Thursday, July 9, 2015

Executive Director's Message: Top Ten Amazing Things about the HCBA from the 2014-15 Bar Year

By John F. Kynes

     With the 2014-15 HCBA Bar year behind us, I thought it would be fitting to look back and highlight some of the amazing things about the HCBA from the past year. I also thought I would to pay tribute to David Letterman, who retired this past May after providing America more than 30 years of late-night entertainment, with a special HCBA Top Ten list.   

     I’ve been a Letterman fan from the beginning, and I must say I still think his shows from the 1980s, when he was at NBC, were among his best. I even attended a show taping once at 30 Rock.

     I enjoyed the recurring oddball characters, such as Calvin DeForest, aka, Larry “Bud” Melman, and Chris Elliot, who would come on the show and appear in sketches. I still laugh when I recall the bit with DeForest awkwardly handing out hot towels to new arrivals at the New York Port Authority bus terminal and welcoming them to the Big Apple. And no doubt Elliot’s over-the-top impression of Marlon Brando stands the test of time.

     I was much younger then and still can’t believe I was able to stay up on a regular basis to watch a show that began at 12:30 a.m. I guess sleep is overrated. Now, I have trouble staying up to watch Kelly Ring finish the 10 o’clock news. Thank goodness for DVRs.  

     In any case, all the way from the home office in Wauchula, Florida:

Top Ten Amazing Things about the HCBA from the 2014-15 Bar Year

10. HCBA’s New Website and Online Member Directory. In April, after months of development, the HCBA launched a new website and online member directory. We are excited about all the features this new and improved website has to offer HCBA members, as well as the updated membership management software that goes along with it.

9. Revamped Military & Veterans Affairs Committee (MVAC). One of the top priorities of HCBA President Ben Hill IV this past year was to lift up and re-energize this important HCBA committee. Under the leadership of chair Robert Nader and military liaison Lt. Col. Christopher Brown from MacDill Air Force Base, this committee made great strides in helping both local veterans and active-duty personnel in need of legal assistance. The committee even set up a special Legal Assistance Registry, which can be accessed through the HCBA’s new website.
8. HCBA Diversity Events. At the HCBA’s Diversity Membership Luncheon in January, American Bar Association President-Elect Paulette Brown shared some of the lessons she has learned about inclusion in the legal community. And, in February, law students from across the state joined together with law firms and other legal organizations at the successful Diversity Networking Social, which took place at the Ferguson Law Center.

7. Bar Foundation’s 10th Annual Law & Liberty Dinner.  In May, the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation hosted its annual Law & Liberty Dinner, which this year featured NFL legend Terry Bradshaw. President Bill Schifino Jr. and the Foundation’s Law & Liberty Committee should be congratulated on raising a record amount of money to assist local legal-related charities.

6. Silver Anniversary of the Lawyer. It’s hard to believe that HCBA member editors and contributors have been putting out this award-winning publication for 25 years. Congratulations to this past year’s editor, Ed Comey, and to Corrie Benfield, the HCBA’s PR/communications director, for making this year’s editions extra special. The cover photos from noted photographer Carlton Ward were spectacular.

5. 12th Annual Judicial Pig Roast/Food Festival & 5K Pro Bono River Run.  In March, more than 500 people participated in these unique and fun HCBA events. Special thanks to Judge John Conrad, who chaired the 5K event. Almost 300 runners participated in the run, and more than 2,500 pro bono hours were pledged to support indigent citizens in our community. 

4. HCBA’s Young Lawyers Division. Under the leadership of President Anthony Martino and the YLD board members, the YLD had another tremendous year. From the successful YLD Golf Tournament last October to all the other outstanding social, educational, and community events, the YLD continues to further its reputation as one of the most well-respected YLDs in Florida.

3. 18th Annual Bench Bar Conference & Judicial Reception. In October, more than 500 people participated in the HCBA’s signature fall event. Special thanks to Judges Caroline Tesche and Samantha Ward, who were the conference co-chairs. There were a record number of attendees at the various CLE breakout and plenary sessions throughout the day. 

2. HCBA Officers & Directors. President Ben Hill IV and the committed group of HCBA officers and directors helped guide the HCBA through another exciting and eventful Bar year. I appreciate their support throughout the past year and am confident incoming President Carter Andersen will do an outstanding job leading the HCBA in 2015-16.

1. Toast & Roast Reception for Retiring Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. In December, more than 800 people attended a farewell reception for the retiring Chief Judge Menendez at the TPepin Hospitality Centre. It was a festive and humorous event for sure, and a great way to send out Judge Menendez, who honorably served our community as chief judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit since 2001.
Here’s hoping everyone has a great summer.

See you around the Chet.