Annual Reports of Sections and Divisions of The Florida Bar
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The ADR Section finished its fourth year and welcomed in its fifth year extending the plans and programs previously initiated and advancing new programs and opportunities for continued growth and participation in the section.
During The Florida Bar’s 2014 Annual Convention, the ADR section hosted a working meeting for ADR section members. Those in attendance nominated new executive council members. The new members elected to the ADR executive council were Lori Adelson, Robert A. Cole, A. Michelle Jernigan, Lawrence Kolin, Mindy Miller, Alexander “Sandy” Myers, Pamela Perry, and Meah Tell.
Additionally, ADR section committees were established that plan and execute section activities, events, and programs to benefit section members. These working committees are Recruitment, CLE, Website, Newsletter, and Legislation. The Website Committee, working with the executive council, launched the new ADR section website, www.fladr.org. The goal is to make the ADR section and its benefits more accessible to all Florida Bar members, which will provide information on available CLE programs. In addition, each of the section’s News & Tips issues can be viewed from the website.
The CLE Subcommittee plans to host programs with other Florida Bar sections that will not only benefit members of the ADR section, but all members of The Florida Bar. The CLE subcommittee recently presented a webinar on issues relating to mediation in Florida and plans to present additional webinars on ADR throughout the year. The ADR section will also present a seminar on mediation and arbitration at the 2015 Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton on June 24.
For additional information on how to join the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, visit the ADR section website, www.fladr.org. You may also contact Lani Fraser via email at [email protected] or phone at (850) 561-5707.
Michael H. Lax, Chair
The Appellate Practice Section has had another busy and fulfilling year. Each of the section’s committees worked hard to ensure that the section met its annual goals.
Starting with the CLE Committee, Chair Jessie Harrell has done an outstanding job with the section’s CLE line-up. This year, the section held several courses, including the annual Advanced Appellate Certification Review, Practicing Before the Third District Court of Appeal, and Practicing Before the First District Court of Appeal. A special thanks to the First and Third DCAs for working with the section to ensure the success of these programs.
In the summer, the section is also looking forward to a multi-day Advanced Appellate Workshop with distinguished faculty, including some top appellate practitioners and wonderful appellate judges. Additionally, Tyler Pitchford has directed terrific monthly telephonic CLEs for the section’s members. Lastly, Wendy Loquasto has worked hard to put on informative summer CLEs in Tallahassee on topics such as brief writing and administrative appeals.
Meanwhile, the section’s Publications Committee, chaired by Kimberly Jones, has also been hard at work. With the aid of Brandon Christian, the section has contributed many articles to The Florida Bar Journal. Likewise, due to June Hoffman’s strong leadership, many great articles have appeared in The Record, which is the section’s internal periodical. Bretton Albrecht continued to diligently take on the herculean task that is overseeing the section’s Pro Se Appellate Handbook (also known as the Self-Represented Litigant’s Handbook ), which needs constant updating and dissemination in Florida’s prisons, law schools, and other libraries. Finally, Rebecca Creed ensured that The Guide, another section publication, remained up-to-date and useful for section members.
A shining star of the section this year has been the Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Sarah Lahlou-Amine. This committee’s members have been expanding their collective reach around the state of Florida, handing multiple appeals and working hand-in-hand with local legal aid organizations and courts to provide appellate representation to those in need. Kudos to Sarah and her committee members.
The Outreach Committee continued its rejuvenation efforts with Thomas Ward chairing what has become an active and vibrant committee. His committee assisted with the section’s presence at events such as the Central Florida Diversity Mentoring Picnic while also acting as liaisons between the section and many legal organizations around the state.
In the coming year, the section anticipates many more exciting events, including the ability to again participate in the District Court of Appeal Judges Conference in September. In the meantime, the section looks forward to the annual meeting in June, which includes the section’s annual dessert reception, where the section presents its Atkins and pro bono awards. This year’s annual meeting is also special because of the presentation of The Florida Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor to William Van Nortwick, Jr., who the section nominated for this honor.
Last, but not least, many thanks to the section’s judicial liaisons, including Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Ann Quince, First DCA Judge Stephanie Ray, Second DCA Judge Morris Silberman, Third DCA Judge Richard Joseph Suarez, Fourth DCA Judge Alan Orantes Forst, Fifth DCA Judge Wendy Williams Berger, and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Charles R. Wilson. Additionally, thank you for a great year to the section’s officers: Christopher V. Carlyle, chair-elect; Duane Daiker, vice chair; Kristin Norse, secretary-treasurer; and Caryn Lynn Bellus, immediate past chair. Very special thanks goes to Jonathan Streisfeld, who manages the section’s website and email blasts and in doing so, makes everything appear effortless and seamless. Finally, the section appreciates all of the hard work of its Bar liaison, JoAnn Shearer.
Ceci Culpepper Berman, Chair
City, County and Local Government Law
• Membership — The City, County and Local Government Law Section was founded in 1974 to provide networking and educational opportunities for lawyers who practice in the area of local government law, whether as counsel to a city, county, or other local governmental entity or as counsel to clients appearing before local governmental bodies. Current membership is just over 1,600 with an equal number of lawyers in the public and private sectors. The growth of the section over the years is attributable to the leadership of past chairs and members of the executive council, as well as numerous educational and outreach activities, which have been undertaken by the section over the years.
• Listserv and Desk Book — For many years, the section has maintained a growing Listserv, which is an email service allowing members to post questions and engage in discussion on topics of interest to other local governmental lawyers. The popularity and usefulness of the Listserv cannot be understated. The section also uses the Listserv to post job opportunities or to solicit legal referrals. The section also recently posted on the section’s homepage an updated Local Government Lawyer’s Desk Book, which is intended as a resource for section members. Many thanks to Chair-elect Mark Moriarty and section member David Migut for their work on the Listserv. Special thanks to the original Desk Book author, Judge James R. Wolf, for sharing his work and to past chairs Susan Churuti, Jewel White, and Herbert Thiele, and many other contributors, for their commitment to updating the Desk Book.
• CLE Seminars — The section sponsors several seminars each year. In February, the section again sponsored the annual Sunshine Law and Public Records Seminar in Tallahassee. Conference chair, Rob Teitler, did a spectacular job assembling the speakers and putting on a very successful conference. Many attended live, but a number of attendees participated via webinar. As we close out the year, special thanks go to Mike Grogan who, in October 2014, stepped down after 30 years of co-chairing the Public Employment Labor Relations Forum in partnership with the Labor and Employment Law Section. The forum will continue to be offered each fall as a joint effort between the sections and will continue under the capable leadership of executive council member Glenn Thomas. Each spring brings the annual City, County and Local Government Law Seminar. In 2015, conference Chair Mark Moriarty, did a fabulous job lining up distinguished speakers on very timely topics for the 38th annual conference. In conjunction with the annual conference, the section sponsored the public finance seminar and the certification review course. Sandy MacLennan and Herb Thiele chair these seminars annually and we are grateful for their continued service to the section.
• Law School Outreach and Internship Stipends — In order to ensure future growth, the section continues to invest a significant amount of time and resources to provide opportunities for and engagement with law students and young lawyers. Annually, the section provides grants to assist local government law offices in hiring law students as interns each summer. Demand for this program has generally exceeded the resources available so, this year, the section voted to increase the grant amount to $25,000. The section also provides a $500 scholarship to a law student at each of the state’s 12 law schools. Eligible students must excel in law school classes related to local government law and are invited to receive their scholarship at the annual section meeting. The section also participated in two mentoring picnics over the past year — the 11th Annual Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic in Hialeah and the Third Annual Greater Orlando Diversity Mentoring Picnic in Orlando. Participation in events such as these enable section members to spread the word about local government opportunities to young lawyers and law students. Special thanks to Secretary-Treasurer Jeannine Williams and executive council member Nancy Stuparich, for their continued commitment to the grant and scholarship programs, and to past Chair Hans Ottinot and executive council members Kyle Shephard, Craig Leen, and Nancy Stuparich, as well as section members Patricia Smith and Fernando Amuchastegui, for their assistance and participation at the mentoring picnics.
• Membership, Outreach, and Finances — Section finances remain strong thanks to membership numbers, sponsorship opportunities, and CLE seminar activities. The membership of the section remains steady due in large part to the hard work of devoted Membership and Young Lawyers Committees. The section annually provides presentations at The Florida Bar Leadership Academy in Miami and Jacksonville to introduce the section to the next generation of lawyers. To that end, this year, the section participated in the Young Lawyers Division meeting in St. Petersburg. Many thanks to past Chair Sandy McLennan, for her continued efforts to obtain conference sponsorships and to Chair-elect Mark Moriarty and executive council member Kyle Shephard for their leadership on the Membership and Young Lawyers committees. Kudos, too, to past Chair Hans Ottinot, and section member David Migut for graciously participating in The Florida Bar Leadership Academy events and to Jeannine Williams for her participation in the Young Lawyers Division meeting.
• Publications — The section continued its contribution to the continuing education of its members by enabling the publication of timely and interesting articles. Kudos to executive council member David Miller, who, in the past year, produced four outstanding articles for publication in the Bar Journal. We are so grateful for his procuring, editing, and handling of these very fine articles that represent our section well. A round of applause goes to executive council member Craig Leen and section member Yaneris Figueroa for resurrecting the section’s newsletter, the Agenda. Finally, special thanks to Amanda Coffey for her continued service as section liaison to the Stetson Law Review. For many years, the section has provided financial and other support to the Stetson Law Review to enable publication of an annual local government law symposium. We value this relationship and work product very much.
• Ethics and Professionalism — The section continues its tradition of promoting civility within all local governments. Each spring, a resolution is sent to each local government asking the governing body to recognize the importance of civility in all proceedings and requesting they adopt a civility proclamation. We are thankful for the continued proclamations of support of civility at the local level. Another important issue for the section this past year has been working to protect the attorney-client privilege of the government lawyer. Due to an adverse finding for The Florida Bar at the local level, Florida Bar leadership requested that our section, along with the Government Lawyers Section and the Florida Association of County Attorneys (FACA), assist in drafting a clarifying amendment to Rule 4-4.2 of The Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct. Many sections participated in the discussion and contributed input. Special thanks to past Chairs Marion Radson and Hans Ottinot, Government Lawyer Chair Ellen Simon, executive council member Debora Cromatie-Mincey, and FACA and section member Patrick McCormack for their leadership on behalf of The Florida Bar in facilitating resolution on issues relating to Rule 4-4.2. The task has been very involved as we discuss and attempt to resolve the concerns of many different sections, and we hope to bring resolution and closure to the issues soon.
As I close this year and welcome Mark Moriarty as chair, it is important to thank the members of the executive council, committee members, and other section members who have helped so much over the past year. Special thanks to Nancy Stuparich for her service on The Florida Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and as a liaison to that committee for the section. Special thanks also go to Section Administrator Ricky Libbert for all her assistance. Many hands truly do lighten the load, and the section could not do its job without the hard work, support, and dedication of its members and The Florida Bar.
Dana Lynne Crosby-Collier, Chair
On behalf of the over 2,000 members of the Criminal Law Section (CLS), the 32 members of the CLS’ executive council, and our officers: Chair-elect Judge Angelica Zayas; Immediate past Chair/Assistant State Attorney Susan Hugentugler; Secretary/Assistant State Attorney Joel Silvershein; and Treasurer Marty McDonnell.
