White is ready to lead the Young Lawyers Division into the future
The Pensacola lawyer has an extensive history of community and Bar service
Improving diversity and inclusion, upgrading its online resources, and stepping up attorney professionalism will be the three top goals of the Young Lawyers Division in the coming year, according to new President Adam White of Pensacola.
White outlined his goals for the coming year during the Bar’s June 19 virtual General Assembly, part of this year’s online Annual Convention. The event also featured a review of the past year by outgoing President Santo DiGangi, and the introduction and swearing in of White and new President-elect Todd Baker.
“The YLD will retain its reputation as the ‘work horse of The Florida Bar,’” White said, at the General Assembly which was debuted June 19 on the Bar’s Facebook page and YouTube channel accounts and is available for viewing on both. “While I cannot go over all the hard work the YLD will accomplish next year, there are three initiatives that I would like to highlight.”
The first will promote diversity and inclusion. Despite efforts by the Bar and the YLD, White said he repeatedly hears the same story from some of his YLD Board of Governors colleagues.
“The scenario is this. My very bright, intelligent, and ambitious colleague, in a suit, walks into a courthouse or deposition room, and just because of her gender or her race, the other attorneys in the room assume she is a court reporter, a party, or a witness. Meaning, she isn’t recognized as the bright, intelligent, and ambitious attorney she is, instead, she isn’t seen at all,” White said. “Our profession cannot attract the best and the brightest people, until we foster an environment where all people are welcomed to be a part of it.”
Next year, the YLD’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by Chair Iris Elijah and Vice Chair Anisha Patel, will highlight diverse young lawyers who will explain why they became lawyers and challenges they faced, help YLD affiliate members and voluntary bars reenergize their diversity and inclusion programs, and work with the Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee “on their efforts to educate Florida’s children and the public about the importance of diversity and inclusion,” he said.
White’s second goal is to review the YLD’s online resources, including the Legal Accelerator, Startmyfloridalawfirm.com, and webinars and education programs to ensure they are effective and help practitioners in the new legal environment that values remote work. The YLD’s Online Resources Committee, under Chair Stephanie Myron will oversee that and also work with the Bar “on developing a social media and website quick reference guide for practitioners, to help them better understand the rules governing lawyer communications online,” White said.
His third goal is to raise professionalism.
“The YLD Practicing with Professionalism Committee, chaired by Ashlea Edwards, and Vice Chair Lara Bach, is going to partner with the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism to develop and maintain long-term professionalism and ethics programming for Florida law schools and Florida young lawyers,” White said.
Aside from his goals, White laid out two challenges.
The first is for lawyers who are feeling distressed and distraught to seek help.
“Two years ago, I watched as [then incoming YLD President] Christian George stood on stage during General Assembly and said that he had been going to therapy,” White said. “That is what it took for me to get help. Getting help has made me a better father, a better husband, and a better lawyer. Please seek out help if you think you need it. Remember, it takes strength to ask for help, and stamina to work hard to improve yourself, and you too will be better for it.”
His second challenge was for young lawyers to persevere in a time of a pandemic, economic crisis, and social upheaval.
“But there is good news. Because we are young lawyers, we are used to being given problems that no one wants to deal with, or that are too difficult to figure out, and we always find a way to persevere and get the job done. I challenge you to confront the current problems head on, to rise above trepidation, and to adapt to our ever-evolving legal environment,” White said.
DiGangi, in his speech, touched on accomplishments of the YLD in the past year.
That includes redoing its Technology Roadshow into webinars to show “best practices for attorneys and their offices when working remotely.” The YLD also recruited hundreds of volunteer attorneys for Florida Free Legal Answers to help residents with COVID-19 related legal issues.
The YLD held its first ever Summit on Young Government Lawyers, created the Law School Affiliates to improve Bar interaction with law schools, and saw the Supreme Court approve the Parental Leave Rule and reduce the number of topics on the Florida bar exam — both YLD priorities.
“We face a tough road ahead, but the YLD is in great hands with Adam White and Todd Baker at the helm. Their steadfast support has helped me in ways they cannot even imagine. I look forward to the great things they will accomplish in the coming years,” DiGangi said.
White was introduced by former Bar President Alan Bookman, his partner at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon in Pensacola and who first encourage White to run for the YLD Board of Governors.
He said White, who graduated first in his class at Florida Coastal School of Law, already has an extensive history of community and Bar service.
“He has served with honor and distinction in numerous capacities as a member of the board of directors of the Pensacola Ronald McDonald House, president of the Young Lawyers Division of the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association, member of the Board of Governors of the Young Lawyers Division of The Florida Bar, was awarded the Most Productive YLD Board Member, and recently president-elect of the YLD,” Bookman said.
He recalled first encountering White when he was representing one of several parties in a contentious issue in which Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon represented another one. He said White was concise, effective, and persuasive with the judge. Bookman convinced his firm to offer a job to White.
“This was the type of attorney that every law firm seeks — one with integrity, character, honesty, intelligence, drive, and self confidence, but not ego and conviction,” Bookman said.
White introduced Baker, who practices personal injury law at Steinger, Greene & Feiner in Ft. Lauderdale.
“Todd is one of the hardest workers I know. For instance, this past year, he was on a record eight YLD committees,” White said. “As I am sure anyone at his firm knows, and certainly anyone on the YLD will tell you, Todd doesn’t just work hard, but more importantly, he gets the work done right.
“The only thing stronger than Todd’s work ethic is his personality. From the moment Todd stepped foot on the YLD Board, his excitement for the YLD has been infectious. He has the unique ability to constantly challenge others to rise to the occasion. He truly cares about the YLD’s mission, and he strives, every day, to make a difference in our profession.”