The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Standing Committee on Professionalism to play a key role in new mentoring and professionalism initiatives

Senior Editor Top Stories
Jason Berger

Jason Berger

The Standing Committee on Professionalism is expected to play a key role in implementing a special committee’s comprehensive proposal for enhancing professionalism.

A day before his term expired, President Mike Tanner told the committee at a June 23 meeting in Orlando that the Bar recently forwarded the proposal to the Supreme Court.

“I’m hopeful that they will adopt all of it, and if they do, this will be the group that we anticipate will be implementing all of that,” Tanner said. “It’s pretty exciting, we can really move the needle.”

Accompanied by incoming President Gary Lesser, Tanner called the Special Committee for the Review of Professionalism in Florida proposal, “very thorough.”

He formed the 20-member panel last year and directed it to conduct a “top-to-bottom review” and recommend ways to enhance the definition, education, and enforcement of professionalism.

Lesser and Elizabeth Hunter, immediate past chair of the Standing Committee on Professionalism, served as co-chairs.

The recommendations include a proposed Supreme Court administrative order that would establish a revised and updated “Code for Resolving Professionalism Referrals.”

Lesser told the committee that the proposed administrative order includes more uniform procedures for local professionalism panels.

“A lot of hard work went into that,” he said.

The proposal would also increase to 3 hours the number of professionalism CLE credits lawyers must earn every three-year reporting cycle.

If approved, a Florida Bar member’s overall continuing legal education credit requirement for a three-year cycle would increase from 33 hours to 35 hours.

Special committee leaders concluded that even with the increase, Florida would still fall below the annual CLE requirement for many other states.

Regardless, Tanner anticipates opposition.

“We recommended three hours of professionalism, which we anticipate some of our members will push back on, and if they do, we’re going to push back pretty hard,” he said.

Education is key component, Tanner said.

“We wanted to make sure that a Florida Bar-produced professionalism program is mandatory,” Tanner said. “We’re going to be looking to you folks for that.”

Stuart attorney Jason Berger, the new Standing Committee on Professionalism chair, assured Tanner that his team will be ready.

“Before you came in, we have been game planning, and strategizing, and energizing to assist this year, so this whole committee is ready to go,” he said.

The Standing Committee on Professionalism will also play a key role in a new mentoring initiative that Lesser has identified as a top priority.

Last month, the Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Lesser’s request to form a “Special Committee on Mentoring New Lawyers.”

Focusing on attorneys with three or less years of experience and who work in firms with three or fewer attorneys, the special committee will be co-chaired by two former YLD presidents.

Berger will also be serving on the special mentoring committee.

The mentoring initiative is a logical next step to Tanner’s focus on professionalism, Berger said.

“They run hand-in-hand, absolutely,” he said. “I’m not sure where we’re headed, but I know we’re going to move the needle forward.”

News in Photos