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Message from the Chair

The “cold” temperatures and grey skies of winter have passed, and Spring is upon us! It’s not too hot and not too cold. The sun is shining, and the birds are chirping. Springtime in Florida is arguably the best time of year. But don’t blink because before we know it, summer will have taken hold and our beautiful spring weather will have turned into a mosquito infested swamp of humidity and afternoon thunderstorms. The weather in Florida often imitates the ups and downs that we encounter in life. So, we can dwell on a chilly past and the heat that the future may bring, or we can live in the present and appreciate the gifts that we have been given.

May is Health and Wellness Month for Florida Lawyers. We are part of a profession that is Number 1 in alcoholism and top 10 in suicide rate. Our alcoholism rate is twice the national rate. I have always associated health and wellness with what I eat and working out. Encouragingly, attorneys don’t appear to be in the top 10 when it comes to obesity. However, health and wellness comprise much more than what protein I am eating and how many reps I can do at 225 (which at this point in my life is ZERO).

Your Workers’ Compensation Section has recently created a Health and Wellness committee (HWC) to address the needs of our members. On May 8, the HWC will be providing a 1-hour CLE, free to all attendees, that will focus on lawyers and mental health wellbeing. The Zoom link for this presentation will be provided via a Section e-mail blast. This presentation will be the first of hopefully many more opportunities for our Section to learn about the issues facing attorneys and to engage in conversation focused on improving our overall health and mental wellbeing. For those of you who need help, please ask. If you don’t want to ask one of us, call the Florida Lawyers Helpline at 833-351-9355 for confidential assistance. And if you recognize someone as having a potential mental health or wellness problem, please offer your help.

On to other Section news. Our Town Halls are in full swing, and we are very appreciative to the OJCC for partnering with us to provide our practitioners with the opportunity to get to know our judiciary better. As for in-person events, our incoming Chair, Paolo Longo has spearheaded a series of Judicial Roundtables coming soon to a city near you. These roundtables are yet another opportunity to get to know our Judges, and we again appreciate the OJCC’s cooperation with these events.

Noticing the need to get younger practitioners involved in our Section, Neil Ambekar is taking charge of developing a young lawyers’ committee (YLC) for our young and newer lawyers. The goal of the YLC is to increase involvement of younger practitioners in the section and start paving the way for new leadership, as well as providing mentorship for those in need.

On the topic of new leadership, this will be my last Chair’s message as Paolo Longo will be taking over as Chair of the Section on July 1. It is with deep appreciation that I have been given the opportunity to lead such an amazing Section. The initiatives in place and programs that we are developing will put us in a position to be one of the most effective Sections for its membership. While there are far too many people to thank for their contributions, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the person who really keeps the Section running, so a big thank you to Willie Mae Sheppard, our Bar Program Administrator. While we all work hard to ensure the viability of our practice and provide programming that enhances and improves our Section, Willie May is the primary cog that keeps the wheel moving.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you as your Chair and I look forward to continuing my service to the Section in the future.


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