Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Criminal Law: Field Drug Tests Under Heavy Scrutiny

By Matt Luka

    It is common in narcotics cases for police to field test a suspicious substance found during a pat-down or search. The United States Supreme Court has held that a chemical test that merely discloses whether a particular substance is a narcotic is not a "search" subject to Fourth Amendment protections. United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 123-124 (1984). And a "seizure" of a small amount of the substance for testing is constitutionally reasonable. Id. at 125-26.

    Locally, the reliability of field tests has been confronted in a series of reports by Gloria Gomez of Fox 13 News. Gomez recounts the stories of three citizens arrested on drug charges based on false field tests only to have lab results clear them months later. Scientists: Experiments show "dangerous" field drug test problems. (Fox 13 News television broadcast May 14, 2015), available at Although having the charges dropped may have been a relief, there are severe consequences associated with mere fact of an arrest. A person's career and reputation can be irrevocably damaged, and an individual's arrest information often lives online long after the case is closed.

    Gomez observed a series of false positive field tests by Dr. Omar Bagasra, the top research scientist at Claflin University, a lab recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for forensic science excellence. Id. In Dr. Bagasra's experience, he doubts the accuracy of any field drug test. Id. Dr. Fredrik Whitehurst, an FBI forensic scientist for 16 years with a doctorate in chemistry, stated he has "no confidence at all in those test kits." Id. Punk rocker Don Bolles was once arrested for possessing GHB after a field test. Id. A state lab later determined it was soap. Id. Forensic Magazine published a similar article criticizing field drug tests titled Field Drug Tests Confuse Candy for Meth, Cause Serious Concern

    Field testing is used to support arrests, in probation revocation proceedings, in support of search warrants, and as evidence of guilt. In Smith v. State, 771 So. 2d 1189 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000), the defendant's drug paraphernalia conviction was supported only by the arresting officer's testimony that an item contained a residue that field tested positive and that the item was a device typically used as drug paraphernalia. Id. at 1192; see also Townsend v. State, 781 So. 2d 541, 542 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).

    The field test takes on greater importance when the field test uses up or destroys the sample during testing. The state must introduce the substance into evidence unless excused by its destruction during testing. Peterson v. State, 841 So. 2d 661, 662 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) (citing G.E.G. v. State, 417 So. 2d 975, 977 n.2 (Fla.1982)). However, in Peterson, the court found the state "introduced the cocaine into evidence" where the state introduced a pipe that exhibited a blue color, and the officer testified that the blue color resulted from his test of cocaine. Id. Even if the narcotic is unavailable, sufficient evidence exists for conviction on a possession charge if a chemist or expert testifies that he or she tested the substance and the test yielded positive results. Fleming v. State, 82 So. 3d 967, 970 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). The testimony of an arresting officer and an expert to establish the reliability of a field test could potentially meet that standard.

     If you would like to contact Gloria Gomez to discuss one of your cases or would like more information on this topic, she can be contacted at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Corporate Counsel: Covering the Basics on Cyber Insurance

By John W. Bencivenga

It seems that a week does not pass without a story concerning some type of cyber attack grabbing the headlines. In July, the Office of Personnel Management disclosed that hackers stole sensitive information about 21.5 million people in a breach of the federal government’s background-check database. In March, Primera Blue Cross announced that up to 11 million customers could have been affected by a cyber attack in which hackers accessed members' names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, mailing and email addresses, phone numbers, and bank account information. In February, Anthem, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, said hackers breached a database that contained as many as 80 million records of current and former customers, as well as employees. As these stories continue to multiply, more companies are purchasing insurance policies to protect confidential data. Here are some basics involving cyber insurance policies. 

1. Cyber insurance is a fairly new product. The first policies did not appear until the late 1990s. The relative “newness” of these types of policies has at least two implications. First, there are significant coverage differences. A company considering a cyber insurance policy needs to look carefully at the specific coverage offered, and because of the significant differences, comparison shopping by price may be difficult. Second, the market is constantly changing. As new claims are reported, new risks are analyzed. So what seems like a decent policy one year may not even be offered the next.

2. In general, there are two categories of risk and liability that cyber insurance covers. There is “first-party risk/coverage,” which protects against loss or damages that your company incurs because of a cyber attack. This would include forensic investigation coverage, physical damage or data loss/restoration coverage, business interruption coverage for your computer network, and losses based on stolen/ransomed data based on a breach. There is also “third-party risk/coverage,” which covers losses or damages that occur to a third party as a result of a data breach. This would include litigation expenses, crisis management expenses, and credit monitoring and notification costs and expenses. Typically, when analyzing risks, companies will divide risk into first- and third-party coverage and then focus on the specific risks in each category.  

3. Next, a company must decide how much coverage is needed. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how much coverage to obtain, what is an appropriate deductible, or even how to determine coverage liability. Some basic benchmarking data exists. For example, some studies indicate that over the past few years, the average organizational cost of a data breach of 100,000 records (or less) was about $6 million dollars. One simple method in determining coverage limits is to focus on the amount of sensitive records a company possesses, then multiply this count by some average cost per record figure. So, if your company estimates that an average cost to respond to a data breach is $250 per record, and your company has 100,000 confidential records, a $25 million policy limit may be appropriate.

4. Finally, do your homework before purchasing cyber insurance. A breach may go unnoticed for some time before a claim is made. Counsel should consider requesting retroactive coverage to cover unknown breaches that occurred before the policy inception date. Your company may also have limited cyber coverage under your CGL policy, crime policy, or technology errors and omission policy. Coordinating these coverages is important. Finally, read the fine print. Certain exclusions may be written too broadly for your needs, and given the fact that these policies are still evolving, it is important to learn exactly what is covered to ensure your risks are properly mitigated.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tax Law: The Never-Ending Story – Civil and Criminal Statutes of Limitations for Tax Fraud

By Matt Mueller

     When is it safe? Clients with concerns about possible fraud on their tax returns from a prior year need to be aware of the pertinent statutes of limitations. This article provides a basic discussion of select civil and criminal statutes of limitations for tax fraud. On the civil side, the IRS may have three years, six years, or forever to assess a tax liability, along with corresponding penalties and interest, on a given tax return.

