Annual Reports of Sections and Divisions of The Florida Bar 2018-2019
I am honored to present the Administrative Law Section’s annual report for the 2018-2019 term and highlight the hard work of the many members who devoted countless hours to the section. While the “usual suspects” continued to ensure that the section provided exceptional service to its members, I am particularly proud of the newer members who assumed leadership roles and implemented “outside-the-box” measures designed to facilitate the section’s long-term growth.
The 2018-2019 term got off to an inauspicious start due to Hurricane Michael’s unexpected arrival in Tallahassee last October. As a result, the section had to postpone the Pat Dore Administrative Law Conference, its biennial showcase event for continuing legal education. However, thanks to the swift and decisive actions of the conference’s co-chairs, Jowanna Oates and Judge Cathy Sellers, the conference was quickly rescheduled for February 8. Despite the date change, the conference still sold out and was an unqualified success.
Through feature articles and recurring features, the section’s quarterly newsletter continued to provide its members and the legal community with timely information regarding significant developments in administrative law. The informative features included Paula Savchenko’s comprehensive article, “Rule Challenges Sprout from the Growing Florida Medical Marijuana Industry.” As for the recurring features, every edition of the newsletter included “Appellate Case Notes,” in which Larry Sellers, Gigi Rollini, and Tara Price provided concise descriptions of every significant administrative law case decided by Florida’s appellate courts during the previous quarter. The newsletter’s other recurring feature is “DOAH Case Notes,” and the DOAH Case Notes team, consisting of myself, Matthew Knoll, Dustin Metz, Virginia Ponder, Christina Shideler, Paul Rendleman, and Tiffany Roddenberry, reviewed every recommended and final order issued by the Division of Administrative Hearings and concisely described noteworthy decisions from the preceding quarter.
With regard to the newsletter, I would be remiss if I did not use this opportunity to thank Judge Elizabeth McArthur for her long service as the newsletter’s editor and co-editor. Judge McArthur put her heart and soul into every edition of the newsletter for many years but recently decided that a promotion to a senior judge position at DOAH required her to devote more hours to her “day job.” Fortunately, Tiffany Roddenberry assumed co-editorial duties. Thanks to her work and long-time Editor Jowanna Oates, the newsletter continues to be a point of pride for the section.
The section’s publication efforts were not confined to the newsletter. Lyyli Van Whittle, the new co-chair of the section’s Publications Committee, did an excellent job collecting the following articles for The Florida Bar Journal: “The Points of Entry for Rule Challenges Post Florida Pulp & Paper” by Virginia Ponder, “Rule or No Rule? An Examination of Recent Unadopted Rule Challenge Decisions” by Gregory L. Pitt, Jr., and “The Florida Public Records Act in the Era of Modern Technology” by Ralph A. DeMeo and Lauren M. DeWeil.
In a move that was long overdue, the section created separate awards last year to honor outstanding administrative law practitioners and members who have provided outstanding service to the section. With regard to the former, the executive council named Larry Sellers as the first recipient of the Curtis Kiser Administrative Lawyer of the Year Award. As for the latter, Judge McArthur’s work on the newsletter was surely one of the primary reasons why the executive council named her the first recipient of its Outstanding Service Award.
As mentioned in the section’s two previous annual reports, the section has been making a concerted effort to increase its membership. In particular, the section has been focusing its recruitment efforts on law students and young attorneys because those groups represent the section’s best possibilities for growth. The section has long maintained a law school outreach program for building awareness of the section among law students at every law school in Florida. While that program is still in place, the section implemented a new program specifically designed to reach students at Florida State University because many of those students ultimately become administrative law practitioners. This new program involves sending a panel of section members to the law school on a monthly basis to speak on topics such as administrative law, health law, and how to succeed in law school. In order to encourage attendance, the section provides free food and drinks. While these monthly luncheons will not lead to an immediate increase in the section’s membership, the section considers them to be long-term investments intended to increase membership by building awareness of the section among future administrative law practitioners. The section is very grateful to Tabitha Harnage for conceiving this program, reaching out to student leaders at the law school, organizing each luncheon, and recruiting speakers.
The section is also making a concerted effort to increase awareness among attorneys employed by administrative agencies. For example, Brian Newman, Louis St. Laurent, Judge Li Nelson, Judge Yolonda Green, Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, and I produced a unique CLE for the Department of Health on June 28, 2018, “The Nuts and Bolts of Administrative Litigation.” This CLE was focused on teaching basic litigation skills to young attorneys. After receiving positive reviews from the Department of Health, the section plans to produce similar CLEs for other agencies.
On a related note, the section is in the final stages of planning a “DOAH Trial Academy.” This CLE will be an intensive, week-long litigation skills course held at DOAH and taught by administrative law judges and seasoned practitioners. While the section anticipates limiting enrollment to 20 section members, both private- and public-sector attorneys will be eligible to enroll. The section has high hopes for the DOAH Trial Academy and hopes to make it an annual event.
In order to appeal to socially conscious young attorneys, the section began coupling networking/social activities with charitable endeavors. For instance, Tabitha Harnage, James Ross, and Virginia Ponder organized the section’s inaugural “Fall FSU Law Mixer & Turkey Drive” to benefit students of an elementary school in Tallahassee. The mixer was held at a local bar on November 1, 2018, and those attending donated canned goods and money for the purchase of food. Then, Harnage, Ross, Ponder, and other section members met the Saturday before Thanksgiving to assemble the meals. Because the mixer was so successful, the section was able to donate a large amount of surplus food to a homeless shelter in Tallahassee.
Harnage and Ross also worked in conjunction with Meenan, P.A., in order to organize a backpack drive that collected school supplies for the Boys Town charity in Tallahassee. That event resulted in $650 of donations, 60 backpacks, and nearly 400 individual items of school supplies.
A description of the section’s efforts to attract young attorneys would not be complete without mentioning how Paul Drake, Christina Shideler, Gregg Morton, and the other members of the section’s Technology Committee continued doing an outstanding job maintaining and updating the section’s website and social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Given the ubiquitous nature of such technology among young adults, the Technology Committee’s work is essential to the section’s efforts to attract law students and young attorneys.
Because the events described above occurred in Tallahassee, one could understandably conclude that the section’s activities are overwhelmingly focused on the section’s Tallahassee membership. Given that most of the significant state agencies are headquartered in Tallahassee and that the vast majority of the section’s members practice there, the section has spent several years struggling with how to be more relevant to members in other parts of Florida. This is particularly important because administrative law practitioners outside Tallahassee represent a substantial source of new members. Therefore, in order to better serve existing members and to attract new members, the section established the South Florida Chapter so that there will be section leaders in South Florida responsible for organizing CLEs and networking events for our South Florida members. Sharlee Edwards and Paula Savchenko volunteered to implement this new initiative and have already organized two networking events, the first of which was a joint happy hour in Ft. Lauderdale with The Florida Bar’s Tax Section and the Broward County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers’ Section. In addition, Edwards and Savchenko have a tentative plan for 2019 that calls for the South Florida Chapter to substantially replicate the activities available to the section’s Tallahassee members. The section is confident that the South Florida Chapter will be successful and hopes to establish chapters in other parts of Florida, such as Tampa and Jacksonville, in the near future.
In closing, I would like to recognize the continued, outstanding work of the section’s administrator, Calbrail Banner. She never hesitates to go the proverbial “extra mile” for the section. I would also like to recognize Chase Early who did a wonderful job filling in for her while she was on maternity leave.
Garnett Chisenhall, Chair
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Section (ADR) of The Florida Bar is at an exciting point in its brief history. Following its inception in 2010, the section worked hard to establish itself as a resource for all members of The Florida Bar (TFB) and to fulfill its mission of providing information and training to both advocates and neutrals on “best practices” for utilizing all forms of dispute resolution that are recognized in the Florida Statutes. Standing on the shoulders of those who have chaired this section before me, I can confidently report the section has made great strides in earning recognition from TFB and the other sections and rule committees of TFB as the go-to source for all information related to ADR.
Here is an abbreviated list of just some of the items the section is currently involved in or has recently participated in:
• A training program in conjunction with ACAP’s attorney grievance program to formalize training for arbitration and mediation in the attorney grievance process. This training was recorded during its live presentation at The Florida Bar midyear meeting in January to use for future trainings.
• A searchable database of the Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee’s opinions. Many mediators and lawyers have expressed a desire to be able to search these opinions, which are provided by the Dispute Resolution Center of the Florida Supreme Court. Keywords and concepts have been used by DRC to find and digest these opinions. Until now, there has not been a way to do a term search or have complete confidence that all opinions relating to a specified rule or statute have been identified when the database digests have been reviewed. In conjunction with The Florida Bar, the ADR Section has worked with Fastcase, and the MEAC opinions exist as a searchable database using Fastcase’s existing algorithms.
• A Mentoring Academy scheduled to occur in October that provides mentoring for how to transition to a dispute resolution practice from a direct representation practice or what is needed to maintain both, as well as a practicum of advanced mediation techniques and skills for mediators who have some experience mediating or arbitrating cases.
• A new publication being offered on a semi-annual basis, The Common Ground, in addition to our monthly email newsletters and continuous social media communications.
• Continued growth in new committees: Health & Wellness/Diversity and a newly organized Communications Committee (which now includes social media and the section’s publications).
• Continued efforts to increase the number of new members by providing benefits to members (comprehensive CLEs/CMEs for section members; section service trainings), and by establishing a more formalized leadership path for section members interested in developing those skills.
• A collaboration with the Dispute Resolution Center to engage in ethics training for neutrals as well as advocates throughout the state.
The section’s efforts extolling the virtues of neutrality and dispute resolution processes in this state have not been without some controversy. The Florida Supreme Court is in the process of considering changes to its certification rule, shifting from the use of any mediator acceptable to the parties to one that compels the use of a Florida Supreme Court Certified mediator in cases that exist within the Florida court system in family, dependency, county and circuit civil courts. In 2017, we surveyed our members to ascertain their response to the Supreme Court’s proposed rule on so-called “mandatory certification” and reported those results back to the Florida Supreme Court. Stripped to its essence, a majority of our members supported the concept of mandatory certification for matters already underway in the court process in family and circuit civil. (We did not survey on the issue of dependency or county court as the Supreme Court’s proposal had not evolved to include those concepts at the time of our survey.)
Several other Bar sections, as well as individual stakeholders, filed formal comments with the Supreme Court objecting to the mandatory certification requirement for a variety of reasons. These comments were addressed by the Florida Supreme Court’s ADR Rules & Policy Committee, which is in the process of making a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court regarding this proposal. The ADR Section has been requested to initiate a working group among the Bar sections wishing to comment on this latest proposal with the goal of facilitating a fundamental unifying principal, if possible, among the competing interests that would give the Florida Supreme Court an objective basis for review.
Beyond its relationship with The Florida Bar and its sections, the ADR Section is also making great progress in being recognized as a center of gravity for dispute resolution expertise and resources in conjunction with the Florida Supreme Court’s Dispute Resolution Center and the Supreme Court’s ADR Rules & Policy Committee. During the 1980s, Florida was among the first states to incept a formalized statutory system for certification and regulatory oversight of mediators and other dispute resolution professionals as a means to effect the dual goals of reduction of burden on the state courts and protecting consumers who were searching for less costly and quicker means other than litigation to resolve lawsuits and other disputes. As part of that statutory structure, the Supreme Court created the Dispute Resolution Center, which oversees the certification and renewal process and assists with the other Supreme Court committees related to dispute resolution in this state. Among those additional committees is the Rules & Policy Committee, which advises the court on policies, procedures, statutory revisions, and rules to improve and expand the use of court-connected ADR. It is significant that the ADR Section and its members are recognized as a voice in this process and a means to provide the legal profession’s unique insights into the dispute resolution process in this state.
Looking ahead, this section wants to maintain and build on its position as “all things ADR” for both advocates and neutrals. Our executive council has incredible talent, initiative, and dedication. I want to formally acknowledge my great debt to each of them for their hard work this program year. In addition, we have an unparalleled resource in our emeritus members, many of whom were involved in the inception of the Florida statutory system for dispute resolution. We invite you to join us and be part of our continued success. If you are passionate about being a neutral, our section welcomes you! Contact our program administrator Stefanie Svisco ([email protected]) for more information.
Christina Magee, Chair
The Animal Law Section (ALS) remains one of the newest and most exciting sections of The Florida Bar. The 2018-2019 year represents our third year in existence. We are continuing to build momentum as Bar members become more familiar with our mission and platforms. We hold the belief that every member of the Bar who loves animals of any kind should become an active member of the ALS.
