The Jacksonville Bar Association was established in 1897 and incorporated as a nonprofit in the state of Florida in 1971.
The articles of incorporation state the purpose of the corporation include maintaining the honor and dignity of the legal profession, promoting improvements in the law and promoting professional ethics.
The document further states the JBA operates as a “scientific institution of learning in the field of the science of jurisprudence,” as well as a charitable association with respect to legal aid for the indigent and a debating and a literary society in the areas of legal philosophy and literature.
The JBA of 2022 still does all that, but also offers services that can help its members grow the business side of their law practice as well as opportunities for leadership and community service.
“If you want to be more involved in the legal community, call me and we’ll talk. There is room for everyone,” said Craig Shoup, executive director.
One of the JBA’s signature benefits is the regular lunch meeting featuring keynote speakers for members and their guests.
“I’ll put our luncheon speakers up against any organization in the state,” Shoup said.
The 2022 schedule so far includes the candidates for Florida Bar President-elect-designate Lorna Brown-Burton and Scott Westheimer on Jan. 12.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady is scheduled Feb.16, followed by Jacksonville attorney and Florida Bar President Mike Tanner on April 6.
The annual Law Day luncheon is May 4, featuring state House of Representatives Speaker-designate Paul Renner, along with presentation of the Lawyer of the Year and Liberty Bell awards.
State Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawson is scheduled for June 15.
“We suggest that you shouldn’t sit with your friends at the luncheons. It’s a way to meet new people and build your network,” Shoup said.
The JBA Lawyer Referral Service receives about 1,000 inquiries each month. It is a resource for people who think they might have a civil practice or traffic court issue that an attorney could help resolve.
Members who enroll to participate in the service have qualified clients referred to them. After a 30-minute consultation for a small administrative fee collected by the association, the attorney has the option to accept the case and then bill the client for legal services.
“It’s a great way to build a book of business, especially if you’re right out of law school and hanging your shingle,” Shoup said.
The JBA’s Young Lawyers Section, for attorneys 35 years of age or younger or those in practice for fewer than five years, organizes annual community projects for members to benefit nonprofits.
Events include a golf tournament, a poker tournament, a holiday gift distribution to older adults and a chili cook-off that allows law firms to pit their culinary skills against each other for bragging rights.
This year’s chili and cornbread competition is Feb. 19 at the Riverside Arts Market to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida.
“We put our support behind local charities that can use the support and YLS is a great way to network and socialize,” Shoup said.
The association also offers continuing education opportunities with CLE credits certified by The Florida Bar.
Several tiers of JBA membership are available with different levels of benefits. Membership dues are waived for the first year for new attorneys admitted to The Florida Bar or another state Bar association for fewer than 12 months, Shoup said.
Visit jaxbar.org for more information about membership, CLE programs and the Lawyer Referral Service.