     The general rule is that any tax “shall be assessed within 3 years after the return was filed.” I.R.C. § 6501(a). Under Section 6501(e), if the taxpayer omitted certain items from the return, such as more than 25 percent of gross income, the IRS has up to six years to assess the tax. An even more generous extension applies in cases of a “false or fraudulent return with the intent evade tax” or a willful attempt to evade tax. In both cases, the IRS can assess the tax “at any time.” I.R.C. § 6501(c)(1)-(2).

     This exception to the three-year statute of limitations for assessment is intuitive where the taxpayer intentionally filed a fraudulent tax return. Having created a deceitful, and often convoluted, scheme to evade taxes, the taxpayer’s complaints about an unlimited period for assessment might ring hollow. A less intuitive and more problematic scenario arises when the tax return filed was fraudulent but the taxpayer did not personally know of the fraud. This could arise if a return preparer includes fraudulent items on a tax return without the explicit knowledge or consent of the taxpayer. It also could arise where a taxpayer, relying on advice from a tax professional, used a tax reduction strategy that was later determined by the IRS to be fraudulent.

     Whether the IRS will be entitled to use the unlimited statute where the “fraud on the return” was perpetrated by a third party is currently unsettled. The government has taken the position in different forums that the unlimited statute should apply even where the fraud was committed by a third party. The government has prevailed with variations of this argument in Tax Court, Allen v. Commissioner, 128 T.C. 37 (2007), and in the Second Circuit, City Wide Transit, Inc. v. Commissioner, 709 F.3d 102 (2d Cir. 2013). Conversely, this argument has been rejected by the Court of Federal Claims. BASR Partnership v. United States, 113 Fed. Cl. 181 (Fed. Cl. 2013).*

     From a criminal standpoint, the most common federal tax crimes have a six-year statute of limitations. I.R.C. § 6531. However, there are several events that could arguably extend the criminal statute well beyond six years after filing of the return. Those events include post-filing acts of evasion by the taxpayer or a conspirator, summons enforcement proceedings, government requests for foreign evidence, and, in some cases, acts of Congress declaring war or authorizing the use of military force.

* Note: The government appealed the BASR ruling to the Federal Circuit, where the parties presently await a ruling.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Construction Law: A Defect without A Defense - Chapter 558 and CGL Policies

By Michael G. Rothfeldt

     A contractor receives a letter in the mail, and his heart drops. Titled as a Notice of Claim for Construction Defect Pursuant to chapter 558, Florida Statutes, the letter alleges that the contractor’s work on a particular project is defective. The notice explains the contractor’s statutorily prescribed options for responding. No suit has been filed, though the nature of the letter suggests suit is imminent. Remembering the commercial general liability (CGL) policy he purchased, the contractor tenders the chapter 558 notice to his insurer and demands defense and indemnity. The insurer declines, stating that the case was “not in suit.” In response, the contractor sues the insurer for breach of contract and a declaration that insurer has a duty to defend the contractor. The Southern District of Florida recently considered this matter of first impression in Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co., 2015 WL 3539755 (S.D. Fla. June 4, 2015). The insurer in Altman argued that the chapter 558 notice did not trigger the duty to defend under the pertinent CGL policy because the case was “not in suit.” On the contractor’s motion for partial summary judgment on the duty to defend, the court examined whether chapter 558 barred the insured’s claim and whether the policy provided coverage.

     The insurer compared chapter 558 to similar statutes nationwide to support its argument that a chapter 558 notice cannot constitute an insurance claim. Rejecting the insurer’s argument, the court pointed to the statute’s language and concluded that chapter 558 did not bar the insured’s claim because section 558.004(13), Florida Statutes, provides that provision of the notice is not a claim ― it does not say that the notice itself is not a claim. This language differed from that contained in other states’ construction-defect notice statutes that expressly precluded such a notice from triggering coverage.

     The court turned next to the parties’ insurance policy to determine whether the chapter 558 notice was a “suit” that would trigger the insurer’s duty to defend. Because the policy defined “suit” as the undefined term “civil proceeding,” the parties and the court looked to dictionary definitions. Relying on definitions from the edition of Black’s Law Dictionary in publication when the policies were in effect, the court concluded that a “civil proceeding” requires a forum and a decision maker. Because chapter 558 provides neither, its alternative dispute resolution mechanism did not constitute a “civil proceeding” and thus was not a “suit” under the policy. The chapter 558 notice therefore did not trigger the insurer’s duty to defend, and the court accordingly granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer.

     In sum, Altman teaches that while a notice pursuant to chapter 558 can constitute a claim for insurance, the alternative dispute resolution mechanism in chapter 558 is not a “civil proceeding” and thus does not trigger an insurer’s duty to defend under a typical CGL policy. Furthermore, when defining a policy’s terms, the dictionary edition in publication during the policy’s effective date should be used.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Solo Practioners & Small Firms: Living Shingle

By Amanda M. Uliano

     Welcome to the start of a new year for the Solo & Small Firm Section of the Hillsborough County Bar Association.  I am excited to be taking the helm this year, and I thank my predecessors, especially James Schmidt, for their dedication to our section and the HCBA as a whole.

     Unlike other sections and committees of the HCBA, the Solo & Small Firm Section encompasses a truly diverse membership, with practitioners in a variety of substantive law areas and practice settings. Although this can sometimes present a challenge when defining ourselves, our diversity affords us a unique opportunity to grow our businesses in new and unexpected ways through collaboration and education.  As solo and small firm practitioners, we are sometimes expected to be a jack of all trades ― even if it takes us out of our preferred comfort zones. With that in mind, the overarching theme for this year’s Solo & Small Firm Section will be focused on those practice management and substantive issues that every solo and small firm lawyer should have working knowledge of.

     We will have five lunch meetings this year, each with an informative CLE presentation. As technology changes, so does the practice of law, and we will explore practice management issues in this new age, including the ins and outs of a virtual law practice. With changing times, however, come evolving issues in ethics and professional responsibility, and we will discuss those most pressing concerns facing our practice today. We will also look at substantive issues affecting our clients, and perhaps ourselves, including bankruptcy and judgment collection, intellectual property, and estate planning. 

