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Professionalism Update for Lawyers: Ways to Avoid the Disciplinary Process
Mar 15 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Live GoToWebinar presented by F. Scott Westheimer of Syprett Meshad, Sarasota, and moderated by Cristina Alonso. Course number 5723 is approved by The Florida Bar for 1 General CLE credit, all of which may be applied toward Professionalism. Section members register for only $50. REGISTER

The need to improve the level of attorney professionalism continues to be expressed by members of the bench and bar.  Join Scott Westheimer, Past Chair of The Florida Bar Board of Governors Disciplinary Review Committee (2020-2021) to hear about more recent professionalism initiatives, to look at how professionalism is regulated and to discuss ways to avoid the disciplinary system.

F. Scott WestheimerF. Scott Westheimer is is a trial lawyer and commercial litigator in Sarasota. He graduated from the University of Florida with high honors in 1993 and from the UF College of Law with high honors and as a member of the Order of Coif in 1996. He has been practicing law for 25 years at Syprett Meshad, PA, where he is a managing partner. He is an AV-rated attorney, has been named as a Florida Super Lawyer and among Florida’s “Legal Elite” by Florida magazine.

He served his local Bar, the Sarasota County Bar Association, as co-founder and chair of its Diversity Committee, President of its Young Lawyers Division, and ultimately as President of the Sarasota County Bar Association. He was then elected to The Florida Bar Board of Governors as the Twelfth Circuit Representative in 2013. He served on the Executive Committee for five consecutive years from 2016 to 2021 and served as Chair of the Program Evaluation Committee, Communications Committee for two consecutive years, and just finished his term as Chair of the Disciplinary Review Committee. He received the President’s Award of Merit in 2017 and 2019; and received another President’s Award this year.

During his time on the Board of Governors, Scott has pioneered and developed many of the Bar’s tangible tools and resources that lawyers use in their daily practice, including the complete rebuild of The Florida Bar website, spearheading and leading the team that created, and the Tech Support Helpline.

Scott is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida College of Law where he taught a Lawyer Regulation & Discipline Course (Spring 2021).

2022 Solo & Small Firm Section Long Range Planning Meeting @ Renaissance Boston Waterfront
Mar 18 @ 12:45 PM – Mar 19 @ 12:00 PM

Annual out-of-state long-range planning retreat for Solo & Small Firm Section Executive Council members.

Free CLE for Section Members: Views from the Bench—How to Put Your Best Foot Forward in Motion Practices
Mar 23 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Free Wednesday Wisdom CLE for Solo & Small Firm Section members.* Presented by Judge Lody Jean, Circuit Court Judge for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Miami; and Judge Fabienne E. Fahnestock, Circuit Court Judge for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Fort Lauderdale. Moderated by Jennifer Kuyrkendall Griffin. Course number 5716 is approved for 1.0 General CLE credit. REGISTER

Join us for this Solo & Small Firm Section Wednesday Wisdom on Zoom* to hear from Circuit Court Judges Jean and Fahnestock as they share their experiences and observations on how attorneys can most effectively appear before the court to cultivate a stellar reputation. You will hear about what sets the most successful attorneys apart from those who are less skilled as well as sources of irritation for judges so you will never find yourself being identified as THAT lawyer.

*Registration will be approved when section membership is confirmed.

The Honorable Jody Lean

The Honorable Jody Lean

Judge Lody Jean was appointed to the Miami-Dade County Court on November 16th, 2018. She became the first Haitian-American woman to serve on the Miami-Dade County Court. Born and raised in Haiti to Lebanese parents, she attended college at the University of Miami where she double majored in Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Foreign Languages.

She obtained her Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University. While in law school, she was the recipient of the Haitian Lawyers Association law school scholarship. Also, while in law school, Judge Jean interned at the Legal Services of Greater Miami working with a staff attorney on the Haitian Citizenship Project applying for naturalization for those primarily of Haitian descent. Judge Jean also interned at the Third District Court of Appeal (3DCA), at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office and Broward State Attorney’s Office. While at the 3DCA, Judge Jean was a summer clerk for the Honorable Melvia Green who was the first African American woman to be appointed to the Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

From May 2013 through December 2018, Judge Jean served on the Florida Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee. She served as the Chair of that committee in the year 2018. The committee is a voluntary committee comprised of non-attorneys and attorneys who investigate the unlicensed practice of law in Miami-Dade County. The Florida Bar has an office in Miami and investigates a wide range of matters but the Committee the Judge served on was assigned immigration related cases.

