members.
Jon Harris Maurer, Chair
The Family Law Section has had an extremely successful year. The theme this year is mentorship. We mentor in so many ways, more than just advice on cases and clients. We mentor each other to be better lawyers, professionals, business owners, members of our communities, leaders, and better versions of ourselves. The overall goal of the year is to provide opportunities to section members while ensuring people feel included, heard, and valued. All levels of participation are welcome and appreciated.
Our first big event after the annual convention was our bi-annual Trial Advocacy Workshop, which was held in Tampa. Every other year, we conduct this section service to educate lawyers of all experience levels how to put on a trial from start to finish. Attendance is capped at 80 registrants who are divided into 10 groups of eight students and two board certified workshop leaders. We awarded six scholarships for this event: five general scholarships and one diversity and inclusion scholarship. Our priority for this event was to increase the number of judiciary as workshop leaders and speakers and to have a more diverse group of instructors. We were also fortunate to have our Florida Bar president participate in the technology panel. This event has multiple moving parts requiring extraordinary attention to detail. Committee Co-Chairs Jack Moring and Sarah Kay did an outstanding job, working on this program for two years.
The section currently has 11 operational committees, eight substantive committees, and seven ad hoc committees. Our committees meet in person three times a year. The first live meeting was held at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel in Lake Buena Vista in mid-September. Due to the location and time of year, we had record attendance.
In December, we went to Charleston, South Carolina, for our out-of-state retreat staying at the Restoration Hotel. We had approximately 50 people in attendance. Activities included a ghost tour as well as a tour of the historic Nathanial Russell House. The CLE was conducted by Sarah Sullivan who engaged everyone in a meaningful discussion about diversity and inclusion. The retreat co-chairs, Lori Caldwell-Carr and General Magistrate Beth Luna, put together a seamless weekend. The entire event felt like a group of longtime friends having a great time.
The second live committee meetings are held in conjunction with the section’s annual seminar, the Marital & Family Law Review Course hosted with the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort Universal Orlando from January 31 to February 1. The section awarded 21 scholarships to this event: 10 scholarships for general magistrates and hearing officers; 10 scholarships for general attendees; and one diversity and inclusion scholarship. Approximately 1,700 people attended this seminar, which sells out just about every year. During the seminar, Matthew L. Lundy received the Visionary Award for his extraordinary service to the Family Law Section.
In addition to the number of scholarships awarded, the section is extraordinarily proud of the vote during the January executive council meeting to donate $50,000 to The Florida Bar Foundation. We strive to assist legal aid organizations, which have been hit hard by budget cuts.
Our in-state retreat will be at The Resort at Longboat Key Club in Sarasota from May 14-17. Retreat Chairs Matthew Lundy and Anthony and Jeannette Genova have chosen activities that include guided meditation on the beach, a harbor cruise, and time spent at The Ringling. Florida Lawyers Assistance will present the CLE on compassion fatigue.
We have had numerous successful CLEs and were very excited about our live CLE in February in Ft. Walton Beach, our first time presenting a CLE in that area of the state. Dr. Deborah Day and Anthony Bisordi assembled several speakers who provided a comprehensive look at parenting plans. We hope this will be the first of many live CLEs in the Panhandle.
In addition, the section’s monthly newsletter, FAMSEG, has included recurring blogs about technology and health and wellness topics. We also have our more in-depth publication, The Commentator, which is published quarterly. The entire Publications Committee, led by Sarah Sullivan and Robin Scher, has been innovative with the format and content with all the section’s publications.
We have also made progress internally with changes to our website and communications between committee members. Sarah Kay, William Norvell, and Andrea Reid have been instrumental behind the scenes with ensuring we are relevant and up to date.
The Family Law Section is fortunate to have approximately 3,700 members, and we do our best to provide services for everyone. It is extremely important that we encourage and support others in all areas of life.
Amy Hamlin, Chair
The Florida Bar’s Government Lawyer Section (GLS) has over 700 members. GLS members serve in various practice areas and positions related to local, state, and national government. Twenty-two of those members serve on the executive council, the section’s leadership team. GLS’ mission is promoting the professionalism and competence of its membership, improving the delivery of legal services to all governmental entities, improving the administration of the legal system, and enhancing The Florida Bar’s and the public’s understanding of the unique needs of the government attorney.
This past year the GLS executive council completed several mission-related initiatives. Many GLS members practice appellate law. Therefore, the GLS partnered with Appellate Practice Section to create a new Joint Government Lawyer/Appellate Practice membership level. The GLS also combined efforts with the Young Lawyers Division leadership, committing to promote each other’s initiatives. Last year the GLS held its first lunch and learn law school panel. This law school outreach has been a passion of the section’s leadership. Last October, the first panel was held at FSU College of Law to a standing room crowd of students eager to discuss the value of working in the public sector.
Due to COVID-19, the section’s activities have been adversely affected. Prior to the pandemic, the GLS had scheduled future lunch and learn law school panels at the following law schools: Stetson, Nova Southeastern University, University of Florida, and St. Thomas. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, University of Miami, and Florida International University had also committed to hosting a lunch and learn. And we were also in the process of reaching out to other Florida law schools. Unfortunately, all have been canceled due to the current pandemic.
Other signature programs have also been canceled or postponed. The Advanced Topics in Administrative Law (co-sponsored by the Administrative, Environmental, and Government Lawyer sections) has been postponed until July. This annual course showcases significant areas of administrative, environmental, and government law. The Practicing Before the Supreme Court program scheduled in June has been postponed indefinitely.
In the spring, the GLS is planning to have a webinar series featuring various topics, including Marsy’s Law, agency deference, and administrative appeals.
