Leadership Academy class launches ‘Limited Liability Leadership’ podcast series
At first, the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to knock Class VIII of the Leadership Academy for a devastating loop, preventing in-person meetings for an entire year.
“We had to adjust, big time,” said Class VIII fellow Lyndsey Siara, a senior staff attorney with the 13th Judicial Circuit. “Obviously, we were in a unique position of never having met.”
But instead of disrupting the class, adversity drew the aspiring Bar leaders closer together — and ignited a creative spark, Siara said.
“We created a Facebook class group, we had a book club to discuss books about leadership,” she said. “We had three, maybe four sessions via Zoom.”
And then Class VIII went big for its annual class project — improbably producing 14 CLE-worthy, 30-minute podcasts titled, “Limited Liability Leadership, Raising the Bar and Leading the Bar.”
CLE approval is pending. A link to episodes and future air dates can be found here.
“Our goal was for them to be sort of short listen,” Siara said. “So, someone could listen to them on their commute, or taking a walk, sort of a shorter snapshot of the topic.”
The first episodes include “Committees and Functions of The Florida Bar,” and the “Curated Discussions with Bar Leaders” featuring President Dori Foster-Morales. Discussions with former presidents John Stewart and Eugene Pettis will follow.
The third episode focuses on the Leadership Academy itself.
According to its website, the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy is a “multi-session training program designed to help a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers become better leaders. Each year, participants are selected from applications submitted to The Florida Bar to become Academy Fellows.”
During a normal year-long term, “Academy fellows follow a curriculum tailored to enhance their professional development, knowledge base and experience, including attending Bar events and special education programs. Fellows are given the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the Bar and their role in the legal profession, while enhancing their leadership skills.”
But the Academy experience is far richer and more rewarding than a few paragraphs can convey, Siara said.
“Everyone talks about it like it’s really awesome, ‘I want to be a part of it,’ but you really don’t know what it’s all about until you participate,” Siara said. “We have episodes that talk about the application process, and then what previous fellows have gotten out of it, and why it has been such a worthwhile experience.”
Other episodes focus on the “Private Practice in the Digital Age,” “Access to Justice for Low-Income Communities,” “Resources for Young Attorneys,” “Retirement,” and “Career Challenges During the Pandemic.”
Another focuses on “Financial Literacy,” Siara said.
“Not only personal finances, but business finances, for those people who run their own firms,” she said. “You can’t be a leader if your finances aren’t in order.”
The project required the class to divide into smaller groups, with each group choosing a topic of interest to write and produce — a division of labor that worked to the project’s advantage, Siara said. There was a greater variety of topics, and a role for everyone, from researching and writing to hosting, Siara said. Every group member was required to participate in a meaningful way.
“It was nice because it allowed each of our classmates and their smaller groups to really focus on topics that spoke to them, and that they would find to be a meaningful experience,” she said.
Siara said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Clay Shaw, the Bar’s creative support manager. Shaw managed the technical aspects of the podcasts, editing audio clips and making it possible to remotely record guest speakers while preserving broadcast-quality sound, Siara said.
Another group was formed to shepherd the project, Siara said. It created an introduction, complete with theme music, that announces each episode. Members are now devoting themselves to promoting the podcasts, through the Leadership Academy’s social media pages, word of mouth, and through local bar groups.
Siara stresses that the project was a true group effort, and one that its members intend to celebrate when they meet in person for the first time on June 11 at the Bar’s Annual Convention.
“Even though our classmates have not met in person, I think we would all agree that we are a tight-knit group because we had this shared experience that is so different than everyone else,” she said. “When we do finally all get to be together, it’s going to be this really joyous, exciting moment, that we waited so long for.”