Message from the Chair

The last year has taught us that words like “unprecedented” and phrases like “once in a lifetime” can start off sounding quite powerful, then become cliché and fade into the background. Although our Workers’ Compensation Section is a small bar with approximately 1200 members, our small numbers have once again helped us to function as we served the community effectively during “unprecedented”, “once in a lifetime” circumstances. I’m proud of how we were all able to work together to successfully, switch to Zoom and other resources while we “stayed home & stayed safe”, but never stopped. I feel confident that we will be able to readjust to returning to the office and in-person events while continuing to utilize technology to provide the best system to serve our community and our clients.

Our Section has a long history of perseverance in the face of adversity. The strong leadership of the past has stewarded our Section to this point and set our course for the future. It is my intent to continue the work in progress and implement the lessons learned thus far.

As we “return to normal,” we will continue the goals of improving services for our Section members including more membership events with an increased focus on general member involvement and representing our members’ interests, participating in the rules workshops, advancing our legislative positions and increasing involvement with the Big Bar which will broaden our presence in the State as well as help us learn how to better serve our members.

We need to include you. There is no “I” in team. This is another phrase that has been spoken so many times that it fades into the background. While there may be no “I” in team, there is an “I” in Section as well as inclusion, innovation, inviting, involvement, improvement and infrastructure. Individuals make up this Section. History has its eyes on us.

I am proud to serve as the 2021-2022 Chair of the Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Section. I recall early in my career attending a local bar function dinner. I was sitting in the back of the large hall and having pleasant conversation with the people at my table. When the evening turned to the induction of the new officers, everyone stopped talking and the presentation went forward as so many do. They introduced the new president of the organization and she took the microphone and began speaking. I have never forgotten what happened next. She said “Wow, I can’t believe I’m standing here as your president. I feel like it was not that long ago that I was sitting at a banquet like this watching the new officers being inducted and I thought to myself I could never do that. How would I begin?” Her speech inspired me to get involved and I hope this message inspires you.

Every journey begins with a single step. When will there be a better time to take that step than now? I want to invite you to join me to answer the questions, “What can I do?” and “How do I begin”? You can be a member of a committee, you can attend a meeting, you can call me, you can email me, you can be involved. Please include the Section in your practice and allow the Section to include you. I plan to continue my predecessor’s “open-door policy” and I want to hear from you. As chair, I am here to serve you and include you in serving the Section. I look forward to the upcoming year.

Mark Touby

Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Section Chair

WC News & 440 Report Winter 2021

Enclosed is the winter edition of the News & 440 Report. In this edition, we start off the year by discussing our featured topic, “Focusing on Professionalism.” The cover page welcomes our newest members of the section taking the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar and reminds us to revisit the Oath. “Focusing on Professionalism” helps answer this important question: What type of section do we want to hand over to our newer attorneys who are observing how we interact with each other during litigation? As always, thank you to all section members and judges who contributed articles and other content. The News & 440 Report is only possible with people like yourself volunteering their time to contribute to this publication.

The Workers' Compensation Section has a wide diversity of membership, and so we want to highlight interests, accomplishments, etc., that contribute to the excellence of our member attorneys. If you would like to have an article published, please email Sean McCormack (smccormack@thefloridafirm.com) or Courtney Bahe (cbahe@pelsusa.com).

Click Here to download the Winter 2021 News & 440 Report

news440winter2021

Judge of Compensation Claims Town Halls: Part 1 presented by the Workers’ Compensation Section

Please join Judge Neal Pitts and Judge Thomas Sculco at Noon on February 4, 2021 for the first in a series of Judge of Compensation Claims Town Halls presented by the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Florida Bar and the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims. These Town Hall Meetings via Zoom format will address procedure and practical issues pertinent to the practitioner in each OJCC District.

You are invited to a scheduled zoom meeting:

NOTE: Zoom may reflect this as an 11:00 a.m. meeting because it was scheduled in the Central Time Zone, it is a 12:00 noon meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82490158376?pwd=S1dJYnQ0VnBZRSs0ZDRicjJPamVWQT09

Meeting ID: 824 9015 8376
Passcode: 923638

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Message from the Chair

The Florida Bar has approximately 107,000 members. The Workers’ Compensation section has approximately 1,200 members. Given our small numbers, it is not uncommon to cross each other’s paths several times over the course of our careers. Developing close relationships with our colleagues used to be commonplace, and that was an amazing thing. But as time passes, due to technology and more firms growing statewide practices, our day to day contact has been significantly reduced.

Where we used to see each other daily, we now see motions for sanctions. Where we used to recognize phone numbers on our caller ID, we now get inundated with e-mail. Now believe me, I am not suggesting that we go back to live pre-trials, but in the sage words of my predecessor, Glen Weiland, PICK UP THE PHONE. We are the stewards of our practice and if ever there was a time for collegiality, it is now. To an extent, the pandemic has drawn us apart, but now we have a need for togetherness. It is time to pick up the phone and work things out. It is time to administer ethics and professionalism. It is time to look in the mirror and treat others as we would want to be treated.

With that said, I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section for the 2020-2021 term.

While the pandemic has presented obstacles for all of us, look for the Executive Council to continue in its efforts to secure a salary increase for the Judges of Compensation Claims (JCC’s). Our JCC’s play an integral role in the workers’ compensation system and it should be of paramount importance to all members of the Section that we continue to work with industry and all other interested parties to secure this salary increase.

Additionally, pandemic permitting, we will be working on outreach programs to reach new practitioners to promote section membership. I’d like to see us partner with the Inns of Court throughout the state to foster professionalism and ethics. Also, we will be putting plans in place to take a more active role in Big Bar activities and events. While we have a very cordial Bar, being more involved in Big Bar events will increase our presence in the State and help us to become the best section we can be.

Finally, it is my intent to have an open-door policy. If any Section member has any comments or ideas on how to improve the Section and the services we offer, or just wants to chat about the state of our practice, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. As Chair, I am here to serve you and look forward to the upcoming year.

Philip Augustine

Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Section

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