The ALS is open to all — this includes lawyers and nonlawyers who may join our section as law students, paralegals, law enforcement, and others involved in animal welfare or other animal-related activities.
This year has certainly been exciting! One of our proudest moments was in November with the overwhelming approval of ballot Amendment 13. The ALS actively participated in the entire process. The ALS was approved to lobby the Constitutional Revision Commission, which placed the amendment on the ballot. When the language was challenged in court, the ALS participated as amicus curiae in the litigation that successfully kept the amendment on the ballot. The ALS provided arguments from the trial court all the way through the Florida Supreme Court’s review. When the amendment was approved for inclusion, members of the ALS worked hard at educating the public about the initiative and the inherent cruelty in greyhound dog racing. Amendment 13 effectively phases out greyhound dog racing in Florida, forever. The ban will be complete by the year 2020, but tracks are already starting to close in response to the phase-out. Florida was home to more than two-thirds of the remaining dog tracks in the United States. Members of the ALS and others continue to work with greyhound rescue organizations to find forever homes for all displaced dogs.
In addition, the ALS continues to be actively involved in the legislative process. For the 2019 legislative session, the ALS has taken the following legislative positions:
1) Support legislation that will a) eliminate a prohibition on veterinarians who report cases of animal cruelty to the authorities; b) prohibit the practice of pet leasing; c) require continuing education for technicians that conduct dog and cat euthanasia; and d) clarify that animals imported by shelters are required to have a health certificate.
2) Support legislation that would increase the penalty for crimes committed against a police, fire, or search and rescue dog. This legislation also provides protection for horses involved in police work.
3) Oppose legislation that would preempt local animal ordinances that provide protection for animals that exceeds the protection available at the state level.
4) Support legislation that would increase the damages permitted in cases involving the death and injury of companion animals.
5) Support legislation that would add threats against companion animals to the statutes related to seeking domestic violence injunctions.
6) Support legislation and regulations that would prevent the hunting of bears in Florida.
As new legislative initiatives are identified, we will have additional opportunities to add our voice to protect Florida’s animals. As a result, we may have the opportunity to support a statewide Animal Cruelty Offender Registration.
In the fall, ALS members and law students participated in a day-long program hosted by the Animal Legal Defense Fund program at Florida A&M School of Law in Orlando. In attendance were some of our outstanding law students and writing contest winners. The ALS sponsors an annual writing competition, and the 2018-2019 Seventh Annual Animal Law Writing Competition is now open. The winner will be featured in our newsletter, the Paw Review, and will receive a $1,000 honorarium. The deadline for submissions is July 18.
ALS members have also enjoyed a number of “field trips” to rescue organizations around the state including the Wild Horse Rescue Center in Mims; Big Cat Rescue in Tampa; Rooterville in Melrose; and Kindred Spirits Sanctuary in Citra. We are still looking forward to visiting Save the Chimps later this year.
The Animal Law Section and its partner, Pets Ad Litem, have provided stuffed Rikki Dog Dolls to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare for distribution to sick children. The Rikki Dolls resemble Rikki, a golden retriever therapy dog, who was the unofficial mascot for The Animal Law Section and was featured on the cover of The Florida Bar News.
To encourage young lawyers to learn more about the field of Animal Law, the ALS offered 100 free memberships to members of the Young Lawyers Division. Many lawyers are not aware of the many opportunities within the field of animal law. Animal law includes virtually every substantive area of law, including, but not limited to, estate planning, family law, environmental law, disability law (including service animals), criminal law, entertainment law, and real property law. Animal law is everywhere and continues to grow in popularity.
The November/December issue of The Florida Bar Journal included an article by executive council member John Powell on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In December, state Sen. Aaron Bean filed a bill that would make killing a police, fire, or search and rescue dog a second-degree felony (mentioned above as one of the legislative positions we support). This bill was introduced in response to the death of Fang, a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police dog killed in the line of duty. If passed, this bill would extend protection to police horses as well. The ALS also recognized Sen. Tom Lee with our 2018 Outstanding Service Award based on his support of the greyhound racing ban and other important animal welfare matters.
The section wants to thank former Attorney General Pam Bondi for her adoption efforts while in office. She was known for bringing rescue dogs to cabinet meetings for the purpose of finding forever homes. We are pleased that CFO Jimmy Patronis is continuing this tradition with his Patronis Pup of the Month, which features an adoptable rescue dog.
Each year at the annual Bar meeting, the ALS holds a continuing education program highlighting many important areas of Florida Law and how it affects our state’s animals. This year will be no exception. Last year’s Puppy Pit was a big success with several puppies getting adopted to forever homes. We hope to repeat last year’s success with another Puppy Pit. Strides are also being taken to offer a Cat CLE and baby goat yoga.
In March, the section will offer its Third Annual Groundhog Day Program, “Working Together to Protect Florida’s Animals.” Topics include animal cruelty; trap, neuter, and return solutions for feral cat populations; homeowner’s association liability for wild animal attacks; the making of a constitutional amendment; the future of animal law; apartment-friendly living for dogs; animal hoarding; volunteer management and employment concerns; the service dog/emotional support animal dilemma, and the realities of where rescue organization pets come from. It will be a day packed with information for animal lovers of all kinds. This program is being supported by animal welfare organizations throughout the state.
Section outreach continues with activities related to law schools, law enforcement, and the judiciary. The section’s CLE programs for the judiciary have been well received, and we continue to receive requests for additional programs.
The communications committee continues to support submissions to The Florida Bar Journal, as well as our popular newsletter. The ALS is actively finalizing submissions for a Florida animal law treatise (the first of its kind) to be released before the end of the year.
The ALS is active on social media, and we can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. We appreciate all followers, along with your animal-friendly submissions. Stay tuned as we redesign our website for greater functionality. The section has received accolades for our unique section socks as well as our t-shirts and other apparel for both adults and children.
We appreciate all members of the ALS and their efforts to continually grow and support our efforts. None of what we do would be possible without the generous support of time and effort of our executive council, committee chairs, Board of Governors liaison, members, and our Florida Bar administrative assistant, Ricky Libbert.
If you are interested in joining our ever-growing section, we would love to have you. Most of our members are interested in the area, but do not practice animal law. We also encourage nonattorney affiliates to join.
Peggy Hoyt, Chair
Appellate Practice Section
The Appellate Practice Section is in the midst of an action-packed year. With our first-ever trip to Washington, D.C., in the books, we are hard at work implementing all the exciting ideas from our future planning session conducted in our nation’s capital.
Our 2018 fall meeting and retreat in D.C. was filled with special programming, beginning with an evening reception at the U.S. Supreme Court. After conducting ongoing section business at our committee and executive council meetings, we enjoyed 5.5 hours of CLE programming focused on appellate practice in our nation’s capital, including an on-site interactive presentation at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. We shared a fine dining experience with section members and guests and concluded our official agenda with a robust, professionally facilitated future planning session.
A scholarship program created in connection with our 2018 fall meeting and retreat allowed us to extend an opportunity to two deserving section members to join us for these special events. My special thanks go to Hala Sandridge, Tom Hall, Judge Alan O. Forst, Chris Altenbernd, Carrie Ann Wozniak, Kristin Norse, Nick Shannin, Chris Donovan, Kimberly Jones, Kansas Gooden, and Cheri Wright for their hard work in making this trip a reality and to all of those who joined us and made it so memorable.
I’m proud to report that our implementation plans for several of the action items we identified during our planning session are already underway. The section is forming an exciting new APS Fellows Program under the leadership of Jamie Moses and Courtney Brewer. This program will allow up to two law students or young lawyers the opportunity to experience all the section has to offer for an entire Bar year.
The section is also sponsoring and assisting the Florida Law Related Education Association’s High School Moot Court Competition program. Since taking the lead on this initiative this year, Brandon Breslow has helped create a moot court problem that the students are truly excited about and has assembled a team of attorneys to assist with judging various aspects of the competition.
The section is also happy to announce that one of our many implementation items aimed at facilitating government lawyer involvement in the section has been completed. In the upcoming Bar year, a joint membership option will be available for the Appellate Practice Section and the Government Lawyer Section. We enjoyed collaborating with Anthony Miller of the Government Lawyer Section to bring this initiative to fruition.
Another initiative we are excited to launch in the upcoming Bar year is the creation of our section’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Formerly an organized effort within our Outreach Committee, the section is committed to making the important work of this committee a stand-alone focus. We are grateful to Siobhan Shea, who laid the foundation for this committee, and to Jared Krukar for the momentum he has built for diversity and inclusion efforts through his continued dynamic approach to outreach efforts this year. We are honored to have the leadership and guidance of Judge Stephanie W. Ray, who will be co-chairing this committee with Jared Krukar in the committee’s inaugural year.
Our Pro Bono Committee continues to make great strides in its partnership with the statewide Guardian ad Litem program. In connection with our program in Washington, D.C., the committee also facilitated an opportunity for section members to volunteer with the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, a D.C.-based organization that provides pro bono counsel to veterans appearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We were honored to have Judge Michael P. Allen speak to us about the court during our CLE program in D.C. If you’d like more information about this opportunity or any of the other appellate pro bono opportunities our Pro Bono Committee has to offer, please reach out to Committee Chair Joe Eagleton. And when you do, please congratulate him for a job very well done in increasing appellate litigants’ access to justice.
Our CLE Committee has accomplished so much this year and continues to run a successful business on behalf of the section, producing top-notch educational content. Under the powerful leadership of Kansas Gooden, the committee is implementing many of the ideas and initiatives identified during our D.C. planning session. This includes the committee’s focus on creating new content, including new practice-based, half-day webinars. Topics include appeals in post-conviction, family, and administrative proceedings. The section’s recent live seminar, “Hidden Essentials of Appellate Practice,” enjoyed record in-person attendance. The section also recently hosted an all-tech CLE focused on the use of technology in appellate practice.
If this has you wondering about exciting upcoming programming you won’t want to miss, on June 5, the section is hosting an all-day CLE in Tampa called “The Art of Objecting.” With a focus on trial and litigation support and preservation of error, this CLE will help sharpen the skills of trial and appellate lawyers alike. Finally, on August 7-9, the section will be hosting a three-day intensive appellate workshop. Attendees will have the opportunity to draft a brief, hone their writing and advocacy skills, and perform oral argument, all under the guidance of accomplished and skilled faculty members, including many appellate judges and board certified appellate practitioners.
Our Communications Committee is communicating like never before. If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, you know that social media is the place to be if you want real-time updates on what’s happening in the section. These updates are a credit to the leadership and hands-on work of Communications Committee Co-Chair Dineen Wasylik, who has led our section into the modern age of social media in style. Many thanks also go to Communications Co-Chair Jonathan Streisfeld, who manages our ongoing website and email communications. Under his leadership, the section’s website is undergoing a number of updates and changes to make it more informative and more accessible across a wider range of platforms and devices.
The section’s online publication, The Record, has also successfully transitioned into a more modern blog format. Laura Triplett, editor of The Record, is using this format to explore new ways to reach members through online content. This includes a new Member Spotlight feature now available on the website. Many thanks to Laura Triplett and her team for their dedication to maintaining such an informative and high-quality publication throughout this transition.
The high-quality content doesn’t end there. If you’re looking for thought-provoking analyses about timely appellate issues, you know that the section’s articles in The Florida Bar Journal are a must-read. This is a credit to the leadership of Tom Seider and his hard-working team.
Our Self-Represented Litigant Committee, under the leadership of Raemy Charest-Turken, continues to maintain its publication, The Pro Se Appellate Handbook: Representing Yourself on Appeal. This handbook is a critical resource used widely by self-represented litigants in Florida. Of course, the success of all of our many publications is a credit to Bretton Albrecht, our publications chair, who dedicates her time and talent to ensure the section produces timely, quality content for its readers.
Our Legislative Committee, under the steady leadership of Courtney Brewer, continues to do an excellent job keeping the section apprised of legislative developments and engaging the section’s involvement in matters affecting our appellate courts and judiciary.
Last, but not least, our Programs Committee is gearing up for another fun-filled Dessert Reception at The Florida Bar Annual Convention, with this year’s theme, “Rock the Yacht.” Be sure to mark your calendars for all of the section’s meetings and events on June 27 at the annual convention. If you’ve attended our Dessert Reception before, you know we love a good party, and Program Committee Chair Carrie Ann Wozniak and Vice Chair Diane DeWolf definitely know how to throw one!
The list of those who have contributed to the section’s success this year is incredibly long. Having such engaged members is what makes this work so enjoyable, and it’s what makes us so productive. However, it’s also what makes it impossible for me to recognize all of those so well-deserving of recognition.