CLS was founded the year our country celebrated its bicentennial. It is the only unified voice of Florida’s state and federal trial and appellate criminal justice lawyers (prosecutors and private and public defenders), judges and academics, who, as stated in our mission statement, are “united by their shared goal of providing a fair, just, and efficient criminal justice system for everyone.” Including the executive committee, the CLS has 10 section committees, which utilize the diversity of our section to advocate, educate, and communicate.
• Advocating on Issues Affecting the Criminal Justice System — The unique composition of our section is unrivaled and, when we speak as one, our voice is powerful, credible, and persuasive.
This year, we unanimously supported proposed legislation providing student loan assistance to state prosecutors and public defenders. We are hopeful this year the legislature will enact a law that will help attract and retain qualified lawyers who otherwise cannot afford to become or remain public criminal justice lawyers.
The CLS also supports sufficient funding for the criminal justice system and the judiciary. The third branch of government must be properly funded or the checks and balances built into our system of government will fall by the wayside. Clearly, cracks in the criminal justice system have appeared, in most part because of insufficient funding, and those fissures could become chasms without a substantial increase in funding.
We renewed our support for the three branches of government to conduct a review of the death penalty process without taking a position in favor of or opposed to the death penalty. This is something the CLS feels is long overdue and is supported by both The Florida Bar Board of Governors as well as the ABA.
Because of the composition of the CLS, when dealing with some issues, we cannot achieve the necessary two-thirds vote in favor, and our section cannot take a position on important societal issues. For example, as of the date of this report, the CLS has not taken a position on an issue that presently is before the U.S. Supreme Court and, because of that fact, is presently being taken up by our state legislators. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether Florida judges may continue to sentence capital defendants to death based upon a jury recommendation that is a simple majority.
In this regard, I thank CLS executive council members Marty McDonnell and Bob Dillinger.
• Education — Educating our lawyers is critical. This Bar year, the CLS has held highly successful seminars in Orlando (general criminal law); Miami (federal law and procedure); and Ft. Lauderdale (DUI) and are in the process of creating a program of seminars to be presented throughout the state, in smaller groups, to reach more of our lawyers, many of whom cannot afford to travel to attend seminars far from where they live or practice. This year, in response to the Florida Supreme Court’s order, the CLS presented and recorded for future use a two-hour seminar on the application of Brady v. Maryland, which educates prosecutors and defense lawyers about obligations concerning exculpatory evidence. CLS council members Judge Jeff Levenson, Brian Tannebaum, Gary Winston, and Ken Swartz and CLS member Carlos Canet have been instrumental.
The CLS also posts on its website and circulates to its members criminal law and procedure-related caselaw and statutory changes. The amount of work that goes into this regular feature is immense. I especially want to recognize Richard Polin.
Finally, the CLS supports, helps fund, and assists in putting on the annual Prosecutor/Public Defender Trial Advocacy Program held at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. This program has helped educate and train hundreds of prosecutors and public defenders over the many years. Without the involvement of Paul Zacks and Jennifer Zedalis, who co-chair our PPD Committee every year, PPD would not be possible.
• Communication — Many people have helped construct, shape, record, and disseminate our message to thousands. The tools used range from the CLS website (Susan Hugentugler) and membership outreach (David Barksdale and Larry Turner), to the selection and presentation of the 2014 Selig Goldin Award to career Broward prosecutor Chuck Morton (Committee Chair Harvey Sepler).
In closing, I would be remiss if I failed to recognize and thank the following people who made my year as chair especially rewarding and always challenging: Charles (Chase) Early, our brand new Florida Bar staff person who jumped (or was pushed) on board after our year already had begun and guided and counseled us with skill and professionalism; long-time members of the executive council, without whom the CLS just would not be the same: Jeff Harris, Judge Richard Hersch, Les Hess, Judge Cindy Imperato, Abe Laeser, Sheryl Lowenthal, Donnie Murrell, George Tragos, and Judge Samantha Ward; executive council newcomer Mac Heavener and, after me, the best Board of Governors liaison ever, Michelle Suskauer.
David B. Rothman, Chair
The Elder Law Section has had another busy and productive year. Our work has ranged from interesting and well-attended CLEs to enhanced communication and cooperation with other entities, enhanced engagement in the legislative session, and issuance of a first-in-the-state set of standards of conduct for a Bar section. The section’s membership has continued to grow and now sits at approximately 1,900 members. Our leadership is busy, meeting virtually every week, and sometimes many times in a week.
Our CLE year kicked off with an all-day event in Boca Raton on litigation, coupled with our annual retreat. The CLE, chaired by past Chair Enrique Zamora and Substantive Vice Chair Ellen Morris, was a huge success and was standing room only. The retreat functions were fun and a productive, bonding time for our members. Our annual update in January in Orlando, chaired by Chair-elect David Hook also set records for attendees and sponsors and provided quality substantive information on all of the topics an elder law attorney should be conversant about in his or her practice. Most recently, a guardianship CLE in Tampa, chaired by Victoria Heuler and Carolyn Landon, had so many attendees that an overflow room had to be created. The topics were well-crafted and the speakers excellent. Our section is looking forward to sponsoring our annual Social Security disability CLE in August in Orlando, followed by our annual retreat, this year hosted by David Hook in New Orleans. Our CLE Chair Sam Boone has shepherded our educational year well.
Our section continued to work closely with our sister entity, the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys and the presidents who served over the past year, Shannon Miller and Emma Hemness. Our leadership attended weekly phone conferences with the Joint Public Policy Task Force for the Elderly and Disabled. We were in contact with several other sections of The Florida Bar, whose interests overlapped those of our clients. We held regular meetings with representatives from the Department of Children and Families, the Agency for Healthcare Administration, and the Department of Elder Affairs.
Our section was the first in the state to adopt standards of conduct and procedures for removal in an attempt to hold our members to the highest ethical standards. The standards recite guidelines for the levels of professionalism and quality in the practice of elder law that our section expects of the attorneys who hold themselves out as members of our section. Steve Hitchcock, chair of our Ethics Committee, and the rest of his committee deserve kudos for their work to pull these together.
This was a busy legislative session for our section, and our Legislative Committee chairs, Scott Selis and William Johnson, did an amazing job keeping us on track with weekly meetings. Our members were on the hill testifying and meeting with House and Senate staff members regularly, and the willingness to serve among our members was incredible. Committees chaired by Amanda Wolf and Heather Kirson (Medicaid), Angela Warren and Amy Collins (abuse, neglect, and exploitation), Steve Kotler and Mike Jorgenson (estate planning and probate), and, especially Carolyn Landon and Victoria Heuler (guardianship), among others, were called upon to review and respond to proposed legislation, sometimes with deadlines of hours and without fail, responded thoughtfully and diligently.
As I finish my year as chair, I do so proudly, knowing our chair-elect will be taking over a busy and thriving section. I invite more of our membership to become involved as we continue to grow in our numbers and in our impact on this state, our clients, and our members.
Jana McConnaughhay, Chair
Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law
This was an entertaining and productive year for the Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Section (EASL). EASL thanks Christina Scelsi (chair-elect), Tom Dobbins (treasurer), Charlotte Towne (secretary and CLE vice chair), Kimberly Kolback (CLE chair), and Angela Froelich (Florida Bar administrator) for their overall outstanding contribution to the section. EASL thanks the corporate and personal sponsors listed on its webpage.
EASL also congratulates Bill Schifino, the next president-elect of The Florida Bar, who was EASL’s Board of Governors liaison. He provided amazing guidance to EASL, and we look forward to his leadership of The Florida Bar.
The year kicked off with A Day in the Life of Dolphins In-House Counsel: Sponsorship Agreements, Vendor Agreements, Trademarks, Collective Bargaining Agreements, Special Events, Entertainment and More! The CLE speakers were Adam Zissman, Miami Dolphins general counsel, and Marcus Bach-Armas, Miami Dolphins manager of corporate affairs. Attendees then enjoyed the tailgate pot-luck barbeque arranged by EASL Secretary and CLE Vice Chair Charlotte Towne and her husband, followed by a Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs game. Thanks to Charlotte Towne for planning this event and also to Alan Fertel, Sports Law Committee chair, for his help and making the connection for EASL to coordinate with the Miami-Dade County Special Olympics.
Then, the 2014 Audio Webcast Series began in October with Adult Film Law: Representing the Client Producing Adult Films in Florida, with moderator Kimberly Kolback and speaker A.J. Comparetto, who is co-chair with John Bradley of the Adult Entertainment Law Committee. Next was Copyright and Trademark Law Update with moderator Charlotte Towne and speakers Tim Warnock, Out of State Committee chair, and Chris Vlahos.
In conjunction with The Florida Bar winter meeting, EASL presented a CLE entitled, The NCAA: A Brave New World? A Look at the Legal Challenges Facing the Most Recognized Governing Body in Collegiate Sports. Thanks to Leadership Chair Carolyn Herman and Program Co-chairs Christina Scelsi and Bram Maravent. Also thanks to Bram Maravent for moderating the panel and speakers Greg Curtner, Andy Staples, Greg Herbert, and Kristi Dosh.
The Spring 2015 Audio Webcast Series began in March with Social Media Evidence, Authentication and Admissibility. Thanks to Charlotte Towne for moderating and Ethan Wall for speaking. The series continued in April with Producer Agreements in the New Music Industry. Thanks to Marc Stollman for moderating and Tom Player, Music Law Committee chair, for speaking.
EASL’s Annual Retreat this year entitled The Magical World of Entertainment Law: Wizarding Tips and Tricks for Practitioners at the Bohemian Resort Celebration was planned by Chair-elect Christina Scelsi. The CLEs were timely hot topics and there was also an EASL talent show. We truly are a section of entertaining attorneys!
The final CLE was Counseling the Provocative Client: What is Protected Speech Under the First Amendment? and How to Counsel a Provocative Client at the 2015 Florida Bar Annual Convention. It was a pleasure to organize, moderate, and speak on this panel. Thanks to the distinguished speakers A.J. Comparetto, Professor Donald Jones, Thomas Julin, Professor Marc Rohr, and Howard Simon for the lively and thoughtful discussion.
In addition to a year full of CLEs, EASL promoted student opportunities. The Second EASL Fashion Law Writing Competition took place, this year named in memory of our colleague, friend, and former EASL Chair Louis Tertocha. Thanks again to Joe Fleming for his idea to start this competition two years ago, Brittany Rawlings for taking the helm this year, and to the judges. The competition was open to students of all ABA-approved law schools. Submissions were received from Florida, New York, California, Washington State, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.
New scholarships funded student attendance at EASL CLEs. It was also great to attend the Minority Mentoring Picnic with former EASL Chair Joseph Fleming, Sponsorship and Diversity Committee Chair Porpoise Evans, and Bill Schifino. EASL thanks Greenberg Traurig for sponsoring EASL’s table and John Kozyack for organizing the event.
EASL remains active on the legislation forefront. Marc Stollman and I attended and reported on the Copyright Office’s Roundtable in Nashville. Steve Carlisle shares his copyright law blog on the EASL Listserv. The Legislative Committee continues to support increased entertainment industry economic incentives in Florida. These incentives are critical to attracting entertainment productions to Florida that employ skilled Florida residents, bring an influx of money to local businesses, and help showcase our beautiful state.
Wishing everyone a wonderful summer and new Florida Bar year!