From August 2004 to June 2012, she served with the State Attorney in Miami-Dade County, first as an Assistant State Attorney, and then as a Felony Division Chief. As a Deputy Chief, she prosecuted homicide cases and supervised many Assistant State Attorneys. From June 2012 through the date of her Judicial Commission, she was in private practice specializing in immigration and criminal defense with a focus on deportation related matters. While in private practice, she spoke at many forums and community gatherings on the topic of immigration law and deportation. She also volunteered her time through the Haitian Lawyers Association and other organizations at clinics dealing with many different legal issues ranging from eviction, small claims suits, citizenship and TPS (temporary protected status).

She is a member of many Voluntary Bar organizations and a past member of the Judicial Diversity Initiative that is dedicated to the election and appointment of qualified minority jurists to the bench. She is a past director of the Haitian American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center and a Past President of the Haitian Lawyers Association.

From January 3, 2019 through November 5, 2019, Judge Jean served in the North Dade Justice Center for the Miami-Dade Courts. This is a branch court that offers a variety of services to the residents of northern Miami-Dade County. Judge Jean had a hybrid division where she presided over a primarily civil docket consisting of small claims and county court cases. She also presided over a Domestic Violence docket composed of final hearings on filed injunction cases.

Judge Jean was promoted to be an Associate Administrative Judge for County Court; affectionately known as the “People’s Court”. Miami-Dade County is the most populous County in the State of Florida with the most diverse backgrounds. She handled a civil docket, which comprised of small claims and county court cases. She also worked closely with the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office on administrative issues to help keep the County Court running efficiently to serve the community.

On April 17, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis elevated Judge Jean to the Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County. She became the first Haitian-American to serve in the Circuit Court. She is currently assigned to the Circuit Criminal division.

The Honorable Fabienne Fahnestock

The Honorable Fabienne Fahnestock

Judge Fabienne E. Fahnestock grew up in Broward County. She attended the University of Miami and obtained her bachelor’s degree in English. She earned her law degree from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1998. Judge Fahnestock was subsequently admitted to the United States District Courts for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, the Ninth

Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. While in private practice, Judge Fahnestock also earned her Master’s in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University in 2001.

Judge Fahnestock had the privilege to clerk for the Fourth District Court of Appeal of Florida. There, she worked on a variety of appeals. Judge Fahnestock was responsible for critically analyzing the parties’ legal arguments and relevant case law, and making recommendations to the appellate panel for each case. At the end of her clerkship, she joined Ruden McClosky, and in 2002, she joined Gunster and was elevated to Shareholder in 2007.

Over the course of her career, Judge Fahnestock has been recognized for her outstanding legal achievements. To name just a few, she has been honored with an AV Preeminent ranking by Martindale-Hubbell, and selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2013 and 2014 in the field of Trusts & Estates Litigation. She has also been listed among the “100 Outstanding Women of Broward County” and recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer, as well as a “Top Lawyer” and “Up & Comer” by South Florida Legal Guide.

But Judge Fahnestock’s accomplishments were not solely related to her legal skills. As a resident of  Broward County for over 30 years, Judge Fahnestock felt compelled to invest her passion and dedication in our community with a focus on families and children. Her commitment is evidenced by her work with the Children’s Cancer Caring Center, the Jack and Jill Children’s Center, and the Early Learning Coalition. Judge Fahnestock also devoted her time mentoring young men and women at her firm, as well as in the community through the Annual Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic and as the co-chair for Leadership Broward’s Women Leading Broward. She was also very active in many voluntary bars and in the Florida Bar. For example, Judge Fahnestock was a member of the Board for the Broward County Women Lawyers Association, participated in Class IV of the Florida Bar Leadership Academy, and served as a member of the Executive Council for the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section for the Florida Bar, where she was Chair of the Membership Diversity Committee.

On February 14, 2017, Judge Fahnestock was appointed as a circuit judge in the Seventeenth Circuit Court, serving Broward County, Florida. She was assigned to the Family Division of the Unified Family Court for 4 ½ years, where she was the assigned Chair for the division for 3 years. In July 2021, Judge Fahnestock was assigned to the Circuit Civil division where she presides over a variety of civil disputes, including breach of contract cases, insurance disputes and personal injury cases.


