December 2019 Video Message from Florida Bar President John Stewart

I am John Stewart, president of The
Florida Bar, and this is my December President’s Message. Well, of course, we’ve been working very hard with the Board of Governors, with our local voluntary bar leaders and our
members throughout the state to assure that we’re staying on top of the issues
that are important to the lawyers of Florida.
These include issues and the changing legal marketplace,
technology, mental health and wellness, promoting our CLEs, and making sure that
we do the two things that we’re obligated to do and that we do best. And that’s one,
protect the public, and serve our members. Well, thanks to our hard-working Board of
Governors and our voluntary bar leaders across the state, we have quite a few
successes in the early part of this year. First, on December 12, was filed chapter
23, the voluntary registration of online legal service providers. This is designed
both to protect the public when utilizing these services, as well as
making it clear for our members when they are able to participate with these
programs properly and responsibly under the rules regulating The Florida Bar.
Additionally, we recently learned that the Florida Supreme Court approved a
version of the parental leave continuance rule, which is a rule that
was strongly supported by the Board of Governors. It’s something that we are
very excited about that we think promotes diversity in our profession and
also promotes general mental health and wellness amongst our members. Well, following on the heels of the
filing of the voluntary registration for online legal service providers, the
Florida Supreme Court has directed us to look at the broader legal marketplace,
the broader legal landscape, and to address a variety of issues that
entails, which will be a primary focus. We’ll be
drawing in our voluntary bar leaders to help us with that. We’re also going to
continue to focus on diversity, diversity within the leadership of The Florida Bar,
and also continue to push for diversity amongst the judicial nominating committees,
which is an important role and something that we take great pride in. We’re going
to continue to push as we have for years for mental health and wellness
initiatives. That continues to be a huge priority of The Florida Bar, and I see it
continuing to be a priority of The Florida Bar for years to come
including following me with my president-elect, soon to be president,
Dori Foster-Morales. Florida lawyers give all year round. I’ve always said that Florida lawyers are often social workers at heart. And I
think especially this time of year, as we get closer to our annual Pro Bono Award
ceremony where we recognize the lawyers who have gone above and beyond their
necessary contributions in the areas of pro bono and are recognized for those
efforts at the Florida Supreme Court, this year to be held on January 30,
we’ll continue to give back both financially and in hours of pro bono
dedication. We also recognize our voluntary bars around the state who
continually strive to improve their communities through various volunteer
projects at all levels, so it’s something that we’ll continue to do, and this time
of year is a perfect time to highlight it. Personally, I’m grateful for time
spent with family and friends. I’m grateful to be able to lead The Florida
Bar during this year. I’m grateful for my hard-working Board of Governors members. I’m
grateful for everything that Florida lawyers do for our community, and really
grateful that the rule of law still governs and that we’re able to provide
for the peaceful life of men and women in a peaceful state during this holiday
season. It’s been a great few months as president of The Florida Bar. I want to
wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season. I want to thank our members, our
hard-working Board of Governors, and our voluntary bar leaders, and looking
forward to a great 2020.

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