Emily Patricia Graham, Chair
Environmental and Land Use Law
The Environmental and Land Use Law Section (ELULS) is led by an executive council reflecting our diverse membership base, including members who work for governmental agencies, nonprofits, business entities, and in private practice. Our officers this year are Kelly K. Samek (chair), Carl Eldred (chair-elect), Vivien J. Monaco (secretary), and Janet E. Bowman (treasurer). Our section administrator is Calbrail L. Bennett. ELULS has a robust committee structure consisting of substantive law committees (energy; land use; natural resources; and pollution assessment, remediation, management, and prevention), Public Interest Representation, Young Lawyers, and core functional committees that support all ELULS activities (Affiliate; CLE; Florida Bar Journal ; Internet; Law School Liaison; Membership; and Section Reporter). The section officers extend their gratitude to all the ELULS members who volunteer their time in service to our section.
A core focus of ELULS is to deliver quality and timely CLE offerings in a variety of formats. ELULS is unique in the close relationship its legal practitioners share with environmental and land development consultants. To that end, we work closely with the ELULS Affiliates Committee to foster opportunities for sharing information and ideas through involvement in ELULS programs. In addition to traditional programs, ELULS offers a diverse audio webinar series that permits attendees to sign up for a single program or for the series. This year, our series includes the following topics: Medical Marijuana Regulation in the Sunshine State (November 6, 2014); Planning for Transportation in the New Normal (January 22); 2015 Florida Legislative Session Forecast (February 26); Emotional Intelligence in Environmental and Land Use Practice: Improving Your Professional Practice and Your Outside Life (March 26); and Renewables in Florida’s Backyard (June 11). ELULS also offers occasional free Web-based programming as part of section membership dues. On October 30, 2014, ELULS’s Energy Committee hosted a program entitled Exploring Florida’s Oil & Gas Law. The recorded program is available for download at http://eluls.org/energy-committee/.
ELULS is a section in transition. The economic downturn of a few years ago drastically changed many of our members’ practices. Consequently, we have had to make adjustments in how we deliver some of our services, most notably, CLE. We held our final annual update, for years the flagship event of the ELULS CLE calendar, at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort from August 6-9, 2014.
The following individuals were recognized at the ELULS annual luncheon held on August 9, 2014, for their achievements in environmental and land use law and their ELULS service. The Public Interest Committee Attorney Award was presented to John R. Thomas. Mary F. Smallwood’s career achievements and contributions to the section were marked by the Judy Florence Memorial Outstanding Service Award. The StephensRegister Award was given to Janet Bowman. L. Thomas Roberts received the R. S. Murali Memorial Affiliate Member Outstanding Service Award. The Bill Sadowski Memorial Public Service Award was posthumously bestowed upon Professor Emeritus James J. Brown. Student achievements were also recognized in the presentation of the Wade Hopping Memorial Scholarship to Elizabeth Turner and Melissa Fedenko, as well as the presentation of awards for the 2014 Dean Frank E. Maloney Writing Contest winners, with Lauren Geraci receiving first place, Loren Vasquez in second, and C. Claire Armagnac in third. Ms. Geraci’s work on state conservation lands was later adapted for publication in the December edition of The ELULS Section Reporter and can be read online in the publication’s archive.
ELULS members can now look to two programs to replace the content traditionally presented at the annual update. The first of these will be held in the winter and be comprised of two days of substantive environmental and land use content. We ramped up this concept with a shorter program this year in January with What You Need to Know About Current Environmental and Land Use Law Issues. Content with appeal to a wider audience — including panels on administrative law, changes resulting from the legislative session, and a view from agency general counsels — will be presented in a program offered at The Florida Bar convention. We hope to see you for the premiere of this program this summer in Boca Raton. Complementing our move to “right-size” our CLE programs is an effort to offer more of the content in convenient, affordable excerpts via The Florida Bar’s OnDemand Course Catalog. If you are in need of a couple of hours of CLE to fulfill your requirements, check it out.
ELULS is committed to supporting law student engagement in environmental and land use law through the work of our Law Schools Liaison Committee, led by Christopher T. Byrd and Patrick Krechowski. This committee administers our law school grants program as well as the annual Dean Frank E. Maloney Memorial Writing Contest. Each of the state’s 12 law schools has at least one designated ELULS liaison serving as a resource for students and faculty, and we heartily thank those who volunteer to serve in that capacity.
ELULS maintains a treatise on environmental and land use law that is available electronically to members on our website. ELULS Secretary Janet Bowman has also been serving as treatise chair, working with long-time Editor Ellen Prest to be sure we are keeping up to date and adding timely articles.
The section website, under the guidance of Internet Committee Chair Jonathan Huels, is a core method of communicating with our members and the public. We invite you to visit us online at http://eluls.org for information about section events and committee activities. Section Webmaster Ken Tinkler continues to improve the accessibility and aesthetics of the site, so if it has been a while since you have stopped by our virtual home, please do so, and let us know how we can make it even more useful for you.
The quarterly ELULS newsletter, The ELULS Section Reporter, under the guidance of Jeff Collier, editor, contains excellent and timely articles consisting of caselaw updates, administrative law updates, governmental agency updates, law school updates, substantive articles, and information about upcoming CLE programs. This year has seen topics running the gamut from strategies to address flood risk to the status of Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. The Reporter is published digitally and is available on our website at http://eluls.org/reporter/. This page also has a robust search feature so that a user may easily access targeted content. ELULS leadership is immensely appreciative of the professionals who take the time to share their expertise in contributions to The Reporter, and we invite you to become one of them.
ELULS’ Affiliate Committee organizes popular mixers around the state each year to meet our members’ desire to have additional networking opportunities with environmental and land use practitioners and consultants. Successful mixers were held in Tallahassee in October, Orlando in January, and Jacksonville in March.
The lifeblood of ELULS is its members, and I especially thank the dozens that step forward every year to make sure we can offer the services outlined here. If you would like to join their ranks, please contact me or Chair-elect Carl Eldred, and let us know your interests.
Kelly K. Samek, Chair
The Family Law Section has enjoyed a successful year, mainly due to the active participation of all our committees and their chairs.
To date, the section has maintained a stable and continuing membership, with a current roster of 3,830 members. While maintaining membership as in years past, the section continues to seek and mentor new members through our Membership Committee, chaired by Lori Caldwell Carr. Lori has worked hard with her committee to increase membership through participation in the Minority Membership Picnic and through outreach to family attorneys throughout the state and Florida’s law schools.
Our Publications Committee continues the challenging work of ensuring that our publications, including The Commentator, contain informative and timely articles authored by a cross-section of attorneys and other professionals. This committee’s co-chairs, Amy Hamlin and Sara Sullivan, have done a great job maintaining the quality and timeliness of publications as well as our submissions to The Florida Bar Journal.
One of our most vital and active committees is the CLE Committee, which has been responsible for planning and putting on 13 well-done CLE programs on diverse topics in the area of family law, ranging from military issues to practical tips for family law practitioners, all under the able direction of committee chair, Luis Insignares.
Perhaps the committee that has had one of its most challenging years is the Legislation Committee, chaired by Abigail Beebe and Christopher Rumbold, and their committee members, who continually act admirably under challenging circumstances. As I prepare this report, the Florida Legislature continues in session considering numerous bills directly affecting Florida’s families. This year, the section’s main legislative issue is comprehensive alimony reform. At the direction of the executive council, the Legislation Committee, mainly through the efforts of an alimony subcommittee, is actively engaged in the negotiation of an alimony bill that while providing consistency will be fair and equitable to all litigants dealing with this issue. This particular effort is being spearheaded by past Chair Thomas Sasser, who has devoted countless hours in preparing language and advocating on behalf of the Family Law Section for an alimony bill with provisions that have been considered and approved by the executive council. My thanks go to Mr. Sasser as well as his Vice Chair General Magistrate Diane Kirigin for a job well done. In addition to our efforts regarding alimony, this committee, through the diligent efforts of all its members, continues to monitor and respond to all pending legislation having both a positive and negative impact on the citizens of this state.
One of the most important and daunting tasks each year is planning and ensuring the success of our annual certification review course. This year’s program was one of the most successful yet, in no small part due to the “labor of love” of its chair, Laura Davis Smith and her committee comprised of Aimee Gross and Phillip Wartenberg. This year’s course, in a new location, the Hilton Bonnet Creek, was attended by 1,495 attorneys and related professionals and included presentations by some of the finest family law attorneys in Florida. I also want to acknowledge and thank our continuing partners, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and most especially its president, past Chair George Cestero and Executive Director Susan Stafford, who worked diligently and seamlessly with our committee in organizing this year’s course.
As a direct result of the income generated by the certification review course, this year the Family Law Section donated $75,000 to The Florida Bar Foundation. I am extremely proud that this donation was approved by a unanimous vote of the section to fund this important organization that funds legal programs for the state’s neediest citizens, including those in the area of family law.
In addition to the foregoing committees, my sincere thanks go to the section’s remaining committees, who have diligently continued their work this year. Those committees include the Rules and Forms Committee and the Equitable Distribution Committee, chaired by Reuben Doupe, Technology Committee Chair Matt Capstraw, and Kathy Beamer, able leader of a very active Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. Additionally, I acknowledge C. Debra Welch, chair of the Children’s Issues Committee, one of the section’s largest committees; Robin Scherr, chair of the Domestic Violence Committee; and one of our most dedicated members and General Magistrate Robert Jones, a respected leader, who was kind enough to agree to chair once again the General Magistrate/Hearing Officer Committee. Although I have highlighted our numerous chairs, many other members, too numerous to individually mention, have contributed to the work of the Family Law Section and they have my heartfelt appreciation.
Some of the major highlights of this year have been our three retreats and my sincere gratitude goes to all of this year’s retreat chairs for making each retreat a success.
Our leadership retreat at the Innisbruck in Tampa, planned by Doug Greenbaum, was both informative and entertaining, providing many opportunities to get to know new colleagues and up and coming leaders. Program Co-chairs Carin Porras and Diane Kirigin, both past chairs of the Family Law Section who continue to be actively engaged in section activities, organized an informative “nuts and bolts” presentation on how the section operates and how to seek leadership opportunities. The program also included a detailed presentation by the Family Law Section’s lobbyists, Nelson Diaz and Edgar Castro, on the legislative process and tips on successful lobbying.
Our fall retreat, meticulously planned by Thomas Duggar, was held at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island. The retreat included an informative program presented by Atticus on how to improve a law practice, as well as a cooking class at the renowned Salt Restaurant, after which all the attendees sampled the different dishes and a dessert that had been prepared by the participants in the cooking class.
And not to be outdone, we recently concluded our spring retreat at the fabulous La Concha Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The retreat co-chairs, past Chair George Cestero and Dr. Deborah Day, an active participant in the section, organized an incredible experience for all the attendees. Past Chair Elisha Roy presented a program on issues regarding international service of process in a well-organized and entertaining format. In addition to this program, the attendee enjoyed numerous other activities, including a private reception and dinner at a hacienda in the El Yunque rain forest, a walking tour of San Juan, a visit to a world renowned bioluminescent bay, and a day on a catamaran snorkeling and enjoying the world renowned Flamenco Beach.
The Executive Committee, which includes Chair-elect Maria Gonzalez, Treasurer Laura Davis Smith, Secretary Nicole Goetz, and past Chair Elisha Roy, was actively engaged in assisting me with the day-to-day work and decisions affecting the Family Law Section. I thank them for supporting and assisting me throughout my time as chair; I have been blessed to have them at my side.
