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Board of Governors and YLD board candidates platform statements

Announcements

The Florida Bar Gold SealBelow are the platform statements for Jorge L. Piedra and Alice K. Sum  who are running for The Florida Bar Board of Governors in Seat 4 in the 11th Circuit — the only contested race for the Board of Governors in this year’s election cycle. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters on or around March 1, and must be returned to the Bar’s election company no later than midnight March 21. As in the past, voters will have a choice of using the mailed paper ballot or voting online, following instructions included in the mailing.

11th Circuit, Seat 4

Jorge L. Piedra

I am running for The Florida Bar Board of Governors for the 11th Circuit, Seat 4.

Jorge L. PiedraI have been a trial lawyer focused on commercial and construction litigation since 1996. I have also managed my own law firm since 2001. I know and understand, from first-hand experience, the challenges of practicing law every single day while trying to run a successful law practice and balancing both of those with a fruitful life at home and outside the office.

For the past eight years, I have had the pleasure of serving on CABA Board of Directors and, for the past year, the honor of serving as its president. I also had the unique opportunity to serve on the Board of Governors as an ex officio member from 2017-2018. I proudly led the successful campaign to bring a new civil courthouse to Miami-Dade County.

As your representative on the Board of Governors, I pledge as follows:

• Conduct regular town hall meetings to bridge the gap between the needs and concerns of our members and the Board of Governors;

• Communicate regularly with all our local voluntary bars to ensure that their concerns and issues are properly addressed and advocated;

• Ensure that The Florida Bar continues to embrace diversity;

• Ensure that The Florida Bar advocates for equality and the elimination of gender bias in the practice of law;

• Use The Florida Bar’s resources to advocate for fair wages for our state attorneys and public defenders; and

• Ensure that the health and wellness of our members remains a priority of The Florida Bar.

Serving the Bar and my fellow lawyers is something that I have truly enjoyed. It has also opened my eyes, beyond my own personal experience, to our unique needs as South Florida lawyers. I want to continue to serve our community. I hope that my record of proven, effective leadership has earned your trust to serve as your representative on the Board of Governors.

Proven Experience and Leadership:

• President, Cuban American Bar Association 2018.

• Florida Bar Board of Governors, Ex Officio Member 2017-2018.

• United States District Court, Southern District of Florida Ad Hoc Committee on Rules and Procedures 2016-2018.

• Chief Justice Pro Bono Advisory Committee.

• Led the successful campaign to build a new civil courthouse in Miami-Dade County.

• President, Cuban American Bar Association Pro Bono Project, 2017.

• Cuban American Bar Association, Board of Directors 2011-2018.

• Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, Board of Directors 2003-2010.

• Latin Builders Association, Board of Directors and General Counsel 2002-2011.

• Managing Partner, Piedra & Associates, P.A. 2001-2018.

I urge you to visit my website at www.jlpforbog.com in order to review a list of the distinguished legal leaders who have pledged their support and endorsement of my candidacy.

I humbly ask for your support and respectfully ask for your vote beginning March 1, 2019.

Alice K. Sum

I am running for an open seat on the Board of Governors being vacated by Deborah Baker-Egozi. I seek your support for this position because my goal is to make the practice of law easier for the everyday attorney.

Alice K. SumI am a partner at Fowler White Burnett and have spent the last 19 years representing clients in a wide range of domestic and international business disputes and transactions. From my experience and having practiced in a range of law firm settings, I understand what it takes for you to succeed and the challenging nature of our profession. The Florida Bar is in a unique position to help attorneys grow their practice, serve as the primary referral source to connect clients with attorneys, aid attorneys in navigating the ever-changing state of technology, equip our colleagues with the necessary tools to address mental health in the profession, provide affordable CLE opportunities, emphasize the importance of professionalism and civility, and be the steady line of support for the judiciary.

The Board of Governors requires a committed level of volunteerism to our profession, one that is demonstrated by my continuous service for nearly two decades. Born and raised in South Florida, I earned my B.A. and J.D. from the University of Florida. While working full time at the law firms of Kluger Kaplan, Buchanan Ingersoll, and Fowler White Burnett, I have devoted approximately 4,000 hours of service to our community. I currently serve on a judicial nominating commission (JNC), nominated by The Florida Bar and appointed by the Governor, a Florida Bar grievance committee and the Judicial Nominating Procedures Committee. I was selected for and trained in The Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy and served on the Annual Convention Committee. I am currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Dade County Bar Association, judicial liaison for the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and co-chair the Inns of Court Bench and Bar Conference. I am also a founding member and past-president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida.

I am particularly qualified for this position because of my experience in uniting voluntary bar associations to meet the challenges of the practice of law. Throughout my service to our community, I have consistently collaborated with groups of judges and lawyers with the constant aim of benefitting the everyday working lawyer.