That said, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our section’s leadership, including my fellow officers, Kristin Norse, Nick Shannin, Chris Donovan, and Kimberly Jones. I’d also like to thank those leading our committee efforts, as well as the dedicated members of our executive council. This includes our esteemed judicial representatives from each of Florida’s five district courts of appeal, Stephanie W. Ray, Morris Silberman, Richard J. Suarez, Alan O. Forst, and Wendy W. Berger; our Florida Supreme Court judicial representative, Justice Robert J. Luck; and our judicial representative for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, Judge Charles R. Wilson. Finally, I thank each of our section members — you are part of an incredible community that I am honored to serve.
Sarah Lahlou-Amine, Chair
The Business Law Section is having another outstanding year due in large part to the commitment and dedication of its members and depth of leadership. In the constantly changing business world, the section continues to stay at the forefront of monitoring and contributing to the development of business laws and regulations affecting the state of Florida.
• Committees — Through the section’s substantive law committees, members stay on top of changes to laws governing business, as well as keeping updated on developments in the case law. The section’s nonsubstantive committees continue to tackle challenges facing the section such as membership, continuing legal education, communications, and inclusion. The section has demonstrated a profound sense of giving back through pro bono activities and a desire to improve diversity by the incredible work performed by the Pro Bono and Inclusion, Mentoring, and Fellowship committees. This year, the section also formed two significant task forces: one focusing on health on wellness and one that is exploring the need and feasibility of creating a statewide system of business courts. Working together, the section’s various committees and task forces not only strive to enhance the business environment for the state of Florida, but also to provide Bar members with opportunities for growth and contribution, and a community within which to enhance the profession and provide better legal services to clients and the community.
• BLS Fellows — The section continues to expand and develop its fellows program, with 12 active fellows — young business lawyers with diverse backgrounds — each receiving a $2,500 per year stipend to participate in section meetings. This year, the fellows program will expand from six to eight fellows and, working with the section’s newly created Scholars and Fellows Retention Task Force, greater efforts will be made to have graduates of the program remain active in the section.
• Pro Bono — The section has consistently supported pro bono efforts of its members. The section held an “Embrace-a-Case” challenge at its annual meeting, encouraging all members to take on a pro bono matter through The Florida Bar Foundation’s Florida Pro Bono Matters portal. At the winter meeting, the section sought a commitment from all members to fulfill their pro bono obligations. The section also supports The Florida Bar Foundation and numerous other pro bono programs around the state.
• CLE — In addition to the educational programming offered at the section’s retreats and committee meetings, the section also continues to deliver unparalleled educational programs for business lawyers. This year, the section once again presented three premier programs from our substantive law committees:
1) The Federal Securities Institute, chaired by Greg Yadley, Keith F. Higgins, Steven A. Rosenblum, and Lisa A. Schmidt, on behalf of the Corporations and Financial Services Committee;
2) A View From the Bench, chaired by Judge Michael Williamson and Stephanie Lieb, on behalf of the Bankruptcy/UCC Committee; and
3) The Intellectual Property Law Symposium, chaired by Michele Moss, on behalf of the Intellectual Property Law Committee.
The E-Discovery Committee, chaired by David Hazouri, is once again presenting a CLE at The Florida Bar Annual Convention. This program has been a success for several years running, with standing-room only attendance.
• Labor Day Weekend Retreat — The section’s showcase retreat, which was held this year at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, was another great success. Chaired by Adina Pollan and featuring a pirate theme, section members and their guests enjoyed an opening dinner on Friday night, a family casino night on Saturday, a karaoke contest, kayaking, whiskey tasting, wine tasting (benefitting The Florida Bar Foundation), and of course entertaining and educational CLE programs, including the annual Business Court Roundtable. The section is especially grateful to all its sponsors, who contribute in numerous ways to the retreat’s success. The 2019 Labor Day retreat is returns to the ever-popular Ritz Carlton in Naples.
• Executive Council Retreat — This year’s executive council retreat took place in Israel from March 10-14, with organized pre- and post-trips. Roughly 50 members explored Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and many other fascinating locations, including visits to Israeli courts, government centers, and countless historic sites. Members left with a greater appreciation for the beauty and complexities of the Middle East.
• The Florida Bar Annual Convention — The section will meet at The Florida Bar Annual Convention, held June 26-29 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. All the section’s committees are expected to meet, culminating with the annual meeting of the executive council, which will feature the passing of the gavel to the 2019-20 leadership team to be headed by Chair-Elect Jay Brown.
• Legislation — One of the most important activities of the section is its extensive legislative efforts to support favorable business-related legislation in Florida. This year, the section’s Legislation Committee, chaired by Doug Bates, proposed bills to update and modernize Florida’s corporations statute and Florida’s trademark statute. The section also actively monitors a host of other legislative efforts, including bills relating to financial literacy, blockchain technology, service of process, court jurisdiction, restrictive covenants, and many others.
While the success of the section is no doubt due to the dedication and hard work of its members, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the importance of two groups in particular: the section’s Long-Range Planning Committee, made up of the section’s past chairs, with their focus on leadership development, and the section’s judicial chairs, active members of the section from our state and federal judiciary. The section owes all these individuals a tremendous debt of gratitude for their leadership and guidance.
Finally, I thank the members of the section’s executive council for your hard work and dedication, including the members of the Executive Committee, who always have my back: Jay Brown (chair-elect), Leyza Blanco (treasurer), Kacy Donlon (secretary), Melanie Damian (immediate past chair) and Greg Yadley (chair of Long Range Planning). It has been a privilege to serve with you, and I could not have survived without your constant input and support, along with the support of our new program administrator, Stefanie Svisco. May we continue to grow and succeed in all our endeavors, and most importantly, to do it in good health.
Michael Chesal, Chair
City, County and Local Government Law
The City, County and Local Government Law Section has completed another successful year. This year the section continued our commitment to provide quality continuing legal education, resources to local government practitioners, and encouragement to students interested in the field of local government law.
This year, the section presented several outstanding educational programs including Sunshine Law, public records and ethics for public officers and employees, and the annual day-long board certification review course. In addition, the section’s biennial public finance seminar was held in conjunction with the section’s 42nd Annual Conference, which included our annual business meeting and a two-day seminar on a broad array of pertinent subjects.
Annually, the section provides grants to local government attorney’s offices of counties, cities, school boards, and special taxing districts in the state of Florida to fund paid college student or law student internships during the summer. This year the section awarded $25,000 in internship grant funds.
This year, we continued our long-standing program of awarding $500 to one student from each of the state’s 12 law schools. Nominated by their school, these students have excelled in a law school course focused on local government law issues or have exhibited an interest in local government law during their final law school year. In addition to a cash award, these students were invited to join the section at our annual meeting luncheon where they had an opportunity to network with section members.
The section published two editions of The Agenda, a publication provided to our members containing relevant articles and case notes. The section also continued its regular article contributions to The Florida Bar Journal as well as its financial support of the Stetson Law Review Annual Local Government Law Symposium, which supports a printed edition to be provided to each section member.
In addition to the above benefits and contributions, the section recognized the initiative of The Florida Bar in ensuring the health and wellness of Florida’s lawyers. While deadlines, client demands, long hours, and ever-changing laws are constants in our profession, as local government lawyers, many of us have the added pressure of practicing law in a fish bowl. Most everything we draft is public record, our advice is given in full public view, and the smallest misstep can become front-page news. This year, the section’s executive council added a Health and Wellness Committee to explore how we can work with and build upon the efforts of the Bar to assist our members.
As I conclude my term as chair, I acknowledge the support of the section’s executive committee: David Miller (chair-elect) and Don Crowell (secretary/treasurer), Staff Liaison Ricky Libbert, and the individuals who comprise more than 15 working committees. The section’s many successes and accomplishments could not be achieved without their dedication and commitment.
Michele Lieberman, Chair
In June 2018, the section awarded its Selig Goldin Award to Rick Parker, former public defender for the Eighth Judicial Circuit and a leader and mentor to countless Florida lawyers. Parker’s children, Rhett and Allison, both lawyers, spoke at the ceremony, as did Former Eighth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Rod Smith. This recognition of Parker became particularly poignant because in December 2018, he died after a long battle with cancer.
In July 2018, the Gerald T. Bennett Public Defender/Prosecutor Trial Training Program was again hosted at the University of Florida College of Law. Trial lawyers from around the country and the United Kingdom served as instructors. In addition to helping fund the program, the section also funded flights for two assistant state attorneys and two assistant public defenders to attend a parallel criminal trial training program in London in late August 2018.
The section filed an amicus brief in the Florida Supreme Court in support of a challenge to proposed constitutional Amendment 6. The challenge was based on the bundling of Marsy’s Law with other topics and the ballot summary language. The section retained noted appellate lawyers Phil Padovano and Thomas Seider with Brannock and Humphries to author the brief.
The section began a regular monthly email update to its members. The update provides a succinct summary of section activities and accomplishments by members. The e-blast also directs section members to the weekly criminal case law summaries prepared by executive council member Richard Polin.
In January, Circuit Judge Samantha Ward and Federal Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli presented a lunch-hour call-in CLE, “A View from the State and Federal Bench: Search Warrants in a Digital World.” More than 190 people enrolled for this CLE. The section also presented the “Masters of DUI” on April 5 in Ft. Lauderdale. In the section’s continued effort to support assistant state attorneys and assistant public defenders, the section allowed them to attend this annual CLE free of charge so long as they joined or are already section members.
The section continues to support various Florida Bar programs. The section contributed $25,000 to The Florida Bar Foundation, which is used to help public interest lawyers pay down their law school student loans. The section also contributed $1,000 to the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. Leadership Academy and additionally offered to sponsor the participation fees for up to two section members. The section was a co-sponsor for a town hall focused on mental health, anxiety, and addiction, spearheaded by former Bar President Michael Higer and also co-sponsored the Bar’s Legislative Reception in Tallahassee.
At the June Bar convention, the section will sponsor a presidential showcase presentation by Pulitzer Prize Winner Gilbert King, author of Devil in the Grove and Beneath a Ruthless Sun. King has written about race, civil rights, and the death penalty for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, and he is a contributor to the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the United States criminal justice system. He will be joined by Judge Richard Graham, whose work as a young lawyer is featured in Beneath the Ruthless Sun. The Criminal Law Section also will sponsor a luncheon together with the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee at the 2019 Bar convention.
The section again offered free section dues to new members who have been practicing for 10 years or less with the caveat that the young lawyer join one of the section’s committees.
David Barksdale, Chair
The Elder Law Section continues to grow and develop in exciting ways. We are advocating, educating, and implementing a strategic plan to help protect retirees and individuals with special needs. In light of Florida’s longstanding tradition as the nation’s premier retirement destination, combined with the increased number of individuals reporting special needs, the Elder Law Section stands as a vital resource to The Florida Bar, legislature, courts, and the citizens of Florida.
The Elder Law Section offers multiple ways for Florida attorneys to become engaged in our plan. I appreciate the opportunity to provide this report as an overview of the many ways our section members are accomplishing our goals.
• Continuing Legal Education — The Elder Law Section (ELS) is finding an increase in demand for webinar and telephonic CLEs. ELS has increased the frequency of these types of CLEs. For example, the veterans webinar offered earlier this year in response to the sudden change announced by the VA to the nonservice connected benefit programs. Additionally, we have continued our bimonthly “Tricks of the Trade” calls for section members, as well as, offered a webcast of our major live events.
Despite an increase of online or telephonic CLEs, ELS continues to offer three or four live events each year with virtually all making a profit with positive feedback.
In January, we hosted our three-day annual update in Orlando. The first day is a primer and intermediate course covering a broad list of elder law topics. The second and third day provide a deeper dive into more advanced areas of elder law practice. Randy Bryan was chair of this year’s event, and all signs are the event was a huge success. Beyond overwhelming positive feedback from attendees, we continue to have event sponsors immediately sign up for the following year as the spots are selling out months before the event!
On March 22, ELS will host a full day CLE on changes in the POMs regarding SNTs. Many have called the recent change one of the most substantial changes in recent times; therefore, we believe this will be a very timely and well-attended event.
During The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention in June, the ELS will be involved in two programs. First, the Guardianship Committee (chaired by Twyla L. Sketchley and Debra Slater) will host a half-day CLE covering recent changes to the practice of guardianship. Due to recent and proposed changes to this area of the law, this stands to be a timely and well-attended CLE. Also during the convention, the ELS has partnered with the Consumer Protection Law Committee to co-host a full-day CLE on the topic of consumer protection for the elderly and the military. Our Abuse, Neglect, & Exploitation Committee (chaired by David A. Weintraub and Ellen Cheek) have worked very closely with the Consumer Protection Law Committee to arrange this important CLE.