Thank you to the executive council of the Family Law Section for giving me the honor of serving as chair. It is an experience I will always cherish.
Norberto Katz, Chair
General Practice, Solo and Small Firm
The General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section had an exceedingly successful year. Following are a just a few of the highlights.
• Continuing Legal Education — This year, our ever-popular Annual Ethics Update focused on navigation of the Bar grievance process and the relation between grievances and legal malpractice claims. Our annual Florida Law Update, covering the latest and hottest issues in areas ranging from bankruptcy and business law to elder law and employment (among others), is all set and ready to be presented at the 2015 Bar convention. Also at the convention, we are partnering with the new Practice Resource Institute to present Navigating Technology in 2015 & Beyond: What Every Practitioner Must Know About Technology’s Impact on the Legal Profession as part of the President’s Showcase. Special thanks to CLE Chair Kimberly Menchion and Program Chair Peggy Hoyt for their leadership in creating these excellent programs.
• Eighth Annual Solo & Small Firm Conference — Our Solo & Small Firm Annual Conference has become the Bar’s premier legal technology presentation, and this year’s did not disappoint. Titled Wild, Wild Tech: Getting Down and Dirty With Technology, this one-and-a-half-day conference was jam packed with the latest and greatest in law firm technology. Conference Chair Jennifer Kuyrkendall designed an amazingly creative program at which nationally recognized law firm technology gurus taught, demonstrated, tweeted, and even danced for attendees! The dynamic duo of Jennifer K. and our new marketing director Lisa Tipton filled the conference room and outside hallway with interesting sponsors and exhibitors. Attendees became colleagues during the networking luncheon and interactive presentations and became friends while learning to line dance during the Friday night reception. If that was not enough, over 30 attendees won prizes that ranged from a Coach handbag to a utility all-terrain vehicle! Due to the hard work and dedication of every member of our executive council, our annual conference becomes bigger and better each year.
• Affiliates — Jennifer Dietz continues to lead an active committee of executive council members who visit law schools to provide guidance to law students who are exploring solo or small firm practice. We once again joined with Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and the Young Lawyer’s Division to sponsor a law student essay contest. This year’s winning essay, “How Social Media Can Improve a Lawyer’s Practice While Also Exposing it to Malpractice and Discipline,” is certain to provide interesting reading in an upcoming Florida Bar Journal.
In recognition of the essential role paralegals perform in our practices, we stepped up our efforts to increase paralegal involvement in our section by lowering their membership dues, supporting the annual paralegal conference with our presence and our donation of an affiliate membership, and by creating a paralegal of the year award, which will be presented at this year’s annual meeting.
• Awards — We presented the L. Michael Roffino Pro Bono Award to Legal Services of North Florida for its Private Attorney Involvement Program, which serves pro se litigants beyond the courts and into the Division of Administrative Hearings. We honored Frank E. Maloney with the prestigious Tradition of Excellence Award for his numerous and exceptional contributions to his community and the legal profession.
• Publications — We continue to publish The Florida Law Practice LINK on a quarterly basis. This electronic journal always contains well-written, helpful articles on technology and law firm management. If you’ve missed any of these issues, you can access them on our website. QuickLink is our brief, biweekly electronic communication, which contains tips to help members improve their technology edge, enhance their practice management skills, and improve client-service delivery. Past publications can also be accessed on our website.
• Annual Out-of-State CLE — We are closing this fabulous year with a visit to Alaska, where Victoria Clark, executive director of Trustees for Alaska, the state’s largest nonprofit environmental law firm, will present The Legal Challenges of Defending Alaska’s Environment.
Due to space limitations, I have mentioned only a few of the many hardworking members and emeritus members of our section’s executive council who have contributed to this productive and successful year. I am grateful to each of them, as well as to Ricky Libbert, section administrator extraordinaire, for making this such a successful year.
Teresa Byrd Morgan, Chair
It has been (and continues to be) my privilege to serve as chair of the Government Lawyer Section this year. Our section strives to address the unique issues facing attorneys in the public sector, and it is indeed humbling to serve as chair of the section that represents all government lawyers — a group consisting of approximately 18 percent of The Florida Bar’s membership — regardless of the level of government, branch of government, or subject matter. The mission of the Government Lawyer Section is to promote the professionalism and competence of its members, improve the delivery of legal services to all governmental entities and the overall administration of the legal system, and to enhance The Florida Bar’s and the public’s understanding of the unique needs of the government attorney.
The emphasis over this past year has been on outreach to other members of the legal community to provide better networking opportunities for our members and, as an ancillary measure, to increase our membership. Our section is relatively small in that we average year-to-year approximately 1,000 members. While we have an ongoing goal of increasing our membership, our main goal is to provide outstanding service to our current members. Toward that end, over the last year we have thought outside the box and have increased the span of our networking opportunities.
In January, we had the opportunity to program with FSU School of Law in presenting at a Networking Nosh. This program was well attended and the students were quite engaging. It gave members of our section the opportunity to extol the virtues of work in the government sector and also to encourage students to become members and network with others within the section. The time spent with the students was filled with hope in that the best time to encourage lawyers to become part of the governmental sector is while they are still in law school.
To be honest, this networking opportunity led to a comparison to law schools 20 years ago versus law schools today. Law schools 20 years ago had students who coveted positions in the government sector. Students at that time thought it would be a privilege to work in government and protect the interests of the people of the state. Obviously, not every student had an interest in government law. However, there were many groups of students interested in pursuing this track.
However, in today’s law schools, the interest in working with the governmental sector does not appear to be as popular as it was previously. The reasons are numerous. The costs of law school have escalated to a point that working in the government sector is no longer feasible in light of the outstanding student loans waiting in the wings. Additionally, years ago, government work was looked at as a privilege, working for the protection of the public. Now, there are many that do not support the current goals of government and, to that extent, are not interested in representing government interests.
Regardless, the students we spoke with appeared to be interested in government work and many took the networking opportunity provided to another level. Chief Judge Robert Cohen with the Division of Administrative Hearings was a presenter at this luncheon event. When speaking with the students, he encouraged them to be involved with numerous organizations. To join any and all organizations that may be of interest. He encouraged the students to speak with attorneys currently in practice to gain insight from them. Later that day the Tallahassee Bar Association was hosting a chili cook-off, which is an annual event well attended by lawyers within the Tallahassee community. A number of the students approached the presenters after the program to discuss the possibility of attending this event. Students came and were introduced to various members of the section as well as other attorneys in attendance, and provided the students with a great opportunity to network. As we all know about third-year students, networking is the name of the game as the end of law school is quickly approaching. The event at the law school was highly successful in that not only were the students able to learn about networking opportunities, the section was also able to recruit students to work in the government sector and become members of GLS.
The Government Lawyer Section also took the opportunity to reach out to other voluntary bar associations whose interests are aligned with our own. In March, we had a networking social with the Florida Government Bar Association, a local Tallahassee organization in which many of the members are also members of the Government Lawyer Section. It was the first time that our groups had cosponsored an event, and it was quite successful. There was a larger turn-out than expected, and hopefully, those who were not members of the section joined after the event closed. It was also a great opportunity to talk with each other outside the constraints of formal meetings.
Another networking opportunity came from hosting a dinner for Bar President-elect Ramón Abadin. Several members of our executive council were able to have an intimate, enjoyable dinner with the president-elect in Tallahassee, away from the hubbub of restaurants full of individuals participating in the 2015 legislative session. Mr. Abadin was kind enough to share with members of the section his ideas for his upcoming presidency, as well as the challenges lawyers currently face in this age of technology and the changes to our profession that appear to be coming at us at a rapid-fire pace. He also gave us the opportunity to express the interests of the Government Lawyer Section, and the matters the section seeks to accomplish in the upcoming year.
In April, the section cosponsored a CLE event with both the Administrative and Environmental Law sections. The CLE covered advanced topics such as the point of entry, choice of forum, standing, enforcement actions, local government hearings, use of expert witnesses, appeals, public records, and rule challenges. Over the next year, the section intends to take advantage of the new technology available for providing CLEs via webinars. As a part of that process, we look toward redefining our post marketing approach.
The section had quite an accomplishment this past year regarding its bylaws. Over the last two years, the section has been working on a comprehensive revision to the bylaws, which was mistakenly thought to be a relatively easy task. Last year, our chair, Barbara Wingo, working alongside the Bylaw Committee, chaired by Booter Imhoff, diligently amended the bylaws with many substantive, as well as many technical, changes. Over this past year, the bylaws have been routed through the Board of Governors’ long but necessary process. Finally, at the March Board of Governors’ meeting, the arduous work was rewarded when the amended bylaws were finally approved.
The monitoring of the progress of the bylaws was made easy in that the section has had a representative at nearly each Board of Governors meeting. While the section’s Board of Governors’ liaison, Bill Davis, is commonly at the GLS meetings and diligently updates the members on recent Florida Bar developments, it has been helpful that the section is also represented at the Board of Governors meetings by a member of the executive committee who is able to bring to members the knowledge of trends and their impact on our lawyers. We hope to continue that attendance in the upcoming year.
The section continues to support the Bar’s Leadership Academy. Since the creation of the Academy, the section has had representatives in attendance. The Leadership Academy has grown exponentially since its inception, and the section anticipates and hopes for continued involvement in the program.
The Government Lawyer Section worked alongside the City, County and Local Government Law Section to amend the comment to Florida Bar Rule 4-4.2 regarding communication with persons represented by counsel. This has been an arduous process in that there is much debate over the proposed changes and whether changes are necessary. The Board of Governors has tabled this matter again and again because of the controversy. In February, the representatives of several sections, including the chairs of the Government Lawyer Section and the City, County and Local Government Law Section, along with members of the Business Law Section, the Public Defender’s Association, and others, met to come to some agreement on this matter. Revisions to the amended comment must be made before the Board of Governors is willing to once again put this matter on its agenda.
In May, the section met in Tallahassee. Along with that meeting there was a long-range planning retreat wherein next year’s section goals were discussed. A CLE course was provided at that retreat, presented by Rob Atkinson, a professor at the FSU School of Law. The course provided one of those elusive ethics credit hours for our members, with the topic, Virtuous Bureaucrats: The Hope of the Republic and the Helpers of Humankind.
The section continues to update its website with information about the section’s activities and other resources. Furthermore, the section has now entered the land of social media. The section is now on Facebook and LinkedIn, both of which were utilized for advertising our March networking social in Tallahassee.
The section is looking forward to naming the Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award at the general assembly of the annual convention of The Florida Bar. It is with great appreciation that the award will be presented by President Gregory Coleman. At the time of this report, nominations were pending for the 2015 award and the members of the Claude Pepper Award Committee, under the chairmanship of Keith Rizzardi, were reviewing those applications to make a recommendation for the recipient.
In sum, the Government Lawyer Section has enjoyed a successful year on many fronts, building upon the successes of recent years and looking forward to continued achievement in future years. With an anticipation of future accomplishments, the section thanks the leadership of the Bar for its continued assistance and support.
Ellen M. Simon, Chair
The Health Law Section has continued to focus its efforts on providing a forum for communication and education for our members. Key to these efforts have been the members of the section’s executive council, members of the section’s Young Lawyer’s Division, and other section members who have generously given of their time and talents.