Exploitation Recovery Law: What Non-Elder Law Attorneys Need to Know About Protecting Vulnerable Adults
Apr 19 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Live GoToWebinar presented by Shannon Miller of The Miller Elder Law Firm, Gainesville, and moderated by General Magistrate Jennifer Kuyrkendall Griffin. Course number 5812 is approved for 1.0 General CLE and 1.0 Elder Law certification credit. Section members register for only $50. REGISTER

Shannon Miller, The Miller Elder Law Firm, GainesvilleShannon Miller, a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Elder law, will provide a basic overview of how to prevent vulnerable adult exploitation in Florida and how to pursue the recovery of exploited assets. She also will provide an update on the current statutory changes in pursuing cases involving the exploitation and undue influence of vulnerable adults in Florida.  The latest statutory changes have created new ways to recover assets from exploiters through criminal and civil means, perhaps creating a new niche area of practice to add to your tool kit.  Shannon will also educate you on how to identify the exploitable brain and what the current clinical research tells us.

Free CLE for Section Members: Pandemic Parenting While Lawyering: Elevating your Priorities and Thriving in a Post-Covid Legal Environment
Apr 27 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

April 27, 12 – 1 PM, free Wednesday Wisdom Zoom webinar for Solo & Small Firm Section members.* Presented by Melissa Caballero Alton, Alton Law, Miami Lakes and Samantha S. Loveland, Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, Jacksonville, and moderated by Joshua Hertz. Course number 5890 is approved for 1.0 General CLE credit. REGISTER

The challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic have undoubtedly changed the way we practice law, but the lasting impact of how we prioritize home life, work life, and parenting has been entirely revolutionized as well. This CLE will explore the unique trials and tribulations lawyers face as they attempt to excel in their career as well as in parenthoodand how to use the changes of post-pandemic lawyering to benefit them in both.

*Registration will be approved when section membership is confirmed.

Melissa Caballero AltonMelissa Caballero Alton is a lawyer mom of three, a Cuban American, and a South Florida native. She launched her own law firm when her firstborn was only two months old. She now runs her law practice together with her husband, who is also a lawyer, and they focus on business and transactional matters. Ms. Alton is also the founder of The Objectionable Mom, a movement that recognizes, supports, and encourages working lawyer moms.



Samantha Loveland, Esq.Samantha S. Loveland is an associate in the firm’s Jacksonville office and practices in the area of insurance defense, personal injury, and civil litigation matters. Some of her notable representations include defending claims brought for personal injury and sexual assault arising under maritime law; seafarer workplace injuries under the Jones Act; and contractual arbitration of seafarer claims.

In addition to her background in admiralty & maritime and civil litigation, Ms. Loveland has experience in bankruptcy, guardianship, criminal defense, and family law.


Hot Topics in Florida Legal Ethics
May 17 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

May 17, 2022, Live GoToWebinar presented by Tim Chinaris and moderated by Chris Johnson. Course number 5714 is approved for 1.0 General CLE credit, all of which may be applied toward Ethics. Section members register for only $50. REGISTER

Change seems to be the only constant in the legal profession.  How have recent changes in the legal landscape affected lawyers’ ethical obligations?  This session highlights recent rule changes, cases, and ethics opinions that may affect how Florida Bar members ethically practice law, both now and going forward.

Tim ChinarisTim Chinaris is Associate Dean for Information Services and Professor of Law at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches courses in legal ethics, torts, insurance law, and other subjects.  Professor Chinaris was Ethics Director of The Florida Bar from 1989-1997, where he ran the popular “ethics hotline” service that answers more than 25,000 calls annually from bar members.

Professor Chinaris holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida State University and received his J.D. With Honors from the University of Texas School of Law.  He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas.

Professor Chinaris has chaired or served on state bar ethics and UPL committees in four states, including chairing both the Professional Ethics Committee and the Committee on Professionalism for The Florida Bar.  His legal ethics website is “”  He co-authored the authoritative treatise Florida Legal Malpractice and Attorney Ethics (American Legal Media, 2017) (with Warren Trazenfeld and Robert Jarvis).  His new book, Florida Legal Ethics, will be published by West Academic Publishing in 2021.

Professor Chinaris consults with and represents lawyers and others on professional responsibility issues, including lawyer advertising and bar admission matters.  He has served as an expert witness in various legal ethics matters, including in the first case decided under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Professor Chinaris is the immediate past Chair of the Solo & Small Firm Section of the Tennessee Bar and is the Florida Bar Out of State Liaison to the Florida Solo & Small Firm Section as well.

Power your Firm by Understanding your Numbers: From Financial Statements and Budgets to Goal Setting
May 18 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
May 18, 12 – 1 PM, free Wednesday Wisdom Zoom webinar for Solo & Small Firm Section members.* Presented CPA Joy Lutz, Certified Tax Coach, Aligned CPA, LLC, Lake City. Joshua Hertz will serve as moderator. Course number and 1.0 CLE credit pending. REGISTER

*Registration will be approved when section membership is confirmed.