     Beyond education, our meetings will provide us the opportunity to get to know each other and build that imperative network of competent and trustworthy colleagues that every lawyer needs ― a social setting to learn from and with each other so we are not really traveling this road “solo.” We will also explore ways to work as a section to support our community and the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit’s pro bono initiatives. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions as to how our section can work best to accomplish our group and individual goals. 

     Whether you are a current solo or small firm practitioner or are contemplating making that step, I hope you will join us this year. I look forward to working with all of you to grow and strengthen our businesses and our Solo & Small Firm Section of the HCBA. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

This Year for the Collaborative Law Section

By Jeremy E. Gluckman and Christine A. Hearn

     The Collaborative Law Section begins this year with an invitation to all of our fellow Bar members to join the section and to start learning how to resolve legal disputes through the collaborative process. Our two local family law collaborative groups, the Tampa Bay Collaborative Divorce Group and Next Generation Divorce, have continued to thrive throughout the past year, and a third collaborative practice group, the Florida Civil Collaborative Practice Group, has been formed for civil practitioners in the Tampa Bay area. We encourage all of you to consider joining one of these groups and to come to our section’s luncheons to enhance your knowledge of this rapidly evolving alternative to the adversarial legal process. The section is dedicated to promoting the awareness and use of the collaborative process in family law cases. Now we hope to help you add clients to your civil practice so they can find collaborative solutions to their legal problems as opposed to litigating.

     We are proud that our section has had a Pro Bono Committee from its inception. We will be encouraging all of you to volunteer some of your time to develop the work of that committee and to give yourself practice opportunities to strengthen your professional skills in collaboration. We hope to expand this work to family law clinics at our local law schools this year. Volunteers will also be sought for those clinics.
This year, we also plan to gather resources and professionals to work with the very large percentage of middle-income people who file pro se actions in the family law division of our circuit court. Specifically, we hope to implement a new project for clients of “modest means” in an effort to produce more affordable collaborative services to a broader range of clients in our community.

     On a statewide basis, many members of our section have been actively participating in efforts to pass the Uniform Collaborative Law Act in the Florida Legislature, as well as standards for Supreme Court certification in the area of collaborative law. Our section will continue to support that effort during the 2016 legislative session. With success, we will see collaboration become a common and everyday means of solving legal conflicts, and Florida will continue to be one of the leading states in the national and international collaborative movement.

     You may already know something about how the collaborative process uses a full team of professionals ― two lawyers, a mental health facilitator, and an experienced forensic financial expert ― to prevent married partners from becoming adversaries. But did you also know that this same process can be used to resolve trust and estate issues, employment cases, or other litigation disputes? Join our section (without a fee), come to our luncheons, and become a member of one (or more) of our practice groups to find out more about collaboration as an alternative to battling as adversaries. It will be the first step toward helping clients move forward in a positive, less destructive direction.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Appellate Law: Judge John Badalamenti Joins the Second District

By Anthony J. Russo

    In April, John L. Badalamenti was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeal by Governor Rick Scott, filling the seat vacated by retiring Judge Charles A. Davis Jr. Judge Badalamenti, 41, of Tampa, comes to the post from the Appellate Division of the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Middle District of Florida, where he had served since 2006. The appointment to the court is the culmination of a calling that he first heard long ago.

    As a boy, Judge Badalamenti occasionally took the train from his home in Brooklyn to lunch with his mother, a bookkeeper working in the Southern District of New York courthouse. Afterward, he would sit in the courtrooms and watch criminal trials. That early fascination with the law eventually led him to the University of Florida law school.

    After graduation, the U.S. Attorney General Honors Program called and awarded him a one-year counsel position with the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Southeast Region Headquarters in Atlanta. There, he was an advocate and advisor to the bureau, handling a variety of constitutional and civil matters and post-conviction proceedings.

    The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals was the next to call, offering a clerkship with the Hon. Frank Mays Hull. Working with Judge Hull in the grand Atlanta courthouse, Judge Badalamenti learned the intricacies of appellate practice. Judge Hull herself had been a law clerk to the Honorable Elbert P. Tuttle, for whom the historic courthouse is named. To this young lawyer, Judge Hull passed on a tradition of mentorship that she herself had received from Judge Tuttle.

    Following that clerkship, Judge Badalamenti returned to Florida and entered private practice. He found his professional home at the St. Petersburg office of Carlton Fields. There, his practice included a mix of securities and class-action trial work and civil appeals. The firm’s offices were just a few floors away from the private office of the Hon. Paul H. Roney, judge at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Roney, needing an experienced law clerk temporarily to assist with a backlog of cases, reached out to his colleagues on the court. Judge Hull responded that such a candidate was working just a few floors away from him.
Judge Roney was the next to call on Judge Badalamenti. Judge Badalamenti’s firm was amenable to what was originally intended to be a six-month stint but turned into a three-year senior law clerk experience. Judge Badalamenti was struck by Judge Roney’s deep love of the judicial process, the respect he showed the parties, and the exquisite care he used in his legal writing.

    His enthusiasm for appellate practice, now thoroughly whetted, led Judge Badalamenti to take a post with the Appellate Division of the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Tampa. His practice was not limited to appellate work, and he tried several cases in the federal courts of the Middle District. He observed that this firsthand experience taught him the challenges that trial lawyers face. And he saw that trial judges are called upon to make instant decisions and that they need discretion to act. He recognized that this discretion must be respected, and that only unreasonable decisions should be reversed by an appellate court.

    Judge Badalamenti has now answered the governor’s call to serve on the Second District Court of Appeal. Judge Badalamenti’s varied professional background, and his long love and deep respect for the law, will serve the citizens of the state well for years to come. The Hillsborough County Bar Association heartily welcomes Judge Badalamenti to the court.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Special Feature: Off the Record with the Hon. Charlene E. Honeywell

By Michael S. Hooker

The following is an edited excerpt of an interview with the Hon. Charlene E. Honeywell, United States District Court, , Tampa Division.  

Q:    Can you tell us a little about your background?

A:    I am a native Floridian; I was born and raised in Broward County, Florida. I attended the public schools in Pompano Beach. … I went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., on a full academic scholarship. I knew that I wanted to go to law school, and I knew that I would most likely end up practicing law here in Florida, so I came back to Florida to attend the University of Florida. I received a full fellowship to attend the University of Florida. …

    I did well in school, in part, because I grew up in a single-family household.  I am an only child. My parents divorced when I was young, and my mother was an educator; she was really strict about education. So I was one of those kids who always made straight A’s. Although I knew my mother would send me to college, I didn’t know if she could afford to send me to a school that I would want to attend. And so my goal was to get a scholarship to attend college, and that’s what I did. 

