From the President: It's the most wonderful time of the year

We can add to the celebrations by helping others.

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  • | 5:30 a.m. December 10, 2018
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By Katie Dearing, JBA President

I love the holiday season.

There is something magical about seeing Christmas through the eyes of my children. We cut down our own Christmas tree. We put up holiday lights and inflatables (yes, we’re that family). We bake cookies using my mom’s recipe. We spend the holidays with friends and family and savor every last minute of holiday cheer.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. We are truly fortunate.

Katie Dearing
Katie Dearing

But for many in the Panhandle who are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Michael, there is less to be thankful for this year and the holidays aren’t as wonderful.

The Category 4 hurricane devastated property and lives and our help is needed.

During our November member luncheon, Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division President Christian George reported the YLD is seeking volunteers to staff The Florida Bar’s Disaster Relief Hotline in the aftermath of the hurricane. 

Volunteers provide basic legal services for low-income people in non-fee generating cases, such as landlord/tenant and other housing problems, consumer protection matters and home repair contracts.

The most pressing need is for volunteers to return calls placed to the YLD’s toll-free hotline or at FEMA centers.

 The YLD will provide volunteers assistance with basic subject matter questions and has arranged for law students to provide free research to volunteering lawyers.

More information is available on the YLD website (

Contact Christian George at [email protected] if you are available to volunteer.

JBA Holiday Project

Another way you can help people in need this holiday season is through participation in the JBA Holiday Project.

Each year the association partners with Aging True and Meals on Wheels to provide local shut-in seniors with holiday cheer.

Most ask for small household items like slippers, pajamas, heaters or snacks. Many attorney sponsors choose to personally deliver their gifts and spend time with their senior.

I have participated in this project for many years and have taken friends or, more recently, my family, to spread a little holiday cheer.

If that’s not your cup of tea, but still want to help, officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office volunteer to deliver many of the gifts.

This year we have 251 seniors participating, but we do not yet have enough lawyer sponsors to match everyone with a senior.

If you are interested in sponsoring a senior for the holidays, contact the Jacksonville Bar office to volunteer.

Lawyers are fortunate and we often have an urge to give to others less fortunate than us, particularly during the holidays.

Through these programs, we show our appreciation for all that we have and our commitment to helping our community.

Whether you participate in these opportunities or you support different organizations, be as generous as you can.

JBA Bench and Bar Holiday Party

On another note, the JBA Bench and Bar holiday party is Dec. 19 at Wells Fargo Center. This is a signature event with good food and drinks. I hope you will take time from your busy schedule and join us as we celebrate the holiday season together.

Judges retiring

Finally, I would be remiss in this season of giving thanks if I didn’t say thank you to the six judges in the 4th Circuit retiring at the end of this month: Judges Brent Shore, Sharon Tanner, Hugh Carithers, Peter Dearing, Robert Foster and Elizabeth Senterfitt.

Each of these judges was an accomplished and successful lawyer before joining the bench and each embodies the qualities of a good judge — intelligence, integrity, fairness, impartiality and ethics.

 They demonstrated leadership in both civic and professional organizations, including the JBA, and each leaves an indelible mark on our profession and our judiciary.

We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service to the Bar and to the public. 

Katie Dearing is President of the JBA Board and judge-elect for the 4th Judicial Circuit.



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