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Coleman presents General Assembly awards

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Coleman presents General Assembly awards

A t the Bar’s Annual Convention General Assembly, outgoing President Greg Coleman presented the following President’s Awards of Merit :

Ian Comisky, a partner at Blank Rome firm in Philadelphia where he chairs the white collar defense and investigations practice group, has been on the Board of Governors since 1998. Currently, he serves on the Audit and Budget committees and chairs the Investment Committee, a position he has held for the past decade. Comisky has served on many Bar committees, from Small Claims Rules to Relations with CPAs and many in between, and has been an active board liaison to the International Law Section and Federal Court Practices Committee, among others.

“Personally and professionally, Ian is many things: detail-oriented and analytical, while at the same time witty and friendly,” Coleman said. “But above all of his great attributes, I want to recognize him today for his gift of taking complicated investment ideas and terms and converting them into easy to understand concepts. He takes his job as guardian over the Bar’s assets very seriously.

& #x201c;Without his leadership over the last 10 years, during one of our country’s worst financial crises, the Bar would not be as financially stable as it is. Thank you, Ian, for watching our money.”

Coleman honored Comisky for his “unwavering commitment to The Florida Bar” and his “dedication to ensure that our Bar is fiscally sound, even through difficult times.”

Kevin Johnson, a shareholder in the Tampa firm Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez and Hearing, P.A., where he concentrates on employment law, served as chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section in 2013-14 and was tapped first for the Vision 2016 Technology Committee. In May 2014, Coleman asked him to chair the newly created Special Committee on Technology/Office Tools and Resources with a fast-track assignment: Assemble a toolbox of technology solutions for Bar members and create a website presence with practice information and assistance.

“Within just a few months, Kevin and his committee were ready to unveil The Florida Bar’s new Practice Resource Institute, or PRI. This is an accomplishment that is unheard of in Bar years,” Coleman said. “The new PRI platform is one of the best member benefits we have ever created.”

Coleman honored Johnson “for taking on one of the largest tasks in recent Florida Bar history to completely revamp and reshape our practice management resources to create the Practice Resource Institute in only six months. Your commitment, contributions, and leadership have made Florida Bar members’ practices more efficient and effective and will continue to help our fellow members for many years to come.”

David Prather, a partner in the West Palm Beach firm of Clark, Fountain, LaVista, Prather, Keen and Littky-Rubin, where he practices civil trial law, joined the Board of Governors in 2007 and served on more than half its committees, including the Executive Committee.

“During my year as president, I relied on David to chair one of the most important board committees, the Program Evaluation Committee.. . . This year, David was involved in all aspects of the PEC’s work, including that of eight separate subcommittees. He also reached out to Bar leaders and Bar members to gather information and discuss matters being studied by the committee. Under David’s leadership this year, the committee completed a major review and approved hundreds of revisions to our standing board policies, completed a section evaluation, and approved a proposal to create a new section and created three Florida Bar committees: Special Committee on Illegal and Unethical Solicitation of Legal Business, Board Committee on Technology, and the Standing Committee on Technology/Office Tools and Resources.”

Renée Thompson, a partner at Mateer & Harbert, P.A., practicing in the Ocala office as a civil litigator and handling commercial litigation and equine matters, was president of the Young Lawyers Division in 2010-11 and has been active in the YLD for many years. She brought her leadership skills to the Board of Governors in 2013, and has been a very active participant not only on board committees but in Bar activities, including serving as chair of the Leadership Academy for the past two years and as a very active member of the Vision 2016 Technology Committee. This year, she also serves as chair-elect of the Annual Convention Committee.

“On top of all that dedication, she has gone above and beyond in all of her Bar service, extending her assistance in any way she could and representing the Bar at numerous events and activities,” Coleman said. “She is any president’s ‘go-to’ person when you want to get something done.”

Coleman honored Thompson for her “extremely hard work” and her “immediate and generous willingness to be involved in every aspect of Bar activities.” He said her “ability to solve problems and handle issues that arose this year was critical to achieving many successes and to providing the highest quality member services.”

Steve Metz, the Bar’s legislative counsel since 2000, was honored with the G. Kirk Haas Humanitarian Award, established to recognize a Florida Bar member for meritorious service to the legal profession. The Bar president selects the recipient, and the recipient then selects a Florida law school and a scholarship is awarded to a second-year student who demonstrates an exceptionally high degree of integrity, ethics, professionalism, and concern for others. During his 35-year career, Metz played a major role in a wide range of legislative initiatives, including tax issues, health regulations, workers’ comp, judicial, environmental, construction, and growth management issues.

Metz is a guardian ad litem volunteer advocate and helps manage a mobile food service kitchen for low-income families.

Coleman called Metz “a very humble and quiet leader. He will never tell you, but he goes to very poor and impoverished areas of Central America to help build housing for some of the poorest people in the world. He is extraordinarily generous with his faith and his time and is simply one of the finest people I know.”

The G. Kirk Haas Humanitarian Award “recognizes the unique human qualities that we all strive to attain but very few achieve. These include an abiding respect and caring for others, coupled with the ongoing demonstration of actual deeds of legal services with no reward beyond that of the deed itself. Stephen William Metz is one of those rare individuals who possesses those special qualities and, by this award, he is so honored.”

Clark Jennings, a faithful public servant for 30 years, worked for the Department of Insurance, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and serving as general counsel of the Department of Citrus. He was honored with the Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award, presented to a person who exemplifies the highest ideals of public service. The leadership of the Government Lawyer Section and Coleman unanimously agreed that Jennings should receive the award.

Coleman said Jennings “has also been a persuasive voice of the public sector within The Florida Bar, serving as chair of the Government Lawyer Section and the Council of Sections, and as a member of the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Second Judicial Circuit.”

Jan Jung, executive director of the Sarasota County Bar Association for more than 25 years, received the Marshall R. Cassedy, Sr., Award that recognizes the legacy and attributes of Cassedy who served with great distinction as executive director of the Bar from 1961-80. Coleman said Jung is known and well-regarded for working behind the scenes to coordinate nearly 1,000 members on a shoestring budget. But despite its small budget, the SCBA has a rich history of providing innovative programs, including bench/bar meetings, diversity initiatives, and young lawyers activities.

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