Q:    I understand that you were bussed to another school in an effort to integrate schools in your area. What impact did that have on your later life and perhaps your career?

A:    Well, it caused me to pay more attention to the legal profession. I started out attending an all-black school because the schools were segregated at that time, and that was first grade through sixth grade. From there, I went to the black high school, which was seventh through 12th. At the end of my seventh-grade year, the school board began to implement plans for desegregation. They closed the black high school I attended and bussed all of us over to what was and remained a predominantly white school. The first year was chaotic and tumultuous. Initially, kids threw rocks at the busses, and police officers manned the hallways at different times. When times got really bad, we even had police officers with dogs in the hallways. But the chaos didn’t last for a long period of time. It was the initial resistance to black students and white students going to school together. After a while, everyone was fine.  Everybody got along. We sat in classes together, we interacted together, played on sports teams together; it was great. ... As a result of the impact of integration, I became more aware, more interested in the legal process. I didn’t have any role models who were judges, had never been in a courtroom, but I would hear news about how the federal courts had ruled “x, y, or z” as it related to desegregation and the fact that “separate but equal” was no longer the law of the land and that these schools needed to be integrated.  

Q:    So that experience spurred your interest in the law?

A:    It absolutely spurred my interest in the law, along with suggestions from teachers. At that time, “Perry Mason” was one of my favorite television shows.

Q:    You were a public defender for a number of years, then an assistant city attorney for the City of Tampa, and a shareholder in a large commercial law firm locally. Which of those non-judicial career practice experiences did you enjoy the most?

A:    I had tremendous training, appellate, and trial court experience as an assistant public defender. But I enjoyed handling civil matters much better than criminal matters, and still do. As a federal judge, I preside over criminal and civil proceedings. I enjoy the civil proceedings more, perhaps because of the variety, novelty, and complexity of some of the issues presented in them. However, as I tell many of the criminal defendants appearing before me, sentencing is the toughest part of my job. I don’t take it lightly because I am making decisions that will impact people’s liberty and lives forever. These decisions are extremely tough.  So as a practitioner, I enjoyed most my time at the city attorney’s office and Hill Ward. 

Q:    Governor Lawton Chiles appointed you as a county court judge in 1994, Governor Jeb Bush appointed you as a circuit court judge in 2000, and President Barack Obama nominated you to the federal bench in 2009. How gratifying was it to have received such strong bipartisan support?

A:    It was tremendously gratifying; as judges, we are nonpartisan decision-makers. We don’t rule based upon a person’s political affiliations, their community status, or their socioeconomic status. None of those things are important to us. When you go before a tribunal and you demonstrate that you have cross-support from Republicans and Democrats, it’s symbolic of the kind of person you have been or the life you have lived. I really try to make sure that all individuals appearing before me feel that they have received fair and just treatment regardless of the outcome of the case or their position in society. 

Q:    You tell young people to be prepared for setbacks while pursuing their dreams, you know, “Get back up and keep on going!” Is that message a product of what you’ve experienced?

A:    Absolutely, and I do preach that message. … That is a part of my experience. As you know, when I was appointed to the state court bench in June 1994, I lost the judicial election that September, and that was a major setback. I went to law school because I wanted to be a judge, not because I wanted to be a lawyer. It was always a part of my plan to at some point start applying for or run for the judiciary, whichever opportunity first presented itself. And so once I received the appointment, to lose was devastating. In retrospect, I look back now and think about what was the purpose for that experience, and I can’t say that I know the purpose. It was a part of the plan for my life from which I learned, grew, and became a better person. As a result, I can share that experience and encourage others.  

Q:    Judge, you could be considered a trailblazer; for instance, you were the first African-American female partner at your prior law firm. You are also one of only a handful of African-American female federal district court judges in Florida. What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

A:    My advice would be to plan, prepare, to set goals, and to not give up. I just can’t emphasize that enough. So many people give up after one or two tries, particularly as it relates to becoming a judge. The first step is getting yourself ready, being prepared, and you do that by getting the experience needed to be a judge. It’s important to work in the community, legal and Hillsborough County; you especially want the legal community to know you. If you’ve prepared yourself, if you’ve been involved, then you start applying and you continue to apply or run for a judgeship. 

Q:    The current Florida Bar president has opined that our profession is at a crossroads ― with the influx of so many new lawyers, increased competition from nontraditional providers of legal services, and technological changes in the way we practice law. Any thoughts on that?

A:    I agree with the Florida Bar president’s position on that. … The practice of law has changed tremendously from what it was when I started practicing in 1982. Ultimately, however, lawyers should still have as their number one goal and focus, the zealous representation of their clients. I have been surprised on more than one occasion by the quality of the written filings I’ve had to review in various cases. It has caused me to wonder if attorneys are practicing law for the wrong reasons. There was a time when the practice of law was an honored profession and lawyers were held in high regard. Lawyers have the best opportunity, perhaps aside from doctors, to help people ― doctors help people who are sick; lawyers help people who are injured or have been wronged.  Lawyers should always put forth their best effort in the representation of their clients. Some lawyers have forgotten to do this.

Q:    Is there anything that you’d like to see changed about the way lawyers who come before you conduct themselves?

A:    I would like for them to remember that they should always be prepared. As you know, in the Middle District, we don’t conduct hearings on many matters. If I schedule a hearing, I expect the lawyers to be prepared. Additionally, lawyers are welcome to use the electronics in the courtroom to aid in the presentation of their arguments.

Q:     Switching topics, can you tell us something about your family and your children?

A:    My daughter, who is 19, just finished her freshman year in college, where she’s pursuing a degree in industrial engineering; my son, who is 22, just graduated from college with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in marketing. 

Q:    How have you balanced the demands of family and career life?

A:    It’s been difficult, but I had the support of family and close friends. I am a master at multitasking and delegating. It’s much easier now because my children don’t require as much guidance.

Q:    What do you like to do to relax and have fun?