These and other initiatives are only possible thanks to active and engaged members. The GLS encourages its members to contribute ideas about how the section can better fulfill its mission. The GLS actively recruits members to join the executive council or one of its committees. The section has many leadership opportunities and other ways its members can help realize the shared goal of boosting the prominence of government lawyers across the state. To find out how to get more involved, members are encouraged to email the current president at [email protected] or visit the section’s website, http://www.flgovlawyer.org/.
Anthony B. Miller, Chair
The Health Law Section of The Florida Bar, initiated in 1988, is comprised of more than 1,500 members and is dedicated to the education of practitioners with an interest or practice in the field of health care law. The section’s educational programs have recently been and continue to be in the process of being revamped, membership outreach has been reviewed and enhanced, and publication of information and legislation critical to health law practitioners have been prioritized. Additionally, the section is undertaking initiatives with regard to its website and communications with our membership to better serve the membership as a whole. A strategic planning retreat, held in early November, proved to be a very effective way to define the long-term initiatives of the section and outline certain expectations for the leadership in coming years. As outlined below, implementation of the long-term strategic plan is underway.
Continuing Legal Education is central to the mission of our section. The popularity of our education programs continues to grow. The section has been investigating ways to reduce the overall spend for its CLE programming by identifying locations that might offer alternative pricing for room use and food and beverage. Recent past and upcoming CLE programs of the section are described here:
1) The Master Class: Legal Issues with Mental Health and Substance Abuse was held on September 13, 2019, in Orlando. This is a revamped program and many thanks to Barry Herrin for spearheading this CLE, which was both timely and informative.
2) Representing the Physician was held on January 31 in Tampa. This CLE offered insight and observations as to the current state of issues most pertinent to physicians and the lawyers who represent them. Co-Chairs Radha Bachman and Jason Mehta put together a fantastic group of speakers for this event.
3) On March 26 and 27, the section planned to hold its annual Advanced Health Law Topics and Certification Review in Orlando. This is our most popular and well-attended program and for good reason. This two-day course offers an in-depth review of areas likely to be tested, and provides advice and guidance on the structure and format of the exam to test takers. Many thanks to Robert Pelaia, who serves as chair of this program, and who continues to work on improving the content and speakers on an annual basis.*
4) Healthcare in South Florida was planned to be held on May 15 in Miami. This is a new program and is part of the section’s initiative to diversify the location of its in-person educational programs to provide greater access to section members throughout the state. This program will focus on issues that may be more relevant to the South Florida healthcare industry. Michael Gennett and Marcy Hahn-Saperstein serve as co-chairs and put together a cutting-edge program.*
(*These programs were postponed due to the COVID-19 emergency declaration.)
In addition to the live presentations outlined above, the section continues to offer the ever-popular monthly “Eat and Educate” audio webcast series.
For the coming year, the section has decided to allocate more resources to its communications platform. Health Law Updates is the section’s bi-monthly electronic publication, emphasizing various, emerging topics in health law, including, compliance, fraud and abuse, facility and professional licensure, life sciences, privacy and security, public health, transactions, and payor issues. The section also issues weekly email blasts to all members advising of all section events and activities, as well as event-specific notices on a periodic basis.
A new section LinkedIn page has been created and the section is taking concerted measures to increase its presence on social media platforms by encouraging section members to post and repost pertinent content.
The section also continues to engage with Florida law schools and collaborate with some of the student associations affiliated with these schools. The intent is to foster interest and participation in the practice of healthcare law in the formative stages of professional development.
The section has also undertaken an effort to increase the network and social benefits associated with membership by holding more local networking events — many of which are sponsored by healthcare industry vendors or law firms with significant healthcare industry involvement. A series of networking events throughout the state were organized and scheduled for April. Unfortunately, they have been temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19 situation, but will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
As it relates to legislative activity of the section, the Florida Patient Brokering Act was recently amended in such a manner that may have inadvertently raised legal issues as to certain business and contractual arrangements which have been generally accepted as the norm in Florida and upon which health law attorneys frequently render advice on. In line with the section’s goal of advocating on behalf of the common interests of the members, the Health Law Section chose to actively advocate in support of legislation to provide the clarity and protection required by health law attorneys to continue rendering effective legal advice to clients on the Patient Brokering Act. The section engaged a lobbyist, and a “glitch” bill (SB 1120), supported by the section, successfully passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s signature. All of the above was done in accordance with the processes required by the Bar with respect to legislative position and retention of lobbyists.
Finally, in early November, the executive council held an all-day strategic planning retreat, its first in recent history, in Orlando. We considered new strategies to grow the section, attract new members, create better access for section members to CLEs and meetings, and create interest through section-wide events, such as an annual Health Law Section event in locations throughout the state. Members of the executive council worked diligently to create a long-range strategic plan (LRP) that was approved at the executive council in January. Fine-tuning of initiatives and implementation of the LRP is underway through section committees (existing and ad-hoc committees created for that purpose) involving most of the executive council and other general section membership. These efforts are expected to benefit the section for years to come and provide the structure for continuity and success.
This year, our section program administrator, Emily Young, has done a wonderful job, never fails to exceed expectations, and demonstrates the utmost capability. She will be a valuable resource for years to come for our section.
It has been a privilege and honor to serve the section.
