ORLANDO – The incoming Florida Bar president laid out his vision for the year at the legal organization's annual convention.
Florida Bar President William Schifino Jr.’s presentation at the convention in June leveraged the Vision 2016 Commission's future of legal education, technology, bar admissions and access to legal services. Schifino is committed to showing members and the public how the bar is working for them, and the value it brings to them and their practices.
In his vision for technology, Schifino said he wants to help members of the bar better incorporate technology into their practices.
“Rapid advancements in technology mean that today’s lawyer can create greater efficiencies and access real-time information in a way never before possible," Schifino told the Florida Record. "Through programs like its Practice Resource Institute, the bar is helping members embrace new technologies to better manage their practices, better counsel their clients and better serve the citizens of our state.”
Another focus of his presentation was the Constitution Revision Commission, which will meet in January to discuss ideas to update Florida’s Constitution.
“Constitution Revision Commission meets once every 20 years and is one of five ways the state’s constitution can be amended, so it is critical that Floridians are educated and involved in that process,” Schifino said. “As a member of the Partnership for Revising Florida’s Constitution, the bar is providing bar member and public education across the state, and will be offering to serve as subject matter experts to help inform and empower citizens ahead of what will ultimately be proposed and on the ballot for voter decision in 2018."
Members of the commission have yet to be named.
“The 37-member appointed commission is tasked with making a thorough review of Florida’s Constitution, holding public hearings throughout the state and possibly recommending changes for voter consideration," Schifino said. "It is intended to be a lengthy and thoughtful process to best reflect and represent the needs of our communities and the will of the electorate."
Schifino explained that the last comprehensive review of Florida’s Constitution occurred in 1997-1998.
"At that time, nine amendments were proposed and all but one of them were ultimately passed by Florida voters. including issues ranging from public education and conservation to basic rights and judicial selection," he said. "When the commission is formed and meets in 2017, there is no doubt they will have an opportunity to make similar recommendations that, if approved by voters, can have a lasting impact.”
Beyond the Constitution Revision Commission, Schifino is dedicated to diversity throughout all levels of the judicial system and eliminating gender bias. He also will work to narrow the justice gap for those who can’t afford representation. One of the convention’s main focuses was diversity with women in law, following a discrimination study of female lawyers by the Florida Bar.
Schifino also said that he will work to identify new ways to support the Bar’s members, who are as diverse as the citizens they represent.