Welcome to the Trial Lawyers Section. Formed in 1967, The Trial Lawyers Section is the among the oldest and largest of the Florida Bar Sections. Our mission is primarily to promote access to courts and to help maintain the independence of the judiciary, but we do so much more. This Bar Year will be among the most challenging ever for trial lawyers. With the Covid-19 virus threatening all aspects of our economy and the very way we live our ordinary lives, it will be more important than ever to protect and promote the right to trial by jury and access to courts.
We are focused on increasing civility and cooperation among litigants and on eliminating hurdles to the smooth and efficient conduct of discovery and trial practice. Already the courts have implemented new rules and procedures relating to the remote taking of depositions, the conduct of hearings using remote technology resources, and they are actively working to address the backlog of jury trials, both criminal and civil, that is being created by the closure of the courts for in-person hearings and jury trials in our circuit and county courts. We have our fingers on the pulse of all of these changes and our website and social media platforms will keep you up to date on everything that impacts your trial practice.
Assuming that the virus does not prevent them, here are some of the things that we plan to do in the 2020-2021 Bar Year:
- Our Teachers Law Symposium and the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition will take place in Ft. Lauderdale this year after spending the last few years in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville. Currently, these two flagship events are scheduled to take place from January 20th through the 22nd in 2021. The Symposium brings together approximately 150 middle and high school civics and social studies teachers for a two day, all expenses paid conference on the importance of an independent judiciary, why we have separation of powers in our government, along with the vital role that trial attorneys play in the system. Contemporaneously, we sponsor the annual mock trial competition that pits the best advocates from Florida’s law schools against each other for the state championship.
- In conjunction with the Symposium and the Mock Trial Competition, we also annually host the Chester Bedell Memorial Luncheon. The luncheon is hosted by TLS in partnership with the Chester Bedell Foundation; an independent foundation devoted to the recognition and encouragement of lawyers who are committed to public service. The luncheon always includes a prominent keynote speaker on the issue of “The Independence of the American Lawyer.” Recent speakers include the Honorable Susan H. Black, Barry S. Richard, Jr., the Honorable Rosemary Barkett, and the Honorable Henry Lee Adams, Jr., among many others
- In Early 2021, we will host the popular two-day Civil Trial Update and Board Certification Review Course, providing 15 hours of Civil Trial Certification and Business Litigation Certification credit.
- Next May, the Advanced Trial Advocacy program will be held at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. This is an outstanding program for lawyers with a minimum of 5 years of experience and this year we hope to have a brand new and modernized trial problem to help energize the program and to make it even more beneficial to those looking to hone their trial skills. The ATA offers intense, hands on instruction from some of the best trial lawyers from across the state. A small group of barristers from England also attend annually and offer unique perspective on the art of trial practice. The ATA is limited to just fifty-six attorneys so that everyone gets a hands-on experience, along with earning 40 hours of CLE credit.
- We publish the Florida Handbook on Civil Discovery, which is on the desk of nearly every judge in the state. If judges are using it, you should too, and it can be downloaded from our website or you can purchase a hard copy.
- We will continue to provide an array of CLE Programs, including Hot Topics in Evidence, Advanced Medical Malpractice, the Raymond J. Ehrlich, Jr. Trial Advocacy Seminar and many others. The dates and locations for all of the CLE courses, as well as the availability of digital versions, will be available on our website, as well as the Florida Bar’s.
The Trial Lawyers Section offers many benefits to its members. It is a network of both young and experienced lawyers from Pensacola to Key West. The Section includes trial lawyers from all areas of practice. We are not a partisan organization, but rather we strive to represent the interests of plaintiff’s lawyers, defense lawyers and all lawyers that try cases in state and federal court. We encourage you to join us and help make the Florida Bar and the practice of law better than it has ever been, and we hope that each of you stays well and prospers in these difficult times.
J. Wiley Hicks
Chair of the Executive Council of the TLS