The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

August 15, 2014 Letters



50-year Members

The letters section of the July 15 News  contained a very concise entry from a person who put out that “not even” 3.5 percent of today’s 50-year Florida Bar members are women.  

One can hope the intent of the four sentences was the infrequent praising of legal pioneers. However, the wording suggests it to be aligned with the frequent raising of venal spears used to stoke the unending fire of bitterness and resentment that heats the cauldron of grievances in perpetuity.  Such is done so that the privileged of today (and probably tomorrow) reap benefits partly sowed on sympathy for past victims of real and imagined sins perpetrated by the privileged of yesterday, all under the guise that things are still not even.

Nonstop nowadays there is a desire from too many of us to make all others who are not alike in some way feel guilty for something even though those “others” did nothing individually for which they should feel guilt.  It’s still time to get even. 

Guilt gets things done in our nation, unlike in most foreign lands where the number of all female attorneys practicing today is still not even 3.5 percent.      

Jeff Boston

Healthy Makes Happy

Jan Pudlow’s article in the July 1 New s “What Makes Lawyers Happy?” was a refreshing departure from the same old, same old.

Career dissatisfaction, depression, and substance abuse are apparently rampant in the legal profession. Point taken.

Where the discussion foundered, however, was in making only a fleeting nod to the fact that attorneys are human beings more fundamentally than attorneys.

The media report virtually daily that overweight and obesity are prevalent in our society. Westerners, we are reminded, have terrible diets and don’t get enough exercise.

One visit to most any courthouse will confirm overweight and obesity quite evidently pervade the legal profession too.

With the rise in overweight and obesity, the media remind us all, we are at significantly heightened risk of both chronic and acute medical conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc.

And, in the effort to prevent, manage, ameliorate, and/or cure these secondary conditions, society (including attorneys) take increasing varieties and quantities of prescription drugs, possibly in addition to self-medication, and recreational substance use. Alcohol and drugs impact mood.

As a group, attorneys are even more sedentary than society in general.

Unquestionably, professional self-actualization would benefit attorneys. . . and everyone else.

But if we really want to promote happiness and satisfaction in human beings in the legal profession, we should foster losing weight, eating healthfully, exercising sensibly, in other words, getting physically healthier.

As human beings, that will automatically make us better and happier, and more appreciative of and satisfied with our lives and our work.

Two birds killed with one stone, less expensively, more seamlessly.

I know. A few years ago, I lost 82 pounds. In doing so, I transformed my life.

I feel so much better physically. I do so many things now that I couldn’t do before. I have more energy. I have a more positive outlook on life. Never depressed, I certainly feel happier and more enthusiastic these days.

And, of course, my personal transformation has transformed my law practice and my experience of practicing law.

Janet Langjahr
Delray Beach

Republic v. Democracy

The words “form” and “system” have been used interchangeably in differentiating democracy and republic and may have inadvertently created misunderstandings in expressing our nation’s government. Democracy, as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, is a government in which the people hold the ruling power either directly or through elected representatives. Republic is a form of a democratic government in which the people elect their representatives.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States reads “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The republic form of democracy was meant to be, by the framers, in the best interests for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people as succinctly addressed by Lincoln at Gettysburg.

It is not democracy, but the republic form of democracy, that has created the polarization in our country.

The supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote for representatives who will, as the framers intended in a republic form of democracy, to legislate in the best interests of the majority and not the special interests of the few.

Russell Johnson
St. Petersburg

Pro Se

The Bar has approved the use of e-filing by pro se parties. Now pro se parties can prepare their own pleadings by using the Bar’s do-it-yourself forms and can process their own case electronically just like real lawyers.

These faux lawyers do not have to go to law school, pass a bar exam, nor are they governed by any code of ethics. Tragically, the Bar is enabling parties who are frequently emotionally distraught to make uninformed decisions that will have unanticipated consequences for themselves and their children. The Bar forms provided to the public go well beyond “simplified” divorces. They are weapons for overbearing spouses to take advantage of the weaker spouse. In my office, it is not unusual for these hurting parties to seek legal help long after the damage is done, and there is little or nothing that I can do to help them. I suspect other family law attorneys are having similar experiences.

The Bar should re-examine the public benefit or harm resulting from empowering troubled parties to engage in uninformed do-it-yourself divorces.