A:    I want to travel abroad more. My bucket list includes trips to Italy, an African safari, the south of France, and others.

Q:    You mentioned earlier that you thought it was important to be involved in the community. What organizations are you involved in?

A:    I am in two Inns of Court: the Cheatwood Inn of Court and the Smith Litigation Inn of Court. I am also a member of the Board of Trustees for the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. Also, I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Tampa Alumnae Chapter, as well as the Tampa Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a service organization. I am an associate member of Jack and Jill of America, the Greater Tampa chapter, and a member of the Executive Board of the Howard University Alumni Club.  

Q:    Obviously, you have a number of years left on the bench, but when it’s all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?

A:    I’d most like to be remembered as a judge who was fair, and then as a judge who was always prepared. I want the lawyers and parties to know that when they come before me, I’m going to be prepared, and I want them to leave believing that they received a fair proceeding and an opportunity to be heard, regardless of the outcome. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Op/Ed: Students’ Responsibilities for Improving Law Schools

By Roni A. Elias

     There is an old assumption that academic leadership comes only from faculty and administrators. This assumption must change. Students, faculty, and administrators all must work together to improve law schools. The ultimate leadership must come from students, though, because they are the ones law schools serve and because they have a unique ability to recognize how changes in the legal profession are working out on the ground.

    In both a business and institutional sense, law schools exist to serve their students. From a business perspective, law schools are enterprises selling an education, and students are their consumers. The institutional perspective is similar. Law schools are nonprofit organizations designed to serve a public good ― the improvement of students’ lives and the development of a better legal profession.

    Businesses enjoy their greatest success when they focus on meeting the needs, expectations, and preferences of their customers. For example, when Lou Gerstner turned around IBM in the 1990s, one of his first steps in reforming the company was to require his top executives to meet with a certain number of customers every week and file reports about customers’ needs, wants, and issues. Those executives soon got the message about the centrality of consumer needs and understood that “message” was a crucial part of turning IBM’s fortunes around. When businesses focus on their own internal expectations, giving customers what they think customers should want instead of what customers actually want, they drive customers to their competitors.

    Like every other part of the university, law schools are businesses (which is especially true for the for-profit law schools). As Mark Taylor, chairman of the religion department at Columbia, has pointed out, “It is ludicrous not to acknowledge that colleges and universities are businesses, and higher education is one of the most important domestic and international industries.” They sell a product ― an education ― and they sell it at a high price. In 2012, the average annual tuition at a private law school was about $40,500; public law school tuition was $23,600. To cover both tuition and living expenses during law school, the average student will borrow about $140,000. Those prices not only reflect an extensive financial commitment, they also reflect an enormous personal commitment of time and energy.

    Even if one disagrees that law schools should operate like businesses, there is still a reason for schools to put students’ interests first. Law schools have a moral, if not a legal, duty to do so. These schools profess to have expertise on preparing students for successful legal careers, and students have placed their trust in law schools for this purpose.** The students’ reliance gives law schools a duty to repay that trust by putting student interests above the institution’s interest in prestige or rankings or in the professors’ interest in scholarship. At the very least, law schools must act as stewards of the students’ interests, and stewardship with a back-and-forth dialogue is paramount for everyone’s success.

    Of course, it would be possible to put the students’ interests first while reserving the leadership role for faculty and administrators. There is an argument to be made that students should follow the lead of the faculty and administration, as the children in a family follow the lead of their parents/elders. This argument depends on the premise that students lack information and experience about what a legal career requires, the direction of their legal education, or the direction of the institution in which they will spend only three years. From this point of view, the students’ only role in shaping the direction of an institution seems to be filling out course evaluation forms. 
     But the 21st century legal profession faces challenges and changes that require something profoundly different from a legal education and the law schools that provide it. For one thing, practicing lawyers increasingly complain about a lack of personal satisfaction in their professional lives. Bethany Rubin Henderson, Asking the Lost Question: What Is the Purpose of Law School, 53 J. Leg. Educ. 1 (2003). In particular, they complain that law school did not prepare them to cope with the realities of practice or to learn how to make a meaningful social contribution through their legal careers. Id. As a result, some law school graduates find their careers frustrating or pointless, and they wonder whether there was something they missed during law school. See id.

    Another problem for law students entering the profession in the 21st century is the changing economic realities of law practice. Despite a recent small uptick, private firms have been hiring fewer lawyers since the recession of 2008, leading to intense competition for employment. Moreover, even for those who do find employment, the prospects for advancement and long-term career security are much dimmer than they were even 10 years ago. See id; see also Marc Galanter & William Henderson, The Elastic Tournament: A Second Transformation of the Big Law Firm, 60 Stanford L. Rev. 1867 (2008).

    To respond to these emerging problems, law schools must make changes, and more student involvement in administrative decisions is one of the first steps. With the legal profession evolving so rapidly, faculty and administrators must appreciate the nature and extent of the changes. Students are in a better position to understand what will be required of them upon graduation and to communicate those requirements to the faculty and administration. The students’ success is the school’s success.

     The faculty and administration must take an active role in shaping the information that comes from students, filtering it through their experience and adapting it to the needs of the institution. But the impetus must first come from the students. There is precedent for student leadership in determining the direction of educational institutions. During the student rebellion of the 1960s, students took an active and leading role in shaping substantial reform in higher education. Student protests challenged entrenched ideas about what colleges should teach, research, and the relationship between higher education and other social institutions and groups. Many of the changes that shaped the current direction of higher education were the product of these protests. One of the most notable reforms took place at Brown University, revolutionizing the curriculum and the identity of the school, where a group of students proposed a radical curriculum reform, eliminating all course requirements and allowing students the option to take all classes on a pass/fail basis.  Not only was this reform adopted, but it was the impetus for a long period of success for the university, in attracting better students, more donations, and in producing more illustrious graduates. 

    Student leadership can be, and should be, more than just putting notes in a suggestion box or coloring in circles on a course evaluation form. If given the opportunity, students can tell their schools what they want and need, and that communication can be the basis for profound changes that improve the institution in every respect.

