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2016-17 Chair
Greene, Smith & Associates, P.A
Coral Gables, FL

Thank you for visiting The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section Website! I am delighted to have taken the reins from my dear friend and colleague, Maria Gonzalez, to serve as Chair of The Family Law Section.  My Executive Committee is a powerhouse of women:  Chair-Elect Nicole Goetz, from Naples, Treasurer Abigail Beebe, from West Palm Beach, Secretary Amy Hamlin from Winter Park, and, of course my Immediate Past Chair, Maria Gonzalez from Fort Lauderdale.  It is my great hope that this 2016-2017 Bar year will celebrate and embrace our diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, culture, geography, type of practice and ideas, to name but a few of the areas in which we as a Section are diverse.   The spirit of this amazing United States is fed by the exchange of differing opinions and the acknowledgement that all of us bring something special to the table.

To that end, I have formed some new Ad Hoc Committees this year – one on Diversity and Inclusion, led by Pompano Beach attorney and Executive Council Member Sheena Benjamin-Wise, one on Public Relations co-chaired by Maitland-based Executive Council Member Lori Caldwell-Carr and Patricia Elizee, a Miami attorney and the current President of the Haitian Lawyers Association, and one to work in conjunction with the 37-member Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) which is tasked every 20 years with reviewing and revising our Florida Constitution. Treasurer Abigail Beebe is the chair of the Section’s Ad Hoc CRC Committee.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion is already working toward making a difference.  Ms. Benjamin-Wise is serving as the Section’s Liaison to the Bar’s committee on the subject, and is looking forward to meeting with the entire Bar committee at the end of October.  The Ad Hoc Public Relations Committee has been tasked with alerting the legal community and the public at large as to the great works we, as a Section, are doing in our local communities and across the State.  It is important that we showcase our charitable work, our pro bono successes, our generosity as a Section to the Florida Bar Foundation, to the One Orlando Fund, and to legal aid societies around the State, and Ms. Caldwell-Carr and Ms. Elizee are making that happen.  The Ad Hoc Committee on the CRC is presently working to identify the issues in the Constitution that have impact on Florida’s families and to discern and recommend necessary changes.

The Ad Hoc Committees are in addition, of course, to the record number of substantive and operational (and existing Ad Hoc) committees doing great work every day for Florida’s families.  The Annual Marital & Family Law Review Course Committee, under the watchful eyes of Chair Aimee Gross, is well into its planning for the 2017 Seminar which returns to the Loews Royal Pacific in Orlando this January.  The materials for the invaluable Red Books should be coming in for editing and revisions soon, and both registration and hotel reservations are already available!

The Continuing Legal Education Committee is likewise working hard to get programming to all of us!  Be sure to sign up for the Mechanics of Board Certification and the Case Law Update seminars coming up, and keep your calendar open for the Collaborative Law seminar slated for later this Fall, a day long live Domestic Violence workshop in March, and much more!  Andrea Reid and David Hirschberg, Co-Chairs, are organized, detail-oriented and dedicated to bringing us the educational programming we so value.

We are also reinventing the Section’s on-line newsletter presently known as FAMSEG. Eddie Stephens, one of our very own Section members, has reformatted the design of the newsletter, and the FAMSEG Committee has solicited suggestions for a new name for the newsletter.  It is not too late to send in your suggestion to Ms. Gabrielle Tollok, (Gabby), our Section Administrator at gtollok@flabar.org.  You may just see your selection on the masthead!

My wish for all of you is that you get involved if you have not already done, or increase your involvement if you have only just dipped your toes in the water.  The Section needs each and every one of you!  All of the Section’s committee meetings – next scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific in Orlando – are open for you to attend, and, but for a few, have open membership.  Come and join us!  Bring your talents, skill, and passion for Family Law, and share it with this great group of attorneys to which we are blessed to belong.  Your involvement matters, and it can make a difference.

– Laura Davis Smith, 2016-17 Chair

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