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Episode Notes

The 2017 Annual Florida Bar Convention is fast approaching, taking place on June 21-24 at the Boca Raton Resort. In this episode of The Florida Bar Podcast, hosts Christine Bilbrey and Jonathon Israel talk to Melanie Griffin, chair of the Annual Convention Committee, about what this year’s convention will look like including technology CLEs, president showcase seminars, and networking opportunities in the form of nightly receptions. They also discuss the different activities planned for the kids that tag along with their parents which involve lots and lots of ice cream. Tune in for details on the new registering process for those interested in attending.

Melanie Griffin is the Tampa Office Managing Shareholder of the Dean Mead Law Firm. In this position she has achieved multiple courtroom and settlement victories including championing commercial litigation, intellectual property, and labor and employment issues for Florida businesses.


The Florida Bar Podcast

2017 Annual Florida Bar Convention



Intro: Welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, where we highlight the latest trends in law office and law practice management to help you run your law firm, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.


Christine Bilbrey: Hello and welcome to The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. We are so glad you are joining us. This is Christine Bilbrey. I am a Practice Management Advisor at PRI and one of the hosts for today’s show, which is being recorded from our offices in Tallahassee, Florida. My co-host is Jonathon Israel.

Jonathon Israel: Hello. I am Jonathon Israel and I am the Director of The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute.

Christine Bilbrey: Today at PRI, we have a special report on the upcoming Florida Bar Annual Convention in Boca Raton. And joining us to give you the inside scoop on the Annual Convention 2017 is this year’s Committee Chair Melanie Griffin.

Melanie is the Managing Shareholder of the Tampa Office of the Dean Mead Law Firm. She is a past President of the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division and has been recognized for eight consecutive years in Super Lawyers and Florida Trend Legal Elite. She was also honored in 2017 as the Best Lawyer in America. Welcome to the show Melanie.

Melanie Griffin: Thanks for having me today.

Jonathon Israel: Melanie, can you tell our listeners a little bit about the theme for this year’s Annual Convention as well as maybe about the location that we are hosting it.

Melanie Griffin: The theme for this year’s convention is Inspire Our Future, which is really aimed at encouraging lawyers and practitioners who attend the convention to collaborate together to effect positive change, particularly given all of the issues that are facing the profession, in terms of technology, professionalism, this year’s Constitution Revision Commission, et cetera. And they will have the chance to do this collaboration at the convention, which is being held June 21 through 24 at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in beautiful South Florida.

Christine Bilbrey: So what are some of the things that you and your committee have planned to make Annual Convention 2017 special?

Melanie Griffin: This year’s convention will be special because there is going to be a full day of Technology CLEs on Wednesday, which is particularly important given the passage of the new technology requirement as a part of the CLEs that have to be registered with the Florida Bar for each reporting cycle every three years. And practitioners will have the opportunity to check off that box by attending especially planned technology CLEs on Wednesday that are being sponsored by the PRI, as well as the Young Lawyers Division.

On Thursday, it is going to be a special day honoring our retiring Executive Director Jack Harkness after 37 years of hard work for the Florida Bar. There will be a special tribute to him at the judicial luncheon during the day, and then both he and Jane Curran will be receiving the Medals of Honor that evening at the special dinner hosted by the Florida Bar Foundation.

And the convention will wrap up, although it continues until Saturday with meetings of the sections and divisions, the primary wrap up party will be Friday night with a special Boots and Pearls party for our President’s reception, honoring outgoing President Bill Schifino and featuring the band Líbido, which is supposed to be one of South Florida’s hottest bands, that will definitely get the dance floor moving.

Christine Bilbrey: So you touched on two of the Presidents’ Showcase Seminars that you are featuring on Thursday and Friday. So you mentioned Constitution Revision Commission and what’s the other President Showcase topic that they are going to have?

Melanie Griffin: The Constitution Revision Commission will be on Thursday, as you noted, and that is our First President Showcase Seminar. Our second President Showcase Seminar is going to be on Friday and that is a Masters on Ethics that is really hitting a lot of the hot topics in the legal industry right now, and is a continuation of the technology cybersecurity theme, and a great opportunity for lawyers in need of those hard to get ethics credits, you check those off by attending that President’s Showcase Seminar.

Christine Bilbrey: Excellent. Jonathon, can you tell our listeners how many on the Wednesday seminars that we are also hosting, how many CLE credits are being offered with the two sessions?

Jonathon Israel: So the two sessions combined will equal up to seven hours of technology credit, but you have the option of doing either just the morning session for three hours of credit or just the afternoon session for four hours of credit or of course, like I mentioned, you have the full seven hours if you would like.

The other neat thing about this program is that it’s also being built as a basic skills requirement course. So you are kind of checking off two boxes there, where you get your technology CLE credit as well as meeting your basic skills requirement with this one.


Christine Bilbrey: Excellent. So a lot is going to be accomplished. We are hoping that they are going to tell us who the new executive director is so that will be worth attending. What are some of the fun things that are going to be going on at night, Melanie?

Melanie Griffin: So on Wednesday there is a marketplace where lawyers can learn about the hottest trends and exhibitors and sponsors that are helping our practitioners in the profession and that will actually continue all throughout the convention, so that’s definitely a place to stop by.

