September has been a busy month for The Jacksonville Bar Association.
For those of you who were not fortunate enough to attend, last week we had the first luncheon of the new Bar year. Mike Papantonio, the very well-respected trial lawyer from Pensacola, was our luncheon speaker. As many of you know, the JBA has been one of the sponsors of the Jax Reads!, a project that encourages people from all around the city to read the same book - Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” We invited Mike to speak about his book, “In Search of Atticus Finch,” in which Mike discusses one of the central characters of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch, as a role model for lawyers. Mike spoke about his books and also exhorted us to not let our day-to-day work routines, billable hours and the other trappings of our profession keep us from spending needed time with our families, serving our communities and developing and maintaining other interests in our lives. Mike’s message is one that I believe each of us should take to heart.
We have a great schedule of speakers for the JBA monthly luncheons for the coming year. Please take advantage of one of the best and most unique benefits of your JBA membership and make plans to attend our luncheons and enjoy the opportunity to hear from outstanding speakers and enjoy the fellowship of your friends and colleagues in our Association.
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Speaking of the Jax Reads!, as part of that project several members of the JBA Board of Governors have served as leaders for discussion groups about “To Kill a Mockingbird” at libraries, coffeehouses, community centers and other venues around the city. Alan Pickert and I led a discussion group at the Wesconnett Branch of the Jacksonville Public Library. That discussion group included approximately 30 high school students who were reading the book in their English classes. It was very interesting to hear their perspectives on the book and get a glimpse of their views on our system of justice. Today’s students certainly still have many of the same beliefs, concerns and aspirations of students of twenty years ago. At the same time, it is very clear that many of the views and misconceptions about our legal system that are widely held by portions of the public and discussed in the media have made a lasting impact on these students.
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This past week the JBA, the Christian Legal Society and the D.W. Perkins Bar Association jointly sponsored a seminar entitled Working Together: Race Relations Within Our Legal Community. Over 50 people attended this first-time seminar. I would like to extend our thanks to Circuit Court judges Karen Cole and Brian Davis, State Attorney Harry Shorstein and Steve Hanlon of Holland & Knight, who served as panelists for the seminar, and Chris Hazelip of Rogers, Towers, who served as the moderator. I would also like to thank Blane McCarthy and Rose Marie Preddy of the Christian Legal Society, Reginald Estill of the D.W. Perkins Bar Association and Diane Gill and Kelley Padgitt of the JBA staff for all of their hard work in putting on the seminar. I believe that the spirit of cooperation of these organizations in working together to create this seminar, and the high level of interest of our lawyers in considering and addressing this subject, speaks volumes about the quality of people who practice law in our community.
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In case you missed it, this month marks Diane Gill’s 10th anniversary as executive director of the Jacksonville Bar Association. Diane’s dedication and hard work have helped to make our Association one of the finest voluntary bar associations in the country. Diane always goes far beyond the bounds of duty in doing all that she can to serve our members. She is also invaluable to our Board of Governors and especially to your President in keeping this organization running smoothly. She survived the Hank Coxe reign, persevered through the Marc Mayo administration and with any luck might just get us through my year at the helm. I hope Diane is with us for many years to come.