Alumnus, president-elect of The Florida Bar to speak to area youth about law and justice
By Matt Walker
President-elect of The Florida Bar Eugene Pettis (JD 85) will speak about law and justice to student participants in the second annual Josiah T. Walls Bar Association’s Law and Justice Youth Conference. The conference will take place at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. More than 70 local middle and high school students, along with more than 40 local lawyers, law professors and law students will attend this daylong conference to discuss legal issues affecting area youth.
Pettis will speak to the students about his legal career, leadership in the community, and personal ethics. His comments will encourage students to view the law as an integral part of their lives. He will also touch on the role of lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers in young adults’ everyday lives.
The Law and Justice Youth Conference will give area youth the tools they can use to become active and affect positive change in their community. Using resources from Street Law, a nonprofit organization which creates teaching materials for law, democracy and human rights, the conference participants will first discuss issues relating to the police in their communities.
“This year’s conference will highlight the importance of civic action and provide a forum in which youth of Gainesville are shown how the law can be a vehicle of self-empowerment and positive change. As local lawyers, it is important for us to continually encourage our youth to positively contribute to the community and create opportunities for them to interact closely with legal professionals,” states Sheree Graham, president of Josiah T. Walls Bar Association.
“As local lawyers, it is important for us to continually encourage our youth to positively contribute to the community and create opportunities for them to interact closely with legal professionals.”
Pettis, who will be sworn in as president of The Florida Bar in June, will be the first African-American in the bar’s history to serve in this position. A co-founder of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm in Fort Lauderdale, Pettis focuses his practice in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, commercial litigation and employment law. Pettis has served in numerous leadership positions, including chairman of the Judicial Independence Committee of The Florida Bar and vice-chairman of the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board, and currently serves on the board of trustees of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. Throughout his career, he has earned numerous legal awards and accolades, including being selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2010 and 2011 editions of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialties of medical malpractice law and personal injury litigation. Pettis has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s top “AV” rating for his high professional and ethical standards.
The Law and Justice Youth Conference is presented by the Josiah T. Walls Bar Association, in partnership with UF Law’s Black Law Student Association, Caribbean Law Student Association, Criminal Law Association, Association of Public Interest Law, and The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Law Student Division.
The Josiah T. Walls Bar Association and the 8th Judicial Circuit Bar Association received funding from the Florida Bar Diversity Leadership grant to support the 2013 conference.
Established in 1977 and incorporated in 1997, the Josiah T. Walls Bar Association, Inc. is a voluntary minority bar organization that has grown from five to more than 30 attorneys from Alachua and surrounding counties. At its inception, JTWBA was a social networking organization, which culminated into a support system for African-American attorneys. In 2005, members decided to expand the organization by encouraging other minority attorneys to become members. Membership is comprised of attorneys, law professors, judges and law students who live or regularly practice in the 8th, 5th, and 3rd Judicial Circuits. In the spirit and legacy of Josiah T. Walls, the association is dedicated to promoting professional excellence, giving back to the community, and mentoring future lawyers. For more information, please visit http://www.jtwba.com/index.html.
The Florida Bar YLD Law Student Division provides law students from each Florida law school with a variety of activities designed to help connect students at Florida law schools with lawyers and leaders of The Florida Bar. Among such activities are networking and mentoring opportunities with Florida Bar members, ethics and professionalism training, pro bono and community service opportunities, and opportunities to participate in the activities and work of various sections of The Florida Bar. These activities are designed to enhance the law school experience and further the future interests of the legal profession. The division works to facilitate a smooth transition between law school and practicing law. For more information, please visit http://www.flayld.org/students/.