Foster-Morales becomes president-elect
Dori Foster-Morales may have been called “Little General” in her youth, but to her Florida Bar colleagues, she is a “smart,” “savvy,” “tough,” “sensitive” and “caring” leader who tempers her intensity with a magnetic sense of humor.
That’s how Senior U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz, another Bar trailblazer, introduced her friend and mentee moments before Foster-Morales was sworn in as president-elect of the 107,000-lawyer Florida Bar on June 28 at the Annual Convention in South Florida.
“Since she was a little girl, Dori has displayed those natural talents and inclinations that make her a star as a lawyer, leader, and a human being,” said Seitz, who served as the Bar’s first woman president from 1993-1994. “Her childhood nickname was, ‘Little General,’ as she was an effective strategist selflessly caring for her troops — then her family and friends — to better their situation.”
Addressing a packed General Assembly at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, Seitz described Foster-Morales variously as an environmental champion who began her career with the U.S. EPA; a driven and compassionate prosecutor who tried 65 jury trials in five years while working for Miami-Dade State Attorney Janet Reno; and a dedicated mother who put the brakes on her career 20 years ago to help her then toddler daughter overcome a developmental disorder.
“And because Dori never does anything half-heartedly, she submerged herself in the issues, becoming a passionate advocate for improving the lives of all children with autism, and she continues today as a tireless advocate and fundraiser,” Seitz said.
For Foster-Morales, changing gears after 3-year-old Nora’s diagnosis meant leaving the public sector and opening a private practice, which has since blossomed into a thriving, six-lawyer — all of them women — family law practice, Seitz said.
Seitz said Foster-Morales continues to prove that she has the “special gifts” it takes to be a “great family lawyer,” beginning with “impeccable integrity.”
“But you also need to have the ability to understand and care for human beings at an emotional low point, while counseling them to move forward constructively for their, and their children’s sake,” Seitz said. “For over 20 years, Dori has been that great lawyer.”
In addition to devoting her life to family, career, and community, Foster Morales also found time to serve the legal profession, winning election to The Florida Bar Board of Governors in 2008, in the wake of the devastating recession, Seitz said.
“From her ‘Little General’ days, she knew and understood that if you take good care of your troops — here, our lawyers — then our lawyers can serve their clients and the public as our profession has been called to do in our democracy,” Seitz said. “On the board, her fellow governors know the significant value that Dori adds; when she speaks, people listen.”
Foster-Morales’ board service was highlighted by chairing a special committee dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Florida lawyers, a high-profile assignment that required organizing forums across the state, and ended with a comprehensive set of recommendations that are still being implemented.
“Because she’s thoughtful, articulate, and consistently proposes responsible solutions to promote the common good, she has served on the board’s Executive Committee for the past four years,” Seitz said. “She is a collaborator who is able to unify, empower, and promote others to do even more than they realize they could accomplish.”
Foster-Morales’ talents haven’t gone unnoticed by her peers, Seitz said. She is a board certified family lawyer, by both The Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been accepted for membership by the invitation-only American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers.
“She comes to any project with a deep-well of energy that is contagious,” Seitz said. “She has a big smile and an even bigger laugh and always sees the humor in a situation, and with that gift of humor, is able to diffuse any volatile circumstance and calm anyone around her.”