CPA Joy LutzJoy Lutz is a CPA, certified tax coach, and owner of Aligned CPA, LLC in Lake City, FL, where she helps solo and small law firms with accounting, tax prep and planning, and advisory services.

Joy is a certified Tax Coach with the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners and was named a top “40 Under 40” CPA in the accounting profession for 2015 by the CPA Practice Advisor, as well as earning the Small Business of the Year award in 2016 by the Lake City‐Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

She is involved in many organizations and has held leadership positions with the Lake City Chamber of Commerce, Ronald McDonald House, Happy House, and Altrusa.

Solo & Small Firm Section Annual Out-of-Country CLE Trip
May 27 @ 12:00 PM – Jun 5 @ 1:00 PM

Annual “Out-of-Country” CLE Trip

This year we are staying in the U.S. and visiting the big island of Hawaii and Oahu. Instead of going through a travel agent, you will make your own reservations directly with the hotels, airlines, and group tours (excursion details will be provided as they become available).

This page provides the trip schedule, activities, and hotel reservation links. When making your flight arrangements, don’t forget to include the flight from Hawaii to Oahu on June 1. Flight destinations are Kona International Airport and Honolulu International Airport.

Online reservation information for the group tours and airport transfers will be available soon. View the event brochure.

Practicing Law the Island Way (‘Out-of-Country’ CLE) @ Hilton Waikoloa Village
May 31 @ 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM
May 31, 9 AM–12:30 PM, in-person CLE presentation for Solo & Small Firm Section Hawaii CLE trip registrants. Hilton Waikoloa Village, 69-425 Waikōloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa Village, HI. Course number 5976 is approved for 4.0 General CLE credits, 1.0 of which may be applied toward Ethics, and 1.5 Technology credits. Section members register for $185; non-section members $230. This course will offer segments on technology, tackling your first solo forward triangular merger, and ethical considerations in fee-sharing agreements. 

9:00-9:05 AM:  Introduction by Moderator Jacina Parson, Chair, Solo & Small Firm Section, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Pinellas County Attorney’s Office, Clearwater

9:05-10:10 AM:  “Let’s Talk Tech” by Janette M. Smith, Assistant County Attorney for Broward County, Fort Lauderdale

10:15-11:20 AM:  “Say Aloha to M & A: Tackling Your First Solo Forward Triangular Merger,” by  Diriki T. Geuka, Esq., Corporate Associate, Townsend & Lockett, LLC, Atlanta.

11:25 AM-12:30 PM:  “Ethical Considerations in Fee Sharing Agreements:  Navigating Serious Ethical Pitfalls; and, Recent Developments In Attorneys’ Fees Litigation” by Kristy M. Johnson, Chief Legal Counsel, Department of Health, Broward County and Jason R. Alderman, Managing Partner, The Alderman Law Firm, Miami Shores

Jacina ParsonJacina Parson, a Central Florida native born and raised in the heart of Orlando, currently serves as Senior Assistant County Attorney for the Pinellas County Attorney’s Office. Prior to joining the County Attorney’s Office, she served as the Director of the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism with The Florida Bar.  Before joining The Florida Bar, she held positions with the Ninth Judicial Circuit Public Defender and Legal Services of North Florida.  At Legal Services, she represented victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and the elderly in the area of Family Law.  She has practiced before the Northern District Federal Bankruptcy Court and Florida Circuit Courts.  She served as legal advocate for the Refuge House and as an advocate for the Grandparents as Parents (GAP) Program with Leon County Elder Care Services.  She currently serves as Chair of the Executive Council of the Solo and Small Firm Section with The Florida Bar and the Board of Directors of the Jean Honor Foundation of Hope.

Additionally, she is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee and The Florida Bar Foundation Leadership Academy. She served on the Student Education and Admission to the Bar Committee for five years. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with family and friends and completing marathon races. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of Florida and earned her Juris Doctor from Stetson College of Law.

