Senior Lawyers Committee charts its course
By Gary Blankenship
Passing along professionalism standards and practice skills to younger lawyers.
Finding a way to use lawyers who no longer represent clients but want to remain active in Florida Bar activities.
Getting assistance with ever-changing technology.
Those were among the many topics and suggestions raised at the initial meeting of the Bar’s new Senior Lawyers Committee.
Chair Jake Schickel opened the meeting, held January 23 at the Bar’s Winter Meeting in Orlando, saying, “What we’ll do today is talk a little bit about what we’d like to see done, where we’d like to go, and organize a little bit.”
He added: “This is not to be a substantive law committee; this is to help us with the lifestyle and what we might do in continuing to practice and work. We’re not an enforcement group. The committee is to do ‘for’ lawyers and not ‘to’ lawyers.”
There was no lack of suggestions and observations from the several dozen lawyers of all ages in attendance.
Heather Patchen of Miami Lakes said she practices with her father and joined the committee “to learn how I can help him with the transition [to a reduced practice] because I know he loves it.”
Glenn Roderman, of Ft. Lauderdale, said he’s concerned with the declining ethics in the profession.
“I’m really into the old school ethics, which I don’t see much anymore,” he said. “I think there’s a lot we can do here in terms of ethics and mentoring.”
Martin Haines of Lake Park, a former chair of the Family Law Section, agreed.
“What I see is an evolving practice of ‘gotcha.’ And it’s the ‘gotcha’ element that started to piss me off,” Haines said, adding he wants to see judges welcome lawyers into the courtroom and lawyers welcome decisions from judges, not become angry about them.
Marie Antonados of Coral Springs isn’t interested in slowing down.
She said she doesn’t like being asked, “‘Are you trying to wind your practice down?’ No, I’m trying to keep it wound. I don’t want to be an old attorney who is sent out to pasture. I want to be an older lawyer with as much dignity as possible.”
George Waas of Tallahassee noted he retired after 40 years, including 32 years with the state, mostly in the Attorney General’s Office. He said he doesn’t want to hang out a shingle or join a law firm, but he does want to remain active in Bar activities even if he’s not practicing law.
“There should be a category of membership between active and inactive. I’m very much in favor of that,” he said. “If you’re not seeking clients, you ought to be able to remain an active member of the Bar.”
West Palm Beach attorney Leonard Singer, who has practiced since 1965, said, “The older I get the more I want to work. The biggest problem I’ve found is technology. Fortunately, I have two daughters who live near me and help me with technology.”
Daniel Vaughen of DeLand has the opposite wish. He wants to scale back his practice, except for clients who refuse to be referred elsewhere, and concentrate on helping other lawyers with technology issues, especially related to Apple products.
And so the meeting went.
Young lawyers who wanted to help senior members with technology or who want to scale back their practices to only cases they want to do. Older attorneys seeking to mentor younger attorneys and help them deal with the business of law so they can enjoy the practice of law and have a better balance between work and their personal lives.
Bar President Eugene Pettis and President-elect Greg Coleman attended the meeting and invited members to give their suggestions.
“We’re looking forward to your ideas and input,” Pettis said.
Schickel said he will appoint subcommittees based on ideas and interests expressed at the meeting, and also consider a website and newsletter for the committee.
“Now we take all the enthusiasm and ideas and try to put them into practice,” Schickel said after the meeting. “We are dividing into committees and subcommittees and will send everyone out with the message to bring back to the committee, at the Annual Convention, a game plan by which we can implement all these great ideas.”
For further information about the committee, email Lani Fraser at The Florida Bar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The inaugural meeting of the Senior Lawyers Committee took place last Thursday, January 23rd at The Florida Bar Winter Meeting at the Hilton Buena Vista in Orlando, Florida. I am both honored and humbled to be a member of this passionate group of attorneys, and hope to serve as a bridge between the “new” and the “experienced” attorneys.
Over 40 committee members, many of whom with careers spanning over 40 years and still in practice, were in attendance, as well as a number of members who participated via conference call. Committee Chair Jake Schickel began the meeting by emphasizing that the Committee’s mission has nothing to do with determining or enforcing the “fitness” of a senior lawyer. Instead, the mission of the Senior Lawyers Committee is focused on helping lawyers find a meaningful, dignified approach to transition from full time practice to the next phase in their career or possibly retirement.
Discussion opened up with a number of attorneys expressing a real concern over the lack of professionalism shown among many of today’s practitioners, and a desire of many to see the talk of professionalism put into action through a senior lawyer advisory council for existing and new lawyers, as well as judges in each circuit. Many also expressed a strong desire to pass along their wealth of knowledge through a mentorship program with new attorneys. Others discussed openly their frustration over not yet being ready to retire, but also not wanting to keep up the same pace.
The overwhelming theme throughout the discussion among members was a strong desire to share their knowledge and experience, and give back to the legal community as well as the community at large. As a professional who is relatively new to the practice of law, I am excited to be a part of what will surely be a ground breaking endeavor and look forward to being a part of the development of the Senior Lawyers Committee.
Heather A. Patchen will speak at the upcoming Eminent Domain Committee, Florida Bar Winter Meeting this Friday, January 24, 2014. The presentation entitled, “Moving Costs in Eminent Domain: A Mélange of Damages” will provide insight into the various overlapping remedies for damages available as a result of a taking, and will discuss the implications of the 2009 Florida Supreme Court case Systems Components Corp. v. Fla. DOT, 14 So. 3d 967 (Fla. 2009).
While attending the Florida Bar Winter Meeting, Heather will also participate in the inaugural meeting for the Senior Lawyers Committee. The Senior Lawyers Committee shall serve the interests and needs of the profession by fostering an interchange of ideas, sharing the accumulated knowledge and experience of its members and addressing issues that are of particular significance to senior lawyers. Heather was appointed to the Senior Lawyers Committee in November of 2013 and will serve a term until 2015.
Heather A. Patchen has been appointed to the Florida Bar’s inaugural Senior Lawyers Committee effective immediately and until June 30, 2015. The Senior Lawyers Committee shall serve the interests and needs of the profession by fostering an interchange of ideas, sharing the accumulated knowledge and experience of its members and addressing issues that are of particular significance to senior lawyers.