The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism
The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism was created in 1996 through a joint effort by the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar to promote and encourage professionalism throughout the state’s judicial system and law schools, instilling the ideals of character, civility, competence, and commitment to all those persons serving therein. The center’s namesake, Judge Henry Latimer, was a distinguished attorney who embodied service to family, community, and profession. He served as one of the first African-American judges in Florida and was a mentor to thousands over his 30-year career. The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism is currently staffed by Director Rebecca Bandy, Assistant Director Adriannette Williams, Law Clerk Hillary Thornton, and Program Coordinator Beth Kirkland.
The center is a resource for all things professionalism-related, especially for solo practitioners and small firms. Many times, lack of professionalism and incivility are caused by attorneys who are inexperienced, who lack mentors and social networks, or who are struggling with work-life balance. With this in mind, the center relies on its two Bar committees, the Standing Committee on Professionalism (SCOP) and the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee (SEABC), to plan and implement programs, events, and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. This includes designating award recipients for three professionalism awards presented at The Florida Bar Annual Convention’s Judicial Luncheon and hosting a Stakeholders’ Workshop in October 2018, which brought together members of The Florida Bar, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and law school administrators and faculty, to discuss how to best teach professionalism to students and prevent common professionalism issues. The center and SEABC are currently planning a panel discussion at FSU College of Law, “How to Become the Lawyer You Are Supposed To Be,” which they hope to soon replicate at the other law schools.
In February, the center received $400,000 from a four-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The funds were levied as a result of sanctions against two law firms and are to be used in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to develop and maintain professionalism and ethics programs for law schools and young lawyers.
In order to disseminate the message that professionalism is an expectation, not an aspiration, the center publishes a newsletter, The Professional, three times per year, with regular features on mentoring, mental health and wellness, combating loneliness, promoting diversity, and preventing bias in the court system. The center, in partnership with Florida International University, offers an online library guide that contains articles, videos, and links for use by the legal community. Perhaps the most important resource is the Professionalism Handbook, which the center updates every two years. The latest edition, which includes the Professionalism Expectations and the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, can be found in digital format on the center’s webpage.
The Center for Professionalism staff creates the curriculum for and staffs the Practicing with Professionalism (PWP) course, which is a Bar-mandated course for newly admitted attorneys. Additionally, the staff teaches the Practice and Professionalism Enhancement Program (PPEP), which is mandated in some instances for attorneys that have been disciplined by The Florida Bar.
As of March, an amendment to Rule 6-10.3(b) requires that all members of The Florida Bar earn one CLE credit in an approved professionalism program. Compliance with the new rule will begin in the member’s next reporting cycle following the March 5 effective date. The center actively works to create and support programs to ensure that quality CLEs are available to Bar members.
To stay abreast of professionalism issues, the center’s director, Rebecca Bandy, has recently attended the National Legal Mentoring Consortium in Columbia, South Carolina; the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute training at Georgetown University; the National Mindfulness Summit in Washington, D.C., and Mental Health First Aid training. In addition, she was recently appointed to the ABA’s Standing Committee on Professionalism. The center’s assistant director, Adriannette Williams, was recently certified as a DiSC (dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness) personality assessment facilitator. Both Bandy and Williams are past educators with extensive experience in curriculum development and regularly host workshops in conjunction with law schools, bar associations, and for employees of The Florida Bar.
The Center for Professionalism is available to discuss, provide resources, staff, or present on an array of topics related to professionalism, including emotional intelligence, mindfulness, implicit bias, generational bias, balancing families and professionalism, personality assessments (DiSC), gratitude, communication skills, dealing with difficult people, mental health and wellness, loneliness, diversity, and sleep.
For more information, please contact Beth Kirkland, program coordinator, at 850-561-5743 or [email protected].
Rebecca J. Bandy serves as director of The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism. She joined the center as assistant director in March 2017. Prior to joining The Florida Bar, she was an associate attorney at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Powell, P.A., in Tallahassee, where she litigated in the areas of family and criminal law. She earned her J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law.
Adriannette Williams is assistant director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism at The Florida Bar. She has extensive experience in higher education, instruction, curriculum development, and civic leadership, and is a proud alumna of Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley Law School.