JBA Judicial Sidebar Lunches provide opportunity to improve practice and professionalism

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  • | 12:00 p.m. January 31, 2011
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by JBA Judicial Relations Committee member Edward Birk

“Sidebar-noun. 1) physically, an area in front of or next to the judge’s bench away from the witness stand and the jury box, where lawyers are called to speak confidentially with the judge out of earshot of the jury. 2) a discussion between the judge and attorneys at the bench off the record and outside the hearing of the jurors or spectators.”

The Civil Division judges of the Fourth Judicial Circuit will gather with attorneys Feb. 3 for the second Sidebar Luncheon of The Jacksonville Bar Association’s 2010-2011 season.

This is another chance for attorneys to meet and engage in a direct conversation with judges during a forum designed to improve practice skills and maintain professionalism. Not all sidebar conferences are off the record, but this one will be.

The 90-minute lunch and learn session is an inexpensive way to earn 1.5 hours of CLE credit from The Florida Bar, to have a good lunch and to hear directly from the judiciary regarding techniques for improving professionalism and practice.

The JBA’s Committee on Judicial Relations sponsors the lunches to maintain the collegiality that is the hallmark of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. The committee has been sponsoring the sidebar lunches at least since 2007.

As with the first Sidebar lunch of the season with Family Division judges in December, the Civil Division Sidebar will encourage communication between judges and practitioners to achieve the overarching professionalism goals of the Judicial Relations Committee. Another luncheon is being developed to feature U.S. magistrate judges.

“There really is no better way than breaking bread together to build rapport and create an atmosphere of mutual respect and open minds,” said Marianne Aho of Marks Gray, P.A., who co-chairs the committee with Stacy Watson May. “Everyone one benefits — judges, practitioners, and most importantly our clients.”

Corrine Hodak, Bill Roelke and I will moderate the Feb. 3 Sidebar Lunch. As with the definition of “sidebar” above, there will not be any jury listening at the Feb. 3 sidebar. There will, however, be good food and good counsel for those interested in improving their professional skills.

The Family Sidebar in December was a sellout crowd and the Civil Sidebar promises to sell out as well. Any practitioner is welcome to attend.

There is still time to register for the Feb. 3 Sidebar Luncheon. Visit The Jacksonville Bar website, www.jaxbar.org, and register online.

Suggestions for continuing the work of the Judicial Relations Committee are appreciated. Any JBA member who wants to join the Judicial Relations Committee is welcome to do so. Contact Marianne Aho at 807-2555 or [email protected] and Stacy Watson May 866-4641 or [email protected].



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