The Florida Bar annual reports of committees.


Admiralty and Maritime Law

The Admiralty and Maritime Law Committee held its annual meeting in June 2013 in Boca Raton, and its inter meeting in January in Orlando, providing its members with seven CLE hours and advanced credit toward certification. The committee reports that both meetings were well attended by the majority of committee members appearing in person or via telephone.

The committee continues its efforts to encourage the participation of members of the maritime industry in the committee, which provides a practical component to the meetings. The inclusion of maritime industry representatives also fosters a closer relationship between the maritime bar and the community it serves.

The June 2013 meeting covered the "State of Certification" in Florida and the ethical duty of competence; a report on the Maritime Labor Convention Enactment as of September 20, 2013; a navigational "Rules of the Road" update covering 1) changes to the COLLREGS by the IMO, 2) repeal of the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980, 3) replacement of the Inland Navigational Rules by the USCG Administrative Regulations, and 4) pending amendments to the USCG Regulations. The committee also launched a subcommittee devoted to the presentation of a yearly maritime law seminar, promoting ethics and professionalism in the practice of admiralty and maritime law, and reviving the Florida Maritime Law Practice Manual.

At the committee's January meeting, the Maritime Law Seminar Subcommittee began with a presentation regarding the creation of a Seminar Steering Committee, Finance Committee, a liaison with the Trial Lawyers Section, and a current list of topics and presenters. The committee business included a discussion regarding increasing exposure, marketing, and status. The committee also focused on concepts and ideas for increasing the recognition and growth of the committee within Florida and nationwide as a substantial contributor to the maritime bar, with a commitment to annual presentation and publication independent of an annual or biannual seminar.

Special recognition was given to the committee for its contribution to a law review article published in the Tulane Admiralty & Maritime Law Journal based on a 2013 committee meeting presentation on Fane Lozman, Petitioner v. The City of Riviera Beach, Florida, which made its way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

The committee's January meeting addressed substantive topics, including the current status of the Death on the High Seas Act and its application in instances of catastrophic claims occurring in the territorial waters of foreign states; the application of East River and the Economic Loss Rule

After Tiara Condo Ass'n v. Marsh & McLennan Cos., 110 So. 3d 399 (2013), and the ethics of arguing for an expansion or restriction of the law; and a roundtable discussion regarding effective preparation, response, and recovery when a catastrophic event occurs domestically. The committee and industry representatives discussed the strategy to be employed by the plaintiff and defense bar, including the benefits of a clear line of sight from pre-casualty response, risk management, and preparedness through ethical and responsible emergency response, mass casualty management, and recovery from responsible parties.

The committee is excited to move into 2014 with new leadership and will continue to allow members to appear via teleconference for CLE and meetings. We further invite interested members of the Bar to attend meetings and apply for committee membership.


Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification

This year, the Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification Committee continued its goal of developing a board certification exam that is appropriately challenging so that those who successfully pass can be assured that they can hold themselves out as true specialists in the complex and multidisciplinary field that is admiralty and maritime law. To that end, the committee met and had various exchanges throughout the year to decide how to better present the exam for this year and the future.

As of this writing, there are 62 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law in the state of Florida. This represents an increase of five over the previous year, which, in total, is more than 20 percent of all the admiralty attorneys represented in the membership of the Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute. The institute encompasses those who practice maritime law from Maryland south to Florida and west to Texas. Moreover, through continuing outreach to those devoted to the avocation that is admiralty law, the committee continues its determination to reach its goal of 100 board-certified specialists in admiralty and maritime law within the next 10 years. All members of the committee have been working at encouraging their fellow admiralty and maritime law colleagues who are not board certified, but would otherwise be qualified to begin the process of obtaining the CLE credits required, to review the study program and take the test to seek board certification. The committee continues to set up informational booths at various admiralty and maritime law CLE events to increase marketing on the value of board certification and to generally talk up the benefits of board certification.

Current board membership includes Tim Boyd, Mark Buhler, Barbara Cook, Allan Kelley, Richard McAlpin, Michelle Valdez, and Joanne Foster, and we welcomed aboard our latest committee member, Raul Chacon. I wish the new chair continued success in meeting the challenges of the committee and emulating the work we have accomplished this year. It has been my distinct privilege to chair the committee this year. I cannot think of a finer collection of attorneys with whom to serve. I thank all of you for your contributions to our goals.

On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Lisa Morgan and her successor, Rachael Moulton, our excellent Bar staff liaisons. They are indispensable to the committee and we appreciate their work and continued support.

In closing, I extend an invitation to all eligible admiralty and maritime law attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for a maritime practitioner to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in the practice of this area of the law.


Adoption Law Certification

The Adoption Law Certification Committee certifies attorneys whose practice of law deals with the complexities and legalities of interstate and intrastate adoption placements, including civil controversies arising from the termination of the biological parents' parental rights and interstate placements. Certification in this field is the first of its kind in the country and was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2009. The Florida Bar, through the oversight of the Board of Legal Specialization and Education, has certified 24 attorneys as Florida Bar board-certified adoption lawyers.

Although this committee is one of the smaller certification areas, its members have been working to encourage their fellow adoption law colleagues who are not board certified, but would otherwise be qualified, to seek board certification. The committee continues its work on setting up informational booths at various adoption law CLE events to increase awareness and marketing on the value and benefits of board certification.

During the 2013-14 year, the committee met to view applications for certification and to prepare and grade the examination. Three meetings were in person, and thanks to the computer savvy of Amy U. Hickman, the remainder were held through Join Me online conference calls.

The committee reviewed and evaluated applications for the certification period. 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 attorneys and judges 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 expended innumerable hours drafting, reviewing, revising, and finalizing the initial certification examination along with the model answers. The exam consisted of two parts: The first part contained two long essay questions and 30 multiple-choice questions; the second part contained two long essay questions and 25 short-answer questions.

Members of the Adoption Law Certification Committee consist of Susan Stockham, chair, Sarasota; Mary Ann Scherer, vice chair, Ft. Lauderdale; Danelle D. Barksdale, Tampa; Amy U. Hickman, Boynton Beach; Ellen M. Kaplan, Coral Springs; Anthony B. Marchese, Tampa; Michael A. Shorstein, Jacksonville; Cynthia S. Swanson, Gainesville; and Jeanne T. Tate, Tampa. I thank each for their significant commitment of time, energy, and thought, which contributed to a productive and successful year. I especially thank Amy Hickman and Mary Ann Scherer for their extraordinary efforts and enthusiastic support in every aspect of our duties and responsibilities.

On behalf of the entire committee, I express our collective appreciation for the knowledge, skill, and experience of Carol Vaught, Kateri Timmes, and Vicki Simmons, our excellent Bar staff liaisons who worked with the committee this year. We thank them for providing wisdom, insight, expertise, and support for each of our meetings, while also providing key advice as to Bar policies and procedures.

In closing, I extend an invitation to all eligible adoption attorneys to apply for certification. There is no better way for an adoption attorney to advance his or her skills, professionalism, and ability to network in the practice of adoption law while raising public awareness of...

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