J. Everett Wilson, Chair
The International Law Section was founded in 1981 and is a forum for the sharing of knowledge, experience, and “best practices” that improve the administration and application of the statutes, rules, and regulations pertaining to the practice of international law, including transnational business transactions, taxation, customs and trade, litigation, and arbitration. In furtherance of that mission, our section has done the following over the last year:
1) The section held its bellwether annual CLE conference, the iLaw2020: The Global Forum on International Law, at the J.W. Marriott Marquis Hotel in Miami in February. The unofficial theme of this year’s iLaw conference was international corruption. The iLaw conference has three tracks of panels: one each for litigation, arbitration, and business transactions. The arbitration track of panels was presented in conjunction with the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR). The iLaw includes CLE for both ethics and technology, in addition to international law certification credits, and a renowned luncheon speaker. The luncheon speaker at the iLaw2020 was Elisabeth Eljuri, former chief legal counsel of Sierra Oil & Gas, who provided the audience an insightful look into her career path as an international law practitioner and the challenges it entailed. The iLaw is coordinated by a volunteer force of dedicated section members.
2) In February, the section held its Richard DeWitt Memorial Vis Pre-Moot Competition at the offices of JAMS in Miami. The Vis is a moot arbitration competition held in either Asia or Europe, or sometimes both. Seven Florida law schools and one European law school entered the competition, and the section holds a competition to “pre-moot” the contestants. All Florida schools that attend the Richard DeWitt Memorial Vis Pre-Moot Competition receive scholarships from the section to defray the cost of traveling overseas to the competition in the summer of 2020.
3) The section held its midyear executive council meeting on February 27 at the law firm of Hogan Lovells in Miami. Reports of the activities of our various committees were heard and various motions carried. The section posts its executive council agendas on its website for member review. The section will hold its annual meeting, including executive board elections, at The Florida Bar convention in Orlando in June.
4) The section publishes The International Law Quarterly, its magazine on international law. The publication can be accessed at internationallawsection.org/publications/international-law-quarterly on the section’s website. The last issue, published in February, was dedicated to a “Focus on Global Challenges to Democracy,” while the Fall 2019 issue was a “Focus on the Caribbean.”
5) Over the course of the year, the ILS held monthly sponsored “Lunch and Learn” events in Coral Gables whereby the chair-elect of the section, Robert Becerra, interviewed prominent international practitioners about the nature of their practices.
6) In October 2019 the section held its leadership retreat at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. In addition to committee meetings planning for the year, presentations were given by cyber-investigators and Paula Black, a motivational coach in the legal industry.
7) In November 2019, the section conducted its Orlando holiday luncheon, held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando, attended by a variety of Central Florida international practitioners.
8) The section held its holiday reception in December 2019 in Miami at La Muse Café, an art gallery/cafe. During that reception, section members and the Women’s Committee collected business attire for donation to those who do not have the funds to purchase such attire but require it for job interviews/employment. The collection was a great success, and in the holiday spirit.
9) Over the course of the year, the section held an audio webcast series on several international law topics, which provide opportunities for international lawyers to earn valuable CLE.
10) The section is very involved in vetting applicants for the foreign legal consultant certification. Foreign legal consultants are foreign attorneys who are certified under Ch. 16 of The Florida Bar rules to provide legal advice in Florida regarding the laws of the countries within which they are licensed to practice law. We believe we are the only section that vets candidates for the Supreme Court for a certification approval.
11) The section is publishing an International Law Desk Reference Book, which will be used for assisting applicants for the Bar’s two board certifications involving international practice: the international law certification and the international litigation and arbitration certification. The section will also sell the book to the legal community as a reference resource and to augment the section’s revenue sources. The book is currently going to print.
12) The section has been collaborating with the Business Law Section on a proposed rewrite of F.S. Ch. 44 regarding international service of process.
As can be seen above, the International Law Section is very active and will continue to be so in 2020-2021 under the leadership of incoming Chair Robert Becerra. Given Florida’s integral connection with international business, immigration, and human rights issues, and its diverse population requiring experienced and knowledgeable international practitioners, the ILS will continue to be relevant to and engaged with the international legal community.
Clarissa A. Rodriguez, Chair
Labor and Employment Law
The Labor and Employment Law Section of the Bar continues to provide exemplary service to the Bar, its membership, the judiciary, and the public. The section’s primary goals are the delivery of premier CLE and educational programs, publication of informative legal articles and implementation of technological changes in delivery of services to the membership. We urge members to assume key section roles and join committees. We also strive to meet the ever-changing demands of employers and employees.
To accommodate the increasingly busy practitioner, we held a substantial number of webinars for our section as well as regular CLEs. We completed our annual update and board certification review in February in Orlando. In March, we also had a fantastic repeat seminar on practicing before state agencies in Tallahassee. Due to the coronavirus, we have had to reschedule our Advanced Labor Topics 2020 seminar, which was scheduled for Washington, D.C., in April. We are tentatively rescheduling this seminar for fall. Our section is made up of small and large firms, public and private attorneys, and those representing both the employer and employees. Our CLEs have something for every practitioner in large part due to the efforts of Sacha Dyson, our legal education director.
We are updated our website last year and the new site is up and running. Many thanks to Brian Lerner and his committee.
The section continued its outreach efforts to maintain links with the Bar, the National Labor Relations Board, national and voluntary bar organizations, regulatory agencies, the judiciary, and law schools through its various committees and subcommittees.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to several section great members who are being nominated for our Hall of Fame award.
On behalf of our officers and its executive council, I urge Bar members to consider the benefits and camaraderie of joining the Labor & Employment Section and attending its live CLE events and meetings.
David Adams, Chair
The Out-of-State Division (OOSD) of The Florida Bar is pleased to provide its 2019-2020 annual report.
The purpose of the Out-of-State Division of The Florida Bar is to provide a community for all Florida Bar members who reside outside the state of Florida. The OOSD does not focus on any specific practice area, but rather on the common interests and needs of out-of-state Florida Bar members. The many functions of the OOSD include 1) establishing a network to connect out-of-state members; 2) aiding in the development of laws that eliminate disparate treatment of out-of-state members; 3) providing a forum for discussing issues of interest; and 4) supporting the development and maintenance of professional relationships between in-state and out-of-state members. The OOSD accomplishes these objectives by hosting networking events throughout the country, reviewing proposed legislative and policy changes for their impact on out-of-state members, and communicating with members through regularly distributed newsletter and social media.
