by: Christopher V. Carlyle
I am both humbled and excited to serve as the Appellate Practice Section’s Chair for the 2015-2016 year. I am in the enviable position of leading the Section at a time when its finances have never been stronger. The Section’s reserves are at an all-time high, and Immediate Past Chair Ceci Berman began the process of addressing the long range planning for the Section in light of these reserves. Ceci spearheaded a survey that was sent out to Section members earlier this year, and the results of that survey were discussed by the Executive Council at the Florida Bar’s Annual Meeting in June. Also at that meeting, the Section was approached by representatives of The Florida Bar Foundation which provides funds for indigent legal services, and which has received substantial contributions from several other Sections in the recent past. Funding for that organization and its critical work has declined greatly as interest rates have fallen since the financial crisis of several years ago.
Over the course of the year we will address the questions of how much should be kept in reserve, as well as what should be done with the surplus. These are good problems to have, and it reflects well on the Section’s past leadership that we are in a position to consider these issues at this time.
As always, the Section will continue to provide excellent continuing legal education options for its members, as well as the Bar as a whole. CLE Chair Jessie Harrell is working with other Section members to prepare several live CLE programs over the course of the year, and those are enhanced by our monthly telephonic CLE calls (co-chaired by Chris Donovan and Kansas Gooden). We are also considering new CLEs in the upcoming year, and I encourage members who have ideas for a CLE to feel free to approach Section leadership. We will continue to provide relevant and informative articles under the direction of our Publications Chair Kimberly Jones, and we will continue to provide pro bono services under the direction of our Pro Bono Chair, Carrie Ann Wozniak. We are also in the process of working to review and update the Section’s by-laws, an unglamorous but necessary task.
It has been many years since the Section has held a leadership retreat, and perhaps the time has again arrived. The Section has been running smoothly and profitably for many years, but perhaps it is time to review how we might be even more effective, and to analyze if we are meeting the needs of our members as thoroughly as possible.
The Section once again was asked to participate in the Florida Conference of District Court of Appeal Judges Annual Education Program that was held on September 8-10 at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach. Section members worked closely with the judges on the educational programs and the Section, as it has in the past, sponsored a reception on the eve of the conference. Our next Section meeting will be held during the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando on January 21, 2016. Please consult the Section’s website for further details.
Christopher V. Carlyle