by: Laurence Colletti
Landing in Orlando to catch an evening Uber to the hotel marked the beginning of our time with The Florida Bar at their 2016 annual convention. In true form to their association, I didn’t make it 20 feet inside the lobby before I was greeted by Florida public interest attorney Kimberly Sanchez. Despite over 100,000 plus members, it seems that the Florida lawyers all know each other by first name.
Our early conversations gravitated to the recent mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, which took place several days before our trip. In juxtaposition to that horrible tragedy, The Florida Bar seemed resolute to carry on and deal with the security challenges and speaker change ups that inevitably occurred. It was clear that the sadness and confusion wasn’t going to unmoor them from their duties.
All in all, we ended up with more interviews than we had originally planned. We regret not being able to talk with City of Orlando Chief of Police John Mina, but we certainly understand that his city needed him on more important matters. We wish to thank him for his service and also for the hospitality of Administrative Specialist to the Chief Evelyn Aponte. She made a special point to keep us apprised of Chief Mina’s situation and wished us safe travels during a very difficult time for Orlando.
Our coverage begins with leadership and The Florida Bar as Legal Talk Network host Adriana Linares talked to former, current, and future bar presidents Ben Hill, Ramón A. Abadin, and Bill Schifino. During the conversation, each president addressed issues and themes in their time as leader. They discussed the importance of trusting their executive director and why it’s important for young lawyers to get involved with the bar early in their career. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Past, Present, and Future Bar Presidents
— Legal Talk Network (@LegalTalkNet) June 15, 2016
Like many bar associations, The Florida Bar disseminates information and pertinent efforts through its committees, divisions, and sections. We had the privilege of talking to many of these groups to learn about current efforts, programs, and future events. Kicking things off, we learned more about the annual convention itself when 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention Co-Chairs Melanie S. Griffin and Renée Thompson joined us for a conversation about their recent security challenges, efforts to provide a family-friendly venue, and proudest moments during event prep. We learn that next year’s convention will return to Boca Raton and the top three reasons Florida lawyers should attend. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Organizing The Event
— Legal Talk Network (@LegalTalkNet) June 15, 2016
Our coverage continues with Pete Sweeney, chair of the Member Benefits Committee of The Florida Bar. Host Adriana Linares talks with Pete about his committee’s role, the offering of member benefits, and how companies can pitch new services and products to The Florida Bar’s member benefits program. Tune in to hear more about their offerings to Florida attorneys. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Member Benefits Committee
Next up, we hear from practice area groups within The Florida Bar as their leadership stops by to discuss their programs, why attorneys should join, and much more. Here are just a few examples of the topics discussed during this series of interviews with different sections and divisions:
- Elder Law Section: Outgoing chair David Hook defines Elder Law as he knows it and tells us that his group has some of the best resources for getting started in this growing practice area. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Elder Law Section
- Government Lawyers Section: Chair Michael Schmid informs us that lawyers in government service represent one of the biggest groups within The Florida Bar and that among his goals is to obtain public service loan forgiveness for all lawyers involved in government work in the state of Florida. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Government Lawyer Section
- Young Lawyers Division: President Gordon Glover and President-Elect Katherine Hurst Miller talk about their group’s 26,000 members and the growing trend of recent graduates starting their own practices in criminal law, family law, and personal injury. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: The Young Lawyers Division
- Public Interest Law Section: Chair Sarah Sullivan discusses the types of issues handled by public interest law attorneys and shares her most rewarding case moments. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: The Public Interest Law Section
- International Law Section: Chair Eduardo Palmer tells us that Florida is one of two main U.S. states for issues in international law and how his group is seeking favorable regulations to enhance Florida’s abilities in international legal work. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: The International Law Division
— Legal Talk Network (@LegalTalkNet) June 24, 2016
Similar to previous years, the 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention featured many wonderful speakers. Although the entirety of presenters would be too much to cover, we were able to catch up with many notable individuals:
- Former ABA President William Hubbard stops by to talk with co-hosts Adriana Linares and John Stewart about the future of legal technology as a way for lawyers to implement cost structures that will allow them to offer more affordable services through efficiency. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: William Hubbard on the Future of Legal Technology
- Barbara Leach discusses her bankruptcy law contributions to the Florida Law Update presentations. Among the many topics discussed, she touches on trends, reasons for financial difficulties, and student loan debt. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Bankruptcy Update
- Jay Kim stops by to talk about the stability of commercial litigation, business friendly climate of Florida’s legal system, and possible changes in the way attorney’s fees are awarded. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Updates in Business Law
- Kimberly Sanchez, the executive director of legal aid in central Florida, interviews CEO Bruce Blackwell and director of pro bono partnerships Ericka Garcia from The Florida Bar Foundation. Together, they talk about the underprivileged and their growing need for legal services. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Providing Legal Aid and Pro Bono Services
- Andrea Eliscu, founder of Dueling Dragons of Orlando, discusses her boat racing program that pairs at risk kids with volunteer police officers in an effort to enhance community peace through teamwork. Hear about decreased arrests, improved GPAs, and lower dropout rates. Listen here: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Dueling Dragons Outreach Program
- Denis deVlaming talks about his criminal law contributions to the Florida Law Update presentations. Among the many topics discussed, he touches on Hurst v. Florida, Miller v. Alabama, and their relative effects on the death penalty and life sentences in the state of Florida. Listen here to listen: 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention: Criminal Law Update
— Legal Talk Network (@LegalTalkNet) June 16, 2016
We hope you enjoy listening to our coverage of the 2016 Annual Florida Bar Convention!