On Thursday evening, there is the All Member Reception, which is a free reception where colleagues can network and join together. And then in addition, that evening are all of the receptions hosted by the Florida Law Schools that alumni can stop by so they can see their fellow classmates.

And then later that evening is a Mad Party that is having a 60s theme hosted by the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, that is going to be from 9 p.m. until midnight.

And then on Friday is the President’s Reception; that is free to everybody who attends the convention, as long as they have preregistered for it. And if you preregister for it, then you have free entry, plus you are entitled to drink ticket, and that’s the program that we were mentioning earlier in the show that is going to feature the South Florida band Líbido, it’s going to have great food, and it’s going to also honor our outgoing President Bill Schifino as well as welcome our incoming President and President-Elect Michael Higer and Michelle Suskauer.

Christine Bilbrey: Great. And so for the attorneys that are going to also bring their children along, I know that the Boca Resort has the Serendipity Ice Cream Parlor, that’s a favorite of mine down there, but the Young Lawyers Division has a special event planned for members who are bringing their children with them. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Melanie Griffin: Absolutely. We want this to be a family-friendly event and a couple of things to mention that will be great for the kids, in addition to the fun places to eat and grab ice cream and lollipops, are certainly the Under the Sea Event on Thursday night, that’s the main night that there are convention activities that are ongoing and so the Young Lawyers Division is hosting a free kid’s night out from 7-11 p.m. for people to bring their kids by that would enjoy those activities.

There is the Beach Club at the Boca Raton Resort and Club that guests can stop by if they want to enjoy the beach with their family.

And then the Friday night President’s Reception that we have been discussing is also a family-friendly event and kids are more than welcome to attend that. There’s usually an ice cream sundae bar at that event that kids and of course adults look forward to as well.

Christine Bilbrey: So for our members who have not yet registered, how do they register to make sure there is a place for them?

Melanie Griffin: For members who have not yet registered, the process is a little bit different this year, because the Florida Bar has implemented its E-Portal. So you have to register to have your E-Portal, which will not only enable you to register for the Florida Bar Convention, but then afterwards to register for all kinds of seminars and CLEs and everything that Florida Bar members need to participate in the organization in the future.

So this year that step one is to make sure that you have your E-Portal registration complete and then step two is to log in using your E-Portal and to go online and you have easy online access to register for this year’s Annual Convention. And something that’s important to note about registration is there are two options.

One is to attend the convention and register to receive the fabulous CLE credits that we have been discussing, and of course we highly encourage that. And if you do choose to participate in the CLEs in addition to the à la carte events that we have been describing, then you need to make sure that you pay the Annual Convention fee.

If you conversely are not going to be able to participate in the CLEs, and of course we will miss you there, but look forward to seeing you at the à la carte event and then you just need to register for the events that you will attend and you do not need to pay the Annual Convention fee.

Jonathon Israel: Yeah, I think that’s also another interesting point about the registration opportunities is that you don’t have to just go for the CLEs, it is a huge networking opportunity to network with your fellow bar members and other people in the legal profession. It’s a great opportunity for that with all the alumni receptions for the law schools and the other events that we are hosting throughout the week.

Melanie Griffin: It’s definitely a fun time in addition to an educational opportunity.

Christine Bilbrey: Great. Okay, so if you are interested in registering, you can go to the Florida Bar website at  HYPERLINK “” and I hope that everyone will come see Jonathon and I; we are going to have the PRI booth there. We are looking forward to it. And if you have any other questions, Melanie, are you directing everyone to The Florida Bar website or is there a dedicated address where they can find registration?


Melanie Griffin: If you Google to find registration, there is a dedicated webpage on The Florida Bar, I think it’s on the home page that actually links to it. And then we have been getting questions a myriad of ways, we have been getting them by my email address, people look me up on The Florida Bar under Find a Lawyer in the upper right-hand corner. They are welcome to email me directly and look for Melanie S. Griffin. We have had a lot of social media interaction, thanks to our fabulous social media crew at The Florida Bar, Danny Aller, so we have had people reaching out to us on Facebook, Twitter, et cetera, so that’s certainly an avenue as well.

And then there are main contact details listed on the Annual Convention webpage that again is linked to The Florida Bar homepage when you log on to  HYPERLINK “”

Christine Bilbrey: Great. So I want to thank Melanie Griffin for joining us today.

Melanie Griffin: Thank you for having me.

Christine Bilbrey: This has been a special edition of The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Practice Resource Institute on Legal Talk Network. I am Christine Bilbrey.

Jonathon Israel: And I am Jonathon Israel. Until next time, thank you for listening.


Outro: Thanks for listening to The Florida Bar Podcast, brought to you by The Florida Bar’s Practice Resource Institute and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.

If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit  HYPERLINK “” Subscribe via iTunes and RSS. Find The Florida Bar, The Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


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Episode Details
Published: June 5, 2017
Podcast: The Florida Bar Podcast
Category: Legal Entertainment , Legal News
The Florida Bar Podcast
The Florida Bar Podcast

The official podcast of the State Bar of Florida.

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