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Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors Candidates’ Platform Statements

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Below are the platform statements of the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors candidates for the 2020 Bar election cycle. Ballots will be emailed or mailed to eligible voters on February 28 and must be returned to the Bar’s election company no later than midnight, March 23. If a runoff occurs in any of the races, ballots will be emailed or mailed around April 1 and must be returned by midnight, April 21. As in the past, voters will have a choice of using the mailed paper ballot or voting online, following instructions including in the mailing.

Fourth Circuit, Seat 2

Valeen Arena

Valeen ArenaTo my fellow members of The Florida Bar, I am running for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Seat 2, and I am asking for your vote. As a YLD member for the past five years, I understand the issues impacting young lawyers, including mentorship, health, and student loan debt. As your representative, I will continue to promote voluntary bar membership and community service, respond to issues raised by The Florida Bar, and help educate our young lawyers about student loan debt.

Since joining the profession, I’ve had experiences in a variety of legal environments. I began as an associate in GrayRobinson’s Tampa office. In 2017, I moved to Jacksonville to clerk for United States District Court Judge Brian J. Davis. Later this year, I will join the Bedell Firm — a boutique litigation firm. Experiencing the legal profession from these different vantage points will help me be a better and more informed YLD representative.

For the past three years, I have served as a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Board of Governors. I’ve participated on several committees and have served in multiple leadership positions. As a member of the Ribault High School Future Lawyers and Leaders Committee, I’ve paired high school students with young lawyer mentors and planned field trips and mock trial competitions for the students. As chair of the Social Committee, I’ve produced events aimed at connecting the young lawyers across the Fourth Circuit. I’ve also co-chaired the Judicial Relations Committee, which held courthouse events designed to introduce young lawyers to our local state and federal judges.

As the first in my family to attend college, I understand the value of guidance and mentorship. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I’ve had from family, mentors, and colleagues I met through bar events. If elected to serve as your representative, I will continue my efforts to connect lawyers in our community and around the state and to promote mentorship programs.

I will also continue the efforts of the YLD to encourage health and wellness in our profession. This is an area that is personal to me. Just last year I helped start a fitness challenge at the federal courthouse. Judges, law clerks, judicial staff, and courthouse security officers competed for the highest number of fitness miles accumulated throughout the month. It was a fun event with an important purpose. The YLD has already created several initiatives that target lawyers’ physical and mental health. I look forward to building on that momentum and helping to reduce the depression, stress, and substance abuse that is all too prevalent in our profession.

As your representative on the YLD, I will promote mentorship and health, and I will help educate our young lawyers about student loan debt. I would be honored to have your vote and serve you on the YLD Board of Governors. Thank you for your consideration. #VoteForValeen

Angela Huston Miller

Angela Huston MillerI am grateful to have been nominated as a candidate to represent the Fourth Judicial Circuit for the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division.

As your representative on the Board of Governors, I pledge as follows:

• Ensure the YLD assists young lawyers in developing their skills and advocate on their behalf on issues affecting our profession;

• Communicate regularly with our local voluntary bars to ensure that their concerns and issues are properly addressed and advocated;

• Use The Florida Bar’s resources to advocate for government attorneys;

• Ensure that The Florida Bar continues to embrace diversity; and

• Ensure that The Florida Bar continues to advocate for equality and the elimination of gender bias in the practice of law.

I initially became involved in The Florida Bar as a law student, serving on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Law School Division Board of Governors as the FSU representative. I was then selected as a Florida Bar Leadership Academy fellow for Class II. I also previously served as The Florida Bar Government Lawyers Section membership chair and member at large. Prior to relocating to Jacksonville, I served as a board member for the Tallahassee Bar Association Young Lawyers Section from 2015 through 2018. Serving the Bar and my fellow lawyers is something that I have truly enjoyed.

I am proud to continue to serve our community in various positions including:

  • The Florida Bar Government Lawyers Section secretary;
  • The Florida Bar Tax Law Section member;
  • Active member of the Jacksonville Bar Association;
  • Active member of the Jacksonville Association for Women Lawyers (JAWL); and
  • PRS Running Club board member.

I believe my experience makes me the best qualified candidate to represent the lawyers of this circuit on the Board of Governors. I have worked as a government lawyer and in private practice and understand the challenges faced by both, especially as young lawyers. If elected, I pledge to work to put the full resources of The Florida Bar to support you, your practice, and your clients.

It would be my privilege to represent the lawyers of this circuit on the Board of Governors, and I humbly ask for your support in the upcoming election in March.