Our profession, the practice of law, has evolved tremendously in recent years, from technology and attorney regulation to the changing nature of clients and referral sources. The everyday practice of law is challenging, including billable hours, clients, referrals, marketing, and the distinct needs for lawyers in house, in government settings, and the judiciary. If elected, I pledge to continue to work just as hard to put the full resources of The Florida Bar to support you, your practice, and your clients. I humbly ask for your support to continue representing your interests and to better our profession.

 

Young Lawyers DivisionBelow are the platform statements of the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors candidates for the 2019 Bar election cycle. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters on or around March 1, and must be returned to the Bar’s election company no later than midnight March 21. If a runoff occurs in any of the races, ballots will be mailed around April 1 and must be returned by midnight April 22. As in the past, voters will have a choice of using the mailed paper ballot or voting online, following instructions including in the mailing.

Seventh Circuit, Seat 1

Brittany Fraser

Brittany FraserMy name is Brittany Fraser Keith and I have been serving as one of your elected representatives for the Seventh Circuit on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors for the past two years.

Since joining the YLD, I have enjoyed working on committees to benefit fellow young lawyers, including the CLE committee, Local Bar Affiliate Committee, Moot Court Committee, Affiliate Outreach Committee, and the Technology/Online Resources Committee.

I am grateful for the opportunity to utilize the experience I’ve gained as your Seventh Circuit representative to continue advocating for young lawyers in our circuit and promote the advancement of YLD initiatives in our respective legal communities.

Thank you for choosing me to represent your needs.

Carleen A. Leffler Nicastro

Carleen A. Leffler NicastroI am honored to be a candidate for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors of The Florida Bar representing the Seventh Judicial Circuit. As a member of the Young Lawyers Division for the last six years, I have seen and been privy to many issues that directly impact young lawyers, like a poor job market, starting my own firm, and handling health issues while being a young attorney.

My career began here in Volusia County handling third-party practice lawsuits and business litigation. I went on to be a staff attorney at a company in Palm Beach County representing hospitals against insurance companies. In 2014, I began my first law firm in Duval County representing businesses and individuals in both the Fourth and Seventh circuits. In 2018, my husband and I decided it was time to move home and relocated to Daytona Beach. I immediately joined the Volusia County Bar Association in my pursuit of being more involved in the local legal community. I am now on the board of directors for the Young Lawyers Division of the Volusia County Bar Association.

Running for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors was not a decision I took lightly. I was raised that if you want to see change, you need to cause the change. Having practiced in multiple judicial circuits, I know how hard it is as a young lawyer to get involved with the Young Lawyers Division and meet other attorneys that could potentially be great mentors. I also know how difficult the job market can be for new attorneys and how disheartening it can be waiting to find a job while calculating your new student loan payments. I have been through the struggle of opening your own firm and deciding between a brick-and-mortar or a virtual office. I also know the struggle of worrying about your job if you end up ill. As a result, if elected, I will work hard to promote inclusivity and involvement of all young lawyers, support young lawyers in their efforts to start their own firms or locate a career, and work hard to find a balance so that illness does not ruin a young lawyer’s career.

I am asking for your vote for Seat 1 of the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors of The Florida Bar representing the Seventh Judicial Circuit. If you wish to know more about me or why I am running, please contact me at [email protected].

Travis Mydock

Travis MydockBACKGROUND: Born and raised in Gainesville. University of Florida Graduate (B.S., Finance and J.D.). Member of The Florida Bar (2010) and The Hawaii Bar (2009/inactive). Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law. Solo practitioner in St. Augustine since 2016. Assistant State Attorney (Volusia, 2010 – 2012 / St. Johns, 2012 – 2015). Married to a lawyer. Father of two young sons.

LEADERSHIP: Governor, YLD Board of Governors, The Florida Bar (2015 – present). Vice chair and investigating attorney, Seventh Judicial Circuit, Bar Grievance Committee B (2016 – present). President, St. Johns County Bar Association (2018); Vice president, secretary, and treasurer (2015 – 2017); Member (2012 – present). President, St. Johns County Chapter, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (2018 – present). Member, Traffic Court Rules Committee (2015 – 2018). Member, Volusia County Bar Association (2011 – 2012).

As a Board of Governors member for the last four years, it has been an honor and privilege to serve you: the 25,000+ Florida young lawyers, and specifically, the 434 members in the Seventh Circuit. I am currently one of your Seventh Circuit representatives. I now request your vote as the sole Seventh Circuit representative. If reelected, I will continue to develop relevant programs and advocate for your interests.

Soon after joining the Board of Governors, I organized the Young Lawyers Section of the St. Johns County Bar Association and then established an affiliate chapter of the YLD. This allowed our local bar association to develop new programming for young lawyers in the area. We started a charity cornhole tournament in 2016 and have since donated over $7,500 to legal aid and Kids Bridge. Additionally, we organized events focused on professionalism and health/wellness, including yoga and paddle boarding at Anastasia State Park last summer.

