Voting underway in Bar runoff elections
Contested races include a 15th Circuit seat on the Board of Governors and 11th and 13th circuit seats on the YLD board
Voting is underway in runoff elections for a 15th Circuit seat on the Board of Governors and 11th and 13th circuit seats on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors.
Michael J. Gelfand and Manuel Farach are vying for Seat 4 representing the 15th Circuit on the Board of Governors.
In the YLD races, Paige Comparato and Ashley V. Gantt are running for Seat 2 in the 11th Circuit and Giovanni Giarratana and Jessica Kramer are running for Seat 1 in the 13th Circuit.
Ballots for the runoffs were emailed and/or mailed to eligible voters by the Bar’s election services provider, Election Services Corporation, on April 1. Voters will receive an e-ballot and have the option of voting online in lieu of returning a paper ballot. Didn’t receive your e-ballot? Request your unique pin. Still need help? Email Election Services Corporation or call 866-720-4357 Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EDT). All votes must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EDT), Thursday, April 22.
Here are the platform statements for candidates in the Board of Governors 15th Circuit, Seat 4 runoff:
15th Circuit, Seat 4
Many of you know me from my work with the local bar and other community organizations. In that capacity, I have served as president of the PBCBA and chaired many of its committees, including the Business Litigation, Real Estate, and Appellate committees. I have been honored with the Judge Rodgers Diversity Award and the Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Award. I served on the 15th Judicial Circuit Professionalism Committee, the Bar appointed me to and I chaired the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, have served on the Judicial Campaign Practices Committee, on the Judicial Professionalism Standards Committee, and as Bar-appointed member to the Inspector General Oversight Committee. I have also served as chair of the Fourth District Court of Appeal JNC and president of the Craig S. Barnard Inns of Court, president of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association, and president of the Guild of Catholic Lawyers. I am a participating member of many volunteer bar organizations in the circuit.
I also chaired the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions and am privileged to be board certified by The Florida Bar in three separate and distinct areas (Business Litigation, Real Estate Law, and Appellate Law), and have been honored as Florida Bar Board Certified Lawyer of the Year. I chair one certification review committee, sit on a separate certification examination committee, and as question-tester for a third certification committee. I simultaneously sit on the Executive Councils of and am in leadership of three different sections of The Florida Bar, and chaired or serve on many Bar committees, including the Computer Law Committee. I serve in leadership for the American Bar Association and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. I have been teaching virtually at the Florida State University College of Law for years and am one of only four attorneys in the 15th Circuit elected as a member of the American Law Institute. I have practiced in firms as small as my solo practice to multi-state national firms with hundreds of lawyers connected through technology.
I recite these experiences not to impress but to open the discussion on the things we, as practicing lawyers, need to change. I have long been a follower of Richard Susskind and have seen many of his predictions come true. I have been on the cutting edge of technology applied to law firms through my teaching, work on the Computer Law Committee, and my technologically connected firm. I remain concerned with the creep of technology and how it is impacting our Bar and its lawyers, a process that has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic. The practice of law is at a crossroads, and The Florida Bar needs leadership with diverse experiences that is accustomed to moving forward into uncharted waters to help lawyers navigate technology and practice in the 21st century. I believe I am that person and I would like your support.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you.
Michael J. Gelfand
There are many reasons we dedicate ourselves to the legal profession. It is a demanding field that requires persistence and patience. But I doubt any of us anticipated the demands facing us right now. Even before COVID-19, the practice of law has been significantly challenged. The pandemic has magnified these concerns.
I have successfully battled for attorneys and our ability to practice professionally, literally in the trenches with the Legislature, judges, ethics committees, and local officials. I am committed to making certain that Palm Beach County attorneys have thriving, professional, and fulfilling practices.
As our profession moves to conducting business virtually, we must strategically evaluate our profession’s current business model to quickly — but not foolishly — adapt. I believe that we, especially the Board of Governors, must focus on ensuring that you have the resources you need to succeed personally and professionally.
A Commitment to My Fellow Palm Beach County Colleagues
As we look to adapt and run sustainable practices, we need to take advantage of the resources readily available. Refining proposed legislation and rules and incorporating new technologies benefits our clients and brings efficiencies to our offices. As we seek to create more efficiencies, we should clear a secure and transparent path for us to accept electronic payments. Mindfully creating this option for attorneys within the Bar’s accounting and confidentiality rules, we alleviate time-consuming liabilities. We should also empower attorneys to set the record straight when defamed by internet postings, while remaining professional and not breaching confidentiality rules. Ethical behavior should be at the core of practicing law. The Bar has a duty to provide meaningful responses to ethical inquiries, allowing attorneys to practice without fear.