The section is headed to Napa Valley in the fall for its annual retreat; however, this past October, the section hosted the retreat in Washington, D.C. Those who attended the retreat heard from experts with the ABA, NAELA, and Elder Counsel. Following the presentation, attendees participated in several team building activities, such as a scavenger’s hunt throughout the National Mall. It was a great opportunity to learn more about one another and help our team bond.
• Advocacy — During the section retreat, ABA attorney Erica Wood’s presentation on national trends in guardianship highlighted why many Florida attorneys continue to find other states refusing to recognize Florida court’s jurisdiction in guardianship matters. She explained Florida is one of only four states not to adopt, in one manner or another, the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act. Since returning from the retreat, our team has jumped on this issue. We quickly determined this is a broad problem as stories rolled in from members throughout the state. Victoria Heuler and Debra Slater have volunteered significant time putting together draft legislation to protect Florida residents. Rep. Wyman Duggan and Sen. Joe Gruters have sponsored our draft legislation. We appreciate their support in helping further this important cause. While we believe Florida guardianship laws protect Florida residents better than other jurisdictions, such a belief does us little good if other states fail to share our belief. The action by the Elder Law Section seeks to place Florida where it belongs — at the forefront of protecting individuals subject to guardianship proceedings.
The e-notary and e-wills issue is back before the Florida Legislature. ELS never dropped the issue off its radar thanks in large part to our legislative consultant Brian B. Jogerst, who is simply the best in the business. Shannon M. Miller, Jana McConnaughhay, and Travis Finchum have continued to meet with groups who are bringing the issue before the legislature to ensure if a bill is approved, its impact upon vulnerable adults is limited. This legislation will dramatically reshape many parts of the legal practice. The ELS could not risk this legislation being passed over our objection as there were changes that could help protect vulnerable adults. ELS will continue to apply pressure to the Florida Legislature to protect Florida citizens on this dramatic legislation.
The Medicaid Committee (chaired by John S. Clardy and Heidi M. Brown) has been actively fighting a budget amendment from last year’s budget which stripped Florida seniors of retroactive Medicaid coverage (even when otherwise qualified). This budget amendment was approved by CMS this past fall and went into effect February 1, much to the dissatisfaction of virtually every group who works with seniors. ELS has stayed at the forefront of this issue and remains hopeful corrective action will be taken by the Florida Legislature this year. This budget amendment does not protect or serve Florida seniors or the companies providing care to them. Rather, this amendment will provide less security to those who wish to retire in Florida, which stands to weaken our economy over time as people fail to see Florida continuing to be at the forefront in the protection of seniors and those who provide care for them.
In addition to those important matters, our amazing Legislative Committee chairs, William A. Johnson and Shannon M. Miller, have been extremely busy following 67 other bills. In addition, virtually every substantive law committee is working on a legislative issue. There simply isn’t room to cover every bill or committee (so join the section and get The Advocate).
• Support — Getting started in a new field of law or in the practice of law is difficult. The ELS appreciates this fact and seeks to help develop new members and emerging leaders in multiple ways. Our Mentor Committee, chaired by Stephanie M. Villavicencio and Dayami Sans, has continued pairing new members with mentors upon request. They have also continued the “Tricks of the Trade” bimonthly CLEs, which are free to members. This past summer ELS also approved a scholarship for The Florida Bar Leadership Academy as we seek to support our emerging leaders.
• Outreach — The section continues to look for ways to educate the public as well as other attorneys on the subject of elder law. Over the past year we have sponsored the FSGA annual meeting. We joined with Nova Law School to host an Advance Directive Pro Bono Clinic. We continued to work on education, articles, amendments, and forms for the Injunction for Protection Against Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult Act we helped introduce into law last session. In April, we will be co-sponsoring with our sister organization, Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys, the Elder Justice Conference in Tampa, as well as sponsoring a judicial reception at the St. Thomas Law School Elder Law Symposium.
The Elder Law Section seeks to continue to grow on its prior success. We will be meeting in March to revisit our strategic plan. The nomination committee is working to determine the best and brightest to help lead our organization. We are looking to other partnerships we can make with other sections, committees, and organizations who share our vision for Florida.
Finally, a thank you to Guardian Trust and Elder Counsel for their continued support of the Elder Law Section. Many of the strides in recent years has come as a result of their continued financial support.
The Elder Law Section more than 40 attorneys volunteering their time as chairs of various committees, many prior leaders are continuing their work as members of our committees, and new members are stepping forward to serve on committees. These individuals do not volunteer their time for praise or notoriety. They act because it is the right thing to do and makes the world a little better. I believe they are accomplishing their goal.
Jason A. Waddell, Chair
Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law
This year, the Entertainment, Art & Sports Law Section was able to provide great programing on a variety of topics and further expand our educational offerings, especially related to technology.
Our section kicked off the year at the 2018 Annual Florida Bar Convention at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria with a diverse panel of women discussing “Ethics in the Digital Age: Don’t Let Technology Be Your Crypto-nite.” This program reviewed data security, social media, intellectual property, and cryptocurrency with a balance of best practices and ethical considerations for your business dealings. EASL was honored to have the following speakers join us for this session:
• Sandra Carbone, general counsel, Izea;
• Elizabeth Counsman, corporate communication manager, Satcom Direct;
• Suzanne Meehle, partner, Meehle & Jay;
• Shannon Ligon, Ligon Law Group;
• Christy Foley, Law Offices of Christy L. Foley;
• Tania Williams, The Williams Firm, P.A.; and
• Adriana Linares, law practice consultant, LawTech Partners
The 2018-2019 Audio Webcast Series offered a variety of topics. Programs included:
• “Social Media, Corporate Communications and the Legal Ethics of Both,” presented by Elizabeth Counsman, corporate communication manager, Satcom Direct, and Christy Foley, Law Offices of Christy L. Foley;
• “A Crash Course for the Entertainment Lawyer on Immigration Law and Ethics,” presented by Vanessa Elmaleh, Citizenship & Immigration Legal Services, Inc.;
• “Those ‘Not So Obvious’ Legal Issues on Trademark Protection — Color, Smell, and Scandalous Marks?” presented by Jaime Vining, Friedland Vining, P.A.;
• “A 50-Minute Review of the Most Important Entertainment Cases in 2018,” presented by Tim Warnock, Riley Warnock & Jacobson, PLC; and
• “Intellectual Property and Protection in the Entertainment and Sports Industries,” presented by Shannon Ligon, Ligon Law Group.
Our section leadership and membership provided expertise far beyond these programs as executive council members participated in programing with the 30th Annual North American Law Summit in Grand Cayman in November, as well as providing expertise at numerous panels at universities throughout the state. The information and inspiration shared with college students, law students, and practicing attorneys has helped further the knowledge-base and interest in our field of law.
Our chair-elect, Serona Elton, is planning her chair retreat in South Florida over Memorial Day weekend. This program will focus on legal updates and recent developments in entertainment, arts, and sports law. Visit EASL.info for more details on this program.
It is a rare opportunity to chair a section twice, and I am grateful to my officers for all of their hard work and support this year: Serona Elton (chair-elect), Davey Jay (immediate past chair), Tania Williams (secretary), and Tom Player (treasurer). It has been a pleasure to work with each of you throughout this term to bring great programming and support to our section.
In addition, I am thankful to the entire executive council for all of their work and contributions this year: Porpoise Evans, Alan Fertel, Richard Wolfe, Kim Kolback, Marc Stolman, Brittney Trigg, Christy Foley, Jon Ingram, Tom Dobbins, Elliot Zimmerman, and our student liaison, Timothy Kendrick. Our section has received outstanding support from our CLE chair, Kim Kolback, and CLE Vice Chair Tania Williams, who have provided outstanding programming for the section this year. The section’s website and Listserv have been supported by Serona Elton and Steven Eisenberg, respectively, and I recognize both of you for your dedication to your role, especially this year. Furthermore, I thank Angie Froelich, EASL’s section administrator, for her continued support to our section. Lastly, I thank the administration and leadership of The Florida Bar for providing exceptional training and support this year. The section leadership conference provided crucial information for our future Bar leadership.
It has been a true joy working with each of you as chair this year. I am deeply honored to have been able to serve the section again and look forward to more outstanding programming and growth in the future.
Cassandra Willard, Chair
Environmental and Land Use Law
The Environmental and Land Use Law Section (ELULS) has hosted a veritable cornucopia of CLE programs this year that included many “back to basics” webinars as well as more in-depth current topics of interest to the section. As land use and environmental issues continue to be at the forefront of the political landscape of Florida and the nation, our section informs and educates our members on these important topics.
The section’s CLE Committee, co-chaired by Robert Volpe and Josh Coldiron, developed the slate of one-hour webinar programs, including Environmental Litigation Update (Fred Aschauer); State Assumption of the Federal Dredge and Fill Permitting Program (Adam Blalock and Jason Totoiu); Environmental Law for Young Lawyers (Michelle Diffenderfer, Chelsea Anderson, and Jessica Icerman); The Essentials of Pollution and Contamination Law (Josh Coldiron, George Gramling, and Todd Kafka); Florida Legislative Forecast (Janet Bowman and David Childs); Public Records Law in the Age of Social Media (Patricia Gleason); and Essentials of Environmental Permitting (James Maher and Susan Martin). There will also be an upcoming webinar CLE on permit challenges, and our annual live CLE event at The Florida Bar convention in June will include a legislative and administrative law update, as well as the General Counsel’s Roundtable.
We continued our strong relationship with all Florida law schools by providing block grant and special grant funding for environmental and land use programs of their own. ELULS Law School Liaison activities, under the direction of Joan Matthews, have continued this year with 100 percent participation of law schools in ELULS block-grant requests and the award of six special grants. An important goal of ELULS for the year has been to increase outreach efforts to law students and to encourage students to join the section. To this end, events which were co-sponsored by ELULS special grants included:
• Stetson University’s Law School’s Annual Wetlands Workshop (November 2018).
• University of Florida’s 25th Annual Public Interest Environmental Conference (February). The theme for this two-day conference was: “Our Future: Embracing the Anthropocene.”
• Florida State University Law has sponsored an Environmental Forum throughout the year, featuring at least five speakers, which are also open to the FSU legal and consulting communities. FSU has provided webcasts for its forum speakers as well as hosting ELULS CLEs.
• University of Miami Law — Sustainable Cities Conference (spring).
• Ave Maria School of Law will hold its first attorney professional forum (April).
• Nova School of Law’s Environmental Law Symposium, “Red Tide, Green Algae Bans, and More Post-Election Environmental and Land Use Landscape,” at NSA Oceanographic Center CLE (planned May).
Additionally, students from other law schools were able to utilize funds from their law school’s block grants to attend the UF PIEC and other key environmental conferences, such as the Everglades Coalition Conference (January) and the CEJ Water Law Academy.
The section has organized several social mixers during the year to facilitate networking opportunities for lawyers, affiliate members, and law students including networking events in Orlando (in conjunction with an executive council meeting), which included Barry and FAMU law students; Tallahassee at Happy Motoring (in conjunction with the American Water Resources Association, which followed a co-sponsored conference); and again in Tallahassee following an executive council meeting, which was co-sponsored by the Florida Brownfields Association and the Urban Land Institute. Three more mixers will follow in Tampa (April); Jacksonville (April); and Ft. Lauderdale (May), in conjunction with our executive council retreat. All section members are invited to attend the mixers and bring a friend along as well.
During the year, Jake Cremer and Nikki Williams produce a monthly ELULS newsletter, The Reporter, that contains articles on important case and practice updates in environmental and land use law, as well as updates from law school environmental law programs.
For planning purposes, the executive council of the ELULS will be participating in a long-range planning retreat in Ft. Lauderdale, organized by Chair-Elect Jon Harris Maurer in May. Participants will plan the upcoming 2019-2020 section programs and activities, but any section member is encouraged to provide input and ideas to the council at any time.
We wish you a happy and healthy year.