I have served on numerous committees during my service as a governor. During the 2016 term, I managed the redevelopment and relaunch of Lawyers Advising Lawyers — a network of volunteer attorneys who provide free legal advice to other Florida attorneys. During the 2017 term, I oversaw an extensive revision of our online resources (www.flayld.org and https://startmyfloridalawfirm.com). Most recently, I served on the 2019 Affiliate Outreach Conference Committee, where the YLD awarded over $50,000 in grants to affiliate chapters, such as the St. Johns County Bar Association and Volusia County Bar Association. I have also organized and/or taught the YLD Basic Skills CLE courses on evidence and criminal law since 2017. In 2018, I co-hosted the YLD Technology Roadshow in Daytona Beach.

Throughout my career, I have been passionate about quality mentorship and giving back to the community. Among other things, I volunteer as an advisor for Lawyers Advising Lawyers; serve as a mentor in the Law Student Division’s mentorship program; support events held by the St. Johns Association for Women Lawyers; and supervised the State Attorney’s Office’s law student internship program while a prosecutor.

I hope to get your vote. Paper ballots will be mailed March 1. Voting ends on March 21.

11th Circuit, Seat 1

Latoya C. Brown

Latoya C. BrownWith an increasingly saturated legal field, rapidly changing technology, and serious socio-economic challenges, now, more than ever, young lawyers need the support of their bar associations to succeed. As such, I am honored to be a candidate for the YLD Board of Governors, representing the 11th Judicial Circuit. As your representative, my goal is to prioritize the issues facing young lawyers today, by:

• Opposing any increase in fees or new requirements for mandatory Basic Skills CLE courses;

• Fostering young lawyers’ advancement, including solo practitioners and those transitioning to private practice, through improved marketing and awareness about existing resources, such as StartMyFloridaLawFirm.Com and mentoring resources through the Bar’s Legal Accelerator and Lawyers Advising Lawyers programs;

• Ensuring that initiatives creating student loan assistance programs are a top priority for the Legislative Affairs Committee;

• Advocating for diversity and inclusion in the Bar, regardless of sex, race, sexual orientation or gender identity, religion, or political views;

• Increasing financial grants awarded to local voluntary bar associations and providing grants to offset costs for public sector attorneys associated with mandatory YLD CLE courses; and

• Supporting mental health and wellness initiatives.

My strong record of dedicated service makes me the right candidate to represent young lawyers in the 11th Circuit. As a director for the Dade County Bar Association (DCBA), I spearheaded the creation of the DCBA’s Inaugural Black History Month Celebration –– the first such program in 100 years. Working with the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, I developed the DCBA’s Annual Back to School Drive, collecting school supplies to benefit underprivileged children in Miami-Dade County. Since I originated the program in 2016, we have donated over $20,000 in school supplies and monetary donations. I have served on various DCBA committees, including the Executive Committee and Bylaws Committee, and participated in the organization of countless programs designed to promote diversity, inclusion, and other issues facing the profession.

I grew up with a strong, single Caribbean mother who instilled in me the value of hard work and the importance of philanthropy. Her lessons inspired me to attend law school at FIU College of Law –– where I graduated magna cum laude –– to seek Bar leadership, engage in community outreach, and advocate passionately on behalf of my clients. Today, I practice at Colson Hicks Eidson in the areas of commercial litigation, mass torts, class action lawsuits, and general civil litigation and represent clients across the country. In recognition of my practice, I received the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s prestigious “40 Under 40” award and the DCBA’s Legal Luminaries Award for Top Attorney under the age of 40 in 2017.

I welcome the opportunity to bring my experience and passion to the YLD board, and to join its leaders in their efforts to improve the legal profession. Please vote Latoya C. Brown for Seat 1 this March and connect with me on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/latoya-c-brown-41b60062; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/VoteLatoya/; and Twitter, https://twitter.com/votelatoya. Thank you in advance for your consideration and your vote.

Marianne Curtis

Marianne CurtisWhat’s the best way to effectively represent a group of people? Experience. I am seeking your votes as a candidate for Seat 1 representing Miami-Dade County on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. My platform is straightforward — diversity in perspective, ideas, and action.

I started my career as an assistant state attorney for the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office. I spent four years there building a reputation based on hard work, fairness, and a complete dedication to serving the community. I then had the honor and privilege of serving as a special assistant United States attorney where I spent the next portion of my career furthering my commitment to the legal profession, but more specifically — prosecuting violent crimes and gang violence. My most profound memories were not in the cases I prosecuted, but the people I met along the way in seeking justice for all parties involved.

In 2018, I joined the private sector as an associate at Berger Singerman. I immediately got involved with Bar service to maintain that feeling of being connected to something greater than myself. I don’t participate in Bar service for business development. While I think that is certainly a worthy component for some, it’s not what drives me every day. I am driven by a complete dedication to professional excellence and making the environment around me better. No, I’m certainly not perfect, but I can assure you that you always will get a perfect effort from me.

