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PEC reports on its work

Senior Editor Regular News

Wayne_HelsbyMeeting just weeks before the Bar’s Annual Convention, the Board of Governors has signed off on a series of recommendations by the Program Evaluation Committee.

PEC Chair Wayne Helsby delivered the highlights at the board’s meeting in Palm Beach.

“I will apologize in advance for the length of this report,” Helsby said. “As I have told you throughout the year, the Program Evaluation Committee has been extremely active.”

Helsby said the PEC and a dozen subcommittees spent the last year — in some cases longer — evaluating 13 different programs.

Those reviews, he said, covered 33 rule amendments, six implementation areas, five new program requests, and four section bylaw revisions. In addition, Helsby said, two committees were approved for review this year.

As a result, Helsby said, the PEC unanimously approved 42 recommendations for 13 different programs.

In a series of unanimous votes, the board adopted the following PEC recommendations:

Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc.

A subcommittee chaired by Out-of-State Board Member Brian Burgoon recommended, among other things, asking FLA to take into consideration the potential of increased users of FLA services as mental health awareness issues become more visible; maintaining additional data on staff time utilization to help with future budgetary requests for information; considering whether it would be appropriate to retain a consultant familiar with what FLA does to perform an analysis of FLA’s services; and possibly consider a rebranding effort.

Standing Committee on Technology

A subcommittee chaired by 17th Circuit Board Member Jay Kim recommended, among other things, increasing communication between the Council of Sections, individual sections/divisions of the Bar, and the Standing Committee on Technology; for each section and division that has an interest in furthering their use or knowledge of technology in its particular substantive practice area, having an executive council member or liaison serve on the Standing Committee on Technology; creating a subcommittee to review the LegalFuel website; creating a subcommittee on practice management; suggesting that the Bar president appoint a board liaison to the Standing Committee on Technology that is also a member of the Board of Governors Committee on Technology, and suggesting that the YLD president-elect be appointed to the committee.

Public Interest Law Section

A subcommittee chaired by 13th Circuit Board Member Amy Farrior recommended, among other things, keeping the section’s website fresh; conducting a membership drive; establishing various committees and subcommittees; studying potential sources of revenue, including new continuing legal education programs; generating periodic email blasts from the chair; and conducting a membership survey.

Florida Bar Committee Awards

A subcommittee chaired by 17th Circuit Board Member Lorna Brown-Burton reviewed, among other things, the criteria and overall processes for the Group Professionalism Award; Law Faculty/Administrator Award; William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award; Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award; Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification; Justice Teaching Awards; Florida Bar Journal & News Excellence in Writing Award, the Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award, the Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida, and Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award. The subcommittee recommended requiring a Florida Bar disciplinary background check of potential award recipients and asking committees and sponsoring groups to review their award processes every three years for fairness.

Military Affairs Committee

A subcommittee chaired by 11th Circuit Board Member Debra Baker recommended, among other things, modifying the name of the committee to “Military & Veterans Affairs Committee;” expanding the mission of the committee to include veterans’ affairs and veterans’ issues; and establishing a “Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.”

Section Leadership Conference

A subcommittee chaired by Fifth Circuit Board Member Renée Thompson recommended, among other things, conducting breakout sessions to discuss relevant topics based on section size; providing conference attendees with materials in advance for use as a reference guide; creating a conference session focused on increasing membership and engaging new members; allowing YLD leadership to present special programming with section involvement; and encouraging sections to send their upcoming officers to the conference prior to the beginning of the section year.

Council of Sections

A subcommittee also chaired by Thompson recommended, among other things, scheduling council meetings on a day other than Saturday; streamlining Florida Bar standing board policy bylaw amendments by utilizing proposed rules with Bar staff suggestions; having quarterly meetings, two of them in-person and two via teleconference; creating in-depth content for the Council of Sections on a quarterly basis on main topics of interest for sections based on themes for each meeting; and incorporating networking time for Council of Sections members to interact at in-person events.

Creation of a Special Committee on Criminal Justice

Following a presentation by President-elect John Stewart, PEC unanimously approved a recommendation to create the special committee that would act as a forum for discussion and provide subject-matter expertise for the promulgation of criminal justice legislation. The special committee would work with legislative and criminal justice stakeholders without advocating a particular legislative position. The 10- to 15-member panel, appointed by President Stewart, would begin meeting in July and have a June 30, 2020, deadline.

Another subcommittee, chaired by Second Circuit Board Member Melissa VanSickle, met several times to evaluate a proposal to create a diversion program for “disruptive and unruly lawyers,” Helsby said.

The subcommittee consulted Bar staff and experts with Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc., Helsby said.

“Ultimately, it was the recommendation of the subcommittee not to establish a program for disruptive and unruly lawyers,” Helsby said. “The subcommittee felt that it was just very difficult. . . to identify disruptive and unruly lawyers, how you would define them, and how that whole process would work.”

Another PEC Subcommittee, chaired by Fourth Circuit Board Member Michael Tanner, met to consider a proposal to award CLE credit for service on Bar divisions, sections, committees, and other groups, including the Constitution Revision Commission, Helsby said.

But subcommittee members ultimately decided “to remain status quo,” Helsby said.

Because both subcommittees recommended no change, board approval was not necessary.