Lee County Bar Association elevates professionalism among legal community

2015 is the Year of Professionalism and Ethics for the 66-year-old organization

While sensational headlines trumpet the moral failings of a few bad actors among the legal profession, the Lee County Bar Association has served as an exemplar of integrity for lawyers and the community of Southwest Florida since 1949. The non-profit organization has recently grown to nearly 800 judges and attorneys, and President Anne Dalton, Esq. has declared 2015 the Year of Professionalism and Ethics.

The LCBA has expanded its already robust roster of educational opportunities, community outreach and service projects, its Lawyer Referral Service matching citizens with vetted attorney members, and much more to promote its mission “to further the education of its members, to create meaningful interaction among its members, and to inform the community on important legal matters.”

Chief Judge Jay B. Rosman has asked all judges and attorneys in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit to be involved in professionalism issues. In taking up his charge at the beginning of her term in January, Dalton announced a yearlong schedule of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits intensively focused on professionalism and ethics. A number of CLEs are required of all practicing attorneys by The Florida Bar, the statewide professional and regulatory organization for lawyers. Of those required CLEs, a portion must be focused on professionalism and ethics.

Dalton said, “In scheduling a wealth of CLEs on these subjects, with discussions and tips from local Judges and seasoned practitioners who address these issues every day, we are giving real value to our membership.” These dynamic CLEs are affordable and presented at locations convenient for members, and have included topics such as “Practice Pointers from the Judges’ Perspective” and “Ethics in Depositions: When Opposing Counsel Behaves Badly.” Lee Circuit Judge Margaret Steinbeck recently presented the LCBA’s first-ever Continuing Judicial Education offering, “Bench/Bar Relations: Ethics for Judges and Lawyers.”

The LCBA’s monthly magazine, Res Gestae, also provides members with timely information, with guest columnists reporting on professionalism and ethics on a monthly basis and former Florida Bar Counsel Henry Lee Paul contributing in the regular “Ethically Speaking” column. In addition, practice sections, which are composed of LCBA members involved or interested in a specific area of law, provide excellent opportunities for members to enjoy education, networking and the collegiality that Lee County lawyers have become known for across the state.

The LCBA’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) is an excellent resource for Lee County citizens looking for members in good standing with The Florida Bar who can assist them with legal matters in a particular practice area. A new, easy-to-navigate website for the organization provides information for potential clients, an efficient online intake process, a direct number for those who prefer to communicate with LRS staff by phone, and useful contact information for clients who may qualify for pro bono (free) legal assistance.

At the Law in the Mall program, LCBA members volunteer to give free legal advice to citizens in an informal setting one Saturday a year at Edison Mall. As another community outreach initiative, LCBA luncheons events and the magazine highlight a local non-profit organization every month to the philanthropic-minded members deciding where to invest their time, talent and donations. An annual golf tournament raises money for a deserving youth program in the community, such as the one on June 6 at Pelican Preserve Golf Club to benefit Alliance for the Arts’ ArtReach Program.

Throughout its 66-year history, the LCBA has served as a resource to its members and the community to elevate legal practitioners’ professionalism and the accessibility of their expertise to the citizens of Southwest Florida.

Dalton said, “In the larger sense, all attorneys understand the concepts of professionalism and ethics—at heart, they are the Golden Rule. However, there are many nuances involving our implementation of these concepts in the day-to-day business world.”

LCBA Executive Director Sharon Brotherton said, “With the rules for practice continually evolving, the LCBA provides a framework for staying current with regulations, brushing up on practice area content, investing in the community and promoting the level of confidence the citizens of Lee County have in the profession. It’s such a strong organization because of the dedication of our Executive Council and participation of our members.”

About the Lee County Bar Association
The Lee County Bar Association, a 501c6 not-for-profit organization, has served the citizens and legal community of Lee County since 1949 and has a current membership of almost 800. For more information, visit www.leebar.org or contact President Anne Dalton, Esq. at (239) 337-7900 or Executive Director Sharon Brotherton at (239) 334-0047.