    A law school is entirely composed of the individuals who belong to it, including faculty, administrators, current students, and alumni. But the overwhelming majority of individuals associated with a law school are the current and former students. If the law school is conceived as a body, that body comprises the people who study and who have studied there. These are the people who truly have a concern for the school. Id. 
    Thus, the students must take the first step in bringing about change for the better. Together, all parties can help their institutions develop in a way that is better for the schools, the legal profession, and the community they both serve.

**Note: There is some reason to think that the law schools’ duty to their students is akin to a fiduciary duty, which arises when one person relies on the special skills or expertise of another and therefore reposes trust and confidence in the other. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held that a public university has a fiduciary duty to its students. See Schneider v. Plymouth State College, 744 A.2d 101, 105-06 (N.H. 1999).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Save the Date: Bench Bar Conference, Membership Luncheon & Judicial Reception on October 27

By Judges Samantha Ward and Lisa Campbell, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit

Character, competence, commitment, and civility. According to The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, these are the “essential ingredients of professionalism.” Although the opposite might make for good TV, those who uphold these standards are the real-life legal stars.

Thus, the Hillsborough County Bar Association and its Bench Bar Committee co-chairs, Judges Samantha Ward and Lisa Campbell, are proud to announce the theme for the 19th Annual Bench Bar Conference ― Breaking Good: Prioritizing Professionalism in Advocacy. The focus of this year’s conference is on our duty to rise to the challenges we face in a profession that is inherently filled with drama and pressure.

We believe that the curriculum for this year’s conference is particularly timely and relevant, given the recent headlines shining a spotlight on professionalism issues in the legal field. After our traditional morning “ethics-themed” breakfast, the day’s break-out sessions promise to be both substantive and practical. In an effort to highlight progressive legal efforts outside the courtroom, we are adding sessions on collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution this year. In addition, we will feature a session on the LLC Revised Act.

Building on the success of our “View Toward the Bench” seminars, we are adding two “View from the Box” sessions, which will give attendees a chance to hear from former jury members on civil and criminal cases. Back by popular demand, the “View Toward the Bench” sessions will provide lawyers and judges the opportunity to candidly talk about practice-specific topics in round-table discussions, with segments focused on civil, criminal, appellate, federal, and family law.

For the first afternoon plenary session, our attention will turn to the U.S. Supreme Court with a review of the past term and preview of the term to come. And for our conference finale, we will wrap up our “Breaking Good” theme with a plenary session on professionalism. (For all you “Breaking Bad” fans, we did not ask Saul Goodman to speak at this one.)      

The Bench Bar Conference is the HCBA’s signature educational event of the year, and as always, the committee seeks to keep the channels of communication open between the bench and bar, with its primary focus on improving the justice system. Working together, we can make positive changes in our court system.
In the spirit of collaboration between the bench and bar, we also invite you to join us at the Judicial Reception immediately following the conference.

So please save the date for the Bench Bar Conference, Membership Luncheon & Judicial Reception on October 27. Look for more information about specific course offerings and registration instructions in email blasts from the HCBA and on We look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

State Attorney's Message: The Chain of Custody

By Mark A. Ober

     When law enforcement collects evidence during the course of an investigation, that evidence must be secured prior to trial. Law enforcement agencies have procedures in place regarding the collection, storage, transfer, and testing of evidence. These safeguards exist to protect the integrity of the evidence used to secure convictions. 

     At trial, when the state introduces physical items into evidence that have been in the custody of law enforcement agencies, the state must lay a proper foundation to establish the admissibility of the evidence. In most cases, that foundation does not include the introduction of testimony by every witness in the chain of custody. “Relevant physical evidence is admissible unless there is an indication of probable tampering.”

Peek v. State, 395 So. 2d 492, 495 (Fla. 1980). Although it is important that law enforcement agencies maintain a proper chain of custody, the state is not normally required to prove that complete chain of custody at trial. See Dodd v. State, 537 So. 2d 626 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988).      

     In some cases, there may be a break in the chain of custody. “A mere break in the chain of custody is not in and of itself a basis for exclusion of physical evidence.” Bush v. State, 543 So. 2d 283, 284 (Fla. 2d DCA 1989). If defense shows that there has been a probability of tampering, the state must prove a complete chain of custody before evidence can be admitted. See Floyd v. State, 850 So. 2d 383 (Fla. 2002); State v. Taplis, 684 So. 2d 214 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996); Hildwin v. State, 141 So. 3d 1178 (Fla. 2014). A probability of tampering is more than a bare allegation, Terry v. State, 668 So. 2d 954 (Fla. 1996), or a possibility, Robinson v. State, 561 So. 2d 1264 (Fla. 3d DCA 1990). For example, the admission of evidence that has been repackaged, if explained by the testifying witness, is not an error. See Garcia v. State, 873 So. 2d 426 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004); Robinson v. State, 561 So. 2d 1264 (Fla. 3d 1990). If the defense is able to meet their initial burden of showing a probability of tampering, the burden would then shift to the state to prove that tampering did not occur. Murray v. State, 838 So. 2d 1073 (Fla. 2002). At this point, the state may need to proceed with proving the complete chain of custody. 

     As your state attorney, I seek justice. Justice requires that convictions be based upon sound, reliable evidence. The integrity of our evidence supports the integrity of our convictions.   

YLD President's Message: A New and Exciting Year for the YLD

By Dara Cooley

     As we begin a new year, I am delighted to have this opportunity to introduce myself and share my vision for the Hillsborough County Young Lawyers Division — a vision built on the successes of the past president and the entire 2014-2015 executive committee.

     To tell a bit about myself, I was raised in a small town in Northern Michigan with two disabled siblings and a family dedicated to advocating on their behalf. My upbringing informs why and how I practice law — fighting for those injured by negligence and misconduct. Also, I serve on the board of the Lawyers Autism Awareness Foundation, fundraise for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and have actively participated in the YLD since the start of my career. Now, I am honored to be the new YLD president and look forward to serving the needs of our young lawyers.

     This is an exciting year for the Young Lawyers Division. I, along with the entire 2015-2016 executive committee, am committed to providing young lawyers with events and programs that will catapult their professional development. We will strive to ensure that your membership in our organization makes you feel more comfortable in whatever you want to contemplate and achieve. This year, young lawyers will have many opportunities to not only network with other lawyers and judges, but also to find mentors and get more involved with the local Bar association. 

