OPEN TO ALL FLORIDA BAR MEMBERS – THE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY EXTENDED DEADLINE TO FEBRUARY 11

The deadline to apply for the 2022-2023 Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy Class X has been extended to February 11.

The Leadership Academy is open to all Florida Bar members who are in good standing. In an effort to achieve diversity among the participants, qualified individuals will be sought from different backgrounds, large and small law firms, the private and public sectors, different practice areas, and different geographical areas of the state.

This is a multi-session training program designed to assist a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers in becoming better leaders within the legal profession while enhancing their leadership skills.

The goals of the Leadership Academy include:

• To enhance leadership skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers;

• To identify, nurture, and inspire effective leadership within The Florida Bar and the legal community;

• To enhance the diversity of leaders within The Florida Bar; and

• To raise the level of awareness and engagement among lawyers regarding issues facing the legal profession through the study of ethical, professional and public service issues.

There will be seven required meetings, which will include up to 14 business days throughout the year including graduation at The Florida Bar Annual Convention in Orlando in June 2023. The dates of each training session are included in the application. Continuing legal education credits will be awarded for most sessions

To apply, click here. All applications must be received on or before February 11. For more information, please visit: https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-news/bar-accepting-applications-for-class-x-of-the-wm-reece-smith-jr-leadership-academy/

15TH CIRCUIT JUDICIAL NOMINATING COMMISSION NOTICE OF VACANCY AND ACCEPTANCE OF APPLICATIONS

The Fifteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (“JNC”) announces one vacancy for a Circuit Court Judge position created by the retirement of Judge Joseph Marx. The JNC has been asked to provide Governor Ron DeSantis with nominees for the vacancy by February 19, 2022.

Qualifications of Applicants:

Applicants must be able to fulfill the Constitutional qualifications for circuit court and county court judges described in Article V, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution.

Instructions for Submission:

1) The current Judicial Application form must be used and can be found at https://www.flgov.com/judicial-and-judicial-nominating-commission-information/. Applicants should ensure they are using the correct and current form.

2) Applications must be in .pdf form and submitted as follows: (i) one original copy of the application, including all attachments, (ii) one redacted copy of the application, including all attachments, excluding all exempt information under Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes or other applicable public records law. The two .pdf files should be named in a “last name.first name” format. For example: Jane Smith should submit two files named: (1) Smith.Jane.pdf and (2) Smith.Jane-REDACTED.pdf. 

Each electronic application, including exhibits, must be a single pdf file. No paper applications will be accepted.

3) The deadline for submission of the completed application is 1:00 p.m., February 4, 2022Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.  Both the original and redacted electronic applications must be submitted by email to rharvey@jenksharveylaw.com.

Please ensure the Application is complete, including all required responses (including references, case style and contact information regarding recent cases, and class standing and degree information regarding education), and all required attachments (writing sample, financial disclosure, photograph).  Incomplete applications may not be considered.  

Additional Information:

The JNC will publish on the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s website www.palmbeachbar.org and Governor Ron DeSantis’ judicial webpage https://www.flgov.com/judicial-and-judicial-nominating-commission-information/  the date and location of any interviews that the JNC chooses to conduct.  The JNC anticipates that any interviews will be held the week of February 14, 2022.

All JNC proceedings are open to the public, except for deliberations.  Applications are not confidential.  If an applicant is nominated, all materials attached to the original application will be submitted to the Governor.

A list of members of the Fifteenth Circuit JNC is available at https://www.flgov.com/judicial-and-judicial-nominating-commission-information/. Members of the bench, the Bar and the public are urged to contact the members of the Commission concerning applicants for judicial positions.

If you have any questions, please call Mr. Harvey at (561) 303-2918, or email at rharvey@jenksharveylaw.com

FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT STAFF ATTORNEY VACANCY

The Fifteenth Judicial Circuit has a Staff Attorney vacancy.  In addition to the great benefit package, i.e., paid vacation and sick leave, medical benefits (HMO/PPO) at a cost of $50.00 single coverage; $180.00 for family coverage; and excellent working conditions, the starting salary is $48,925.00 with membership in the Florida Bar; $44,032.00 if awaiting membership in the Florida Bar.

Interested persons will find more information on the position using the link below.  This position is open until filled.

https://15thcircuit.com/jobs/trial-court-staff-attorney

We are now accepting applications from first and second year law students for summer judicial internships (unpaid).  Each intern must commit at least 10 weeks to the program – 40 hours per week.  Interested persons will find more information on the internship program using the link below.  This position is open until 4:00 pm on Friday, February 25, 2022.

https://15thcircuit.com/announcement/summer-interns

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING NORTH COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Friday, January 14: The North County courthouse is not open to the public due to facility issues.

Monday, January 17: the Courthouses are closed in recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Tuesday-Thursday, January 18-20–North County Courthouse DV cases: 

  • Domestic Violence Hearings scheduled for Tuesday (January 18), Wednesday (January 19), and Thursday (January 20) are moved to January 25, January 26, and January 27. Notices will be sent out.

Tuesday, January 18:

  • Judge Stephens’ traffic cases are reset to February 1st and February 15.  Notices will be sent out.

Wednesday, January 19:  North County Courthouse

  • Judges Stephens’ criminal cases are reset to January 26 and February 2.  Notices will be sent out.

Please monitor the Court’s Website for more information.