David J. Bass, Chair
Family Law Section
The theme for the 2018-2019 Bar year has been recalling why we began our service to The Florida Bar and working together in a healthy and professional way while trying to maintain our sanity and civility. This year, as a section, we have continued to aggressively promote not only the substantive and procedural mastery of family law, but the unique ethical and professional restraints inherent to our practice area, while at the same time promoting work-life balance and encouraging diversity across all areas of this profession and leadership within the Bar. It was an honor to serve this year as chair of the Family Law Section along with the other members of the executive committee: Amy Hamlin, chair-elect; Douglas Greenbaum, treasurer; Heather Apicella, secretary; and immediate past-chair, Nicole Geotz. We were so incredibly lucky this year to have the support of so many active, dedicated, and talented trustees who were always there to assist the section, along with so many hardworking, loyal, and dedicated executive council members, committee members, and committee leadership. They dedicated countless hours to the section’s cause and never cease in their efforts to make this organization so great and able to ensure the families of the state of Florida are best served.
This year started with our fall meetings in conjunction with the sections biannual leadership retreat, at the gorgeous Colony Hotel in Palm Beach. This retreat, chaired by Trish Armstrong and Andrea Reid, was a grand slam on all fronts. This program is a section service and is intended to provide members with section leadership opportunities. Each program varies, but this year we welcomed not only Patricia McDougel, parliamentarian, to share some helpful Roberts Rules tips and advice specifically related to the sections bylaws and the structure of our executive council. We also were lucky to have our very own president of The Florida Bar, Michelle Suskauer, President-Elect John Stewart, and Past-President Gregory Coleman to share with the section membership some Board of Governors and Bar leadership information. In addition, there was a great legislative information session to provide great overview of the process, specifically in Florida. The section also awarded five members scholarships to attend this program.
In October, the section put on their boots and headed to Nashville, Tennessee for the annual out-of-state retreat held at the stunning Thompson Hotel. We received a true treat in welcoming Christopher Mercer of Mercer Capital to discuss business valuation in marital and family law cases. We also spent time touring the Ryman Auditorium — thank you Foster-Morales Sockel Stone — enjoying the crisp October air and the most delicious section dinner at Kayne Prime.
In January, the section’s midyear meetings were held in conjunction with the annual Marital and Family Law Certification Review Course at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando. Success is simply insufficient to describe this year’s event, which was completely sold-out, and a record-breaking year for the section, with nearly 1,700 attendees. None of this would have been possible without the exemplary efforts of our outstanding committee, chaired by Bonnie Sockel-Stone, working closely with committee members Sarah Kay, Heather Apicella, and Michelle Klinger-Smith. You ladies hit this one out of the park, and the comments, feedback, and overall responses were amazing!
Each year we put on the Marital and Family Law Review Course, a comprehensive review course in which the section partners with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Florida Chapter, bringing the top-elite marital and family law attorneys from across the state to present on substantive family law topics over two days. The section offered 20 scholarships of $1,000 each for the 2019 Marital and Family Law Certification Review Course. Ten scholarships were designated for individual section members, and 10 were specifically made available for general magistrates and hearing officers. The scholarships provided by the section are voted on to provide the selected individuals the opportunity to attend the program, who without the financial assistance would not attend.
The legislative session was extremely busy. Our Legislative Committee, through co-chairs Andrea Reid, Joe Hunt, and David Hirschberg, as well as their entire committee, and our dedicated trustees and other volunteers, worked to educate and defeat bills to protect Florida’s families.
Additionally, our CLE committee furthered this year’s goal of ensuring the lawyers and members of the section are provided with regular, continuing and informative legal education as it relates to the practice of marital and family law. Under the leadership of Sarah Kay, the section’s membership was provided over 13 CLEs this year, both live and webinars. The CLE committee produced courses throughout the year for our members on a range of marital and family law topics, including tips for the newly deployed parent custody and visitation act; preserving privileges where privileges are due in psychological evaluations and social investigations; best practices for GALs and AALs; gifting in family law “unwrapped”; 12 tips for “healthy practice”; KAAA fix explained; 2019 tax update; and getting the most out of parenting plan evaluations and social investigations; in addition to a family law legislative update.
The section sponsored the Florida Chapter: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts organization, as well as donated to the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation. The Family Law Section was able to make another charitable donation to The Florida Bar Foundation of $75,000 for continued support of the Children’s Legal Services Grant Program. We presented the check to the Foundation at their March 15 meeting.
In closing, although I was able to mention a few of the extremely hard working and dedicated committees, leaders, and members who contributed to the section’s many activities this year. None of the section’s accomplishments and great work could have been done without their dedication and support. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to serve the Family Law Section as chair during the 2018-19 Bar year.
Abigail Beebe, Chair
Health Law Section
The Health Law Section of The Florida Bar, initiated in 1988, is comprised of over 1,500 members and is dedicated to the education of practitioners with an interest or practice in the field of health care law. Through tremendous effort by the section’s executive council, 2018 – 2019 has been very successful year, marked by much progress. The section’s educational programs were revamped, membership outreach was enhanced, and publications of information and legislation critical to health law practitioners were prioritized. Additionally, the section took initiatives with regard to its website and communications with our membership to better serve the membership as a whole. Finally, this year, the section brought forth the development of various committees to explore reaching to the section membership in new ways.
Continuing Legal Education is central to the mission of our section. The popularity of our education programs continues to grow. This year, the section also elected to change up some of the locations of its CLEs and meetings. This was to enhance comfort and amenities to further incentivize members of the section to attend CLEs and meetings. Importantly, locations were selected to include Florida’s east and west coasts in Cocoa Beach and Sarasota, respectively, to draw upon and facilitate attendance for members of those regions, which are oft-overlooked.
The CLEs were very successful this year, largely as a result of the dedication of the section’s CLE chair, Radha Bachman. The section sponsored four live CLE programs over this last year:
1) “Legal Emergencies in Health Care” was held on September 14, 2018, in Cocoa Beach. This is a revamped program, and many thanks to Barry Herrin for spearheading this CLE, which was both timely and informative. It was well received and will be expanded next year to include issues that not only affect health care providers and institutions, but lawyers as well.
2) The “Health Care Regulatory Compliance Program” was held on November 2, 2018, in Orlando. This program is increasing in popularity and addresses timely developments in the areas of compliance and state and federal regulation and oversight. Much gratitude to Co-Chair Grant Dearborn and Co-Chair Myla Reizen for the success of this program.
3) “Representing the Physician Entrepreneur: Ever Improving Your Practice and Knowledge” was held on January 18 in Sarasota. This CLE offered insight and observation on the difficulties often encountered with such representation. This was a revamping of one of our most successful programs. Co-chairs Radha Bachman and Jason Mehta put together a fantastic group of speakers and it was well received.
4) On March 7 and 8, the section held its annual “Advanced Health Law Topics and Certification Review” in Orlando. This is our most popular and well-attended program and for good reason. This year’s course continued the work of prior years in preparing health law practitioners to take the Health Law Certification Exam currently offered by The Florida Bar. This two-day course offers an in-depth review of areas likely to be tested and provides advice and guidance on the structure and format of the exam to test takers. Many thanks to Robert Pelaia and Jodi Laurence, who served as co-chairs of this program and once again did a fantastic job.
In addition to the live presentations outlined above, the section continued to offer the ever-popular monthly “Eat and Educate” audio webcast series over this last year. The section thanks Grant Dearborn, chair, and our administrators, Amy Nath and Kimberly Nowakowski.
Thanks to the continued leadership of Editor Shannon Hartsfield, the Health Law Section newsletter continued to grow in the diversity of its contents, focusing on health law topics such as patient brokering, Medicare appeals, health-care clinic licensure, controlled substances in the telehealth setting, HIPAA compliance and CONs, while also bringing focus to spotlight members of the section. Thanks to the talented attorneys who contributed to the success of this year’s newsletters. The section also thanks Jamie Gelfman, editor-in-chief of Health Law Updates. Health Law Updates is the section’s bimonthly electronic publication, emphasizing various, emerging topics in health law, including, compliance, fraud and abuse, facility and professional licensure, life sciences, privacy and security, public health, transactions, and payor issues. The section is grateful to Jamaal Jones for his assistance with section communications and the section website.
The section continued direct efforts to contact Florida law schools to collaborate with some of the student associations affiliated with these schools.
Much gratitude to the many chairs of the section committees for their continued dedication and hard work this year, and to Barry Herrin, chair of our Nominating Committee. Herrin ensured that our section leadership vacancies were appropriately filled.
Special thanks to Gary Lesser, the section’s board liaison for his ardent and continuing support of the section. The section would also like to congratulate President Michelle Suskauer on her many successes in this last year and wish the very best to President-Elect John Stewart as he takes the helm of The Florida Bar in June. President Suskauer has been an advocate for the Bar, and the lawyers of Florida have been blessed with her leadership. We are confident that President-Elect Stewart will continue the excellent leadership for which we have all been beneficiaries.
It was a year with many ideas for change and growth of the section and the executive council was, as always, up to the task. We considered new strategies to grow the section, attract new members, create better access for section members to CLEs and meetings, and create interest through section-wide events, such as an annual out-of-state meeting and an in-state section retreat. Committees were created to move forward with the implementation of that outreach, and committee members were directed to engage telephonically and in break-out sessions prior to or after the executive council meetings, to ensure that progress is made toward those efforts on an ongoing basis. These efforts will certainly benefit the section in years to come.
Additionally, as it was felt that it would be in the best interest of the section for executive council members and section officers to have an ongoing dialogue between meetings; telephone conferences and group emails were instituted to facilitate such communication. It was felt to be quite beneficial to have ongoing communication that existed beyond the quarterly executive council meetings.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge the Executive Committee for their service this last year. Through multiple phone conferences and support, they have been integral in the continued success of the section’s mission. Everett Wilson, JoAnn Guerrero, and Adam Maingot have been of the utmost value of the section in helping with its leadership and direction. They have truly been a blessing to work with, and the section is in very good hands with their continued leadership. In June, Wilson will assume the chair and lead the section to another year of achievement and excellence, as some of the new programs developed, initiated, and implemented this year continue to evolve and grow.
This year, our section program administrator of many years, Willie Mae Shepherd, moved on to assist other sections of the Bar. We honor her for her many years of service and contributions to our section. She has been a wonderful friend, and our section will be forever grateful to her. In her place, we welcomed Emily Young, who became the section’s new program administrator. She has done a wonderful job, never fails to exceed expectations, and demonstrates the utmost capability. She will be a valuable resource for years to come for our section.
It has been a privilege and honor to serve the section.
Gregory A. Chaires, Chair
The International Law Section was founded in 1981 and is a forum for the sharing of knowledge, experience, and best practices that improve the administration and application of the statutes, rules, and regulations pertaining to the practice of international law, including transnational business transactions, taxation, customs and trade, litigation, and arbitration. In furtherance of that mission, our section has accomplished the following over the last year.
The section held its bellwether annual CLE conference, “iLaw2019: The Global Forum on International Law,” at the J.W. Marriott Marquis Hotel in Miami in February. The conference was well attended with members from across the state, the U.S., and from foreign countries. The iLaw conferences have three tracks of panels: one each for litigation, arbitration, and business transactions. The arbitration track of panels is presented in conjunction with the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR). The iLaw includes CLE for both ethics and technology, in addition to International Law Certification credits. This year’s luncheon speaker was Mark Lanterman, chief technology officer of computer forensics services, who took the audience on a fascinating journey through the dark web, where cyber crime appears to be the norm. The closing plenary session of the iLaw2019 focused on combatting attacks against the rule of law, including against lawyers, judges, and journalists. The iLaw is coordinated with a volunteer force of section members who are very dedicated.
The section sponsored the Richard DeWitt Memorial Vis Pre-Moot competition, held February 23 at the offices of JAMS in Miami. This competition is to help law students practice for arbitration competitions being held in Hong Kong and Vienna in 2019. Five Florida law schools competed, with Stetson Law School winning the competition. Each participating law school received a $3,500 scholarship from the section.
The section held its midyear executive council meeting on February 21 the day prior to the annual iLaw conference, at the law firm of Shutts & Bowen in Miami, which was well attended. Reports of the activities of various committees of the section were given and various motions voted upon. The section posts its executive council agendas on its website for member review. The section will hold its annual meeting, including executive board elections, at The Florida Bar convention in Boca Raton in June.
Both Chair Osorio (Harper Meyer, LLP) and Treasurer James Meyer (Harper Meyer, LLP) attended a section-sponsored trip in March to Havana, Cuba, in conjunction with the Ohio State Bar Association to meet with Cuban lawyers and jurists, including a former Cuban Supreme Court justice, along with known dissidents on the island, such as Rene Gomez Manzano, in order to show section support for the struggle of human rights dissidents in Cuba. During meetings, section members were outspoken in support of human rights and the rule of law in Cuba. The section plans future missions to Cuba for further outreach and is willing to work with the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) to coordinate outreach in a spirit of collegiality and solidarity. The section delivered a report to President Suskauer as to the mission.
