PlatformScott's Guiding Principles

Connect with Florida lawyers to show The Florida Bar’s relevance and what the Bar does for members, not to them

Empower Florida Bar members by providing them tools and resources for their business, their daily practice of law and for their physical and mental health and wellness

Practicing law is a demanding job that challenges even seasoned, well-established attorneys because of the mental pressure of the profession. The pandemic exacerbated these challenges, but there is help available. While serving on the Board of Governors, I’ve championed the availability of tangible resources for members to help them with the daily practice of law; including free practice management tools, business resources, and technology assistance. Innovation and leadership are what we need to tackle the demands of the future.

Practice & Innovation

The pandemic affected the practice of law in ways that no one could imagine. The use of technology in the daily practice of law advanced more in the last year than it would have progressed in a decade under normal circumstances. Technology helped many of us continue to work but also intensified a growing lack of professionalism, increased cybersecurity threats, and revealed the urgency to leverage technology to maintain our practices. The Florida Bar has always been an innovator in the field and must continue to pivot, think outside the box, develop technology, and adapt to meet the needs of our members.
70% of our members are solo practitioners or in a firm of 10 or fewer attorneys

Mental Health & Wellness

Working virtually from home has blurred, if not obliterated, the boundaries of a home-work balance for many. For those of us with families and young children it’s been exceptionally challenging as we juggle raising a family, being a teacher, practicing law from home, and running our law practices. A vast percentage of our members have experienced depression, isolation, and anxiety due to these combined stressors. Outreach and connectivity with members are critical now more than ever based upon these experiences. Our Bar should continue to invest in resources that support member mental health, wellness, physical health, and quality-of-life initiatives. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, it is clear that the practice of law will never look the same. We need to meet these challenges head-on and be agile in our response.

Platform Issue #1Ensure access to justice for ALL Floridians and leverage the Bar’s resources to assist and support the judicial branch to fully reopen and get through its vast backlog of cases

As most courthouses were closed to live proceedings for such a lengthy time-period, the fundamental right to a jury trial has been impacted. We serve the public by supporting the judicial branch in any manner possible, including working with the legislature to ensure courts have adequate funding for new technological advances, alternate facilities, and whatever else is necessary to open courts and address the huge backlog. Access to our legal system by ALL Floridians is a fundamental right granted by our forefathers and people’s lives in many cases hang in the balance.

Maintain and defend the independence of the judicial branch and promote professionalism, education and accountability for our members in concert with our discipline system

The Florida Bar must always maintain as its core function that our judiciary remains a co-equal and independent branch of government. The independence of the judicial branch and our profession is paramount in defending the rule of the law. Maintaining and defending the independence of the Judiciary, as a co-equal and independent branch of government, the independence of our profession, and the Bar’s ability to self-regulate under its current administrative structure, is paramount in defending the rule of law. This includes promoting professionalism, education, and accountability for our members in concert with our discipline system, and vigorously opposing ideas that would harm the public like non-lawyer ownership of law firms and fee splitting with non-lawyers. As an arm of the Florida Supreme Court, we reinforce this through serving as a mandatory Bar, maintaining the Bar’s role in the JNC process, and protecting citizens through our lawyer regulation and discipline system. As your President, I will work to maintain a strong and independent judiciary that is properly funded, which is vital to the functioning of our society and the rule of law.

Mandatory Bar & Integrity of the Profession

Continuing as a mandatory bar is crucial to our core responsibilities and mission. The threat of Janus v. AFSCME and the numerous lawsuits that have been filed throughout the country challenge the existence of mandatory/unified Bars and would upend the values embraced by our legal system. Recent proposals to consider non-lawyer ownership of law firms and fee splitting with non-lawyers are also extremely dangerous to the public, would negatively impact the integrity of our profession and professionalism, and could undermine the independence of the judiciary. We must be vigilant to protect The Florida Bar’s status as a mandatory bar and strongly oppose dangerous proposals that would harm the public, like non-lawyer ownership of law firms and fee splitting with non-lawyers.

Diverse, Qualified JNC Members

Ensure that the Bar stays engaged and maintains its role in the JNC process so that well-qualified, diverse, and educated members have the opportunity to vet and propose judicial nominees. Equally important is utilizing our resources to recruit qualified and diverse JNC members.

Professionalism, Education, and Accountability

Promote professionalism, and ensure that our discipline system protects Floridians–a responsibility entrusted to us by Florida’s Supreme Court. We need a more proactive and concerted effort to educate and mentor new attorneys about the discipline system, the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, proper trust account management, and professionalism, The Bar must also provide members tools and resources at an early stage of their legal career so they can more easily comprehend and comply with our ethical rules. This includes innovation and providing our members resources like free trust accounting management software.
49% ($21.1 million) of the Bar’s entire budget last year was spent on attorney regulation

Foster and develop intentional pipelines to the practice of law, bar service and bar leadership that promote diversity, equity and inclusion, thereby, providing everyone a seat at the table

“Equal Justice Under Law” is inscribed on the front of the U.S. Supreme Court and challenges us to actively make certain there is equal opportunity for all of our members, including those who are racially, ethnically and culturally diverse, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities. A more diverse and inclusive profession and justice system enhances the public trust of lawyers which is critical for society. Since I began practicing law, and years before I even thought about the Bar presidency, true diversity and inclusion for our profession has been one of my passions and is part of the true fabric of who I am. The Bar must create and foster pipelines from our local Voluntary Bars, FAWL, CABA, Virgil Hawkins, the Florida Hispanic Bar Association, the Leadership Academy, the YLD, and Sections to increase diversity and equity within the Board of Governors, the Bar’s Committees, and the Committees’ leadership positions. We must intentionally bring everyone to the table to truly succeed as an organization. I believe developing these concrete, definite pipelines to Bar service and leadership are critical to our path forward.

This should be a floor, and not a ceiling for our Bar’s diversity efforts.

Scott Westheimer, Candidate, President-Elect for The Florida Bar

Synergy and collaboration between The Florida Bar and Sections, Divisions, and Voluntary Bar Associations so we can work together to assist ALL of our members

The pandemic confirmed that collaboration between our local and statewide bar associations benefits all of our members. During these unprecedented times, the synergy between our Voluntary Bars, the Sections, and the Divisions, and their excellence has been on full display which benefits all of our members and truly exemplifies the very best in Florida’s legal profession. Our Voluntary Bars, Sections and Divisions pivoted quickly during the pandemic to join together and organize virtual webinars, happy hours, and PPP seminars all to help their members.
As shown by these organizations, collaboration is crucial to help our members, especially while recovering from COVID-19. By partnering with our local Voluntary Bars, Sections and Divisions, The Florida Bar can reach more of its members and truly help ALL our members.