There are currently more than 15,000 members of The Florida Bar who reside outside of Florida. Members live in every state of the U.S. and each of its territories, as well as in 52 countries around the world. The OOSD’s current membership of 925 represents some growth over last year’s number and is a significant percentage of out-of-state members.
In September 2019, the Out-of-State Division held an executive council meeting via conference call to discuss and vote on some exciting initiatives we rolled out this year, including an updated website and plans for a live three-hour CLE and networking reception to be held in New York City. We set the agenda for the coming year and looked forward to providing as many new member benefits as possible.
In November 2019, we met at then President-elect Richard Lawson’s New York City office of Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP. We held an executive council meeting to discuss many issues, including an expansion of our traditional CLE offerings to include audio-only webcasts. At that meeting, Mr. Lawson informed the executive council that he had accepted a job in Florida and would be moving his practice to Tampa in the coming weeks.
After the meeting, three of our members presented a CLE series addressing issues snowbirds face when they have property interests in both New York and Florida (CLE 3503, Tax, Estate Planning, Real Estate and Ethical Considerations for FL/NY Snowbirds). Tim Chinaris, the OOSD’s current Multi-State Practice Committee chair, associate dean for information services at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and past chair of The Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee, focused on ethical issues and provided updates on the most recent cases. Next, Bruce Steiner, a taxation, estate planning, business succession planning, and estate and trust administration attorney at Kleinberg, Kaplan, Wolff & Cohen, P.C. in New York City with over 40 years of experience and an extensive list of high-profile presentations and publications, presented on tax and estate planning for snowbirds. Finally, Joanne Fanizza, a solo practitioner with offices in Melville, New York, and Ft. Lauderdale, and recipient of numerous pro bono awards from Florida Bar-related organizations, focused on issue-spotting for the New York Lawyer whose clients may be considering a change in domiciliary to Florida.
After the CLE, the OOSD hosted an appetizer and cocktails networking reception where members of the executive council enjoyed getting to know local Florida Bar members. As an added bonus, our meeting room allowed us to preview the famous Times Square New Year’s Eve ball! The OOSD extends a huge thank you to its presenters, local Florida Bar members who joined us, Mr. Lawson and Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP for providing us with an outstanding location, and the city of New York for providing us with an exceptional backdrop for our events.
In December, the OOSD sponsored an audio webcast (CLE 3771, Advanced Cross-examination Topics) presented by Richard Tanner who practices as a mediator in Sarasota. Mr. Tanner is the former chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has extensive litigation experience in both government and private practice, has taught numerous courses at the Florida State University College of Law, and has widely contributed thought leadership through publications and his professional affiliations. This is the first CLE we have approached in this format to memory, and it proved to be engaging and highly successful through after-market sales. It is the OOSD’s intention to sponsor more webcast CLEs to provide additional member benefits and raise money so the OOSD can expand its local networking receptions to additional cities in years to come. Another big thank you to Mr. Tanner for taking his time to present on this topic and test out this format for us, and to our CLE Committee chair, Eric Meeks, for his extensive contributions to this and all OOSD CLEs.
Also in December, and in accordance with President-elect Lawson’s move to Florida and mutually agreed-upon resignation from the executive council, the nominating committee recommended that Cullan Jones of Washington, D.C., fill the open president-elect position for the remainder of the year. A huge thank you goes out to Mr. Lawson for his service to the OOSD over the past several years as we wish him much luck in his new endeavors and look forward to seeing him at the annual convention. Another big thank you goes to Mr. Jones for agreeing to step into the president-elect role mid-cycle in addition to maintaining his position as treasurer.
The OOSD has long supported and advocated for an amendment to F.S. §733.304 permitting Florida Bar members in good standing to be the personal representatives for the estates of their Florida clients. In the 2020 Florida legislative session, thanks in large part to OOSD’s Legislative Committee Chair G.C. Murray, Jr., of Tallahassee, Rep. Anika Omphroy filed HB 1421 to do just that. The bill received unanimous approval as it passed the Civil Justice Subcommittee, although it did not ultimately pass this session. This is the most progress we have seen in our decades of support for this issue, and we look forward to continuing our advocacy next session. The OOSD extends sincere gratitude to Representative Omphroy for being a passionate advocate for this matter and appreciates her excellent service to Floridians.
The OOSD’s executive council was very excited to join The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors in Williamsburg, Virginia, in March for our final meeting before the annual convention in June; however, the meeting was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. In accordance with guidance from Florida Bar President Stewart and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we opted to hold the meeting via conference call later that month instead to protect both our members and the public. At that meeting, OOSD President Dorsey unveiled the division’s new website to the executive council. The updates bring the website in line with other Florida Bar section and division websites by providing a modern format that houses its useful links, resources, information and interactive features. At this meeting, the executive council also discussed CLE sales and plans for upcoming meetings and events, including the annual meeting set for Orlando in June.
As in previous years, the OOSD continued the electronic distribution of its quarterly newsletter, State to State, to all Florida Bar members residing outside of Florida under the direction of Information Committee Chair Don Workman of Washington, D.C. Each edition of State to State features an in-depth review of the latest actions taken by The Florida Bar Board of Governors and multiple articles of importance to out-of-state member interests. The most recent edition included a question and answer session from the two candidates for The Florida Bar president-elect, Renee Thompson and Michael Tanner. State to State also provides OOSD members multiple means to market themselves and their practice through regular advertising or as part of the newsletter’s “Attorney Spotlight” feature. If you are interested in contributing an article, advertising, or being spotlighted in an upcoming edition, please reach out to us.
