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Gratitude for the Trial Advocacy Program and Those who Made it Happen

In June, the Worker's Compensation section of the Florida bar conducted their annual trial advocacy program in Miami. This is a unique and exceptional continuing education program. In this program, practicing attorneys present testimony and evidence in a month trial setting, presided over by sitting workers compensation judges from throughout Florida. It is an exceptional opportunity for interaction with other workers compensation attorneys, judges, and experts in the litigation field.

I have repeatedly sat as judge in mock trial and moot court competitions at a variety of levels. What strikes me about these programs, is that they provide crate opportunities to hones skills. However, the greatest benefit does not come from the attorney presentation or even preparation. I believe the greatest Benefit is in the critique process. You can learn a lot by listening to those around you. Whether the advice comes from judges, seasoned attorneys, or even your clients and associates.

As a young attorney, I was struck by the behavior and practice of a fellow workers compensation practitioner in Jacksonville. He would consistently make an appointment to see the judge of compensation claims about one month after final order has been entered in any case that he took to trial. He was Focused on avoiding any in appropriate communication with the judges. Therefore, he would schedule his appointment to occur after the time had run for filing of any appellate review regarding each final order. The purpose of his appointment? He would simply ask the presiding judge how he had performed during the trial, questions like "did I do anything distracting," "was there anything in my order of proof that could have been better organized," etc. That kind of focus on self-improvement is admirable. Finding the time to focus upon it as this lawyer did is sometimes difficult. Finding a couple of days to attend a program centered on that kind of feedback is not so hard.  

Ray Malca deserves special credit for the Trial Advocacy program, he is the chair and founded the program. Over the years, he has invested hundreds (thousands?) of hours in this program and should be commended for his service to the Bar, the Section, and the profession. Making the community a better place deserves recognition.

Others have been involved since the beginning. I am sure I will miss some, but those I recall as I write this are Richard Sicking, Mark Zientz, and Gerry Rosenthal. Their long-term dedication and contribution to this program are likewise worthy of celebration and thanks. My apologies to any other founders that I missed.

This year, the program involved live participation of Judges Condry, Hogan, Holley Kuker, and McAliley. Judge Rosen participated by videoteleconference. The breadth of experience for the participating attorneys is illustrated by the geographic diversity of these judges, and the presence of the technological element that is simply part of the modern world.

The other faculty that dedicated their time and effort to this year’s program included attorneys Karen Cullen, James Fee, Karen Gilmartin, Jeffrey Jacobs, Christopher Petruccelli, Robert Rodriguez, Gerald Rosenthal, Richard Sicking, Richard Thompson, Mark Touby, Glen Wieland and Mark Zientz. I apologize if I missed someone. In all, several hundred years of legal experience on that faculty.

As a side-note, Richard Sicking was recently recognized for his 50th anniversary as a member of The Florida Bar. When I talk to him about the law, his demeanor reminds me of a first year associate, bursting with excitement and enthusiasm. May you each live as long and enjoy your practice as much as Richard has.

I would be remiss, in congratulating all who selflessly participated and contributed, if I did not mention Synergy Settlements. They were the program sponsor, facilitating the presentation of this seminar.

Finally, my congratulations to the attorneys that took advantage of this unique opportunity. The following students participated this year: Kate Albin, Jeff Appel Josephine Balzac, Jessica M. Blackman, Kevin Daly, Patrick J. Davis, Jason T. Ellis, Ivette Gonzalez, Vanessa Johnson, Angelo Marino, Jr., Sylvia Mora, Kimberly Proano, Virna Roa, Ignacio Rodriguez, Fred Vitale, Ivan D. Voronec, Keith C. Warnock, and Jacqueline Whittingham. I know the pressures and challenges of litigating. I commend these lawyers for seeking to hone their skills and better represent their clients.

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