My platform is diversity because I have experienced the legal professional from all angles. As a board member of DIBIA Dream, Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, and the Young Lawyers Committee co-chair for Miami-Dade FAWL, I have been on the front line for initiating programming for those organizations. If elected, my focus will be to (1) create more accessible and pertinent CLEs for young lawyers; (2) engage the public sector young lawyers who will bring different perspective by addressing the costs/fees of membership/events; and (3) promote professionalism by partnering with local mentors within the community. These are more than just ideas to me. I take great pride in my follow-up and my follow-through.

I humbly ask for your follow-through by way of your vote beginning on March 1.

Oma Ali-Shamaa

(Did not submit a platform statement.)

11th Circuit, Seat 4

Iris A. Elijah

Iris A. ElijahOur time is now — our time to be heard, our time to connect, and our time to thrive. We are The Florida Bar’s future and we deserve to belong to a bar organization that reflects our interests and is responsive to our needs.

That is why it is essential that you choose someone to represent you on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Board of Governors who can effectively advocate for you and who has a proven track record of building relationships and getting things done. It’s for this reason I am asking for your vote to serve as your 11th Circuit, Seat 4, representative to the YLD Board of Governors.

I was born on an Army base to parents who were active duty soldiers. It was instilled in me as a child that I have a duty to serve others and remain courageous in the face of adversity. I still believe in and live by those principals. So, my goal in serving as your 11th Circuit representative is and has always been a simple one — to ensure the YLD assists young lawyers in developing their skills and advocate on their behalf on issues affecting our profession.

Service in The Florida Bar is not new to me. Starting initiatives, mentoring law students and young attorneys, bringing diverse people together, implementing programs, having candid discussions about diversity, inclusion, and mental health, and advocating on behalf of others is not just something I will do, but is something I have done. I am proud to serve our community in various positions including:

• Associate general counsel for Florida International University (FIU);

• The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors: Chair of the Law Student Division Committee, member of the Inclusion and Equality Committee, Long Range Planning Committee, and Webinar Committee;

• FIU College of Law alumna: C.A.M.P. 4 Justice Scholar and Legal Services of Miami law clerk;

• Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) Board of Directors: Public Relations Director and Young Lawyers Committee chair;

• Miami-Dade FAWL: Foundation Committee co-chair;

• The Florida Bar Leadership Academy, Class II;

• Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association: Community Service Committee;

• The Florida Bar Annual Convention Committee;

• The Florida Bar Business Law Section Fellow;

• The Florida Bar Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee;

• The Florida Bar Leadership Academy Committee;

• Active member of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.;

• Active member of the Caribbean Bar Association;

• Active member of the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section; and

• Volunteer with Make the Homeless Smile Miami.

Serving on the YLD Board of Governors for the last three years is an honor and I would consider it a privilege to continue serving the 11th Circuit young lawyers.
Every vote counts and I thank you in advance for your vote online or by mail from March 1 – 21st. If you have any questions or would like more information please contact me at 305-348-2103, on Facebook at facebook.com/IrisE4YLD, on Twitter at twitter.com/IrisElijah, or on Instagram at instagram.com/IrisElijah. #IrisE4YLD

Vannessa Mari-Milhem

Vannessa Mari-MilhemMy name is Vannessa Mari-Milhem and I am running for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. As a young lawyer, I have much experience in juggling the development of a meaningful career and relationships, while also maintaining a healthy personal life and mental wellness. For the past few years, I have worked with the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers as the committee chair of the Character & Fitness Committee. Our objective has been to bring young lawyers health and wellness events that serve as alternative career development opportunities. This leadership role has allowed me to work with many individuals to promote varying interests.

Some principal issues that I would like to work and address with the YLD Board of Governors are the continued pursuit of mental health and wellness, gender bias, and integrating new technology to advance professionally.

Mental health and wellness are not new issues, but in recent years have emerged as topics of importance for attorneys. I believe that it is important for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division to remove the stigma associated with this and ensure that attorneys entering the practice can have access to the resources they need to maintain harmony between their professional and personal lives without sacrificing their wellbeing. I am willing to not only work toward expanding these resources, but also to ensure that all young lawyers feel they are accessible and are supported by the Bar.

Gender bias, diversity, inclusion, and the development of programs that address these issues are incredibly important to me. Through the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and my participation with the Miami-Dade Chapter, I have had the opportunity to be involved in programs promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal field. In my first year as a committee chair, we hosted a Women’s Kickboxing and Self-Defense class to provide our members the skills they would need to always feel safe. Since then we have continued to provide events that would promote women and diversity inclusion in various settings. I look forward to continuing to provide the same opportunities to all attorneys through The Florida Bar.

Advancing technologies have put attorneys at a crossroad: integrate the new technology or get left behind. At times, integration is either too expensive, too complicated, or it comes with a whole new set of perils to deal with. Increasing access to new technologies will help attorneys with practice management, business development, and improve efficiency. This is an important issue as it will keep members at the forefront of the practice of law.