THE FLORIDA BAR STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONALISM AWARDS WORKING GROUP ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS

On behalf of The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism Awards Working Group, please be advised that nominations are now being accepted for the following awards:
 
William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award –
This award recognizes an active judge who best exemplifies strength of character, service and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant.
 
Group Professionalism Award –
The Group Professionalism Award recognizes a program instituted and coordinated by a bar association, judicial organization, inn of court, or law school organization aimed at enhancing professionalism among lawyers and law students.
 
 
Law Faculty/Administrator Professionalism Award –
This award recognizes a faculty member or administrator of one of Florida’s law schools who best exemplifies the mission of the Standing Committee on Professionalism.
 
 
The individual awards are presented to those who have gone above and beyond in providing outstanding service to the public and legal community. If you would like to nominate a member of The Florida Bar for consideration of one of these awards please complete the nomination application online, which can be found at:
 
 
Nomination is fast and easy! The website will take you directly to the application, which will require the nominee’s names, title, and description of what services they have provided and should be recognized for.
 
Please note that the deadline for nominations for all three awards is February 11, 2022.

Managing Client Expectations in Mediation

By: Al LaSorte
Published: January 2022

One reason that mediations fail is parties arriving at mediation with unrealistic expectations about settlement terms. By educating their clients about the mediation process and frankly discussing the strengths and weaknesses of their cases with them, lawyers significantly increase the likelihood of reaching a mediated settlement.

Several reasons for clients’ unrealistic mediation expectations come to mind. First, litigation is stressful.  Whether as plaintiff or defendant, a pending suit can be the most stressful problem in a client’s life. Litigants with little court experience may be hoping the other side will just wave the white flag at mediation and give them the result they seek. This, of course, never happens in the real world.

Second, because lawyers generally like their clients and their cases, it’s understandable that some “preaching to the choir” occurs between lawyers and clients about their cases’ strength. While expressions of case enthusiasm may engender clients’ confidence in their lawyers, they can also make it harder for clients to objectively evaluate their cases’ weak points, thereby overestimating their own cases and underestimating their opponents’.  This, in turn, makes compromise much harder to achieve.  And compromise, of course, is the very heart of the mediation process.

Third, law firm ads on TV, radio, social media and billboards bragging about their clients’ huge recoveries no doubt inflate expectations as to what plaintiffs can expect in their own cases.  The same is true when clients hear anecdotally about all the money Uncle Louie or their next-door neighbor won in their lawsuits.

For mediation to succeed, it is crucial for all parties to objectively evaluate their cases’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as outside issues such as collectibility, before entering the mediation room (or, more likely these days, joining the Zoom conference).

Granted, it’s not always easy for lawyers to be candid with clients about their cases’ weaknesses. Will the client think the lawyer doesn’t believe in their case if she points out its flaws?  Will the client maybe start looking elsewhere?

There is an obvious tension between a lawyer’s roles as advocate and as counselor. But clients need both. A frank discussion of a case’s bad points not only increases the likelihood of settlement at mediation, it also helps with expectations in the event the case ultimately has to be tried.

Clients also may not appreciate how outside variables can impact the result if the case must be tried, regardless of the case’s merits. Witnesses’ memories fade; judges are human, and sometimes make mistakes; many areas of the law are unsettled and therefore uncertain; appeals are expensive and difficult, and can take years to complete. Building an informed and realistic client requires all these issues be discussed and taken into account.

Managing client expectations requires certain steps before, and others during, mediation. Before mediation, be sure to incorporate discussion of the weaknesses in your client’s case, and the uncertainties in litigation in general, into your preparation regimen with the client. This can be done constructively, and doesn’t have to cause your client to doubt your enthusiasm, or your intention to give one hundred percent toward achieving the best possible result for them.

There are so many things that could go right, or wrong, in every lawsuit. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times, as a mediator, a party bragged to me that “my lawyer says I’ve got a ninety percent chance to win.  Why should I settle for less?”

Clients with such high expectations are understandably reluctant to compromise meaningfully. A more candid pre-mediation discussion with the client about what could go wrong would help them to understand the real risks, and to factor them into their evaluation of what a reasonable compromise would look like.

Ideally, your mediator will be someone the client considers authoritative. Retired judges have that gravitas which lends them credibility in a mediation setting. So do litigators with long careers in the particular area involved in the case.  A mediator who has spent years trying similar cases will likely be seen by your client as an expert. With that expertise comes credibility as to the hurdles that the case presents.

During mediation, look to the mediator for assistance with an unrealistic client. In private caucuses, don’t hesitate to ask the mediator what problems they anticipate a trial will present.

Then, when the mediator moves to a different room, take advantage of this private time with your client to discuss the points the mediator just raised. This can be done constructively, and without sounding like you think the case is a loser. Remember, you are not just their trial lawyer, you are their counselor. So, counsel them!

In conclusion, successful mediation depends on your client becoming as objective as possible about the chances of success and failure. Frank discussion in advance of, and during, mediation will help your client develop reasonable expectations, in turn increasing the likelihood of settlement.


For additional ADR tips and resources, go to https://www.palmbeachbar.org/alternative-dispute-resolution-committee/ 

After a long career at Shutts & Bowen LLP as a commercial litigator specializing in real estate and general business cases, Mr. LaSorte now acts exclusively as mediator and  expert witness through his own firm, Alfred A. LaSorte, Jr., P.A. d/b/a LaSorte Mediation.  (www.LaSorteMediation.com).  Mr. LaSorte can be reached at (561) 286-7994 and Al@LaSorteMediation.com.