More than 20 years ago, the Appellate Practice Section was founded with the goal of promoting excellence and professionalism in appellate practice. Thanks to the groundwork laid by the founding members, and the dedication of the Section's members and leadership over the years, together with the active involvement and support from Florida's state and federal appellate judges (for which we remain incredibly grateful), the Section has met that goal and more. And yet the end of the first 20 years is just the beginning of the Section's work. The first 20 years proved that with hard work and dedication, the Section can make a world of difference in our profession.
In a day and age where the Florida Supreme Court found it necessary to add civility to the Oath of Attorney, the role of the Appellate Practice Section in advancing professionalism and excellence remains vital. The Florida Bar's initiative in creating the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy is instructive. It is fundamental that in order to develop core values, dedication to excellence, and professionalism in the practice of law, and in order to train strong leadership with the same values and goals, the time to invest in the next generation of lawyers is now.
Obviously, the Appellate Practice Section and its members cannot impact, change, mentor, or train every young lawyer. Nonetheless, the last 20 years of the Section have proven we can make a big difference. Continuing on with our tradition of providing outstanding Continuing Legal Education programs is one way we can contribute. Another is by continuing our collaboration with the Young Lawyers' Division to put on the Robert Orseck Memorial Moot Court Competition with the discussion with the Florida Supreme Court that has become a highlight at the annual meetings. Yet another is by taking the time to mentor another lawyer and encourage him or her to get actively involved in the Section, whether it is an associate at your firm, another lawyer who is interested in appellate practice, or a law student who is an aspiring appellate practitioner.
I remember when I was a young associate just starting at Kubicki Draper many years ago, my mentor, Angela Flowers, one of my firm's partners and one of the Section's founders and a former Section Chair, encouraged me to get involved in the Section and brought me to the meetings. There was no question but that I would be involved in the Section, it was a given. In the same way, those with associates should encourage them to get involved and bring them to the meetings. It should be a given. Those without associates should invite a colleague. One of the most simple yet effective ways to get other lawyers involved in the Section is simply to invite them.
And getting involved in our Section is easy: simply show up at the meetings, get to know a group of collegial, good-natured people, and volunteer to help out in whatever areas pique your interest, whether it is the Section's Publications' Committee, the Outreach Committee, the CLE Committee, the Pro Bono Committee, or another area. So if you have an associate or other colleague who is not involved in the Section, or if you know someone who used to be involved, please invite them to our next meeting. And for those of you reading this, please accept this as an invitation from myself and from the Section to join us and get involved in advancing the cause of excellence and professionalism in appellate practice.
— Caryn Lynn Bellus
25 W. Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130-1712