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Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association & the Florida Hispanic Bar Association win Group Professionalism Award

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2023 GROUP PROFESSIONALISM AWARDThe Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism presented its Group Professionalism Award to the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association & the Florida Hispanic Bar Association for their Civil Litigation Boot Camp.

This award honors one program instituted and coordinated by a bar association, judicial organization, Inn of Court, or law school organization aimed at enhancing professionalism among lawyers and law students and that can be implemented by other organizations to promote and encourage professionalism within the legal community.

The Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association was founded in the 1950s by a group of African-American lawyers who mercilessly fought against injustice in Florida. Today the association consists of a network of nearly 1,000 attorneys statewide with 16 affiliate chapters throughout Florida and is headed by President Valeria Obi.

The Florida Hispanic Bar Association, led by President Victoria Mesa-Estrada, was founded in 2020 with a mission to organize the local Hispanic bar associations in Florida under a statewide umbrella to support, promote, and elevate the success of Hispanic lawyers and judges in business and leadership.

According to the ABA, Black attorneys make up about 4.5% of the attorney population and Hispanics make up about 5.8%. With these statistics in mind, both groups wanted to make sure that, although their members are in the minority, these attorneys can still excel as litigators by utilizing resources and making connections.

The Civil Litigation Bootcamp, spearheaded by both association presidents, was a half-day CLE program held during The Florida Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando. It was geared toward providing attorneys the necessary tools to assist them with enhancing their skills as litigators and assisting them with advancing professionally.

The topics covered were proper motion practice; how to properly direct and cross-examine witnesses; effective legal writing strategies; and handling expert witnesses; as well as a lunch discussion on ethical practices and effective litigation.

This sold-out program brought in 50 attorneys from across the state. While the Bootcamp was hosted by the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter and the Florida Hispanic Bar Association, many attendees were nonmembers.

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