This year, the OOSD also continued last year’s efforts to increase engagement on its social media accounts, as such forums are a key means of reaching Florida Bar members throughout the country. Under the leadership of Social Media Committee Chair and Immediate Past President Matthew Kahl of Lake Oswego, Oregon, the division ramped up its efforts on Facebook and Twitter where the OOSD continued its weekly segment titled #OOSDDidYouKnow, which provides statistics, data, and other information relating to the OOSD with a touch of humor to lighten your day. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @TFBOutOfState, and tag us if you have any announcements you would like us to repost.
Much of the work that the OOSD accomplished this year would not have been possible without the assistance of our program administrator, Emily Young. Ms. Young took over the role last year and has been an outstanding resource as we have navigated numerous novel challenges this year. Emily plays a role in nearly everything we do as a division and is a joy to work with on top of that. Thank you, Ms. Young!
The OOSD also thanks its officers, members of the executive council, its four Board of Governors representatives, and all out-of-state Florida Bar members that have made this successful year. The OOSD looks forward to providing more benefits to out-of-state members in future years and continuing to collaborate with other sections and divisions of The Florida Bar.
Natasha B. Dorsey, President
Public Interest Law
The Public Interest Law Section (PILS) is excited to report on this year’s activities for feedback and suggestions from our membership at large, as well as all members of The Florida Bar. Toward the end of the 18-19 Bar year, PILS received a comprehensive list of recommendations to help our section grow while providing dynamic opportunities for our membership, both within our section and collaborating with others. While not fully implemented yet, many changes have already been completed.
During the early part of the Bar year, we sent out a member survey to get feedback directly from our general membership on what programming they are interested in. This, along with the Program Evaluation Committee (PEC) recommendations has provided us guidance on where to go next.
Currently, PILS is in the process of re-launching our website, which will hopefully be live when this is published. Our goal is to create a more aesthetically pleasing website, with lots of useful content that’s updated frequently, including events and a calendar. We also wanted the ability to update it ourselves, which means it needs to be on a user-friendly platform. Special thanks to The Florida Bar communications team for their help in getting this done and providing useful feedback and suggestions along the way. Also, we launched our Facebook page, which you can find @PILSFlaBar. Please like our page and follow us on Twitter @FLPILS. We would love to publish any content our members want to send along to us.
Additionally, our chair has sent out numerous email updates to the entire membership with information on upcoming webinars, committee work, as well as calls to action.
Lastly, we were honored to present at the Board of Governors meeting in December held in Orlando to present on the great things happening in our section, along with the areas that still needed improvement. We received excellent feedback from the BOG on our presentation, which also included PEC members.
Our committees, in the meantime, have hit the ground running. We have several substantive law committees, which we affectionately call our legacy committees, as well as five newer ones created specifically to help address most of the Program Evaluation Committee recommendations, such as networking, recruitment, and advocacy, among others.
• Newer Set of Committees Updates — The Advocacy Committee has been working feverishly this legislative session thanks to our chair, Candice Brower. Specifically, we supported HB 1173/SB 1292, a bill that allows children to have their records expunged after diversion regardless of the charge level, which was previously limited to misdemeanors. Both the House and Senate version passed.
The Engagement Committee set goals the following goals for its year, including 1) actively communicate with membership utilizing Bar resources as a platform; 2) recruit column pieces to revamp PILS space in The Florida Bar Journal; and 3) create a PILS leadership development forum to enhance opportunities for PILS members to become leaders throughout The Florida Bar community.
Additionally, the Engagement Committee was actively involved with the Public Interest Law Section survey that was distributed to members of The Florida Bar and the section to facilitate membership and communication. Special guest speaker Hilary Creary was invited to discuss with the Executive Committee avenues to enhance opportunities for PILS members to become leaders throughout The Florida Bar community. Open leadership roles were actively publicized to the EC with hopes that members would seize the opportunity to take on leadership roles.
The Recruitment Committee has adopted an amendment to the PILS’ bylaws to include law school students as affiliate members at a reduced annual fee thanks to the dedicated work of member Jennifer Gordon. Once we see this change reflected on our Bar fee statement, we will begin recruiting directly through our 12 law schools in Florida. We’re excited to work more with our law school students to engage them in our section work as early as possible.
The Professional Engagement Committee has continued to present several successful webinars on consumer law with the assistance of North Florida Legal Services. The committee is also preparing for the juvenile law exam certification training on April 17 and 18 at Barry Law University, which may now be offered virtually due to coronavirus. We typically have more than 100 attendees for each of our CLEs.
• Substantive Law Committee Updates — The Children’s Rights Committee has collaborated to determine the greatest unmet needs among the children we serve statewide. The issues that we have determined cut through each of our practice areas — from delinquency to dependency to special education and more — are the over-use of Baker Acts and the implementation of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas laws. There has been interest from the Florida Education Association for the trainings we are developing, as well as other education-based organizations. We’re currently creating two trainings, one on the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School Public School Safety Act to discuss the implementation of this law, as well as considerations for those it affects. Another webinar will be related to the Baker Act, specifically the increasing number of students being held for involuntary mental-health examination under the Baker Act.
The Nonprofit Legal Issues Committee was rebooted in 2020 thanks to interest from our PILS members. The committee is also working to host two CLE webinars in 2020 on topics, such as “Legal and Ethical Issues for Lawyers Serving on a Nonprofit Board,” and “Representing the Nonprofit Client: Who is Your Client?”
The members of the Parents Advocacy Committee worked with the Legal Needs of Children Committee, a standing committee of The Florida Bar, on the draft of guidelines for practice for lawyers who represent parents in Ch. 39 proceedings.
