The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

It’s a Balancing Act

President's Page

Photo of Michelle SuskauerI am constantly asked, how do you do it all? How can you be president of the Bar, practice law, and be a mother and a wife? It’s definitely not easy. It’s a balancing act. Some days I do it better than others. I know as a Florida Bar member that you understand what it means to try to balance it all.

It’s not easy running your own shop. For 18 years, I worked with my husband, Scott, at The Suskauer Law Firm, our mom-and-pop criminal defense firm in West Palm Beach. It worked for us. We had two small kids, and we wanted to have freedom to run our firm, the flexibility to parent our children, and engage in voluntary bar work. I have been in the trenches like so many of you, fighting daily to keep the lights on. I know the challenges well. All the highs and lows that come with dealing with law-firm practice management made me who I am today. And I wasn’t alone then or now. Most Bar members are walking in these same shoes. Sixty-five percent of Florida Bar members work in firms of five or less lawyers, 35 percent are solo practitioners, and 74 percent are working in firms of less than 10 lawyers. Solos and small-firm lawyers are the backbone of The Florida Bar.

In greater numbers, attorneys are shouldering the responsibility of managing not only their clients, families, and Bar service — but dealing with the business of law that comes along with managing a law practice. That is why as Bar president, it is so important to identify challenges, provide resources, and help our lawyers increase productivity and profitability. My long-time experience as a small-firm practitioner inspired me to provide tools for Bar members that are effective daily to help you be more productive and profitable. The Florida Bar is here to help you try to relieve this pressure — because running a solo or small firm not only has its challenges, but also great rewards. Some of these great tools and resources include:


Last summer, the Bar rolled out LegalFuel, connecting you with strategic tools designed to help you fuel your law practice with increased efficiencies and profitability. At, you can access more than 70 hours of free CLE credits and over 100 forms for use in operating your law firm. I also love the new LegalFuel speaker series, which provides free CLEs from renowned speakers that cover a wide range of topics that impact solo and small practices, like social media, cybersecurity, ways to avoid Bar discipline, and more. Another great feature of LegalFuel is free law-office management and technology support. Highly experienced practice management advisors are standing by to help with the business-related aspects of running a law firm. You can chat with the center’s staff online, by telephone, or email.

All About Savings

Membership comes with benefits! The Florida Bar offers a membership benefit program that helps you save money. The program offers 60 free or discounted products and services — more than any other state bar — in retail, banking, shipping, insurance, and legal research to name a few.

Starting Your Own Firm

For Bar members that want to hang out their own shingle, the Bar hasn’t forgotten you. In fact, the Bar wants to help! Want to know everything about starting a law firm, including choosing the right technology and how to manage a trust account? In addition to LegalFuel, the Young Lawyers Division has user-friendly online resources at “How to Start Your Own Law Firm.” Establishing and running a virtual law firm is covered by specialists in the field. Anyone interested in practicing remotely will gain insights by visiting these excellent resources.

Lawyers Advising Lawyers

Are you a solo practitioner? Lawyers Advising Lawyers is a great online platform offered by The Florida Bar in a partnership with the Young Lawyers Division. Lawyers who need advice from another attorney about an unfamiliar area of the law or procedure can get answers without having to travel beyond their own computer. This “virtual mentorship” allows a lawyer to connect with other lawyers who are more experienced in their field. To become an advisor or to get advice, visit their website.

Thank You

As this is my last President’s Page, I have many to thank who helped make this year so very special. My president-elect, John Stewart — always there with the best advice, the funniest jokes, worst socks, and endless support. You will be an exceptional president. The Board of Governors, the selfless, hardworking group of superstar volunteers who put in hundreds of hours away from their practices and families to dedicate themselves to the betterment of our profession. The Florida Bar staff, more than 300 strong, are the backbone of this organization and make it work every day. And the dynamic duo of Rosalyn Scott, executive assistant to the president, my right hand, and, of course, Executive Director Josh Doyle. They were my shoulders to lean on and my rocks when I needed them. My partners at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, for their constant support and love. My associate, Tyler DiMaio, and my assistant, Kelly Camburn — it doesn’t work without you. My husband, Scott, and girls, Talia and Becca, for your sacrifice, your patience, and never-ending love. Thank you for supporting me on this incredible journey.

Finally, I thank you for welcoming me into your communities across the state, for emailing, calling, asking questions, and getting engaged in your Bar. Thank you for all that you do for your clients and our profession. I am so grateful for your giving me the opportunity to lead the best Bar in the country. I’ve enjoyed every moment.