Dear Section Members:
The new ‘normal’ seems to be half right: with new developments coming daily, ‘normal’ appears to mean anything but. One thing that may truly qualify for normalcy, even after we become free of the awful virus that required the development, is the virtual ubiquity of remote appearances. Be your medium Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Google Duo, courts, governmental bodies, homeowner associations, bridge clubs, and family gatherings have all found the technology to be readily available and fundamentally useful. In the past week alone I Zoomed in to make my appearance as an attorney fee expert; mediated with Zoom and its useful breakout rooms; and receive my invitation to appear at an appellate oral argument via Zoom. Three different legal functions, none of which would have used them two months ago, and all of which may continue to use Zoom well into the future.
This bold new era leads me to what the new normal brings for our Section with the upcoming Florida Bar Annual Convention now going all virtual. It means we will miss the camaraderie of being together in person, and, sadly, the cancellation of the beloved APS Dessert Reception. Our stellar programs chair, Diane DeWolf, may yet get an opportunity in the future to whisk you across the globe for a ‘When In Rome’ getaway, but COVID-19 has made both the real Roma and our make-believe dessert location inaccessible for the time being.
What we will not lose, however, is the opportunity to meet. The Florida Bar Convention is not canceled, just moved online, and with it both our annual meeting and committee meetings. Our annual meeting has traditionally been held on the Thursday morning of the Bar Convention, June 18, 2020, and this year will be no different, holding our spot from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Because it is virtual, however, there will be no obstacles to attendance, for practitioners from Pensacola to lawyers in Key Largo, or even advocates in Atlanta — you are all just one click away from being a part of our annual convergence. It is for this reason that I believe our attendance will go up instead of down, and I look forward to seeing (virtually) everyone there. Find the meeting schedule here.
But wait, there is more! Because the virtual format allow the Florida Bar to expand the conferences time frame, there is now considerably more room within which our committees can meet. Accordingly, rather than have all of our committees meet simultaneously, and a compressed committee marathon prior to the annual meeting, these committees can now spread out over the days prior to our annual meeting. No longer must you choose between attending the pro bono committee or the diversity and inclusion committee — do both! A listing of all of the committee meetings and their times can be found here; please consider this opportunity to explore these committees and find an area where you can become more active with your Section.
Still more? Why, yes. Something else not canceled is our APS planned CLE: Comparison of the Florida District Courts of Appeal 2020. This seminar proved to be a major success when we did it four years ago; so will our virtual reprise to be held on Wednesday, June 17, with jurists representing from every district court of appeal. While our panel might not have originally planned to discuss the differences between their methods for remote oral arguments, rest assured that and many other questions will be asked and answered! Details and information about how to reserve your virtual spot can be found here.
So, my fellow members, while I wish dearly I could see you all in person next month, I genuinely believe that the grand experiment of conducting our Bar conference virtually will not only provide us the important opportunity to still converge, but also provide new opportunities to enlarge attendance, participation, and the exchange of ideas that makes our Section the best in the Bar. See you in June!
Nicholas A. Shannin, Chair
Florida Bar APS Chair 2019-2020