Ericka Garcia, Chair
Solo and Small Firm
The Solo and Small Firm Section is having an outstanding year thanks to the hard work of the members of our executive council and the participation of the membership. We continue our CLE programs with seven audio-webcasts on the following topics: “How to Ethically Build a Virtual Law Firm Business Model,” “Employment Law Mistakes Small Firm Practitioners Should Avoid,” “Malpractice Pitfalls for Solo and Small Firms,” “Hidden Immigration Law: Implications Solo and Small Firm Practitioners Need to Be Aware Of,” “Transitioning from Government to Private and/or Solo Practice,” “Medical Marijuana and Hemp Update in Florida,” “Ethics and the Law,” “The Ethics of Sharing Fees Among Law Firms,” and “Work Interrupted.” These are all directed to the solo and small-firm practitioners and to their office staff. The response has been extremely positive, and we look forward to continuing these programs in the future.
Wednesday Wisdom free webinars continue to be a popular opportunity for our members to network and share information. As before it can be viewed live or it is available to our members-only Facebook group on demand. Our Wednesday Wisdoms this Bar year have been board certification and other recognitions to enhance your practice, trust accounting procedures and steps to protect your clients funds, paralegals and lawyers, a critical partnership for pretrial litigation, a lawyer’s guide to creating a life, not just a living, opportunities for small firm lawyers, attracting and retaining clients, does the practice of law need to be this stressful, trust books for solo and small firms, and creating an employee handbook in the legal industry.
Our mid-winter meeting conference was one of the best ever. The theme was “SOS: Secure, Optimize and Systematize.” The topics were all timely and relevant for solo and small firm practitioners: cybersecurity and privacy for lawyers, bar resources, mentoring and bar member benefits, automation and integration and paperless strategies, creating and managing a successful virtual law firm, and generating outside income and revenue streams. We had outstanding panels of speakers to share their thoughts and insights on these topics. For the upcoming annual convention in Orlando we will be presenting our annual Florida Law Update.
Our annual Agricultural Law Update, presented by Professor Michael Olexa of the University of Florida and sponsored by Florida Farm Bureau, was another outstanding success. Professor Olexa presented speakers on employment law affecting farm operations, crop insurance legal update, water management district legal update and marijuana agricultural legal update with the emphasis on the impact on the solo and small-firm practitioner.
Our out-of-country trip this year will be to Norway. Section members and those joining them will be sailing on the Hurtigruten Cruise Line on the MS Midnatsol. This is a unique opportunity to visit the coastal towns of Norway from Bergen north of the Arctic Circle and to be immersed in local culture at each port while at the same time getting the benefit of CLE aboard ship.
We continue to provide interactive communication among our members through our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn programs. We had 2,223 followers on Twitter and 1,233 followers on Facebook. Our newsletter, The Link, provides updates and practice management tips, and our biweekly QuickLINK e-newsletter continues to provide topics of benefit to the solo and small-firm practitioner.
I encourage all our members to get involved with the section and provide those of us on the executive council your thoughts and ideas regarding CLEs and other programs that we have sponsored in the past and ideas for improvement and new programs in the future. We believe that our section is ideally positioned to help you grow and improve your practice and to balance that with your life beyond the legal profession. These are goals we share, and I invite each of you to attend one of our executive council meetings to give us your thoughts and ideas firsthand.
Our section has always been one of the most representative sections of the Bar because we serve and communicate with all practice areas. This makes our section the ideal focus for technology, practice management, and administrative efficiency. Our section looks forward to meeting the needs of our members in these areas and to bringing new members into the section to take advantage of the many opportunities available.
Lee E. “Pete” Muschott, Chair
The Tax Section started off its year, as it has for as long as I can remember, at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation over the Fourth of July. This is our organizational meeting and sets the tone and path for the entire year. We heard a great line up of speakers during the Ullman Year in Review CLE, which was chaired by Michael O’Leary, our chair-elect. We honored Christopher A. Pavilonis as the 2019-2020 Marvin C. Gutter Outstanding Public Service Award recipient. Christopher is an attorney in the Jacksonville office of IRS Chief Counsel and has been a great friend to the section for many years.
This year, we welcomed a new division to the Tax Section, the International Tax Division. During the section’s long-range planning retreat in January 2018, the section identified the need to separate the area of international tax from the general federal tax division. The area of international tax continues to grow as is evidenced by the continued success of our largest CLE of the year, the International Tax Conference held in January in Miami. The event is held over three days with the first day consisting of a more basic-level CLE we have labeled the “boot camp.” This year’s event was chaired by Steve Hadjilogiou. Our new International Tax Division is co-chaired in its inaugural year by Jennifer Wioncek and Alfredo Tamayo.
Our fall meeting was held at the Don Cesar in St. Pete Beach. The highlight of the meeting was a CLE on estate planning, Best at the Beach, Sophisticated and Innovative Tax and Estate Planning After Tax Reform. The CLE was chaired by Cristin Keane and Paul Lee. The speaker lineup was top notch and included many national speakers. The CLE was well attended and received great reviews.
This year’s Directors’ Committee meeting was held at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. The meeting also included a mini long-range planning retreat, which continues the work of our formal long-range planning retreat from 2018. The mini retreat is to ensure that the section continues to follow the path laid out at the retreat. The mini retreat not only recognizes what we have accomplished as a section, but provides a time to review where we still need to focus our energies. The mini retreat was attended by members of the Directors’ Committee, as well as several members of our new Tax Lawyer’s Division. This year’s mini retreat was chaired by Mark Brown and Shawn Wolf.