If given the honor, I will work tirelessly to ensure these goals are met and that The Florida Bar is protecting and serving its members. I look forward to representing the young lawyers of the 11th Circuit. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns at [email protected].

I hope to earn your support and vote for Seat 4.

12th Circuit, Seat 2

Melissa Casanueva

Melissa CasanuevaMy name is Melissa Casanueva, an associate with Porges, Hamlin, Knowles & Hawk, P.A., in Bradenton and I would be honored to be voted to The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors for the 12th Circuit, Seat 2. I have been practicing in the 12th Circuit for over five years, my entire career as an attorney. I became a member of the board of directors of the Manatee County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division at the end of 2016 and am the current president-elect. I have interacted with The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division by attending the past three Florida YLD Affiliate Outreach Conferences and have chaired or co-chaired Manatee County YLD’s grant proposal. I am proud to say with two of these projects, Manatee County YLD brought home the 2017 Public Service Project of the Year award for our “Stock Up for College” program for Take Stock in Children and the 2018 Member Service Project of the Year award for creating a lactation room in the Manatee County Judicial Center.

By attending these conferences, I have been able to see the current Board of Governors in action and how The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors is committed to supporting the young lawyers in Florida. If I were to join to The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors, I would work to make The Florida Bar YLD viewed as a support system for young lawyers of the 12th Circuit. As a young lawyer, and a mother of two, I have learned that not only is it important to have a support system, but to use it! The Florida Bar YLD has established wonderful programs to help young lawyers succeed, but many attorneys do not know they exist. I only learned about The Florida Bar YLD’s Technology Roadshow CLE by attending the Affiliate Outreach Conference, where, afterward, I was able to schedule the CLE in Manatee County and help lawyers obtain those dreaded technology credits.

In addition to helping current programs be promoted in the 12th Circuit, I would also be a voice to what our young lawyers want to support their practice. Part of this voice is being able to relate to the fact that the legal practice is changing and what young lawyers need to support their changing career. For me, with the support of my firm, I was able to work part-time to now a modified full-time schedule, which was the work-life balance I desired. All of us young attorneys are striving for different goals, but our practice can be supported by The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division if members of the Board of Governors recognize that the practice is changing. Having experience working in an alternative practice, my perspective will allow me to bring a different voice to The Florida Bar YLD to support the 12th Circuit young lawyers.

Warren Chin

Warren ChinI am running to become your representative on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Board of Governors to promote diversity and inclusion in a profession where both goals are often overlooked.

My involvement to achieve these goals have been significant and the following is a brief list of Bar involvement: (1) currently a board member on the SCBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, which was recognized by The Florida Bar as the flagship committee on these issues; (2) actively participates in the SCBA’s Diversity Scholarship Program; and (3) chaired Sarasota YLD’s Quickchat Committee helping foster communication between young lawyers. I am also actively involved in the Sarasota County Gator Club. The Sarasota County Gator Club provides scholarships to University of Florida students enabling them to meet their tuition burdens.

Inclusion encompasses working together with other members and associations. One of my goals is to get the Manatee County Bar Association, the South County Section of the Sarasota County Bar Association, and the Sarasota County Bar Association to work together in a collaborative manner to meet our needs. My second goal to promote inclusion relates to our unique age demographic. We are young lawyers, but many of us are also parents with young children. If elected, I hope to better promote family inclusion in our circuit.

With the current state of the legal profession, we have the opportunity to play an integral role in the future of our profession. It is my goal to engage as many young lawyers as possible in this conversation. As your representative, I will ensure our voices shape our future.

I thank you for your support and for the support of those who have enthusiastically endorsed my campaign. I encourage you to review my website at www.WarrenHChin.com. My website includes more information about me and a list of lawyers that have endorsed my campaign.

Tyler B. Stall

Tyler B. StallYoung lawyers today face new challenges and a turbulent environment. I would like to join my fellow young lawyers in this circuit and throughout Florida to become part of the solution. I believe that I am uniquely qualified to address the goals of the YLD Board of Governors and I would appreciate your vote.

I was born and raised in Sarasota. My love for my friends and family have always included a sense of humor and a positive approach. As a young lawyer, I believe that working together to gather different and new perspectives is the best way to approach and resolve issues. The YLD is one of the best resources for both of these benefits.

The YLD has been an important part of my career and practical education. I want the YLD to be a “go to” source for education and community for young lawyers, here in the 12th Circuit and in the entire state. One of my goals is to encourage more educational events that focus on the practical and business components of law. Further, I believe that physical and mental wellbeing are, and will always be, essential issues for young lawyers. I will emphasize efforts by the YLD to be a resource for young lawyers in need of assistance. I also would like to help the YLD encourage young lawyers to give back to their community.