     The practice of law can be stressful; the hours are long, and clients are demanding. This is why your membership in the YLD is so important; it is an opportunity to establish and build relationships with other young lawyers and to simply smile, laugh, and have fun. We will continue to host quarterly happy hours and luncheons, in addition to promoting wellness and mindfulness to ease the demands of our profession.

     This year, we already have fantastic programs scheduled, including the Judicial Shadowing Program, Coffee at the Courthouse, the annual YLD Golf Tournament, the HCBA 5K Pro Bono River Run & Judicial Pig Roast/Food Festival, and the State Court Trial Seminar. I strongly encourage all young lawyers – new and old members alike – to get involved and participate in the YLD programs.

     We are fortunate to have more than 1,000 members in our section. It is amazing to think of everything we can accomplish. The Young Lawyers Division will continue our tradition of community service and build upon the successes of last years’ programs, which included pro bono services through Attorney ad Litem, Wills for Heroes, and Family Forms Clinic, along with community outreach through Law Week, Judge Robert Simms High School Mock Trial Competition, and youth service projects. 
For more information about the Young Lawyers Division, please check out our Facebook page, “Hillsborough County Bar Young Lawyers Division,” or the HCBA’s website, or please feel free to contact me at any time at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Young Lawyers Advocate for Tampa Bay’s Homeless Youth

By Cathy Kamm

     In May, hundreds of young lawyers from across the country descended upon the Tampa Bay area for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Annual Spring Conference. As part of the conference, many of those attorneys planned and implemented an outreach project that left a lasting impact on the Tampa Bay community. Homeless and transitional youth benefited from two free legal clinics through Project Street Youth ― one at Metropolitan Ministries and the other at Seminole Heights Charter School.

     Homelessness affects more than 1.7 million youth in the United States, and that number is growing with each passing year. Almost 40 percent of the homeless population in the United States is younger than 18. Project Street Youth is a project of the ABA YLD’s Public Service Team in partnership with the Center on Children and the Law and the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. The program’s goal is to provide access to justice for homeless and transitional youth by educating and raising awareness of the issue, promoting effective legislation, and providing free legal clinics.

     At the clinics here in the Tampa Bay area, more than 15 young lawyers volunteered and provided free legal advice to approximately 45 homeless and transitional youth, helping them with a range of challenges. Clinic volunteers addressed issues including questions about public assistance and government benefits, landlord and tenant issues, credit questions, domestic violence, custody matters, education concerns, expungement of criminal records, taxes, small business loans, employment discrimination, labor violations, personal injury claims, and emancipation ― just to name a few! Each of the homeless or transitional youths was also given a backpack with necessities such as toiletries and other personal items.

     Bobby Smith, principal of Seminole Heights Charter School, reported that “our students greatly enjoyed and certainly benefitted from the legal clinic.” We could not have held one clinic ― much less two ― without the amazing support of the ABA YLD Tampa Bay Host Committee and the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, which donated $1,000 to the clinics.

     In conjunction with the Project Street Youth clinics, the ABA YLD conference held a luncheon program, “The Faces of Homeless and Transitional Youth: A Call to Action,” which opened with the screening of a short documentary featuring homeless and transitional youth followed by a panel discussion led by advocates for homeless youth who shared their experiences and described some of the many ways young lawyers can take action to help.

     For those interested in learning more, visit:

     For information on ways you can get involved with Tampa Bay pro bono opportunities, contact Rosemary Armstrong, chair of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, at, or visit the HCBA website for more information on volunteer legal organizations.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

President's Message: Most Super Lawyers Are Super Mentors

By Carter Andersen

As we start the 2015-2016 Bar year, we might spend a little time reflecting on our mentoring relationships. First, I humbly suggest we all find the time to thank our mentors. Second, perhaps give some thought to how you are paying that mentoring forward to others.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Bonnie St. John talk about mentoring relationships. As an amputee (she had her right leg amputated at age 5), an Olympic athlete (silver and two bronze medals in the 1984 Paralympics), a Rhodes Scholar, a best-selling author, a White House official, and an entrepreneurial businesswoman, St. John uses her life experiences to provide leadership training and career advancement tools and techniques worldwide to businesses and individuals.

On mentoring, St. John encourages her audiences to do a simple exercise. On one page, list everyone who has mentored you and helped you achieve your life and business goals. On a separate page, list the people whom you have mentored or helped as they grew and developed. Then simply compare the lists.

Are you giving back and making a difference for others the way that your mentors helped you? Are there things that you learned from your mentors that you have shared with others? If not, then it’s time to start. If so, then ask at least one more question. Do you and the people who mentored you look the same as or different from the people you are mentoring? If you and both your lists look the same – the same gender, the same race, and other similarities – perhaps it is time to open up the club? Be purposeful in your mentoring – not only in paying it forward – but in giving others a chance who might not have access to the mentoring that you received.

Several years ago, then Allstate Corporation’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Michele Coleman Mayes gave the keynote address at our member luncheon. Mayes, too, spoke about mentoring – and she advised that lawyers need mentors both inside and outside of their own law firms. Inside the firm, lawyers need substantive mentors to give them work and teach them how to practice law. Outside the firm, lawyers need a helping hand or sometimes a little confidential advice.

I recently noticed that several of my mentors – both inside and outside of my firm – all were included in the 2015 Florida Super Lawyers. I doubt that is a coincidence because I believe that most super lawyers are also super mentors. But I want to recognize and publicly thank just a few of those mentors.

First, I want to thank the lawyers who hired me at Bush Ross 13 years ago and have mentored me ever since – Jeff Warren, Ed Savitz, and John Giordano. They have each taught me so much about the law and lawyering, and I am grateful that in addition to helping me develop as a lawyer, they also taught me life and business lessons of leadership, faith, and service. I share with them the belief that it is a true blessing to get to know other people in this world, and to have them as mentors is a true blessing to me. It is no surprise to me that Jeff Warren’s leadership and mentoring of others landed him on the cover of 2015 Florida Super Lawyers.

Two lawyers outside my firm who are both Florida Super Lawyers and have been super mentors to me are Bill Schifino Jr. and Ben Hill IV. Bill has been that mentor to me outside the firm, who has given generously of his time to me with a helping hand and the career or practice advice I needed at important times. All Florida lawyers will get to see Bill’s great leadership these next two years as he serves as president-elect and then president of The Florida Bar!

