Baker takes the Young Lawyers Division’s helm
Todd Baker has goals for his year as president of the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division, but they go beyond what he personally wants to do.
Baker, speaking at the Bar Annual Convention’s General Assembly on June 11 right after he was sworn in by Chief Justice Charles Canady, said he wants division members to help set priorities for the next 12 months.
“This year, we’re going to create the Affiliate Council where we encourage our [local] affiliates to send a representative to our [Board of Governors’] meetings to help create and improve our programming,” he said. “Also, for the first time in YLD history, we’re going to open up our committees to non-board members who are passionate about a specific project but maybe can’t devote the time necessary to be a governor.
“We will do what we can to make an impact and develop you as community leaders. This is not our YLD, it’s your YLD.”
Baker does have a project he hopes the YLD will accomplish.
“We’re going to do a financial health and wellness series for young lawyers, law students, and people considering going to law school,” he said.
And the division will continue efforts started by recent presidents, which include “Zack Zuroweste’s health and wellness program, Christian George’s Stigma Free YLD, Santo DiGangi’s government lawyer focus, and [immediate past President] Adam White’s #YLDisMe,” Baker said. “These programs are all wonderful.”
That specifically includes expanding the #YLDisMe campaign to “showcase diverse minority bar associations to encourage participation in those organizations and develop leaders,” he said.
He also wants to encourage young lawyers to get involved in local bars and Bar sections to help them “grow personally and professionally in ways that will enrich their lives, their practice, and their community.”
Baker said his approach will promote that lawyers together can get more accomplished than working individually.
As an example, he cited recent hurricane relief efforts. After Hurricane Matthew, the Broward County Bar Association collected four tables of supplies for hurricane victims.
After Hurricane Dorian, he said he suggested to BCBA Executive Director Braulio Rosa that South Florida bar associations jointly campaign to gather relief supplies.
Baker said he and his wife, Karli, went to Publix and filled a shopping cart and picked up a U-Haul.
“When I got to the bar, I was amazed. We had enough to fill that U-Haul from floor to ceiling and more,” he said.
“Metaphorically speaking, individually, we can fill up a shopping cart,” Baker said. “Our bubbles [of friends and acquaintances] can fill up a few tables, but when we work together, we can fill up a U-Haul. Thanks to the amazing governors I work with on the YLD who sacrifice their time from their jobs, their families, and their friends to serve their profession, we’re going to fill up a fleet of U-Hauls.”
Baker was introduced to the assembly by Rosa, who said, “If you know Todd, you love Todd. He’s the biggest personality in the room, he has the biggest heart. He is committed. He has vision.
“Some people think he has crazy ideas, but a lot of the time, those crazy ideas become great programs.”
He helped the BCBA with its boot camp program for new lawyers, Rosa said, and he coordinates the Broward County part of National Adoption Day, organizing the ceremony and festivities where on average 60 foster children find permanent homes.
“Todd is in the end someone who is committed to helping people,” Rosa said.
Baker introduced new YLD President-elect Iris Elijah. Elijah, the associate general counsel for Florida International University, is a graduate of the Bar’s Leadership Academy, and a member of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and other organizations.
“If you don’t know Iris, you absolutely should,” Baker said. “She’s wonderful.”
He said they met representing their local bars at a YLD Affiliate Outreach Conference and after serving on the YLD board together, she urged him to run for YLD president.
“I’m so excited to work with you in the year to come,” Baker said.