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President Stewart posts his February President’s Video Message

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John StewartIn his February President’s Video Message, Florida Bar President John Stewart gives an update on The Florida Bar’s priorities during the 2020 Legislative Session, discusses how the Florida Supreme Court is working to keep Florida’s legal system efficient and accessible, and lists what Florida Bar members can do to provide input and stay informed. Take a look!

FEBRUARY VIDEO MESSAGE TEXT

I’m John Stewart, president of The Florida Bar, here in the State Capitol, and this is my February President’s Message.

Q. What is happening during the 2020 Legislative Session?

The Florida Bar is actively monitoring legislation on behalf of the judicial branch and lawyers. Right now, we’re focused on the Court’s primary objective relating to funding for the 2020 budget for the judiciary. We’re looking to increase the salaries for judges. Right now, the trial courts and the DCA judges rank in the lower half among states across the country. We’re also looking to increase security, increase efficiencies, and get general access to justice improved for the judicial system. Right now, the state’s budget for the judiciary is less than one percent of the annual budget, and we’re continuing to work to improve that.

Q. Why is it important that we are here?

We’re here in the State Capitol during Legislative Session. It’s our job to make sure that, not only is The Florida Bar and the judiciary treated fairly by the legislature, but really to protect Florida citizens. There’s only one position in Florida’s Cabinet that is not comprised by a lawyer.  So, we have our Secretary of State, we have our Attorney General, we have our Governor, and we have our Commissioner of Agriculture … are all Florida lawyers. So it’s great to be here, we’ll have some interviews coming with them, so be on the lookout for them on our social media platforms.

Q. What are some of the ways the Florida Supreme Court is working to keep Florida’s legal system efficient and accessible?

Florida court systems see over two million civil cases on the annual basis, so the Florida Supreme Court has put together a task force, including two past Florida Bar presidents, to review the efficiency and the way that civil cases can move through the system so that Florida citizens have access to justice. In addition, in conjunction with the law school deans, the Florida Supreme Court has removed two subjects from the Florida bar exam – the intent not to make the bar exam easier, but to allow law students to study core principles that will make them better lawyers. Finally, the Supreme Court has tasked The Florida Bar with studying the issues of the changing legal marketplace including areas of technology and advertising with an obligation to report back both to The Florida Bar Board of Governors and to the Florida Supreme Court with its final recommendations by June 2021.

Q. What can Florida Bar members do to provide input on these matters and keep up with the progress of these studies?

Florida Bar Member dialogue is critical to success of all the studies and projects that The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court is currently engaged in. We make information available on The Florida Bar’s website through The Florida Bar News, through The Florida Bar Journal, all of our social media platforms. It is our job to get the information to you, and it is your job to review the information and provide us your feedback in a professional, educated, meaningful way.

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