The section continues to provide solid continuing education offerings including, but not limited to, four major live programs: FUNdamentals of Health Law; Corporate Compliance; Representing the Physician; and the Advanced Health Law Topics and Certification Review. These programs would not be possible without the hard work of Myla Reizen and Grant Dearborn, co-chairs of the section’s Education Committee, and program Chairs Chet Barclay, Lester Perling, Alan Gassman, Jodi Laurence, and Sandra Greenblatt.
In addition to the section’s live program offerings, members also have the opportunity to attend Eat and Educate webinars on the first Tuesday of every month. The webinars cover a wide range of subjects relevant to the practice of health law and are taught by subject matter experts.
Moving to the more traditional written form of communication and education, the section provides its members with a quarterly newsletter and monthly health law updates. The editor of the newsletter, Shachi Mankodi, has done a tremendous job of finding health law experts to write high-quality articles relevant to the section’s membership.
Malinda Lugo has continued to oversee the section’s monthly health law updates that are shorter articles and summaries dealing with recent regulatory developments and cases of importance to those practicing in the area of health law.
In addition to the high-quality education offerings, the section has been fortunate to have the involvement of up and coming health lawyers. The section’s Young Lawyer Division has continued to impress with their energy and hard work. Ryan Zika, Joanne Guerrero, and Adam Maingot have provided excellent leadership as officers in the section’s Young Lawyer Division. Finally, the executive council has been extremely fortunate to have the services of young lawyer Brian Zargham, who has served as the webmaster of the section website.
Going into 2016, the section will be in good hands with the leadership of incoming Chair Charmaine Chiu along with Steven Grigas and Nicholas Romanello rounding out the executive committee of the section.
Bill Dillon, Chair
At the annual meeting of the International Law Section in Orlando on June 27, 2014, the executive council was presented with, and adopted, the top 10 objectives of 2014-2015 for the section. They are:
1) Increase use of ILS website, www.internationallawsection.org.
• More photos from ILS events.
• More announcements of significant member activities and accomplishments.
• Update website annually with appropriate contacts.
2) Increase membership and participation of more members in ILS activities.
• Appeal to both litigators and nonlitigators.
• Recruitment of young lawyers.
• Lunch and Learn program in Miami good example for recruitment of women.
• Lectures about the practice of international law at law schools in Florida.
• ILQ and Weekly Gazette as excellent communication tools.
• Non-Florida Bar association members.
• Establish and implement a formal process to be advised of and welcome
new ILS members.
3) Increase cooperation with the Business Law Section.
• Joint marketing of seminars/webinars (ILAC/IBTC).
• Joint marketing of social events (happy hours).
• Joint marketing of annual Florida Bar events.
4) Increase cooperation with International Law Board Certification Committee.
5) Foreign bar associations.
•Reactivate the eight bar associations with which we have signed agreements.
•Select other bar associations with which we have, or should have, relationships
( e.g., Spain, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Bahamas, UK, Argentina, Canada, China).
6) Increase attendance at annual spring ILAC/IBTC event.
7) More stand-alone webinars and seminars by ILS members.
8) Annual fall overnight, planning retreat of ILS, especially, EC members and committee
9) More value to ILS sponsors.
10) More, and higher profile, involvement in significant, pending legal issues in Florida
I am very pleased to report that we have achieved all of the top 10 objectives.
Our highly successful two-day Cuba seminar in November 2014 in Orlando was well attended, and we received universal compliments from the attendees and speakers. Our International Litigation, Arbitration and Business Conference (ILAC) in February 2015 was the most attended of any ILS event. It was co-chaired by Bob Becerra, James Meyer, Jackie Villalba, and Luis Konski. We honored Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, who, as a Mexican national who illegally stayed in the U.S., had to pursue litigation through the Florida Supreme Court and get legislation passed through the Florida Legislature to become a member of The Florida Bar. It was immediately followed by the equally successful Vis Pre-Moot Competition held at JAMS’ Miami office and dispute resolution center. The chair was Sharie Hudson.
Our lawyers, including Chair-elect Eduardo Palmer and Yine Rodriguez, have attended foreign bar association events, such as for the Bar Association in Barcelona, Spain, with which we have a mutual agreement. At the annual meeting in Boca Raton, we will sign a new agreement with the bar association in Costa Rica, organized by Carlos Osorio.
The ILS organized a people-to-people trip to Havana, Cuba, May 27 to 30, which over 30 members of The Florida Bar attended. Our members have been notably mentioned in numerous legal and industry publications and are often sought to comment on local, state, and national legal topics. The ILS was active in supporting the efforts to persuade the Miami Dade County Commission to fund a new courthouse, and our lawyers were again active in Tallahassee to comment on proposed legislation.
The ILS held its fall 2014 retreat at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. The event was well attended with most executive council members participating, plus a guest speaker on international protocol from Miami International Airport. It was a great weekend of camaraderie and networking.
We have pursued a new, strong relationship with the Business Law Section (BLS). We had a joint happy hour in Miami, have joint programming scheduled for the annual convention in Boca Raton in June, and the first-ever joint fall retreat will be with the BLS in Marco Island in late 2015.
The website, www.internationallawsection.org, is active with members contributing their success and announcements. Our weekly Gazette e-newsletter, through Kristin Drecktrah, advises the members of the activities of the ILS. Our International Law Quarterly publication, for which Yara Lorenzo is the editor in chief, provides analytical, informative updates on changes in international law. We have engaged more lawyers than ever in committee work, resulting in approximately a record 1,100 section members. Clarissa Rodriguez leads the Membership Committee.
The ILS, through the leadership of Gary Davidson, has worked diligently to create a separate examination for board certification in international law that is more focused on international litigation and arbitration.
Peter Quinter, Chair
Labor and Employment Law
The Labor and Employment Law Section has a core group of active, interested, and interesting volunteers, including the members of our executive council, committee chairs, committee members, authors, and speakers. Their contributions have made my service as 2014-15 section chair a genuine pleasure.
Our section is a diverse group, including advocates for plaintiffs and defendants, judges, arbitrators and mediators, government officials, and government attorneys. Our meetings and seminars provide an opportunity for professional growth and interaction on a personal level in a collegial setting. If you have an interest in employment law but have not joined our section, I encourage you to do so. If you are a section member but don’t participate in section events, please consider becoming active in the section.
The mission of the Labor and Employment Law Section is to serve and support our members and others through opportunities for education, leadership, networking, and public service, and by providing quality programs, publications, scholarships, and awards relating to labor and employment law. Our volunteers provide an array of services to support this mission.
We sponsor a series of seminars each year. Our seminars include the Annual Public Employment Labor Relations Forum (presented for the past 40 years together with the City, County and Local Government Law Section), the Labor and Employment Law Annual Update and Certification Review (presented for the past 15 years), Advanced Labor Topics (presented each spring), and a litigation seminar (presented each fall). We’ve had nearly 200 registrants for our first three seminars this year and look forward to a good turnout for Advanced Labor Topics. We’ve had nearly 150 registrants for this year’s webinars.
Our Communications Committee and its Website Subcommittee have continued their excellent job taking advantage of emerging technologies. We now have a website that provides access to our publications, information about our seminars, meetings, and other section events, membership information, and links to other valuable content. This year, we initiated a Listserv, which can be accessed through the website.
Working with our Publications Subcommittee, our members have written high-quality articles that have been published in The Florida Bar Journal and the section’s newsletter, The Checkoff. We have also published a series of e-blasts on hot topics in employment law, as well as “toolkits” designed to act as primers for practitioners interested in learning more about specific topics. All of these publications are archived on our website.
A number of our committees engage in active outreach to others in the legal community. Our Judicial Outreach Committee provides opportunities for judges to learn more about labor and employment law issues through targeted seminars. Our EEOC and FEPA Liaison Committee works with federal, state, and local equal rights agencies to develop and enhance relationships, mutual understanding and educational opportunities. Our NLRB and PERC Liaison Committee works with the federal and state agencies that regulate labor unions. Among other accomplishments, they were instrumental in coordinating presentations this year by the NLRB’s general counsel and its Region 12 director. Our Wage and Hour Liaison Committee sponsored a conference with former Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Seth Harris. We have a newly formed Bar Leadership Liaison Committee, which is working to expand and facilitate our section’s interactions with leaders in The Florida Bar. I am especially proud of the work of our Law School Liaison Committee, which each year offers scholarships to students at each of Florida’s law schools.
Our section is honored to have been selected to present at the President’s Showcase at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention on June 25. Our presentation is titled Don’t Crash on the Information Highway: What Every Law Firm Needs to Know about the Impact of Technology on Employment Law Issues. We hope to see you.
At the annual convention, each year, after our section meeting, we host a reception to honor the year’s scholarship recipients, invest any new members of the section’s hall of fame, and, together with the Florida Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society, to honor accomplished jurists. This year, the reception will honor the chief judges (2013-15) of Florida’s District Courts of Appeal.
These are just a few highlights of our section’s accomplishments. Thanks to immediate past Chair Bob Turk for helping to get my feet under me; Chair-elect Frank Brown for helping me stay on track (and for everything else he does); Secretary/Treasurer Leslie Langbein; CLE Director Zascha Abbott; Judge Stephanie Ray and Brian Lerner for their work on the website; Bob Kilbride and Brian for getting the Listserv up and running; past Chair Debbie Brown for her work on the hall of fame; Freddy Perera and Debbie for being so effective in giving our money away (scholarships); seminar program chairs and co-chairs Mike Grogan (40th Annual Public Labor Relations Forum); Gina Cadogan and Ray Poole (Litigating Employment Law Claims 50 Years after Title VII); Robyn Hankins and Brian Koji (15th Labor and Employment Law Annual Update and Certification Review); and Judge Stephanie Ray and Jim Craig (Advanced Labor Topics); Rob Eschenfelder for his work as editor of our articles in The Florida Bar Journal ; Jay Lechner (editor of The Checkoff ); past Chairs Alan Forst and Sherill Colombo; Committee Co-chairs Jennifer Williams, Lindsey Wagner, Leslie Reicin Stein, David Spalter, Cathleen Scott, Cynthia Sass, Joe Santoro, Marlene Quintana, Stephen Meck, Nick Karatinos, John Hoffman, Marquis Heilig, Kristen Foslid, Sacha Dyson, and Scott Atwood; and BOG liaison, Adam Glen Rabinowitz. Most of these folks had multiple roles, and many others have made valuable contributions. Limitations on space prevent me from fully giving each his or her due.
Of course, on behalf of the entire section, special thanks to Angela Froelich, our section administrator.
Thanks to all of you, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.
Shane T. Muñoz, Chair
Out of State Division
The Out of State Division represents and serves the more than 14,000 Florida Bar members who reside somewhere other than Florida. The division and its leadership strive to meet the varied needs of these out-of-state members. Our many purposes include helping out-of-state lawyers in administrative, educational, and practice development issues; emphasizing diversity to provide opportunities for all lawyers; facilitating networking; encouraging pro bono activities by out of state members; providing a forum for the discussion of issues of common interest; and seeking to improve the law and our legal system. This year, once again, the division worked diligently to carry out its mission through a variety of activities.
Revisions to our division bylaws were approved by the Board of Governors. One needed change lets the division’s executive council conduct meetings and transact business electronically. Continuing to improve communication between our leadership and members is always one of our goals, and we made some important strides over the past year. In addition to updates to our website, we recently expanded our social media presence using Twitter and Facebook.