Janette M. Smith, Esq.Janette M. Smith, Esq. began her technology career when she was 16 years old by volunteering to build computers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She then spent a decade working for Nova Southeastern University (NSU) where she held various technology positions. While working at NSU, she received her Master’s in Business Administration in 1999 and her Juris Doctorate in 2006. For her contribution to improving technology at the NSU Shepard Broad law school, Janette received a full scholarship. After graduating from law school in 2006, Janette resigned from her position at NSU and opened her solo law practice. In 2007, she took a chance to follow in her father’s footsteps and accepted a position in local government. For the past 15 years, Janette has been serving in local government while maintaining her solo law practice. She currently works as an Assistant County Attorney for Broward County with her primary focus reviewing and negotiating IT contracts. Janette is a member of the Solo & Small Firm section, and this year, she is the Chair of the City, County, and Local Government law section of the Florida Bar. For fun, Janette loves to travel and adores her two dogs (Nyla and Broddy).


Diriki T. GeukaDiriki T. Geuka is an Associate in Townsend & Lockett, LLC’s transactional practice group, serving on a team focusing on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and venture capital agreements.  Diriki was previously a Pinellas Assistant County Attorney where he represented County agencies and elected and appointed officials.  Diriki began his career as a federal staff attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where he served for a year and was an intern for the Honorable Julie S. Sneed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida while in law school.  Diriki was president of Stetson University College of Law’s Student Bar Association before graduating in 2017 with the Dean Richard Dillon Excellence in Real Property and Marc L. Levine Awards.  Diriki is a frequent mentor and community volunteer, and currently serves as a member of Morris Brown’s President’s Advisory Board and as Parliamentarian for the Emerging 100 of Atlanta.



Kristy Johnson, Esq.Kristy M. Johnson focuses her practice in the areas of complex business dispute litigation and employment matters.   Ms. Johnson was a Shareholder with an AmLaw 200 law firm, having worked there for more than eleven years.  She recently served as Associate General Counsel for one of America’s premier real estate development and property management companies.  Ms. Johnson served as President of Miami-Dade FAWL in 2010-2011, after having been actively involved with Miami-Dade FAWL for six years.  In 2011, Ms. Johnson was selected as a Glass Ceiling Award recipient by the Florida Diversity Council.  Ms. Johnson regularly speaks on diversity issues and particularly issues impacting women in the legal profession.  Ms. Johnson graduated from the University of Florida (B.S., 1994), and the University of Florida College of Law (J.D., 1999, with honors).

Jason Alderman, Esq.Jason R. Alderman focuses his practice on national and international litigation with a particular emphasis on complex banking, real property, contract, corporate, creditors’ rights, fiduciary, and valuation litigation.  Mr. Alderman is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Southern, Middle and Northern Districts of Florida; the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, and the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.  Mr. Alderman has been repeatedly named as a SuperLawyer; a Legal Elite lawyer by Florida Trend Magazine; and, a Top Lawyer by South Florida Legal Guide.  He graduated from Florida State University (B.S., 1999) and the University of Miami School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 1999), where he was a member of the University of Miami Inter-American Law Review.

Ms. Johnson and Mr. Alderman received the 2018 Daily Business Review Award for Most Effective Lawyer in Employment.  They are married, and live in Miami Shores, Florida, with their two daughters.

2022 Florida Law Update @ Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Jun 23 @ 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Florida Law Update 2022 Thursday, June 23, 2022 (8 credits ). Live (in-person) during The Florida Bar Annual Convention and live GoToWebinar. Registration opens soon.

Business Law Update, Clay Roesch, Orlando; Employment Law Update, Kevin Johnson, Tampa; Animal Law, Ralph DeMeo, Tallahassee; Elder Law & Estate Planning, Peggy Hoyt, Oviedo, and Alex Douglas, Orlando; Criminal Law, Brice Aikens, Orlando; Personal Injury Law Update, James Gordon, Oviedo; Real Estate Law, Patrick Neale, Naples. Course number 5722 and 8.0 General credits pending.
Moderator and Program Chair: Peggy Hoyt.

7:55 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Opening Remarks
Peggy Hoyt, Oviedo, Program Chair

 8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m. Business Law Update
Clay Roesch, Orlando

 8:50 a.m. – 9:40 a.m. Employment Law Update
Kevin Johnson, Tampa

9:40 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Animal Law
Ralph DeMeo, Tallahassee

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Break

10:45 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. Elder Law
Peggy Hoyt, Oviedo
Alex Douglas, Orlando

11:35 – 12:20 p.m. Estate Planning
Peggy Hoyt, Oviedo
Alex Douglas, Orlando

12:20 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Lunch  (on your own)

1:45 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. Criminal Law
Brice Aikens, Orlando                                              

2:35 p.m. –3:25p.m. Personal Injury Law Update
James Gordon, Oviedo

3:25 p.m. – 3:35 p.m. Break

3:35 p.m. – 4:25 p.m. Real Estate Law
Patrick Neale, Naples