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Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee campaign looks to reinvigorate local bars hard hit by the pandemic

Senior Editor Top Stories

Taking the Annual Bar Leaders Conference digital was just the beginning for the Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee.

When COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the conference — and threatened to deny voluntary bars the ability to hold traditional fundraisers and membership drives — the committee transformed its flagship event into a year-long campaign of webinars, town halls, and other digital content called “Restart, Rebound, Recover.”

One of the latest events in the series, “Sponsorship Insight: A Perspective from Different Lenses,” is a 90-minute Zoom town hall on October 20 that will feature Aaron Wallace, the marketing director for Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company and Onchantho Am, president of the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association.

Committee Vice Chair Kimberly Lopez, former president of the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida, will moderate the event. CLE has been applied for and registration is available at [email protected] by using “Sponsorship” in the subject line.

At the Fall Meeting on October 8, Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee Chair Vivian Cortes Hodz announced that the 57-member committee has expanded its geographic reach and is ready to launch new programs.

One of the newest ones, the “Appointments Initiative,” is already paying off, said Vice Chair Amelia Beard.

Last year, the committee had members from all but six of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. This year, only the 16th and 18th circuits remain unrepresented, Beard said.

“This committee has always been pretty diverse, but we want to make sure it is a fair representation from all around the state,” Beard said.

Vivian Cortes HodzHodz informed committee members that they would be the backbone of a new program called the “Circuit Leaders Zoom Events Initiative.” Hodz directed each committee member to plan a virtual or social event for the voluntary bar leaders in each judicial circuit.

She recommended that they be conducted in the winter/spring of the fiscal year.

“I tend to tell people to do things, but that’s how we get things done,” she said. “The more you give to this group, the more you’re going to get.”

The committee has also launched a “Mentorship Initiative” founded on the premise that “accomplished leaders can contribute to one’s success and advancement and hopefully encourage others to participate in service,” said Bar Services Manager Jeffrey Doran.

“In other words, we don’t need to wait on a conference each summer to exchange ideas and to learn from each other,” he said. “The concept also recognizes that the committee has a host of fantastic mentors who are willing to share their experiences and provide advice.”

Sports-themed “On the Bench” focuses on voluntary bar leadership coaching.

Melissa Byers and Jamie Karpman are two committee members that have responded to the call to lead. This duo created the new leadership game and have set up the play-by-play game plan.

Mentors register online as experts in one or more of 28 topics, ranging from “networking” and “pro bono” to “technology/software/website” and “disaster recovery.”

Every quarter, there will be live “Game Time,” a webcast featuring three coaches delivering TED-style talks. Each Game Time will be followed by “In the Clubhouse,” a “mocktail/cocktail happy hour” for anyone who wants to participate in an informal forum.

“The leadership on this committee is just amazing,” Hodz said. “It’s a testament to what you can do when you have a good team.”

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