And particularly in this last year, Ben Hill IV mentored me personally and by his example of lifting up others while serving as president of our Bar association. Ben accomplished so much from his focus on military and veterans issues to celebrating our judiciary in a time of great judges retiring and great new judges taking the bench and leading the Thirteenth Circuit! While leading our Bar to new levels of accomplishment in so many areas and inspiring so many of our members to do great things, Ben also took the time to teach and show me the things I needed for the year ahead. I am quite sure Ben has a strong future leadership role in our community, state, and profession, and I look forward to supporting him along the way!

So I do humbly suggest that we all might reflect on our mentoring relationships, thank our mentors, and make sure we are paying that mentoring forward to others.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Editor's Message: The Labor of Lawyers

By Ed Comey

Well, hopefully this issue of the Lawyer made it to you in time to read while you are relaxing over the Labor Day weekend. Weather permitting, I hope to get a chance to go to the beach, although with an energetic 3-year-old and a rambunctious 20-month-old, there won’t be a lot of reading (or relaxing for that matter). But the prospect of a relaxing three-day weekend did give me a chance to reflect on the Labor Day holiday.

Labor Day, of course, was created by the labor movement to pay tribute to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” (In case you’re interested, you can vote whether Matthew Maguire or Peter McGuire is the real “Father of Labor Day” on the Department of Labor website). Probably because Labor Day was created by the labor movement, I’ve always thought it was a holiday for “blue-collar” workers or other non-professionals — not lawyers.

I’m not breaking news when I say lawyers rank near the bottom of various public opinion polls. Part of that, undoubtedly, is because lawyers — mostly thanks to a few “bad apples” — generally score poorly when it comes to trustworthiness. But I also think the public views the profession unfavorably because — in their mind — we don’t “build” things.

That’s why, until recently, I’ve never quite felt comfortable celebrating Labor Day. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the day off.) After all, we don’t build cars, or roads, or bridges, or skyscrapers. To many, lawyers merely push paper. (I’ll confess to having felt that way from time to time.) In fact, not only do some people think lawyers don’t “build” things, I think there’s a sense that lawyers get in the way of things get built. But one of the benefits of editing the Lawyer is it has exposed me to how we do, in fact, build things.

Take a look at the article by the Military & Veterans Affairs Committee, where you can read how we now have 17 areas of law where local lawyers have committed to support those who have served our nation. And new HCBA President Carter Andersen has a great message about how other lawyers have mentored him and the impact that has had on him. There’s also a great essay by Sienna Osta talking about how revolutionary lawyers constructed a set of rules for a government that has endured over 200 years. It doesn’t take long to realize lawyers do build things: We build up people, we help build communities, and we help build civil society.

According to the Department of Labor website, Labor Day was initially observed by a parade exhibiting “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” to the public. I’m not holding out hope that we’ll one day have a parade exhibiting the HCBA’s strength and esprit de corps to the public. But I do hope that you get a well-deserved break from your work helping build the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Executive Director's Message: Carter Andersen Installed as HCBA President as Bar Groups Look to the Future

By John F. Kynes

     Carter Andersen’s enthusiasm for the law and for helping others is contagious.

     And it’s Andersen’s enthusiasm ― along with his leadership, professionalism, and ethics ― that will help him carry on the “long and storied leadership” of the HCBA, said Jeff Warren, president of Bush Ross, P.A., as he introduced Andersen as the new president of the HCBA at the Installation of Officers & Directors in June.

     “He’s one of those special people I call ‘direction changers,’” said Warren, referring to his law partner’s ability to positively influence and change the lives of others. In his introduction, Warren said Andersen’s background and experience will help him succeed as HCBA president. 

     Andersen was raised in Tampa and Alexandria, Va., and is a double Gator, with an undergraduate and a law degree from the University of Florida. He began his legal career with a large law firm in Washington, D.C., and four years later, he moved to Tampa and joined Bush Ross in 2003.

     Andersen has served on the HCBA Board since 2009, and he served as chair of various HCBA and YLD committees over the years. In addition, Andersen is a past chair and continues to serve on the Thirteenth Circuit’s Judicial Nominating Commission, and he previously served on The Florida Bar’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee.

     In his remarks, Warren highlighted Andersen’s commitment to his family — his wife, Dana, and their four children ― as well as his commitment to community service beyond the legal community, including Tampa Bay Little League and Christ the King Catholic School.

     Referring to Andersen’s passion for coaching youth sports and mentoring young people, Warren joked that he has met a lot of people over the years, but he hasn’t met many people whose children Andersen hasn’t coached in one sport or another at some point (I must say my son falls in this category).

     In his remarks, Andersen talked about leading the HCBA this year and some lessons he has learned from Bar leaders before him. He said what helps set the HCBA apart is the relationships Bar members share with one another.

     “We strive to serve each other and the profession, and we strive to serve the community,” Andersen said.

     Concluding his remarks, he emphasized the importance of taking time to mentor other lawyers, and he acknowledged some colleagues who have mentored him during his career. He cited Warren, retired Chief Judge Manual Menendez Jr., and longtime friend Bill Schifino Jr., among others, as examples. 

     Further, he praised Schifino for his past service to the Bar and congratulated him on becoming president-elect of The Florida Bar this year.


     The fall season and a new Bar year also bring new opportunities for HCBA members. So stay connected with your colleagues, and take advantage of the numerous educational and CLE programs offered throughout the year. And consider joining the HCBA’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service to help grow your practice through case referrals.

     Plus, make it a point to attend the HCBA’s 19th Annual Bench Bar Conference & Judicial Reception, which always is a highlight during the year.

     Meanwhile, the HCBA and legal groups across the country must grapple with numerous changes in the legal profession and evolve in order to stay relevant. Newly installed Florida Bar President Ramón Abadin talked about the challenges facing the profession and also the work of the Vision 2016 Commission at The Florida Bar’s annual convention in June.

     The commission is studying the future of legal education, technology, Bar admissions, and access to legal services. “We have to accept that we are no longer a monopoly.  We are now part of a legal marketplace,” Abadin told convention attendees.

Looking to the future, this is something we all should follow closely.

See you around the Chet.