The section publishes The International Law Quarterly, its magazine on international law. The latest issue, published in February 2019, focused on International Human Rights. The section is proud of this publication and believes it is among the finest on international law issues.
The section started two new committees in 2018: Public International Law, Human Rights & Global Justice and the Asia Committee. The Human Rights Committee presented a Democracy & Human Rights Symposium in October 2018 at the Barry University School of Law in Orlando. The Asia Committee was involved in the Indian National Bar Association’s international conference held on November 26, 2018, in New Delhi, India, where the section signed a Bar Cooperation Agreement with the Indian National Bar Association. The next day, section members attended a U.S./India symposium where they spoke at the Center for Trade and Investment Law in New Delhi.
The section held a leadership retreat in May 2018 at the Hyatt Coconut Point in Bonita Springs for the purpose of planning section activities during the year. Included with the retreat was a program including a luncheon speaker and “ILS talks,” patterned after TED talks, whereby section members can make short presentations to the audience on various topics of interest. This year’s leadership retreat is currently planned to be held at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in October.
On December 21, 2018, the section and the Rome Bar held a joint conference on privacy rights in Rome, Italy. At the conference, a cooperation agreement was signed by the section with the Rome Bar to promote collaboration between our two organizations.
In November 2018, the section held a luncheon in Orlando at the Citrus Club to promote outreach for the section in Central Florida and to promote networking by the section with Central Florida international practitioners. The section plans continued luncheons and seminar in Central Florida as part of its efforts at statewide outreach for practitioners.
Over the course of the year, the ILS holds monthly sponsored lunch and learn events in Miami (Fiduciary Trust International, host) whereby the chair of the section, Carlos Osorio, interviews prominent international practitioners about the nature of their practices.
In December 2018, the section’s Women’s Committee conducted a wellness program in Miami involving yoga taught by a trained yoga instructor who also is a section member. The program was well attended.
The section held its holiday reception in December in Miami at Chair Osorio’s office at Harper Meyer, LLP. During that reception, section members and the Women’s Committee collected business attire for donation to those who do not have the funds to purchase such attire but require it for job interviews/employment. The collection was a great success and in the holiday spirit.
The section is working on streamlining and modernizing its Bar-delegated functions in relation to foreign legal consultant application processes and outreach. Foreign legal consultants are foreign attorneys who are certified under Ch. 16 of The Rules Regulation The Florida Bar to provide legal advice in Florida regarding the laws of the countries within which they are licensed to practice law.
On April 19, the Public International Law, Human Rights and Global Justice Committee of the section held a one-day conference at the University of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables on defending human rights in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
The section partnered with Morgan & Morgan (Panama) (unrelated to Morgan & Morgan from Florida) to hold a one-day comparative law seminar in Panama City, Panama, at the end of May. Practitioners from both Florida and Latin America will be presenting.
Carlos Osorio, Chair
Labor and Employment Law
This year has been an opportunity to showcase the Labor and Employment Section’s exemplary service to the Bar, its membership, the judiciary, and the public. The section’s primary goals continue to be the delivery of premier CLE and educational programs, publication of informative legal articles, implementation of technological changes in the means of delivery services, and the mentorship and development of its members to assume key section roles. We also strive to meet the ever-changing demands of our section.
To accommodate the increasingly busy practitioner, we have a record number of webinars for our section as well as regular CLEs. We collaborated with other sections to bring innovative and thoughtful topics including a tax and severance agreement webinar. We just completed our litigation seminar at the Breakers in September 2018 in Palm Beach and our annual update and board certification review January 17-18 in Orlando. We are gearing up for our Advanced Labor Topics 2019, which will be held at the Wyndham Grand in Jupiter at Harbourside Place on April 12-13. This year we will add on a day at our advanced labor topics for a section retreat. Our retreat will focus on section goals, revenue and cost challenges, and making sure we are on track to meet the needs of our diverse membership. Our section is made up of small and large firms, public and private attorneys, and those representing both employers and employees. Our CLEs have something for every practitioner in large part due to the efforts of Robyn Hankins, our legal education director.
Our section is proud to be invited to present at the AJS judicial conference this May. Our section’s Fourth DCA Judge Forst, Judge Sasser of the 15th Judicial Circuit, and I will be presenting on restrictive covenants.
We are updating our website and excited to announce our new site will be up soon.
The section continued its outreach efforts to maintain links with the Bar, the National Labor Relations Board, national and voluntary bar organizations, regulatory agencies, the judiciary, and law schools through its various committees and subcommittees. Section member Christina Velez organized a law student outreach at Florida A&M University.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to several section great members who are being nominated for our Hall of Fame award. As the section year winds toward the annual June meeting, we are also finalizing our scholarship awards for the state’s law schools.
On behalf of our officers and executive council, I urge Bar members to consider the benefits and camaraderie of joining the Labor and Employment Law Section.
Cathleen Scott, Chair
The Out-of-State Division (OOSD) of The Florida Bar is pleased to provide its 2018-2019 annual report.
The purpose of the Out-of-State Division of The Florida Bar is to provide an organization for all Florida Bar members who reside outside the state of Florida. The OOSD does not focus on any specific practice area, but rather on the common interests and needs of out-of-state Florida Bar members. Among the many roles of the OOSD is establishing a network of out-of-state members, aiding in the development of laws that eliminate disparate treatment of out-of-state members, providing a forum for discussing issues of interest, and developing and maintaining professional relationships between in-state and out-of-state members. The OOSD accomplishes this by hosting networking events throughout country, reviewing proposed legislative and policy changes for potential negative impact to out-of-state members, and communicating with members through its regularly distributed newsletter and social media.
There are currently more than 15,000 members of The Florida Bar who reside outside of Florida. Florida Bar members live in every state across the United States and its territories as well as in 52 countries around the world. OOSD’s current membership of 862 is just slightly lower than last year’s membership number; however, it is consistent with membership numbers of the past several years and represents a significant percentage of out-of-state members.
In October 2018, the Out-of-State Division held its executive council meeting at the Thompson Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, in conjunction with the Family Law Section’s out-of-state retreat. While attendance at the joint reception by out-of-state members was not as high as expected, the OOSD was honored to have a local Florida Bar member who currently serves as the Assistant to the Comptroller for Public Finance for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury present at its executive council meeting. Our sincere thanks and congratulations to Family Law Section Chair Abby Beebe and program Co-Chairs Amy Hickman and Bonnie Sockel-Stone, as well as Program Administrator Leslie Reithmiller, for putting on a wonderful retreat.
In March, the Out-of-State Division presented a CLE seminar, “Florida Law, Washington, D.C., Style.” The CLE featured three topics of discussion, all of which are critically important in today’s legal practice. Eric Meeks, partner at the Meeks Law Firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, and one of OOSD’s four Board of Governors, addressed the area of mental health, stressing the importance of taking care of yourself before taking care of others. Tim Chinaris, OOSD’s current Multi-State Practice Committee chair, associate dean for information services at Belmont University, and past chair of The Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee, focused on ethical issues created by evolving technology. Adam Gropper, former tax law partner at Baker & Hostetler, LLP, and a lawyer on the staff of the non-partisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, discussed the mindset, skills, and activities that maximize attorney performance and increase the value provided to both firm and client. This CLE not only provided three hours of general credit but also one hour of ethics and one hour of technology credits. In addition to the CLE seminar, out-of-state members were able to join the OOSD during its executive council meeting as well as a joint reception with The Florida Bar Board of Governors, who were in Washington, D.C., for the annual out-of-state meeting. The OOSD intends to host more opportunities for its out-of-state members to meet in-state members during similar out-of-state retreats and meetings in the future.
As in previous years, the Out-of-State Division continued the electronic distribution of its quarterly newsletter, State to State, to all Florida Bar members residing outside of Florida. Recent articles include “Make Sure To Do Your Annual HR Checkup” by OOSD Secretary Mindi Wells; “Recent Florida Cases May Narrow Defenses Available to Lawyers in Legal Malpractice Actions” by Tim Chinaris; and “Is Law Practice Strategic Marketing a Daily Obligation? Yes!” by Audrey Ehrhardt. The OOSD is always looking for contributing authors for its newsletter, so if you are interested in submitting an article that would be relevant to out-of-state members, please reach out to us for more details. Additionally, each edition of State to State features an in-depth review of the latest actions taken by The Florida Bar Board of Governors. State to State also provides out-of-state members multiple means to market themselves and their practice through regular advertising or as part of the newsletter’s “Attorney Spotlight” feature.
This year, the Out-of-State Division also recommitted its efforts to increasing engagement on its social media accounts, as this is a key means of reaching Florida Bar members throughout the country. In addition to becoming more interactive on Facebook, on January 2, the OOSD relaunched its Twitter account with a new handle (@TFBOutOfState), as its prior handle had been dormant for almost five years. If you have not followed us yet, please consider doing so, and then send us a tweet. As part of its launch, the OOSD created a weekly segment titled #OOSDDidYouKnow where we provide statistics, data, or other information relating to the OOSD. Social media platforms provide great opportunity for the OOSD to interact directly with its fellow out-of-state members…and to have a little fun at the same time. The third area of communication with Florida Bar members is the OOSD’s website. This year, we have initiated a review of the OOSD’s website and are currently in the process of revamping it to bring it up-to-date and make it more user-friendly.
Much of the work that the Out-of-State Division accomplished this year would not have been possible without the assistance of our program administrators, Willie Mae Shepard and Emily Young. Emily took over the role as OOSD program administrator from Willie Mae midyear and has done a phenomenal job for the section. While we certainly miss Willie Mae and are thankful for her help over the past years, we are excited to work with Emily as she has been a tremendous resource for us already over these first few months.
The Out-of-State Division also thanks its officers, members of the executive council, its four Board of Governor representatives, and all out-of-state Florida Bar members that made this successful year. The OOSD looks forward to providing more benefits to out-of-state members in future years and continuing to collaborate with other sections and divisions of The Florida Bar.
Matthew L. Kahl, President
Public Interest Law
The Public Interest Law Section (PILS) of The Florida Bar continues to take an active role promoting equal justice under the law and improving the quality of legal work among our attorney members and for our clients and the issues about which PILS members are passionate.
Public Interest Law section members have taken leadership roles in supporting and promoting juvenile law board certification. The section has developed a training curriculum to prepare test takers for the board certification examination in recognition of the demand for highly qualified practitioners in juvenile dependency and delinquency courts. For the third year, beginning with the first year of juvenile law board certification in Florida, the PILS will offer a training and review course for attorneys sitting for the certification examination and all others interested in comprehensive juvenile law CLE. As in 2017 and 2018, the 2019 course will take place over the course of two days on the campus of our gracious host, the Barry University School of Law in Orlando.
The Public Interest Law Section continues to partner with Legal Services of North Florida in presenting CLE on topics of interest to public interest lawyers and others throughout the year, at no cost to attendees and available online.
PILS was honored to host Justice Jorge Labarga, then chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, as our keynote speaker at our annual meeting last June. Members of our section and the majority of our executive council meet in person a minimum of twice annually and present awards to recognize excellence in legal advocacy for a variety of issues.
The Public Interest Law Section executive council meets telephonically at least monthly, with other committees of the section doing the same between executive council meetings. Our next in-person meeting of the executive council will take place at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in June. One of our committees, the Re-Envisioning Committee, is working with and reporting to the Board of Governors in the process of revising and updating our mission statement, vision statement, bylaws, and committee structure. We’ve received the results of a PILS member survey drafted and distributed by the Board of Governors and are working to fully address the concerns and questions of our membership. Our restructuring efforts are intended to make PILS more dynamic, effective, and attractive to new membership. Our intention is to be of increasing use and value to our members without diminishing our traditional areas of interest and activities. The process of making such changes remains a work in progress and has been our primary focus for the period covered by this report.
Throughout the year, members of PILS engage the broader legal community and represent the section at significant events; for example, offering members as presenters and staffing a booth at the annual Department of Children and Families Summit and annual guardian ad litem events. These events aid our Parents Advocacy and Children’s Rights Committees to continue to create networking opportunities for attorneys who represent parents and children in juvenile cases, bringing together practitioners from across the state to participate in roundtable discussions focused on improving best practices and highlighting the importance of zealous advocacy on behalf of clients.