For the second year, the section partnered with the University of Florida in holding its Tax Moot Court Competition. The event was held in March in Gainesville. This year saw 14 teams from across the country compete for a chance to argue in front of U.S. Tax Court judges. The first two days of the competition are judged by local practitioners. There are awards for best brief and best individual oralist, as well as the team winner. The problem this year was an international tax question and was drafted by Daniel Hudson and Keith Hagan. The new International Division helped to review the problem. The Moot Court competition was chaired by Brian Howsare and Justin Wallace.
One of the challenges that continues to face the Tax Section is how to engage and involve its members at both its meetings and at CLE events. This year’s co-directors of the Education Division, Christopher Callahan and Thomas Treece, have worked on different formats for our CLEs in hopes of determining what is drawing people and what the future of our CLEs should look like. The Tax Section continues to present hour-long free phone CLEs once a month. These are very well attended and provide valuable education to our members.
The section made the decision to hire a marketing specialist to assist the section with marketing our meetings and CLE events. She works closely with the director of marketing and membership, Dana Apfelbaum, as well as the heads of our different divisions to promote their events. She is also involved in producing our monthly e-newsletter which has become a valuable resource for our members as well as a spotlight for our sponsors and a place to recognize members for their dedication and hard work.
Our annual meeting was set to be held in May in the Bahamas. This was to be our chance to recognize our Gerald T. Hart Tax Attorney of the Year, Cristin Keane. Unfortunately, this meeting is going to be canceled, and we will have to determine when the appropriate time is to celebrate Cristin’s award. The annual meeting also was to include a CLE on international tax, which was chaired by Shawn Wolf.
This year would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our bar administrator Leslie Reithmiller. She keeps me and the section on track. She even managed to find the time to head up the Tax Section’s first flash mob at our organizational meeting. Yes, tax lawyers can dance.
Janette M. McCurley, Chair
The Trial Lawyers Section has had a productive year. The Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition and Teachers Law Symposium was hosted in Tampa in January. Sixteen teams from eight Florida law schools participated in the Mock Trial competition. Approximately 150 teachers from around the state attended the symposium. The faculty received many outstanding reviews from the participants. During the lunch on Thursday, students and teachers were treated to comments from Judge Black, a senior judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, who spoke on the importance of an independent judiciary.
The Trial Lawyers Section has also sponsored a wide range of CLE courses throughout the year. One of the featured CLE programs is the review course for board certification, which was held in Tampa on February 12 and 13.
The legislative committee is actively monitoring legislation that could impact access to courts or infringe on the independence of the judiciary. The session has gone smoothly for the section.
The Trial Lawyers Section will conduct one of its flagship programs, the Advanced Trial Advocacy Seminar, from May 12 to 16. This program annually assembles the most talented, experienced faculty of any similar trial practice program. This year will be no exception.
The Trial Lawyers Section quarterly publication, The Edge, has a new look and should attract more use and reference with the updated profile. With assistance from and coordination with the Bar, the section is prepared to continue to advance our mission of promoting access to courts and an independent judiciary.
Clifford W. Sanborn, Chair
The Workers’ Compensation Section has increased its membership to more than 1,300 members. We have a successful series of lunch and learn seminars, and through the fine work of Dawn Traverso, we have many judges who speak at these seminars. We also offer a comprehensive board certification review seminar, The Forum, which we present in cooperation with Workers’ Compensation Claims Professionals. We have annual attendance at this in-depth seminar of over 500 attendees and are excited that the First District Court of Appeal will again be holding oral arguments at The Forum.
We have gone digital with our new and improved News and 440 Report, which publishes about five times per year. Paolo Longo and Courtney Bahe have done an excellent job getting this publication together and released on time. We have continued our efforts to keeping an open relationship between the bench and bar and have worked with the judiciary on periodic seminars around the state to help improve the system and communication.
Many of our members participate in an annual workday at Give Kids the World. This year we joined forces at the WCI Education Conference and had over 1,100 volunteers who spent the day working at Give Kids the World. The work that was done in that one day would have taken their staff more than six months to complete.
Glen D. Wieland, Chair
Young Lawyers Division
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) continues to be the change agent for The Florida Bar. While we worked hard on various new initiatives this year, I would like to acknowledge two large accomplishments that had their genesis at the YLD level.
First, we saw the promulgation of the parental leave continuance rule by the Florida Supreme Court — a cause that began in the YLD and that the ABA adopted as a resolution based on the YLD’s submission of the proposed rule. The YLD’s Lara Bach argued on behalf of the YLD during oral argument before the Florida Supreme Court and served as a sterling example of the high caliber of young lawyers practicing in the state of Florida.
Second, we saw the Florida Supreme Court lower the number of topics on the Bar exam — a subject that was first raised and discussed during the YLD’s Annual Law School Dean Summit. The annual Dean Summit provides a forum for the deans of Florida’s law schools to meet with representatives from the Bar, the Florida Supreme Court, and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners to discuss critical issues facing these stakeholders. The YLD will continue to host the annual Dean Summit in order to keep advancing the profession as law students transition to the practice of law.
In terms of new initiatives, the YLD’s focus this year was on government lawyers — an often under-represented and under-appreciated segment of our Bar population. Celia Dorn and Randall Richardson served as the chair and co-chair of the new YLD Committee on Government Lawyers. Together with their committee, they oversaw the first ever Summit on Young Government Lawyers in Orlando on November 1, 2019. Over 115 government lawyers (both young and seasoned) attended and discussed the issues facing young government lawyers across Florida. Different ideas and incentives were discussed to better accommodate and promote young government lawyer involvement in both Bar activities and community organizations. Currently, regional summits are being planned and will take place in late-Spring across all 20 judicial circuits for young lawyers to attend and learn more about the feedback the YLD gained from the main summit.
