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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 6, 202005:10 AM EST

Leadership, learning & more: The benefits of Bar involvement

It’s how to gain friendships, resources and assets.
Beth Luna

By K. Beth Luna & Sarah Sullivan • JBA Family Law Committee

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to one another,” former President John F. Kennedy said.

Not only are they indispensable, it is impossible to have one without the other. 

Bar involvement has many benefits. Lisa Dasher said it best: “I have found that involvement on committees leads to great friendships, mentors and learning. Working on committees stretches your abilities by providing opportunities to put together educational programs, researching on current topics in the law and presenting on those topics.”

More than 20 years ago, Sarah Sullivan’s mentor encouraged her to tag along at The Florida Bar annual meeting. It was truly awe-inspiring, intimidating and exciting to see the depth and breadth of what our Bar members were doing to support, improve and uplift the practice of law.

She was hooked. Around the same time, the local family law Bar was building the Florida Family Law American Inn of Court. Sarah applied and was admitted as an associate.

As a young lawyer, it was essential for her to share time and space with experienced lawyers to learn, hear war stories and establish professional networks.

Sarah Sullivan

The organization identified best practices and expectations of professionalism of its members, and having access to that mentoring proved invaluable to Sarah.

Our careers benefit from involvement in Bar activities such as education, networking and having the benefit of friends within the legal community to call on for support.

In addition to her leadership role with the Jacksonville Bar Association Family Law Section, Beth Luna leads several Florida Bar Family Law Section committees, including as secretary of the Legislation Committee.

This new role has required her to study pending legislation, existing family law statutes and case law. Seeing the legislative process in action and drafting and reviewing legislation drastically improves her knowledge of the law and provides an avenue to shape law and policy for the benefit of Florida’s families.  

Involvement in committees provides a good backbone for developing leadership skills. It forces us to work collaboratively rather than as adversaries.

Family lawyers often wear multiple hats. We are not only attorneys and trial lawyers, we also are small business owners, counselors, bosses, payroll administrators, office managers, law firm marketers and a number of other roles.

Benefits of developing and improving leadership skills impact how we lead staff, conduct business with other attorneys and interact with self-represented litigants. Continued involvement equals positive growth as attorneys and leaders. 

Local Bar involvement connects us with attorneys in our community who may not practice in our area of law. These connections can quickly become sources of referrals and a place to refer our own clients when they need assistance outside of our legal expertise.

These individuals provide guidance on issues impacted by another area of law in family law cases. So often in family law, we have crossover issues involving criminal law, dependency, probate and real property. 

We encourage you to engage in Bar involvement, whether it is local, statewide, practice-specific or even national.

For those already involved, we encourage you to foster involvement by others, mentor those who wish to elevate their practice and celebrate the many Bar associations in our community.  

K. Beth Luna is appointed as a general magistrate in the 4th Judicial Circuit and serves in Clay County. Sarah Sullivan is the pro bono director at Three Rivers Legal Services in Jacksonville. 

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