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The bar's dedicated servants.

In the October issue of The Florida Bar Journal, I described the makeup, background, and obligations of the Board of Governors, but the work of The Florida Bar does not stop with the board, although it might be the most visible group. Much of the Bar's work is carried out through sections and committees.

Sections provide a forum for members to focus their involvement on an area of the law in which they are interested. There is no limit to the number of members that a section can have. The Bar's 20 sections cover virtually any practice: administrative law; appellate practice; business law; criminal law; elder law; environment and land use; equal opportunities; entertainment, arts, and sports; family law; governmental lawyers; general practice; health; international law; labor and employment; local government; public interest; real property, probate and trust law; trial lawyers; tax; and workers' compensation.

If you have an interest in real property and/or probate law, you should join the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. If you have an interest in civil trial work, then you should join the Trial Lawyers Section.

Committee membership, on the other hand, is limited in number, and members are appointed to staggered terms by the president-elect of The Florida Bar. Our president-elect is Jay White, who currently is asking Bar members to apply for membership on the committee(s) on which they may want to serve. This has been advertised in The Florida Bar News and on the Web site.

The time to apply for committees is now. The deadline for applications is January 15, and the preference form can be found on the Bar's Web site, www.floridabar.org. By April 2008, Jay will have made all appointments for the 2008-09 Bar year.

Many factors go into the appointment of committee members. Among them are geographic diversity, diversity in practice areas, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, and foremost experience and demonstrated interest.

Thousands of volunteer hours are contributed annually by the Bar's 20 sections, two divisions, and 66 standing committees. It is often repeated that these groups are the backbone of the Bar and their time devoted to service benefits not only the legal profession but also our clients and the state of Florida.

More than 30,000 of The Florida Bar's 82,000 members belong to one or more of the Bar's sections and Out of State Division, while more than 2,100 serve on standing committees.

Section membership is voluntary and membership fees are modest. All sections are involved in the production of continuing legal education seminars or publications in cooperation with the Bar's CLE Committee. Without a doubt, these educational endeavors are essential to the advancement of professional growth for all of us.

Many sections have an active legislative program for those interested in that type of policy work.

Of special note are the two divisions. The Out of State Practitioners Division represents the interests of the Bar's vast membership of non-Florida lawyers. And the Young Lawyers Division--the only section or division without membership fees--has automatic membership for all Bar members aged 36 and under or who are in their first five years of Bar membership. Currently, there are 22,246 YLD members.

There are 20 Bar service committees ranging from professional ethics to continuing legal education to member services. Another 21 committees draw up tests for and oversee the Bar's certification programs. There are 11 procedural rules committees: appellate, civil procedure, evidence, criminal, family, probate, juvenile, judicial administration, small claims, traffic, and workers' compensation.

The Bar has eight public service committees (such as pro bono legal services and consumer protection law) and six substantive law committees that cover subjects from admiralty to education to animal rights.

If membership on a Bar committee is unavailable, there is a good chance that a section has a similar committee with which you can become involved.

Committees welcome nonmembers to their meetings. For example, recently a subcommittee of the Rules of Judicial Administration Committee discussed a proposed rule amendment addressing accommodations for lawyers with disabilities. Several noncommittee members presented testimony and participated in discussion.

Many varied opportunities for service and professional growth are offered by involvement with a section or committee. I invite you to visit the Bar's Web page for more information by clicking Inside the Bar on the left hand menu.

I personally thank the many volunteers who each year quietly carry forward the work of The Florida Bar.
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Title Annotation:The Florida Bar
Author:Angones, Francisco R.
Publication:Florida Bar Journal
Article Type:President's page
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:741
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