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Professionalism Committee builds on past successes

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Center for Professionalism logoBuilding on a record of strong CLEs, a new podcast, and other activities, the Standing Committee on Professionalism will be aiming at helping lawyers cope with a new legal landscape in the post COVID-19 pandemic world.

“We have a lot of new ways of doing business and practicing law,” said incoming Chair Elizabeth Hunter at the committee’s June 10 meeting during the Bar’s Annual Convention. “As things open up, we’re going to be changing and bringing some new ideas and keeping some of the old. During change, our profession is really challenged. We get to be a positive part of that change.”

She also said professionalism will be a high-profile issue in the coming year with incoming President Michael Tanner’s creation of the Special Committee on Professionalism. Hunter and incoming President-elect Gary Lesser are co-chairs of the special committee.

“We’ll be looking at this committee for support and ideas and feedback,” Hunter said.

Outgoing Chair Ita Neymotin presided over a series of working group reports that summarized the committee’s activities over the past year. Those included:

• Starling Hendrick reporting that the Education and Resources Working Group streamlined the forms and reporting procedures for circuit professionalism committees and plans to continue collecting the reports from the committees and local bars with professionalism programs. The subcommittee is also working to create a speaker’s bureau on professionalism and assembling resources for speakers. And finally, the subcommittee worked on diversity and inclusion issues, including updating the web page for the Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism. “Diversity and inclusion is not an aspirational goal, it’s an expectation of Bar members,” Hendricks said.

• Magie Ozarowski reported that the Gender Bias Working Group put on a two-hour CLE, Know Your Worth — A CLE for Women Lawyers, available for free on the center’s website. The CLE aims to help bridge the gender pay gap in the legal profession by advising women lawyers on negotiating their salaries and benefits, including addressing underlying concerns that women fear they will be judged if they aggressively negotiate.

• Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk said the Mental Health and Wellness Working Group sponsored a series of three CLEs earlier this year, including one featuring Justice Alan Lawson. The group also studied the challenges of working from home, which produced, among other things, articles for the center’s newsletter.

• Jason Berger said the Mentoring Initiatives Workgroup put on the recent Mentoring Makes a Difference CLE which featured U.S. Northern District Court of Florida Chief Judge Mark Walker, practical advice on establishing mentoring programs, and perspectives from mentorees. The CLE is available on the center’s website and Berger said it can be particularly valuable for new lawyers. “Certainly, everyone could use a mentor,” he said. “I know I’ve certainly relied on my mentors throughout my career.”

• Matthew Feeley reported the Awards Working Group held its annual award ceremony June 9 where the committee bestowed its judicial, law group, and law faculty/administrator professionalism awards.

Aside from those activities, center Assistant Director Katie Young noted the committee launched the Never Contemplated podcast featuring interviews with women judges that has been downloaded more then 5,000 times. A second season is in the works, she reported.

Administrative law Judge Hetal Desai, who hosts the podcast, said the second season may expand beyond judges to include heads of government agencies.

The #ProTips Tuesday series, which features short video clips with professionalism advice, continues to be popular with regular additions, Young said.

The free CLEs, the podcast, #ProTips Tuesday and other resources are available from the center’s webpage.

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