I have been recognized by the Florida Supreme Court for my contribution of pro bono hours and service. There will always be a demand for pro bono attorneys and services for those who need it most. I recognize the difficulty of young lawyers finding time to serve, especially at the cost of billable hours and important practice experiences. Access to pro bono services and advocacy for the value of pro bono services is important for the wellbeing of our community.

Finally, I will encourage the YLD to continue to improve access to the judiciary. Especially in today’s age of social media, access to the judiciary without the appearance of impropriety is more difficult than ever for both the bar and the bench. I want to work with the YLD Board of Governors and find better ways for young lawyers, including both litigators and transactional attorneys, to interact with their judiciary. A united bar and bench will help to better serve the community as a whole.

I look forward to working with the YLD Board of Governors on behalf of the entire 12th Circuit. I also look forward to increasing my familiarity with the young lawyers in our circuit, as well as becoming more involved throughout the circuit and its respective local bar chapters. The more that we work together and get to learn from each other, the more able we will be to help resolve issues for our clients and community. I look forward to helping all of us make this a truly special and unique circuit in which to practice law.

Jodi Ruberg

Jodi RubergI am grateful to have been nominated as a candidate to represent the 12th Judicial Circuit for the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division. As your representative, I will listen, communicate, and work hard on your behalf.

I currently serve you on a local level in various ways; you have seen me out in the community chairing, organizing, and participating in many of our local activities, including the Inn of Court meetings, CLEs, member benefits, and our award-winning 12th Judicial Circuit Mock Trial Competition. I presently serve as director of SCBA’s Young Lawyers Division Board and I represented you recently at The Florida Bar Affiliate Outreach Conference (AOC) showcasing our circuit.

At AOC, I learned about the remarkable programs offered throughout our state and I am more inspired than ever to bring some of those programs to our circuit.

We are fortunate to live and work in Southwest Florida and I will strive to maintain the special charm of our legal community as we continue to grow. I plan to keep in mind three priorities while serving you: professionalism, mental health, and community outreach.

1. It is important that we treat one another with respect while advocating for our clients;

2. I am a proponent of The Florida Bar’s initiative #StigmaFreeYLD; it is imperative that we remove the stigma associated with mental illness;

3. People in our community need our help and we want to do good things — we just need a forum to do so. I promise to provide you with ample opportunities to make a difference in our community.

Lastly, I acknowledge that what is important to me may not be important to you. I want to hear what your priorities, concerns, and ideas are so that I may focus on what is most significant to you and advocate on your behalf. I intend to make you proud.

13th Circuit, Seat 3

Giovanni Giarratana

Giovanni GiarratanaI am running for The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors because of my strong desire to serve my peers, the legal profession, and our community-at-large.

For those who don’t know me, I am a Florida native in my third year of practice. I am happily married to my high school sweetheart, and we have three beautiful (and rambunctious) children and two fur children.

Needless to say, I am aware of the challenges we young lawyers face in trying to balance our professional lives with our personal lives. While the practice of law will always be demanding, we are the rising leaders in this profession, and therefore have the power to change the status quo and mold and mend this profession in a way that conforms to our values. As your YLD representative, it is my hope to facilitate that change.

I am excited by the recent initiatives that are emerging within our profession, particularly with respect to diversity and inclusion and mental health and wellness. I am a firm believer that embracing diversity and living a well-balanced lifestyle not only serves us as lawyers and advocates but also promotes healthier interpersonal relationships outside of the office. If elected, these issues will be a driving force behind the work I’d like to accomplish as your YLD representative.I have been honored to promote these efforts in our community as a volunteer in local non-profit organizations and through service in voluntary bar associations as a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Diversity Committee, as a member of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s Staying in the Game Committee, and as a member, and present co-chair, of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Within the workplace, I’ve actively promoted and drafted policies that encourage diversity and well-balanced lifestyles, such as family leave policies regardless of gender or family structure.

In addition, I believe in the power of mentorship, especially in a high-pressure profession that can sometimes be isolative. I am fortunate to have strong mentors in my life, and their unwavering support and guidance have been essential to my career. I am also privileged to be a mentor and, thus, have learned of the reciprocal benefits of mentorship for all involved. As your YLD representative, I will fully support and encourage programming that connects young lawyers with mentors.

Lastly, as your YLD representative, I will commit to creating an open line of communication for you to express any comments, questions, and/or concerns. To that end, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I would be honored to serve you and have your support. Thank you for your consideration.

Andrea K. Holder

Andrea K. HolderTo my fellow members of The Florida Bar, I am seeking your vote for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, Seat 3, for the 13th Judicial Circuit. I have been practicing law for five years, beginning my career in insurance defense focusing on legal and professional malpractice claims and then transitioning into commercial litigation. Having worked in a large firm and now small firm environment, I understand the challenges that both face. I also understand the issues that young attorneys are presented with in both situations. My desire to serve on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors stems from my involvement in the Hillsborough County Bar Association. I have seen the changes that can be made when adequately advocated for and I want to be part of that process for you.