Our State to State newsletter, which is published three times per year, has seen a number of positive changes. We greatly improved its format, content, and circulation. We now publish in a digital format, which allowed us to go from a tiny printed newsletter to a high-quality production of about 30 pages, with full color and many photos. With more space available, we have increased the number and quality of articles by our contributing authors, who are judges and experienced practitioners from Florida and around the county. More people now receive this informative newsletter; in the past it was sent only to dues-paying members of the division, but now we can email it free of charge to all Bar members who live outside Florida.
We continue to focus on increasing the division’s membership. With the aid of the Bar, for the coming year we will be able to offer every newly admitted Bar member who resides outside Florida a free one-year membership in the division. We believe that this “free trial” will help young lawyers become familiar with the division and show them the value of participating in Bar activities.
The division strongly supports the Bar’s continued efforts to enhance ethics and professionalism. Every new division member is provided with a free two-hour CLE ethics presentation via streaming audio on our website.
Division membership is a great source of referrals from and to Florida Bar members around the country. In my capacity as a division officer, I get emails and calls from out-of-state Florida Bar members who are looking for information or referrals. Other division officers have this same experience. We use these contacts to put lawyers in touch with each other in ways that are mutually beneficial, as well as viewing them as opportunities to help educate others about The Florida Bar and its services.
The division holds networking and educational events around the country to bring our members together. Last fall at the Board of Governors’ meeting in Philadelphia, the division presented a timely and well-attended CLE seminar on Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product Privilege in Federal Cases. In March, we cosponsored a very successful reception in Washington, D.C., with the Young Lawyers Division. One of our division’s officers who lives in that area arranged congressional tour opportunities for the YLD Board of Governors and guests.
Our division works hard to stay involved with Florida Bar activities, and over the past year we did a good job participating in key initiatives. One of our officers was appointed to serve as division representative on the new Standing Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, and we look forward to more interaction with that committee. Members of our division’s executive council are active members of The Florida Bar Vision 2016 Commission that is at the forefront of change in our profession. One of our officers was a member of the small working group that drafted the “Professionalism Expectations” approved by the Board of Governors earlier this year.
The division encourages pro bono activities, and each year nominates an out-of-state Bar member for The Florida Bar president’s pro bono service award. Annually, the Bar president recognizes one lawyer from each of the 20 judicial circuits in Florida and one out-of-state Florida Bar member to receive the pro bono service award. Our division’s pro bono service award winner was Garrett Fenton from Washington, D.C., who has done a tremendous amount of pro bono work over the years. We are pleased to point out that, when the Out of State Division’s members are compared with Bar members in all circuits throughout Florida, the statistics gathered by The Florida Bar on pro bono service by its members show that the Out of State Division ranks second in the number of lawyers who personally provided pro bono services and first in the total number of pro bono hours performed.
Long-time service to the legal profession is also recognized through a 50-year award that is bestowed on veteran Florida Bar members who have spent at least part of their careers practicing out of state. This award was presented to deserving lawyers during a special luncheon and ceremony at the Bar convention last June.
The division thanks its officers, members of the executive council, the out-of-state representatives on the Bar’s Board of Governors, the program coordinator, and many others who have helped to make this year successful for the division and all out of state members of The Florida Bar.
Please visit our website for the contact information of our officers and executive council members. We want your thoughts on how we can provide more opportunities to better serve you. We are here to help our out-of-state lawyers and their practices.
Timothy P. Chinaris, President
Public Interest Law
The Public Interest Law Section (PILS) has made incredible strides this past year. We continued to move forward with the establishment of the juvenile law certification. The Board of Governors approved the certification, and the application is currently pending approval from the Supreme Court. We are confident that we will be able to begin the implementation phase next year, so that we can continue to ensure that those who are involved in dependency and delinquency matters have quality and well-trained counsel. PILS looks forward to taking a leadership role next year in providing the necessary CLEs for the certification.
PILS also added three new committees to its ranks this year: Immigration Committee chaired by Prof. Ericka Curran; Parents Rights Committee chaired by Craig McCarthy; and the Nonprofit Legal Issues Committee co-chaired by Jeff Fromknecht and John Copelan. The committees will focus on the legal issues impacting nonprofit organizations, the nonprofit community, and the people it serves. These committees are actively looking for members, so we encourage all who are interested in these practice areas to join.
Several members of PILS have been chosen as ad hoc committee members for the Access to Justice Commission. We look forward to seeing the results of the important work our members are doing on these committees as they endeavor to find a solution to the ever growing problem of too many of our low and middle income residents not having access to a lawyer.
We continued our ongoing relationship with the Florida Coastal Law Review by publishing our second annual issue with a focus on public interest issues. We anticipate that the public interest issue will be an ongoing project with Florida Coastal and PILS as we give authors an avenue for writing about the important public interest issues that are affecting our practice today. We are also working with Nova Southeastern Law School as it collaborates with our section and its students to publish a regular PILS newsletter. The newsletter is an important vehicle for sharing the work of our section and its members and also sharing timely information on topics relevant to our committees’ work.
PILS continues to update and add to its legislative positions, so that it will be prepared to advocate on behalf of the disenfranchised and under-represented. We are fortunate to have a registered lobbyist this year, Alice Vickers, who kept us well apprised of issues affecting the work of our section and our committees.
Plans are underway for our annual meeting in June where we will be providing a CLE for our members highlighting parents’ rights issues. As usual, the June meeting will be a great opportunity for our members to come together and share the work that joins the members of our section together. We look forward to another productive year in 2015-2016!
Laura Boeckman, Chair
Real Property, Probate and Trust Law
The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section (RPPTL), continues to serve its membership of over 10,000 members through its two substantive divisions, the real property law division, and the probate and trust law division and our general standing committees.
• Legislation — Our section takes great pride in being at the forefront in addressing legislative needs. Typically, a legislative initiative takes anywhere from two to four years to be developed and voted on as a section position. This process helps develop great credibility with members of the legislature and staff.
Our initiatives are often cutting-edge. This year was no different. On the probate and trust law side of the section, we have submitted proposed digital assets legislation that would address the need for fiduciaries to have access to digital information otherwise protected by passwords. Our team worked with Representative Passidomo, the Elder Law Section, and other interested groups for the passage of meaningful guardianship reform. Proposals have gone to the legislature to complete the Family Trust Company legislation, to modify Florida’s Uniform Transfers to Minors Act to increase the mandatory age for termination to 25, to clarify the laws concerning the timeliness of objections to the qualifications of personal representatives, to require attorneys who are appointed as fiduciaries in documents the attorney drafts to inform clients of other options in such appointments, to revise and update our estate tax apportionment statutes, to create more options in the selection of health care surrogates, to permit parents to designate an adult to temporarily act as guardian of the person when the parent cannot be timely contacted by the health care provider, and to provide clarity as to the circumstances when the court may assess fees and costs against a particular share of an estate.
The real property division’s legislative team was equally busy, having worked on the following initiatives: Condominium terminations and bulk-purchasers; providing comments to H.B. 87, pertaining to prerequisites to filing construction claims; the rights of tenants in possession when the property is in foreclosure; issues associated with expired or open permits and construction lien stop and start; modifications to the lis pendens statutes; electronic voting in community associations; and taxation of common areas.
In a subject that involves both real property and probate, an ad hoc General Standing Committee was created over a year ago to deal with revisions to Florida statutes should the constitutional ban on same-sex marriages be eliminated.
• General Standing Committees — Our general standing committees continued to work on a variety of projects. Our Integrity Awareness Committee submitted its report for the section to ensure transparency in decisionmaking and the highest perception of ethics.
During the course of a typical Bar year, the section, through its Amicus Coordination Committee, makes appearances as amicus curiae in a number of appellate matters. We have a history of having our appearances welcomed by our appellate courts and our credibility is such that recently the Fourth District Court of Appeal invited the section to submit a brief on the subject of whether a duty exists on the part of counsel for a guardian toward the ward or incapacitated person. In addition, this year, we have participated in cases dealing with issues of significance, including the proper interpretation of F.S. §732.701, and the running of the statute of limitation for a reasonably ascertainable creditor who has not received a “notice to creditors”; determining whether the restrictions on devises in the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes apply when provisions in a qualified personal residence trust provide for the property to revert “back to the Grantor’s estate to pass by devise”; whether the amendment to F.S. §718.202 in 2010 was actually clarification of existing law; and a certified question from federal court involving ownership of federal lands.
Our Professionalism and Ethics Committee was actively involved in responding to proposed changes to Rule 4-4.2 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar concerning communications with represented governmental entities. In addition, the committee continued to educate section members regarding the impact of requirements of professionalism in an ever-changing law practice environment.
Our Membership and Inclusion Committee continued to actively solicit and identify section members. The committee has developed an extensive network of law school organizations affiliated with the section and conducts mock interview of law students at each executive council meeting. Our fellowship program continued to be a source of providing a means for a number of our members to attend section meetings. The section continued its support of section members chosen to participate in The Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy.
• CLE Programming — Our volunteer organizers and lecturers are constantly looking for cutting-edge ways of delivering relevant materials in ways our members want. In addition to our half-day and full-day programs, the section offers two live certification review courses — wills, trusts, and estates and the real estate and construction law certification review programs. We also continue our outstanding conference programming, including the Construction Law Institute and the Attorney-Trust Office Liaison Conference. We offer half-day webinars for more concentrated topics, related to a specific practice area that attorneys can gain CLE credits without leaving their office, including one-hour lunch webinars that typically address hot topics or new developments in the law. We are also offering on-demand CLE of all programs (except conference programs) on line, 24 hours a day.
Some of our courses this year in the real property arena have included the following subjects: A presentation on homeowners’ association tenant screening; presentations on prejudgment interest; public construction bidding; OSHA requirements; the economic loss rule; electronic discovery and design professional liability; transferee tax liability; air rights; defaults and remedies in real estate transactions; a three-part CLE webinar on cyber and data risks and a webinar on estoppel letters.
CLE programming in the probate and trust world included asset protection, estate planning, basic probate and guardianship and elder law, and our annual Litigation ad Trust Law Symposium.
The RPPTL section continues to pursue excellence in programming, legislative reform, continuing legal education, and cutting-edge excellence on the subjects that impact our members most.
Michael Allen Dribin, Chair
The Tax Section had another successful year thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of our members. Our focus this year was on “getting active” and our members were actively involved in writing articles for the Tax Section Bulletin and The Florida Bar Journal, speaking on a wide variety of tax topics, providing comments on proposed legislation and regulations, attending local lunches and statewide meetings, assisting with the nationally recognized Tax Moot Court Competition, and participating in fun and productive networking events. The Tax Section has also established a presence on Twitter (@TaxSectionFB) and Facebook, where we post notices about upcoming events, interesting tax items, and photos from meetings. So “like” us, “friend” us, “follow” us, and keep up with the Tax Section. The section continues to emphasize providing high-quality CLE programming and informative and valuable meetings. We continue to involve new tax lawyers by routinely holding new tax lawyer lunches and by offering Tax Section fellowships.