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact me contact me at 386-299-7848, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/angie4YLD.

Sarah Morris

Sarah MorrisI am running for The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors, Seat 2, in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. I would be honored to serve as your representative and am asking for your support.

As a five-year attorney, I began my career in the Seventh Judicial Circuit as an assistant public defender. In 2018, my continued passion for public service brought me to the Office of Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel in Jacksonville where I currently represent indigent members of the community charged with serious criminal offenses. Being a government attorney has given me the opportunity to speak regularly with fellow young lawyers about issues they face in our circuit. These conversations were the catalyst that prompted my desire to serve as your representative on The Florida Bar YLD Board of Governors.

I recognize that some issues facing young government lawyers are distinctly different than those faced by young lawyers in the private sector. I hope to bridge the gap between practice areas by addressing the needs of both communities. From expanding our online resources for young lawyers intending to start their own law firms to addressing key issues such as office morale, health and wellness, and managing student loan debt. Both practice areas deserve a wide variety of accessible and affordable CLEs, as well as more mentorship opportunities working with seasoned attorneys within the community. If elected, I will work tirelessly to improve upon the existing resources available as well as implement new programs to address the needs of members in our circuit.

With your support, we can work together to address the needs of young lawyers. As a young attorney who is actively involved in the local bar association and other professional organizations, I can effectively represent the needs of my fellow young lawyers in the Fourth Circuit. I am actively involved in Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association. I am also an active member of the Florida Coastal Alumni Association. I am a past member of Putnam County Bar Association and the St. Johns County Bar Association where I was YLS Committee co-chair for one year.

The Fourth Judicial Circuit has been fortunate to have excellent representation on the YLD Board of Governors, and I want to continue to ensure that the young lawyers in our circuit have a voice on the board. The Board of Governors has influence over our daily lives as young lawyers, as well as our futures in the legal profession. I will actively seek out your questions, comments, and concerns to effectively represent our circuit on the board. I intend to use the skills I have acquired as a litigator and my passion for public service to consider differing perspectives and passionately advocate for your concerns.

I appreciate your time and consideration of my candidacy. Every vote counts, and I thank you in advance for your vote online or by mail from March 2 through March 23.

Sixth Circuit, Seat 2

Randall D. Baskin

Randall D. BaskinMy name is Randall Baskin, and I am honored to be considered for your vote for Seat 2 on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors of The Florida Bar representing the Sixth Circuit.

Since I began practicing in 2015, I have taken an active role in the Clearwater Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, having served as secretary from 2017-2019 and now serving on the Board of Directors. I am also actively involved with the Barney Masterson American Inn of Court and currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Pinellas County Estate Planning Council.

In my various extra-office activities, I have experienced first-hand the benefits of getting out and meeting my peers. I can call many of the people I have met through the Clearwater Bar Association close friends and see them as a vital professional and personal support network that helps guide me through the challenges of my legal career. Because of such organizations, and especially the people who make them operate, we have a greater opportunity to build relationships and achieve goals. For this reason, I feel that it is vitally important for all young attorneys to have a support network to rely on. If elected, I would work with the Board of Governors to develop new ways to foster engagement from all 28,000+ young attorneys in Florida, not just those with the backing of their firm.

I look forward to serving you all on the Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors of The Florida Bar and welcome any questions you may have at [email protected].

Benjamin S. Thomas

Benjamin S. ThomasWe young lawyers have many novel challenges facing us in the coming decade, which will require support and leadership to overcome. After being approached by various colleagues and friends that I respect in our bar community, I realized my experience at the local bar level and in the practice of law provide a unique experience that would allow me to contribute to navigating these potential issues.

I am in my sixth year of practice and am happily married to my wonderful wife, Mallory Thomas, who is also an attorney. After graduating from Stetson College of Law in 2014, I became involved with the St. Petersburg Bar Association and have held various roles, culminating in my current role as the YLS president. During my tenure as YLS president, the St. Petersburg YLS has provided opportunities for fellow young lawyers to enhance professional skills, broaden their professional networks, and volunteer with other local organizations. If elected, I will take this same energy and passion to the YLD Board of Governors.

As your YLD representative, my priorities would be:

• Equality and diversity in the legal profession;

• Work-life balance in an increasingly technological world;

• Education on the pitfalls of student loans;

• Fostering a community where we can grow together as professionals; and

• Giving back to the community we call home.

I would be honored to serve as your YLD representative and humbly ask for your vote. With your support, we can enhance our community and our profession for the coming years.

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