The 13th Judicial Circuit has been fortunate to have excellent representation on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and I look forward to continuing this service to our community. In this climate of change, it is important to remember our strengths while also improving in areas where we may have been less effective. Strong leadership and promoting professionalism have been at the forefront of initiatives in this circuit. In addition, some of the areas I am most interested in promoting include: mentoring, resources for young lawyers, accessibility, and mental/emotional support.

I was fortunate to have devoted and caring mentors when I graduated from law school and entered this profession. It is because of the time, efforts, and dedication of those individuals that I was shaped into the attorney I am today. Without their guidance, tough love, and relentless support, I would not have gained the same amount of experience or professionally developed in the same way. This relationship between seasoned and new attorneys is of vital importance. While I had the mental, emotional, and professional support and guidance, I am keenly aware that others do not. The legal profession is constantly changing. I want to be your voice and stand up for what is most important to our young lawyers. Allow me to represent your interests and serve you on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. Please support me in this election for Seat 3 of the 13th Circuit. Thank you.

Amanda S. Keller

Amanda S. KellerI am running for an open seat on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors to continue serving the legal community in Tampa. Over the last two years, I have served our profession as the former vice chair of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Law Practice Committee and as current co-chair of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Professionalism and Ethics Committee. Last year, I was selected to the Hillsborough County Bar Association Bar Leadership Institute. This program was designed to give young lawyers the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge, experience, and leadership skills. My experience as a class member of the Bar Leadership Institute has taught me a great deal about the legal community in Tampa Bay and provided me with invaluable experience and opportunities to learn about issues that are unique to young lawyers.

The practice of law is changing and the young lawyers of this country dictate that change. There are a number of issues that plague our profession and we have the chance to do something about it. I believe that lawyer wellness and work-life balance are issues of utmost concern for young lawyers as we navigate our way through the legal profession. These issues and others are concerns I share as well, not just as a lawyer myself, but also as the wife of a lawyer. You can expect me to be an avid advocate on behalf of my peers and to serve with an open line of communication for matters facing young lawyers in the 13th Circuit and throughout the state.

As your representative, I will work to determine ways to improve the lives and the livelihood of young lawyers and promote the changes that will help all of us. I ask for your help and your vote to make those changes.

Ciara C. Willis

Ciara C. WillisThe 13th Circuit deserves another proven leader on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (YLD) Board of Governors. Serving my peers through The Florida Bar is truly a passion of mine. Not only have I been privileged to serve on The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors for the past two years as an appointed governor, I have also previously served from 2013-2016 on The Florida Bar YLD Law Student Division Board of Governors as the Public Relations chair on the Executive Board and as the Stetson University College of Law Chapter president. Now, with a vacancy opening up in the 13th Circuit for the YLD board, I have decided to run for an elected seat and seek your support.

With your support we can work together to address the needs of young lawyers. As a young attorney who is actively involved in numerous local voluntary bar associations and other professional organizations, I can effectively represent the needs of my fellow young lawyers in the Tampa Bay area. My local leadership involvement includes my time as the immediate past co-chair of the Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA) YLD Membership Committee (2017-2018), a past member of the HCBA YLD Law Week Committee (2016-2017), and the YLD chair of Hillsborough Association for Woman Lawyers (HAWL) for the past two years. I am also actively involved with the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA), Stetson University College of Law Tampa Bay Alumni Leadership Committee, Southeastern Women in Financial Services (SWIFS), Tampa Bay Business Journal Elite, Tampa Bay Seminole Club, and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay.

The legal profession can be a daunting one for many young lawyers. Between the competitive job market, learning to be a lawyer, building a book of business, crippling student loans, the challenges faced by our government lawyers, and the stresses and emotional toll that many legal jobs and life take, it is imperative that we continue to look for ways to address these issues and strive to improve our profession and make the lives of young lawyers easier.

In the past two years, I substantially assisted with producing The Legal Accelerator, a project spearheaded by past YLD President Zack Zuroweste. This successful project was aimed at providing short video clips to young lawyers, via a simple search engine, like Google, to answer many typical questions they have in the first few years of practice on anything from professional development and wellness to substantive legal questions and ethics questions. Creative new ways to bring practical resources, like The Legal Accelerator, are how we can continue to improve our profession, and I am dedicated to seeing more of these types of resources come to fruition and advertising them to you.

It would be an honor and privilege to continue to represent your interests on The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors. Please check out my website at www.ciarawillis.com or www.facebook.com/CiaraForThe13th for my resume, endorsements, and other information.

17th Circuit, Seat 2

Brent M. Reitman

Brent M. ReitmanIt would be an honor to have your support as the YLD Board of Governors representative for the 17th Judicial Circuit, Seat 2.

As you may know, my dedication and attention to the interests of the young lawyers in our circuit has been a passion of mine for years. I have remained actively involved in numerous volunteer organizations and created educational opportunities for young lawyers in the circuit.

