Welcome to the Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar. For over five decades, this Section has been committed to a promoting the art of trial advocacy, access to the courts, preserving the independence of the judiciary, and protecting the Constitutional right to a trial by jury. With these pillars as our framework, the Trial Lawyers Section serves as an advocate for the interests of all Florida’s trial lawyers, whether plaintiff or defendant, and whether private or public sector. At the same, we strive to provide unique and high-level resources and training to assist Florida’s trial lawyers to refine their skills, inside and outside of the courtroom. As our practices constantly evolve, including the inclusion of remote and virtual technologies as a common part of our practices, the Section addresses the needs of our members by providing up-to-date case law, continuing educational opportunities, and exposure to high level advocacy training to equip our members to effectively adapt to our changing litigation environment, including both the in-person and remote elements of representation.
The Trial Lawyers Section remains wholeheartedly committed to professionalism, civility, and cooperation among attorneys, while promoting efficient and effective discovery and trial advocacy. During the upcoming year, the Section leadership will continue to keep our members updated on potential changes to the practice of law as the Florida Supreme Court addresses and explores alternative proposals from various sources regarding improved case management and resolution procedures. The Section continues to be an active participant in evaluating proposed reforms to our judicial system, always with a keen focus on the specific impact that such reforms would have on the practice of trial lawyers. The Trial Lawyers Section is routinely requested to submit comments and white papers analyzing the pros and cons of such proposals, all of which are available to our members on the Section’s website. The Trial Lawyers Section is also commonly approached by members of the Florida Legislature seeking our specific input on pending or proposed legislation, looking for our Section to provide alternative ways to make the delivery of legal services more effective for the citizens of Florida. Whenever requested and whenever necessary, the Section’s leadership will continue to remain actively involved in the rulemaking and legislative process, and is committed to making sure that all involved are educated regarding the potential impact on Florida’s trial lawyers.
During the 2023-2024 Florida Bar year, the Section will continue its long-standing tradition of providing trial attorneys with outstanding CLE programs, and also provide our law students and teachers with equally compelling programs. Some of those include:
- Advanced Trial Advocacy. Our highly regarded program will be held again this year at the University of Florida Levin College of Law in May 2024. The unique Advanced Trial Advocacy program provides trial lawyers, with a minimum of 5 years of experience, the opportunity to improve their advocacy skills. With a prestigious faculty that includes experienced and talented trial lawyers and judges from throughout the State, the week-long program provides advocates the opportunity to prepare and perform all aspects of a civil trial and receive powerful analysis and feedback. In addition, throughout the week-long program didactic presentations add to the experience, providing insight and instruction on each part of the civil trial. Attending this program alone provides 40 hours of CLE credits.
- Civil Trial Update and Board Certification Review Course. Held each February, the Board Certification Review Course prepares trial lawyers for the upcoming Board Certification examination. In addition, however, attending this one CLE program every year provides the information trial lawyers need to successfully represent their clients and be current on the law concerning all aspects of client representation, civil procedure, and trial techniques. Two days of lectures from the finest trial lawyers and judges in our state address a civil case from start to finish, and provide participants with over 500 pages of written resource materials to which they can refer throughout their practice.
- Teachers’ Law Symposium. Every January the Section produces the Teachers’ Law Symposium, a civics education seminar for middle and high school civics, social studies, government, and law teachers from throughout our State. This year’s program will be held in Orlando, Florida. From its inception in 2012, the program has consisted of presentations from trial lawyers, judges, and legislators who have particular expertise in our justice system. The program provides the teachers with additional resources and tools needed to educate, encourage and inspire the next generation of students about the functioning and importance of our civil justice system. The presentations are modified slightly each year, but commonly address Analyzing the First Amendment and School Issues, The Role of the Supreme Court in Our Constitutional Democracy, The Independent Lawyer, an Overview of the State and Federal Court Systems, and Anatomy of a Criminal Trial.
- Chester Bedell Memorial Mock Trial Competition. This event is one of the most important mock trial competitions of the year. Every Florida law school is invited to send multiple teams to this competition which is held in concert with the Teachers Law Symposium each January. In this competition, the best advocates among the Florida law schools compete to determine each year’s best trial advocacy team.
- Florida Handbook on Civil Discovery. It is anticipated that a new Civil Discovery Handbook will be published this Bar year. The Handbook is published through the joint efforts of The Trial Lawyers Section, the Conference of Circuit Judges, and the Conference of County Court Judges. The Handbook aims to curtail perceived discovery abuses and is provided to all approximately 1,300 members of the State and Federal judiciary in Florida. A copy of the Handbook is provided to each judge in the state of Florida, and most judges have a copy at their bench as a commonly used resource.
- CLE’s. The Section will continue to provide extensive CLE programs, both online and in-person during the upcoming year. Programs will include Hot Topics in Evidence and Advanced Medical Malpractice, among many others.
The Trial Lawyers Section provides impressive and exclusive benefits to its members. Through its programs, advocacy, on-line resources, and CLE’s, Section membership is essentially one-stop shopping for a Florida trial lawyer. We strive to provide our members the very best resources which will enable them to provide their clients the very best advocacy. We also advocate for trial lawyers and promote the hard work of trial lawyers to the public, allowing trial lawyers to better serve their clients.
At the same time, the Section serves as a network for both young and experienced trial lawyers from throughout the state of Florida. Our highly diverse membership includes the finest trial lawyers from all areas of litigation practice, including plaintiff’s attorneys, defense attorneys, and commercial litigators practicing in both State and Federal courts.
If you are not already a member, we encourage you to join the Trial Lawyers Section. If you are already a member, we urge you to become more involved with the Trial Lawyers Section, as it will not only help you to improve as a practitioner, but will also provide you with numerous opportunities to serve the community in which you live and practice.
We look forward to seeing you this year at one or more of our events.
Paul J. Scheck
Chair of the Executive Council of the Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Section