Adam Rabin elected 2012-13 President of the Palm Beach County Bar Association
During the 2012-13 bar year, Adam Rabin, as President, and the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Bar Association (PBCBA) focused on five key goals. They included the following:
- improving the culture of lawyer civility throughout South Florida;
- continuing to promote strong diversity and inclusion programs;
- developing future leaders within our bar;
- working to improve our CLE offerings; and
- hosting more membership lunches.
Below is a description of the bar’s achievements in these areas.
1. Improving the Culture of Lawyer Civility Across South Florida
PBCBA was the first voluntary bar association in South Florida to sign a Joint Resolution to promote lawyer civility and a more uniform following of the standards of professional courtesy across South Florida. Forty-one other voluntary bar associations (“VBAs”) and six chief judges throughout South Florida then joined us in approving and helping promote the Joint Resolution to the nearly 40,000 lawyers in South Florida (see the Joint Resolution at www.palmbeachbar.org).
During the course of the year, the joint committee, consisting of the VBAs’ presidents, directors, and professionalism chairs, worked together to promote lawyer civility not only to their respective members, but also to non-members. The campaign consisted of creating “Got Civility?” buttons to be disseminated at major bar events, encouraging VBA presidents and local judges to write articles in bar bulletins about lawyer civility, to have the VBAs host a mass “re-taking of the oath of attorney admission” at their respective bench bar conferences and membership lunches, publishing a letter to every lawyer in South Florida that promotes following the standards of professional courtesy, and obtaining media coverage of the project to promote the cause.
While it is expected that this project will continue for several years – as there is still much work to do to improve the culture of lawyer civility in South Florida – the VBAs were humbled by the recent announcement that our joint project won the Florida Bar’s Group Professionalism Award.
2. Continuing to Promote Strong Diversity and Inclusion Programs
Since 2009, PBCBA bar has strived to proactively promote diversity and inclusion awareness and programs within our legal community. They include an annual diversity luncheon or summit; a summer diversity internship program for law students; regular lunch meetings with firm managing or hiring partners about our diversity; pairing mentors with candidates interested in applying for the bench or a judicial nominating commission; encouraging the collaboration and participation from leaders of the minority and women’s bar associations; writing a monthly article in the Bulletin on a diversity topic; conducting a session for diverse law students at the annual Bench Bar Conference; participating in the annual Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation Picnic; creating a dedicated diversity web page on the bar’s website; launching the first of its kind “Diversity Placement Database” for firms to post job offerings for diverse candidates; and regularly promoting diversity projects and events to the media.
In just four years, our bar has come to be recognized as one of the most progressive VBAs in Florida for its commitment in promoting diversity and inclusion. PBCBA’s goal is for Palm Beach County to be known as a legal community that welcomes and provides great opportunities for lawyers from all backgrounds.
3. Developing Future Leaders Within PBCBA
PBCBA has focused on developing and encouraging future leaders. PBCBA’s premise is several-fold. First, that when a current board member, committee chair, or other leader sees the potential in another, he or she should take the take the time to encourage that person to take on a leadership position. Indeed, many board members were encouraged by another person at their firm or within the association to apply for a leadership position.
Second, during our planning meeting with this year’s committee chairs, we implemented a new policy that instead of committee chairs holding on to chair positions for years, our chairs instead would serve a presumptive term of one year. The theory behind this policy was to continue to create open opportunities for committee members to remain active and have the opportunity to chair the committee. The purpose of this is to continue to create new energy and creativity within our committees with the reward of receiving a chair position for great work as a committee member.
4. Working to Improve CLE Offerings
In recent years, PBCBA has seen a continuing decrease in CLE attendance. PBCBA attributed this downward trend to increased competition with the Florida Bar, other VBAs, private seminar companies, and online access to CLE content. To study this trend, PBCBA created a task force to review what content our competitors were offering, to review how our bar could improve technology to offer better seminars, and to analyze the types of seminars that are typically more valuable to lawyers.
During its review, the task force determined that PBCBA could improve its technology, set more specific goals for our CLE committees, and offer more creative and innovative types of seminars. As a result of these findings, the task force and bar staff spent months researching webinar technology, culminating with our bar offering its first webinar in March 2013. PBCBA also recently hosted its first Golf Mixer CLE in April 2013 and Legal Legends versus Younger Guns mock-trial seminar. During the coming years, PBCBA will be offering more webinars and continue the trend of innovative live seminars that mix quality content with networking opportunities.
5. Hosting More Membership Lunches
PBCBA recently has emphasized the goal of hosting more membership lunches with entertaining and informative keynote speakers. In 2012-13, PBCBA hosted six membership lunches as follows:
In October 2012, PBCBA hosted its annual diversity lunch that focused on helping women lawyers ascend to leadership positions within their firms with speaker Florida Bar President, Gwynne Young. PBCBA jointly hosted the lunch with FAWL, the F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr. Bar, and the Hispanic Bar.
In November 2012, PBCBA hosted U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (ret.) with nearly 700 people attending. We are proud to be the only VBA in the nation to host six Supreme Court Justices in 6 years. As has been the tradition when hosting Supreme Court Justices, PBCBA jointly hosted this lunch with the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.
In February 2013, PBCBA hosted Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge, Joel Dubina. Judge Dubina spoke on lawyer civility, writing tips, and practices that make for better advocacy before the Eleventh Circuit. PBCBA jointly hosted the lunch with the Federal Bar Association and the Bankruptcy Bar Association.
In March 2013, at PBCBA’s Bench Bar Conference, it hosted the former special counsel to President Gerald Ford, Benton Becker, who was responsible for negotiating the pardon of President Nixon. While listening to him, many felt like they were hearing an untold part of American history. After Mr. Becker’s presentation, PBCBA presented Susan Spencer Wendel, the longtime Palm Beach Post reporter on the courts, with a special lifetime achievement award for her lifetime of work and heroic courage in battling ALS.
In April 2013, PBCBA hosted public speaker and persuasion consultant, Marsha Hunter. Ms. Hunter provided many tips on gesturing, physiology, and techniques while communicating to judges, juries and public audiences. PBCBA jointly hosted this lunch with the Palm Beach County Justice Association.
In May 2013, for PBCBA’s Law Day lunch, it hosted Michael Glazier, the leading defense attorney in the nation representing universities under NCAA investigation. He represented every major university undergoing an NCAA investigation in recent years. With the controversial climate over the fairness of NCAA investigations, and the media frenzy for information about them, hearing from someone who leads these internal investigations for the universities was a fascinating topic.Conclusion
PBCBA could not have accomplished its goals without the hard work and dedication of its talented board of directors, energetic committee members, and exceptional bar staff. PBCBA believes that it is this mix of people that allows PBCBA to offer unique and quality programs to its members and makes the association one of the most respected VBAs in Florida.