Craig A. McCarthy, Chair
Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law
The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law (RPPTL) Section continues its tradition of being the largest section of The Florida Bar and proudly serves almost 11,000 members. Our executive council consists of more than 280 members, four of whom serve on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. Our Executive Committee this past year was led by Chair Debra L. Boje; Chair-Elect and General Standing Division Director Robert S. Freedman; Probate & Trust Division Director William T. Hennessey; Real Property Division Director Robert S. Swaine; Secretary Sarah S. Butters; Treasurer Wm. Cary Wright; Legislation Committee Co-Chairs S. Katherine Frazier and Jon Scuderi; CLE Committee Co-Chairs John Moran and Steven H. Mezer; Director of At-Large Members Lawrence Jay Miller; and Immediate Past Chair Andrew M. O’Malley.
The section holds five meetings each year. There are four in-state meetings and one out-of-state meeting. This year’s in-state meetings ere held at The Breakers in Palm Beach, The Four Seasons in Orlando, The Amelia Island Plantation in Amelia Island, and Opal Sands in Clearwater Beach. The out-of-state meeting took place at the Westin in Rome, Italy.
The endeavors of our section focus on fulfilling the purposes as set forth in the bylaws. The section aspires to 1) further the knowledge and practice of our members; 2) inculcate our members on the principals of duty and service to the public; and 3) improve the administration of justice and advance jurisprudence in our fields of practice. In order to achieve our purposes, our section is divided into three divisions (Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, and General Standing) with more than 60 active committees. Below are the highlights of the activities of these divisions over the past year.
•General Standing Division — As in past years, the section’s Fellows Program continued with eight active fellows who applied for the two-year program that provides financial support for attendance at section meetings. We have developed this program to encourage active participation by younger lawyers or those that might not otherwise be able to attend our four in-state meetings each year. The section has also been supportive of the Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy and has recommended an individual as the section-sponsored candidate for the 2019-2020 Bar year.
Through the section’s Amicus Coordination Committee, the section has filed an amicus brief in Johnson v. Townsend, which involves the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s certified question as to whether a surviving spouse’s “vested rights” in community property are part of the deceased spouse’s probate estate (thereby making such rights subject to claims in the estate) or are fully owned by the surviving spouse and are, therefore, not subject to claims in the estate. As of the date of submittal of this report, no decision had been rendered.
The section’s CLE Seminar Coordination Committee continues to produce high-caliber CLEs with both in-person (live attendance) programs and one-hour lunchtime webinars. There are too many programs here to list, but they include programs on mindfulness and the ethical and professional practice of law; the Marketable Record Title Act; Airbnb and the battle between short-term rentals and community associations; and expert witness testimony after DeLisle v. Crane through application of the Frye standard. In fall 2018, we introduced the RPPTL Practice Series. The series is comprised of 50-minute intermediate CLE programs on subjects that frequently arise in probate, trust, guardianship, and real property matters. The RPPTL Practice Series is available via live webcast, but it can also be downloaded for on-demand listening. The RPPTL Practice Series is aimed at providing practitioners with comprehensive, yet practical, information while providing an easily accessible hour of CLE credit. A wide range of topics are already available with more in the works.
The section’s Professionalism and Ethics Committee together with the Section’s At-Large Members (ALMs) continues to provide support to No Place Like Home (NPLH) as a clearing title project for homestead properties, including mobile homes for low-income Floridians. NPLH is now a statewide program and has received multiple grants in aid. NPLH provides legal resources to perfect legal title to homestead real property at limited or no cost to Florida residents whose imperfect title undermines their continued occupancy and ownership of, and rights and benefits to, their homes. Section members train and are trained to provide title-related legal services in both the real estate and probate settings aimed at resolving title issues. Quiet title, probate, title-oriented proceedings, and legal counsel are provided by section members and coordinated through legal aid offices throughout the state. Tae Kelley Bronner spoke at a webinar sponsored by Bay Area Legal Services, Inc. (BALS, the entity spearheading NPLH throughout the state) in November 2018 to provide information on homestead property and the different methods of administration available for the NPLH attorneys to transfer title. Previously, the section and BALS coordinated a webinar in 2017 on dealing with FEMA, home title issues and tenancies, and resources such as NPLH.
The Membership and Inclusion Committee, in conjunction with the ALMs, has worked to include new member receptions at section meetings. With the section being so large, it is important for new attendees to have an appropriate means for communicating with one another and with section members who have been involved for a significant period of time. The Membership and Inclusion Committee has also been involved with multiple local bar association events; thereby, creating connectivity and fostering joint programming.
The ALMs were also involved in the section’s response to Hurricane Michael and the devastation wreaked on the Florida Panhandle. Colleen Sachs, who lives in Santa Rosa Beach, spearheaded the coordination of the section’s efforts and support in northwest Florida. Numerous members of the section donated supplies and money to the effort, and Colleen Sachs, Jerry Aron, and Section Administrator Mary Ann Obos (and her husband, Jeff) distributed supplies to those in need.
The section has multiple legislative initiatives before the 2019 Florida Legislature relating to real property, probate, and guardianship. The section continues to provide technical assistance on multiple other bills. These bills address a wide scope of topics, including electronic legal documents, lis pendens, open permits, leasehold cooperatives, Marketable Record Title Act, notices of commencement, condominium and homeowners associations, and other topics concerning guardianship, probate, and the transfer of property.
•Probate and Trust Law Division — The Probate and Trust Law Division has more than 20 substantive committees. The committees meet throughout the year in conjunction with the section’s executive council meetings. The committees delve deeply into existing statutes and current case law, and they often work on drafting proposed legislation. The substantive committees of the Probate and Trust Law Division generally cover all aspects of estate, trust, and guardianship administration, litigation, and planning. Highlights from this past year include the following:
a) The Ad Hoc Guardianship Law Revision is finishing a rewrite of the Florida Guardianship Code, which will replace existing Ch. 744.
b) The Ad Hoc Committee on Electronic Wills has been addressing proposed legislation, which was filed during the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions. The section is generally opposed to allowing wills to be executed using remote video witnessing technologies.
c) The Ad Hoc Estate Planning Conflicts of Interest Committee successfully advocated for a rule change to Rule 4-1.8 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar. The rule change, which took effect on February 1, 2018, prohibits lawyers from soliciting any gift from a client or preparing an instrument for a client leaving the lawyer any gift, unless they are related to the client. The rule change also requires that lawyers obtain a client’s informed consent, confirmed in writing, before preparing an instrument which names the lawyer as a fiduciary for the client. The informed consent would require disclosure as to alternatives available to the client and the potential fees that may be earned by the lawyer. The committee is now advocating for a statutory change to the attorney fee provisions that will dovetail with the rule change.
d) The Attorney Trust Officer Liaison Conference Committee put on a very successful seminar at The Breakers in August 2018 and brought together top trust and estate lawyers and fiduciaries throughout Florida.
e) The Estate & Trust Tax Planning Committee, which studies issues and topics impacting planning lawyers, prepared comments, in conjunction with the Tax Law Section, to Proposed Section 2010 Regulations addressing the impact of the increased exclusion amounts provided under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
f) The Trust Law Committee has proposed legislation adopting Florida’s version of the Uniform Directed Trust Act.
g) The Probate and Trust Division committees provided technical advice and comment on numerous pieces of proposed legislation and also successfully advocated for proposed legislative changes.
h) Each of the substantive committees participated in CLEs and many submitted articles to ActionLine (the section publication) and The Florida Bar Journal.
•Real Property Division — The Real Property Division has almost 20 substantive committees. Each committee holds meetings throughout the year either by phone conference or in person at one or more of the section’s four in-state meetings.
The Real Property Law Division is responsible for conducting board certification review courses for condominium and planned development law, real estate law, and construction law. This was the second year for the condominium and planned development law review course, and there were more than 120 Florida lawyers board certified in the initial year of eligibility.
The Real Estate Leasing Committee is reviewing the residential lease and landlord tenant eviction forms previously adopted by the Florida Supreme Court to determine if any changes should be made to comply with current Florida law.
The Insurance and Surety Committee continues to publish its quarterly newsletter, Insurance Matters!, which contains articles and other information pertaining to recent cases and hot topics of interest in the insurance industry.
The Real Property Division committees also provide input and technical advice on both proposed and pending legislative initiatives. One particular initiative is remote online notarization, which will facilitate e-closings.
No annual report would be complete without giving very special thanks to our dedicated section administrator, Mary Ann Obos, and to our assistant administrator, Hilary Stephens. The RPPTL Section benefits greatly from the knowledge, skills, and wonderful positive attitude of these women.
Debra L. Boje, Chair
Solo and Small Firms
The Solo & Small Firm Section is expanding opportunities for our section members, which is essential in increasing membership and participation. This year, we have completed six audio webcasts: Microsoft Word Tips & Tricks to Make Microsoft Word Work for You, Not Against You; Practice Management Software Showcase; Preserving Issues for Appeal; Intellectual Property 101 for Non-IP Lawyers; and Top Technology Tools to Streamline Your Practice. All audio webcasts provided useful practice information directed at solo and small firm practitioners, as well as paralegals and office managers. Even if you missed the live presentations, they are still available through on-demand.
We launched a new initiative this year: Wednesday Wisdom. Each month, the section hosts a free Zoom webinar in which our members can network and get answers on various topics. The series is available live on the fourth Wednesday of the month or may be viewed on-demand in our members-only Facebook group. The section is working on approval for CLE credit for the series, which will remain free for members.
The section hosted a very successful conference at the winter meeting, “Mind Your Business.” The conference featured everything from the all-time favorite, “50 Tech Tips in 50 Minutes,” to cybersecurity issues to trust accounting to mobilizing your office. If you missed it this year, be on the lookout for our next offering at the 2020 winter meeting. Also be sure to attend the Florida Law Update 2019 at annual convention in Boca Raton.
Interactive section communications continue to be a priority, and we maintain active profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Our members-only Facebook group has 214 members; our Facebook page has 949 followers; our Twitter profile has 2,012 followers; and our LinkedIn group has 660 members. The Link newsletter is full of substantive articles, section news, practice management tips, and legal updates. The QuickLINK is a biweekly e-newsletter containing five topics in five minutes to benefit solo and small-firm practices.
If you are interested in getting more involved in the section, you are welcome to attend an executive council meeting. Check out our calendar for when we have a meeting in your area. You are welcome to attend the meeting or the reception. You may contact Ricky Libbert at [email protected] or me at [email protected] for more information.
As with anything we do, participation is key. I encourage you to get involved with the section so that we can enhance your membership experience. Any member is eligible for our member spotlight in The QuickLink. If you’d like to be featured, please contact Lisa Tipton at [email protected], and she will provide you with further information. If you would like to provide an article for the next Link publication, please contact Jacina Haston at [email protected], and she will provide you with further information.
I want the Solo & Small Firm Section to serve all of its members. If you have an idea of something we can do that would aid solo and small firm practitioners, paralegals, or office administrators, please let me know. There is so much already happening, but my goal as your chair is to make the section as beneficial as possible. We always welcome your comments and suggestions and hope that you’ll get involved in all we have to offer.
Jennifer K. Griffin, Chair
This has been an eventful year for the Tax Section on the heels of major tax reform legislation. We celebrated the beginning of summer with our longstanding tradition of gathering at Amelia Island to organize our year and spend time with our families. Mark A. Prater, former chief tax counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, served as keynote speaker during the annual Ullman Year in Review CLE program, and we honored him as the 2018-2019 Marvin C. Gutter Outstanding Public Service Award recipient. His unique perspective and comprehensive knowledge on the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was invaluable to us as we continue to feel the reverberations of this legislation and its proposed regulations.
In keeping with our goal this year to emphasize the section’s involvement in federal tax policy and to have a seat at the proverbial table regarding the implementation of the TCJA, we traveled for the first time in over a decade to Washington, D.C., for our fall meeting. We met with various key federal officials and agencies (such as the senior tax staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, IRS, and Department of Treasury) involved with the drafting and interpretation of the TCJA pursuant to the regulations to be promulgated thereunder. Following these in-person meetings, our International Tax Committee of the Federal Tax Division submitted regulatory comments under the guidance of Steven Hadjilogiou, Shawn Wolf, Michael Bruno, Keith Hagan, and James Barrett. Their comments were adopted on March 4 by the Treasury Department and the IRS in the form of proposed regulations to §250 regarding Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) deduction eligibility. This was a significant achievement for the Tax Section and a testament to the engagement of the Tax Section’s international tax attorneys and the value of establishing and maintaining contacts at the federal level as a means of having a positive impact on tax policy and administration. Active involvement in the Tax Section provides one a platform to have that “seat at the table” to effectuate such change!