None of us made it where we are today in our profession alone. Through mentoring and advancing younger and diverse attorneys, we make certain the Bar and the judiciary have a new generation of leaders. This compliments our efforts in helping promote and implement healthy, fulfilling practices.
Many of you have observed my dedication to the Bar and to Palm Beach County. Actively engaging includes my efforts as chair of the 10,000+ RPPTL Section, JNC commissioner, CLE innovator, mentor, youth court magistrate, Schools Construction Oversight Committee member, recipient of the City of Boca Raton Proclamation for Professionalism and Dedication, and recipient of the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society’s Child Advocacy Award. Currently I chair the Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee.
As a reflection of my dedication to you, fellow attorneys, if you ever had a question in my area I have always had my door open to you, taking your calls whenever, to assist you being the best attorney you can be. Many have attended lectures for which I have always volunteered for the Bar, where in each and every session I focus on relevant issues critical to your practice and real-world approaches for success. Should you choose to support me with your vote, I will commit to serve and represent the unique interests of our circuit.
Here are the platform statements for candidates running in YLD Board of Governors runoff races in the 11th and 13th circuits:
YLD 11th Circuit, Seat 2
Young lawyers are an integral part of The Florida Bar — there are more than 26,000 young lawyers in Florida, and almost 5,000 of us practice in the 11th Judicial Circuit. If I earn the opportunity to represent you on the YLD Board of Governors, Seat 2 in the 11th Circuit, I would dedicate my time to ensuring all of our young lawyers increasingly benefit from and are informed about the invaluable service, education, and advocacy that the YLD provides. My goal would be to use my years of Bar service and experience, as well as my unparalleled enthusiasm, to implement new, instrumental programs and initiatives for all young lawyers.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from many current and past YLD governors as a student governor for the Law Student Division of the YLD, which I believe provides me with helpful insight to take on this role. For three years, as a University of Miami School of Law student, I attended multiple Florida Bar meetings each year and assisted in connecting law students with members of the Bar through a variety of activities and projects to further the best interests of our profession. We worked together with the YLD and representatives from the 11 other law schools in the state to plan events bridging the gap between the legal profession and law school. I found these opportunities for collaboration across the state with a wide variety of students and lawyers to be the most valuable and rewarding experiences in law school.
In the past four years since graduating and developing my practice as a commercial litigator at Hogan Lovells in Miami, my commitment to The Florida Bar and other community organizations has only expanded. I have served on The Florida Bar Federal Court Practice Committee for three years, where my focus has been on increasing communications and awareness of information, events, and CLEs through social media and advertisements, and I have also served on the Annual Convention Committee for the past several conventions. In the Miami community, whether it be through my work for alumni as a Board of Governors member for the Law Alumni Association of the University of Miami School of Law, participation in the Dade Legal Aid Leadership Academy, or as the co-chair of my office’s Associates’ Committee working with our offices nationwide, I have gained valuable experience and background to prepare me to work with young lawyers across the state for your benefit and on your behalf.
I would be honored to serve on the YLD to provide programs and projects of interest to young lawyers, to work on service projects for the benefit of the community and those we serve at large, and to assist in the education and advocacy goals of The Florida Bar. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]. Thank you for your consideration!
Ashley V. Gantt
I was born and raised in Miami, and graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Before going to law school, I dedicated two years to national community service with AmeriCorps as a 2007 Teach for America Mississippi Delta Corps (TFA) member. After fulfilling my two-year AmeriCorps commitment, I returned home and taught in Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a middle and high school teacher for five years.
In 2016, I graduated from NSU Shepard Broad College of Law. Upon being admitted to The Florida Bar, I became a Broward County assistant public defender. I am currently an associate attorney in the Class Action and Mass Litigation Practice Group at Shutts & Bowen LLP in Miami.
My dedication to service has continued through my service on the Executive Board of the T.J. Reddick Bar Association, serving as the corresponding secretary, recording secretary, president-elect, and now as the president for the 2020-2021 year. Additionally, I serve as a board member for the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association. I am a recent graduate of The Florida Bar Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy for Class VII. This past year has taught us that being able to adapt and grow with life circumstances is integral to progression. The legal profession is not exempt from the need to expand as time and technology advances. Accordingly, I desire to advocate and implement initiatives and programs that facilitate bridging the gap for young and seasoned attorneys, continue to promote diversity in Bar leadership that reflects the community we serve, and to educate our community about civic involvement.
My desire to serve on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors is borne out of my continued passion for service and cultivating relationships with seasoned attorneys who are exemplary models of service. I have witnessed and implemented initiatives that have provided attorneys and community members with the resources and access to education needed to become better versions of themselves. I understand that when each person in our community feels empowered, they can empower others and that benefits us all. I will dedicate my time and effort to continuing and advancing the dynamic programing, offering of grant opportunities, and partnerships with voluntary bar organizations the Young Lawyers Division is known to provide. I have devoted my adult life to service to our community from AmeriCorps to voluntary bar organizations and it would be an honor to represent the 11th Judicial Circuit as the elected governor for Seat 2.