I am neither a pollster nor a betting man. Nevertheless, I would be willing to bet that if the Bar conducted a fairly worded survey, its do-it-yourself divorce program would be overwhelmingly rejected by the membership.

Do we have a bet?

Gerald S. Deutsch
Ft. Lauderdale

( Editor’s Note: The Florida Courts Technology Commission and the Florida Court’s E-filing Authority are responsible for implementing the legislatively mandated e-filing system, not The Florida Bar. The Florida Supreme Court added simplified forms for pro se litigants to the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure when adopting the rules in 1995. Florida Bar committees draft these forms at the direction of the Supreme Court, and the forms are provided free of charge by the Florida Supreme Court.)

Specialty Bars

In response to Mr. Baumgardner’s request for an explanation why voluntary bar associations, which in his mind seem exclusionary, exist, I wish to reply.

Voluntary bar associations, such as the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, exist to deal with specificity and focus on problems that would not have priority in other bar associations.

The PRBA does not restrict membership, rather, we invite as many non-Puerto Ricans to join as possible so that more persons can join our very specific mission. Each minority or diversity Bar has a mission that they are motivated by and persons are willing to give their time to. I and our membership concentrate on the civil rights issue, which is peculiar to Puerto Rico, its territorial status, and the inability of 3.7 million Americans, who do not enjoy a basic fundamental right of citizenship, which is to vote for president or have representatives in Congress, despite having the responsibility to fight our nation’s wars.

Additionally, the Puerto Rican community, precisely because of its territorial status, has a net exodus from the island, a community that is dominant in Spanish, and the political parties on the island differ from those on the mainland. The adjustment for this community is much different than someone who migrates from New York or Oklahoma. Our bar does what no other bar association would allocate resources or time to, which is to concentrate on resolving these issues unique to that community.

There is justification for voluntary bars, because their focus is different and more urgent than what large amorphous bar associations can provide.

If you really want to make a difference, you need to get into the trenches. That is what voluntary bar associations bring to the table.

Anthony Suarez
President, PRBA of Florida


According to Chief Justice Jorge Labarga of the Florida Supreme Court, “As one looks at the present composition of the United States Supreme Court and the present composition of the Florida Supreme Court, it can be readily seen that both institutions look like the face of America.”

This statement is false. When last I looked, the United States Supreme Court is composed of six men and three women. The Florida Supreme Court is composed of five men and two women. The population of the U.S. is roughly 51 percent female and 49 percent male.

The face of America wears lipstick. Our Supreme Courts do not.

Marcia Cohen
St. Petersburg

Armed and Dangerous

I would like to honor the few of us who did not end up in the August 1 Disciplinary Actions. I never dreamed a lawyer would be called “armed and dangerous” as was one of our brothers.

Due to the ongoing destruction of the middle class, such sad notices will only gain in number and ghastliness. Lawyers are like crabs in a pot; as the heat goes up, we pull each other back to the scald.

The hysteria of lawyer ads proves my point. Car crashes have abated to the rate of 25 percent since 2010. The loss of personal injury jobs is almost catastrophic. People are broke and can’t afford to bar hop and take summer holidays. It will only get worse as more lawyers chase fewer dollars.

People go to law school now, not because of a heroic vision or even for lucre. They go because there are no jobs for them after college. Our basic institutions are crumbling around us, and the Bar worries about non-spoken quotas and funding legal aid on the backs of broke lawyers, some who could qualify for legal aid.

The Bar needs to promote ethics classes that teach how to clip coupons in the Sunday papers, stay married to one person for life, and teach that what you have in your heart trumps what you have in the driveway.

A simple phrase to all of you up-against- the-wallers, “What profit is there in winning the entire world but losing your own soul?” I wish I could take credit for that line; however I think somebody beat me to it about 2,000 years ago.

Charles B. Tiffany

Words Matter

“Florida is unique, in that California and Minnesota are the only other states that have these two kinds of corporations.”

This sentence is from the article titled “Business Law Section helps pass ‘green’ corporations bill” in the August 1 News.

I am including it as a representative example of the regular amusement I receive while reading the News. I appreciate the quality of information which is included in the News, and I hope that the News will work on increasing the quality of its delivery. 

Brigitte Silver
Ft. Lauderdale

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