I feel that I am closely acquainted with the desires of the Young Lawyers of our circuit as I have long-served the legal community of our county through my involvement with the Young Lawyers Section of the Broward County Bar Association.

I am currently finishing my term as the president of the Young Lawyer’s Section of the Broward County Bar Association. I have been involved with the Young Lawyer’s Section since becoming a lawyer and have spent the last four years on each of the positions of the Executive Board.  During that time, the Young Lawyers Section of Broward was recognized by YLD’s Affiliate Outreach Conference as the Affiliate of the Year three years in a row!

During that time, I also organized and was the chair for the Young Lawyers Boot Camp, an educational series aimed at accelerating the learning curve in the legal profession for young lawyers.  The Boot Camp was also recognized by the YLD as the Member Service Project of the Year in its inaugural year.

In my time representing the Young Lawyers of Broward County we were able to create new and exciting programming and CLEs for our members, including this year’s successful LAW-LAPALOOZA event which included a full day of seminars, lectures, CLE credits, and socializing for the benefit of Broward young lawyers.

I am also proud to have been able to give back to the community.  I am able to boast that during my time on the Executive Committee of the Young Lawyer’s Section, we were able to raise and donate over $400,000 to charitable causes in our community.

In addition to serving in various leadership positions with the Young Lawyers Section, I have been the co-chair of the Broward County Bench and Bar Convention – the largest legal/judicial event in the county, and have served on the board of directors for: ABOTA, the B’Nai B’Rith Justice Unit, the Young Leadership Division of the Jewish Federation of Broward County, and am a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet.

Service to my profession and my community is something that I dedicate a tremendous amount of time and effort towards. This is not an endeavor that I take lightly – nor is it something that “my firm” has foisted upon me as a marketing ploy to supplement a billboard or television campaign.

As you can see from my involvement, I have a strong commitment to the young lawyers in our circuit and want to continue representing you all in this new endeavor.

I truly appreciate your consideration and eagerly look forward to being your representative.

Henry Q. Watkins
(Did not submit a platform statement.)

17th Circuit, Seat 3

Brooke Latta

Brooke LattaI am running for The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors, Seat 3 in the 17th 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 public service to the 17th Judicial Circuit as an assistant state attorney. Working at one of the largest law firms in Broward County, I had the opportunity to regularly speak with fellow young lawyers about our circuit and The Florida Bar. These conversations were the catalyst that prompted my involvement with these organizations.

Currently, I serve on the executive board of the Young Lawyer’s Section of the Broward County Bar Association. Prior to my election to the executive board, I served as a member of the board of directors for two years, and a general member for one year. During this time, I have served as co-chair of our largest annual charity event – the YLS Golf Tournament – and I oversee the social and publicity committees. I am proud to say that during my time with the YLS Board of Directors, our team has been recognized as Affiliate of the Year by The Florida Bar YLD’s Affiliate Outreach Conference, three years in a row.

My involvement further extends to The Florida Bar. This past year, I had the distinct honor of being one of 30 lawyers selected across the state to join The Florida Bar Leadership Academy.  This program is designed to foster professional growth, inspire effective leadership within The Florida Bar, and enhance leadership skills. This opportunity has allowed me to work with and learn from state and national bar leaders and has given me an insider’s look at the important role The Florida Bar plays within our legal system. In addition to the Leadership Academy, I have also been invited to speak at The Florida Bar YLD’s Practicing with Professionalism seminar.

Aside from my service with The Florida Bar and the Young Lawyer’s Section of the Broward Bar, I serve as a mock trial coach for NSU Law, a faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA), and a member of the host committee for Broward’s National Adoption Day. I am also a past president of NSU Law’s Student Bar Association.

I look forward to expanding on some of the amazing changes The Florida Bar YLD has already implemented, and bringing forth new initiatives to promote diversity, employment opportunities, member involvement, and programs that best help our young lawyers.

It is for these reasons that I ask for your support and your vote. I would be honored to represent your interests on the YLD Board of Governors.

Courtney Oakes

Courtney OakesI am honored to be considered for the 17th Circuit seat on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors. I have spent the last five years as an active litigator in Ft. Lauderdale, handling cases throughout Florida and developing relationships with attorneys of all ages in various practice areas. As such, I understand the concerns of practicing attorneys. Further, I have served as a Broward County delegate for the Young Lawyers Section of the American Bar Association for several mid-year and annual ABA meetings. These meetings afforded me the chance to spend a lot of time with many of the current YLD Board members, giving me a thorough understanding of the intricacies and importance of the position.

If elected, I want to continue the trend of making sure that the young lawyers throughout Florida, especially those in Broward County, have a voice. The Board of Governors has the influence to affect our day-to-day lives as young lawyers as well as our futures in the legal profession. Therefore, 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 to consider differing perspectives, navigate solutions to issues raised, and aggressively advocate for your concerns.

I appreciate your time and consideration of my candidacy and respectfully ask for your vote in March.

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