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Young Lawyers Division.

The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division enjoyed a productive and rewarding year. Due to the strength of the governors throughout Florida, the YLD accomplished all the goals established by our Long-Range Planning Committee several months ago.

When Panama City and the surrounding area was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael, the YLD led the charge in the legal community to help those that needed pro bono legal assistance. Due to the leadership of Anthony Palermo and the steadfast support of The Florida Bar staff, we established a hotline and successfully resolved hundreds of legal issues for those affected by the storm including issues related to landlord-tenant law, insurance, and other related areas.

The YLD initiated the #stigmafreeyld campaign in mid-February with a goal of eliminating the stigma associated with attorneys seeking mental health treatment. The YLD believes that taking care of your mental health is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. As part of the campaign, the YLD featured videos of several successful attorneys who have overcome mental health issues including bipolar disorder, extreme stress, anxiety, and dependency issues, to name a few. The success of this campaign exceeded our expectations as the videos were watched by hundreds of thousands of people on social media, and we received positive feedback from across the world.

The Health and Wellness Committee, led by Natasha Dorsey, Ethan Wall, and Ben Gibson did not stop there. We prepared and administered a survey directed at mental health issues to the entire membership of the YLD. Those results will be released just before mental health month (May), during which the YLD will conduct an affiliate-wide challenge encouraging young lawyers to take time for self-care.

As far as affiliates go, the YLD Local Bar Affiliate Committee, chaired by Todd Baker, was tasked with examining the way we communicate with affiliates. The YLD successfully created an affiliate website that we believe will revolutionize the way affiliates communicate with The Florida Bar, other affiliates, and bar leadership. This website is going to be unveiled in late March.

The Transition to Practice Committee, under the leadership of Adam White and Cullan Jones, conducted a survey on compensation throughout the state. This survey resulted in somewhat shocking revelations, including the median outstanding debt for a member of the YLD ($150,000), as well as confirming our belief that there are significant compensation gaps among women and minorities. As a direct result of this survey, the YLD has lobbied the ABA to make changes in the way accredited law schools provide financial disclosures to potential students. This "financial literacy" campaign will be featured in the News in the near future.

In January, we hosted the Affiliate Outreach Conference, when over 250 young lawyer affiliate leaders ascended on St. Augustine, to enjoy a pirate-themed weekend of programming, grant presentations, and fun. The YLD awarded approximately $50,000 in grants for the many community and member events conducted by our affiliates. Thanks to AOC Chairs Stephanie Myron and Paul Silvestri for organizing a productive conference.

In addition to these featured new projects, and others not mentioned, the YLD also continued successful programs established in years past. We collected hundreds of new videos that were filmed by seasoned practitioners to add to our Legal Accelerator website. We also identified issues with the "how to start a law firm" website and improved that site. Our Technology Committee scheduled and produced over a dozen Tech Roadshows throughout the state. We continued advocating for a continuance rule on parental leave rule and supported that at The Florida Bar level and with the ABA, which adopted our model rule in January.

On a personal note, it has been my absolute pleasure to serve as president of the YLD. Without a doubt, it has been the highlight of my career. The YLD Board of Governors is the most dynamic and talented group of people I have ever encountered, and I treasure the relationships formed with each governor over the last seven years.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention our appreciation for Tom Miller with The Florida Bar. Tom has obtained a "Harknessian" status with the YLD. Without Tom, nothing would get done. I also want to thank Michelle Suskauer, John Stewart, and Josh Doyle for their steadfast support of the YLD. It has been my pleasure to serve on the "Big Board" the last two years, and I hope to stay in touch with the friends I have made on that board.

The future of the YLD remains bright. President-Elect Santo DiGangi and President-Elect Designate Adam White are set to take the reins of the YLD. Continue to expect big things from the YLD, the workhorses of The Florida Bar.

Christian George, President
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Title Annotation:Annual Reports of Sections and Divisions of the Florida Bar: 2018-2019
Author:George, Christian
Publication:Florida Bar Journal
Date:May 1, 2019
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