• In-Person Meetings — The Tax Section hosted three general meetings this year in July 2014, October 2014, and April 2015, and one directors’ meeting in March 2015. The organizational meeting took place from July 3-5, 2014, at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. This meeting was, once again, a long weekend filled with family-friendly activities, networking opportunities, fantastic CLE programs, and time with old and new friends. At this meeting, the Tax Section was pleased to award the Marvin C. Gutter Outstanding Public Service Award to Andrew Tiktin, IRS assistant district counsel for the Southern District. The Tax Section values and appreciates Andrew’s professionalism, integrity, courtesy, and fairness as a representative of the IRS in his interactions with taxpayers and their representatives and his generous donation of time and talent to the Tax Section.
This year we had several new events, including a family casino night, 18 runners in the Amelia Island Independence 5k, and a beach party (which was moved indoors due to weather, but we had a great time anyway). We also had time for our favorite activities, including section meetings and business, golfing and spa time, family lunch, the ever-popular, informative, and interactive three-hour Ullman Year in Review CLE, the dessert and fireworks reception, and, of course, the adult and family hospitality suites. A big thank you to Mike Jorgenson and Ian White, who co-chaired the hospitality suites again this year.
The fall meeting took place at the Ritz Carlton in Ft. Lauderdale from October 23-25, 2014. On Friday, we held a full-day seminar addressing the ABCs and XYZs of LLCs, focusing on tax and practical issues relating to use of limited liability companies. This seminar was well-attended and incredibly well-received with knowledgeable and experienced speakers who offered useful practical insights to using LLCs, including Thomas E. Rutledge, the current chair of the ABA Business Law Section’s LLCs, Partnerships, and Unincorporated Entities Committee: Steven C. Dupre, an experienced business dispute attorney who gave us a litigator’s perspective, and two past chairs of the Tax Section, Joel D. Bronstein and Louis T.M. Conti. Immediately following the CLE, one of our own multi-talented members, Russ Hale, provided a brief educational workshop on wine tasting and wine appreciation. We then utilized that education with an informal wine and beer tasting reception hosted by past chairs of the Tax Section. Business meetings took place on Saturday.
Our annual meeting took place from April 23-25, 2015, at the Loews Don CeSar Resort on St. Petersburg Beach. The annual meeting immediately followed the 2nd Annual Florida Tax Institute, which was held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay on April 21-23. We had an exciting meeting, which included a “Sunset at the Hurricane” networking reception on Friday, excellent networking, informal, and formal CLE in our business meetings, a shooting range opportunity, and, of course, honoring our Gerald T. Hart Outstanding Tax Attorney of the Year, Mark Holcomb. Thank you to Janette McCurley for chairing the annual meeting this year. She did a phenomenal job, as always.
Our standalone director’s committee meeting took place at the New York City Bar Association Building in New York City on March 16, 2015. In addition to a productive business meeting, the directors met for dinner and had the exciting (and cold!) opportunity to march in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Check out our photos on Twitter!
• CLE Programs — Once again, the CLE programs put on by the Tax Section were a highlight of our services to our members and the tax law community. We sponsored or cosponsored seven in-person CLE programs and 11 telephone seminars, in addition to the CLE that is provided as part of our business meetings. Our phone seminars are high-level, well-prepared, and free of charge. A big thanks to Mike O’Leary and Julie Rivera for assisting with the coordination of the phone seminars again this year and to Steve Hadjilogiou and Abrahm Smith, our education division directors, for another excellent CLE year. Our in-person CLEs this year included July 2014, Ullman Year in Review (James Barrett, chair); October 2014, ABCs and XYZs of LLCs (Taso Milonas, chair); January 2015, International Tax Conference (Shawn Wolf, chair); January 2015, Representing the Physician (Alan Gassman, chair); February 2015, National Multistate Tax Symposium (Bill Townsend, chair); May 2015, Annual Wealth Protection Conference (Denis Kleinfeld and Alan Gassman, chairs); June 2015, FICPA/FBTS State Tax Conference (Mark Holcomb, chair). Thanks so much to our section members who chaired these seminars.
• Publications — This year, section members were once again active in writing substantive articles and content for each issue of The Florida Bar Journal, the Tax Section Bulletin, and the section’s monthly e-newsletter.
• Legislative Activity and Regulation Comments — Our state tax division has remained active in providing legislative positions on state tax issues, including submitting a proposed amendment to the documentary stamp tax statutes that will exempt all transfers of property between spouses from the documentary stamp tax, regardless of whether the transfer is incident to divorce. The Tax Section had a productive liaison meeting with Florida Department of Revenue for the second year in a row. Nationally, we continue to assess and provide appropriate comments on proposed federal tax regulations and maintaining liaison relationships with the Internal Revenue Service.
• Tax Moot Court Competition — The Tax Section once again hosted the nationally renowned tax moot court competition February 5-7 in Clearwater, with 16 law schools participating and led by Co-chairs Micah G. Fogarty and Emily Weeks. Charleston School of Law was the overall team winner this year. Volunteer tax lawyers wrote the problems and bench briefs, reviewed the student briefs, and judged the early rounds. Special thanks to Judge Carluzzo, Judge Dean (retired), and Judge Guy, U.S. Tax Court, Washington, D.C., who judged the final round and to all who participated in or assisted with the competition.
I thank all of our fantastic sponsors and their representatives whom we have all come to know, appreciate, and genuinely enjoy, and our administrator, Arlee Colman, who helps it all come together. I know the section will thrive next year under the leadership of our chair-elect, Jim Barrett. It has been my sincere honor to serve the Tax Section as chair this year.
Cristin C. Keane, Chair
Once again the Trial Lawyers Section (TLS) and its 6,000 plus members had a very productive and busy year. Our new section administrator, Charles (Chase) Early, has been a very integral part of insuring that our various programs are well organized and properly executed. We look forward to working with Chase on future TLS projects.
The Fourth Annual Trial Lawyers Summit took place in January at the West Palm Beach Marriott. This program combines the Chester Bedell Mock Trial Competition with a Teachers Law School. The mock trial competition featured two teams from 11 of Florida’s 12 law schools in a three-day competition against each other. The students are all provided the same fact pattern and present a trial from motions in limine to closing argument. Each round of the competition is presided over by a sitting judge and scored by five lawyer jurors. This year Barry University Law School, for the first time in school history, won the competition. The final round was held at the Historic Palm Beach County Courthouse and the presiding judge was U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz.
Now in its third year, the Teachers Law School brought together over 60 middle and high school civics teachers from Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie counties for a two-day program, which emphasized the importance of the judicial branch of government. Presentations were made by speakers that included a Florida Supreme Court justice, a U.S. district judge, and several outstanding trial lawyers. The topics included a discussion of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the importance of our jury system, the anatomy of a civil and criminal trial, and the role the judicial branch plays in our democracy. Also, the teachers attended the final round of the mock trial competition. Once again, the teachers raved about the program and their overall experience. The teacher participants were very complimentary of the program and many expressed it was the best program they had ever attended. They were all extremely enthusiastic about sharing with their students the importance of lawyers, judges, and the judiciary branch in our democratic society. This program has been a very rewarding and fulfilling program not only for the teachers but for all of the speakers and executive council members who have participated in the program. The TLS looks forward to future teacher law school programs.
The Florida Legislature is currently in session as I write this report, and the section closely monitors legislation in conjunction with our section’s lobbyist. The section’s three main legislative objectives are judicial independence, access to courts, and adequate funding of the judicial system. The section’s executive committee and lobbyist met with several legislators in Tallahassee in February to discuss these core issues.
The section continues to provide quality continuing legal education opportunities. Earlier this year, the section held its annual civil trial certification course. Approximately 115 trial lawyers attended this comprehensive review course for CLE and/or in preparation for the civil trial certification exam.
The crown jewel of the section’s CLE programs is the annual Advanced Trial Advocacy seminar held in Gainesville at the Levin Law Center at the University of Florida. This year’s program was held May 12-16 and, as always, had an outstanding faculty consisting of state and federal judges and premier trial lawyers from around the state as well as barristers from England. The interactive format, when each attendee presents direct and cross examination, opening and closing statements, and participates in voir dire, provides actual courtroom experience. The critiques by the judges, trial lawyers, and barristers are of great benefit to all who participate. The seminar counts as a trial credit toward board certification in civil trial law.
In an effort to assist The Florida Bar Foundation in providing access to courts to low-income residents, the section has approved four scholarships to the Advanced Trial Advocacy Seminar for legal aid lawyers to hone their advocacy skills. The section believes that providing quality legal services to low-income residents should be the goal of all its members. We hope the section’s continued support of The Florida Bar Foundation will spur other sections and Bar members to contribute to this very worthy cause.
In June, our section will again be a joint sponsor with the Criminal Law Section of the Chester Bedell Trial Lawyers Luncheon at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in Boca Raton. The speaker is U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.
Last spring/summer, the section published a new edition of the Discovery Handbook. The handbook is published as a joint project of the TLS and the Conferences of Circuit and County Court Judges. The handbook is an invaluable tool for judges and practitioners. TLS furnishes a hard copy to every judge in Florida. The handbook can be downloaded on the section’s website, www.flatls.org.
On March 13, I spoke to some of the fellows of The Florida Bar Leadership Academy about our section and its programs. Even though I only had a few minutes allotted, it was with great pride and enthusiasm that I told them about the TLS and its accomplishments as outlined in this report. I urged them to get involved in The Florida Bar section that fits their area of practice.
As my term as chair of the section comes to a close at the end of June, I thank each and every member of the TLS executive council for your hard work and support. I purposely did not mention individuals by name because it was truly a team effort to make this a most productive and rewarding year. None of the accomplishments of the TLS would be possible without the dedication of these members. I leave the section’s leadership in the very capable and talented hands of our chair-elect, Courtney Grimm of Jacksonville. I have no doubt she will continue the great work of the section during her tenure as chair. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as chair of the TLS.
Hector More’, Chair
Workers’ compensation in Florida remains an area of constant change and evolution. This year, the Florida Supreme Court accepted multiple cases for consideration. As of this report, all are ripe for a decision, which may have a dramatic impact on the system and the practice. The cases:
• Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg, Case No. SC13-1930 — In an en banc decision issued September 23, 2013, the First DCA concluded that by the plain language of §440.15 (2)(a), an injured worker still totally disabled at the end of his eligibility for temporary disability benefits is deemed to be at maximum medical improvement as a matter of law, even if the worker may get well enough to return someday to work. The court certified the following question of great public importance: “Is a worker who is totally disabled as a result of a workplace accident, but still improving from a medical standpoint at the time temporary total disability benefits expire, deemed to be at maximum medical improvement by operation of law, and, therefore, eligible to asserted claim for permanent total disability benefits?” Oral argument was June 5, 2014, and we await the decision.
• Castellanos v. Next Door Company, Inc. , Case No. SC13-2082 — This case involved an appeal of a final order that awarded a guideline fee to the claimant under F.S. §440.34, rather than a reasonable fee. The JCC, despite explicitly finding the 107.2 hours were reasonably required to establish benefit entitlement, was constrained to award a guideline fee of $164.54. This amounted to an hourly rate of $1.54. In a decision issued on October 23, 2013, the First DCA acknowledged that a fee in the amount of $164.54 for 107.2 hours of legal work was inadequate. Nevertheless, they declined to revisit the constitutional issue previously resolved by earlier decisions and affirmed the JCC’s order. However, the court certified a question of great public importance: “Whether the award of attorneys’ fees in this case is adequate, and consistent with the access to courts, due process, equal protection, and other requirements of the Florida and federal constitutions?” The court accepted jurisdiction, and oral argument was November 5, 2014. Immediately thereafter, the court lifted stays issued in the cases below. Briefing has been completed and all four cases await a decision.
