"The Advocate" - Congratulations Ray Malca

There have been highs and lows in all relationships. That is one of the best things about relationships, their value is demonstrated by how we make it through those lows and build to new highs. I can recall a time when the relationship between the Florida workers’ compensation bench and the workers’ compensation Section were strained. I will not rehash that here, primarily because it is history. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. The Judicial attendance at the Section’s 2014 Judicial Lunch this week in Orlando is evidence that the relationship between bench and bar is currently quite strong. I hope that we maintain this through continued communication and interaction.

As I sat at the Judicial Lunch, I was please to hear Chair Smith recognize Director/Chief Judge Cohen to make a presentation. There was a long standing ovation when Judge Cohen called Judge Kuker to the stage to receive a plaque from the Division and the OJCC recognizing 40 years service as a Judge (by various titles over the years, but the function was the same).

Things quieted and we ate and conversed. It was a most pleasant environment. Then Chair Smith took the podium again to speak of the Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award. According to the Bar website, this award is “for demonstrating outstanding leadership and professionalism.” And, “the section presents the Frierson-Colling Professionalism Award annually to an attorney who demonstrates outstanding leadership and professionalism in the field of workers’ compensation. The award is named after Albert Frierson, a defense attorney, and the late Stewart Colling, an attorney who represented injured workers.”

Chair Smith built the suspense with a listing of achievements of the 2013 recipient. However, the more he described, the more obvious it became that he could only be describing one person in the room. He concluded his remarks announcing that the 2013 honoree is Ray Malca of Miami.

Ray Malca has practiced Florida workers’ compensation law since 1975. He has served as Chair and on the Executive Council of the Workers’ Compensation Section of The Florida Bar, is a founding member of Florida Workers’ Advocates, and a recipient of the W.L. Bud Adams award.  The Bud Adams award alone speaks volumes as to who Mr. Malca is.

He served on the Judicial Nominating Committee and instituted the Workers’ Compensation Trial Advocacy Program, which he still chairs. I was privileged to participate in that program once, and it was a great experience. I lamented to Mr. Malca at the time, wishing I had attended that program as a young lawyer. The impact of that program on the skills and professionalism of workers’ compensation litigators is profound.

Mr. Malca is Board Certified in workers’ compensation.  In 2012 he was inducted in the inaugural class to the Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Workers’ Compensation Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, a national group of “attorneys who have distinguished themselves in their practice of workers’ compensation.”

In 1995 “The history, People, & Politics” of workers’ compensation in Florida was published. This book traced the period 1935 through 1995. Several leaders were described, and “labeled” with a superlative. Ray Malca is featured in that book, and labeled “the Advocate.” From Chair Smith’s comments and introduction this week, we know that Mr. Malca continues to be “the Advocate.”

As he approaches 40 years in the workers’ compensation practice, his list of achievements is long. It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Malca over the years of my tenure. I congratulate him this week on the Sections recognition of his character and professionalism with this prestigious award.


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