The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism (1) was created in 1996 through a joint effort by the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar to promote and encourage professionalism throughout the state's judicial system and law schools, instilling the ideals of character, civility, competence, and commitment to all those persons serving therein. The center's namesake, Judge Henry Latimer, was a distinguished attorney who embodied service to family, community, and profession. He served as one of the first African-American judges in Florida and was a mentor to thousands over his 30-year career. The Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism is currently staffed by Director Rebecca Bandy, Assistant Director Adriannette Williams, Law Clerk Hillary Thornton, and Program Coordinator Beth Kirkland.
The center is a resource for all things professionalism-related, especially for solo practitioners and small firms. Many times, lack of professionalism and incivility are caused by attorneys who are inexperienced, who lack mentors and social networks, or who are struggling with work-life balance. With this in mind, the center relies on its two Bar committees, the Standing Committee on Professionalism (SCOP) and the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee (SEABC), to plan and implement programs, events, and activities to promote professionalism throughout the state. This includes designating award recipients for three professionalism awards presented at The Florida Bar Annual Convention's Judicial Luncheon and hosting a Stakeholders' Workshop in October 2018, which brought together members of The Florida Bar, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and law school administrators and faculty, to discuss how to best teach professionalism to students and prevent common professionalism issues. The center and SEABC are currently planning a panel discussion at FSU College of Law, "How to Become the Lawyer You Are Supposed To Be," which they hope to soon replicate at the other law schools.
In February, the center received $400,000 from a four-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The funds were levied as a result of sanctions against two law firms and are to be used in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) to develop and maintain professionalism and ethics programs for law schools and young lawyers.
In order to disseminate the message that professionalism is an expectation, not an aspiration, the center...