YLD 13th Circuit, Seat 1
I’m running to represent our circuit on the YLD Board of Governors because of my passion to serve and better our legal community. And I’d be grateful for your support.
Who Am I
First and foremost, I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart (we met carpooling in elementary school). We share three incredible kiddos who constantly keep me on my toes; they motivate me every day to be the best version of myself. On most weekends, you can find us bicycling to our local ice cream shop or exploring the outdoors. I’m the proud son of an immigrant and first-generation lawyer. I’m in my fifth year of practice at Bradley Arant where my practice focuses on general litigation and defending litigants in criminal and civil disputes with the federal government.
What I Want to Focus On
Being a young lawyer is tough. There’s a lot to navigate — much of which none of us were taught in law school. The seemingly endless demands of our jobs, establishing ourselves in a new profession, the insurmountable student loan debt — it can be overwhelming. These realities have only been compounded by COVID-19.
While COVID-19 has posed challenges that none of us anticipated, those challenges have forced us to think about the practice of law differently and required us to be creative and adaptive. And some of the changes that COVID-19 has required us to make should be closely looked at as potential permanent fixtures to the practice of law. As your YLD representative, I intend to address the effects COVID-19 has had on young lawyers and look for opportunities for the legal profession to learn from COVID-19 and emerge from this pandemic better than ever.
I also intend to advocate and promote the following core initiatives: 1) mentorship, 2) mental health and wellness, and 3) diversity and inclusion. I’ve supported these initiatives through various resolutions as a Florida voting delegate at the American Bar Association YLD Assembly and through countless educational programs, grant applications, and community outreach projects as a present board member of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (TBCFBA); previous co-chair of the TBCFBA Young Lawyer Division; present co-chair of the Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA) YLD Member Services Committee; and present member of the HCBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
I’ve also promoted these initiatives within the workplace, advocating for non-gender specific parental leave policies, being a mentor, and identifying and participating in pro bono/volunteer opportunities to address the gender gap, equalize the disparate treatment of marginalized individuals, and promote diversity and inclusion within our profession.
Our great 13th Circuit is comprised of a diverse body of practitioners, and I want to be a voice for us all. I will commit to creating an open line of communication to voice any questions, comments, or concerns. To that end, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or find me on Facebook (@GforFLBarYLD) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/giovanni-giarratana/).
Thank you for your consideration. I’d be honored to represent you.
My fellow young lawyers, I am excited about the opportunity to serve on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors for the 13th Circuit, and I ask for your vote in the upcoming election.
The seat should be occupied by someone with a passion for the practice of law, appreciation for the 13th Circuit community, and strong interest in serving The Florida Bar. During my time as a practicing attorney, I have demonstrated all three.
Shortly after graduating law school, I worked closely with The Florida Bar Foundation to launch FloridaProBonoMatters.org in cities across Florida. The website continues to provide a large database of pro bono opportunities from legal aid organizations in the state. I am a member of The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section and the Hillsborough County Bar Association, and serve on the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Pro Bono Committee and The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section’s Pro Bono Committee. I also serve on the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Governance Committee. I am an active member of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Litigation American Inn of Court, and in 2020, coordinated the first-ever virtual programming event for any American inn of court in the country. The program was voted the top-rated program in the Smith Inn.
Outside of law, I have served as a mentor to a student at Blake High School through the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Take Stock in Children program. If we continue our mentoring relationship through her senior year and meet certain benchmarks, she will earn a scholarship for college! I have also volunteered with the Read to Dream literacy program and Project H.E.L.P. (Homeless Experience Legal Protection). At the beginning of the pandemic, I began volunteering with the Letters Against Isolation project, writing letters to senior citizens at assisted living facilities.
I have practiced law in Tampa both in government and private practice. This has provided me with a unique perspective about the resources available to government lawyers and new members of The Florida Bar. If elected to the Board of Governors, I will place an emphasis on ensuring that all young lawyers are aware of new resources and provided with greater access to existing resources. I fully support the Young Lawyers Division’s recent initiatives, especially those that focus on diversity and mental health and wellness. I would make it my priority to develop new ways to disseminate information about these initiatives to more members in the 13th Circuit.
The past year has presented challenges for us all, personally and professionally. It has also shown us that attorneys are resilient and the profession is a necessity, even more so during times of crisis. Welcoming new members to The Florida Bar and supporting young lawyers is as important as ever. It would be an honor to represent young lawyers and the 13th Circuit on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors.
If you’d like to connect and learn more about my involvement or ideas, please reach out to me anytime at [email protected].