2016 Annual Reports of Committees of The Florida Bar 2017.

 
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Admiralty and Maritime Law

The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee held its annual meeting on June 15, 2016, at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria. The Admiralty Committee was excited to present the 2017 Annual Admiralty Law Update and Board Certification Review at the Miami office of Shutts & Bowen, LLP, on January 31. This free program provided 10 general CLE credits and 10 credits toward admiralty and maritime certification. Both meetings were well attended by both committee members and admiralty practitioners in person and by telephone. The committee thanks vice chairs Alan S. Richard, Stephen M. Moon, Scott A. Wagner, Raul J. Chacon, Michael E. Conroy, and Robert L. Gardana for their service and work this year in making this a successful year for the committee.

The June 15, 2016, meeting included a Florida legislative update by Capt. Alan S. Richard and presentations on "The Opening of Cuba: Cruise Ships, Pleasure Yachts, and Cargo Trade" by John Thomas and "Maritime Security" by Robert L. Gardana.

The January 31 CLE and committee meeting, led by committee Vice Chair Robert Gardana was the third in a new tradition for the Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee by holding its winter meeting combined with a CLE presentation. Chapter authors from the upcoming fifth edition of Maritime Law and Practice that were not currently serving on the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee were asked to present general information and law updates on the subject of their chapter of the book. This allowed for presentations by members of the committee on wide-ranging subjects as both a review and as information for those practitioners who have not yet taken the admiralty and maritime certification exam. In addition to the presentation of chapters from the book, LexisNexis sponsored lunch and presented information related to legal research for maritime law. The all-day meeting was followed by a reception at the Shutts & Bowen offices. The committee thanks Shutts & Bowen, LexisNexis, SEA, and National Maritime Services.

The committee has been presented an issue of substantive law for discussion and determination by the committee. A subcommittee, led by Vice Chair Alan S. Richard, has been appointed to discuss the issue of attorneys' fees in an alleged wrongful arrest case and whether substantive law conflicts with the local rules of the three federal districts. In addition to this specific question, the issue of uniformity of the local rules between the Northern, Southern, and Middle districts will be addressed by the subcommittee. The subcommittee will meet in the beginning of this year, and will make a report and recommendation to the entire committee for discussion at an upcoming meeting of the committee. Thank you to the members who have volunteered for this important subcommittee.

One of the continuing goals of the committee was met this year when the fifth edition of Maritime Law and Practice was uploaded to the Bar for publication in early 2017. In addition to the many authors and steering subcommittee members, the committee thanks Florida Bar Legal Publications Director Krys Godwin and Florida Bar Legal Editor Josine Blackwell for their continued work over the past year in making the updated publication a reality. Returning this book to publication has been a goal of the committee since the publication of the fourth edition in 2004.

The committee is excited to move into 2017-2018 with new leadership of Robert L. Gardana as the incoming chair. The committee will continue to offer members the opportunities to appear remotely, via telephone, or teleconference for both CLE opportunities and committee meetings.

I have greatly enjoyed my time as chair of the committee, and I thank the committee members for their continued involvement and support with the activities of the committee. A special thank you to our Florida Bar staff liaison, JoAnn Shearer, and our Board of Governors liaison, John "Jack" Hickey. It was a very busy year for the committee, and without support from its members, liaisons, and leadership, could not have accomplished its many goals.

C. Ryan Eslinger, Chair

Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification

This year the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee continued its work of preparing a comprehensive exam to test for the knowledge, experience, and abilities of Florida lawyers striving to become certified in the area of admiralty and maritime law. This unique area of the law provides a challenge to test preparers and test takers.

The certification exam covers 15 distinct areas of admiralty and maritime law, including admiralty jurisdiction, marine insurance, limitation of liability, maritime liens, and maritime personal injuries. Each area may contain as many as five or six subtopics, all of which are important areas of inquiry for the exam. The exam includes 100 mandatory multiple-choice questions, and six fact patterns, two mandatory and two chosen by the taker. The questions reflect the various specialties within the field, testing the applicant's broad knowledge of admiralty procedure and maritime law.

One goal of the committee and the Bar is to increase the number of certified lawyers to 75 as soon as possible. The committee encourages certified attorneys and law firms to mentor younger lawyers who are practicing admiralty and maritime law and will soon be meeting the five-year minimum experience requirement for taking the exam. Presentations promoting certification have been made at admiralty and maritime conferences, including the Southeast Admiralty Law Institute held every year in June, Mariner's Club conferences in Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee meetings, and The Florida Bar Admiralty Law Committee's Annual Admiralty Law Update.

During 2016-2017, the committee met both by telephone and in the Bar offices in Orlando to prepare and review test questions. This preparation also included asking certified attorneys not on the committee to review a section of the proposed exam to ensure the accuracy of the questions.

The committee also reviewed the applications submitted by potential test-takers to ensure applications met the minimum qualifications for certification. In addition, the committee reviewed applications for recertification along with applications for advanced admiralty and maritime law certification credits based on seminars and presentations given in Florida and around the country.

Admiralty and maritime lawyers who were certified in 1997, 2002, 2007, or 2012, will be due to file a recertification application by June 15. The filing period for initial applications is July 1-August 31.

Thank you to the members of the 2016-2017 committee for their hard work and commitment to ensuring the highest standards for certification are maintained. Committee members for 2016-2017 are Vice Chair Theresa M. Bennett, Mark R. Ercolin, C. Ryan M. Eslinger, Allan R. Kelley, Joanne M. Foster, Christopher R. Koehler, Frank J. Sioli, Jr., and Michael W. McLeod. A special thank you to our former Bar staff liaison, Charlotte Bell, whose hard work and support were indispensable to our work throughout this past year. We welcome our new liaison, Jason Rawls, who will guide us through the next phase of exam grading and then starting the process of test preparation and application review all over again.

I invite all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in this exciting and expanding area of the law. Raul J. Chacon, Jr., Chair

Adoption Law Certification

The Adoption Law Committee had another productive year. Seventeen certified lawyers applied for recertification and two initial applicants were approved to sit for the examination in March. Grading exams was completed in April. This year, the committee posted additional model multiple-choice questions to The Florida Bar website for the benefit of applicants at the request of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education. The committee also continues to post information on adoption-related CLE for use by potential applicants.

The committee met throughout the year by phone and in person to review applications for certification and recertification, and to prepare the examination and model answers. The applicant review process includes a determination as to whether each applicant meets the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. This incorporates a comprehensive peer-review process. The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to all of the judges and attorneys who responded to requests for peer reviews and evidence of substantial involvement. All submissions were carefully considered by the committee in the evaluation of each applicant.

The committee continued its consideration of an accommodation for Florida Bar members residing out of state. The committee researched the adoption laws of numerous states and debated the issue of the appropriateness of a possible accommodation in this state-specific area of the law. Additionally, the committee continued its outreach to potential board certification applicants. The committee held its September meeting in conjunction with the Florida Adoption Council's conference in Orlando. The committee discussed certification with the adoption attorneys in attendance at the conference and encouraged them to submit their applications.

Those adoption attorneys certified in 2012 are due to recertify this summer. Recertification applications have been posted to The Florida Bar website. Recertification requirements must be met by May 31, and the recertification application must be postmarked by May 31. If an extension is needed to meet the recertification requirements, a request must be postmarked by May 31. The filing period for initial certification applications begins July 1 and ends...

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