The Health and Wellness committee continued its #StigmaFreeYLD campaign under the leadership of Kayla Richmond and Ethan Wall. The goal this year was to expand the campaign to include more stigmas the YLD is tackling and seeks to eliminate. These additional stigmas include the unfair and untrue criticisms faced by government lawyers, the negative and harsh reaction faced by those who wish to utilize paternity leave, the stress and negativity felt by those who fail the bar exam, the continued existence of the gender gap in the legal profession, and the issues encountered as a result of the generational gap in legal workplaces. The YLD is committed to ending all stigmas that surround lawyers and the practice of law and looks forward to expanding on this campaign in the years to come.
Another major accomplishment of the YLD was the unveiling of the Law School Affiliates, which replaced the Law Student Division. Iris Elijah and Ciara Willis led the charge in reinventing the way the YLD interacts with law schools and law students. Based on productive conversations during the YLD’s annual Dean Summit, the Law School Affiliates was created to better suit the needs of law students, law schools, and the Bar. The Law School Affiliates will now be comparable to young lawyer affiliates across the state and will utilize grants from the YLD for programs that will be tailored by each law school for their respective needs.
In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Michael, the YLD was ready to assist Florida citizens with legal issues following a natural disaster. Working in conjunction with FEMA and the ABA, the YLD, led by ABA District 11 Representative Thomas Graham, was able to activate and solicit volunteers for the FEMA Disaster Relief Hotline before Hurricane Dorian impacted Florida. This was the first time the YLD was able to activate its hotline before a hurricane made landfall with Florida, which would have made it easier for victims to receive needed assistance after the disaster. Fortunately, Florida was able to avoid the devastating storm, but the YLD was fully prepared to assist Floridians should the storm have hit as predicted.
Similarly, under the guidance of Nicholas Zbrzeznj, the YLD had mini community service projects or donation requests at each of its board meetings that benefited the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, the Homeless Empowerment Program in Clearwater, the Beth Dillinger Nourish to Flourish Program in Pinellas County, and K9 Partners for Patriots in Tampa. The YLD also assisted in relief efforts in Nashville during its March out-of-state meeting in response to the destructive tornado that hit the music city.
The YLD hosted its annual Affiliate Outreach Conference at the Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach. Paul Silvestri and Leslie Metz chaired the 80s/90s themed conference that provided more than $50,000 in grants to young lawyer affiliates around Florida. Many outstanding programs were presented, and the YLD was ecstatic to welcome over 250 young lawyer affiliate leaders and multiple sections of The Florida Bar. Through the hard work of the Awards Committee, especially co-chairs Masimba Mutamba and Maria Vigilante, the YLD was able to efficiently award multiple grants and awards at AOC and throughout the year.
The Practicing with Professionalism (PWP) committee engaged in a substantial reshoot of the required PWP CLE, including a new segment on implicit bias. Lara Bach and Ashlea Edwards chaired this endeavor and coordinated all recordings, including a new Florida Supreme Court panel and a presentation from the Bar’s Center for Professionalism. The issues associated with professionalism cannot be understated and have rippling effects on the health and wellness issues impacting our profession.
The YLD also worked closely with the Florida Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission (ATJ). Under the guidance of Giselle Gutierrez and Harold “HP” Pryor, the YLD wrote scripts utilized in videos, which are available on the ATJ website. These videos are intended to assist Florida citizens who are unfamiliar with the court system about what to expect when they attend court and how to engage in preliminary court proceedings. The YLD and the ATJ will continue to work together to eliminate the access to justice gap faced by many Floridians.
The Transition to Practice Committee, chaired by Stephanie Cagnet Myron and Kevin Barr, also worked hard to educate young lawyers on topics that are directly impacting them. November 2019 was Financial Literacy Month and this committee hosted a Financial Wellness Webinar designed to assist young lawyers with issues pertaining to student loans, financial planning, and retirement goals. Further, various articles, podcasts, and websites were promoted on social media daily to provide additional resources to young lawyers. The committee is also currently engaged in a project dubbed “Practical Advice for Young Lawyers,” which provides practice advice in targeted areas through videos, webinars, and articles.
The YLD Communications Committee, led by Anisha Patel and Dane Heptner, were responsible for the content that helped get the word out on projects designed to inspire and empower young lawyers, including our YLD Newsletter, YLD meeting reports, email blasts, and other similar content. Also, a big thank you is owed to The Florida Bar’s communications and social media team (I’m looking at you, Danny Aller) for their promotion of the YLD and to the staff of The Florida Bar News who have highlighted so much of our work this year.
On a personal note, it was the honor of my professional life to lead the YLD. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wife, Stephanie, my family, and my law firm family, who have made my Bar service possible. Thank you to YLD President-Elect Adam White (and his family and coworkers) for being my right hand all year and for leading Florida’s young lawyer delegation at American Bar Association events with me. The YLD is in great hands with Adam and he will be an incredible leader next year. YLD Program Administrator and Marshall Cassedy Award Recipient Tom Miller is the heart and soul of the YLD and has been the constant force behind the success of the YLD. He deserves credit for all the accomplishments listed above and more. Last, but certainly not least, The Florida Bar Board of Governors and particularly its leaders, John Stewart, Dori Foster-Morales, and Bar Executive Director Josh Doyle, have been hugely supportive of the YLD and its goals. Without this support from Bar leadership, the YLD would be unable to achieve all its success.
Expect even bigger and better achievements from the YLD under the leadership of President-Elect Adam White, President-Elect Designate Todd Baker, and this very talented, selfless, and dedicated young lawyer board. There is no limit for the YLD as it will continue to work hard for the betterment and advancement of The Florida Bar and all its members.
Santo DiGangi, President