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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 7, 202205:10 AM EST

From the President: Welcoming with open arms comes full circle

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Our voluntary Bar association fosters camaraderie between attorneys.

By Fraz Ahmed • Jacksonville Bar Association president

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Jacksonville Bar Association. The JBA started with 33 members and has since grown to more than 1,500 members.

The mission of the JBA always has been to serve as a forum for our profession and to consistently promote collegiality and professionalism.

One of the reasons our legal community is different from others around the state is because we have a strong voluntary Bar association that is member-centered and that fosters camaraderie between attorneys.

I became involved in the JBA almost immediately after graduation from law school. I could not imagine my legal career without the relationships I have made through Bar service.

I am the perfect example of how welcoming the JBA community has been and continues to be. 

My family immigrated to the U.S. when I was 2 years old. We grew up with very little, but made the most of what we had.

My mother worked two jobs, overcame breast cancer, and sent me and my two siblings to college and graduate school.

When I came to Jacksonville, I didn’t know anyone. Enter the JBA. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how much, or in my case, how little you have, you are welcomed. 

After graduating law school, without at first having much involvement with the JBA, I campaigned for a seat on the Young Lawyers Section board of governors. It was not a successful campaign.

Afterward, the leaders of the YLS and the JBA board of governors embraced me and encouraged me to get involved at the committee level.

The JBA community was more welcoming than I could have imagined. I started off as a committee member and then moved onto serving as chair of several JBA events.

The more involved I became, the more amazing people I met, from members of our local judiciary to attorneys in all different practice areas.

My involvement with the JBA organically fostered a level of friendship that could not be obtained in any other setting. 

We hope you plan to get involved with one of our many committees including commercial litigation, criminal law, appellate law, labor and employment, professionalism and mentoring, and judicial relations, just to name a few.

We are fortunate to have a great group of chairs and co-chairs with each committee this year.

For more information about committee involvement, contact our Executive Director Craig Shoup at [email protected].

In addition to Craig, I have to thank our incredible staff at the JBA including Carla Ortiz-Ramos and Tony Adams. They do a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes that keeps our organization moving. 

Keep an eye open for upcoming events and in particular the 125th Anniversary Bench and Bar Social that is being planned for September.

You will also see the rollout of a new website this summer and enhanced social media engagement. I couldn’t be more looking forward to the upcoming year. I hope to see you at our events. 

Fraz Ahmed is a partner and board-certified trial attorney at Coker Law. He practices plaintiff personal injury including automobile accidents, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, premises liability and negligent security.

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