Inclusion/Mentoring/Fellowships

Michelle Suarez

Vice Chair

Christina Taylor

Second Vice Chair

Honorable John Olson

Judiciary Chair (Federal)

Hon. Virginia Norton

Judiciary Chair (State)

Who We Are

The Inclusion, Mentoring & Fellowship Committee (“IMF”) is the central committee of the Business Law Section (the “Section”) charged with advancing and facilitating cooperation, communication, and collaboration in support of the IMF Strategic Plan -- to eliminate bias and enhance diversity and inclusion in the Section, legal profession, and justice system. IMF consists of a diverse group of members of The Florida Bar, including judges, academics and private practitioners who are charged with the task of fostering an inclusive environment within the Section so that all members are motivated to contribute to the goals of the Section and succeed professionally.

Inclusion:

            In fulfilling the charge of fostering a more inclusive environment, IMF serves as a key strategist for increasing the number of diverse members of The Florida Bar involved in the Section’s activities and plumbing the educational pipelines into the profession for greater diversity. Through its work and programs, IMF provides a forum for members to address diversity and inclusion issues and build networks for change in our Section and the legal profession. IMF is working on developing orientation programs and seminars which explain

The activities of the Section, how to get involved within the Section and the road to leadership within the Section. IMF is also developing a “Leadership Institute” that teaches diverse members, who have completed the initial orientation seminar, how to become effective committee participants and ultimately leaders within the Section.

Subcommittees:

Communication & Marketing Committee:

Chairs: Christina Taylor and Tori Anderson
Members: Patricia McConnell, Giselle Girones
Responsible for monitoring and updating Business Law Section IMF web page (current events, calendaring IMF related events, related links); creation of the Fellows Page; and development of marketing materials. 

Networking Committee:

Chairs: Mariane Dorris
Members: Kelly Roberts, Amanda Finley, Tamara Van Heel
Responsible for organizing social and networking events with and for BLS Fellows and Scholars; outreach to voluntary bar organizations and law schools (work with Membership Committee). Consider the Creation of an affinity group or network of diverse attorneys within the Section that can support diverse lawyers and provide them with an outlet to express their concerns and receive feedback from the Section’s leaders and Executive Council.

CLE Committee:

Co-Chairs: Utibe Ikpe and Dana Robbins
Members: Lauren Stricker, Valeria Angelucci , Zachariah Evangelista
Responsible for developing CLE program and speaker database on diversity, inclusion and gender bias. (work with CLE Committee). Conduct annual program or meeting for women and minority lawyers on issues facing the business community in Florida, business development for lawyers and leadership development. Consider establishing a panel discussion or symposium of General Counsel and CEOs that can discuss the Role/Importance of Diversity to their Business Model. Consider sponsoring presentations by thought leaders in the area of diversity in the legal profession. (e.g., Rick Palmore; John Lewis, etc.). Develop orientation program or seminar which explains activities of the Section, how to get involved within the Section and the road to leadership within the Section. Develop “Leadership Institute” that teach diverse members who have completed the initial orientation seminar how to become effective committee participants and ultimately leaders. Possible segments could be: Becoming an Effective Committee Member; How to Plan Successful Seminars and Programs; How to Run Committee Meetings and Build Consensus; Effective Leadership, etc.

Mentoring Committee:

Co-Chairs: Michelle Suarez, April Hosford and Crystal Potts
Members: April Stone, Luda Kogan, Robert Ibarra
Matching of mentees and mentors derived from BLS website, as well as the Diversity and Inclusion Picnics; work with Tracey Eller on the process of obtaining mentor requests from the BLS website; plan mentoring/mentee event for the Retreat; supervise and coordinate Diversity and Inclusion Picnics across the state; Participate in or develop pipeline programs to introduce diverse college and law school students to business law.

 For more information or to get involved with IMF, please contact the Co-Chairs of the Subcommittee you are interested in.

Mentoring:

Mentoring is a broad concept, most commonly defined as the passing on of skills, knowledge, and wisdom from one person to another. The Section has two formal mentoring programs which seek to connect law students and young lawyers with experienced attorneys within our membership to provide guidance on career and professional development and growth.

BLS Scholars Program – Sponsor a Law Student From Your Alma Mater

 The goal of the BLS Scholars Program is to continue the Membership and IMF’s efforts to infuse and capture a diverse group of future young lawyers to our Section by learning, mingling and socializing at the Section’s Annual Labor Day Retreat and, hopefully, share a positive experience with others to encourage involvement and membership with the Section.

Scholars are required to attend at least two (2) substantive committee meetings as well as the IMF meeting. Scholars may split their time and attend two committee meetings that meet during the same time period; however, it will count as only attending one meeting with respect to the requirement that Scholars attend at least the three (3) committee meetings above. Scholars are also required to attend the Membership Committee/First Retreat Meet‐n‐Greet. Scholars must attend the above meetings in order to maintain their title as “Scholar” and receive their joint financial benefits from the Section and their respective law school.

Program GuidelinesSample Letter 

Pictures and resumes of our past Scholars coming soon.

BLS Mentoring Program

The Section's Mentoring Program seeks to connect recently graduated law students and young lawyers with experienced attorneys within our membership to provide guidance on career and professional development and growth. Learn more here.

             Diversity & Networking Socials

             Sponsorship of Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation

    The Business Law Section of the Florida Bar is a sponsor of the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation and its annual Minority Mentoring Picnic.  The Section hosts a tent at the picnic where members greet students and discuss the benefits of membership in the Section as well as the value of mentoring for law students and new lawyers.

Sponsorship of the Annual Central Florida Diversity & Inclusion Picnic

   The Business Law Section of the Florida Bar is a sponsor of the Annual Central Florida Diversity & Inclusion Picnic where members of the judiciary, legal practitioners, law students, and paralegals are welcome to the Annual Central Florida Diversity & Inclusion Picnic to meet and network with colleagues, members of the local voluntary bar associations, law firm representatives and other sponsors.

 Sponsorship of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Diversity Networking Social

   The Business Law Section of the Florida Bar is a sponsor of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Diversity Networking Social where students, law firms and other legal organizations come together each February to help students build meaningful professional relationships with HCBA members. Students from all the law schools in Florida are invited, and local law firms and legal organizations are encouraged to host an information table. This is a great opportunity to meet mentors and make connections in the Tampa Bay area. 

Fellowship

The Section has implemented a Fellowship Program to provide a two-year subsidy to eight qualified applicants who express an interest in becoming active in the substantive work and leadership of the Section. During their participation in the Fellowship Program, selected “Fellows” will receive leadership training and work closely with leading attorneys in the Business Law field. At the end of their Fellowship term, we are confident all Fellows will find the program enhanced their personal and professional development. The Application period for the 2019-2021 Fellowship Program is now closed and will reopen January 1, 2020. 

2019-2021 Fellowship Application

Program Description

 

Sponsors