The 2018-2019 term got off to an inauspicious start due to Hurricane Michael's unexpected arrival in Tallahassee last October. As a result, the section had to postpone the Pat Dore Administrative Law Conference, its biennial showcase event for continuing legal education. However, thanks to the swift and decisive actions of the conference's co-chairs, Jowanna Oates and Judge Cathy Sellers, the conference was quickly rescheduled for February 8. Despite the date change, the conference still sold out and was an unqualified success.
Through feature articles and recurring features, the section's quarterly newsletter continued to provide its members and the legal community with timely information regarding significant developments in administrative law. The informative features included Paula Savchenko's comprehensive article, "Rule Challenges Sprout from the Growing Florida Medical Marijuana Industry." As for the recurring features, every edition of the newsletter included "Appellate Case Notes," in which Larry Sellers, Gigi Rollini, and Tara Price provided concise descriptions of every significant administrative law case decided by Florida's appellate courts during the previous quarter. The newsletter's other recurring feature is "DOAH Case Notes," and the DOAH Case Notes team, consisting of myself, Matthew Knoll, Dustin Metz, Virginia Ponder, Christina Shideler, Paul Rendleman, and Tiffany Roddenberry, reviewed every recommended and final order issued by the Division of Administrative Hearings and concisely described noteworthy decisions from the preceding quarter.
With regard to the newsletter, I would be remiss if I did not use this opportunity to thank Judge Elizabeth McArthur for her long service as the newsletter's editor and co-editor. Judge McArthur put her heart and soul into every edition of the newsletter for many years but recently decided that a promotion to a senior judge position at DOAH required her to devote more hours to her "day job." Fortunately, Tiffany Roddenberry assumed co-editorial duties. Thanks to her work and long-time Editor Jowanna Oates, the newsletter continues to be a point of pride for the section.
The section's publication efforts were not confined to the newsletter. Lyyli Van Whittle, the new co-chair of the section's Publications Committee, did an excellent job collecting the following articles for The Florida Bar Journal: "The Points of Entry for Rule Challenges Post Florida Pulp & Paper" by Virginia Ponder, "Rule or No Rule? An Examination of Recent Unadopted Rule Challenge Decisions" by Gregory L. Pitt, Jr., and "The Florida Public Records Act in the Era of Modern Technology" by Ralph A. DeMeo and Lauren M. DeWeil.
In a move that was long overdue, the section created separate awards last year to honor outstanding administrative law practitioners and members who have provided outstanding service to the section. With regard to the former, the executive council named Larry Sellers as the first recipient of the Curtis Kiser Administrative Lawyer of the Year Award. As for the latter, Judge McArthur's work on the newsletter was surely one of the primary reasons why the executive council named her the first recipient of its Outstanding Service Award.
As mentioned in the section's two previous annual reports, the section has been making a concerted effort to increase its membership. In particular, the section has been focusing its recruitment efforts on law students and young attorneys because those groups represent the section's best possibilities for growth. The section has long maintained a law school outreach program for building awareness of the section among law students at every law school in Florida. While that program is still in place, the section implemented a new program specifically designed to reach students at Florida State University because many of those students ultimately become administrative law practitioners. This new program involves sending a panel of section members to the law school on a monthly basis to speak on topics such as administrative law, health law, and how to succeed in law school. In order to encourage attendance, the section provides free food and drinks. While these monthly luncheons will not lead to an immediate increase in the section's membership, the section considers them to be long-term investments intended to increase membership by building awareness of the section among future administrative law practitioners. The section is very grateful to Tabitha Harnage for conceiving this program, reaching out to student leaders at the law school, organizing each luncheon, and recruiting speakers.
The section is also making a concerted effort to increase awareness among attorneys employed by administrative agencies. For example, Brian Newman, Louis St. Laurent, Judge Li Nelson, Judge Yolonda Green, Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, and I produced a unique CLE for the Department of Health on June 28, 2018, "The Nuts and Bolts of Administrative Litigation." This CLE was focused on teaching basic litigation skills to young attorneys. After receiving positive reviews from the Department of Health, the section plans to produce similar CLEs for other agencies.
On a related note, the section is in the final stages of planning a "DOAH Trial Academy." This CLE will be an intensive, week-long litigation skills course held at DOAH and taught by administrative law judges and seasoned practitioners. While the section anticipates limiting enrollment to 20 section members, both private- and public-sector attorneys will be eligible to enroll. The section has high hopes for the DOAH Trial Academy and hopes to make it an annual event.
In order to appeal to socially conscious young attorneys, the section began coupling networking/social activities with charitable endeavors. For instance, Tabitha Harnage, James Ross, and Virginia Ponder organized the section's inaugural "Fall FSU Law Mixer & Turkey Drive" to benefit students of an elementary school in Tallahassee. The mixer was held at a local bar on November 1, 2018, and those attending donated canned goods and money for the purchase of food. Then, Harnage, Ross, Ponder, and other section members met the Saturday before Thanksgiving to assemble the meals. Because the mixer was so successful, the section was able to donate a large amount of surplus food to a homeless shelter in Tallahassee.
Harnage and Ross also worked in conjunction with Meenan, P.A., in order to organize a backpack drive that collected school supplies for the Boys Town charity in Tallahassee. That event resulted in $650 of donations, 60 backpacks, and nearly 400 individual items of school supplies.
A description of the section's efforts to attract young attorneys would not be complete without mentioning how Paul Drake, Christina Shideler, Gregg Morton, and the other members of the section's Technology Committee continued doing an outstanding job maintaining and updating the section's website and social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Given the ubiquitous nature of such technology among young adults, the Technology Committee's work is essential to the section's efforts to attract law students and young attorneys.
Because the events described above occurred in Tallahassee, one could understandably conclude that the section's activities are overwhelmingly focused on the section's Tallahassee membership. Given that most of the significant state agencies are headquartered in Tallahassee and that the vast majority of the section's members practice there, the section has spent several years struggling with how to be more relevant to members in other parts of Florida. This is particularly important because administrative law practitioners outside Tallahassee represent a substantial source of new members. Therefore, in order to better serve existing members and to attract new members, the section established the South Florida Chapter so that there will be section leaders in South Florida responsible for organizing CLEs and networking events for our South Florida members. Sharlee Edwards and Paula Savchenko volunteered to implement this new initiative and have already organized two networking events, the first of which was a joint happy hour in Ft. Lauderdale with The Florida Bar's Tax Section and the Broward County Bar Association's Young Lawyers' Section. In addition, Edwards and Savchenko have a tentative plan for 2019 that calls for the South Florida Chapter to substantially replicate the activities available to the section's Tallahassee members. The section is confident that the South Florida Chapter will be successful and hopes to establish chapters in other parts of Florida, such as Tampa and Jacksonville, in the near future.
In closing, I would like to recognize the continued, outstanding work of the section's administrator, Calbrail Banner. She never hesitates to go the proverbial "extra mile" for the section. I would also like to recognize Chase Early who did a wonderful job filling in for her while she was on maternity leave.
Garnett Chisenhall, Chair
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|Title Annotation:||Annual Reports of Sections and Divisions of the Florida Bar: 2018-2019|
|Publication:||Florida Bar Journal|
|Date:||May 1, 2019|
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