• Pfeffer v. Labor Ready, Case No. SC14-1325 — In the underlying order, three lawyers had a total of 258.10 hours. The E/C was ordered to pay $13,017.80, or $50.44 per hour. The lawyers also asked the JCC to approve a reasonable fee payable by the claimant pursuant to a fee contract, but the JCC refused. The section’s amicus brief filed December 12, 2014.
• Richardson v. Aramark, Case No. SC14-738 — In the underlying order, the claimant’s lawyer sought an hourly fee from the E/C, arguing that the JCC could vary from the guideline fee in exceptional circumstances under Makemson v. Martin County, 491 So. 2d 1109 (Fla. 1986). The case was briefed by retired First DCA Judge Richard Ervin, and he argued both Makemson and the “fundamental right to be rewarded for industry” under Fla. Const. art. I, §2. The reply brief was filed on January 20.
• Diaz v. Palmetto General Hospital, Case No. SC14-1916 — In the underlying case, the claimant’s lawyer was awarded $13.79 per hour. In the appeal, the petitioner addressed a variety of constitutional theories. The reply brief was filed February 10.
• 2015 Legislative Session — The 2015 Florida legislative session began March 3. While no controversial bills have been proposed, a rarity, section lobbyist Fausto Gomez and Legislative Committee Chairs Rick Thompson and Richard Chait keep the section apprised of any developments that occur over the remaining weeks of session, and section leadership will be in Tallahassee, if needed, to offer any guidance required.
• Continuing Legal Education — The section held its annual Winter Conference in Snowmass/Aspen in February.
The 2015 Workers’ Compensation Forum was held April 9-10 at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate in Orlando. The forum is the preeminent educational opportunity for attorneys, adjusters, claims professionals, and other stakeholders to the Florida workers’ compensation system. Leo Garcia, program chair of the forum, along with numerous other individuals on the steering committee and faculty, assured this program’s success.
Section CLE Chair Dawn Traverso has arranged a wide selection of educational programs throughout the year, including regular “Learn at Lunch” Internet-based programs. The section will hold The Trial Advocacy Workshop June 12-13. The advanced program includes a full-trial conducted by participants, which will address issues involving the “fraud defense,” the applicability of the Daubert standard, the applicability of major contributing cause, and the use or exclusion of various forms of evidence. This is a hands-on program limited to 24 attorney participants. The focus of the program includes application of the rules of evidence, direct and cross examination of expert and lay witnesses, and trial strategy. Over 300 lawyers have experienced this program, which was endorsed by Deputy Chief Judge David W. Langham:
The fact that this program exists is a tribute to you and the rest of the faculty. I regret that this program was not available when I was beginning my life as a young litigator. However, it appears to me that there is significant value in this program even for experienced litigators. I concluded that, with the possible exception of a Board Certification Review Course years ago, I have never been to a more practical, effective continuing education opportunity.
• News and 440 Report — The section’s publication, the News and 440 Report, continues to be a tremendous source of information, commentary, analysis, and insight for section members. The section is grateful to Jeff Appel for his service and dedication as the current editor.
• Frierson–Colling Professionalism Award — At its judicial luncheon in August, the executive council awarded Rick Thompson of Sarasota the Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership and professionalism. Given Rick’s long career of outstanding advocacy, service, and leadership on the executive council, and tireless devotion to the promotion of education and ethical conduct in the practice, it is difficult to imagine a more well–deserving recipient for this award.
• Interaction with the First District Court of Appeal — The executive council again had the honor of hosting the First District Court of Appeal for oral arguments at the University of Miami School of Law in January. The arguments presented law students with an opportunity to glimpse the practice of workers’ compensation and to interact with council members and judges in an informal setting after the arguments concluded.
Gratitude is extended to all executive council members for volunteering their valuable time, effort, and expertise, including a special thanks to our officers. Chris Smith, immediate past chair, has been a great help. Chair-elect Mike Winer has been of tremendous support and will move the section forward seamlessly when his term begins in August. Treasurer Alan Kalinoski guided the council in its effort to promote an ambitious agenda of priorities while remaining well within our budget. Secretary Joanne Prescott maintained the minutes of all meetings in excellent fashion, thus, assisting the council’s maintaining continuity from meeting to meeting. Richard Manno continues to assist in keeping the section website current and user-friendly. Willie Mae Shepherd has done another superb job as our section administrator. The members of the Workers’ Compensation Section and the section’s executive council continue their promotion of education, professionalism, and the independence of the workers’ compensation adjudicatory process. We look forward to an exciting remainder of 2015 and the years ahead, and remain committed to a stable, balanced, and efficient Florida workers’ compensation law accessible to all system stakeholders.
William H. Rogner, Chair
Young Lawyers Division
The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) is the largest section or division of The Florida Bar, serving in excess of 25,000 members. As the YLD has historically done, this year, we worked to meet the ever-changing demands of our growing constituency. The YLD launched new initiatives and was able to serve its members and the profession as a result of that effort.
The YLD Membership Survey was sent out in 2014 for the first time. The survey dealt with many issues facing young lawyers in Florida, but unlike most surveys, included a number of opportunities for young lawyers to provide direct feedback to the YLD beyond a simple multiple-choice answer. The results were very informative, particularly with the overwhelming comments about health, wellness, and quality of life issues. The YLD reviewed the surveys and developed its Health and Wellness Month, which commenced in May 2015.
The Health and Wellness Month started a challenge to all lawyers to take the Realage Test from Sharecare ( www.sharecare.com ). Following that challenge, the YLD issued daily challenges on social media featuring easy mental or physical health and wellness challenges. The YLD also provided specific tips, video clips, and relevant articles to young lawyers throughout the month. We encourage all lawyers to take time to reflect on the importance of work-life balance and good health. The event culminated with grants or awards provided by Sharecare to local young lawyer affiliate organizations for programs or events that highlight or relate to health and wellness.
Through the work of Transition to Practice Chair Jennifer Kuyrkendall, the YLD continued expansion of its Mentoring with the Masters video series. The YLD enlisted the help of Bar leaders and experts in filming a variety of targeted videos aimed at helping young lawyers in the formative years of their practice. the end of the Bar year, the YLD will have produced dozens of new videos, including Taking and Defending Depositions, Preserving Error, and Writing Summary Judgment Motions. These videos are a free resource to young lawyers who do not have ready access to a mentor.
Another breakthrough program this year was the three-part webinar series: The Florida Bar’s Social Media and Technology Series. Thousands of lawyers watched the webinars from over 25 countries. The success of this series was the result of many hardworking people. Zack Zuroweste and Margaret Good, chairs of the YLD Technology Committee, should be commended for launching the new programming. The topics of the webinars included Social Media Marketing 101, Legal Ethics 2.0MG: Potential Ethics Pitfalls for Legal Professionals Using Social Media, and Apps for Florida Lawyers. Special thanks go out to our presenters, Ethan Wall, Mac McCoy, and Christopher Hopkins, as well as TheLaw.TV, the filming company. They were tremendous.
The Affiliate Outreach Conference (AOC) experienced an increase in attendance thanks to the efforts of Co-Chairs Greg Hoag and Jill Bell, and their committee. AOC’s theme, Serving Others in the Sunshine City, was very well received in St. Petersburg. The AOC provided an opportunity for young lawyer affiliates to secure funding for their various member and public service projects, helping them to make a difference in their local communities. This year, the conference included a CLE, What Every Young Lawyer Should Know about Government in the Sunshine. The relationship between the YLD and its local affiliates has always been a priority for the division. Thanks to our ongoing partnership with The Florida Bar Foundation, Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, and careful budgeting, the YLD was able to award over $50,000 in grants to its young lawyer affiliates around the state. We are extremely proud to be able to provide that much grant funding and only hope to see it grow in the years to come. We were honored to have President-elect Ramón Abadin attend AOC, together with President-elect Designate Bill Schifino. Finally, for the fourth year in a row, the chair of the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division attended AOC. Andrew Schpak joined us for the weekend, notwithstanding his very demanding travel schedule and the fact he traveled all the way from Portland, Oregon, where he practices.
The Law Student Division’s (LSD) Board of Governors also met at AOC. Each of Florida’s law schools sent their designated representatives to this meeting. During their meeting, the LSD discussed the various projects each school had been working on, both on their campuses and in their respective communities, including the Raising the Bar project, which has become the marquee community service day for the LSD, held each February. The LSD is also sponsoring a law student essay contest with Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and the Center for Professionalism. The LSD participated in a Florida Bar town hall meeting with President-elect Ramón Abadin, Michael Orr, and Gordon Glover, in which the group discussed numerous issues facing law students and the transition to practice from law school.
The YLD also continues its efforts to increase education and involvement of law students through the annual Robert Orseck Moot Court competition, held every year in conjunction with the annual convention of The Florida Bar. Chairs Alex Haddad and Andrew Manko and their committee are working hard to once again make this event a huge success. The YLD expects commitments from all Florida Law Schools that they will host a team for the competition, in which the final round is judged by the Florida Supreme Court.
During its out-of-state meeting, the YLD was able to co-host an event with out-of-state members of The Florida Bar. The event was very well attended. Thanks to the efforts of Executive Director Jack Harkness and Dean Colson of Colson Hicks, the YLD met with Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court. During their time at the Supreme Court, the YLD engaged in a private question and answer session with the chief justice, among other activities.
While the YLD launched many new initiatives this past year, it also continued many traditionally successful programs, such our basic CLEs, under the direction of CLE Chairs Christian George and Valerie Barnhart and Practicing with Professionalism Chairs Amy Rigdon and Eric Elms. Although we often take those projects for granted because we do them every year, the quality and quantity of our programming is ever-increasing and these chairs, together with our program administrator, Tom Miller, spend a great deal of time and energy making sure these programs are truly top-notch.
Of course, this year the YLD also laid the groundwork for an addition to the manner in which the CLEs are delivered. Starting in the very near future, young lawyers will be able to obtain their CLE credits by watching segments of a CLE, i.e., a one-hour presentation, instead of having to view the full-day presentation. The credit hour and program requirements for satisfaction of the basic CLER will not change; however, the manner in which a young lawyer selects the delivery and timing of the programming will be more dynamic and diverse. We expect this additional delivery to permit young lawyers an easier way to budget costs while starting their practice.
The YLD continued its sponsorship of the South Florida Minority Mentoring Picnic, Orlando Diversity Picnic, Tampa Diversity Picnic, and North Florida Diversity Picnic, as well as working on new diversity initiatives under the direction of Diversity Committee Chair Sorraya Solages-Jones. Of particular note was the YLD recreating and enhancing its partnership with the John Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic by providing a refreshing station for the hundreds of participants.
As my time with this division draws to a close, I cannot help but begin to reminisce. I have been very fortunate to work alongside some amazing people, including the members of the YLD and senior Florida Bar Board of Governors. The Florida Bar’s future is in excellent hands under the leadership of President-elect Gordon Glover and President-elect Designate Katherine Hurst Miller. Finally, no one in this division is more dedicated and hard-working than our program administrator, Tom Miller. Frankly put, we would not be able to accomplish a fraction of what we do without him. I am honored to have had this opportunity to work with such special people and hope that our profession will continue to grow and embrace the changes brought by an ever-changing technological world.
Michael Fox Orr, President