Here are the platform statements for the 2018 candidates for The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Eighteen candidates are running for seven seats, on each of seven different circuits.
Ballots will be mailed around March 1 and must be returned to the Bar's election company before midnight March 21. As in past years, members will have the option of voting with a paper ballot or online. Instructions will be included with the ballots.
First Circuit, Seat 1
Charles F. Beall, Jr.
In my discussions with colleagues, I keep hearing one constant refrain: I like my job, but I wouldn't want to be a young lawyer today. I find this both sad and discouraging. I decided to run for the Board of Governors to do what I can to change that.
These are turbulent times in the legal profession with new technologies, new competition, and increasing pressure from clients to reduce costs. The Bar has too often been reactive--rather than proactive--in dealing with change. That trend has been slowly reversed in recent years, and I intend to make certain that the Bar continues on that path moving forward.
The single biggest issue facing the Bar in the next year will be the activities and recommendations of the Constitutional Revision Commission and the possible changes the commission may propose to our judicial system. If elected, I will devote my energies to monitoring those proposals and making certain that the public is aware of the potential impact of any changes on our system of justice. I will also work with the Bar president and other Board of Governors members to lobby the Legislature to ensure that our courts are adequately funded and that the Bar remains independent of the whims of the legislative branch.
I believe I am uniquely qualified for this role due to my past involvement in the Bar and the nature of my practice. I have been active in the state and local bar associations for my entire career and have worked closely with attorneys and judges across the Panhandle and the state to make the Bar stronger. My leadership positions in the Bar include the following:
* Florida Bar, Board of Legal Specialization & Education, 2014-2017.
* Florida Bar, Appellate Practice Certification Committee, 2004-2010 (Chair, 2007-2008).
* President, Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association, 2004-2005.
I am one of just five Florida attorneys board certified in both appellate practice and civil trial, which gives me a broad understanding of the diversity of the legal practice in our state. My practice is also unique because, in my appellate practice, I routinely represent both plaintiffs and defendants, and I have handled appeals in virtually every type of case from personal injury to commercial litigation to real estate to bankruptcy to family law. I can represent the interests of all attorneys in the First Judicial Circuit because I work with all types of attorneys in my practice on a daily basis.
I look forward to the challenge of working to make certain my colleagues will no longer be pessimistic about the future of the profession I love. I would appreciate your vote so I can have that opportunity.
Jeremy C. Branning
The members of Florida's First Circuit are uniquely positioned in Florida's westernmost region to influence statewide Bar policies. For that reason, it is critical that our circuit maintain the strong representation on the Board of Governors that we currently have and fortunately have had for many years. As a trial attorney, my 17 years of litigation experience has allowed me to work with lawyers across the First Circuit and in nearly every practice area. I have become well informed of the challenges and needs facing the lawyers in our circuit.
The authority and influence of the Board of Governors affects our careers and the way we do business. I suggest that what we need is an experienced advocate who understands the demands made upon us, and who is willing to stand up and fight for the services and support we need from the Bar.
As an active trial attorney, I handle cases throughout Florida and have strong relationships with lawyers across the state. Many of these relationships began as opposing counsel and developed into personal friendships. I am currently serving or have previously held the following leadership roles that have provided me the contacts and the information to understand your needs and to be your advocate:
* Executive Council, Trial Lawyers Section of The Florida Bar (currently serving)
* Past President, Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Association
* Executive Council, Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association
* Membership Chair, Pensacola Chapter of American Inns of Court (currently serving)
* Executive Council, Rehabilitation Foundation of Northwest Florida (currently serving)
* Former member, First Circuit Grievance Committee
* Department Chair and Executive Council, Clark Partington
It has been an honor to serve the legal profession in these roles, and I look forward to earning an opportunity to serve you on the Board of Governors. My ability to succeed in this profession is possible because of strong support both personally from my family and professionally from those I work with--from my legal assistant to my law partners. The strength and support of my wife, Nancy, and our three daughters, are critical to my ability to practice law and serve the legal community. My law firm, Clark Partington, has supported my growth as an attorney and in Bar and community service. I am fortunate and proud to work every day with some of the best talent in the profession.
If elected, the First Circuit can expect me to be an avid advocate on behalf of my peers and to serve with an open line of communication for matters facing the legal professional in the First Circuit and throughout the state. I would be honored to represent the First Circuit on the Board of Governors.
I respectfully ask for your vote in March.
I am proud to be a candidate for the Board of Governors representing the First Judicial Circuit.
I have practiced law in Northwest Florida since 2004. I have focused on construction litigation and have been board certified in construction law since 2015. Throughout my career, I have always held service to the Bar as an important professional obligation. I served from 2011 to 2015 on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and am a graduate of the Florida Bar's Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy. Currently, I serve on The Florida Bar First Circuit Grievance Committee. Prior to starting my commitment to service with The Florida Bar at the state level in 2011, I was active in the Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar, serving in various capacities and as an officer on the young lawyers' board. My history of Florida Bar service reflects the level of involvement I will have as a member of the Board of Governors.
Through my work with The Florida Bar, I have come to appreciate the challenges facing our profession, especially in Northwest Florida. Among these challenges are:
* Access to justice and resources available to our local courts.
* Availability of technology and resources to all lawyers regardless of firm size and the need to increase efficient delivery of all Bar services to members.
* The need to implement sustainable long-term guidelines and regulations concerning increasingly prolific, publicly available legal advice.
* Continued and enhanced efforts to address the problems that stem from unprofessional conduct.
Our profession faces challenges from increasingly prolific and widely available generic legal advice. Professionalism requires both efficiency and original thought, and our profession must find a balance to provide cost effective original thought in the face of readily available information (and misinformation). It is important that the Bar addresses the concerns of its members as the transition in the way services are provided reshapes how we practice law.
Our profession is self-regulated, and over my years-long involvement with the Bar on the state level, I appreciate the responsibility that comes with self-regulation. If elected, I will not take this responsibility lightly and will strive to ensure our profession's commitment to self-regulation remains robust and independent.
As a member of the Board of Governors, I hope to advance the interests important to the Bar, especially Northwest Florida. My goal is to represent the First Circuit as we work through important decisions regarding technology, judicial independence, constitutional review, and self governance.
Finally, I am running for the Board of Governors seat vacated by Steve Echsner. I want to continue the good work of Mr. Echsner, who has served the First Judicial Circuit and the Bar across the state admirably.
It would be my honor to serve as your representative on the Board of Governors. I am committed to be readily available to all lawyers in Northwest Florida to always strive to address the concerns that impact our circuit.
Third Circuit, Seat 1
Andrew J. Decker IV.
I am honored to be a candidate for the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. I have the privilege of practicing law in Florida's Third Judicial Circuit, which has a special tradition of professionalism, collegiality, and excellence in advocacy. I ask for your vote and the honor of serving as your representative.
After graduating from Emory University, I attended Florida Coastal School of Law, graduating with high honors while serving as a staff editor for the law journal. I was also elected president of the Moot Court Honor Board. My practice has focused on civil litigation with an emphasis on real estate and commercial matters. I have handled jury trials as well as cases on the federal, state, appellate, and administrative levels. I also serve as attorney for the Zoning Board of Adjustment for Suwannee County.
I am grateful for my record of service to The Florida Bar and the Third Judicial Circuit. In 2011, I served as president of the Third Circuit Bar...