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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 22, 202212:00 AM EST

Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association marks 50th anniversary

The organization recognized its founder, Senior U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association celebrated its 50th anniversary Sept. 14 by honoring its founder, Senior U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger.

The chapter was established in 1972, when Schlesinger was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville.

Its members are government lawyers, attorneys in private federal practice in small to large firms, attorneys in corporations and federal agencies and members of the federal judiciary.

Schlesinger served as its president four times in the organization’s five-decade history: 1972-73, 1973-74, 1978-79 and 1981-82.

“Nobody was volunteering and we wanted to keep this thing going,” Schlesinger said.

The association spearheaded change in how cases are handled in federal court, not only in Jacksonville but across the country, such as witness lists, rules of discovery and attorney compensation, he said.

Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association members and their guests met Sept. 14 to honor Senior U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger, the chapter’s founder.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Barksdale, chapter president in 2011-12, recalled how the chapter evolved.

The chapter’s annual Spirit of Giving luncheon that each December recognizes attorneys and judges for pro bono and community service was established in 2008, beginning a tradition that continues today.

“It’s our annual failed attempt to get a U.S. Supreme Court justice to visit Jacksonville,” Barksdale said.

The monthly meetings were moved from ballrooms in Downtown hotels to the Main Public Library and then to the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse when it opened.

“The chapter has given us hundreds of hours of CLE and hundreds of friendships,” Barksdale said.

Susanne Weisman, law clerk for Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, said she joined the organization in 1999 and its board in 2010.

“It is one of the most rewarding professional volunteer experiences I’ve had. Judge Schlesinger instilled the values of collegiality and professionalism. I am a better lawyer and a better person for it,” Weisman said.

Weisman was chapter president in 2014-15.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli from the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida was Schlesinger’s law clerk from 1998 to 2000.

“This Bar is by far one of the most collegial in the country because of the leadership started with Judge Schlesinger,” Porcelli said.

Laura Renstrom, the 2022-23  Jacksonville chapter president, announced that the chapter’s annual recognition meeting will now be known as The Hon. Harvey E. Schlesinger Spirit of Giving Luncheon, effective with the 16th edition scheduled at noon Dec. 8 at The River Club.

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