Welcome to the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar. For over five decades, the mission of this Section has been to promote access to the courts, preserve the independence of the judiciary, and protect the Constitutional right to a trial by jury. Despite the indelible effects of the pandemic on each of our lives, trial attorneys throughout the State have adapted and learned to utilize remote technology to participate in depositions, hearings, mediations and even jury trials as we recognize that our client’s interests in seeking justice could not be suspended indefinitely. We can now begin to transition from the social limitations and professional restrictions brought about as a consequence of the pandemic and return to in-person participation as we represent our clients as trial lawyers. This year will create unique opportunities as we continue to implement some of those remote technologies which may prove to be cost and time-efficient, along with the more traditional live participation that we as trial lawyers have enjoyed for centuries.
The Trial Lawyers Section is committed to professionalism, civility and cooperation among attorneys while promoting efficiencies in discovery and trial practice. The current leadership of The Florida Bar has made the standards and methods of enforcement for professional conduct a primary focus for this term. We, as trial lawyers, as well as our clients and the judiciary, are presently faced with a backlog of cases resulting from the restrictive effects of the pandemic; however, we have a responsibility to play a necessary and vital role in assisting the judiciary in its efforts to move cases through discovery, trial and toward resolution.
Despite the challenges that we faced last year, the Section continues to promote trial advocacy by hosting significant events in an effort to carry forward our mission. For example:
- The Section hosted the annual Teachers’ Law Symposium and the Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition virtually from Fort Lauderdale from January 20 through January 23, 2021, and these two cherished traditions hosted annually by the Section will continue in a live format this term. Specifically, the Section provided a virtual seminar that was disseminated to all middle school and high school civics and social studies teachers throughout Florida so that faculty could better explain the judicial system, the Federal and State Constitutions, and the principal of separation of powers. The five topics for presentation included Analyzing the First Amendment and School Issues, Preparing an Presenting a Mock Trial, the Role of the Supreme Court in the Constitutional Democracy, Anatomy of a Criminal Trial, and an Overview of the State and Federal Court Systems. Similarly, the signature Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition was again hosted by the Section despite the pandemic to determine the best advocates among the participating Florida law schools, and we will again host the Competition this term as we return to an in-person Competition.
- In February of this year and again in February of 2022, the Section will continue to host the popular two-day Civil Trial Update and Board Certification Review Course which provides 15 hours of civil trial certification and business litigation certification credit.
- The heralded Advanced Trial Advocacy program was held at the Rosen Center Hotel in Orlando as a live event last May, and the program will again be hosted in person in May of 2022 as we will likely return to the College of Law at the University of Florida. This program is open to all trial lawyers with a minimum of five years of experience, and the Section has incorporated a modernized trial problem designed to hone all advocates’ trial skills by offering an intense, hands-on instruction from some of the best trial lawyers and established members of the judiciary from throughout the State. The advocates who participate in ATA received substantial instruction and feedback, along with earning 40 hours of CLE credit.
- The Section is again honored to publish the Florida Handbook on Civil Discovery which will be delivered this Summer to approximately 1,300 members of the State and Federal judiciary. All members of the Section may download the Handbook from the Section’s website and have an opportunity to purchase for a modest cost a hard copy if desired.
- The Section will continue to provide an array of educational and informative CLE Programs, to include Hot Topics and Evidence, Advanced Medical Malpractice, and other meaningful topics designed to enhance trial advocacy.
The Trial Lawyers Section offers many exclusive benefits to its membership, and it serves as a network for both young and seasoned trial lawyers from Pensacola and through Jacksonville and down to Key West. The Section represents the finest trial lawyers from all areas of the litigation practice, and we strive to support the interests of plaintiff’s attorneys, defense lawyers and commercial litigators that try cases in both the State and Federal Courts.
If you are not already a member, we encourage you to join the Trial Lawyers Section and help make The Florida Bar and the practice of trial law better through your participation in our Section.
Lewis W. “Wil” Murphy, Jr.
Chair of the Executive Council of the Trial Lawyers Section