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Balloting is under way in the Fourth Circuit YLD board runoff

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Look for eballots in your inbox; votes must be received by midnight, April 22

Young Lawyers Division Seal

Eballots for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors runoff election in the Fourth Circuit between Valeen Arena and Sarah Morris were emailed to eligible voters April 1.

Voters have the option of voting online (using their Personal Identification Number and member number) in lieu of returning a paper ballot. There is also be a link posted on the Bar’s website. All votes must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EDT), Wednesday, April 22.

The platform statements of the Young Lawyers Division board candidates are below.

Fourth Circuit, Seat 2

Valeen Arena

Valeen ArenaTo my fellow members of The Florida Bar, I am running for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2, and I am asking for your vote. As a YLD member for the past five years, I understand the issues impacting young lawyers, including mentorship, health, and student loan debt. As your representative, I will continue to promote voluntary bar membership and community service, respond to issues raised by The Florida Bar, and help educate our young lawyers about student loan debt.

Since joining the profession, I’ve had experiences in a variety of legal environments. I began as an associate in GrayRobinson’s Tampa office. In 2017, I moved to Jacksonville to clerk for United States District Court Judge Brian J. Davis. Later this year, I will join the Bedell Firm — a boutique litigation firm. Experiencing the legal profession from these different vantage points will help me be a better and more informed YLD representative.

For the past three years, I have served as a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Board of Governors. I’ve participated on several committees and have served in multiple leadership positions. As a member of the Ribault High School Future Lawyers and Leaders Committee, I’ve paired high school students with young lawyer mentors and planned field trips and mock trial competitions for the students. As chair of the Social Committee, I’ve produced events aimed at connecting the young lawyers across the Fourth Circuit. I’ve also co-chaired the Judicial Relations Committee, which held courthouse events designed to introduce young lawyers to our local state and federal judges.

As the first in my family to attend college, I understand the value of guidance and mentorship. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I’ve had from family, mentors, and colleagues I met through bar events. If elected to serve as your representative, I will continue my efforts to connect lawyers in our community and around the state and to promote mentorship programs.

I will also continue the efforts of the YLD to encourage health and wellness in our profession. This is an area that is personal to me. Just last year I helped start a fitness challenge at the federal courthouse. Judges, law clerks, judicial staff, and courthouse security officers competed for the highest number of fitness miles accumulated throughout the month. It was a fun event with an important purpose. The YLD has already created several initiatives that target lawyers’ physical and mental health. I look forward to building on that momentum and helping to reduce the depression, stress, and substance abuse that is all too prevalent in our profession.

As your representative on the YLD, I will promote mentorship and health, and I will help educate our young lawyers about student loan debt. I would be honored to have your vote and serve you on the YLD Board of Governors. Thank you for your consideration. #VoteForValeen.

Sarah Morris

Sarah MorrisI am running for The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors, Seat 2, in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. I would be honored to serve as your representative and am asking for your support.

As a five-year attorney, I began my career in the Seventh Judicial Circuit as an assistant public defender. In 2018, my continued passion for public service brought me to the Office of Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel in Jacksonville where I currently represent indigent members of the community charged with serious criminal offenses. Being a government attorney has given me the opportunity to speak regularly with fellow young lawyers about issues they face in our circuit. These conversations were the catalyst that prompted my desire to serve as your representative on The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors.

I recognize that some issues facing young government lawyers are distinctly different than those faced by young lawyers in the private sector. I hope to bridge the gap between practice areas by addressing the needs of both communities. From expanding our online resources for young lawyers intending to start their own law firms to addressing key issues such as office morale, health and wellness, and managing student loan debt. Both practice areas deserve a wide variety of accessible and affordable CLEs, as well as more mentorship opportunities working with seasoned attorneys within the community. If elected, I will work tirelessly to improve upon the existing resources available as well as implement new programs to address the needs of members in our circuit.

With your support, we can work together to address the needs of young lawyers. As a young attorney who is actively involved in the local bar association and other professional organizations, I can effectively represent the needs of my fellow young lawyers in the Fourth Circuit. I am actively involved in Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association. I am also an active member of the Florida Coastal Alumni Association. I am a past member of Putnam County Bar Association and the St. Johns County Bar Association where I was YLS Committee co-chair for one year.

The Fourth Judicial Circuit has been fortunate to have excellent representation on the YLD Board of Governors, and I want to continue to ensure that the young lawyers in our circuit have a voice on the board. The Board of Governors has influence over our daily lives as young lawyers, as well as our futures in the legal profession. I will actively seek out your questions, comments, and concerns to effectively represent our circuit on the board. I intend to use the skills I have acquired as a litigator and my passion for public service to consider differing perspectives and passionately advocate for your concerns.

I appreciate your time and consideration of my candidacy. Every vote counts, and I thank you in advance for your vote online or by mail.

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