When I sat down to compose my Chair's Message, I was struck by an unfamiliar feeling: a loss for words. For those of you who know me, I usually have many things to say (in fact, probably more than people want to hear). But the truth is, our recent Chairs have made a lot of the points that first spring to mind when I consider the future of this organization. Those points cover related goals: expanding the Section with new members, especially young members; allowing new members to become a part of Section and make it their own; and, after celebrating 20 years, working towards — and looking forward to — another 20.
And then it occurred to me: my Chair's Message should be a report on these talking points — already artfully-articulated by my predecessors — as a kind of status update. How are we doing in achieving these goals? Where is the Section now? What have we been up to, as I write this message on August 1st, since the annual meeting? When it comes to these questions, I am not at a loss for words (see, that didn't last long), as I am excited and hopeful about what is in store for the Section.
First, we are well on our way to recruiting young, active members — a goal our Section has been pursuing for a long time. If you were at the annual meeting in June, you saw that our morning committee meetings were busier and better attended than ever. The room just hummed with activity. Better still, many of the folks in attendance were new faces, and I know from comments I have received that the old guard loved it. I also had the wonderful experience of being able to assign three or more assistant editors to every single publication we have; we had that many new people jumping right into the mix. I did not know most of these volunteers, and I loved that, too. Plus, I have, in my first month as Chair, received over 20 emails from individuals I have never met asking for a way to be involved in the Section. Wow. We are so glad to have new members, all willing to step in and help the Section. Welcome!
Second, our committees are roaring into action. Our Publications Committee — led by Kimberly Jones this year — is taking my breath away (in a good way!). Our editions of The Record are cranking back up, with June Hoffman leading the charge. You will see The Record on a regular basis this year.
Third, we have already made major updates to our website. Go take a look. We'll admit, we used to have a few items out of date — from the name and contact information of our Executive Council members, to our listing of past articles we have published in the Florida Bar Journal. No longer. Jonathan Streisfeld has quickly and efficiently made sure all of those updates have been made. If you see something we missed, please let us know and we'll take care of it right away.
Also on the website, we have removed the password protection for Section resources like The Record and The Guide. Use these tools, because they are there for you. We are hoping that removing the password requirement (because who ever knew the password anyway?) will make it easier to access all of the good information the Section puts out. So again, go surf our website. It's already getting stronger.
I could tell you more — like all of the CLEs Jessie Harrell is getting off the ground nearly a year in advance, or all the pro bono cases Sarah Lahlou-Amine seamlessly reviews, assigns, and handles — but I'll save that for next time. After all, I have to bank something for later, right?
I hope you're getting the idea. It has only been a month, but I can already say: all those calls to action that you have been hearing for the past couple of years? This Section is answering them, and I'm thrilled to be at the helm as it happens. Call or email me anytime, and I will plug you in. The Section is full of good lawyers doing going work, and we always have room for more.
— Ceci Culpepper Berman
Brannock & Humphries
100 S. Ashley Drive, Suite 1130
Tampa, FL 33602