The wealth of substantive information we gleaned from our D.C. meetings fueled a subsequent five-part audio webcast CLE series for those who were unable to attend in person. Members of our Federal Tax Division have also authored comments on the proposed regulations for the §199A deduction, Opportunity Zones under §1400Z, and clarification of potential “clawback” provisions associated with estate and gift tax law changes.
On the state and local front, State Tax Division Director H. French Brown IV has submitted comments on behalf of the Tax Section on the impact of the TCJA upon Florida corporate income tax and made recommendations regarding various piggyback and decoupling issues associated therewith. The section is also actively engaged in a variety of legislative drafting efforts in association with other sections, such as the Business Law Section and the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section.
January opened with record attendance at the 37th Annual International Tax Conference in Miami, co-sponsored by the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Almost immediately following this signature event, our Directors’ Committee held a Long-Range Planning Mini Retreat to review the progress made to date on the long-range plan adopted by the section during immediate-past Chair Joseph Schimmel’s tenure. Bylaws amendments were reviewed in order to implement the changes recommended by the long-range plan. Members of the New Tax Lawyers Division were invited to attend and participate in the mini retreat, as a reflection of the section’s priority this year to foster more collaboration between seasoned section members and those who are relatively new to tax practice.
This year, the Tax Section partnered for the first time with the University of Florida’s Graduate Tax Program for the 30th Annual National Tax Moot Court Competition, held at the UF Levin College of Law. Twelve student teams from across the country (one team traveled from Oregon) participated in this year’s event, and we welcomed dozens of attorneys as volunteer oral argument judges. Three U.S. Tax Court judges returned this year for the consolation and final rounds on the last day of the competition, which, as always, offered an invaluable learning experience to tomorrow’s tax lawyers. Congratulations to this year’s champion, Liberty University School of Law!
We offered a half-day CLE on “Creditor Protection Nuts and Bolts” in April and ran headlong into the culmination of our year at our annual meeting held May 2-4 at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. We offered a full-day CLE on “Choice of Entity Post-TCJA” during our annual meeting and welcomed back Mark A. Prater as a featured speaker, along with Dr. Jerry Parrish, chief economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation. We concluded our meeting by honoring past Tax Section Chairs Leslie J. Barnett and Bruce Bokor, both of the Tampa Bay area, as co-recipients of the 2018-2019 Gerald T. Hart Outstanding Tax Attorney of the Year Award and hosted a Kentucky Derby-themed reception and dinner to celebrate their accomplishments.
Our section has responded to the evolving needs and landscape of our membership this year by forming a freestanding International Tax Division, to be formally instituted following a bylaws revision. We are also expanding the focus of our Membership Recruitment Committee (now known as the Marketing and Membership Committee) to include a more active marketing function. Our section members have benefited from an active telephonic CLE program, and we have offered 12 telephonic CLEs free of charge to our valued members. Participation in these free CLE offerings averages 150 attendees per call.
Last October, Hurricane Michael adversely impacted numerous counties in Florida, and many are still recovering. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for 35 Florida counties, and President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Hurricane Michael. The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA) and the Tax Section came together and submitted a letter to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio requesting they direct the IRS to extend the October 15, 2018, filing deadline for 2017 returns. This joint request was granted, and the IRS extended the deadline to February 28 for those individuals and businesses located within any major disaster declaration area designated by FEMA as qualifying for either individual or public assistance.
At the invitation of the First District Court of Appeal, the Tax Section assembled a team comprised of Benjamin Phipps, Mitchell Horowitz, and Jerry Donnini to prepare an amicus curiae brief in the case of Crapo v. Academy for Five Elements Acupuncture, Inc. The issue we were asked to address concerned whether a value adjustment board determination of tax exemption in prior years, which is not litigated, is subject to administrative finality, or any other preclusive doctrine, in a current year where the property appraiser does decide to litigate the exemption issue. We submitted the brief on January 22.
Last spring, we lost a dear friend, mentor, ambassador, and legend of the Tax Section with the passing of Samuel C. Ullman, who served as chair from 1977-1978, founded the annual Ullman Year in Review CLE program, helped found the tax law certification program approved in 1982, and served as professor and mentor to many. During last year’s annual meeting, our executive council unanimously passed a motion that the Tax Section would commit $30,000 over the next six years to endow a memorial scholarship in Sam’s memory for students of the graduate tax program at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Individual pledges were also welcomed from any who wished to contribute to Sam’s memory. By December 2018, “The Florida Bar Tax Section and Friends of Samuel C. Ullman Endowed Memorial Graduate Tax Scholarship” had pledges in excess of $108,000. It is our continued hope that this scholarship will serve to perpetuate the legacy of our dear friend and colleague.
As the year draws to a close, it strikes me how many of our members have risen to the occasion over this past year to make this year such a huge success and to provide the momentum we now enjoy as we prepare the Tax Section to address the challenges of the future. It has been a great privilege and honor to serve as chair this year, and we look forward to continued progress on implementing our long-range plan next year under the leadership of Janette McCurley.
Michael D. Minton, Chair
The Trial Lawyers Section has had an extremely active and productive year thus far. We have concluded our highly successful Trial Lawyers Summit which is comprised of three signature events. It took place in Tampa from January 23-25. The Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition included trial teams from law schools across the state. Local lawyers and our executive council members served as juries and bailiffs while judges and justices at the state, appellate, and federal levels presided over the various rounds and the finals, held in the ceremonial courtroom. Simultaneously, we held our Teachers Law Symposium which hosted 156 middle school and high school civics and government teachers from 22 counties around the state. They were treated to a star-studded, two-day program covering such important topics as the role of lawyer in our society, the independence of the judiciary, the mechanics of civil and criminal law and ground-breaking decisions that have formed our case law, among many other important topics. This section also hosted during this summit the Chester Bedell Foundation Luncheon in which achievement awards were given to recognized heroes in the legislative and CRC process, followed by a compelling keynote speaker, attended by all the symposium teachers, participating law students and coaches, and the judges and jurors from the morning and afternoon rounds.
The section recently sponsored its popular two-day board certification review course in Tampa on February 14 and 15. Professor Ehrhardt headlined some of the top trial lawyers in our state in this year’s well-attended and well-received program.
The Trial Lawyers Section will conduct its other premier program, The Advanced Trial Advocacy Seminar, at The University of Florida from May 14-18. This program is always highly regarded and provides an invaluable experience to its participants and faculty who join us from around the state as well as barristers from England. Then, on May 24, Hot Topics in Evidence will be held in Orlando.
The much-anticipated 2019 Trial Lawyers Section Discovery Handbook is now complete and ready to be distributed to 1,350 judges around the state who rely upon it often. Finally, our legislative committee conference calls have just begun and will be held weekly throughout the legislative session. In conjunction and coordination with the Bar, we will be prepared to address issues that affect access to courts and the funding and independence of the judiciary, among others.
Mindy Mclaughlin, Chair
Workers’ Compensation Section
The Workers’ Compensation Section has been quite active over the last year. The section has continued to focus on internal improvements designed to make the body more inclusive and more diverse. The section also continues to champion legislation to assure that judges of compensation claims are reasonably compensated and to assure continued interest among practitioners to serve on the bench.
• January Executive Council Meeting — In January, the executive council held a meeting on Miami Beach. At this meeting, council members discussed all aspects of section life, especially the necessity for having an inclusive and diverse section, the need to attract the best qualified applicants for judicial openings, and our continued efforts to the existing relations between the bench and Bar. We also continue our commitment to providing our members with quality continuing legal education.
• Workers’ Compensation Forum — The Workers’ Compensation Forum is scheduled to take place on April 11 and 12 at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate in Orlando. The forum is the preeminent workers’ compensation seminar in Florida for attorneys and claims adjustors, featuring highly qualified speakers covering every aspect of Florida’s workers’ compensation system and law. Additionally, for the first time in the forum’s history, the First District Court of Appeal will hold oral arguments, thus, giving all attendees great insight on our appellate process. The efforts of my forum Co-Chair Mark Touby cannot be highlighted enough.
• Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award — The 2019 recipient of the section’s Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award for outstanding leadership and professionalism during his career is Christopher J. Smith. His leadership to our section and the entire workers’ compensation practice is something that all practitioners should strive for!
• Legislative Session — The 2019 session of the Florida Legislature has recently commenced, and we expect it to me a busy session for the workers’ compensation practice area. Section lobbyist Fausto Gomez, and council members Richard Chait and Paul Anderson are monitoring the situation for the section.
• Annual Meeting and Elections — The section is preparing for its annual meeting. The annual membership meeting and section elections will take place in conjunction with the Workers’ Compensation Forum in April.
Our section continues to remain dedicated to diversity and inclusion, education, professionalism, and to assuring the independence of the workers’ compensation judiciary. As chair, I thank our section’s executive council for their hard work on everything we do for our practice area. I also want to especially thank our section liaison, Willie Mae Shepherd, immediate-past Chair Paul Anderson, and Chair-Elect Glen Wieland for their support over the past year.
Leopoldo (Leo) Garcia, Chair
Young Lawyers Division
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division enjoyed a productive and rewarding year. Due to the strength of the governors throughout Florida, the YLD accomplished all the goals established by our Long-Range Planning Committee several months ago.
When Panama City and the surrounding area was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael, the YLD led the charge in the legal community to help those that needed pro bono legal assistance. Due to the leadership of Anthony Palermo and the steadfast support of The Florida Bar staff, we established a hotline and successfully resolved hundreds of legal issues for those affected by the storm including issues related to landlord-tenant law, insurance, and other related areas.
The YLD initiated the #stigmafreeyld campaign in mid-February with a goal of eliminating the stigma associated with attorneys seeking mental health treatment. The YLD believes that taking care of your mental health is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. As part of the campaign, the YLD featured videos of several successful attorneys who have overcome mental health issues including bipolar disorder, extreme stress, anxiety, and dependency issues, to name a few. The success of this campaign exceeded our expectations as the videos were watched by hundreds of thousands of people on social media, and we received positive feedback from across the world.
The Health and Wellness Committee, led by Natasha Dorsey, Ethan Wall, and Ben Gibson did not stop there. We prepared and administered a survey directed at mental health issues to the entire membership of the YLD. Those results will be released just before mental health month (May), during which the YLD will conduct an affiliate-wide challenge encouraging young lawyers to take time for self-care.
As far as affiliates go, the YLD Local Bar Affiliate Committee, chaired by Todd Baker, was tasked with examining the way we communicate with affiliates. The YLD successfully created an affiliate website that we believe will revolutionize the way affiliates communicate with The Florida Bar, other affiliates, and bar leadership. This website is going to be unveiled in late March.
The Transition to Practice Committee, under the leadership of Adam White and Cullan Jones, conducted a survey on compensation throughout the state. This survey resulted in somewhat shocking revelations, including the median outstanding debt for a member of the YLD ($150,000), as well as confirming our belief that there are significant compensation gaps among women and minorities. As a direct result of this survey, the YLD has lobbied the ABA to make changes in the way accredited law schools provide financial disclosures to potential students. This “financial literacy” campaign will be featured in the News in the near future.
In January, we hosted the Affiliate Outreach Conference, when over 250 young lawyer affiliate leaders ascended on St. Augustine, to enjoy a pirate-themed weekend of programming, grant presentations, and fun. The YLD awarded approximately $50,000 in grants for the many community and member events conducted by our affiliates. Thanks to AOC Chairs Stephanie Myron and Paul Silvestri for organizing a productive conference.
In addition to these featured new projects, and others not mentioned, the YLD also continued successful programs established in years past. We collected hundreds of new videos that were filmed by seasoned practitioners to add to our Legal Accelerator website. We also identified issues with the “how to start a law firm” website and improved that site. Our Technology Committee scheduled and produced over a dozen Tech Roadshows throughout the state. We continued advocating for a continuance rule on parental leave rule and supported that at The Florida Bar level and with the ABA, which adopted our model rule in January.
On a personal note, it has been my absolute pleasure to serve as president of the YLD. Without a doubt, it has been the highlight of my career. The YLD Board of Governors is the most dynamic and talented group of people I have ever encountered, and I treasure the relationships formed with each governor over the last seven years.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention our appreciation for Tom Miller with The Florida Bar. Tom has obtained a “Harknessian” status with the YLD. Without Tom, nothing would get done. I also want to thank Michelle Suskauer, John Stewart, and Josh Doyle for their steadfast support of the YLD. It has been my pleasure to serve on the “Big Board” the last two years, and I hope to stay in touch with the friends I have made on that board.
The future of the YLD remains bright. President-Elect Santo DiGangi and President-Elect Designate Adam White are set to take the reins of the YLD. Continue to expect big things from the YLD, the workhorses of The Florida Bar.
Christian George, President