Voluntary Bar leaders: Back to business

Nearly 50 groups convened for two days at a conference in Orlando.


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  • | 5:00 a.m. August 5, 2021
  • Law
  • The Bar Bulletin
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By Craig Shoup, JBA Executive Director

After missing 2020 because of COVID-19, The Florida Bar had its annual Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference July 16-17 at the Margaritaville Resort in Orlando.

This year’s theme was “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” 

Craig Shoup
Craig Shoup

Voluntary Bar associations of all sizes, 45 organizations from around the state, gathered to discuss issues facing attorneys and how voluntary Bars are restoring programs for members that had to be suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

The Jacksonville Bar Association was well represented with Treasurer Blane McCarthy, Young Lawyers Section President Cassie Smith and Young Lawyers Section President-elect James Poindexter along with myself attending.

Others attending from Jacksonville included The Florida Bar President Mike Tanner; Katheryn Hancock and Courtney Walters from the Jacksonville Beaches Bar Association; Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association President Kelli Lueckert; and Jacksonville Justice Association Executive Director Kelly Karstaedt.

Tanner gave an outstanding update on The Florida Bar and what the state group’s board of governors will be tackling this year. 

The past year was a challenge for voluntary Bar associations. Some were able to provide only limited programming, if any, in 2020. Comparatively, the JBA put on more than 30 CLE programs and offered more than 55 hours of CLE credit approved by The Florida Bar.

In addition to our CLE offerings, the JBA provided many opportunities for members to connect with each other, especially through our “Enough with the Hollywood Squares” series.

I was invited to speak about social programs we offered our members, including our outings at the Jacksonville Icemen hockey game and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball game.

I spoke about the happy hours we hosted with our past presidents, with JBA board Secretary Christian George at Mellow Mushroom and board member Lindsay Tygart at Burrito Gallery Brooklyn.

Other Bar associations were interested in our events like Dog Day with board member Jamie Karpman, our historic Downtown bicycle tour with board member Asghar Syed, learn to play Pickleball with McCarthy, virtual yoga with Duval County Judge Eleni Derke and Painting with a Twist with Young Lawyers President Ashlea Edwards. I won’t be surprised to see many of these events being replicated around the state.

The JBA continues to be a leader among the voluntary Bars in Florida. Whether through committee service, socials and networking events or another avenue, we will find a way to help our members participate.